Tuesday, March 16, 2021

1000 Books Project: The Count of Monte Cristo - (Very late!) Discussion Two

Sorry I'm so late! Seems I always get behind in February. 

There are SPOILERS below so if you haven't read this far, be warned.

Chapters 23 - 37 (pp. 156 - 305)

A lot happens in this section, especially at the beginning when Dantes does a lot of finding, and a lot of finding out. He locates the treasure Abbe Faria regaled him of. He also makes the heartbreaking discovery of his father's death and the marriage of his true love, Mercedes. Perhaps most importantly, for his designs, he learns of who betrayed him. This gets the ball rolling fairly quickly on his plans for revenge. How he is going to go about it is yet to be revealed. 

Though Dantes does have designs on revenge, it doesn't stop him from helping others along the way. His training and mentoring of Jacopo for one, and his huge help to the one person he feels stayed loyal to him through it all...Morrel. I loved the disguise and the way he secretly brought about Morrel's redemption. Such a man deserved to retain his honor and Dantes gives him that and much more. 

The next part with Franz and Albert was what caused me to struggle and get behind on the reading. I felt in this part of the story that Dumas went a little overboard with the story of Luigi Vampa, seeming to take us a bit off course, though Vampa does figure in the story not too long after this story is related. We don't know what Dantes has been up to, as Dumas is keeping his machinations secret so as to not spoil the unfolding of the narrative, which is brilliant. What we do know is Dantes has changed quite a bit. I was surprised by the description of his appearance, as I don't remember it being alluded to previously. Is this physical appearance just due to the years of imprisonment, but not previously mentioned (unless I'm mistaken), or is he now a sick man? I guess we shall find out.

Of course, the whole reason for him to become involved with Albert is...why? Well, he's the son of Mercedes and Fernand and so we know he will play some part in Dantes' revenge. At the end of Chapter 37 when Franz observes him acting repulsed by Albert's handshake, his reaction is understandable, as I'm sure he is imagining Fernand himself. "The sins of the father" and all that. 

In all, the story has progressed and I think our next section is going to really get us moving in the narrative.


What did you think of this second section? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

This month's schedule: March - Chapter 38 - 54 (pp 306 - 450)
Discussion March 31 (or around there 😉)


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

1000 Books Project: The Count of Monte Cristo - Discussion One

Oh, the injustice!!! Yes, pretty much my reaction during this entire first section. I cannot abide injustice of any kind so, even though I know the story (from films), reading it in the brilliance of Dumas' prose makes it all the more gut wrenching. 

When I was researching my original (abridged...egads!) copy of the book, I read somewhere a couple of comments alluding to this book being a difficult read. Not the subject matter, but the writing itself. I did not find that at all. I was absolutely riveted the entire time. This is my first Dumas read and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. (I happily obtained the Wordsworth Classics edition, pictured here. Much better!)

Some notable differences in the book from my favorite version of the film, the 2002 version which starred Jim Caviezel as Dantes. This is why the book should always be read, whether you watch the movie or not. So much more depth to the story, and more plausibility in my opinion. I am going to watch the movie again after we finish this read-along. It has been a while since I last watched it. 

In my research on themes in the book, I came across this statement:
"what separates the good from the bad in The Count of Monte Cristo is that the good appreciate the good things they have, however small, while the bad focus on what they lack." 
Isn't that the truth. Dantes would have been perfectly happy in life whether he stayed a ship's mate, or became a captain of the ship. I believe he would have eventually been able to find happiness even had he lost Mercedes in a normal way (death or some other reason) rather than the way it actually happened. Danglers could never be happy because he was just bad. Rather than focus on doing a good job in whatever job he held, he instead focused on the belief that he deserved what Dantes had. I feel that Fernand looked on Mercedes more as a possession than actually loving her, and also the belief that their being together was how it was supposed to be because of their families and culture. If you truly love someone, you would want them to be happy. Right? Caderousse is just an unhappy person. Hence the drinking. He is complicit in what happens to Dantes and does nothing to come to his aid because he just can't muster any positive thought or gesture.

Of course, the Dantes post-d'lf I suspect will fall under the bad classification of this theme with his plans for vengeance. 


What did you think of this first section? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

This month's schedule: February: Read through page 305, through the end of Chapter XXXVII
Discussion February 28 (I apologize if I'm sometimes late with discussion posts. Life gets in the way at times.)


Saturday, January 2, 2021

1000 Books Project - The Count of Monte Cristo Reading Schedule

Time to start this read-along! Long overdue on reading this one. We have six months to finish this 900+ page book. We can do it!

I just discovered that the edition I own is ABRIDGED!!! NO WAY! I ordered the Wordsworth Classics edition from Amazon. I will post the full schedule when I receive the book on Monday. 

My edition: Info coming

Discussions will be posted here on the blog on the dates indicated in the schedule. Feel free to stop by the discussions any time. Post your thoughts in the comments, or share a link to a blog post.
  • January: Read through page 155, through the end of Chapter XXII 
    Discussion January 31
  • February: Read through page 305, through the end of Chapter XXXVII
    Discussion February 28
  • March: Read through page 457, through the end of Chapter LV
    Discussion March 31
  • April: Read through page 603, through the end of Chapter LXXVI
    Discussion April 30
  • May: Read through page 725, through the end of Chapter XCIII
    Discussion May 31
  • June: Read through page 875, end
    Discussion June 30
The original challenge post with info and sign-up is here.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

2021 Read Your (Book) Shelf Challenge #ReadYourShelf

Year five! Once again, a shout out to the awesome book bloggers/booktubers who created the #RYBSAT (Read-your-bookshelf-a-thon), which I adapted this challenge from in 2017.

I failed miserably on this one this year. All I can do is try again in 2021! 

Here's what you do:
  • Go to your bookshelves, or stack on the floor, or on your nightstand, etc. Pick out a book that you've been wanting to read on a particular shelf.
  • Now continue down that line of books on the shelf (in order) until you have 12 books. (See my shelf for the 2021 challenge below as an example.) There are a total of 19 books in my chosen shelf. I have already read three of the books by Ronald Malfi so that brings my total to 16 books. That gives me four alternates.
  • You might notice that there are a couple of extra books in my chosen shelf (as I mentioned above). These are alternate titles. I found that part of the reason I failed at this challenge is that I didn't have any options for alternates, which I now feel is essential, especially if your sequence of books has more than one by the same author. I'm limiting the alternates to a three six book maximum.
  • You will then read your 12 books over the next twelve months, one book each month. You can read them in order (forward or reverse), or you can plug 1 - 12 (or 1 through your total number including alternates, if any) into a randomizer each month to pick your title for the month or, if you're a planner, you can plan which books you will read for each month.
  • If you find that one of the books is part of a series and you've already read it, I will allow a substitution of another book from the series. However, if you find this happening (a whole series, several by the same author, etc) in the stack/shelf you chose, and you don't like it, I would suggest picking a different stack/shelf.
  • If you find yourself unable to finish one of your books in a month's time (I recently experienced this with a book I've found will take me a bit longer to finish, as I need to read it in doses), as long as you finish it during the challenge dates (January - December of current year), it counts. So, with the alternate reads option, and this addition, I think things should be much easier. 
  • If you start the challenge late, mid-year, etc., you can read the number of books coinciding with the remaining months in the year. For example, if you start in June, you would pick a shelf (or section of shelf) with seven books (and 2 or 3 alternates) to give you your seven books for the remainder of the challenge dates parameters.
  • What an awesome way to tackle books gathering dust on your bookshelves. Right?
  • Challenge runs January through December of 2021.
  • You can cross over books from your 12 books with other challenges.
  • Just remember to stick to the guidelines above.
  • Easy peasy! 

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

2021 Book to Movie Reading Challenge #Book2MovieRC

We're back for another year! Yes, things are looking a bit different now, with movie theaters closed and many newly released movies going straight to streaming. Sadly, I saw more movies in the theater before COVID. The theater we went to had really cheap matinee prices. Now, I just wait to watch after they've been released for a while, or when awesome streaming services release the films free for subscribers (like the new Wonder Woman movie coming out this month. Woot!). 

Anyway, let's see what's on the docket for 2021. As things have been going, these releases are subject to change. 

(Movies and streaming series)

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness - Season 2 (January 2021)
Chaos Walking [The Knife of Never Letting Go], Patrick Ness (January 22, 2021)
The Dig, John Preston (January 29, 2021)
To All the Boys 3 / Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han (February 2021) *anticipated
Without Remorse, Tom Clancy (February 26th, 2021)
Antlers [based on a short story, A Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca] (February 19, 2021)
Cherry, Nico Walker (February 26, 2021)
Fatherhood / Two Kisses for Maddy, Matt Logelin (April 16, 2021)
Peter Rabbit 2, Beatrix Potter (April 21, 2021)
Infinite / The Reincarnationist Papers, D. Eric Maikranz (May 28, 2021)
Fear Street (Trilogy), R.L. Stine (Summer 2021)
Anatomy of a Scandal, Sarah Vaughan (Fall 2021) *Netflix series
The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah (December 22, 2021)
Nightmare Alley, William Lindsay Gresham (2021) *maybe
Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates (2021)
The Stars at Noon, Denis Johnson (2021)
Mothering Sunday, Graham Swift (2021)
The Power of the Dog, Thomas Savage (2021)
Last Letter from Your Lover, Jojo Moyes (2021)
The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn (2020 or 2021) *as the year is almost over, probably 2021
Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann (2021)
Passing , Nella Larson (2021)
Artemis, Andy Weir (2021)
True Things About Me, Deborah Kay Davies (2021)
Pinnochio, Carlo Collodi (2021)
Wicked, Gregory Maguire (2021)
Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers (2021)
Across the Rivers and Into the Trees, Ernest Hemingway (2021) *maybe
Dear Zoe, Philip Beard (2021)
Macbeth, Shakespeare (2021)
A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult (2021) *limited series
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (2021) *Hulu series
Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid (2021 [maybe]) *Amazon series
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2021) *HBO Max limited series
Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney (2021) *Hulu limited series
Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo (2021 [likely]) *Netflix series
Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty (2021) *Hulu limited series
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Rick Riordan (2021) *Disney+ series(?)
The Witcher, Andrzej Sapkowski - Season 2 (2021) *possibly Q1
You, Caroline Kepnes - Season 3 (2021)
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (2021) *Apple+ series
The Player’s Table / They Wish They Were Us, Jessica Goodman (2021) *series
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan - Season 1 (2021) *Amazon series
Dune, Frank Herbert - (October 2021)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you find out about any I haven't mentioned, leave me a comment and I'll add to the list.

Main Levels

The Enthusiast: read 1-3 books
First One to the Theater: read 4+ books

Read only books being made into movies for release in 2021 (you are not required to only read from the list above. As I stated, if you find another movie or TV series/mini-series based on a book coming out in 2021, feel free to read it).

Additional Levels

Not Ready to Let Go: read at least one (1) book made into a movie or series in 2020

Here's a list of 2020 movies adapted from books. (Note: Some of the movies listed may have been moved to 2021).

Living in the Past: read at least one (1) book made into a movie in previous years

You can Google for previous years, or check Goodreads lists.

The Movie Was Better (What!?): watch the movie(s) for the book(s) you read.

*the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above

Additional Guidelines
  • The books you read can count for other challenges. Ebooks, audiobooks, and traditional formats all count.
  • The start date is January 1, 2021. End date is December 31, 2021.
  • Remember, TV series/mini-series count too.
  • Pick your level (and additional levels)
  • Sign up below and grab the button (top of post). I hope you will join me!
  • If you have any questions, click the contact me button in the sidebar, or leave a comment.

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1000 Books Project: French Classics 2021

Challenge Backstory:
I picked up a copy of James Mustich's amazing 1000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life Changing List and upon looking through it, I realized it really is a well-rounded reading recommendation book. I was pleased to discover I have read quite a few of the books he lists, and that many of them are on my personal reading lists (and they are books I own). So, to ever expand my reading horizons, and include others in the journey, I decided to create a read-along challenge, or project, if you will.

Note: 2020 was non-fiction. We had four books which were supposed to be quarterly read-alongs. Sadly, I only managed to complete the first quarter book which was Herodotus' The Histories (which was a daunting read!). I moved house in August (from Tennessee to Michigan). It was a major move with months and months of packing (I have thousands of books) and months and months of unpacking (just finished shelving the bulk of my books and STILL unpacking). So, planning the read-alongs last year was overly ambitious. Going to scale it back (a bit) this year. 

Without further ado, the project for 2021 is French Classics. Particularly...

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:  January - June 2021

From 1000 Books to Read Before You Die...

The Fastest 1,200 Pages You Will Ever Read

When it comes to page-turners, The Count of Monte Cristo is the great granddaddy of them all. Despite the novel's gargantuan dimensions--it runs to more than twelve hundred pages in most editions--each of its chapters is like an exhibit in a compendium of narrative suspense; it's hard to imagine any thriller plot on page or screen that isn't foretold in the fantastic adventures of Edmond Dantès.

Dantès is an earnest, responsible young sailor who, as the novel begins, has returned to Marseilles to marry his beloved Mercèdès. Yet on the eve of their wedding, he is nefariously accused of being a traitor, wrongfully convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment in an impregnable chĂ teau. So begins Dumas's sprawling tale of vengeance, cunning, patience, and hope. As Dantès is transformed into the unforgettable figure who gives the book its title, he comes to combine the attributes of Odysseus, Robin Hood, a Western gunslinger, and James Bond, meting out his artful and implacable justice with equal doses of vindictiveness and generosity. 


Les Misèrables by Victor Hugo:  July through December 2021

From 1000 Books to Read Before You Die...

An Epic Tale of Injustice and Adversity, Love and Hope

In his long life, Victor Hugo amassed glory on a scale we can scarcely imagine today. Upon his death in 1885 at the age of eighty-three, his body was laid in state in Paris beneath the Arch de Triomphe, and tens of thousands paid their respects to the revered poet, dramatist, and novelist before he was buried (in a pauper's coffin, as his will stipulated) in the Panthèon. Hugo's epic funeral dwarfs the earthly farewell of other writers the way Les Misèrables--in its length, scope, and magnamity--towers over all but a handful of novels.

The product of two decades of literary labor, Les Misèrables was begun while the author enjoyed political favor in Paris, and finished during Hugo's nineteen-year political exile in the Channel Islands. At the core of its vast narrative is Jean Valjean, a peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving children. This rash act will haunt him through all the events that follow, for even though the noble Valjean can escape prison, he cannot escape his past, which relentlessly pursues him in the body of the implacable Inspector Javert. Hugo's fierce advocacy for the poor and oppressed (the book's title might be translated as "The Wretched" or "The Outcasts") runs like an electric current through the intricate plot that leads readers from the countryside to the urban underworld, from the Battle of Waterloo to the Parisian sewers through which Valjean flees in one of the most famous episodes in all of fiction. Teeming with unforgettable characters--including the saintly bishop known as Monseigneur Bienvenu, the young and unfortunate seamstress Fantine, her orphaned daughter Cosette, the street urchin Gavroche, the villainous Thènardier, and the fiery revolutionary Marius--Les Misèrables encompasses historical events, societal injustice, personal suffering and sacrifice, and love in all its hopes and heartaches. As the author leads the reader down what seems to be every alleyway in Paris, he wears on his billowing sleeve the human sympathy that animates the most unforgettable novels. 

Watch for the reading schedule for our first read-along, The Count of Monte Cristo,  which I will have posted on January 1st.  Reading Schedule Here.

If you would like to join us, sign up below...and spread the word. Thanks!
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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

1000 Books Project - Update 2 (Capote's In Cold Blood)

Sadly, I've had to make the difficult decision to shelve Sagas of the Icelanders for another time. Frankly, my move was hell. I had no time to read and now that I'm moved, all the unpacking and shelving of books is taking up a ton of my time. So, perhaps we will read Sagas on next year's 1000 Books Project.

We are still doing In Cold Blood this month. I'm hoping to finish it in time for Banned Books Week (September 27 - October 3, 2020). No set schedule. Just read the book and we will discuss (if anyone is participating) the last week of September or early in October. Stay tuned here for the discussion post.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is still on for November. I hope you will be joining us!

Thanks for bearing with me!