Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cherished, unforgettable adventure magically captures the thrill of a sea voyage and a treasure hunt through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, Jim Hawkins. Crossing the Atlantic in search of the buried cache, Jim and the ship’s crew must brave the elements and a mutinous charge led by the quintessentially ruthless pirate Long John Silver. Brilliantly conceived and splendidly executed, it is a novel that has seized the imagination of generations of adults and children alike

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published November 14, 1883 by Cassell and Company
Format: Hardcover; 240 pages
Classics / Adventure / Young Adult
Also By This Author: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

It probably takes a good blend of ignorance and luck to avoid finding out spoilers for a 134 year old book, but I made it 27 years without knowing anything about Treasure Island, except for the fact that it involved treasure, an island, and it featured pirates. I had never read this book or its synopsis before, nor had I seen any movie adaptations (no, not even the Muppets version). Of course, I had heard of Long John Silver, but I didn’t even know he was a prominent character in this book until he was introduced several chapters in.

Disclaimer: if you are a rarity like me who doesn’t know anything about Treasure Island and would like to keep it that way, you may want to skip down to the “Read this Book if” section, to continue avoiding spoilers :)

I liked not knowing anything about this novel beforehand because that really raised the suspense level for me. I never knew who to trust and I was constantly worried about characters dying. I applaud Robert Lewis Stevenson for romanticizing pirate stories, and I wonder if even he anticipated or expected the influence his novel would continue to have long after his death.

As intrigued as I was by this story for the first four parts, once they arrive on the island and conflicts begin escalating, I started detaching from the story. I think I was put off by Long John Silver’s character. From the very first encounter with him, I didn’t trust him, but there were several times when I wanted to. I remember gasping in shock when the mutiny is uncovered by our narrator halfway through the story, but I always expected Silver to be the villain in disguise. What really confused me was how he could kill several crew members and threaten the lives of the captain and the doctor and still get away scot-free at the end of the book, while the men he persuaded into mutiny were either killed or marooned on Treasure Island.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough? Am I alone in feeling conflicted over the conclusion of Treasure Island? It ruined the ending for me quite a bit, which is why I only gave the book a 3-star rating.

Read This Book If…

…you wish you were a pirate! Or you at least enjoy pirate and/or adventure stories.
…you are fascinated by the way humans (and fictional characters) react when placed in stressful life-and-death situations, especially when profit is involved (if you like Lord of the Flies and similar novels, you will probably appreciate Treasure Island as well).
…you like reading pioneering novels that have birthed entirely new genres.
…you enjoy reading books with reliable narrators, even if the other characters are not as trustworthy.

Final Musings

Since I’ve never seen a single film adaptation of Treasure Island, I have no idea which one is the best. Any recommendations? If you’re reading this, you should know that I am not the biggest Muppets fan, but if that one is generally considered one of the best versions, I will consider watching it :)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Published 1874 by Cornhill Magazine
Format: Paperback; 433 pages
Classics

Also By This Author: Tess of the D’UrbervillesJude the Obscure
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

It has taken me MONTHS to write this review of Thomas Hardy’s classic, Far From the Madding Crowd, probably because I have so many mixed feelings over it. It’s one of my best friend’s favorite books, so I really wanted to love it when I first started reading it last spring/summer. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Gabriel’s loyal character, and I even admired Bathsheba from time to time. But I had a difficult time connecting with the storyline, which caused me to keep putting the book down and picking it back up weeks later.

The one thing that kept me in pursuit of finishing Far From the Madding Crowd was a very exciting project I had the opportunity to work on: a literary-inspired webseries adaptation!

If you’ve ever happened to explore the menu on the right side of my bog, you may have inferred that I am a fan of webseries, especially those of a literary persuasion. My absolute favorite webseries is Green Gables Fables, a modern adaptation of my favorite novel, Anne of Green Gables. I’ve always dreamed that it would be fun and challenging to work on a LIW, but never had the opportunity before an online friend, Hazel, started putting a team together to turn Far From the Madding Crowd into a modern webseries.

You can check out the currently running series, Away From it All, here. The AFiT universe is expansive and ranges across many media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube videos, Tumblr, and even text messages!

I wrote/co-wrote three episodes, two of which have already aired. Having never written anything that was “published,” I was really nervous about this project! But overall I had fun and I learned a great deal about screenwriting, fictional character development, and all that a webseries production entails (which is to say, A TON). I’m grateful for the opportunity to become more involved in this community of artistic classic-lit-lovers.

I wish I enjoyed Far From the Madding Crowd more, but I’m not too surprised considering that Bathsheba was an unlikable character in my opinion. I’ve read rumors that Hardy did not have a very positive outlook on women, so maybe that attributed to some of my impressions. Like I said, I admired her character in a lot of ways. I just don’t think she’d be someone I’d get along with in real life ;)

Read This Book If…

…you love reading classics, especially “chunky” ones.
…you like stories with love triangles (or you aren’t turned off by them, at least).
…you appreciate strong minded female characters who are also feminine and delicate, at times. 
…you enjoy novels that focus on genteel living in the 1800s.

Final Musings:

One of the other developers/writers/transmedia experts has started her own production of an adaptation of A Comedy of Errors, which she’s invited me to join, and I’m really looking forward to working on a modern Shakespeare adaptation! Check back later for more info on that project :)

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest…”The world of Pooh is a world of enchantment. It is a world forever fixed in the minds and hearts of countless children — a world where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and the others share unforgettable adventures with Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh is filled with delight: Pooh goes hunting with Piglet, celebrates Eeyore’s birthday, and accompanies Christopher Robin and the others on an “Expotition” to the North Pole. Through it all, Pooh remains the whimsical philosopher and staunch friend, captivating children as he has for generations.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Published October 1, 1926
Format: Hardcover library checkout; 145 pages
Classics/Children’s Lit
Also By This Author: The Red House MysteryThe Sunny SideTwo People
GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I am frantically trying to catch up with my Classic’s Club challenge! I don’t know if I’m going to finish reading and reviewing 50 classics by the end of next year (I’m currently at 28), but I know I’ve definitely read at least that many classics, even if they weren’t on my list.

So, in a desperate attempt to catch up on my TBR classics list, in January I read the short but beloved children’s classic, Winnie the Pooh. Of course I used to watch the movies and TV series when I was younger, but I had never read any of the books! This seems to be a recurring travesty for me, since I also never read The Secret Garden or Peter Pan until only a year or two ago. I’m also experiencing the Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery for the first time, as part of a read-along from February through April. I’m VERY HAPPY that I discovered Anne of Green Gables at such a young age, but why did no one tell me about her literary sister, Emily?
Anyway, Winnie the Pooh was lovely and magical, as expected. I adored the naive and child-like humor of Pooh and his forest friends, and I was in a constant state of cheerfulness as I read about their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Winnie the Pooh 1

The only dark cloud appeared when I did some quick Google research on the author, A. A. Milne, and his son, who was the inspiration for Christopher Robin. I was sad to discover that the Winnie the Pooh series and subsequent franchise was detrimental to their relationship, and that even A. A. Milne’s wife harbored some resentment towards their son over the fallout. It’s unfortunate that a beautiful and heartwarming universe such as Winnie the Pooh could be the cause of family strife in the author’s life.

Winnie the Pooh will still be a comforting and enjoyable series to me, but I’ll always be reading it with a different lens from now on.

Read This Book If…

…you are still a child at heart.
…you’re looking for a book that will make you feel joy.
…you’re a fan of classics.

Final Musings

Winnie the Pooh 2

Have you ever had a changed opinion over a book you loved after learning more about the author’s background and history?

WTF?!: What the French? by Olivier Magny

WTF

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

 


WTF?!: What the French 
by Olivier Magny

Published August 23, 2016 by Berkley
Format: Netgalley e-book; 288 pages
Nonfiction/Travel/Humor
Also By This Author: Stuff Parisians LikeInto Wine: An Invitation to Pleasure
Author’s Website | GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

This book gave me serious homesickness for France! The author is a French native and who is all too familiar with the embarrassing and frustrating cultural barriers that can happen when one visits France. Although I thought WTF?!: What the French was an enlightening and entertaining read, I’d recommend it more to people who have visited or are planning to visit France. You will probably appreciate this book much more if you can compare the author’s opinions with your own personal anecdotes.

The book is divided into 50+ short chapters, each dealing with a specific topic ranging from pop culture to food to politics. Some of these topics are comedic (and will cause you to laugh out loud more than once), while others offer insight into current political events in France.

Here were some of the most noteworthy chapters for me:

Blowing Air – If you aren’t too accustomed with French people, you may think they’re seriously annoyed when they let a small huff of air out of their mouths. Chances are it’s only mild annoyance, but it has become one of my favorite French things to imitate.

La Rando Especially where I lived in the French Alps, family hikes are common weekend or even late afternoon activities. There are plenty of small walking routes to be found, and sometimes you even discover medieval castles on your journey.

“The French like to walk around with no precise goal other than that of enjoying life.”

Ça Va & C’est Pas Possible! The two most used phrases in the French language

“Liberté, égalité, impossibilité”

The English Despite what you may have heard from friends who have visited France, French people are very welcoming and hospitable, and I’ve encountered many natives who will switch to English when they speak with you, or who will be patient and helpful when you’re trying to practice your French.

Eating Rules The 4 hour French meal is not an exaggeration!

I can’t tell you how many times I was laughing out loud while reading WTF?!: What the French. I would constantly stop to reread chapters aloud to my (French) husband, who would proceed to confirm the author’s opinion by doing the exact thing laid out in the chapter. Then we’d both laugh and talk about how much we miss our colorful & expressive France. I only wish this book had been written before I moved to la France in 2012; it would have helped me adapt to and fall in love with the culture much earlier!

Read This Book If…

…you’re a francophile.
…you are open minded to learning about new cultures.
…you’ve ever experience a culture barrier.
…you enjoy books about food and travel.

Final Musings

I will leave you with a couple of hilarious quotes from the book:

“People think of France as the country of cheese. Really, it’s the country of yogurt.”

(There are SEVERAL aisles of yogurts and pudding desserts in French grocery stores)

“Across the globe, countless people view the French as always being on strike, which is unfair. Sometimes; they are on vacation.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Little Baby French Fry’s Favorite Picture Books

toptentuesday

Even though he doesn’t know how to read, my son is about to share his first ever post on my blog! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about visual books, and I decided to share some of my son’s favorite books, especially since he probably has as many books as I do.

Top Ten Tuesday: Killian’s Favorite Picture Books

 

Cache Cache des Grosses Bêtes by O. Latyk – This is the book that taught Killian how to roar like a lion (ok, technically taught him, but the book helped a lot!).

Où Est Mon Chien by Fiona Watt – Usbourne books are fantastic, and this one is in French! My in-laws send Killian touch and feel books from France and he loves them all. This one he loves so much that he literally destroyed it (it’s in three pieces) but he still reads it so I don’t have the heart to throw it away.

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – I bought this book as a stocking stuffer for Killian and we both fell in love with it right away. The other day he actually brought me this book to read it to him, and then asked me to reread it twice more. I can’t explain how much I love that my son is growing up to be a bookworm just like me :)

Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees – This book is so fun to read! I used to read it to Killian before his nap times and honestly I probably enjoyed it more than he did, but I know he liked it because he would sit through the whole book while I read it to him. Dinosaurumpus has lots of fun sounds and rhymes to hold little baby attention spans.

You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis and Caroline Jayne Church – This may have been the first book I bought for Killian. My mom used to sing this nursery rhyme to me when I was little and I always loved it. The song calms Killian down, too, and the illustrations are really pretty.

Une Souris Verte by Olivia Cosneau– Killian has a collection of 3 of these French “comptines” aka nursery rhymes, but this one is his favorite. It’s also super creepy: a green mouse is running in the grass, I grab him by his tail and show him to these gentlemen who tell me to dunk him in oil and then in water, and he’ll turn into a warm snail. That’s only the first verse.

The Berenstain Bears’ Sleepy Time Book by Mike Berenstain – Another book I like to read to Killian before bed or nap time. I loved the Berenstain Bear books when I was a kid, and so far Killian does, too.

5 Minute Pixar Stories – Here’s another book that is able to hold Killian’s attention for longer periods of time.

Mes Grosses Bêtes by Marion Billet – Each of the animals makes a noise when you press on their button, and the all have textures, too. Killian loves this book so much, especially the gorilla. As much as I don’t like gorillas, I was really proud when Killian began chanting “hoo hoo hoo!”

Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon – Although there isn’t much to this book, it’s still one of our favorites. Killian loves all the animal sounds, and one time I tried to change “dada” to “papa” because that is what my husband prefers to be called, but Killian corrected me right away. Such a book purist.

Armada by Ernest Cline

armada

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Armada by Ernest Cline
Published July 14, 2015 by Crown Publishing
Format: Audiobook narrated by Will Wheaton; 11 hr. 49 min.
Science Fiction/Young Adult
Also By This Author: Ready Player One
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

I love when I find books for my husband to read and he ends up enjoying them as much or even a little bit more than I do. We’ve been waiting for what has felt like months for Ready Player One to become available at the library, but I saw that Armada wasn’t checked out so I grabbed it and both my husband and I had a hard time putting it down.

If you aren’t familiar with Ernest Cline, let me preface this review by saying his books read like the ultimate geeky daydream. Zach’s adventure is Tron meets Ender’s Game meets Star Wars. If you’re a fan of any of those classic sci-fi stories, you are bound to love Armada. In fact, Armada is what I wish Ender’s Game had been (there were parts of Ender’s Game that I loved, and other parts that I equally despised, so the book as a whole was only “meh” for me).

But the most enjoyable part of Armada, to me, wasn’t the endless amounts of geeky pop-culture references that audiobook narrator Will Wheaton did such as good job at imitating. Instead, I found myself getting choked up at the deep familial relationships that honestly took me by surprise. Ernest Cline didn’t hesitate to include beautiful themes of reconciliation and reunion in between his allusions to Captain Pickard and Luke Skywalker.

There are some unpredictable twists and turns, and an ending that will leave you hanging on until the very last page. I’m all the more excited to read Ready Player One now that I’ve read Ernest Cline’s sophomore novel.

“If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.”

Read This Book If…

…you’re a geek. If you aren’t, you will not get most of the references or allusions and will therefore most likely not enjoy Armada very much.
…you’re an adult who enjoys Young Adult books.
…you’re not tired of dystopian, Armageddon doomsday (with aliens) settings.
…you want a book that will make you laugh and then unexpectedly tear up in the same paragraph.

Final Musings

This book has solidified my fairly recent love and appreciation for audiobooks. Will Wheaton does a phenomenal performance that will really make you feel like you’re watching a movie or, more appropriately, playing an immersive video game. I’d recommend checking out the audiobook from your library instead of reading Armada the old-fashioned way :)

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer
Published February 2, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover; 369 pages
Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult Romance
Also By This Author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and Heartless
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Stars Above was the book I really wanted to read last year but was unfortunately unable to do so; therefore, it was my first priority in 2017! I think it ended up being a great way to start off the year, and sci-fi/fantasy novels always seem to me to be appropriate winter reading. I enjoyed reading all of the short stories, but here are the four that made the biggest impression on me:

The Queen’s Army was probably my favorite short story in the book. It was definitely the creepiest, because it showed graphic insight into Wolf’s transformation and training to become one of Levana’s biologically altered soldiers. Wolf is one of the most mysterious and interesting characters in the Lunar Chronicles series, so I really enjoyed reading his “origin story” and understanding more about where he came from.

Continuing the same themes of creepy yet intriguing, Winter’s prequel story, The Princess and the Guard also helped me respect and appreciate Winter more than I already had. This short story is similar to Queen Levana’s prequel, Fairest, only The Princess and the Guard was much more enjoyable to me than Fairest was. It was easier to sympathize with Winter and I really enjoyed learning more about her friendship with Jacin.

Something Old, Something New was a really fun story, and technically it’s the epilogue of the entire series. All of the other stories take place before the start of Cinder, but Something Old, Something New is set a year after the end of Winter. It’s a warm and light-hearted story and the best part is that we get to see all eight of our characters together to celebrate a wedding (whose wedding? You’ll have to read it and see–no spoilers here!). I loved the way it ends the series on a heartfelt note.

My other favorite story in this book was The Little Android, which is only slightly connected to the rest of the series in the fact that it takes place in The Lunar Chronicles universe and we get a glimpse of one of the characters from the main books. Other than that it is a completely new retelling of the classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, and it’s my favorite type of story: tragic and bittersweet! (Yes, I’m a masochist).

“I will accept any amount of monsters my mind wants to give me, but I will not become a monster myself.”

Read This Book If…

…you love The Lunar Chronicles series.
…you enjoy short stories.
…you’re a fan of prequels and epilogues.
…you have a hard time letting go of your favorite characters.

“Politeness, it turned out, was almost as effective when you wanted someone to do something for you. And kindness went further toward lasting admiration than any amount of mind control.”

Final Musings

If you’ve already read all or part of The Lunar Chronicles series, Stars Above is a great book to add to your list, as well. You can even read the individual stories in between Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Here’s the breakdown of where all the novels take place on The Lunar Chronicles timeline:

Cinder (#1)
Glitches (#0.5)
The Little Android (#0.6)
The Mechanic (#0.7)
Scarlet (#2)
The Queen’s Army (#2.5)
The Keeper (#2.6)
Cress (#3)
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky (#3.1)
After Sunshine Passes By (#3.2)
Fairest (#3.5)
Winter (#4)
The Princess and The Guard (#4.1)
Something Old, Something New (#4.5)

Just make sure you save Something Old, Something New for last!