Top Ten Tuesday – Sept. 1st

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Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish


September 1: Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With

Okay, so…this was a fun one. Why? You may ask. Lets just say that I don’t get along with a lot of characters. I mean it takes a very special character for me to actually adore. A lot of characters I’m pretty neutral on. But there are just as many I can’t stand. Here’s the thing, I will admit I lean towards the “villain”. I’m a slytherin, I can’t help it. Now, there are some villains I even dislike (looking at you Umbridge), but I can still appreciate for how great their character is (I mean everyone hates her, that has to count for something) and often miss them when they’re gone (Joffrey was a little shit but at least he caused stuff to happen).

So, when creating this list (and the 3 subsequent drafts) I decided to pick my favorite category of dislike:

The Top Ten Characters That Made Me Think “OHMYGOD SHUT UP” Everytime They Talked.

SPOILERS WILL BE STATED.

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Alyssa, isn’t this about Claire? Why this gif? My Blog, My Rules.

1.) Claire – The Outlander Series: Okay, so…here’s the thing…I wanted to like her. I really did…but…She’s one of those people who seem to want to be one thing but she’s not. It bugged me to no end that she supposedly missed her husband SO MUCH and was dying to get to him but was obviously finding it okay to stay where she was. She very easily had sex with this other guy “BUT NO SHE HAD TO!” No she could have been like “Yo, they can’t see in here lets just make loud noises and bounce on the bed we’re good. Neither of us really want in this marriage anyways.” She legit disregards orders from a leader and then gets all offended when she’s punished for it. And above all else. All things I could forgive. SHE FORGAVE HER HUSBAND FOR BEATING HER LIKE FOUR DAYS AFTER IT HAPPENED AFTER BEING PISSED AND SAID SHE DESERVED IT NO YOU DRAG HIM THROUGH HELL AND HIGHWATER TO FEMINISM DON’T GIVE IN TO THAT SHIT.

2.)  Madame Bovary – Madame Bovary: There really was no hope for me to like a woman seeking to have an affair because she thinks it’ll make her a glamorous woman, who’s mad at her doctor husband because he’s not rich after he married her and got her off a freakin farm and if she hadn’t married him she would have never got to that party in the first place. Literally every life choice she made was dumb as hell. She wasn’t forced into marrying her husband. He was nice and bought her literally everything she wanted even when he drove him in debt. Plus, she was a horrible mother. Plus, she just sounds exhausting. Like literally, the two guys she had affairs with got exhausted by her.

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However, you should watch this version just for Tom Hardy’s wig.

3.) Catherine and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights: Since these two seem to think they have the same freakin soul they count as well. How freaking dramatic can two people be? Well, there’s a reason these two are on the list and Romeo & Juliet aren’t cause AT LEAST THOSE TWO WERE 14, YOU ARE GROWN ASS ADULTS! Heathcliff was just slightly more tolerable than Catherine if only because she had that stupid speech about being made up of the same stuff as him.

4.) James Potter – The Harry Potter Series: OHMYGOD the surge of James & Lily Potter fans that have come out of the HP Fandom in the past years are OBNOXIOUS. Maybe it’s because I just don’t like the marauders that much, but I honestly don’t see how from the very little we’re given about James Potter people can be as obsessively in love with him as they are. As far as I’m concerned he’s an arrogant jock who wore down the girl he liked OVER SEVEN YEARS and lucked out cause a prophecy was made about their kid so they had to procreate. Maybe if Rowling would have actually written this miraculous transformation from obnoxious twit that so many Marauders fans tell me happened I would like him better.

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We know, Cersei.

5.) Cersei Lannister – A Song Of Ice And Fire: Alright, listen up. Game Of Thrones did this thing where they decided to try to make Cersei Lannister more likable by making her arc “She did it for her kids!” which okay, that works, but Cersei Lannister in the books IS SO MUCH MORE RUTHLESS AND UNRELENTING AND ANNOYING! Every single choice she makes in the books IS WRONG and she makes them because she’s paranoid as HELL. She’s literally the type of person to shout “You think [insert thing] AND YOU KNOW IT” in a fight and that is one of my major pet peeves, so. She thinks she knows what everyone around her is thinking or going to do and I swear 95% of the time she’s wrong. Like, I don’t give a crap that she boinks her brother she’s just so annoying. And even when she messes up SHE JUST KEEPS GOING AND MAKES IT WORSE! She’s obviously a horrid leader, but she doesn’t even care if she takes Westeros down in a blaze of wildfire she just wants to be on top of the ashes and it’s obnoxious.

6.) Gus – The Fault In Our Stars: I feel a little bad about putting a guy with cancer on this list but I can’t help it. He had me rolling my eyes every time it came around for his dialogue. Hazel was almost up here with him, but she actually made me feel bad about his death so I gave her a break. He’s the guy in every philosophy/religion/lit class who talks too much. I understand he had been through a lot and he was trying to keep his spirits up, but Hazel seemed to be doing just find with her realistic world view; so I can stake it on that he was just seriously annoying, cancer or no cancer.

7.) Holden Caulfield – Catcher In The Rye: Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake a prozac and get doooooown ooooooofff your hiiiiiiiiigh hoooooorse you annoying, pretentious, personal hero to every english major bro, whiny rich boy.

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-hits play on Avril Lavigne CD-

8.) Bella Swan – Twilight Series: -takes a deep breath- How many dumb life choices can one person make? If she had a dollar for every time she made up her own mind she’d make fifty cents. 13 year old me who actually read and liked the first Twilight book for a time would have told you her worst life choice was not picking Jacob. 23 year old me in retrospect has to say her worst life choice WAS NOT CALLING THE FREAKIN COPS ON HER EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE STALKER BOYFRIEND!

9.) Marilyn Lee – Everything I never Told you: This is a rather new one, I recently read the book so that might be why she’s fresh on my mind and made the list. I think our main conflict was the way she handled things and her second wave feminist way of thinking. She was also really selfish and placed herself above her mother and children. I liked the intent of her dreams, but her ways of reaching them were horrid. I really couldn’t forgive her after she left her family without a word.

10.) Pope Joan – Pope Joan: This is a case where a character is presented as being too smart, too clever, too kind, too good that my dark slytherin heart can’t take it, and then add in that they seem to never be wrong and I want to throw a book across the room. I actually agreed with a lot of what she said, but her ideals just were not 800s AD way of thinking and it annoyed me to no end.

And now we’ve come to my honorable mentions. However, these are very special honorable mentions. These two characters managed to come from the depths of eye rolls to actually being admired in my eyes.

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Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games Trilogy: Ask anyone who was reading this series with me and they’ll tell you many of texts were sent with simply “Katniss is a biiiiiiiitch” I really didn’t like her. I was constantly annoyed with her. (JUST FREAKIN PICK ONE AND GET OVER IT!) But I have come to realize that I actually have a lot in common with her. Her choices make a hell of a lot more sense in retrospect. She’s not as big as a bitch as I initially remembered, and it might have had to do with my adoration of Peeta that I disliked her during the third book.

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Harry James Potter, sometimes you just act too much like your damn dad for your own good. Like many, when we hit Order Of The Phoenix we had had a little bit enough of whiny Harry. Of course, once again, in retrospect the poor 15 year old was still with one hell of a case of PTSD. I did find him annoying in other books, don’t get me wrong, and once again the Slytherin nature in me has to dislike his obnoxious Gryffindor qualities. We now have a light-hearted relationship where I mock him but deep in my heart love him. (Although, not gonna lie, kinda like the Potter Puppet Pals and A Very Potter Musical versions of him more.)

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Pope Joan: Whoop There It is.

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross is a 1996 novel depicting the fictional life of the only female Pope. Taking place during the 800s, the novel spans from Joan’s birth in Frankland til her death in Rome. The central source of the novel is taken from what some would call protestant propaganda and many just a myth of the catholic church. As the story goes, Pope John VII reigned for a little over 2 years during the middle ages, the end of his reign came when during a processional from St. Peter to the Lateran on the Via Sacra of Rome he gave birth to a child (this is depicted in the below images) and was thus found to be a woman.

Whether Pope Joan was a real person or not has been up for debate for centuries, as Cross explains in the author’s notes at the end of the novel. Evidence that there were attempts to erase Pope Joan’s reign from history have been found, as have evidence of others attempting to reinstate her reign to the records. Never the less, Cross has taken what little information is known about Pope Joan and flushed it out to a full length “biography”.

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According to Good Reads Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross has an average rating of 4.06; I would say this is a bit high. While there are plenty of good points to the book, the number of bad ones make me question what people saw in this novel to make it seem so phenomenal in the reviews. I wouldn’t say I was entirely let down by them, those reviews who gave the book around a 3 star rating seemed to have the same complaints as I’m about to make.

I’ll start with my most nit-picking tiny detail of a complaint that almost ruined the entire book for me. This book was written in 1996. At the end of the novel Cross goes into detail how much research she put forth in to the book to make it as historically accurate as she could. This didn’t add up to me for one glaring mistake. By this time we were well aware that the typical depiction of vikings was inaccurate and incorrect. Why then, if she put so much research into making everything as historically accurate as she could, down to apologizing for making her viking attack some 20 years before it actually happened in that particular town, did she not apologize for her depiction of the vikings? She said they had gold horned helmets for Christ’s sake. Although we only see them ones, the ridiculousness of them having “gold horned helmets” and “Dragon ships” and describing every one of them as “giants” did little more than pillage and raid the town and then leave left me aghast and honestly stuck with me through the rest of the book to the point I began to question the historical accuracy of the rest of the novel.

My major complaint of the novel is the development of the character. popejoanCross does a brilliant job with world building (more on that later) her characters are all lacking, including the main one Joan. Joan is depicted as being smart, witty, caring, thoughtful, very intelligent, philosophical, and logical. She literally can do no wrong and at times it’s a bit jarring how quickly she comes up with something to get herself out a trouble. Or how lucky she gets when she’s going with a last ditch effort. (At one point she came close to discovering germ theory around 840AD and I almost threw the book.)

Her only flaw, that’s brought up as a flaw, is that she cares too much and needs to act more political. However, she rarely takes this advice and even when she doesn’t things don’t turn out too bad. When she slips up and says or does something that would typically turn out poorly, there’s ultimately one person around who appreciates Joan and saves her. This gets annoying about half way through the novel when you realize everything bad that happens to Joan is because of someone else, and never herself.

The secondary characters are your basic underdeveloped caricatures of medieval characters (save perhaps Gerold, who’s the progressive knight in shining armor to save Joan from a world of misogynists). This isn’t too much of a problem because the novel goes through what seems at least 50 side characters, none of which are in the entire novel. They appear for their short respected time before Joan moves on to a new cast of characters to deal with. This becomes a problem when you realize each new adventure Joan sets out on as the same “set cast” there is also the misogynistic man in power, the sympathetic man Joan depends on, and the group that Joan eventually sways to her line of thinking. The only diverge from this is when at one point the misogynistic man is replaced by a misogynistic woman.

pope_joan (1)As for the good points of this novel. As I mentioned, Cross does a wonderful job of world building. Her ability to seamlessly incorporate true historical events is excellent, second only to her ability to weave in subplots throughout the novel and reference them at a later time. With a novel as long as this one, it’s almost like a memory of your own when Joan recollects about a past event. Besides the one event mentioned above, the rest of the novel from my limited knowledge seems historically accurate. Nothing beyond the vikings depiction was glaringly out of date.

Additionally, perhaps what makes the novel so popular is the fact that for a novel that takes place in the 9th century, it reads rather casually. I only ran into trouble with pronunciation when it came to the names of the Romans. There is latin throughout the book but always closely followed by an english translation. The dialogue flowed naturally, but maintained it’s period feel which was a very subtle balance that Cross pulled off rather well.

For a novel that takes place primarily in monasteries and the Vatican, it’s a rather progressive tale. Honestly, I think you would likely enjoy the book more the less religious you are. The size can be a little daunting but it’s a very easy read and doesn’t take much effort to get back into after a break. I would recommend to anyone seeking a pre-tudors era novel or anyone just interested in the myth of Pope Joan.

Friday Finds – August 14th

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Books I’ve purchased:
Poldark by Winston Graham

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Books recently added to my Goodreads:

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

The Pretender’s Lady by Alan Gold

Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet

Top Ten Tuesday – August 11th

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Hosted By The Broke and The Bookish
August 11: Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From

I’m warning you all now, this is going to be mostly series. If I manage to get to 10 it’ll surprise me because thinking on it as I write this, I don’t have very many “key” authors. So, let’s take a look, shall we?


1.) Lemony Snicket (Daniel Hadler): A Series Of Unfortunate Events is 13 books in total, and I’ve also read The Beatrice Letters.
2.) William Shakespeare: I’ve read 9 plays by William Shakespeare (5 Comedies, 2 Tragedies, 2 Histories)
3.) JKRowling: Of course, the brilliant Harry Potter series is 7 novels, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through The Ages, and Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them. I’ve yet to read her post-potter work but I own it!
4.) Jane Austen: Actually not a series here. I’ve read the main six of her novels and the story The Beautiful Cassandra.
5.) George RR Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire series is currently 5 novels (still waiting George) and the “The Hedge Knight” graphic novel.
6.) JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship Of the Ring, The Children of Hurin, Beowulf (his translation). I also started The Two Towers…I’m stuck…but I mean I did the same with FOTR…
7.) Gregory Maguire: Wicked, Son Of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. I’ve also attempted but have yet to read completely; Out of Oz, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
8.) Veronica Roth: The Divergent Trilogy, plus the Four: Divergent Collection novel.
9.) S.E.Hinton: The Outsiders, That Was Then, This Is Now, and Tex.
10.) Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games Trilogy

“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”; a review of Go Set a Watchman

So, I understand I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I was a little late to the party on even getting the book. My grandmother preordered the ebook, which came with a hardback, and proceeded to incessantly text me to not buy the book. So I waited. And then after I finished the book, I waited again. I didn’t want to just write my guy interpretation. I wanted to sit on it a bit.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like about the book, so I can leave on a happy note.

The major pain I had with this book was all the loose threads that didn’t tie up at the end. We never found out what came of Zeebo’s son, Dr. Finch randomly mentioning his love of Scout’s mom never went anywhere, Jem’s death seemed to just get mentioned every once in awhile, what was the point of the Cunningham ice cream man, and there were a lot more. I feel like, as with TKAM, the idea was to have different threads to connect the complicated structure of issues, but unlike TKAM Harper Lee did not bring the plots together at a point. She took off with a singular one and proceeded to focus on that. I believe this probably would have been fixed with a second draft, but as it’s published, it’s a bit underwhelming.

Another narrative structure similarity GSAW shares with TKAM is the breaking of the plot into “stories”. With TKAM this was used to pass the time quicker, with GSAW they were used as flashbacks. While both uses are fine, I believe the “stories” in TKAM were more emotionally satisfying and added more to the over arcing theme, than their GSAW counterparts. Two struck out to me as comparisons:

In TKAM there’s an entire “story” of Atticus shooting a rabid dog. When I first read it I honestly thought the story was pointless, why did we really need to know Atticus shot a mad dog? However, ultimately, it lent to the larger story by showing another layer of Atticus and the choices he makes, and was symbolic in a sense to Atticus’ view of pity and justice.

In GSAW there’s a story of the time Scout went to a school dance with Hank where he takes her padded bra off and tosses it only for it to land on a billboard in the school parking lot and to be found by the principal which leads to Hank seeking Atticus’ advice on how to keep Scout and himself out of trouble. See how long winded that was compared to the first? The resolve of this story ends up just reiterating things we already knew about the characters. It was humorous at times, but in the end not really needed.

Additionally, I didn’t find the moral complexity presented in TKAM in GSAW. I believe Lee might have seen the arguments presented in the novel as complex but the way they’re presented makes them pretty stark. This might have been compromised by just how confusing she made the arguments in the second half of the novel. I found myself as confused as Scout at times. There were also a lot of dated references made during these arguments that made it more difficult to understand.

Lastly, and this is my conspiracy theorist coming out; at times it felt too much like a sequel. I don’t know if Harper Lee ever intended to publish this as a sequel after she had written TKAM, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. To be honest, I expected maybe one to two “OH look she drew inspiration from that bit!” moments. I wasn’t expecting GSAW to feel like a genuine sequel at times. (Of course at others I read things that were exact opposites in TKAM; such as the line about Atticus discouraging Scout from cursing when she was younger.)

Now for what I did like.

There were many passages and parts of this book I did enjoy. Lee has a beautiful way of description that I love to read. I really connect with her view of bittersweet admiration, especially when describing Maycomb. And in terms of complexity I do believe she captured Scout’s tension between tomboy child and being forced into femininity well.

Speaking of Scout, one of the sighs of relief came when I realized that Scout was still Scout. I could realistically see the young girl from TKAM turning into the woman presented in GSAW. It was to the point that I could empathize with Scout. I was raised on the edge of Appalachia; president of the young Democrats club with a presiding body of 11 (3 of which were republican girls who detested the young Republicans cause they did nothing but meet up and talk about how horrible democrats were). My saving grace to realizing that basically everyone in my hometown was racist was facebook and going to high school during the election of the first black President. If I didn’t have that, I probably would have been as shell-shocked as Scout coming back from going to college up north.

As frustrating as the opposing characters are I did find them realistic. I myself know plenty of people who have the same arguments as Atticus, Dr. Finch, and Hank even today. For a more modern example I would look to the Supreme Court ruling that Gay Marriage was constitutional. Many people placed their anger, not that it was made legal but that it was made legal by the supreme court and not the individual states. This is the same argument Atticus and Dr. Finch pose to Scout.

Speaking of Dr. Finch, I liked his inclusion and I liked his character but he did seem like a replacement Atticus (although in terms of chronological writing; Atticus replaced him).


 

In conclusion, I did enjoy reading the book. I think it might need a reread, because like I said; I was really confused during a lot of the longer lasting arguments in the second half of the book. And looking at the book in terms of a draft and not an actual sequel made it more interesting to me than the other way around. (While it makes me wonder, considering how much was connected between two if Harper Lee didn’t intend to eventually one day publish Go Set A Watchman.) I don’t think I could ever really look at GSAW like a sequel. Some parts, yes; I could handle some of it happening. Maybe if the book had stopped after the first half.

Thankfully, however, the book did not kill the mockingbird. I still love Atticus. I still love To Kill a Mockingbird. My opinion has not changed in that regard. And to be honest I was worried. I was worried I would never forgive Atticus and at first, after that first reveal I couldn’t. After his first attempt to explain himself I couldn’t. But after closing the back cover; it was gone. That Atticus had left me, and in his place his original mad dog shooting, advice giving, calm before the storm stepped forward once more.

 

 

(P.S I really missed Jem.)