My Top Ten…Villains (Part II)

As promised yesterday, here are my top five villains!!!

5.) Aunt Reed from Jane Eyre

Aunt Reed makes the list for being cruel and cold-hearted to young Jane Eyre.  For those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, Jane is orphaned at a young age and is adopted by her Aunt and Uncle Reed.  Uncle Reed dies shortly after and makes Aunt Reed promise him that she will take care of Jane and raise her as one of their own children.   Once he’s dead she does the exact opposite, allowing her son to physically beat Jane, locking her in “haunted” rooms in their home, and eventually sending her off to a school that has horrible conditions.  Aunt Reed also makes sure Jane will live a meager life by telling a rich uncle of hers that she’s dead.  She’s a horrible woman made worse by the fact that kind-hearted Jane forgives her before her death for all her misgivings.  (I don’t think she deserved to be forgiven after everything that happened, but it just goes to show you how kind a person Jane truly was).

(You can find my review here)

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4.) President Snow from The Hunger Games Series

President Snow is the leader of the Capitol and ruler of Panem in The Hunger Games series.  We get to see what a truly horrible man he is in Catching Fire and Mockingjay as his interaction with Katniss grows.  You come to learn that Snow is a truly evil person, poisoning those that got in his way during his rise to political glory.  He tricks Katniss and the rest of the districts into believing that District 13 was destroyed and that they need to continue the hunger games as punishment.  He is a master at deception and is always playing a game with the people around him, using them as pawns.  He gets what he deserves in the end, but it still doesn’t make up for all that he’s done during his ruling years.   

(You can find my reviews for here for Book One, Two, and Three)

3.) Silas – The DaVinci Code

Ah, religious fanaticism.  A member of the Catholic organization known as Opus Dei, Silas is an albino who practices corporal mortification (flogging one’s self) while repenting for one’s sins.  Depicted in Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code, Silas is driven by a desire to atone for his past and discover the secrets protected by the Priory of Scion.  Driven to live on the streets after murdering his father (who had murdered his mother out of shame for having an albino child), Silas is given a second chance at life after an earthquake frees him from prison.  Driven to devout religious belief, Silas is especially villanous because of the rhetoric he believes in.  He justifies his murders and attacks by believing that it is the will of Opus Dei for him to commit these atrocities.  His blind faith in this organization makes him especially dangerous in the novel, and he is a constant threat to Robert Langdon, the protagonist.  All in all, Silas has nothing to lose as he is fully indoctrinated to commit evil acts and will stop at nothing to please those who are superior to him in Opus Dei.

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2.) Mr. Burroughs – A Wolf at the Table

Augusten Burroughs is famous for writing heartbreakingly honest memoirs.  A Wolf at the Table mainly focused on his childhood and the relationship he had with his father.  Mr. Burroughs is the only actual “person” on my list, and for good reason.  The man was an alcoholic, beat his animals, and definitely partook in abusing his sons.  Augusten had a dog that would physically sleep on top of him to protect him from Mr. Burroughs while he slept at night.  His older brother John taught him how to shoot a gun just in case he needed it one day.  After reading this book it made me see how truly malicious some people can be in the world.  Mr. Burroughs shot straight to nearly the top of my list of villains because he preyed on his young sons and helpless wife.  To be that type of man you have to be truly evil.

(You can find my review here)

1.) Voldemort – The Harry Potter Series

While the rest of the characters on this list have aspirations to conquer those around them and bring evil into their lives, none have grander plans than Voldemort.  Not content to just conquer the magical world around him, Voldemort set his sights higher, aiming to control the human (aka Muggle) world as well.  In hiding for years after a failed attack on Harry Potter that left him on the cusp of death, he slowly rebuilds his strength until he makes a triumphant return and power grab to control the ruling body of the magical world.  As if this wasn’t enough, consider his name.  Anyone who is referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named” because he/she is so evil that their name can’t be spoken must be #1 in my book.  All in all, Voldemort deserves the top spot in this top ten countdown because of the encompassing nature of his power and ambition.  He won’t let anything, including death, get in his way to kill Harry Potter and rule all.  Now that’s villanous!

Well my fellow readers, who makes your list?  Leave your comments below.

Until next time, happy reading!!

My Favorite Ten Books of the Year (Part II)

Here is the second half of my favorite books for the year! (Part I here)

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6.) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Todd and I were bored one night and decided to see what movies/mini-series’ we could watch on instant Netflix.  We watched a BBC version of Gaskell’s North and South and I was enthralled by it!  North and South is the story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale, and the goings-on of the working class people of the small urban city they live in.  Thornton, a mill owner, is trying to keep his mill running amidst strike and union talks.  Margaret Hale, the daughter of a curate in the South of England, is forced to move to Thornton’s home town when her father decides to leave his job as a country curate and become a tutor. Thornton becomes a fixture in Margaret’s daily life, as her father becomes his intellectual tutor.  The two are filled with misconceived notions about the other due to their upbringing and constantly argue and throw slurs at each other.  Somehow through it all they come to realize their true feelings for each other and fall in love.  I have often heard Gaskell compared to Jane Austen; while they do share some similarities, it’s their differences that I find interesting.  Austen satirized the life of the upper-class while Gaskell wrote about the plights of the middle and lower classes.  I truly loved this book because of the realism that engulfed it.  Gaskell was a truly superb writer and I cannot recommend this book enough!!

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7.) A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs – I was already a huge fan of Augusten by the time this book was published, making this book a must buy for me.  I finally got around to reading it recently and was blown away by it.  Augusten writes memoirs that just grip you.  His life is truly fascinating and with the way he writes, you can’t help but become engrossed in his story.  A Wolf at the Table focuses on his early life living with his mother, father, and sometimes present older brother.  (His older brother is John Elder Robison, author Look Me In The Eye)  His early days were strife with an alcoholic father, one who tried to murder him, possibly on more than one occasion.  This memoir is filled with deeply sad and troubling situations, situations I’m sure have scarred Augusten in his later years.  While this memoir is darker than his other ones, it’s one of his best.  It’s a no holds barred account of a childhood most people would wish to forget. For my full review click here.

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8.) Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise – So yet another Pride and Prejudice sequel makes my top ten list.  Shocking. HA.  Anyway, this was one of the most original retellings that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Darcy and Elizabeth are thrust into each other company aboard Pemberley’s Promise, a ship headed towards America. Elizabeth is off to see her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner and Darcy is picking up Georgiana.  Elizabeth gets sick aboard ship and is struggling to get better below decks with all the other sick passengers.  Darcy realizes that the only way she can get better is to be taken away from the rest of the sick passengers, and that the only spare bed is in his room.  For propriety’s sake he suggests to Elizabeth that the two marry and that once back in England he will file the necessary paperwork for the two to have an annulment, with none the wiser of their fake marriage.  As you can guess the two fall in love with each other but have no idea how the other feels, since most of their marriage is a show for the other passengers.  Upon the ship’s arrival they are separated not sure if they will ever see each other again.  It is on their return to America that Austen’s original plot begins to come into play.  As I stated earlier this retelling was so unique and I truly enjoyed the change of pace that it offered me.  For my full review click here.

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9.) The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory – I re-read this book every single year.  I absolutely LOVE it.  (I’ve even convinced Todd to begin reading it! See here)  When most people hear the name Boleyn thy think of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.  Most don’t know she had a sister who supposedly bedded the king before her.  The Other Boleyn Girl follows Mary’s story as she finds love, loses love, becomes a mother, is used by her family, and is betrayed by her own sister.  Philippa Gregory is truly a master at writing historical fiction.  Her novels are fascinating fusions of true history, embellished dialogues, and rich characters.  You love to hate her antagonists!  I truly cannot speak highly enough of this novel.  Even if you are not a fan of history you have to give this novel a try.  Gregory writes history but adds the dramatic flare to it to make it fascinating to read.  Definitely check it out and add this to your to-read list.

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10.) Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin – This was a great, quick, fast-paced book that I really enjoyed reading!  Something Borrowed tells the story about Rachel, her best friend Darcy, and Darcy’s fiancée Dex. Rachel and Darcy have been best friends their entire lives, doing almost everything together.  Growing up next-door to each other in Indiana, they have been in a constant competitive friendship all of their twenty-five years together.  Rachel has learned to put Darcy’s needs and wants before her own to curb the competition.  Darcy on the other hand still feels the need to one-up not only Rachel but everyone she knows.  On Rachel’s thirtieth birthday she drinks too much and winds up in bed with Dex.  Rachel begins to feel guilty knowing what she did to her best friend was wrong. The more and more she thinks about it she starts feeling less and less guilty as she realizes that in fact it’s her who is right for Dex and not Darcy.  Rachel begins thinking back to her history with Dex.  The two went to law school together and became good friends.  They never dated because Rachel never thought she was good enough for him.  She introduced him to Darcy and the rest was history.  Rachel receives a phone call from Dex the day after they slept together and begins to get weird vibes from him.  He is not sorry that they slept together, nor does he feel guilty about it.  The two begin secretly seeing each other and realize that they are absolutely perfect for each other.  Rachel must decide if she is willing to risk her friendship with Darcy to be with the one she loves, or give him up and go back to being the friend in Darcy’s shadow.  Truly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it as a great beach read!  You can check out my full review here

Well there you have it my readers!  My favorite ten books for the year.  Leave me some comments below and let me know what your favorite books of the year were!

Happy Reading!

The Weekly Roundup – Week 4

So it’s been busy lately, hence the delay in posting my weekly roundup!!

Last week started the planning meetings for Relay for Life.  We had our committee meeting on Monday with our new ACS representative.  It was the first meeting getting the entire committee old and new members together.  We discussed lots of publicity and networking ideas and I feel confident in the direction we’re moving!

Tuesday and Wednesday I accomplished lots of reading.  Todd was at a conference until late night Wednesday night so I had the apartment to myself.  I read three books last week (1 short of my goal) and have already posted up the reviews.  (I finished Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, A Wolf At the Table, and Pemberley Ranch)

Thursday I started writing a rough draft of the review that was published on Sunday for Austenprose. (Follow here for review)

Friday my co-worker Erin and I dropped off all the food our office collected at a local event called Stuff-A-Bus.  A local radio station collects for local shelters for the holidays and tries to fill buses.  The event has grown to be so large that they now fill tractor trailers and refrigerated trucks! Afterwards I went out for drinks and appetizers with Adam and Todd.  It had been a long week at work and we needed to start the weekend right!  After drinks we headed to where else but Barnes and Noble.  I picked up Sense and Sensibility the graphic novel, Walking Dead volume 1, and Shanghai Girls. (A co-worker of mine also gave me three books to borrow, so once I read those I’ll throw reviews up as well)

Janette came over the following morning after her hair appointment and we proceeded to run errands all day.  We dropped Todd’s car off for new tires and then ran to Target to pick up some odds and ends that we needed.  I got some Christmas shopping done which made me very happy.  Todd and I spent most of the afternoon at Sprint getting new phones and setting up our family plan.  It was exciting. Not.

Sunday was a lazy day.  Woke up late, cleaned up the house a bit, caught up on stuff on the DVR, all that kind of junk.  We went to our friend Jess’s for dinner and had a freaking blast just hanging out and laughing about old stories from our childhoods.  (Jess thanks for dinner again – it was delicious!)

Monday and today I just went to work came home blogged and read.  I’m completing the graphic novel version of Sense and Sensibility tonight and hopefully will finish Walking Dead tomorrow.  Thanksgiving is on Thursday so I’m nervous that this week is the week that will do in my 100 book challenge.  I’m behind 1 book from last week already and am hoping to make up for it this week.

With that I’ll sign off and go back to reading!! 77 down, 23 to go.

Happy Reading, and may I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

#76 A Review of A Wolf At The Table by Augusten Burroughs

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A Wolf at the Table, written by Augusten Burroughs is his fifth memoir.  His previous memoirs include Running with Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking, and Possible Side Effects. Each book tells of different periods of his life with A Wolf at the Table focusing on his early childhood living with his depressed mother and homicidal father. 
 
A Wolf at the Table is a memoir solely dedicated to informing the reader of what Augusten’s father was like through the eyes of a 7-8 year old Augusten.  Augusten’s father was a university professor by day and brutal drunk by night.  His mother’s therapist often said that he was homicidal and the stories in the book shed light on the possibility that he really was.  

Augusten is seriously the most fascinating author I’ve ever read about.  If you’ve never read any of his memoirs I highly suggest you do.  A Wolf at the Table tells a deeply sad and hurtful part of his childhood and unlike his other books there is no humor in it.  The book is told with brutal honesty and is one of the reasons I liked it so much.  He’s unafraid to speak about the events most families would keep hidden in the closet.

I do not recommend this book for the faint of heart.  The book tells of emotional abuse, attempted murder, and animal cruelty.  Those who can look beyond that (which believe me it’s hard to do) can read an amazing memoir that tells of strength, perseverance, and above all hope.

If you would rather not read this due to the heavy subject matter, then I highly recommend you read his other memoirs.  He uses a satirical tone in discussing his adolescence, as he knows that he grew up under extremely strange circumstances. Running with Scissors focuses on his teen years, Dry focuses on his 20’s when he became an alcoholic, and Magical Thinking and Possible Side Effects are short story compilations that discuss various periods of his life.

5 out of 5 Stars