January Wrap-up

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January has been to me a good month for reading, likely owing to the two weeks I was out of work recuperating from my fancy hospitalization late last year. I’ve closed 8 books this year, making me far ahead of the schedule in my goal of reading 30 books for 2016.

Here are my January reads:

1. Light by Rob Cham

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

3. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Recommended to me by Emily Blunt’s immaculate face who will be playing the eponymous character in an upcoming movie adaptation. This book is a fun, fast-paced thriller that is reminiscent of Gone Girl though not as masterfully made.

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Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Second favorite from the pile of books read in January (total population: 8, woo!). Amy Poehler is one of my favorite comedians. She’s funny and insightful and I am so happy for all the success she’s been getting. I am obviously a big fan of her and her brand of humor and this is probably why I enjoyed this book immensely.

As a fan of her, I loved this but as a fan of books, I felt like Yes, Please could’ve used a lot more editing. There are so many portions of the book that were all over the place.

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Jane Eyre: A Book Review, Some Regrets, Fassbender’s Face, and a Short Feminist Rant

This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish. It’s a shame it took me so long to pick this up now knowing it has many things I would’ve liked to read while I was growing up. I’ve always enjoyed Gothic novels, delighted in opinionated female characters, and enjoyed beautiful, descriptive writing.

After finishing the book, I was browsing its Goodreads page to see what others thought of it, as I’ve been wont to do because I am nosy and enjoy mentally agreeing/disagreeing with other people’s judgments about things I like. A lot of people hated it, but many others loved it too, sometimes as much as I did though not in the same way. One very poignant review passionately pointed out that she “… could bang Mr. Rochester like a screen door ’till next Tuesday.” Interesting. In another review, Jane’s plainness and sob stories were found boring, and Rochester was found to be insufferable, immoral and uninteresting.

I never really viewed Jane Eyre as a romantic novel. I vehemently refuse to experience it as a love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester because Jane is so much more than her romantic relationships. I also think Rochester is gross, and her admiration for the man ludicrous.* I understand when people are put off by this romance because I hated it too. (Full disclosure: I’ve read Jean Rhys’ prequel Wide Sargasso Sea years back and thus have already formed negative opinions about Rochester before reading Jane Eyre).

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Just saw the 2011 adaptation and Fassbender made Rochester less gross (darnit, Fassbender!!), still old and intense though.

If you allow yourself to look past that ridiculous May-December love affair, you will appreciate Jane’s education – from her difficult time at the hands of the Reeds to her training at the Lowood Charity school, which fed her hunger for a life outside of those walls leading her to the most important part of her coming-of-age at Thornfield Hall. You will love her spunk, and you will enjoy her comebacks to people who did her wrong. You kind of expect Victorian ladies to be all coy and modest but not this Jane. I’ve done far too many mental hellsyeah! every time she tells people off. When her cruel aunt told her cousins to stay away and not associate with her as she is not worthy of notice, she remarks, “They are not fit to associate with me.

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Light by Rob Cham; and Limbo by Playdead

Light is a worldless comic book created by Rob Cham and released by Anino in 2015. The pages are framed in black and features a backpack-toting, nameless fella that travels across different lands, and encounters and battles different monsters in his mysterious quest.

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His journey unfolds delightfully in pitch black backgrounds, with the occasional peppering of colors to signify a milestone. The illustrations are beautifully rendered in the limited color palette that Rob Cham chooses and reminds me a lot of Limbo, a wordless puzzle-platform game made by independent Danish game developer Playdead.

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Both titles play around with black and white, they have beautiful visuals, and both tease their audiences with a mystery (What are these kids up to?) that makes us want to keep going til the very end.

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As We Grow Older and Wiser

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Amidst all the earth’s shaking and trembling, I have finally wormed my way through a book. I was reading Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and it was taking me forever to turn a page past 66 that I finally caved in and gave it up for later.  Certain books just don’t feel right for a certain occasion, and reading about a glorious science fictional criticism of war is not really my way of coping with the fear of getting crushed to death in the middle of the night.

Funnily though, I found solace in a romance novel – one that I am not in the least embarrassed, and even a bit proud of, for picking up. I used to binge on romance novels while I was growing up and I enjoyed them – until I grew up and everything about love suddenly became petty and ridiculously unbelievable. Romance novels of the bland and graphic kind suddenly shot in superstardom and it became a huge embarrassment to be lugging around a book with covers in fancy fonts, featuring an unclothed male with large muscles, and bearing titles that are cheesy as frak. I mean, “At Last Comes Love” doesn’t really sound literary, but it’s not aiming to be.  However low-brow people think romance novels can be, finding a fun Regency novel whose prose does not come second to telling a good story is very refreshing.

I enjoyed Mary Balogh’s At Last Comes Love. My heart did not come afluttering, it rarely does these days, but I genuinely grinned and giggled my way through Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford), and Margaret Huxtable’s ridiculous love story. You see, Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford) was threatened to lose his inheritance if he does not find himself a respectable wife in 15 days. 15 Days! With a scandalous past (he ran off with his then-bethrothed’s very-married sister-in-law five years ago), and a secret illegitimate child, it seemed very unlikely for Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford) to find maidens throwing themselves at his feet.

Margaret, on the other hand, is thirty years old – ancient in the rules of regency romance, and has never been married. She is becoming increasingly desperate to find herself a husband, especially with the return of new-widower Crispin Dew, her first love and the taker of her uhm, womanhood, who promised to come back for her after going off to war but instead married a Spanish woman, thereby breaking her heart etc. etc.

One crazy ball, where she donned a lovely gown with her bosom almost spilling over, she bumped into a tipsy Duncan, who offered her a dance and a marriage and when confronted by Crispin, she hurriedly lied and declared Duncan to be his unofficial bethrothed. Sounds like a win-win, but of course, a marriage done for the wrong reasons doesn’t come easy.

Drama, drama, drama. There are so many things that happened, and it’s so much fun to unfold a romantic story under layers and layers of intrigues, lies and mystery.  I would’ve missed out on a lot had I let my pretentiousness get the best of me. It’s crazy how prejudiced readers can be when it comes to literary genres – thankfully, I’m too old to give a fuck and I will enjoy a book regardless of what other people think of it. If it’s good, it’s good.

Obviously, I enjoyed Mary Balogh’s At Last Comes Love a lot, I was glad I picked it up on a very restless time, and I will definitely be on the look-out for other Baloghs in the future (hopefully a future without aftershocks).

Ta-ta!