The Blacksmith’s Daughter, by Crystal Hubbard

This short book is about the length of a serious short story. It’s 104 pages in large child-friendly print. I don’t think it really qualifies as a novella.

Instead, it’s a delightful fairy tale that I want more of.

Marcelline, the story’s heroine, is a strong willed young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her father has gone blind, and her favorite sister is dying of a wasting disease only impossible magic can cure.

So when a summons from the king arrives, a contest for someone to be his desperately needed bride, and a grand prize of an impossible ish- on top of getting the crown- is an opportunity too much for Marcelline to resist. She could give two hoots about the fame and fortune with marrying the king, but saving her sister would be worth anything.

But her own personality is too strong for her to lie, and so she must earn the king’s love and respect without sacrificing herself. And they both find that he must also earn hers.

Even though it’s altogether too short for my taste, it’s a perfect beginners novel for kids, and one I’m glad to have on my shelf for my family to grow up reading!

Crime and Punishment, a Paper Full of Fail

So, about 5 years ago now, I was in AP English. I was a junior, and I nearly failed. I definitely failed the test. And while this did scar me for my writing/literary mind for a while…well…I still really like reading and writing and not analyzing at a collegiate level honestly I’m okay with that.

Anywho.

I will point out, that I did work very hard in that class. And when I’d get bad grade after bad grade after bad grade everyone everyone, was telling me to ask questions. “Ask questions! She loves when you ask questions!” (She being our teacher).

Well here is the problem with that logic…I thought I understood. I did, I really thought I knew what was going on and that I was getting it and doing good…until I got my grade. To this day, I still think my thoughts on these books was pretty profound and right up where they needed to be. So, as I went through and attempt to clear the clutter from my computer, I found this, and decided to share.

But, let me stress that this is NOT not not by any means an authority on the book. Do not use this as justification of your own points, your own…whatteever. Just take it, and use it as an…idea board. And if nothing else, a “what not to do!”

 

Dostoyevsky’s famous book Crime and Punishment features multiple dreams, including a dream the character Svidrigailov experiences. Throughout the novel Svidrigailov is described as a depraved soul much like the main character Raskolnikov. Svidrigailov’s dream uses a mouse, a garden and cottage, the dead body of a fourteen year old, and a child to carry the point Dostoyevsky is making with him. Dostoyevsky uses Svidrigailov’s dream in Crime and Punishment as a representation of Svidrigailov’s mind and his growth from a static character to a dynamic character, each aspect of the dream expresses another part to Svidrigailov that gives him more depth and turns him into a dynamic character.

Before Svidrigailov is entirely asleep the first part of his dream occurs: A mouse runs over his leg and brings him to “consciousness”. The rodent is a parallel to Svidrigailov, and his disgust for the creature is ironic in the self hating implied in it. The self hate implies that there is more to Svidrigailov than just his depravity. The fact that Svidrigailov cannot catch the mouse and that both he and the reader are under the impression that he is still awake and through that shows the confusion that Svidrigailov is suffering.

The second part of Svidrigailov’s dream is the description of the summer day garden and cottage. The garden represents Svidrigailov’s desires; the bright and serene setting expresses a life and goodness that Svidrigailov yearns subconsciously. Also, the Eden like quality of the garden could symbolize redemption and Svidrigailov’s wish for it. His reluctance to leaving shows the subconscious want for salvation.

“A fine sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them…” (436)

Svidrigailov’s desires go against the normal pattern of his thinking, and therefore add another level of depth to Svidrigailov.

The third part of Svidrigailov’s dream is the suicide victim on the second story of the cottage. Through Svidrigailov’s subconscious guilt about the girl the rumor of him sexually abusing a girl who then later killed herself is confirmed. “Svidrigailov knew that girl; there was no holy image; no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself.” (437).Here is where Svidrigailov is forced to realize the depth of his depravity. Yet on the flip side there is a hinted regret through his description of her: “…her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiseled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal.” (437). His subconscious forcing this on him and his beginning to accept it show his transformation from a static character as he was represented before to a dynamic character as he is after the final part of his dream.

The final part of his dream is the final step in his growth. The child that Svidrigailov discovers invokes at first feelings of compassion and he seeks to help her, showing the underlying goodness in him that is not shown in very many other sections of the novel. The innocence of the child could be considered as Svidrigailov’s possible redemption but as he cares for her she transforms into a French Harlot, becoming deprived like Svidrigailov. “There was something infinitely hideous and shocking in that laugh, in those eyes, in such nastiness in the face of a child.” (439). This is when Svidrigailov reaches the height of his growth, realizing that it is not just him that is affected by his depravity, but that others are suffering from it as well.

Through Crime and Punishment Svidrigailov is represented as a static character until the point in the novel that he has his dream. The dream features multiple parts that give Svidrigailov the factors in being a round character. The mouse hinting at the self loathing and inner struggle is the first step, the garden and the desires that represents is the second, the guilt finding its way out in the girl’s coffin is the third, and the little girl is the final step in the process. All these individual pieces build together to give Svidrigailov a roundness that he was previously lacking.

Book Twenty-Eight: Animal Farm

Animal Farm, George Orwell

As a person with a casual interest in the Russian Revolution, I found this book quite enjoyable. It was really short so I read it pretty much in one sitting. This is one of those books that you can’t really explain the plot line. So here’s the set up: animals were sick of their jerk of a farmer, so they kicked him out and started running things for themselves.

They have a list of commandments, and it eventually gets whittled down to “Four legs good, two legs bad” as a mantra that the sheep say all the time. The animals try to read, but some of them have a more difficult time of it than others.

The pigs become the “supervisors”, the ones who make the rules and decisions. And of course, they start getting tyrannical.

If you’ve got a few hours to kill, and you haven’t read it, definitely do it.

Book Twenty Seven : Bridget Jones’ Diary

Bridget Jones’ Dairy.

Probably one of the best chick flick movies ever. And I’ll go ahead and say it, the movie is a whole lot better than the book. The movie’s “momma drama” is a lot more downplayed than the book. In the book that’s the actual climax. Julio has scammed everyone, including the mom, and has whisked her away to some Caribbean country. And gets her into a full on legal mess. Which is when Mark Darcy (Played in the movie by Colin Firth, as well as Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) swoops in and sorts the whole mess out.

Honestly, I much prefer the Mark/Daniel British Man Fight. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth realistically fighting each other and falling through a window to “Raining Men”, can it get much better than this?

On the whole though, it was enjoyable. But I see the whole plot as implausible. The relationship between her and her boss I can understand, it was all about some good sex. But between her and Mark Darcy…Honestly, Bridget Jones isn’t smart enough for him. The second movie plays it out really well. There just wasn’t anything…extra special about Bridget.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book. I read it while I was on the bike and treadmill at the gym, and while walking to and fro places.

27 down, 73 to go! ~ugh~

Books twenty four, twenty five, and twenty six

After Reading “Love In a Nutshell” I read 3 books in rather quick succession

Book 24: The Great Gatsby

To be perfectly frank, I feel like I didn’t understand a lot of this book. I mean I got what the words said and a base of their context. But I had to look it up on Sparknotes and Shmoop after to make sure I got the gist of the point right. I got the gist, but if there’s anything more profound to it–like I’m always suspecting there to be–I didn’t get it. And it bums me out. The story is captivating though, and it wasn’t that hard to read. I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.

 

Book 25: Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You

This book I picked up on a lark at the library, something light, fluffy, something I can read while I’m on the stationary bike at the gym for the 15-45 minutes. I stayed up until 3 in the morning when I finished it. It was hysterical.

Take…The Guardian (That really cheesy movie with Whitney Houston and Kevin Cosner) pair it with “Chasing Liberty” (The one where Mandy Moore takes off for her freedom from her oppressive President Dad), add in some Roman Holiday (With Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck), give it a crazy family, including a gay brother and his prone to fainting lover, drunken uncle who’s in debt with some gamblers…

Throw in some corn chips, some corn dogs, some corn bread, some good old fashioned cheesy, corney goodness, and you’ve got a book worth the 4 hours it takes to read!

 

Book Twenty Six: The Cinderella Deal

More like “anti-cinderella deal”! HA! But I really enjoyed reading tis book. It had one of those far out plots that can only be found in really creative literature. The two main characters literally couldn’t be more different. She, is very upbeat and lively and colorful…she’s the crazy hippy. While he is very stuffy, and business like. A professor.

Well, after a lie in an interview, this anti-prince needs a fiancé fast.

And then, he needs a wife.

And then….and then they run into a lot of personality differences, but their plan starts working for the the best for everyone. Except for it’s turning her into a dull drone like her husband. Who, to his credit, realizes what he loves about her isn’t the way she’s turning into. So, he turns her back. And it’s cute. Not fabulous, but it’s cute.

 

 

 

 

Book Twenty Three: Love In a Nutshell

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelley

This book definitely gets a 9/10

It was funny, it was cute, it had tension, an outside antagonist, excitement, drama, mystery, and the cream of the crop, a happy ending!

Definitely one of the best RomComs I’ve read in a while. This is including the Stephanie Plum books, also by Janet Evanovich, which I still rave about. This is probably one of the few *true* RomComs I’ve read in a while.

It takes place in Michigan, where I live, and talked a lot about beer. Which is funny, because one of the main characters is really allergic to it.

I’ve said before I’ve got a thing for strong female characters, and this book doesn’t disappoint me!

Kate Appelton is a downtrodden woman. She doesn’t feel independent, strong or capable of doing anything. And it annoys her, so what does she do? She tackles project impossible. I really love her motto she uses when she starts to freak out, “You’re a big strong dog who can jump high.” I think I’m going to start using that!

I recommend this book, I was sad when it was over. I definitely had a book hangover.

Book Twenty-Two: The Giver

I read the Giver for the first time.

I know, its a book you read in like the 8th grade, but because in the 7th grade I was in the normal English class, so we’d be reading it the next year, then when the next year came around I was moved into the advanced class and completely missed it. I might have gone my whole life without reading it, but it’s my boyfriend’s favorite book, and he asked me to read it.

The entire story focuses around a boy named Jonah, who’s been selected by his “same” and comfortable community to be the Receiver of all the memories. So basically, he knows everything.

I cried, a lot, and yelled at my boyfriend for making me read it. But, that being said, it’s a great book, and I’m going to own it and put it on my shelf next to 1984