The Three Musketeers, a review

The Three Musketeers is my second Alexandre Dumas book, with the first being The Count of Monte Cristo that I read earlier this year. After having enjoyed Cristo so much, I had fairly high hopes for this book to live up to.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to how good Monte Cristo was. It was quite “bitty” throughout, with the scenes feeling incredibly disjointed from one another, rather than as one cohesive book. This was true both between different POVs, and even moving from one scene to another from the same POV. It wasn’t until after around page 300 that these scenes started to actually feel cohesive and part of a story rather than scenes in a vignette.

Once I had hit that 300 page mark, I enjoyed the book a lot more. Our protagonists have been developed enough by this point that I felt some connection to them, and enjoyed the story a lot more. I still didn’t think this end section was as good as The Count of Monte Cristo, but it was good enough that it redeemed the book a fair bit.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 5, Intrigue: 4, Logic: 4, Enjoyment: 5, with an overall score of 5.57 and a 3* rating.

I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to be reading more in the D’Artagnan Romances series, I’ve heard that The Man in the Iron Mask is supposed to be a good book but I’d need to read everything before that just to get to it. Have you read The Three Musketeers and any of the following books? What did you think of it, do let me know!

The Picture of Dorian Gray, a review

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a well known classic. Which makes it even more odd that I somehow didn’t know the concept of this book before going in! Odd or not, I knew nothing about this before I opened it up (thanks blurb for not actually telling me anything about the book) so it was an experience.

If, like me, you know nothing about this book, it follows a young man who has his portrait painted by a (slightly obsessed) artist. This painting then takes on any physical changes to Dorian, both ages, and changes as his personality worsens, whilst Dorian’s face stays exactly the same.

Once I had gathered the concept, the rest of the book was then pretty predictable. I actually wrote a rough draft of what I thought was going to happen when I was about 3 chapters into the book and I wasn’t wrong!

Highlight here if you want to see my prediction: He’ll do some evil shit, see his painting again after years and then have a breakdown at how his life has been awful and this is the true him. Or at least that’s my prediction.

This is quite a short little book, and I of course don’t want to spoil it for you. So I don’t think I’ll say much more, past that the characters were interesting to read from and to see how they changed over the years.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 5, Atmosphere: 5, Writing: 6, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 6, which gives an average of 6 for the score and a 3.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: murder, death, misogyny, suicide, blood, antisemitism, violence, toxic friendship, sexism, racism, addiction, gaslighting, drug abuse, toxic relationship, drug use, gore, racial slurs, suicidal thoughts, injury, body horror, body shaming, emotional abuse, grief, alcohol, gun violence, homophobia, mental illness, suicide attempt, outing, colonisation.

Overall, this is an interesting classic, and I adored the concept. But for some reason the execution just didn’t vibe with me. I might have to reread this one in the future, now that I know the concept, and see if my opinions change at all.

Have you read Dorian Gray or anything else from Wilde? What did you think? Tell me down below!

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a review

I read the Wordsworth edition of this book: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with the Merry Men, and other stories by R.L. Stevenson. I’m going to touch on the other stories, but my primary focus of this review will be Jekyll and Hyde.

I’d seen online that Mrs Stevenson had actually thrown the first draft of this book in the fire after she read it. And I am clapping her for this. Because what even was this? This book had so much potential.

I’m not sure if it’s simply because we’ve had so many more books and stories since this was published in 1887, but it was so anti-climactic. We’ve all heard (or at least in the UK it’s pretty common) of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. One is a horrific monster! One is a lovely scientist. Well the two are actually pretty opposite to each other.

I don’t think Stevenson really noticed that.

I’m taking the piss, of course I am. But seriously in terms of modern day literature not enough of a difference is made between the two. If this was real life then Hyde would indeed be a monster, but having this hyped up to me all my life as a horror story I did expect just a little more from our monster. Highlight here for a minor spoiler: Hyde murders a man and then runs away and hides as though in shame.

This is the only real piece of violence we see from our “monster”. I did enjoy, however, seeing Jekyll attempting to live with his morals despite knowing what “he” has done. Those discussions and seeing his angst was incredibly interesting.

And now we delve a little into The Merry Men and Other Stories. I’m not going to be giving an individual review of these. What I will say is this. I’ve DNF’d this book, mid story. This story being the second to last in the book. I struggled through all of the others.

R.L. Stevenson’s writing in these short stories is just awful. It’s completely boring. He takes really interesting sounding plots and just butchers them. I hate saying this about a Scottish author cause I’m half-Scottish and always here for the rep. But yeah he is just… not my fave?

For my rating on CAWPILE I gave: Characters: 5, Atmosphere: 5, Writing: 2, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 2, Logic: 2, and Enjoyment: 2 which gives a score of 3.57, leading to a 2* rating.

I’m glad I read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Just to say that I’ve read the original and to understand adaptations a little better. But I’m not a fan of Stevenson’s writing and I likely won’t be picking up anything else by him again.

Wuthering Heights, a review

I only picked up Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, because Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit is obsessed with the book. It’s one of her favourites and to make sure that I would actually pick it up… Caitlyn bought me it 😂

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2021 was the year of the classics for me so I ended up enjoying the reading experience a lot more than I had expected, so thank you Caitlyn!

This is quite an odd book. I’ve of course heard things about the general story over time, as happens with most classics but I didn’t expect just how weird it would be!

Another thing I hadn’t expected was related to how Heathcliff has been portrayed in every adaptation I’ve seen ever. He’s always portrayed as white? He isn’t! It’s made pretty clear that part of the reason people hate him is because he’s not white!

Anyways, a very odd and very interesting book with the most toxic relationship I’ve seen in a book in a long while. Let’s check my CAWPILE ratings!

Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 8, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 8, which gives me a 7.43 rating equalling a 4 stars!

Look, I went into 2021 expecting to have to force myself to get through classics. And instead I found amazing books that I enjoyed? That’s growth as a reader folks!

Pride and Prejudice, a review

When I first was getting into the online book community, I went book shopping, and picked up a metric hell tonne of classics. Since then, up until this year, I hadn’t read a single one other than Jane Eyre. Not one. I bought these in 2016!! So I’ve been slowly making my way through more classics lately and given that I had two editions of Pride and Prejudice on my tbr, I felt like it was time to take my first dive into Austen’s work!

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Thankfully I didn’t actually buy both copies. One I did buy myself, it’s the “standard” wordsworth edition. One my mum gifted me when it was being disposed of from the bookshop she worked in. It’s more of a magazine style print with coloured pictures and of course much bigger pages. I had debated how I would read this book, and fully intended to pick just one copy or another, but I ended up using both and that actually worked out really well for me!! And sometimes it helped those bigger chapters feel a little smaller when they were “only 3 pages” rather than the 7/8 they were in the standard paperback version!

Now, onto what I actually thought of the book…. I adored it!!

I was not expecting to love this book! Every time I picked it up I got such a feeling of peace, I was so invested in all of the characters lives even when I knew what would happen (either through pop culture, the book telling us, or just me “predicting” plot devices which were new in 1813) and when I finished the book? I just sat there with a smile on my face! It was just so lovely!!

Darcy’s development was very interesting to watch. He’s so self assured, until Jane rocked his world view and he had to come to terms with the kind of man he is. He starts out being quite abrasive and really not someone you would want to marry! But by the end he’s very sweet and I totally understand Jane’s change of heart!

Bingham through this whole novel is just so innocent and a little bit dumb if I’m honest! In contrast to the societal games being played around him this was really sweet to see and brought a refreshing air to the book.

Jane is just such a sweetie, always caring for others, apart from the abrupt Mr Darcy! Whereas in contrast Lydia was just an absolute idiot and in my opinion she deserves the partner she ends up with (harsh I know, but still).

For my CAWPILE rating I gave:

Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. Which gives an overall score of 9.00 just squeezing in a 5 star rating!

Overall I love the progression through this book of the characters as they learn more about each other and themselves. I really didn’t expect to love this book. It’s all about people and romance, normally not my thing. And yet I adored it so so much. Not mad!

Trigger warning for Pride and Prejudice: classism, sexism

Read the classics first?

Recently I was gifted The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss by the lovely Kari from Kari-ng for Books on YouTube and it’s inspired by so many dark Victorian novels! Frankenstein, Sherlock, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and more!

I’ve not read all of the originals yet, especially not the slightly more obscure ones like Rappuccini’s Daughter. And I’m debating on whether I just read the book with the knowledge I have now. Or if I wait until I’ve read the original works!

What do you think? What would your decision be?

Part of me doesn’t want to miss out on the nuances and the in jokes that will be made about these original works, but part of me thinks I’m being silly and to just enjoy the book as it is!

It’s me so it’ll be a while before I get around to any new books, but I’d love to hear your thoughts to help me make my decision!!!

Persuasion ReadAThon!!

Today, 22nd July, is the start of the readalong for Persuasion as part of the Jane Austen Read A Thon!!! Reading a few chapters each day for the rest of the month (hence why it starts on a Thursday) means we’ll finish the book by the 31st! This will be my second ever Jane Austen novel so I’m really excited!

Reading Dates:

22nd: Chapters 1, 2, 3

23rd: Chapters 4, 5

24th: Chapters 6, 7, 8

25th: Chapters 9, 10, 11

26th: Chapters 12, 13

27th: Chapters 14, 15

28th: Chapters 16, 17

29th: Chapters: 18, 19

30th: Chapters 20, 21

31st: Chapters 22, 23, 24

And that’s the book finished! No more than 3 chapters each day and you’ve got a Jane Austen novel under your belt! I was really surprised by Pride and Prejudice when I read it in June so I’m hoping that I enjoy Persuasion as well!

Let me know if you’ve read any of Jane Austen’s work and if you’re joining in with Jane Austen July!!!

The Mary Shelley-a-Thon!

The amazing and wonderful Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit is hosting the Mary Shelley-a-thon once again in 2021! Her favourite book is Frankenstein but she also loves the rest of Shelley’s works and wants to promote more people to read them! But you can read modern books to fit most of the prompts!

I definitely recommend checking out Caitlyn’s video below, but I’ll post the prompts below that and the books I’m thinking of reading!

Here are the prompts!!!

1. Read a book by Mary Shelley

2. Read a poetry collection or a book by a poet

3. Read a book that was published in 1818/1831 or a book by an author who was born in either of those years (+/- 5 years)

4. Read a book you keep saying you will get to but still haven’t

5. Read a book set in the late 1700s or the early 1800s

6. Read a book in a country the author was not from/a book that features travel

7. Read a horror/gothic

Now the only one I’m going to struggle with is to read a book by Mary Shelley, cause the only one I own is Frankenstein and I read that earlier in 2021! So I may just have to reread it…. hmmm

I don’t have any books by poets on my shelves as well, but I would love to listen to more by Elizabeth Acevedo after loving The Poet X in 2020!

For a book that was published within those years, Caitlyn gifted me Wuthering Heights cause she loves that book and wants me to read it, and that would work so I’m probably going to pick that up! And I think it’ll work for prompt 5 too!

I’ll pick any tbr vet for prompt 4, that’s probably the easiest for me to get to!

The last two prompts are a little more difficult for me, I think I have a good option for travel but I want to check more of my books. And I don’t think I have any horror or gothic books! Look I’ve been trying not to add to my tbr! I’ll have to ask Caitlyn for some recommendations!

Are you going to join in with the Mary Shelley-a-thon? Have you read any of her books? Let me know!!

Do you read classics?

They can be pretty intimidating, and not that long ago I was someone who had read a few, mainly kids classics, and that was about it. But something huge came into my life that changed my mind.

Well that sounds like it was some big life event or something, it wasn’t! I literally mean something huge, War and Peace!! This chunker had sat on my tbr since 2015/16 and I finally decided I was going to be reading the damn thing! The wonderful Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe agreed to buddy read it with me and since January 1st 2021 we’ve been slowly making our way through this tomb of a book.

And we’re loving it! Now of course this is because we’re enjoying the book, but something which is really amping up my enjoyment factor is reading this with Olivia, not only because she is lovely (because she is) but because I’m adoring our discussions. We discuss how the book makes us feel, as well as literary merits and what we think of the portrayal of the time and the historical aspects. And that might sound boring to some, but we love it! And it came naturally too. At first we were just talking about the book in less academic terms, but as we went further through the book this just naturally became the discussion we would have and it is a genuine pleasure to message her every day!

It’s because of this specifically, the daily analysis of a well known classic with a friend who is educated in the field, that has changed my thoughts on classics as a whole. I enjoy them so much more now! I read a lot more into them and intrinsically find myself understanding so much more than I used to, as well as reading through them a lot easier. In the past the writing style used to often be a struggle for me.

I cannot recommend highly enough buddy reading a classic with a friend. Not only is it so much fun to read with a friend, and not only will you get so much more out of the book itself, but slowing it down to one chapter a day means that there is less material to read from and more insights to be gained from a smaller amount of text. And it has changed how I read! And I couldn’t be more glad.