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Victoria Reads Books

Global citizen, adventurer, ponderer. Lover of coffee, books, and the Oxford comma. Infected by wanderlust, enchanted by stories. Might occasionally be a photo blog.

Currently reading

Jane Austen
Progress: 230/412 pages
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Eight Great Comedies
Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman, William Burton
The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context
Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude, E.B. Greenswood

Huffington Post: These Amazing Classic Books Are So Short You Have No Excuse Not To Read Them

I would add 'The Old Man and the Sea', and mention as a sidenote that 'Heart of Darkness' typically takes a lot longer to read than you'd think it would.
Reblogged from Bacon Ninja:
Source: http://bookriot.com/2013/11/28/10-literary-quotes-thanksgiving
I bought books. Life is good.
I bought books. Life is good.

Review: The House of Hades

The House of Hades - Rick Riordan

It's been awhile since I've read a young adult fantasy, and I have to admit that it's nice being able to blast through a 500+ book in a matter of hours.

The House of Hades was a solid addition to a the Heroes of Olympus series, a spinoff of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series that I started reading when I was in the fifth grade. This is a series that I grew up with, helping to inspire my passion in mythology and the classics.

Rick Riordan's greatest skill is in his ability to make you laugh out loud while reading. He is also very good at creating opening sentences that catch your attention in strokes of sheer strangeness. What I also liked about this book was the development that each of the main characters went through. Although the amount of development varied between characters, they were never stagnant or uninteresting.

This book is the penultimate book in the Heroes of Olympus series. The end of a series is always difficult to deal with, but with The Last Olympian as a precedent, I'm fairly confident in Riordan's ability to satisfy readers. Will the next book be the last time we see Percy Jackson & co? Who knows, but if it is, it'll be bittersweet to have this part of my childhood finally come to an end.

(Very Brief) Review: The Hangman, by Louise Penny

The Hangman - Louise Penny

I'm currently in the middle of a one-hour break at school that ends in seven minutes, so this will be a quick review. I felt like reading a book that would take me under half an hour to read, so I picked this up, 'The Hangman' by Canadian author Louise Penny. Although this book is written in the style of a book for young children, the content is evidently for older readers (ie. the large font size + words like "shit"). Penny is a skilful mystery writer, managing to weave together an intriguing tale in a unique setting. Penny is probably one of my favourite 21st century Canadian authors. I'm looking forward to reading more of her works.

Reblogged from ijanderson1:

Links to various Booklikes tutorials around the site. Thanks to all the hardworking BL members and team who contributed. This is a work in progress. More links will be added as I find them.


Official Booklikes stuff:









http://blog.booklikes.com/post/551754/post (exclusive status for your books)


The Booklikes blog (new features added every week):



The Goodreads Booklikes group:



Tutorials created by Booklike members:


Easy tips for customising your Booklikes blog:



How to customise your BL blog:



Customising Booklikes Tutorials - parts 1 - 4:







'Reactive' links (round links on a 'shelf' page)



Adding the Booklikes Reading Challenge to your blog:



How to change colour of text on your banner :



Added pages - I can't read it! My background is dark and font is black! And I want to have a comment section!



How to make your comments icons a link:



Customising shelf sort order:



Changing appearance of followers/following counters and repositioning them:



Adding a scrolling quotes marquee to your blog:



How to block followers on Booklikes:



Setting up google analytics on your BL blog:



Changing font colour (text, links, comment section):



Customising Booklikes tutorial - Adding bells and Whistles - blockquotes



How to easily embed a font:



A simple tip - everything is too big - zoom out: 



Background for a search bar (what to do when it's invisible on a dark background):



Let's clean our designated comments pages regularly - no more notification floods:



Reading Challenge - how to post it on your site and a few simple customization options:



Your book counter - make it fun and pretty:



How to avoid losing the original source of a post:







Source: http://mandym.booklikes.com/post/470414/booklikes-tutorials
Thanksgiving Day - A slug
Thanksgiving Day - A slug

Review: How I Met My Husband, by Alice Munro

The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context - Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn

"I didn't figure out till years later the extent of what I had been saved from."


Alice Munro book sales have been understandably surging following her Nobel Prize win. Previously, I've only had exposure to one of her works, titled Girls and Boys, which I personally wasn't a huge fan of.


There were a lot of similarities between Girls and Boys and How I Met My Husband. Both have naive female main characters, and both explore their everyday lives. However, How I Met My Husband deals with a young girl's first exposures to romance. Munro skilfully focuses the story (with the help of the title), only to unexpectedly shift it at the end. For me, Munro's skill is not in her ability to make the reader connect to the characters, or to feel the connections between the characters. Indeed, I didn't particularly like Edie, the main character of How I Met My Husband, and I couldn't feel a romantic connection between she and Chris, or

with Carmichael at the end, either. "I went out with him for two years and he asked me to marry him, and we were engaged a year more while I got my things together, and then we did marry" isn't a particularly romantic description.

(show spoiler)

However, it's in her ability to, with wide brushstrokes, capture a feeling that can't be pinpointed or identified, but can be gently gathered and observed, that displays her true talent.

"... she considered how peculiarly unlucky poor Mr Elton was in being in the same room at once with the woman he had just married, the woman he had wanted to marry, and the woman whom he had been expected to marry..."
Emma - Jane Austen

- p. 230-31, Emma, by Jane Austen

A Game of Thrones  - George R.R. Martin

Being both a young, avid reader who enjoys fantasy, and, well, a multi-fandom tumblr blogger, it's actually somewhat awkward that I haven't read this yet. However, after being liberated of both my senior year and Infinite Jest, I have finally found time to dedicate to another massive book. Woo!

To be able to enjoy GoT, one must completely immerse themselves in the setting and story. Fortunately, this isn't difficult to do, since George R.R. Martin is extremely good at using minute details to create a believable fantasy world. Unfortunately (but not really?), this particular fantasy world seems like a most unpleasant place to live. This world is cruel (and extremely sexist), but provides the perfect gritty backdrop for the epic adventure within. Still, there are many parts that are quite uncomfortable to read- and George R.R. Martin most definitely does not shy away from uncomfortable.

GoT employs the use of multiple perspectives, which is effective in worldbuilding, but is also effective in interrupting the flow and buildup of the individual plotlines. Although this is probably intentional, much of the buildup at the end of chapters dissipates by the time the character's perspective returns. Although the author is extremely skilled in creating a great cliffhanger, it sometimes feels like a waste, since we can forget why we should care by the time the character is revisited.

Since GoT already has an established reputation (on tumblr, at least), of being a series in which it is a bad idea to get overly attached to characters since your favourites will invariably get killed off, I was reading with a great sense of apprehension. At this point, I guess that there isn't much to do but to read onwards (and maybe start watching the TV series too)...

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an incredible storyteller, and this book is a prime example of that. The tone is deeply moving, and the descriptions are powerful and immersive. Although this book contained fantastical elements, its underlying feelings of wistfulness and longing were relatable and incredibly affective. Gaiman continues to be one of my favourite writers of all time, and this book- with its stunning cover and texture, might I add- will be reread and enjoyed for many years to come.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

"The circus arrives without warning."

Thus begins Erin Morgenstern's enchanting novel about love, a high-stakes game, and the circus of dreams. Although I initially thought that this book was intended to be a young adult novel, it is, indeed, a book for all ages. Morgenstern's storytelling flows effortlessly, and the reading experience is difficult to describe other than the fact that it made my heart really happy. The strength of this book is in its rich atmosphere, the delectable descriptions of nighttime parties, the circus, the smells, the magic, and pure, unrestrained awe. It's been awhile since I could feel myself within a setting so vividly.

I can see how this book wouldn't be for everybody- you have to be the type of reader who loves heavily descriptive stories. If you're looking for action-packed magical battles, I would probably recommend The Warrior Heir (Cinda Williams Chima) over this one.

I thought that elements of the ending were a bit weaker than the middle of the book, but it was, overall, still satisfying. The chronology and the intricacies of the plot complemented the lush descriptions well, and the parts told in second person cleverly drew the audience further into the story and atmosphere. Overall, The Night Circus was a wonderful read, containing shiver-inducing descriptions that make your heart ache to don dark colours, throw on a bright red scarf, and visit the magical cirque des rêves yourself.

Entertainment value: 5/5
Writing quality/style: 5/5
Readability: 1/5 (5 being the most difficult to read)
Characters (depth/development): 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

While reading this book, I had big plans for this review.

It was going to be long.
It was going to be detailed.
It was going to be introspective.

- however, as I currently ride the high of finishing, I'm afraid that what captures my feelings best is something along the lines of


- because really, how do you review this thing this huge, crazy, intricate, sprawling monster of a book?

My experience with IJ started when I was reading a blog, and saw that IJ was the favourite book of the blogger. Intrigued, I read a bit about it, and decided to buy the book.

I was fifteen, and I was not ready.

I think I got about 150 pages in or so before I stopped, and didn't pick the book up again for another three years.

The thing about Infinite Jest is that it isn't a book to read for bragging rights. It isn't a book that you should just pick up because someone said it was good.

To state the obvious: this book is freakin' massive, beyond simply a page count. I picture David Foster Wallace heaving a hopper of tennis balls at me, each with a topic written on it- drugsaddictionCanadaFrenchLatinQuebecseparatismsexentertainmentfilmssupernaturalAAdepressionhugewordsnonexistentwords have fun you'd better like tennis too- as I run, frantically trying to catch as many of the tennis balls as I can. I feel like that was a lot of my experience with this book: there was just so much. I know that every reading experience is unique to each individual- but this book takes that to a whole other level. I feel lucky in that I could connect to the book in so many ways. Knowledge and love for tennis is definitely a plus, though. Mix the subject content with all-over-the-place chronology, inconsistent points of view, and a ridiculous number of characters and footnotes, and you know that this is a remarkably difficult book to read.

I admit to having had a lot of trouble with Infinite Jest. Initially, I thought that I could finish the book within the span of three weeks, since 1000 pages a week isn't usually that difficult. Hence, during a gap between reviewing ARCs, I picked IJ up again, and started to read. I won't pretend that I understood everything that happened in the book (and anyone claiming to probably isn't telling the truth). It has taken me months to finish this book, inconsistently reading it between required school readings and with a month-long break when I was in an immersion program in Quebec and wasn't allowed to read English texts. IJ probably ruined my potential ARC reviewing career and made it impossible for me to do a Goodreads reading challenge (since IJ is worth ten books but would only count as one).

(I'm not bitter about those, though. Really).

One thing that I'm immensely grateful for is that IJ brought me closer to the Goodreads community. In real life, nobody I know has read- or even heard of- this book. On Goodreads, practically everyone has at least heard of it, and those who have read it are so supportive. I wish I could go out for coffee with you guys and have a chat about this book, since I seem to be rather alone with it offline. Everyone who has 'liked' a progress update or sent me an encouraging comment- thank you.

I confess, immediately after finishing IJ, I was rather confused. At least I'm not alone in Google searching 'What happens at the end of Infinite Jest'- it seems that a lot of other people have been in this situation. Poking around on the internet really helped to clear things up. I didn't understand all of Infinite Jest, and there was so much time between when I started and when I finished that many details faded away. I can't deny that this book was utterly brilliant- it was moving, it was angst-inducing, it was funny- but I also can't pretend that it was perfect. Frankly, I don't think it needed to be that long.

I'm going to miss many of the characters in the book, Enfield Tennis Academy, and David Foster Wallace's brilliance that I can only sit and be in awe of. I'm going to miss Hal especially, he was probably my favourite character. I could probably write essays upon essays on this book, but at the moment, I'm somewhat emotionally drained after finishing. I'll probably go back to this review tomorrow to clean it up and maybe add a bit.

Animal Farm - George Orwell "When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself: 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing." - Orwell

Being the budding humanities student that I am, Animal Farm was one of the top books on my "Why Haven't I Read This Yet?" list. I am still reading [b:Infinite Jest|75786|Infinite Jest|David Foster Wallace|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331321282s/75786.jpg|3271542] (as I have been for a very, very long time...). Yesterday, I knew that I would be stuck in Union Station in Toronto for several hours, so decided to get some reading done there. Not wanting to be weighed down by the brick that IJ is, I decided to grab another book off of my shelf, one that is first and foremost, light. Hence, Animal Farm. Finally.

I have been blessed with this incredibly sexy second-hand edition of Animal Farm:


In my formative years, before Goodreads, and before I knew of Orwell and the fact that this book is actually rather well known, this book was in my basement. Its cover and back cover blurb were never enough to entice me to read it, so I never had the experience of taking this story at face-value as an animal story. Its previous owner had been a student who did not speak English as her first language; hence, this book contains a rather large number of annotations which also prevented me from reading it from a pure story-standpoint. Nevertheless, the political allegory is quite blatant, and for anyone who knows anything about history or various political systems, the political allegory is very difficult to ignore- which, from the quotation that I started this review with, was Orwell's intent. Good job, Orwell.

One thing, amongst many, that I found very interesting about Animal Farm was the progress of hope throughout the novel. At the beginning, with the singing of 'Beasts of England' and with the stirrings of revolution, the animals cling onto a dream of a better future, which motivates their actions. However, as the book progresses, and the animals begin to forget and exchange what they had hoped for with the blind belief that they are better off than they were before, their hope for more dwindles into a suppressed acceptance.

The strength of this book is in its simplicity (a nice break from the whirlwind that IJ is). Using clear, well-written prose, Orwell is utterly convincing in his delivery. The book is very successfully structured and well-paced, never losing focus. Its conclusion is a punch in the gut (and is also very depressing. Thanks, Orwell). This combination of depressing, well-paced simplicity and clarity results in a powerful read that will be difficult to forget.
The Chrysanthemums - John Steinbeck Heavy with symbolism, Steinbeck manages to create a story that does an excellent job of exploring gender roles in the early 1900's. Although containing beautiful, effective language and description, I, personally, did not particularly enjoy the story.