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The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1: Family Letters, 1905-1931
Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis
Hope Rising: Stories from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams - Kim Meeder

I was crying by page 5. Seriously. Almost every chapter in this book makes me cry. Sad tears, happy tears, you name it.

It's a beautiful book. Just have some tissues ready.

Princess in the Spotlight - Meg Cabot

(It's probably more like a 2.75, but I'm not going to let myself do that.)

Donald Trump is present in this book. How awkward.

Mia certainly likes to harp on about one or two things per book. Also, I noticed in this book that it doesn't cover very much time. So, again, it makes sense that she goes on-and-on about things... But it doesn't really make for the best reading material.

I do enjoy reading these books, though. They're pretty light-hearted reads.

Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren, Nancy Seligsohn, Florence Lamborn

I definitely enjoyed this one much more when I was a child. As an adult, I find Pippi annoying at times. It's still a fun book, but there are other children's books I'd much rather read over again.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

2014: ...What? (2 stars)

2016: I remember the first time I finished this book, in bed in my college dorm room with my mouth hanging open from the moment Tess declared "I have killed him!" A second reading really was necessary to process.

I think I care more for Tess than I usually care about characters, somehow. My heart aches for her in all the ways her life goes wrong. And I cheer for her because she really is a strong and mature character. She's very well-written.

Alec D'Urberville, on the other hand is sufficiently annoying infuriating, as is Angel Clare. Alec makes me want to scream when he just won't leave Tess alone. I want to smack him. But that didn't do Tess any good... And Angel with his hypocrisy and self-righteousness... Ugh. Poor Tess. I should want Tess to find a better man than Angel, but she loves him so much, I tend to want him to come to his senses instead.

In regards to Tess' experience with Alec, the writing of it frustrates me a bit. To me, up through that moment, it is very clear that Alec raped Tess. She never liked him, never showed him any affection. She blatantly wiped away his kiss. He made her very uncomfortable. Her behavior through that point gives me absolutely no reason to believe that Tess would willingly have sex with Alec. Afterward, however, the writing makes it seem more like they had been in a relationship and she had willingly slept with him, though she regretted it later. And those two interpretations just don't jive. After thinking about it, I've decided on my interpretation. I think it is kind of both of the above. I think Alec raped her. And then because of the society she lived in, after that happened, Tess felt like she belonged to Alec or was tied to him in a way. It's even said in the book that she's more married to Alec than she is to Angel. Of course, I don't believe that, but I think that would have been her thought process. So, I think that after Alec "claimed" her, she continued working at the D'Urberville estate, and probably allowed him to have sex with her again, though she still didn't want that kind of relationship with him. Until finally, she couldn't live with it anymore, and she left for home.

Through all that, it really is a surprisingly feminist book for one written by a man in the 1800's. I should read more of his work (any suggestions?). I also think this book could inspire a really good modern film adaptation.

I think my only complaint (aside from maybe the ambiguity of the rape/seduction) is that it can be quite slow, especially during Tess' employment at the dairy. I almost only brought my rating up one star because of that, but I love Tess so much and the story itself is so beautifully tragic that I rated it 4 stars.

I want to write a better review of this book. Maybe I'll edit this sometime.

Essays Presented to Charles Williams - C.S. Lewis

This collection of essays was boring at times and interesting at others.

I remember in Sayers' case, I was interested at first, but got bored as it went on.

I generally enjoyed C. S. Lewis and Tolkien's essays.

W. H. Lewis' essay was interesting and definitely written on an important subject, but it seemed so jarring after the others. The book definitely ended on a very sad note.

The One Safe Place - Tania Unsworth

This story reminded me of Coraline. I liked it, but there was something about the whole thing i didn't like and i can't quite put my finger on what it was... The writing, maybe? I don't know... I took me a little while to get into it, but once i did, i did enjoy it. It was creepy and creative.


[minor spoiler below]
I thought it was really interesting that the main character had synesthesia. The timing was good too because i'd just read something about that on the internet. It's definitely not something one hears about often.


*Review written on July 24, 2015.*

The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot

Fat Louie is orange. Your whole life has been a lie.


I was hugely distracted trying to figure out how this Genovian monarchy works. Mia's father is apparently running the country, but he has plenty of time to spend bugging Mia in the US? Mia is heir to the throne despite being an illegitimate child? She wasn't considered heir to the throne until her father found out he couldn't have any more children to... replace his firstborn? I'm so confused.

Aside from that, overall, i did think it was cute. Mia complains a lot, but this is her diary and she does have a lot to complain about... She has grown enough by the end of the book, that i have hope she'll be more positive in the future... but i guess i'll see.

I wasn't okay with a few references she makes to sexual assault. She makes it out like it's okay to sexually assault someone if you're attractive. She might have learned her lesson a little by the end when Josh forcibly kisses her. However, there's still a guy who she knows feels people up and she kind of explains it like it's an annoyance, but not a big deal. I don't know. That didn't sit right with me.

It's very different from the movie. This is actually one of the few cases in which i would say the movie is better than the book. Even though the movie is a classic case of taking an already-beautiful girl with glasses and questionable hair, and helping her discover the miracles of contacts and hair straighteners, and suddenly all the boy moose go "whaaaaa!" I mean, all the boys like her.


*Review written on December 18, 2014.*

Queenpin - Megan Abbott

2013: The ending completely ruined this book for me. I liked where it was heading, but she took the easy way out. In the end, the main character just seemed childish. She thought she was "all that", but what she did, anyone could have done. I guess i won't be keeping this one after all.


2016: (More detail, with spoilers) The main character's name is not given, which is supposed to help symbolize her becoming Gloria and taking her place. But it just doesn't work. Gloria doesn't send someone else to do her dirty work; if Gloria wants you dead, she'll plunge the knife into you herself. So, when it comes time for our protagonist to take Gloria's place, you'd expect it to be big and gutsy. Show her who's boss, right? How does she choose to do it? How does she choose to show us that she has surpassed her teacher, this cold-hearted killer? Hmm? She calls the cops. Rats her out. Does something even toddlers can be taught to do. Are you kidding me? It was such a let-down. And yet she was so proud of it, like she'd taken a real risk and relied on all of her training with Gloria. To dial three numbers. I was really disappointed, to say the least.

Re-reading this, though, I think it sounds kind of silly. Of course, it's better to call the police instead of killing someone, morally. Please don't kill anyone, readers. It just didn't work for this book. If the protagonist's goal was to become the "queenpin" that Gloria was, she failed miserably. Gloria would have killed herself... herself... which is exactly what she did. So, ultimately, no one replaced Gloria; she defeated them all. But, seriously, I'm saying this completely in the realm of fiction. Killing yourself is not the answer. Don't do it.

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11) - Jeff Kinney

Is this series over yet?

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos - Robert Lawson

I definitely remember reading this when i was a kid. I got through it in 50 minutes last night. It's a good way to help kids remember some things that Benjamin Franklin did in his life and some things that he said. I don't think i was ever really happy with the way this book makes him out to be an idiot, though, giving all the credit for his accomplishments to a mouse. It's alright.


*Review written on December 20, 2014.*

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

I've always enjoyed survival stories and it was nice to revisit this one. It has a touch of horror to it as well. I thought "the Secret" plot line was completely unnecessary and underdeveloped. I almost feel like an editor told Paulsen that Brian needed something about his home life to chew on while he was stranded, so he threw that in. Other than that, though, it's a book i enjoyed in sixth grade and one that i was happy to read again.


*Review written on December 19, 2014.*

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There - Lewis Carroll, Peter Glassman, John Tenniel

I think i liked this one about as much as the last one. I didn't find Alice as annoying this time, which is nice.


*Review written on December 17, 2014.*

Indigo - Alice Hoffman

This one's a cute, short story. There's not much to it. I liked it enough, but i'd rather read something more substantial.


*Review written on December 16, 2014.*

The Bad Beginning  - Lemony Snicket, Michael Kupperman, Brett Helquist

I was excited to begin this series again. I've read 9 or 10 of them before. I'm not sure why i never finished the series. I own them all now and i'm looking forward to reading it in its entirety. Apparently, it's going to be a Netflix show sometime in the near future! That's exciting. Anyway, i really enjoyed reading this again. I think "Lemony Snicket" is a clever writer.


*Review written on December 16, 2014.*

Isolation (Partials, #0.5) - Dan Wells

This wasn't my favorite in the Partials sequence, but it was very interesting and i enjoyed it.


*Review written on December 16, 2014.*

Boxen: Childhood Chronicles Before Narnia - C.S. Lewis, W.H. Lewis

This was really interesting to read. I feel like i've been getting to know C. S. Lewis better as i just read what was his diary after his wife's death, A Grief Observed , and then read what he wrote with his brother as a child. It is really impressive writing and complex thinking for a child, although the subject matter is not particularly interesting to me. A lot of it is politics and war, though there is a brazen hussy featured in one story. Haha.


*Review written on December 16, 2014.*