100 Book Project: Jane Eyre


Book Title: Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte

Number in #100bookproject: 10

Level of Recommendation: High


Favourite Quote“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restrain, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer, and it is narrow-mindedness in their privileged fellow-creatures to say that the ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced for their sex.”

And a worthy second choice –

“Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I’m an automaton? – a machine without feelings? And can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it now for me to leave you.”


Jane Eyre is, in the truest sense of the expression, a British classic. Written by Charlotte Bronte, the eldest of the famous Bronte sisters, Jane Eyre was published in 1847 under the alias Currer Bell. Upon its release, with its original title Jane Eyre: An Autobiography the novel became a runaway success and injected an entirely new kind of fiction into the literary scene. Thanks to the structure of the novel and the way it so completely encompasses the character of Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte was bestowed with such great compliments as being “the first historian of the private consciousness.”

Jane Eyre is a sweeping novel set in the north of England between 1720 and 1820. The tale is told from Jane’s point of view and follows Jane’s life from her early childhood to her later adult years. Bronte’s work boasts a level of detail and vivid imagery that is astounding (though the amount of detail, can, at some points, be a little much and slow the overall pace down).

In many adaptations of the novel, the central focus of the story is Jane’s relationship with the elusive, gruff and brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, this relationship is pivotal to the plot of Jane Eyre but it is not, as the adaptions would suggest, the soul and purpose of the story.

In other words Jane Eyre is a not a love story, rather it’s a love story wrapped within a study of temperament. Upon turning the last page of Jane Eyre, you feel as though you’ve truly grown to know a person on an intimate level.

That is the true essence of Jane Eyre, it’s a study of a person. Anyone looking for a simple love story will be disappointed. Jane Eyre is a fully developed portrait of a woman and her romantic relationship with Rochester is only half the painting.

Now, as much as I believe, Jane Eyre is much more than Jane’s romantic entanglement I will say that Bronte’s ability to create two main characters that are equally matched in voice, personality, particular vices, and full bodied humanization, is brilliant. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester may, in fact, be my favourite literary couple. Their witty exchanges, deep knowledge of each other souls, honest exploration into their flaws, back and forth of wanting and needing fulfillment from one another, fierce need to express their own independence and their ultimate ability to make each other feel whole is both truly satisfying and lovely.

Yet what makes Jane Eyre feel as though you are reading a classic is the way we truly see Jane develop page by page. Everything Bronte chooses to include gives a sense of Jane becoming the strong, independent and yet incredibly vulnerable (a.k.a human) woman that she is. Jane is no stranger to pain, loss, embarrassment, longing, loving and the myriad of others things that make up the human experience.

However, as Bronte brings Jane through those experiences, she doesn’t miss a chance to show the reader how Jane develops. For example when Jane is first brought to Lowood she is thoroughly scarred by her verbal and physical abuse she received at the hands of her Aunt and cousins at Gateshead. Jane sees the world as a cruel place and as the school treats her as a problem child (per her aunt’s request), Jane begins to see herself as a no good liar and a scoundrel because she is being told that is her reality. Yet when she meets a friend, Helen, who believes in her and gives her a little perspective about the world, God and the sufferings of people other than herself Jane’s entire view of herself and the world changes.

Through Brontes word choices and subtle changes in Jane’s characteristics after meeting Helen we see that Jane has evolved, that she is becoming more of her ultimate self. These small changes in Jane repeatedly happen throughout the book.
When Jane leaves Lowood, she is reminded how big the world is and chooses to embrace it despite her reservations. When Jane meets Rochester, she is afraid of her feelings and she chooses to suppress those feelings until she feels safe and is sure that Rochester sees her as an equal. After the discovery of Rochester’s wife, Jane chooses to not become a mistress and leave Rochester and in turn struggles with the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness afterwards. During that heartbreak she chooses to make a new life for herself as best she can but knows she will not love again the way she loved Rochester.


All of these situations and subsequent choices make Jane Eyre become Jane Eyre and we get to see that evolution. And at the end of the story when Jane returns to Rochester, this return is so much more satisfying because she has become her own independent woman.

And seeing Jane gradually evolve from a scared girl into a fully realized woman who has experienced a plethora of highs and lows and in turn created her own unique sense of self is the beauty of Jane Eyre, the allure of watching and feeling that quiet evolution is simply too good to ignore.


Next Up: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

100 Book Project: 1984


Book Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

Number in #100bookproject: 9

Level of Recommendation: Extremely High

Favourite Quote: “But if the object was not to stay alive, but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could not alter your feelings; for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you have done or said or thought: but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable.”

Tied with –

“ ‘At the time when it happens,’ she had said ‘You do mean it.’ He had meant it. He had not merely said it, he had wished it. He had wished that she and not he should be delivered over to the –

Something changed in the music that trickled from the telescreen. A cracked and jeering note, a yellow note came into it. And then – perhaps it was not happening, perhaps it was only a memory taking on the semblance of a sound – a voice was singing
                                                                                              ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree
                                                                                                 I sold you and you sold me.’”
Review: In short 1984 is one of the best, if not the best, dystopian novel you will ever read. George Orwell was a writer who thrived on creating essays, and novels that focused on political criticism and exposing the injustices of his day. 1984 is the pinnacle of Orwell’s fears, beliefs and political agenda. 1984 is so influential and was so ahead of its time (it was originally published in 1949) that certain modern day terms like Big Brother, thoughtcrime, telescreen, Newspeak and Orwellian (referring to official deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state) spawned from it.

1984 is set in a dystopian future where multiple wars have divided the world into three superpowers, one of them being Oceania, which is the combination of countries formerly known as Great Britain and The United States. Winston, the main character of the tale, lives in London, which is the capital of Air Strip One (a.k.a former Great Britain). 1984 is told primarily through Winston’s perspective – apart from a few pages that a presented in the form of another book that Winston is reading. Therefore, everything we know about the party and Big Brother is given to us by Winston. There are so many great twists and turns in 1984 that I don’t want to give away any of the plot (if you haven’t ready it already).

So here is a short summary – Winston works for the party in the Ministry of Truth, his job is to alter books and newspapers so they reflect the Party’s version of history. He is a middle-aged man with ailing health who secretly hates the Party. This, of course, is dangerous because the Thought Police are constantly seeking out those disloyal to the party. Yet Winston cannot help his growing disdain for his situation and through a series of events he begins to become more and more rebellious; he begins to write in a diary, starts an affair with a young woman named Julia, and eventually attempts to join a resistance against the party.

For the rest of the story, you’ll have to read it for yourself. But to continue the review, in my opinion there are two things that make 1984 a masterpiece. One – Orwell’s ability to predict a future that in many ways is coming true and his skill in presenting the reader with a world that you not only absolutely believe in, but at the same time manages to eerily mirror the terrors of our own.
In 1949 computers were barely a concept yet Orwell managed to see a world where computers and screens (what he called telescreens) were such an integral part of everyday life that they were used to monitor and control citizens. Of course when the actual year 1984 rolled around Orwell’s vision was still a little far off, but if we compare it to now, when everyone has multiple screens in their homes and mini screens in the form of cell phones constantly on their bodies we see the truth in Orwell’s predictions.



Additionally, in 1984 these telescreens are used to spy on citizens of Oceania and motivate them to be what the government wants them to be (for example in 1984 a women appears on the screen every morning to conduct an exercise class and if citizens didn’t participate the camera in those telescreens would report that to the Thought Police, who would in turn see that as disloyalty.) Does a government agency spying on us through technology in our homes sound at all familiar to our modern world? Patriot Act anyone? Not to mention our constant saturation of media outlets and social media outlets telling us what we need to look like, sound like and act like in order to be acceptable to society.

Somehow seventy years ago Orwell saw elements of this in our future and more than that saw the danger in it. And as the popular saying goes ‘Big Brother is always watching’. Orwell made that theology possible, before that technology to make Big Brother a reality was even remotely close to being created.

Lastly, in regards to point number one it has to be said that there is a section of 1984 where Winston is reading a book that explains the origins of the party and the ‘necessity’ of it. I won’t go into details, but the amount of political intellect that Orwell crams into maybe ten or twenty pages is stunning. And this political examination not only fits into the world of 1984 it easily fits into Orwell’s world of the 1940’s and our modern day world.

That to me is an insane genius, but maybe that’s just me.

Now for Two – Orwell’s mastery of pace and language is incredible. Orwell’s vivid descriptions move with the tone and progression of the characters. For example in the beginning Winston’s world is very cold, grey and sterile yet as he begins to develop a sense of who he is and a desire to rebel he begins to see beauty, colors, sounds and sensations that are vivid and succulent.

Orwell’s subtle change in language to signify character development is brilliant as well. For example, about two-thirds into the story (after Winston has been sleeping with Julia for a while and has made moves to move towards becoming a rebel agent) he uses the word ‘gelatinous’ to describe how he feels in the morning and then goes on to think about why he chose that word. In the context of Winston’s world, that is a monumental thought – the kind of the thought that could get him caught by the Thought Police. But you see that’s the beauty of Orwell choosing to use that word. By placing such a lavish word in Winston’s vocabulary, he is showing how much Winston has grown and how ready he is to take on the party, simply by thinking a certain word.

In a similar fashion after some very intense stuff goes down – stuff that makes Winston and Julia’s relationship impossible to regain – Winston sees Julia. They talk and he thinks about wanting her, but throughout their interaction Winston refers to her only as ‘she.’ This is a subtle craft technique, but by choosing to refer to Julia as ‘she’ Orwell is showing that Winston has evolved again and a woman he once so desperately loved is now no more than a thing to him.
I could go on and on about all things I love about 1984 including how Orwell gives the reader an ending that they don’t want but is so poignant and in turn serves as a warning for not only the future but the fragility of the human soul.

But – I won’t do that. Instead I will leave you with this, if you’ve been reading/watching dystopian literature/movies and thinking well these are predictable, have the same characters and same plot, etc. – then 1984 is for you.

If you have any interest in political criticism and satire – 1984 is for you.

If you have any interest in works about the future that lean towards science fiction – 1984 is for you.

If you want to be challenged, and made to think about the state of the world like never before – 1984 is for you.

If you want to be riveted and thoroughly engrossed in a book – 1984 is for you.

If you can read – 1984 is for you.


Next Up: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

100 Book Project: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe


Book Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe 

Author: C.S. Lewis

Number in #100bookproject:

Level of Recommendation: High

Favourite Quote: “And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning – either a terrifying one, which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again.” 

Review:  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a children’s classic and one of those beloved novels that has been adapted for radio, TV and movies. It’s also a story I’ve loved as a child and after completing the book today I can earnestly say The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe deserves, without a shadow of a doubt, my love and all its fame.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a story told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator (who takes on the role of the storyteller), who is effectively speaking to an audience of children. I won’t take time to go into the plot of the story in this review because I feel as though most would know the plot from the movies, etc., but also I desperately want you to read the book :). Now back to the technical review. Throughout the book, Lewis interjects different thoughts and opinions into the narrative.

The most beautiful example of this is this scene after Aslan’s sacrifice; “I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.”

This is clear authorial intrusion, as the author is directly addressing the reader, yet somehow Lewis made this technique work as he expertly sprinkles it throughout the narrative. The authorial intrusions appear when there is a moment of great emotional significance and it’s as though Lewis is taking a break from the overall story to communicate the emotional impact we, as readers, are supposed to feel.

Lewis also uses this technique a few times to make sense some of his descriptive language; “ ‘Wherever is this?’ said Peter’ voice, sounding tired and pale in the darkness (I hope you know what I mean by a voice sounding pale).”

This technique gives the reader the sense of being a child, and this idyllic image is created. An image of being a child, sat on the floor listening to Lewis as he sits in on a rocking chair in the corner reading this story out of a big leather-bound book, and taking the time to explain things to you as he goes. It’s not at all condescending or belittling. Instead, it’s charming and somehow gives the reader a sense of security and intimate connection as the story progresses.

Aside from this technique Lewis was in every sense of the word, a true storyteller. His characters are vivid, emotionally complicated and loveable/hateable. His imagery as he creates the world of Narnia is stunning, and his overall plot is impactful and unique. It is perhaps, his ability to create such a fantastical story while maintaining a quick pace that makes The Lion, The Watch and The Wardrobe so incredible. In well under 200 pages Lewis created an entire world, a slew of characters with complicated backstories, a true sense of English temperament and family duty, a supernatural history to the world of Narnia, and emotional resonance that makes the reader not only breeze through the story, but eagerly anticipated the next installment.

I cannot stress enough how important The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is to read, especially for children (as it is the kind of easy but magnificent read that will make a reader for life) and it is to my regret that it took me this long to read the original (and iconic) version of the story I’ve loved since childhood.


Next Up: 1984 by George Orwell



100 Book Project – A Tree Grows in Brookyln


Book Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Author: Betty Smith

Number in #100bookproject: 7

Level of Recommendation:  High

Favourite Quote: “Mother, I know there are no ghosts or fairies. I would be teaching the child foolish lies.”

Mary spoke sharply, “You do not know whether there are ghosts on earth or angels in heaven.”

“I know there is no Santa Claus.”

“Yet you must teach the child what these things are so.”

“Why? When I, myself, do not believe?”

“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in the child can reach back and live in her imagination.” – pg 84

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a 400 page plus novel focuses on the life of Francie Nolan, a first generation America girl growing up in the dynamic world of 1900s Brooklyn. The novel is written in a semi-omniscient point of view, with a focus on Francie’s point of view.  Infact the novel is so clearly about Francie’s view of things and her development from a girl to a young woman that it almost reads like a memoir.

However, it’s within the authors choice to dip into other major characters thoughts that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn becomes more than just Francie’s story. It is instead the story of how one family, with all its different branches, combined to influence, frustrate, inspire and grow a young woman.

The story takes place from before Francie’s birth, with her grandparents and parents immigration into America and her parents early marriage, to just before Francie goes off to college in Michigan at age 17. Indeed, it is within this ending that the point of the book is revealed, it is Francie’s acceptance of the loss of childhood and the start of adulthood. Many of the events in Francie’s life mirror that of the authors, Betty Smith’s, life and this adds to the memoir-esque feel of the book.

The strengths of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are the amount of detail in every single event of Francie’s early life (I would go so far to say as it is the most intricate account of a childhood I’ve ever read) , the enormous amount of reality and grime Smith brings to each character, especially Katie (Francie’s mother), and the way each seemingly small event is brought back around to contribute to a defining characteristic of Francie as a young woman.

The only downfall of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the density of the book. It is close to 500 pages and some of the included details seem heavy handed and unnecessary. And since it is a novel without much action or conflict it can be, at times, a read that requires a dedicated reader.

Indeed, nothing particularly spectacular happens in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; there are no intense conflicts, no great changes within Francie’s world of Brooklyn, no violence, no wars, no horrific traumas and no torrid love affairs, yet the beauty of this book is that Smith turns the everyday world of the Nolans, with all its poverty, dirt , family bonding, laughter and struggle into some strangely magical. In essence, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a understated celebration of family, home and growing up and that in itself makes it a worthwhile read.


Want to read along with the #100bookproject? The next book up is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

100 Book Project – The Dharma Bums


Book Title: The Dharma Bums

Author: Jack Kerouac

Number in #100bookproject: 6

Level of Recommendation: Low

Favourite Quote: “Trails are like that: you’re floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly you’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak….just like life.”

Review:  Jack Kerouac was generally considered the father of the beat generation and the beat generation was an iconic literary movement. Before reading The Dharma Bums I hadn’t really read any beat poetry or literature and I have to admit after reading The Dharma Bums I don’t think I will be reading much more of it.

The beat generation as far as literature was akin to jazz, sporadic and fluid. Which I’ve discovered I’m not a huge fan of when it comes to reading that style throughout a whole book. The Dharma Bums follows Kerouac as he travels around the country with fellow beat generation poets. Throughout his bum like travels (thus the title) he explores Buddhism and its meaning to his life and life in general.

There is quite a bit of repetition as Kerouac spends a lot of time hiking mountains, sleeping under the stairs, hitching rides and jumping trains – just in different locations. And all this is laced with conversations about the meaning of life.

As a premise itself the plot, so to speak, was rather annoying to me. It was sort of like reading a philosophy majors journal as they hiked up and down an mountain. Thus combining two things I’m not a huge fan of, hiking and overthinking things. So for me right out of the gate I struggled with The Dharma Bums.

Another stumbling block for me was the combination of short, stark sentences jutted against long, lyrical ones. I would love the long, lyrical sentences that were full of imagery and metaphors but the following sentence would be something like “and we went to sleep and it was good.”

To me, it was as though I had to dig through pages of abrasive and crude writing to get to the hidden gems of beautiful prose. I’m not the kind of reader that enjoys doing that repeatedly and for The Dharma Bums I had to do it for over 160 pages. The last obstacle in my way of enjoying The Dharma Bums was the way it seemed the point of the book, that Kerouac had to accept himself and his faith and honor the moment he was living in to be happy, could have been made in about 40 pages instead of the 160 it took.

These reasons are why I give The Dharma Bums a low recommendation. However I will say Kerouac wrote some of the most beautiful imagery based scenes I’ve read in a long time, especially near the end when he is away from the other poets and is focusing on his own conscious. And the other aspect of The Dharma Bums I enjoyed was the way Kerouac highlighted how while his lifestyle had immense beauty it was also accompanied by immense pain and not everyone in his group could maintain such a life. There are a few incidents of his friends harming themselves and one woman even kills herself by throwing herself from a roof of one of the shacks Kerouac is staying in.

In that section Kerouac does an amazing job of communicating the confusion of these events and how because of his lifestyle instead of dealing with the pain he simply picks up and moves on to another shack, another mountain, another exploration of his faith.

Its these snippets of mastery that make me curious about Kerouac’s other work and have me considering reading some more. Only time will tell if I actually do but I will say this The Dharma Bums introduced me to the beat generation and a unique style of writing/an important part of America’s cultural history and that is a valuable thing indeed. After all being a writer is all about constantly expanding what we read and pushing our own boundaries of what we consider to be our style.

And say what I may about The Dharma Bums it most certainly has a style all of its own.

#100bookproject #beatgeneration #thedharmabums


#100 Book Project – The Distant Hours


Book Title: The Distant Hours

Author: Kate Morton

Number in #100Book Project: 5

Level of Recommendation: High

Favourite Quote:Mrs Bird smiled at me as I arrived at her side. “They can surprise us, can’t they, our parents? The things they got up to before we were born”

“Yes” I said.

“Almost like they were real people once.” ‘

Okay so confession time I actually had three favourite sections from this book. This was the first on below are my two other favourites. I just couldn’t pick one over the rest. So enjoy all of them, hopefully as much as I did!

#2 “Juniper had wondered about sex, she’d written about it, the things she’d imagined she might do and say and feel. Nothing, though, had prepared her for the fact that love might follow it closely, to fall in love. Juniper understood why people referred to it as a fall. The brilliant, swooping sensation, the divine imprudence, the complete loss of free will.”

#3 “All houses have hearts; hearts that have loved, hearts that have been broken. The heart at the center of Milderhurst was larger than most and it beat more powerfully. It thumped and paused, raced and slowed in the small room at the top of the tower. The room where Raymond Blythe’s many times great-grandfather had sweated over sonnets for Queen Elizabeth; from which a great-aunt had escaped to sweet sojourn with Lord Byron; and upon whose brick ledge his mother’s shoe had caught as she leaped from the little archer’s window to meet her death in the sun-warmed moat below, her final poem fluttering behind her on a sheet of fine paper.”

Quick Review: A sprawling and enthralling novel that follows the story of two families the Blythes and the Churchills. Edie Churchill is the opening and ending of the book with her view in the beginning and her conclusion in the end. But its a story with multiple main characters and points of views. A novel that explores the sins of parents, the unresolved pain of a child, the thrill of unraveling a mystery, the horror when the mystery doesn’t have the ending you expected, the ecstasy of falling in love and how death, loss and heartbreak can send you mad in a variation of ways. The Distant Hours is a length but intricately written gothic mystery novel that will take a hold of you right from the beginning and won’t let go until the very end.

Longer Review: This book was given to me as a present from my roommates Mum because she thought I would like it because of his dark themes and the mystery aspect. When I read the description of the book I was honestly a little skeptical but as soon as I began to read I was hooked. Morton does an amazing job of connecting three different periods of time with fluidity and style. These three periods being the 90’s period where Edie Churchill, a book editor, witnesses her mother cry over a letter from Milderhurst castle (from the 40’s) that was lost in the post and then in turns begins to explore all the secrets of Milderhrst Castle, which includes interacting with the three elderly Blythe sisters. The 1900’s period which explores Raymond Blythe and his relationship with his young daughters as well as the history of him writing his famous novel (fake of course) The True History of the Mud Man and the 40’s-50’s period where the Blythe sisters are coming of age in their own ways, Edie’s mother Meredith lives at Milderhurst as a war orphan, Juniper falls in love and many important events take place that define the sisters and Meredith Churchill for the rest of their lives.

Morton manages to balance all these different time periods by constantly rotating the time period and the point of view at each chapter change within the novel. Therefore the reader never feels bogged down. You move through briskly and as Edie Churchill tries to put together the mysteries of Milderhurst, the major one being why Juniper Blythe has gone crazy in her old age (she’s reenacts the same night every day, the night her fiancée left her in the 50’s) the reader takes glues from all these different vantage points and pieces the puzzle together along with Edie, sometimes getting glues before her and sometimes receiving the glues as Edie discovers them.

Morton does an excellent job of fleshing out each character, giving them each a very distinct personality and history as well as each character managing to have secrets from their family members on some level. She also manages to make Milderhurst in itself a great and foreboding character through her description of its physicality but also through the way so much pain and fear is tied to different areas of the home.

Additionally just on a pure language level Morton’s prose is vivid, compelling and lovely throughout.

But the real skill of this novel is the slow reveal of the big secret (why Juniper is crazy) and how all the little secrets along the way were catalysts for the reason behind the big secret. Also the twist at the end is completely unexpected. It made me audibly gasp and I haven’t been that shocked by a twist ending in a very long time.

This novel is dense read, but is most certainly worth your time, especially if you enjoy a good mystery, tracking multiple connections in different time periods and the slow reveal of secrets. I highly recommend Morton’s The Distant Hours and I’m very happy my roommates Mum picked a book for me that I might not have chosen for myself but none the less thoroughly enjoyed.

#100bookproject – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Review


Hi All!

Here is the next review in #100bookproject. The book I’m looking at is one I’ve wanted to read for a very long time and thanks to this project I’ve been able to get around to finally reading it! The book is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I actually read the entire series (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is just the first book within a chapter) which includes Restaurant at The End of the Universe, Life, The Universe and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Young Zaphod Plays it Safe and Mostly Harmless.

Before these were books they were a radio series which accounts for all different mini books within one overall collection. I will be judging this as a collection overall since I read the entire series.

Level of Recommendation: Mid

Favourite Line: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

Quick Review: A sarcastic, witty and entertaining look at all the shenanigans that could ensue if the Universe was infinite and time was adaptable. The real treasure of the series though is the continuous parallels to modern society that somehow make perfect sense in this ridiculous universe.

Longer Review: Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as a radio series and that origin has created a series that does not have the traditional narrative arc and development of characters that a novel would have.

Yet despite this Hitchhikers manages to make you fall in love with the characters, such as Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, and be continually amused by the absurdity of the universe Adams created. The book begins with the destruction of earth and then proceeds to document Arthur Dent’s journey through the universe as he comes to grips with the fact the earth is destroyed, his friend is an alien, time is not as it appears and the girl he sort of liked happens to be with Zaphod, the two headed president of the universe.

As the story unravels the main point, so to speak since Hitchhikers doesn’t really have a main point, is that earth was built as a giant computer to answer the question what is the ultimate question?

The mice had previously built a computer to answer the question what is the meaning of life, the answer to which is of course 42 and the computer then told them to think of a better question, thus why they built earth, the new computer to make a new question. Makes total sense right?

That’s the thing about Hitchchikers a lot of it makes absolutely no sense but the characters keep the story interesting. Den’ts blandness becomes enduring. Perfect’s witty remarks are perhaps the best moments throughout the series. Marving, the depressed robot, is both pathetic and hilarious. Trillian’s matter of fact, get things done attitude becomes slightly grating but also slightly inspiring and finally Zaphod’s absolute idiocy is in a way brilliant.

I gave Hitchhikers a mid level recommendation because if you’re looking for a traditional novel this is going to disappoint you and a lot of the humor of the book is the British sarcastic kind, the kind that many non Brits find difficult to find enjoyable.

However if you go into this series with an open mind and not expecting an semblance of a traditional story line and arc then you might just be pleasantly surprised. After all there is a reason this series has become a cult classic and in my mind that reason is because its absurdly hilarious. It’s most certainly a love or hate type read but if you give it a chance you will find yourself delighted by the plethora of interesting characters, the silliness of the whole time is an illusion/the universe is infinite thing and the smart parallels to the everyday silliness of an existence on the real earth.

Next Book on the List for #the100bookproject: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Until Next Time,

Be Blessed, Stay Strong and Never Give Up,

Grace Hatton

#100book Project – To Kill a Mockingbird Review


Hey All!

So after my summer in Prague and eastern Europe the 100 book project is back on track, well really it’s terribly behind, but the point is I’m reading and reviewing once more. The book I’m going to be looking at in this review is Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

Level of recommendation: High

Favourite Line/Section:As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men everyday of your life but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash” – Attitcus to Jem

Quick Review: A well thought out novel that examines the concepts of family traditions, town expectations, racial discrimination, the desire to fight for whats right, the pain of injustice and the uneasy satisfaction of retribution. Its a novel that is both heartwarming because of Scout’s narration/character/the family interaction and terrifying because of the questions it raises about society.

Much Longer Review:   To Kill a Mockingbird is an American novel by Harper Lee. Published in 1960 To Kill  a Mockingbird was Lee’s only published novel.  Set in Alabama in the 1930’s the tale is told in first person through the eyes of Scout Finch, a little girl who has been raised by her lawyer father Atticus Finch along with her older brother Jem.

The first part of the novel focuses on establishing a vivid picture of life in Maycomb county through the eyes of Scout. We are introduced to the main players in town and to the dynamics within the family. Lee uses southern dialect and established customs to create a realistic portrait of a southern community. As the story evolves, we, along with Scout, learn more about Atticus and his nature, such as he used to be the deadshot of Maycomb county. This slow reveal is a magnificent choice by Lee as it further establishes Scout child voice (as children often are the last to know things and have a tendency to piece things together through bits of conversation they weren’t supposed to hear).

But the main action of this novel is the trial of Tom Robinson. Atticus is Tom’s defense lawyer. Immediately the children begin be on the receiving ends of insults from other children in the community. They’re told their father is brining shame on the family by being a ‘nigger-lover’ and again Scout’s childhood is played upon as she does not understand why its a bad thing but she knows its an insult by the way people say it.

Throughout the build up to the trial Jem, grows older and absorbs more information whereas Scout simply hears things here and there and tries her best to understand what they mean such as asking Cal, their African American housekeeper what rape is. Throughout the build up to the trial the themes of childhood, innocence, race, gender and right vs. wrong are all played upon.

On the build up to the trial there are multiple instances when Scout speaks the truths the adults are afraid to say, Jem and Scout also manage to stop a mob from attacking their father and Tom in jail by reminding the angry mob  that they all know each other. Scout asks one of the mob’s members about his son and the man’s resolve crumbles, since a child has reminded them that they all know each other and claim to like each other outside of the trail.

As the trail unfolds Lee builds up the racial tension in the community and shows off Atticus’ lawyer skills and it comes out during the trail that its far more likely that the accusers—Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, the town drunk—are lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual advances towards Tom and her father caught her and beat her.

Scout and Jem watch the trail from the colored balcony as their father doesn’t want them present. The children are sure Tom will be found innocent yet the racist tendencies of the community win out and Tom is found guilty, despite Atticus doing an incredible job at showing innocence.

This is where the magic of the book comes into play, at least for me, because as a reader you are sure that Tom will be found innocent too but Lee decides to not give Tom a happy ending and in turn remind us that unfortunately in this world prejudice, fear, judgement and disappointment runs rampant. Lee then does an excellent job of showing each character processes the result of the trail differently.

After the aftermath of the trial Tom Robinson is shot as he is trying to escape from jail and the reader can’t help but feel as though a good man has died. The family the wrestles with Tom’s death and attempts to get back to normal life, but Bob Ewell will not let the situation go.

He threatens the family until finally a confrontation between Jem, Scout and Bob ends in Bob Ewell’s death. It appears that Jem fought with Bob and Bob fell on his own knife. Atticus insists Jem owns up to his actions but the Sheriff insists it was an accident. All of a sudden Jem has grown up and in a odd circle of karma type situation the reader finds themselves thinking Bob Ewell got what he deserved.

The strengths of this novel are numerous including the lovable, innocent and snarky voice of Scout as the narrator, the believable family dynamics Lee is able to create, the slow reveal of characters past, such as Atticus being the deadshot of Maycomb county before his children were born, and the vivid descriptions she gives of Maycomb that makes the reader feel as though they were living in the Alabama town.

Yet the real strength of this novel is the way Lee places with expectations, whats right/wrong and the concept of retribution, we expect people to do the right thing but they don’t and an innocent man dies. We expect Atticus to have some kind of grand change in character after he loses the trail but he doesn’t.

Throughout the novel Scout is constantly questioning what is wrong and what is wrong, she is told many different things by adults but ultimately her childhood conscious tells the truth. Lastly Lee, like in real life, doesn’t give us a picture perfect end. She gives us the vengeance we wanted on Bob Ewell’s character but Tom Robinson still dies and Jem know has to live with the knowledge that he killed a man.  Lee’s ending to this novel is a masterpiece in my mind because its tattered, leaves us questioning and feeling both relief and pain at the same time. Not many endings give us that mix of emotions.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel I highly recommend for anyone, its pace is lovely, the dialogue is entertaining yet painfully honest and the plot is one of those narrative that will make you question your own moral code and what is means to be a human with the capability of judgement, loving, causing pain and doing nothing in the presence of evil.

If you haven’t read this American classic yet, be sure you do.

The 100 Book Project: January 2013 Recap (The Shipping News and The Screwtape Letters)


Hello All!

So I’ve come to a point in my life where I realize that although I’ve called myself a writer for years now, I have not been as an avid reader as I would have liked. So beginning in 2013 I decided to dedicate myself to reading at least two new books a month along with the books I’m reading for my classes.

That being said I wanted to invite you to share in my journey. Although this post is obviously a little late my goal for the rest of the year is to create a video at the beginning of the month sharing with you what books I will be reading and then create a recap post of this blog at the end of month letting you know what I thought about the books I read.

I would love for you to follow along with me and share your thoughts on the books I’m reading as many people have extremely different opinions on certain reads, as workshop classes have taught me, and I would love to create a conversation with many different views. Hopefully this project will also inspire you to create a habitat of reading. I’m working from the BBC’s top 100 book list that they published a few years ago. Many of the books on that list I have already read and some I haven’t. But the list gives me a plethora of different genres, styles, time periods and authors so that is why I decided to work from that list. There will also be a few books thrown in that are not on the BBC’s list that I’m reading because they were recommended to me or they are class readings or I just wanted to read them.

Now you know the back story I hope you will join me on this journey of reading and in turn exploring a whole new world of ideas and styles. Let’s begin with January’s recap, shall we?


shipping news  1) The Shipping News

The Shipping news is a novel by American author E. Annie Proulx. The story revolves around   Quoyle, his family including his ex-wife and daughters Sunshine and Bunny, his work and his journey to his family home in Newfouland. Its in this home that he discovers his family’s sordid past and fights against the stigma of his own past and the past of the previous Quoyles. Along the way he explores his relationship with love and what that means for his ex Petal (who is a tad crazy), his daughters and his new love Wavey.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award. The Shipping News is written in what I like to call an abrupt style, as many of the sentences are not completed or grammatically correct, yet somehow it fits the story and Quoyle’s personality. Another interesting feature to the novel are the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. They are quotes about Newfouland and descriptions of different knots. The knots all mirror the theme of the chapter in a way which is a clever way of telling the reader what’s about to happen without actually spelling it out.

While this book is a little tough to read at first thanks to the unusual sentence structure and the amount of traumatic events that seem to happen within the first few chapters overall it is a compelling story of one man’s journey as he discovers himself and the definition of real love through Wavey, his daughters and the Aunt versus the obsessive love he had with his ex Petal.

In my eyes that the real meat of the story as far as The Shipping news is concerned is Quoyle’s relationship with love in all its intricate forms.

Favourite Line of The Shipping News: “That he was wondering if love came in other colours than the basic black of none and the red heat of obsession” pg.325/ “And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery” pg.385

2) The Screwtape Letters


The Screwtape Letters was written by C.S Lewis, who is one of my favourite authors and is written in epistolary style, which means it is written in letters.  The letters are written from the senior demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, who is a junior tempter.

Throughout the letters Screwtape is mentoring Wormwood on how to secure the damnation of a British man known as his patient. The Screwtape Letters are a wonderful exercise in sarcasm and wit, but more than that the Screwtape Letters probe beyond the initial humour of the narrative to discover what it means to live a Christian life by highlighting the temptations and pitbulls that evade everyday life and how a “patient” can avoid falling for them.

Lewis is an exceptional non fiction/spiritual writer and The Screwtape Letters are a fine example of his spiritual intelligence coupled with his vivid imagination (i.e his creation of a demonic hierarchy) that I highly recommend. Its a relative short book, and if you are a Christian, like myself it will be on of those books that resonate with your own spiritual journey, but if you’re not you will still appreciate Lewis’ wit and imagination.


So that’s it. The two books I read for January 2013. If you’ve read them please let me know what you think and if not, go on and read them then come back and let me know your thoughts.  You can follow my YouTube account to see the new books for the next month.

Until next time,

God Bless,

Grace Hatton