October was busy, but not as insane as August and September, so I did get some more reading in!
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – 3.5*
This series has been on my TBR ever since I heard of it. Alternate Universe set during the Napoleonic Wars except with DRAGONS?? Count me in! While I liked this one, I didn’t love it. The pacing is slow and the main character really got on my nerves as he was so unnecessarily formal and obnoxious, getting all pissy about people not, whatever, shaking his hand right or other equally stupid things. He was just such a snob and spent most of the book being annoyed because people would say things “wrong” or in a tone of voice he didn’t like. Like, get over yourself, dude. But he gradually loosened up and I liked him better when he did.
My biggest issue with this book, though, was the lack of information about dragons. Considering how important they are to the story, wouldn’t it have been nice to include more information about them? Their size, how the crews work, why certain dragons are used certain ways? It was really hard to get my head around the dragon having an entire crew because we aren’t really told how big they are… I guess big enough that several people can clamber about all over them?? There is a brief, unsatisfying appendix in the form of an excerpt from a “dragon history book” that is more or less useless.
However, on the whole I loved the concept and liked most of the characters, so I’ve continued to work my way through the series, albeit slowly.
Mystery of the Jittery Dog-Walker by Robin Gottlieb – 3*
I picked up this book at a library discard sale in 1997 and while I have to imagine I read it at some point, I couldn’t remember anything about it. It was a perfectly fine little MG read, but the entire plot hinged on an adult character not “confessing” about something that had happened, and in the end his reasoning made literally no sense to me. So, after 20-odd years, this one headed off to a new home.
Engaging Mr. Darcy by Rachel Johns – 4*
I read this one a couple of years ago. It’s a modern adaptation that doesn’t get too crazy. I really liked the characters, and felt like the scenarios were adapted well. However, it’s a really short book, so I found myself really wanting more from the story. I mostly reread it because the author wrote an series of Austen adaptations and I wanted a reread fresh in case there were overlapping characters to her other books. Sadly, there were not. Still, a fun little read.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – 3.5*
Continuing to make my way through some classics, I think I read Tom Sawyer as a youth, but didn’t have any clear memories. It’s also possible that I had never read it, but just saw the Wishbone episode. All in all, an enjoyable and entertaining read, but not one that blew me away. I did like the irrepressible Tom, who can be mischievous but is still goodhearted at the core.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 4*
I had extremely low expectations going into this one, as I have vague memories of trying to read it in high school and not getting anywhere. This time I read it with the delightful PemberLittens group on Litsy, and while I don’t see myself rereading it, I did enjoy it more than I anticipated. I was concerned that it was just going to be one big long misery-fest, especially with the way the story opens, but the action did pick up when Jane left for school. I really admired Jane as a person – her strong commitment to her morals, her independence, and her determination to do what was right no matter the cost. There was one line in particularly that I felt summed her up and that I found so thoughtful – “Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?“ That’s genuinely fantastic writing.
Jane’s biggest weak spot was her love for Rochester – that guy was a jerk, and I never could get behind the “love” story part. Ditto with St. John – I didn’t despise him the way many of my fellow readers did, but he was definitely so single-minded that he couldn’t see anyone else’s perspective. Not exactly endearing.
All in all, I was kind of expecting to hate this one, but actually found myself completely drawn into the story. I doubt I’ll reread it, because who wants to revisit dumb Rochester, but I definitely ended up respecting and liking Jane herself far more than I imagined I would.