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I Capture the Castle

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i capture the castle

I loved this book but kind of in the way you love your grandmother, sometimes her ideas and the things she says really aren’t things that people say anymore, you’re a little embarrassed buy this but you can still see the value. This book was originally published in 1948 and reading you’re not the least bit surprised. The book is written as 17 year old Casandra’s journal, I’ve always been a fan for this style of writing. If you want me to love a book just make it sound like I’m reading someone’s journal. I wonder what that says about me? Oh well…

Abuse is handled as a very normal, even expected thing. “Oh father -do you think that’s what has been the matter with you – that you stopped getting violent? Has repressing your temper somehow repressed your talent?” (299) Her father, James Mortmain, wrote one successful novel and then the neighbor caught him brandishing a cake knife at his wife, even though its frequently stated that James wouldn’t have really hurt her. He was just upset, but the cake knife incident landed him three months in jail.  Once he is released from jail, James takes a 40 year lease on a crumbling castle in the country, moves his family there, and never writes again.  I’m not really sure his temper ever really does go away, just the physical abuse. James spends his days in the gatehouse and people are never to disturb him or question him in any way. If they try they are either glared at or spoken to very sharply, even if it’s his wife.

Casandra is an endearing protagonist. Even though their family is dirt poor Casandra never seems bitter about it, unlike her sister. Casandra always’ tries to make the best out of a situation even if she doesn’t completely know what, if anything, she should do.

A lot of reviews I read for this book all said it was written for 15 year old girls, which quite frankly kind of pissed me off. This is a coming of age story written from the perspective of a 17 year old girl, many coming of age stories with male protagonist are viewed as books everyone should read. The male reviewers frequently stated that they now had to do something to “prove” their masculinity, because of course reading a book with by a woman about a young woman is so completely threatening to your (from what I could tell) cis, heterosexual, masculinity. These reviews just reinforced that we have a society that views males as the default.

I really wasn’t in the mood to read a coming of age story, I read the first few pages and then decided that I would read it later. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get the characters out of my head, I still can’t. I ended up needing to finish the book, not wanting to. There were times when I kept wondering what kept drawing me back in and the best answer I can come up with is Dodie Smith is a brilliant writer. All of the characters were fleshed out and had a distinct voice. If you’re comfortable with your sexuality and want to read an incredibly well written and timeless book, grab this one.

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Trigger Warning:

Abuse

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

The Color of Magic

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the-colour-of-magic-2

              The Color of Magic by Terry Prachett is the first novel in a science fiction series about a far off world named Discworld. I’m pretty lucky because no one told me this book was going to be amazing so it had no hype to live up to. If you don’t like the idea of a flat world resting on the back of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle this is not the book for you. This isn’t one of those books where you can skim whole paragraphs because if you try that suddenly you’re in a completely different part of the world with no idea as to how you got there. Hell, sometimes if you don’t skim you still just end up somewhere with no idea as to why or how that happened. The book isn’t one whole story but more of a collection of four short stories. At times this does cause the book to feel jumpy and confusing.

I didn’t hate nor did I particularly like the main characters, Rincewind, a failed wizard, and Twoflower, a tourist. Twoflower bumbles around being excited by everything meanwhile, Rincewind follows him around trying to keep Twoflower from getting himself killed. My two favorite characters were Death and the Luggage. The Luggage is a magical chest that has the personality of a big, loyal, sloppy dog. If it ever gets separated from Twoflower, its master, it will run over anyone and anything in its path to get back to him, hilariousness ensues. Death randomly pops in and out to see if Rincewind is going to get out of whatever mess he’s in or if Death can finally take him. Whenever Rincewind does manage to survive Death is very put off and sulks, which an amusing image.

This book is funny, but it’s the kind of book that gets funnier the each time you read it. Knowing what I know now some of the jokes in the beginning are hilarious, but when I first read them weren’t even laugh out loud funny. This book series has a cult following and it’s easy to see why. Almost every review of this book I’ve read said that this is the weakest book in the series, so if this book doesn’t quite do it for you try another one before you completely give up on the Discworld universe.

 

Trigger Warnings:

No known triggers

happy pooh bear

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Not even close. Unless I miscounted there are only a handful female characters in the entire book. They all have names but they never interact with one another. This book travels through  an entire world and we never have more than one female character in a scene at a time. That makes total sense…

yeah sure

 

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

What Angels Fear

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what angels fear

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris is a historical mystery sent in London in 1811. The main character Sebastian St. Cyr is accused of a brutal murder of a young actress. Our hero, knowing he is innocent flees arrest and attempts to solve the mystery himself.

The mystery was enough to keep me engaged. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was fairly early but I wasn’t sure how all the pieces would fall together and if Sebastian would be able to clear his name. All of the characters were well rounded and thought out. This is the first book in the series and we are not privy to all of the characters secrets yet. Besides the main mystery there are little tidbits here and there hinting at future plot lines. None of these hints felt forced and were tantalizing enough that I want to continue the series.

If Sebastian were a lady everyone who reads this book would have call him a Mary Sue, but he’s not a lady.  Men can be obscenely perfect but the ladies can’t, if you think I’m wrong, apply the standards of a Mary Sue to Batman. Sebastian has super awesome hearing and eyesight, so awesome he can almost see in the dark. His hearing is so good that he can hear whispers in another room. I kept waiting to find out he was part demon or something but nope just a human with some super awesome senses.

pshhhhh

Sebastian is wounded emotionally from a bad breakup that caused him to sign up to fight France. When he returns he is more damaged than before. Sebastian is the tired hero that keeps insisting that he’s “no hero” and everyone just nodding their heads and smirking. To keep Sebastian in line he’s given a little helper in the form of a street child named Tom.  He surprises Sebastian more than once with his resourcefulness and perceptiveness. Tom is adorable and street smart, he definitely adds to the story.

Next time I’m in the mood for a historical mystery I’m going to have zero qualms about picking up the next book in this series.

Trigger Warnings:

  • Rape
  • Necrophilia
  • Animal abuse mention
  • Gore

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)