Tag Archive: classics



19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second reading of this book. It was required reading in high school (about 1967). I remember it being very scary and prayed it would never happen. As the actual year of 1984 flew by many of us began to relax. Maybe the science fictional prophecy was far from ever happening.

Many people have recommended this book again what with rumors of Newspeak/Fake News. The book shows that anyone can be convinced of anything given the right set of circumstances. I believe that to be true, which is why I don’t believe that torture would ever bring out the truth. Many are in jails because the good cop/bad cop or other tricks of coercion have brought the suspect to admit to something they never did do. Much of the book shows how this can happen.

Regardless of which side of the political system you may stand, this set of possibilities should shout at you. You should feel free to tell your truth without worry of being tortured or demeaned in any way. After all your set of circumstances have brought you to your belief. But on the same line, we should have respect for another point of view, even if it seems crazy. If you stop that truth from coming out, you may miss a grain of truth you may need to learn to live more openly.

I relate that to the lowly dandelion and my mother. My mother was anemic and had very bad health in general. But when I was young I would see her out in the lawn digging out the dandelions and tossing them away. Knowing what we know about that so-called weed, this could have been the medicine my mother could have ingested and become much healthier, regardless of the ungroomed lawn. What gems or weeds of health are we missing by calling each other names and not learning someone else’s truth?

On another level… As scary as the world of ‘1984’ is, the misogyny of past sci-fi and fantasy is very clear here. I didn’t notice this when I was a teen. Almost all the books I read were male-heavy. I remember asking about it only once. The answer was we had to have these books because boys have a hard time learning to and then liking reading. Having watched my brothers with that very problem I didn’t think about it again. I had trouble with reading but found ways to get around the problems and I LOVED reading. (Still do.)

In this book the main character’s wife won’t give him a divorce, they had infertility problems. He gets the wet dream fantasy fulfilled in a woman who gives without requiring anything from him, not even or especially not wanting love. Finally, there is the woman out in the yard who sings with clothespins in her mouth and he finds her big hips sexually appealing though in another segment he is reminded how like his mother she is. So beyond sex and birth, it seems this generation of sci-fi writers seemed to have nothing to do with women. That should have been our biggest warning! Of all that happened to this character!!!!! I find myself feeling foolish that it took me until my 60s to figure out how little part women play in most men’s lives. I have a friend that tried to tell me this when I was still into makeup and clothes–and making my own babies. But it is because I decided to make my reading diet be mostly female writers with female main characters, and not in the romantic chic-lit stuff. More along the lines of Bechdel. (Google her) This is also how I choose to watch TV/Movies. Women have to hold up half of the sky of whatever I read or watch. Equally important. That was not the case in this book. And years ago I might not have noticed. Now I am nearly blinded by it. So if you haven’t seen it as strong as I have, try my ‘diet’. Give it a year or so. I especially challenge male to try this. When you notice the lack of human equality in reading or what you watch maybe you will be part of the change? Maybe if women hold their own in a story like ‘1984’ we may find ways to avoid that crazy kind of life.

Do read this. No matter which side of the fence, or gender, there are weeds of health here we all need!

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Seven Little Australians (Woolcots, #1)Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, this took me over half a year to read. (Small font) Only today did I see this is free in Kindle format on Amazon. To think I could have read it in a couple days!

This edition is the hardback and is a BookCrossing treasure. BCID: 813-3620880. It will be traveling back to the friends that sent it to me. It will be back with The Diaries of Ethel Turner by Ethel Turner which I read last year.

If you get the chance to read these books, give them a try. I liked reading the author’s diaries first. I was more aware of how much of this fictional book came from her real life. It also helped me get acquainted with the author’s writing style and historical events in Australia. And it helped me learn the lingo of the time and place.

With so many characters (7+) it is a little hard to keep track of who is who. Especially the younger kids. A list of characters would have been handy. But I managed. In fact, I became quite happy when it was about Judy.

Without spoilers, I wanted to throw the book in the trash and never look at it again on the penultimate chapter. But my curiosity got the better of me and I finished the book. Bittersweet is how I can describe the last two chapters. Overall, I think it was a nice read. I highly recommend others read it to expand horizons. 🙂

[edited] I just read on my BookCrossing page that I had read this in 2007. I do not remember that! Funny that I used the same work “Bittersweet” to describe it back then. Good thing there was a note about it. I guess because my eyes are so much worse and it took me so long I didn’t feel the energy of the book. And now I have the Kindle version so if I forget again I can reread quickly. LOL!

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Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picture me at age 9-12. I was probably the same height as I am now, maybe even an inch taller, as I was the tallest 6th grader at 5’6″. (And I have shrunk and inch.) I can’t remember how old I was when the librarian took me to the Besty-Tacy corner of the library. She was used to me coming in every couple weeks and checking out the limit of 10 books. No, I didn’t read every book. But in that haul, I was guaranteed to find a few treasures. But the Betsy-Tacy became my favorites. I read every single one. I do remember being disappointed that the trio grew up and, yawn, got married. But that didn’t stop me from re-reading my favorites–the ones where the three girls were my age at the time.

Now as an adult, I was a little afraid to read these books. How could the mature (there are those who doubt that–even I doubt that) me enjoy these books as much as I did as a girl? But I did! The difference besides being older, is I have now lived in places that have lots of cold and snow rather than Sunny Southern California I can relate even more to what the children had to deal with. Not only that, now I could understand the adults in the books. I saw how what seemed impossible then, in the story, now seems more like serendipity. And I have had experience with that.

Whether Betsy and Tacy had anything to do with it with their sales of sand, my brother and I used to go door to door to sell rocks. People bought them because well, my brother used his cute right up on these ventures!

What I loved about this treasury was getting to read the four books without stop. Then at the end of the last book, there is a treasury about the author and how Maud Hart Lovelace used many of her own life experiences for Betsy, Tacy, and Tib adventures. There are many photos of the author and her friends that made this book even better.

And speaking of pictures, I always knew I loved the illustrator, Lois Lenski. I was so happy to see her pictures in the picture books I read to my own children. There was a biography of Lois at the end of this book, too! Everything just tied right in for my own life and loves!

Best of all were the forwards to each of the books. One that resonated with me most was that of Judy Blume! I’m glad I am not alone in having such wonderful memories of these books and the memories of my younger years that fit just right.

I think I will try to check more of these out from our e-reader library.

Oh! Just a note. As I started the first book I was disappointed not to have text-to-speech or any audio to help me out. I was able to use Natural Reader to get me through. The rest of the books in the treasury did have text-to-speech making my life a lot easier.

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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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Beneath the MaskBeneath the Mask by Margaret McGaffey Fisk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t read ‘romance’ novels. Not if I can help it. But I consider Margaret McGaffey Fisk to be my friend so I felt I should try. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with her writing. I don’t think I saw a passive sentence anywhere in the book. This reading comes close after I read of Pride and Prejudice. If this were to be a contest, this would win heads down!

Passion is what wins it for me. No! Not that kind of passion! I mean the passion this young girl had pursued since she was small. But, now that she was to be presented as a woman… She wants to dance, something frowned upon back in those days.

Dawn Hyde, narrator of the Audible version of the book made this book so beautiful! Her accents and voice changes helped keep the characters separated and unique. I look forward to reading more with her voice.

Okay, for the romanticohics, there is romance in the end, but most of it is this girl coming of age and her trying to live out her passions, somehow. It makes me sad to know women of the past weren’t encouraged to follow their hearts and passions. When I start feeling like we’ve made no forward motion in the feminist movement, reading something like this shows we have made some progress.

I am looking forward to more by Margaret McGaffey Fisk!

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Black BeautyBlack Beauty by Anna Sewell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, I did go through that phase as a pre-teen, when I read every book about horses possible. Black Beauty was an important part of that literary diet. I loved it then. But how would that translate to my old-lady brain? It was better!

The Amazon page says it is for kids 9-12. That may have been so a generation ago, but now the vocabulary and historical references don’t play out quite as well. In a well-structured class program, it could be a great lesson plan anchor to cover history, equines, medicine, weather and many other subject-matter for an all inclusive study. The best is the lessons of kindness. This is a lesson that covers all generations and all religions or philosophies. And we here it all from the horse’s mouth. Animals understand kindness.

Peter Batchelor was the narrator in this version of the story. I was lucky to pick up the Kindle version from Kindle Unlimited and for a tiny fee I got the Whispersync Audible narration. He did a marvelous job bringing all the characters to life. I highly recommend that everyone read this classic!

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Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To my English teachers and friends who have raved that I should read this. Check. Done! My grade for this book is a C- and that was with the help of Carolyn Seymour, the narrator. Glad I read it so I could say I did, but I was not wowed like others.

I couldn’t have gotten into it as a tree book, even on Kindle with text-to-speech I couldn’t get there. Though the reader did add a lot to the experience, in the beginning, I’m afraid there was no help.

The first half of the book seemed centered around bickering, gossip, and how women of the time could climb the status ladder. Ms. Seymour’s varied voices just made that part even more irritating. I felt sorry for the reader as there was no way to vary the voices enough within that family of females. Lizzy and Jane’s father was probably easy to do. And the voice of Darcy felt unique. But other than those voices, I couldn’t tell whose voice belonged to whom.

As for the book itself, I felt that the real book started about 3/4 in. That’s where it all started to get exciting. I suddenly cared for a few people. It may be that the passive voice that seems to live in most so-called classics that made this less than wonderful. I plan to watch a couple versions of the movie next. Then there are possible book two by more recent authors. And… I’m not done with Jane Austen. I do plan to read them all, somehow. After all, these follow my main goal of reading books by females with strong female leads.

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Review: Fingersmith


Fingersmith
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If only I could stay awake after finishing reading a book so as to write the review right then. Now I almost gave the book four stars because the excitement had abated. But I asked myself how was the writing? It was very well done. Such a blessing against all the newer authors’ works. Then I asked, How was the plot, did it hold together, make me want more? As if in answer I remembered not being able to stop reading. I thought it about it during my non-reading times. And how about the characters? Did I care about them? You bet! I even cared about the support teams at home and elsewhere. All were well-developed and fleshed out. And the question I ask that would make a difference in whether a book gets four or five stars: Will I remember it fondly much later. I could answer that with a resounding, YES!

So there you have it a five star book! And that rating works for the hardback that I had to reference to on ocassions and the Kindle version I used the most. I even rate the narrator, Juanita McMahon, as she was able to add to the stories depth and enjoyment, for me. She acted out the characters with such strength that I missed her voice when I read without the Audible version. In fact, because there is something glitchy with the Audible/Kindle sych, where it didn’t quite meet up and so I couldn’t read in the same place as the narrator, I ended up listening more and crocheted on my WIP only glancing at the hardback from time to time.

For those afraid to read something labeled lesbian or LGBT, this book is mild and the erotic scene plays into the full story. The story is what pulls you, what is going to happen, keeps you reading. It is not erotica for erotica’s sake. Not that that is a bad thing in my book. However, when teachers are assigning classics to their classes, Fingersmith should be there right alongside of A Tale of Two Cities or Oliver.

By the way, another thing that brings this book up to its five-star rating is the satisfying ending. And the feeling that I would love to read this again someday, and other works by Sarah Waters. I do have the Fingersmith DVD and can hardly wait to watch it!

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The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this ebook through this website:
https://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/The-Well-of-loneliness And yes, it was free. It was quite a while ago so I had to do some searching to figure out where it came from.

This book was very relatable. If you have ever felt like you didn’t belong to the norm for whatever reason, you understand the loneliness of the main character. Parents set you up? Check. Parents, relatives and friends find you weird? Check. All those feelings are beautifully, nearly poetically spelled out.

With the flavor of pre-WWI English, similar to Jane Austin the main character looks for love and feel quite unlovable. She learned that she doesn’t go for men but rather for women. The word ‘lesbian’ isn’t used. Gay refers to the tablecloth. In a time when all of this was far less accepted as it is now, one finds that we haven’t come as long a way as we may hope.

This story is anguishing and sad. It made my blood boil. It was tender. There are times when the tears are so close. BUT it was dreadfully boring at times. I read it on my Tablet using Moon Reader Pro so it could read to me. I tried very hard to read while listening, but there were times I got so distracted that I realized that whole chapters had whizzed on by.

Some consider this a classic and it does have that feel about it. It’s worth reading so that you can say you did. Maybe, if a read person narrated it it would keep my interest all the way through. I wonder if it has ever been made into a movie? I think it could be done quite well. The author gave many descriptions of gardens and lakes. It could be visually delicious!

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