Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Genre: Classic Literature
Published: 1847
How I Got the Book: Bought, for a class

Synopsis (from "Wuthering Heights", Emily Bronte's only novel, is one of the pinnacles of 19th-century English literature. It's the story of Heathcliff, an orphan who falls in love with a girl above his class, loses her, and devotes the rest of his life to wreaking revenge on her family.

My Thoughts: I am a convert. I am a believer of the books awesome power of this book. The characterization of every character is beyond imagination. The writing is thick and dramatic and the atmosphere and tone come alive. I couldn;t believe how truly dark this story was. It is so against the drain of almost everything I else I read from the time period. Roaming around the English countryside at night? Selfish unforgiving soul sucking romance? Oh yeah. It is so NOT romantic, that there's a level of comedy to anyone who described it as such. And the book knows it. It's narrated by someone who think Cathy and Heathcliff are completely insane. And they are! It is so full of violence and complex emotions, it took two readings back to back for me to absorb the full scope of the novel. The only thing I did not care for is the 'newer' generation/offspring...I feel it dampens Heathcliff and Cathy's story too much. But no matter, this book is revolting and such a train wreck...I couldn't look away. I'm not swooning over them but I am in awe of the level of story telling Bronte conjured up. Loved it in all its madness.

Characters: Unlikeable, unrelatable, unpleasent, psychotic, yet oh so familiar and expertly written.

Cover Art: I really like it. The colors are great, it's a nice scene of the moors which is basically a main character.

Overall: ★★★★★

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Book: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
Genre: Non-Fiction, Women Studies
Published: 2009
How I Got the Book: Library, for a class

Synopsis (from
In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials — place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgin until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.

My Thoughts: I loved Valenti's tone and voice throughout this book. From the first chapter I found myself nodding along in agreement and crinkling my nose in repulsion of some of the stories she presents. I believe in this crusade, whole heartily. Purity rings are disturbing to me, always have been, and this book gave my thoughts clear words as to why. I no longer believe in virginity and I don't think I really did before reading this book either. There are a lot of misconceptions about her message but Valenti CLEARLY states before even beginning the book : "“Culture, religion, and social beliefs influence the role that . . . sexuality play in women’s lives-sometimes very positively. So, to be clear, when I argue for an end to the idea of virginity, it’s because I believe sexual intimacy should be honored and respected, but that it shouldn’t be revered at the expense of a woman’s well being, or seen as such an integral part of female identity that we end up defining ourselves by our sexuality” (22). It is completely recommended to read this book, essential even. The knowledge and ideas found in this book are eye opening and empowering.

Characters: Not applicable.

Cover Art: I don't know officially but I wonder if its a play on the popular Twilight covers and being ironic with the whole 'deflowering' cultural stratification

Overall: ★★★★★

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl

Book: Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl
Genre: Young Adult
Published: December 2009
How I Got the Book: Library

Synopsis (from
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haun ...more Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

My Thoughts: Snoozefest. Boring. Way way way too long and drawn out. This book took me literally two months to read. About half-way through the book I just gave up on caring about any character or anything going on plot wise. It honestly could have been 250 pages less and still achieved the same effect. I picked up the book because of the great reviews and I thought a southern Gothic novel would be very compelling. Ugh. I was wrong. The synonpsis makes it sound decent, but it really isn't. The 'exciting' parts at the end of the book are thrown together and so predictable I was rolling my eyes. Pretty much everything that one can guess or assume would happen in this book...did. Very noob. I will not be picking up the sequel or the rest of the series because I negatively care about what happens. Skip it.

Characters: Uncompelling. Lackluster. Cliche. I struggle to remember anything worthwhile about any of them. Oh wait, I remember the cousin of Lena was one of more cartoon-ish and stereotypical charcters I had read in a long time.

Cover Art: Awesome!!! Great font and pretty purple, the whole thing is very eye cathcing and great

Overall: ★★ (one extra star for the cover)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Book Review: Twenty Years at Hull-House

Book: Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams
Genre: Non-Fiction
Published: 1910
How I Got the Book: library, for a class

Synopsis (from b& Addams's account about the founding and development of her famed settlement house in Chicago's West Side slums stands as the immortal testament of a woman who lived and worked among those in need.

My Thoughts: Not gonna lie this book was very very hard to get through. It was very boring. It was fact based with dry accounts of pretty much every season in Hull House. I'm not much into history (I had to read this for a TERRIBLE history class) so unless you want an acute look into social work history or sociology...I'd say skip this book. But I do not want to under estimate Jane Addams. She was a TRUE super hero. She's a great role model. My eyes were opened to the struggle she had to overcome opening and running of this house. There are some heartbreaking stories of people she meets but also some true triumphs. Addams helped create so many laws and got the ball rolling for social justice and equality in America. She did more in one lifetime than we can be expected to accomplish in 5 of them. Yet, a lot of ideas I felt were repeated over and over and got tiresome to read and accounts of happenings got blurry after a hundred pages or so.

Characters: Jane was the standout even though the book was really *about* her.
Cover Art: Straight forward and straight laced, a picture of Hull House is to be expected

Overall: ★★

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: You've Come A Long Way Baby

Book: You've Come A Long Way Baby
Genre: Non-Fiction, Women Studies
Published: 2010
How I Got the Book: for a class

Synopsis (from b& No matter what brand of feminism one may subscribe to, be it first wave, second wave, third wave, or perhaps no wave at all, one thing is indisputable: the role of women in society during the past several decades has changed dramatically, and continues to change in a variety of ways. With Hillary Clinton's recent bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and with Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee, it is more apparent than ever that women are seeking their due and finding their place as an integral part of American culture. In You've Come a Long Way, Baby, Lilly J. Goren and an impressive group of contributors explore the past, present, and future of women in the realms of politics, the arts, and popular culture.

My Thoughts: This book is a collection of essays that deal with women in pop culture. I admit I did not read more than half the article in here but the ones I did read we're interesting. The article I chose to write my paper on was the one on "Chick Lit". The genre itself is multifaceted and largely misunderstood. I'm playing devil's advocate here because I myself don't care for the genre but everyone is free to enjoy and read whatever books they want to. A girl is judged by her snoody counterparts if the cover of her book she's reading is bright pink and yellow? Or has women walking on the beach together? Ridiculous I say. Females as readers also have one great advantage that male readers do not....we are essentially free to read anything. We can read romance, chick lit, young adult lit, historical, biography, graphic novels and anything else with any cover because no genre is cut off from us. We can have any genre we so choose whereas male readers are much more strict in the what the cover looks like and genre they read. God forbid they read about female protagonists! Plus, the article outline women are buying and reading books at much higher rate than recent generations is the first time in written history this has happened. I would recommend this collection of essays to anyone you will surely find an article that will spark your interest.
So whether you are reading comics books, trashy romance, or high literary classics all day...READ ON GIRLS!!

Characters: Not applicable.

Cover Art: Love it! It speaks for itself.

Overall: ★★★

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Book: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Genre: Victorian Literature
Published: 1891
How I Got the Book: for a class

Synopsis (from b& Using richly poetic language to frame a shattering narrative of love, seduction, betrayal, and murder, Hardy tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful young woman living with her impoverished family in Wessex, the southwestern English county immortalized by Hardy. After the family learns of their connection to the wealthy d’Urbervilles, they send Tess to claim a portion of their fortune. She meets and is seduced by the dissolute Alec d’Urberville and secretly bears a child, Sorrow, who dies in infancy. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer Tess love and salvation, but he rejects her—on their wedding night—after learning of her past. Emotionally bereft, financially impoverished, and victimized by the self-righteous rigidity of English social morality, Tess escapes from her vise of passion through a horrible, desperate act.

My Thoughts: You must go and read this book. It's dark and moody one of the most observant books I have ever read. It a complete literary food for for thought buffet. This is an onion of a book, layer after layer of themes and issues. One thing I love about this book is that it is complete backhand to Victorian ideals. Rape culture is a tangible real thing is you believe in it or not and it is mind blowing how little has changed in 120 years. From victim blaming, lack of help, and the scary notion that many people today, like in the 19th century, actually THINK that Tess(or any woman in general) may have wanted it. My brain weeps for humanity. Regardless, this book is a true masterpiece. The prose and the description of the countryside to the Gothic-like scene are incredible. The ending is genius.

Characters: Tess is sympathetic. Angel Clare is a wolf in sheep's clothing, weaker than Tess in so many ways. Alec is one of the creepiest characters I have ever read. I'm getting the willies just thinking about him!

Cover Art: A painting of a woman doing something? So original! lol not.

Overall: ★★★★★

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Book: Ooronoko by Aphra Behn
Genre: Classic Literature
Published: 1688
How I Got the Book: required for class

Synopsis (from When Prince Oroonoko’s passion for the virtuous Imoinda arouses the jealousy of his grandfather, the lovers are cast into slavery and transported from Africa to the colony of Surinam. Oroonoko’s noble bearing soon wins the respect of his English captors, but his struggle for freedom brings about his destruction. Inspired by Aphra Behn’s visit to Surinam, Oroonoko reflects the author’s romantic views of native peoples as being in "the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin." The novel also reveals Behn’s ambiguous attitude toward slavery: while she favored it as a means to strengthen England’s power, her powerful and moving work conveys its injustice and brutality.

My Thoughts: This may sound crazy but I really thought in the beginning of the book when Behn is describing Oroonoko and the king, I sincerely pictured Africans in tradition stereotypical royal clothing in a palace and all that jazz. Yet I found, through class discussions, that I was in the wrong picturing that. I liked my interpretation though...but anyway this was such a good story. The writing is a struggle to get through, perhaps that is why I was so confused in the beginning. I would love to read this as a modern adaptation. I love that women were trail blazers in slavery, child labor, equal rights even back in the 17th century. So many classes have proven this again and again. This story was pretty heartbreaking by the end however. Behn set out to prove a strong point and provided a strong anti-slavery agenda behind a well told story. Recommended to expand your reading horizons.

Characters: Oroonoko is admirable and well described. The secondary chracters are pretty standard.

Cover Art: I like this cover because it kind of fits my original interpreation of the society Oroonoko lived it.

Overall: ★★★★