Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Netgalley/ARCs, Reviews, Series Reviews, Updates, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Update: What I Read in March…

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March was a slow month for me. I read most of my To-Read list, but not all of it. April will be a better month. In March I read:

Mini Review: “The Last Flight of Poxl West” by Daniel Torday

Review: “Legend” by Marie Lu

Review: “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Review: “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld

Review: “Making History” by Stephen Fry

ICYMI: All the above titles are links to reviews.

Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate (Review coming in April)

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Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews

Review: “Making History” by Stephen Fry

4 Stars of 5 ★★★★☆

I love Stephen Fry. He’s so poignant and yet hilarious, and there’s some quotes in this novel that really strike home. This story though? It’s okay. I’m giving it four stars just because of my love for this quote: “The biggest challenge facing the great teachers and communicators of history is not to teach history itself, nor even the lessons of history, but why history matters. How to ignite the first spark of the will o’the wisp, the Jack o’lantern, the ignis fatuus [foolish fire] beloved of poets, which lights up one source of history and then another, zigzagging across the marsh, connecting and linking and writing bright words across the dark face of the present. There’s no phrase I can come up that will encapsulate in a winning sound-bite why history matters. We know that history matters, we know that it is thrilling, absorbing, fascinating, delightful and infuriating, that it is life. Yet I can’t help wondering if it’s a bit like being a Wagnerite; you just have to get used to the fact that some people are never going to listen.”

This pretty such much sums up the theme of the novel. A person that doesn’t understand history will think that by erasing one negative aspect(in this case a person), everything will change for the better. It doesn’t work that way. History doesn’t work that way.

The novel basically goes like this: So, you just found out you can travel in time. What do you want to do first?

Well, okay. It’s been done, but what the hay. Every time travel novel ever has something to do with WWII and/or the erasing of Hitler, but I digress.

Oh, so you don’t want to kill Hitler, just erase him? Okay…done.

The world’s different. Everything has to be better, right? Things are strange. Wait, wait, wait. Give me a history book. Oh, boy. Things are worse? There is a guy that’s chill, so that’s a plus but, wow. We screwed up.

What to do next? Well, it’s simple really. Fix it.

Here’s the summary, for those who want more detail (via Goodreads):

Those of us who have already discovered Stephen Fry know him as the brilliant British comedian behind TV series such as Jeeves & Wooster and Blackadder, and the author of two enormously funny novels, The Liar and The Hippopotamus. But his new film (in which he plays Oscar Wilde) and his new novel (this one) represent a somewhat alarming departure from his previous work: They’re more serious. Though humor is still an essential ingredient of both, Fry’s fans are finally getting to witness the emotional depth that this brilliant polymath usually keeps hidden.

In Making History, Fry has bitten off a rather meaty chunk by tackling an at first deceptively simple premise: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, one would reason–and so an earnest history grad student and an aging German physicist idealistically undertake to bring this about by preventing Adolf’s conception. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours–but in most ways even worse. Fry’s experiment in history makes for his most ambitious novel yet, and his most affecting. His first book to be set mostly in America, it is a thriller with a funny streak, a futuristic fantasy based on one of mankind’s darkest realities. It is, in every sense, a story of our times.

There are some powerful messages in this novel, but it’s presented in an entertaining way so readers don’t roll their eyes at the Main Character’s awkwardness. It’s a good read. I recommend it. It’s, here again, not his best work, but it’s up there.

Fiction, Netgalley/ARCs, Upcoming reads, Young Adult books

What I’ll be Reading in March…

So March is going to be a busy month reading wise. I’ve made quite a list for myself. Here’s what I’ve got in store:

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey: I’ll be listening to this as an audiobook. It’s a modern classic, so hopefully it’ll better than On the Road.

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth: This is a Netgalley ARC. It’s a Penguin Classic, so it should be good.

 Denton Little’s Deathdate, Lance Rubin: This is also an ARC, but from what I’ve read, it seems to be good.

 The Last Flight of Poxl West, Daniel Torday: Again, an ARC about WWII, London, and other stuff I read too much.

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr: I’m listening to this one and it’s an interesting story, but it loops around so much that I don’t always know what’s going on. It’s about WWII, Europe, and radios.

Making History, Stephen Fry: It’s Stephen Fry. There’s time travel. It’s about WWII. England appears a lot in here…so basically you see why I’m reading it.

I’ve got other books on the back burner, so I’d better get to it.

Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews

Review: “Hippopotamus” by Stephen Fry

3 stars of 5 ★★★☆☆

Stephen Fry is a god amongst mortals. He has said some of the wittiest, cleverest, most British things ever spoken and lucky for us, he’s even written some of them down. His really is a splendid author, and his novels that I’ve read have entertained me, had me nodding my head in agreement, and shaking in laughter. All that said, this is not his finest work. It’s great, but it’s not Stephen Fry good. It’s just Stephen Fry okay. Here’s the summary(via Goodreads which in this case isn’t a real summary, but nevertheless):

“I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn.” So begins the tale of Ted Wallace, unaffectionately known as the Hippopotamus. Failed poet, failed theater critic, failed father and husband, Ted is a shameless womanizer, drinks too much, and is at odds in his cranky but maddeningly logical way with most of modern life. Fired from his newspaper, Ted seeks a few months’ repose and free liquor at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Michael Logan. This world of boozy dinners, hunting parties, and furtive liaisons has recently been turned on its head by miracles, healings, and phenomena beyond Ted’s comprehension. As the mysteries deepen, The Hippopotamus builds into “a deliciously wicked and amusing little fable” (The New York Times)

If you like to laugh at people’s absurdities, at people’s willingness to believe anything as long as it helps them, at the English aristocracy, then you’ll enjoy this book. It has a ring of Nancy Mitford’s work, but with more gross detail (be forewarned: there’s some hanky-panky in detail and it includes a farm animal). It’s hilarious at times and highly entertaining, so if you’re not easily shocked, give it a go.

Fiction, What I'm reading now...

What I’m Reading Now: “The Hippopotamus” by Stephen Fry

I love Stephen Fry. As an actor, a writer, Harry Potter audio-book narrator, a symbol of English-ness, everything he does is gold. I’ve read two of his other novels, and I’m about 30% into this one, and I’m really liking it. It’s so very pompous.