Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dueling Monsters Round 2: Jekyll/Hyde Recap

 Round 2 of Dueling Monsters has come to an end.  In the battle between Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray, which side will you declare as your winner?

For me Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde beats out Dorian Gray for several reasons.  

More Monstrous: As I explained in my review, Dr. Jekyll basically unleashes his evil side on the world and he enjoys it (at the beginning).  It is, in fact, his stated goal to allow each part of his nature (the good and the bad) to be unhindered by the other. He doesn't take into account how Mr. Hyde's actions will affect others; he simply likes getting to do as he pleases without fear of discovery. Dorian, on the other hand, starts off by simply being vain and rather naive.  To be sure, this progresses over time to a feeling of self-entitlement and leads him down a very dark path, but I don't see that it was ever his intention to turn out the way he did.  [Actually, I found Lord Henry to be creepier than Dorian in parts - there's a discussion of this in the comment section of my review if you are interested in why.] The intention of each character is very important to me, and that's why I go with Jekyll/Hyde over Dorian Gray.  Except that the ending throws this off a bit, as I'll explain in my next point.

Who He Is In The End:  At the end of Jekyll/Hyde, Dr. Jekyll has done everything humanly possible to get rid of Mr. Hyde (albeit too late) so that does redeem him somewhat in my mind.  Dorian Gray, on the other hand, doesn't want to redeem himself when he destroys the painting; he just wants the reminder of his bad behavior to go away.  In the end, Gray is an evil, self-focused man while Jekyll is trying desperately to be good.  So for that reason I have to say that Gray is more monstrous in the end.

More Accessible: Ignoring for the present which character is worse than the other, I found Jekyll/Hyde to be very easy to understand and enjoyable to read.  It is the most accessible of the classic monster books I've read so far* in fact.  The language was simple and straightforward, the plot was easy to follow and not full of holes, and the characters were fleshed out just as much as they had to be for the story to work.  Dorian Gray was beautifully written but it was more difficult to read.  There was, for me, a lot of excess that could have been trimmed off and the story would have worked just as well.  So Jekyll/Hyde again beats out Dorian Gray.

The Result: Two out of three points go to the Jekyll/Hyde side of the Duel and I hereby declare The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde my winner.  Check out the posts below to see which book other Duelers chose as their winner, and share your own thoughts in the comments!

By the way, if you didn't check out the Jekyll/Hyde music video I posted from the cartoon Arthur, definitely go watch it now - it actually includes a ton of stuff from the book. :)

Here are links to the participant reviews of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and also thoughts on the match-up.  Let me know if I missed yours and I'll add it as soon as I can, in between all the Halloween goings-on today.
  • My Reader's Block posted an excellent review that takes into consideration the concept of addiction to self, and also the lack of female characters - find out which she choose as the bigger baddie in her recap post
  • The Zen Leaf has read both books several times and gives a great comparison of their respective merits in her duel-off post, which includes thoughts on the graphic novel versions
  • Fizzy Thoughts (my Duel co-host) was disappointed to not find Mary Reilly in this book, but appreciated that is was so short - see who she thinks is more monstrous in her recap
  • Life is a Patchwork Quilt  read both books and includes a comparison of the lives of both authors in her post
  • Milk and Honey Quilts is one of the only participants who chose to answer the discussion questions I posted for Jekyll/Hyde 
  • eclectic/eccentric had previously read Dorian and read Jekyll/Hyde just last week.  See who she thinks was the bigger baddy in her comparison post.
  • Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity barely squeezed in a reading of Jekyll/Hyde before the end of the month, but since she'd previously read Dorian she was able to compare the two and declare a winner.
  • Subliminal Intervention also read both books and shares her thoughts on them, including some creepy comparisons to modern life.
  • The Introverted Reader read Dorian Gray a while ago but tackled Jekyll/Hyde for the first time.
Thanks to all who participated in this year's Dueling Monsters and I hope you'll join Jill and I for a Round 3 next year!

* In case you are wondering which classic monster books I've read, here's a list: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Invisible Man, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Friday, October 29, 2010

listen to a creepy story RIGHT NOW

Since it is just a few days from Halloween and we can all use some creepy stories to get us in the mood I will now direct you to this post where (today only) you can listen to a short story called "House in Cypress Canyon." Go ahead over there and listen right now - I'll wait. Oh, well, if you are at work I guess you can download it now and listen when you get home, but do it TODAY for sure - I don't know what will be available for download tomorrow, and this is a particularly good episode.

This story originally aired on the radio many years ago as part of the series Suspense!, a show I'm very fond of.  It is an excellent example of what Old Time Radio is all about, and it has the added bonus of being nice and creepy - perfect for Halloween!

I previously shared how much I enjoyed the CDs sent to me by Old Time Radio Catalog but I wanted to tell you specifically about one CD - The Best of Suspense! - that I really loved.

The Basics: The CD costs $4 and includes 52 episodes of Suspense! totaling 25+ hours.

The Content: Episodes are based on true stories, classic short stories, and original stories created just for the show.

Why I Loved It: These stories range in topic from ghosts, murders, and science gone wrong, to psychological torment of various kinds (guilt, isolation, terror, etc.) and traditional causes of fear (rats, creepy houses, unsolved murders, and so on).  My favorite story is called "Three Skeleton Key." It involves a lighthouse, a ghost ship, and an enormous number of rats, and is narrated by Vincent Price - you can't get better than that!

I received a few free CDs to try out their content but do I plan to buy more from the site? Yes, I certainly do.  My only agreement with OTR Catalog was to write about their site one time, giving my honest opinion after I'd listened to the CDs.  I did that already, but I enjoyed this particular CD so much that I wanted to tell you about it in time for Halloween.  Do go listen to "House In Cypress Canyon" and then come tell me what you thought of it - I'll cross my fingers in the hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remembering Summer (#1)

Kiddo in the waves at Ocean City, Maryland
September 2010

This was the first time we'd been to the beach since Kiddo had his feeding tube put in last year.  We weren't sure if the sand would irritate the area around the tube so we gave Kiddo the choice of picking a different (non-beach) vacation spot.  He voted to go to the beach anyway. So we covered the tube with several layers of gauze and taped it up really good, then sent him off to play.  It didn't end up keeping ALL the sand out but it did a good enough job, and Kiddo said the tube wasn't irritated.  Yay!

The waves weren't huge but the riptide was killer.  We found out later that this was due to a hurricane hundreds of miles to the south.  The weather was fantastic though, and we had lots of fun making sandcastles and digging trenches for the water to surround them.  I LOVE THE BEACH!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mockingjay (with spoilers!)

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
Earlier today I posted my spoiler-free review of Mockingjay but I wanted a place to discuss the book in detail with others who have read it, hence this post.  DO NOT READ THIS if you have not read Mockingjay because I am going to spoil the heck out of it.

Ok, here goes ...

From what I can tell, fans of The Hunger Games trilogy had VERY mixed reactions to this book.  I seem to be in the minority because I really loved Mockingjay.  Here are some things that I appreciated about this book:
  • War is presented as being bad for all sides - yes it may be necessary in some cases but it always ALWAYS has repercussions for everyone involved - and often in war people do what would have been unthinkable in peacetime - I thought Collins did an excellent job with this theme
  • The victors aren't just ok after they survive the games - they experience post-traumatic stress in varying degrees - so often in books characters simply move on and live their lives normally after trauma, but that isn't what happens in real life
  • Finnick's backstory was very intriguing and brought a whole new level to the book - I really loved this character and was so sad to see him die, but I liked how it was shown "off screen" because people don't always die right in front of you in a war, and that often makes it harder to accept that they are actually dead
  • What happened to Peeta was CRAZY and yet made lots of sense - I appreciated how his character changed in this book - I didn't like him much before (he was "too nice" for me) but I found him fascinating in this book and I really liked how he and Katniss ended up together - no other ending would have made sense at this point
  • During book 2 I began to really like Gale but his actions in book 3 turned me off - in fact, he began to remind me of Anakin (from Star Wars) with how he was using evil methods to support good causes - once I made that association in my mind I had a hard time really liking Gale anymore (for the record, I thought Padme should NEVER have gone back to Anakin after he killed all the Younglings - that literally makes my skin crawl)
  • Despite the fact that I felt like everything in this book made sense based on previous books there were still parts where I literally yelled at the radio in shock.  If you'd been in the car with me you'd have heard something like, "WHAT?! You have GOT to be kidding me! No WAY!" when the plan for the new hunger games was announced.  And then when Katniss voted yes?! Say WHAT?! I still don't get that - does anyone have a good explanation?  Because that is the one place where I don't see the story reflecting what has happened in the past.
  • Speaking of that, did they not do the new hunger games because President Coin was dead? Or was there some other reason I missed?
I'm sure there are other things worth discussing that I've forgotten about - if you think of something let me know!

Let me know in the comments what you thought of this book and why. I'm looking forward to discussing it with all of you.

Mockingjay (spoiler free)

by Suzanne Collins
Book 3 of The Hunger Game Trilogy
audiobook: 11.75 hours
narrated by Carolyn McCormick

*** About the Book ***

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Since this is a spoiler-free review I'll keep this short: Katniss continues her fight against the Capital. 'Nuff said.

(I also did a spoiler-filled review - click here to check it out.)

*** Why I Listened To It ***

I was convinced by several friends to give The Hunger Games a try even though I wasn't interested in the book at all.  Book 1 was just "meh" in my opinion, but I agreed to continue with the series.  Book 2 was much better and really got me interested.  And when it ended on an enormous cliffhanger I HAD to get to Book 3 right away.

*** My Thoughts ***

Again, since this is a spoiler free review, I'll keep this short: I LOVED this book.  I think it made complete sense based on the previous books in the series.  At the same time it had enough twists to make it interesting and definitely NOT predictable.

For those of you who have read this, stay tuned for another post later today which WILL include spoilers. I figure that's the best way to open up discussion and see whether we agree on this book or not.

As a side note, Carolyn McCormick did a great job narrating this series - I'll definitely look for her name on other audiobooks.

*** Your Thoughts ***

If you are into the Hunger Games books but haven't read this one yet, why not?  If you have read it, look for my 2nd post later today and share your thoughts on it there!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Follow Up: Outcasts United, the Epilogue

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a DifferenceWhen I reviewed Outcasts United last month I shared with you that my advanced reader copy of the book did not include the Epilogue, and that I was very disappointed by this fact.  Today I finally had a chance to read that Epilogue and I have to tell you - it was worth the wait.  I loved learning about the good things that have happened to the Fugees team and their coach over the past year or so, though I was heartbroken by some of the setbacks.

I was also inspired to check out the Fugees website and I encourage you to do the same.  At the very least you should watch the 30-second video that open automatically when you go to the home page ( - seeing the faces of the boys from around the world who are a part of this team will warm your heart.

Thanks for the awards (belatedly ...)

I've received a few bloggy awards over the past several months and I've been remiss in thanking the givers and posting about them.

Babette's Book Blog awarded me the Honest Scrap, which asks me to post 10 honest things about myself.
  1. Kiddo got 6 stitches in his head last week ... and it was my fault.  We were wrestling on my bed and when he grabbed my legs I slammed them down onto the mattress ... or so I thought.  He was hanging on and laughing until his head slammed into the corner of the bed frame.  I still feel horrible!
  2. I do very well in emergency situations (like #1).  I don't panic and I can think clearly and organize whatever needs to be done.
  3. I'm the Den Leader for Kiddo's Cub Scout Den.  I love doing this but I can't stand the uniform I have to wear - I look like a complete nerd. LOL
  4. I play Farmville ... a lot.  If you are my friend on Facebook and you haven't learned how to hide the Farmville posts I probably drive you crazy.  Just ask me and I'll tell you how to get rid of those posts.
  5. I love jewelry that coordinates with what I'm wearing.  It doesn't have to be expensive jewelry, and I don't care about other kinds of fashion, but I really do love jewelry.
  6. My birthday is coming up in just a few weeks.
  7. I like public speaking.  I still get nervous before getting in front of large crowds, but I genuinely enjoy the experience as a whole.
  8. My mom is the only person who has ever cut my hair.  She is a stylist and I trust her completely.  Only once has she ever done something that I didn't like, and it was a style that I thought I wanted.
  9. There is a mouse living under the stove in my kitchen.  I need to get rid of it but I feel bad setting a trap for it.  
  10. I feel so blessed to still have one set of grandparents.  They are now 86 and 92 and not in the best of health, so I treasure the time I have with them.  I love that Kiddo is getting to know his great-grandparents as "people" not just as "old people," if you know what I mean.

Miss Remmers' Review  and eclectic/eccentric both gave me the Xxtraordinary Blogger Award, meaning I have to share one extraordinary thing that has happened to me.

When I was (I think) in middle school my family took a trip to the Statue of Liberty.  We had a great time and took lots of pictures.  After we left we realized we had somehow left behind a backpack with our sweaters and camera inside.  When we got back to Maryland my mom wrote a letter to the lost and found at the Statue of Liberty describing the backpack and its contents.  We figured that was the end of the story, but about 6 months later a box arrived from New York - with all our items inside!  It was so amazing to realize that nothing had been stolen, and it was a real treat to develop the film in the camera and relive the trip all those months later.

I appreciate all my readers and would love to learn more about you!  Feel free to grab the buttons and post 10 honest things or 1 extraordinary thing (or both) on your blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bluff Island Rescue Service

by Stephanie Hubbard
346 pages

*** About the Book ***

Bluff Island Rescue Service: a memoirIn this memoir Stephanie Hubbard shares her experiences growing up in a volatile household and spending summers on an isolated island.  Stephanie's father, whom she loved dearly, was an alcoholic who physically and verbally abused her mother.  Her mother was completely devoted to him despite this, and fought tooth and nail (literally) to keep his attention.  Bluff Island was the family's summer refuge, the only place her father felt at home in the world.  Stephanie treasured her time there, especially the days spent with her father, even though she wasn't allowed to associate with anyone else on the tiny island.

This strange and troubled childhood followed Stephanie as she grew up.  She spent a large portion of her young adult life traveling in her father's footsteps, competing with his new wife for his attention, and trying desperately to make him proud of her.  A serious car accident finally pushes her to change her lifestyle, but it isn't easy to let go of her past and start anew.

*** Why I Read It ***

I received an email pitch for this book from a publicist.  It's rare that I agree to review a book based on an email but something about this one caught my attention.  I think it was the fact that the book was compared to The Glass Castle (my review here), and also the idea of living on an isolated island and having that influence your life. 

*** My Thoughts ***

Generally when I agree to review a book I give myself several months to pick it up, since I always have a list of books just waiting to be read.  When this one arrived in the mail and I opened the package I couldn't bear to set it on the shelf.  I left it sitting on the coffee table, my eyes continually going back to the cover.  I don't know what it was about the cover but I really wanted to pick this book up and start reading.  So, after just a few days of waiting, I did.

And I blew right through it, finishing in less than three days.

This book is very readable and moves quickly.  I don't want to say that I "enjoyed" reading about Stephanie's life, because much of it was heartbreaking and traumatic.  But it was a fascinating story all the same, and I did enjoy reading the book.  Stephanie writes in a straightforward, unapologetic manner that let me feel a lot of the emotions she was feeling at a particular time. 

I have to mention one scene because it has stuck with me in the weeks since I finished the book.  There is a time, early in the book, when Stephanie's father is yelling at her mother for something and Stephanie has to decide who to side with in the argument.  She chooses her father even though she detests his behavior.  Looking back on it as an adult, she realizes that this was the moment when she chose to live her father's life rather than her mother's.  This part broke my heart, but it also set the tone for the rest of Stephanie's story.

As I said above, the pitch I received for this book compared it to The Glass Castle.  I can't say that it was quite as good of a book as that one, but I do think that if you like The Glass Castle then you will like Bluff Island Rescue Service as well - I certainly did.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Has anyone else heard of this book?  I haven't seen reviews of it on any of the blogs yet - did I miss yours?  Is this the kind of book you like to read? Also, what do you think of the cover?  There's something about it (combined with the book's summary) that really pulled me in ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Get Caught Reading - me at the beach

September 18, 2010

enjoying one of the last warm days of the summer
Ocean City, Maryland
re-reading an excellent book

Get Caught Reading is a Sunday meme hosted by Miss Remmers' Review

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Finds 10/22/10

This week I'm focusing on some of the more "serious" titles that have caught my attention in recent months:

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, by Sid Jacobs and Ernie Colon - this sounds like a simpler and clearer way to approach the enormous 9/11 Commission Report - found in a comment on Read Street

War Child: A Child Soldier's Story

War Child, by Emmanuel Jal - I love his music and his real-life story is heartbreaking - found at Maw Books 

Gunshot Road: An Emily Tempest InvestigationGunshot Road, by - found at Desert Book Chick, who says "It’s a book set in the Australian Outback. My home. Not only that, it’s a book that visits Aboriginal communities and homes, and presents Aboriginal people as they really are. No romantic noble savage clich├ęs. The real outback and real outback people. You can taste the dust." - how can I not want to read it after that?!

In the Presence of My Enemies

In The Presence of My Enemies, by Gracia Burnham - true stories of Christian missionaries taken captive in the Philippines - found at Book Journey (though I'd heard of it before, years ago)

Ghosts of Mississippi: The Murder of Medgar Evers, the Trials of Byron De La Beckwith, and the Haunting of the New South
Ghosts of Mississippi, by Maryanne Vollers - the movie based on this true story of the Medgar Evars murder (US Civil Rights era) is fantastic, and I hear that it stuck very close to the book - found at Watcha Readin', Books?

Earth and Ashes

Earth and Ashes, by Atiq Rahimi - a very short novella set during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan - found at Bermudonion's Weblog

Footprints to the Stars, by Tommy Thrasher - the brief autobiography of a elderly Native Canadian (is that even the correct term? The review didn't mention an ethnicity or people group ...) written as part of his adult literacy class - this book isn't available anywhere except in Northern Canada (sad for me!) - found at Amy Reads

Into The Abyss, by Carol Shaben - this book isn't even completely written yet and still I'm excited to read it - check out the video and details here - I found this because someone I follow shared this through Google Reader ... if it was you, please let me know so I can say thank you!

Share your recent finds and see what books other bloggers are sharing by checking out Friday Finds at Should Be Reading.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde
audiobook: 8.75 hours
narrated by Don Hagan

*** About the Book ***

The Picture of Dorian GrayLord Henry's focus in life is to entertain himself and he finds entertainment in molding the personality of Dorian Gray.  Dorian is young and very handsome, and Lord Henry teaches him that beauty is vitally important and that those who lose their beauty lose their power as well.

In a fit of passion Dorian wishes that he could always stay as good looking as the painting of himself done by his dear friend Basil.  Somehow, this actually comes to pass: Dorian stays always the same and the portrait begins to change.  It doesn't actually age though.  Instead is becomes the physical manifestation of the sins Dorian commits ...

*** Why I Listened To It  ***

This book was on my TBR list because it is on the 1,001 Books You Must Read list, and that means it counts for the 1% Well Read Challenge.  It is also one of the two books for this year's Dueling Monsters read-a-long.

Plus I wanted to read it because Dorian Gray is in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - a movie which I truly love.

*** My Thoughts ***

Dorian in "The League ..."
It's funny how tv and movies can influence your impression of a book.  Did you know that Dorian Gray is supposed to be blond and have curls?! I totally could not picture him that way.  Instead I kept seeing him as he was portrayed in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But that isn't really relevant to my review, so ... moving on.

I can't really discuss this book without some MINOR spoilers.  I don't think anything I say will ruin the book in any way for a new reader but if you really don't want to know ANYTHING about it than you better not keep reading this section - suffice it to say that I have mixed feeling about this book.

Ok, so - there were parts of this book that I liked and parts that I didn't like.  Let's start with the likes:
  • the writing is gorgeous - it was a pure pleasure to listen to (most of) it
  • the story is intriguing - how WOULD you behave if your looks gave you power over those around you?
  • the characters are very believable - I could understand their motivations and actions, and it all made sense based on what I knew about each character
Then there were parts that I didn't like:
  • the (long) section on Dorian's interests and collections - I think the point that he is vain and interested in beautiful things could have been made in a lot less space
  • some things were too coincidental - I'm thinking specifically of Dorian running into Sybil's brother ... really?!
  • there was lots of innuendo and very little fact - the author hints us that Dorian has done some very horrible things but we only see a very few of those
  • I didn't quite get how Dorian went from being somewhat vain and self-centered to being completely horrid - he doesn't come across as being as bad as the author seems to want him to (not that murder isn't bad!)
I really have mixed feelings about this book.  I can't say I really enjoyed it but I didn't actually dislike it either.  The beautiful writing makes up for a lot, but still ... I'm not a huge fan.

*** Dueling Monsters? ***

I have already read and reviewed The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so I can say with certainty that, on the basis of which monster is creepier, I'm giving the title to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, hands down.  Dorian isn't exactly pleasant, and he commits some horrible acts, but I blame part of who he is on Lord Henry.  Dorian doesn't set out to be evil - it all starts with simple vanity.

Actually, I find Lord Henry creepier than Dorian. He decides early in the book that his new project is to see how much he can mold and influence Dorian, and he does it for his own amusement.  Lord Henry cares nothing for the consequences of his actions - THAT is a crime that I have a hard time forgiving.

I'll get into this more when I do my Dueling Monsters recap on 10/31 so be sure to check back then! Actually, just check out the chatter in the comments between Amanda and I - we hash out our conflicting feeling about Lord Henry in great detail.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Amanda @ The Zen Leaf mentioned that she couldn't get past the first scene of the new Dorian Gray movie.  Has anyone else seen it?  How does it compare to the book?

If you've read this one, let me know what you think of it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins
Book 2 of The Hunger Games trilogy
audiobook: 11.6 hours
narrated by Carolyn McCormick

*** About the Book ***

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2)In this second book of The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss is forced to continue her public relationship with Peeta as they tour the various Districts to celebrate their unprecedented dual victory. Back at home, her best friend Gale is being passed off as her cousin to keep the Katniss/Peeta story alive. Unbeknownst to Katniss, she has become a symbol of rebellion against the Capital and it is only when the President arrives at her home to threaten her family that she realizes how dangerous things have gotten.

There is MUCH more to this story but summarizing it would definitely be spoilerific so I’ll just stop here.

*** Why I Listened To It ***

Over the summer I listened to the first book in the series at the request of several friends. They were all convinced I’d love it, but I just found it to be okay. I didn’t want to give up on the series though, so I reserved a copy of the second book on audio through the library and waited (2 months) for it to come in.

*** My Thoughts ***

Ok, I have to admit it – I really liked this book! I was leery throughout the first several chapters because it seemed to be very much like the first book. Then Katniss finally confided in Peeta rather than keeping everything secret from him (something that drove me nuts the first time around), and things took off from there.

I listened to this book almost non-stop – in the car, getting dressing in the morning, making dinner, before bed … wherever and whenever I had a chance. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to.

The relationships between Katniss and Peeta and Gale became completely believable for me once the truth about it came out. I can understand the bond between K & P, and also the bond between K & G, and even the combined hatred and respect between P & G.
I’m really excited to get on to the next book. I can’t wait another 2-3 months though, so I’m off to download the audio version from … hopefully it is not too expensive.

*** Your Thoughts: Team ___________? ***

Since I’m so late to this series I missed seeing everyone post about Team Peeta and Team Gale (and even Team Katniss), so I’d love for you to share in the comments who you are/were rooting for. Do you want Katniss to end up with Gale or with Peeta, or to be on her own? Why did you choose what you chose? PLEASE don’t spoil book 3 for me by telling me who she does/doesn’t end up with – just share who you were rooting for as you read.

Also, let me know if you were satisfied with the final book (again, please no spoilers!) – I’ve heard mixed reviews. I’m wondering if people who liked book 1 better than book 2 were happier with book 3, or if the opposite is true … (does that even make sense?!)

And for the record, TEAM GALE!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson
audiobook: 2.5 hours
narrated by Ian Holm

*** About the Book ***

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeMr. Utterson is concerned.  His long-time friend (and client - Utterson is a lawyer) Dr. Jekyll has revealed a very close attachment to an unnerving man called Mr. Hyde.  Hyde not only has a bad reputation, he also generates feelings of intense dislike in all he meets.  When Jekyll makes Hyde the beneficiary of his will, Utterson becomes concerned that Hyde means to kill Jekyll.  After several months of socializing in a normal manner, Jekyll suddenly shuts himself up and refuses to see anyone.

What is going on behind Dr. Jekyll's locked door?  Who is the mysterious Mr. Hyde?  Is he blackmailing the dear doctor, or has he possibly killed him?  It is only through a series of letters and the breaking down of a door that Mr. Utterson finally learns the truth.

*** Why I Listened To It ***

This book was on my TBR list because it is on the 1,001 Books You Must Read list, and that means it counts for the 1% Well Read Challenge.  That, and the fact that I've been wanting to read more from this author.  Then Jill and I decided it would be a good fit for this year's Dueling Monsters read-a-long.  Gotta love it when reading one book meets so many different goals!

*** My Thoughts ***

I was, of course, familiar with the basic concept of the story before listening to this book - it IS an element of our (pop) culture at this point - but I didn't realize that I had several key details wrong.  First, I was completely unfamiliar with Mr. Utterson and the other characters in the book.  Second, the real reasons for Dr. Jekyll's experiments were new to me. And third, the outcome of the experiments was not what I expected.  I realize that I'm being vague here - that's intentional!  I'll go into more detail in the read-a-long section below but I don't want to put any spoilers here because I think that there are probably other people who had incorrect impressions of this book and I don't want to ruin the fun of reading it for them.

This is the most accessible classic monster book I've come across to date.  It is easy to read, the language is straightforward, and it is very brief.  If you've considered trying out one of the classics in this genre, definitely give this book a shot. [FYI, I've also read Dracula and Frankenstein, and listened to The Picture of Dorian Gray.]

I have to admit that many of my expectations for this book were influenced by my love of the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I know that it is an amalgam of literary figures and that those figures have been changed from their originals, but it is still that movie that I think of when I bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

*** The Narrator ***

I think this is the first time I've heard Iam Holm and I'm very impressed.  He was soft spoken but very clear, and I greatly enjoyed his narration style.

*** Dueling Monsters - My Thoughts ***

WARNING: This section will contain spoilers.

Ok, so - Dr. Jekyll is really creepy! He doesn't seem that way at first, and he doesn't come across that way to his friends, but if you think through his actions and his decisions ... the man is creepy! He actually ENJOYS being Hyde because he is basically without a conscience.  His experiments were originally meant to split the two parts of this nature - the good and the bad - and allow each one to have fullness of expression.  The first few times he returned to being Jekyll after being Hyde, he reveled in the horrid things he'd done and said and rejoiced over the fact that there was no possible way he'd ever get caught.  It isn't until he commits murder that he finally realizes things are getting out of hand. 

The other thing that makes him so creepy is that as Dr. Jekyll he is such a mild mannered person, and he has done an excellent job of hiding his evil desires and refusing to act on them.  But then he allows them free reign in the person on Mr. Hyde  - and that is creepy.

Dorian Gray is going to have to do some really horrid things to compete with Jekyll in my mind ...

*** Your Thoughts ***

If you've read this one, what did you think of it?  Did it match your pop-culture-influenced expectations of what it was really about or did it surprise you?

If your comment will contain spoilers please note that so people can skip over it if necessary.  Thanks!
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