Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Era: Romantic

Okay, let’s be completely honest, this isn’t one of the most interesting and engaging books ever written. It is, however, a very iconic piece of literature for many reasons. First, Frankenstein was one of the first true “horror” books ever written in this time period. It focused a lot on legitimate science instead of alchemy, which was different from most books in that era. The introduction of the tabula rasa, or blank slate, is also an interesting idea about how society shapes who we are.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect, however, is how this book was conceived. Mary Shelley and her friends were stuck inside a house during a rainy day, and decided to read ghost stories. Lord Byron then suggested that they all compete to see who could write the best horror story. This book was subsequently created- Mary Shelley’s first novel- and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed literary works.

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Victor Frankenstein wants to defy the laws of nature. He wants to re-gift life to the dead and give the inanimate the chance to live. People say he can’t do it, but he’ll prove them all wrong soon enough.

When the creature is created, Victor is horrified with his work. “Translucent yellowish skin pulled so taut over the body that it barely disguised the workings of the arteries and muscles underneath; watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and prominent white teeth.”

The monster, now in the wild and on the loose wreaks havoc like never seen before. When Victor asks that he stop this unjustified murder, the creature demands that Victor make him a woman so that he is not alone anymore. When Victor attempts to make the creature a mate, he cannot go through with it and destroys the half-created body- right in front of the creature.

Nobody is safe from the carnage that follows.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Frankenstein

Book Review: Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommended: 14 and up

This book was not one that I could finish in one sitting, just because of the sheer density and length of the book. I felt that the author could possibly have gotten the point across in fewer pages, even though the story was unique, and different from most that I have been reading.

I felt that the main character is blatantly sexist on multiple occasions, which is probably an accurate reflection of the time period this story is based in.

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Mahendra is a young man who refuses to marry until he meets his close friend’s fiancee and insists on marrying her.

Ashalata is a newly married but uneducated girl who wants nothing more than to please her husband, Mahendra.

Binodini is a very young woman who was recently widowed, and has to come to live in Mahendra’s house to keep Asha company while Mahendra is away studying.

However, Mahendra is a very fickle man who soon finds himself “in love” with Binodini, who thinks that this whole arrangement is inappropriate. Moreover, Mahendra’s mother is increasingly jealous of the female attention that he is receiving and attempts to devise plans to get rid of the two girls.

Binodini knows that Asha is too naive and innocent to be taken advantage of, and attempts to discourage Mahendra from pursuing herself, but the man who believes he’s in love again will stop at nothing to gain Binodini’s attention.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Chokher Bali (English and Bengali Edition)

Book Review: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Time period: Realism

This is another book that I just finished in English class. I generally would not recommend this book to people who do not like dense reading, although the book isn’t very long. Fathers and Sons was written in 1862, during the realist era, and as such, focuses a lot on science and the different philosophical ideas arising during this time. The books explores nihilist ideals as well as an increased focus on science, which seems to be a recurring theme during this time period.

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Arkady and Bazarov are visiting Arkady’s father at his manor in a province in Russia. Arkady’s father welcomes the two boys into his home but his brother, Pavel, is taken aback by the introduction of nihilism, which both of the young boys seem to support.

After a few days home, Bazarov and Arkady go to a dance where Arkady meets a wealthy widow named Anna Odinstova. Originally infatuated with her, Arkady talks with her about many things, including Bazarov. Anna then invites the two of them over, but to Arkady’s dismay, talks only to Bazarov and dismisses Arkady to entertain her sister, Katya.

Not long after this does Bazarov realize that he has feelings for Anna. But Bazarov’s strong nihilist ideals and disbelief in love, and Anna’s unwillingness to fall in love again sets up obstacles that may never go away.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Fathers and Sons (Oxford World’s Classics)

Book Review: La Vida es Sueño by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Hey everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted at all for a very long time but I got caught up with a lot of work and also had a lot of debate tournaments in the last few months. Here’s the next book review!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommended: 14 and up

This book was part of a reading assignment that I had in English class recently. I enjoyed it immensely because of the way the author made the reader sympathize with the main character’s situation, even though he was portrayed in a bad light. This book was actually written during the Renaissance period around 1635 and was one of the more famous Spanish works.

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Segismundo has been trapped in a dungeon simce he was born. “A man among beasts and a beast among men”, he has nowhere to go and nobody to talk to except his jailer, Clotaldo.

However, one day, a young woman, Rosaura, and her servant stumble upon Segismundo when searching for a person. Segismundo immediately falls in love with Rosaura, with her being the first person that he has ever seen besides Clotaldo. He professes that since seeing her is death, not seeing her would give him something far worse, life, because giving life to an unfortunate man is like giving death to a fortunate one.

“pero véate yo y muera;
que no sé, rendido ya,
si el verte muerte me da.
el no verte qué me diera.
fuera, más que muerte fiera,
ira, rabia, y dolor fuerte;
fuera vida; de esta suerte
su rigor he ponderado,
pues, dar vida a un desdichado
es dar a un dichoso muerte.”

Soon after, Segismundo is freed from his jail cell as a test to see if he can control himself out of shackles or not. If he can, he will be King. But if not, he will see nothing but darkness for the rest of his days.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here – this is a dual language version with both English and Spanish: Life Is a Dream/La Vida es Sueño

Book Review: When You Never Said Goodbye by Meg Kearney

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Recommended: 13 and up

This book was an ARC, courtesy of NetGalley

I didn’t really enjoy this book, because while it was a good story and has well developed characters, I felt that the author tried too hard to drag the story out. Even though this book was the third in a series and I easily understood it without having read the first two.

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Liz’s adoptive father has just passed away, which is making her more eager than ever to find her birth mother. After saying goodbye to her mother after another long Christmas, Liz goes back to college with her mission fresh in mind.

When Liz begins investigating her birth mother, all she hits are dead ends. Most people aren’t willing to help her, and those who are willing don’t know how to. Liz finally learns tiny details about her mother through untold sources and begins to piece together an image which she believes to resemble her mother.

However, when a lady finally approaches Liz, claiming to have information about her birth mother, Liz isn’t entirely sure if she wants to know anymore.

Will she eventually find her birth mother?

If you would like to read this book, you can preorder it here: When You Never Said Goodbye: An Adoptee’s Search for Her Birth Mother: A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries

Book Review: Over Sea, Under Stone – Book one of the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper

Rating : 4.1 out of 5 stars

Age recommended : 10 and upover sea

Over Sea, Under Stone is a very suspenseful tale that will keep you on your toes. Susan Cooper has written a story like no other, and just the characters of the three children will have you turning the pages to read more.

I got the set of all five books in the series for Christmas and this book was so good, I finished it in one sitting.

Barney, Jane and Simon Drew are three kids who have a lot of energy and have no idea how to use it. So, when their Great-Uncle Merry tells them to stay out of trouble, what do they do? They decide to explore the house to look for interesting stuff. While looking around, the Drew kids stumble upon a secret that could change their lives forever…