The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

One pitch-black London morning, a ghoulish little man tramples a young girl and continues heedlessly on his way. Caught by a passerby and returned to the scene of the crime, the man is forced to pay £100 in restitution. He produces ten pounds in gold and a check for the remainder. Curiously, the check bears the signature of the well-regarded Dr. Henry Jekyll. Even stranger, Dr. Jekyll’s will names this same awful and mysterious little man, Mr. Hyde, as the sole beneficiary. Troubled by the coincidence, Dr. Jekyll’s attorney visits his client. What he uncovers is a tale so strange and terrifying it has seeped into the very fabric of our consciousness.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published January 5, 1886 by Longmans, Green & Co.
Format: e-book/audiobook; 64 pages/3 hours 3 minutes
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: Treasure IslandKidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I was really looking forward to reading this spooky gothic classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, especially during the Halloween season. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. While the novel’s plot and characters were intriguing, I found the writing style incredibly boring. It took me at least two weeks to finish a three hour audiobook, mainly because I kept zoning out and losing interest as the story went on.

Everyone knows the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a curious scientist drinks a potion that turns him into a murderous lunatic, and overtime Dr. Jekyll becomes consumed by this psychotic half of his split-personality. It’s a fascinating plot for a story, which is why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains so popular over a century later. While I did enjoy the beginning and the end of this novel, I felt that the middle dragged on without very many exciting things happening, aside from some very lengthy passages of dialogue that could have used a sentence or two of description.

I would recommend this book to fans of gothic lit and classic sci-fi (namely H.G. Wells’s novels), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an audiobook version unless the narrator is extremely entertaining. I believe the version I listened to was from Librivox.

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img_1269FrankensteinThe Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

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Notable for its sheer invention, suspense, and psychological nuance, The Invisible Man focuses on Griffin, a scientist who has discovered the means to make himself invisible. His initial, almost comedic, adventures are soon overshadowed by the bizarre streak of terror he unleashes upon the inhabitants of a small village.

 

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
Published 1897 by Pearson’s Weekly
Format: e-book/library hardcover/audiobook; 192 pages (clearly I couldn’t put this book down!)
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

What a creepy story! I have to admit, when I first picked up The Invisible Man, I was not expecting it to be a Gothic suspense story, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the subtitle: a grotesque romance. I love Gothic literature, especially when paired with science fiction! [side note: there is no romance in this novella; according to the footnote, that description refers to the fact that this story deals with supernatural incidents that are removed from every day life.]

The Invisible Man starts off right away by throwing readers into suspense and intrigue. We meet our antihero, whom we later learn is called Griffin, as he arrives at an inn and begins terrorizing the local townspeople. Terrorizing is a little harsh; at first he is simply worrying them with his shroud of mystery, but as the novel progresses and Griffin’s condition worsens, he enacts a self-proclaimed reign of terror.

I must confess that in the beginning I liked Griffin, despite the fact that he was impatient, rude, and prone to outbursts. He reminded me of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre and he had an unusual sense of humor about him. But then Griffin started harming other people without remorse, and I felt torn over my former sympathy for his predicament and my later fear of and disappointment in his mental decline.

There are several minor characters, but none of them are nearly as interesting as Griffin; however, I did feel for both Marvel and Dr. Kemp at times.

The ending was appropriately abrupt, and the story was resolved in a surprising and inevitable way (the best type of ending!). This was my third H. G. Wells novel, after War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, and I will definitely be reading more of his novels in the future.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy classic novels and science fiction.
…you appreciate Gothic literature.
…you’re interested in books that feature a villain or antihero as the main character.
…you’re looking for a suspenseful story that has a fair amount of creepiness.

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waroftheworldsFrankensteinThe Birthmark

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine.jpg

The Time Traveller embarks on an astonishing journey into the future. His Time Machine transports him to a far-distant but dying world where humanity is divided into two classes: the graceful, idle Eloi who inhabit the idyllic surface of the world, and the Morlocks, ugly nocturnal creatures who live and work underground. In The Time Machine, Wells created one of the first and finest science fiction stories: a social allegory that is both vivid and perturbing.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Published 1895 by William Heinemann
Format: paperback; 118 pages
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: War of the WorldsThe Invisible Man
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I remember watching what was quite possibly my first ever live-action sci-fi movie. However, for years afterwards I could not remember the title, or the basic plot, or even the actors; I could only remember one scene that involved a beautiful, misfortunate lady in a red dress and a man determined to save her life. For years I longed to find this movie and watch it again. It bothered me like an itch I just couldn’t scratch, and I started to believe that I had dreamed the whole thing up.

Then one day, somehow, I stumbled across the movie The Time Machine. I probably picked it up for one of two reasons: Guy Pierce was on the cover, and it was about time travel. But then I watched it, and my heart filled up with excitement because at long last I had been reunited with THE movie!

Since then I have watched and re-watched The Time Machine multiple times, and I credit it as the movie that sparked my love for all-things time travel. But, until only recently, I had never actually read the novella that the movie is based on. H.G. Wells is often regarded as the father of Science Fiction, and The Time Machine is what originally brought him critical acclaim at the end of the 19th century. It was one of the first stories of its kind, and it propagated sub-genres of science fiction that remain wildly popular today.

The Time Machine is told through the narrator, known only as The Time Traveler. In the same manner Jules Verne, another pioneer of science fiction, introduced Phineas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, H.G. Wells introduces The Time Traveler and his time machine by presenting them to a group of intelligent and skeptical peers. The majority of the novella is told as a recounting of The Time Traveler’s journey to the very distant future, when the human species has devolved into two opposing and rival species. The Eloi, which represents the consequences of mankind’s political and cultural aspirations, is a frail and indistinct group that has few interests or emotions in general. Their way of life is free from burden, work, or even relationships. The Morlock tribe, on the other hand, symbolizes the savage and industrial sides of mankind. They are completely nocturnal and reside underground, surfacing only at night to hunt.

The suspense in The Time Machine is incredibly thick and mystical. Even though, through Wells’s use of foreshadow, you know what is going to happen, you can’t help but become caught up in The Time Traveler’s journey to and escape from the future. The imagery of dying Earth and the fall of humanity is both fascinating and worrisome. When coupled with H. G. Wells’s technical voice, it’s easy to pretend you’re reading a memoir and not merely a science fiction novella.

Read This Book If…

…you appreciate both classics and science fiction.
…you are looking for a book that can be read in one sitting.
…you have a healthy imagination and sense of curiosity.
…you love stories about time travel and dystopian societies.

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Around the World in Eighty DaysjourneyThe Martian Chronicles

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 

Final Musings

The Time Machine

Does anybody else love the movie The Time Machine? Fun fact: it is directed by H. G. Well’s great-grandson.

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?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol.jpg

To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published December 19, 1843 by Chapman & Hall
Format: Kindle e-book; 73 pages
Classics
Also By This Author: Great ExpectationsLittle DorritA Tale of Two Cities
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

This is me attempting to catch up on book reviews from last year…

Last month I finally, for the first time ever, read A Christmas Carol. I amazed even myself by waiting that long to read it. Of course I knew the story; I’ve seen enough movie versions and even that one Boy Meets World episode that re-imagines Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future. But I had never read it! I had it in my mind that I could only read A Christmas Carol when it was actually Christmastime, and each December I would be so overwhelmed with holiday preparations or finishing reading challenges that I’d keep putting the Charles Dickens story aside for another year.

Well, 2016 was finally that year and I’m not at all surprised to say that I truly enjoyed A Christmas Carol and I can see why it will forever be a holiday classic and one of Charles Dickens’s most beloved works.

As expected, the Ghost of Christmas Present creeped me out, the idea of Tiny Tim passing away made me cry, and the renewed and re-inspired Ebenezer Scrooge buying the prize turkey and sending it in a cab to Bob Crachit’s house, all the while chuckling and probably confounding the poor messenger boy, made me chuckle as well.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Read This Book If…

…you wish it were Christmas all year long.
…you enjoy shorter, novella-length books.
…you want to rediscover a classic.
…you’ve never read Dickens before and are looking to ease your way into his works.

Final Musings

I’ve heard that there are some wonderfully done audiobook versions of  A Christmas Carol, including one by Neil Gaiman. Maybe this December I’ll listen to one of those narrations while wrapping Christmas presents :)