Archive for the ‘Booktalk’ Category

Mr. Utterson is the respectable sort of gentlemen lawyer who reserves judgement on his friends.

‘I incline to Cain’s heresy,’ he used to say quaintly. ‘I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.’”

But when his mild-mannered friend-about-town, the beloved Dr. Jekyll, seems to have fallen under an evil man’s influence—one Mr. Edward Hyde—even the reserved lawyer Utterson feels the need to check in. But though Dr. Jekyll assures everyone that all is well with him and Hyde, the lawyer watches his friend’s deterioration and increasing secrecy with grave concern…The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is classic adult horror authored by Robert Louis Stevenson and originally published in 1886.

Everyone probably knows the basic happenings of this famous short story, but my post will take the form more of “discussion” and less of a “review,” so if you want to avoid spoilers about the specifics, you might want to skip the rest. My statute of limitations on spoilers ended at “one century old” Lol You could also go read the story right now (it’s short and free on Kindle!) and come back when you’re finished. Otherwise, read on, reader, at your own peril *evil cackle*

Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead):

We read the “strange case” through the eyes of Mr. Utterson. Slowly, occasionally ponderously, but always in that charming 19th century way, he tells us of a brutal murder committed by Mr. Hyde, who then disappears without a trace. He describes Dr. Jekyll’s subsequent deteriorations and disappearance. And, finally, through heavy use of the “confessional missive” trope so popular during this time, he learns—and we learn—the details of Dr. Jekyll’s demise.

In fact, Dr. Jekyll’s own letter tells the full story. He describes his life as,

nine-tenths a life of effort, virtue and self-control.”

But that remaining 1/10th of “badness” manifests as Mr. Edward Hyde, a degenerate through whom Dr. Jekyll allows his baser instincts to rule and be separate from his “good” self. I say “allows” because he must take a potion to induce his transformation into Hyde…at least, in the beginning. But when he transforms, Mr. Hyde runs wild, spending himself in moral filth. Jekyll feels no fear or disgust in looking at his baser nature, as others do. For,

This, too, was myself.”

At least, he feels that way…in the beginning.

As time wears on and Jekyll finds himself relaxing into and enjoying the freedom of Hyde’s reign, he suddenly begins changing into Hyde—without taking the potion.

Uh oh.

Under this strain of continually impending doom and by the sleeplessness…I became, in my own person, a creature eaten up and emptied by fever, languidly weak both in body and mind, and solely occupied by one thought: the horror of my other self.”

That line contains all the real horror of the situation, to me. He knows what’s coming, and he dreads it, but he can’t stop it anymore. His repeated choice to transform has finally become his chosen status quo. A habit.

Stevenson’s tale is more than a moralistic tale, of course. It’s a psychological discussion about the struggles inherent in human nature. It might even be a metaphor for something specific beyond a “habit of being,” such as a cocaine/opium/laudanum habit (Jekyll takes a potion to become his “bad self,” after all) or some other vice. I’m not familiar enough with Stevenson’s life to know what he might be talking about lol

And of course it’s a horror story. I think the horror comes from the knowledge that Dr. Jekyll’s choice belongs to all of us: this is every man’s and every woman’s choice. We can all choose to free our baser instincts when we think we can get away with it and avoid besmirching our “good” selves. But soon, we lose the choice—soon it comes alive and chooses for us.

*shiver* 

Anyway, that’s what I thought. Have you read this one or seen one of the many tv shows, graphic novels or other media based on it? What do you think it’s about?

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New Year Update & Book Haul

Posted: January 3, 2017 in Book Haul, Booktalk, TBR
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Hello friends! After a two-week blogging break, it’s time for an update! Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time working on my own writing project, which involves a lot of research about Mesoamerican civilizations. But I also finished reading several novels!

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I made a goal to read the two published volumes of the Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson over the holidays. While I only finished  The Way of Kings completely [Review coming next week!], I am about 200 pages into Words of Radiance and will be happily enjoying the audiobook as the blog returns to our regularly scheduled programming.

Other Books I finished: 

I actually finished Winter before the blog break, but I never posted the promised review! It really will be coming this week 🙂

Book Haul

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Next, I wanted to share the gorgeous books I’ve gotten recently. My husband actually bought me the original Mistborn trilogy a while ago, but I hadn’t ever posted pictures of them. Arcanum Unbounded (!!) and The Exiled Queen (The Exiles #2) by Cinda Williams Chima were Christmas presents!

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I also recently picked up three pocket paperbacks at used book sales: Fiddler’s Fair by Mercedes Lackey (foreground), Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (bottom of stack) and Doomsday Book (top of stack) by Connie Willis, who authored my second favorite book of 2016, Crosstalk). A friend also loaned me my first Baen book, called Once a Hero by Elizabeth Moon (middle of stack). Which looks awesome.

Netgalley Digital ARCs

And last but certainly not least, this year’s Netgalley haul (so far)! This should carry me through February, at which time I plan to settle down to some backlist reading and perhaps binge read a series.

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katharine Arden, Del Rey Jan 10th, 2017. I’m reading this one right now and really enjoying the atmosphere and setting.
  • Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs, Albert Whitman & Company. This book was actually published in 2016, but the sequel will be available soon and AW&C is offering this first volume on Netgalley. I was so excited to get access because I’ve been eyeing it for a while!
  • Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer, Tor Jan 31, 2017. “At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies.” <-How could I possibly resist a description like that? And when I saw’s Tamora Pierce’s praise, I couldn’t request this one fast enough.
  • Gilded Cage by Vic James, Del Rey Feb 14th, 2017. I think I requested this one largely based on the author’s amazing bio, but the description sounds none too shabby: “For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule—and commoners are doomed to serve.”
  • Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan, Open Road Integrated Media Science & Fantasy 14th Feb, 2017. I’ve never read anything by Dave Duncan, but I can’t resist Asian fantasies, beautiful covers or titles that promise magic. I’m so so excited to try this one!
  • Autumn Princess, Dragon Child (The Tale of Shikanoko II) & Lord of the Darkwood (The Tale of Shikanoko III) by Lian Hearn. These were published in quick succession last year, but Farrar, Straus & Giroux kindly gave me access after the fact. I actually meant to access only the second book, but I accidentally grabbed the third. So now I have both! Oh darn. I’ve been wishing I’d gotten to these earlier, but since they were already published when I was given access, I decided to wait for a time when I could sit and enjoy them one right after the other. If the first book is anything to judge by, the temptation to binge-reading will be strong!
  • Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett & Ken Mitchcroney, Blackstone Publishing 13th June, 2017. “Captain Farley navigates a maze of treachery and wonder—and finds a love seemingly decreed by fate—as his bomber becomes a pawn in a centuries-old conflict between remnants of advanced but decaying civilizations.” The description of this one is tantalizingly vague. I requested it months ago, before that awesome cover was revealed, and I’m growing ever more curious to dive in!

That’s it for this book haul. What did you get for Christmas? I’d love to hear about what you’re excited to read in 2017!

Yo! I’m still on my two week holiday break from blogging (I meant to post my review of Marissa Meyer’s Winter by now, but, alas, the holidays! The food, the games! Next week, I promise), but I couldn’t resist writing the ubiquitous Best of 2016 list. I got to read such a great stretch of books near the end of 2016, and I found a couple of new to “go-to” authors throughout this year. That’s a good reason to come back from my break for a day, right? You know it!

I read something like 65 books this year (not counting rereads such as Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park audiobooks I enjoyed this Fall). Many were new releases, but, happily, I also managed to fit in some backlist reading! Most of my 11 favorites are books published pre-2016, but the best books published this year were smash hits. I grouped them all together, below, roughly in the order of favorites; but really? The books in the top two rows are basically all tied with each other, as are the bottom two. I just loved so many books this year! It’s been wonderful!

Favorites of 2016

  • Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. Max Gladstone is one of those clever authors who subvert expectations constantly with humor and unique religious insight (this time about Mesoamerican ideas of sacrifice). Definitely one of my faves! Even though I enjoyed book I (Three Parts Dead) more than Two Serpents Rise, book II still earned a whopping 4.5/5 stars.
  • The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. This year has been a Sanderson Epoch for me! I read and loved the original Mistborn trilogy on audiobook. All in all, I will have read seven and started an eighth Sanderson book, all in the course of 2016.
  • The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. Because if a book makes me laugh this hard, it belongs in my favorites!
  • Waer by Meg CaddyA gorgeous YA travel fantasy by a debut Australian author. Told in the style of Juliet Marillier. Published in 2016.
  • Railhead by Philip Reeve. Sentient trains ship passengers throughout the galaxies. Great setup for a great series, I hope!
  • The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. I really enjoyed this YA Fantasy and would love to finish the series. Just bought book two with Christmas money!

 

2016 Runner-Ups

  • Ibenus (Valducan #3) by Seth Skorkowsky. I was really impressed with this gritty adult urban fantasy (published in 2016). If that’s your jam, you should definitely check out this series.
  • Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn. A literary Asian-influenced adult fantasy (2016). I really enjoyed this dark fantasy, much more so than the other book I’ve read by Hearn, The Nightingale Floor.

And that’s it! What a great year. What did you enjoy reading in 2016? Link your recap posts to mine so I can read them!

This is my first Youtube video ever BY THE WAY! 🙂