A Series of Unfortunate Events

Reading and Watching in 2017

In my Sundance reflection I posted over the weekend, I promised to catch up on my recent pop culture ventures since I’ve neglected my duties of late (full-time jobs really just hinder this whole recreational blogging thing).

So, in an effort to stay true to my word, here’s a quick glimpse at all the popular stuff I’m consuming these days. Spoiler alert: I’ve become kind of savage with things I don’t like, so you’re in for a treat.


Books

At the moment, I’m on my sixteenth book of 2017, but I doubt I’ll be finishing it any time soon. I’ve returned to the Outlander series with the fourth installment, Drums of Autumn. I’m at the 200-page mark in an 880-page saga, so who really knows when I’ll finish or what shenanigans I’m in for along the way. Thankfully, Diana Gabaldon doesn’t let me down and keeps things entertaining and unexpected, unlike many books I’ve started and stopped recently.

I’ve given up on two books so far in 2017, which generally provokes a sense of relief, while also being a big ol’ bummer. I don’t like to dislike books, especially when I spend 100 pages of effort on something I end up tossing aside. My rejected novels were Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked, which I bought on a whim at a used book store, and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. I didn’t have harsh feelings about The Poisonwood Bible—the same cannot be said of the former—but I just didn’t feel it going anywhere. To be fair, I started the novel and read a good chunk on my way to Sundance and didn’t really pick it up again until returning, so I was struggling to readjust. But at over 500 pages, I wasn’t feeling compelled enough to trudge through, so I put it aside. This is one I could see myself returning to in future, just not any time too soon.

Other quick reading notes: I’ve already crossed off 3 of the authors I planned to read in 2017, have made progress on 2 others, and have completed 2 other reading goals for the year. I read Rupi Kaur’s poetry collection milk and honey in about 12 seconds over the weekend and enjoyed it. I read a collection of Emily Dickinson’s works and consumed something like 700 poems in a week. I also recently read the Russian novella The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk after seeing the film adaptation at Sundance. The novella is fun, but the film is far better.

I’ve basically been reading Drums of Autumn exclusively, but fairly soon I’ll double up with something else, likely Romeo and Juliet in my goal of reading four of Shakespeare’s plays this year. I don’t want to pair Drums of Autumn with another novel, so I’ll keep the balance with other plays or short story/essay collections for a while.


Movies

I’ve seen a fairly ridiculous number of movies in 2017—forty-three, to be precise, which is just two short of the number of days in the year thus far. To be fair, I did start the year at a film festival, but I’m also just in the kind of mood that basically involves at least one movie a day.

You can read my Sundance post to hear about what I liked there, but there have been plenty of other fun things I’ve seen on my own time. Arrival was the most recent Best Picture nominee I saw (I still haven’t seen Hidden Figures or Hacksaw Ridge) and I loved it way more than expected. Other things I’ve really liked include Sing Street (2016), Grey Gardens (2009), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Temple Grandin (2010), The Handmaiden (2016)and Fifty Shades Darker (2017). Yes, the last one is kind of embarrassing, and yes, the last two have something very specific in common, but I’m fine with that.

Here’s hoping I reach 50 films—which is 1/2 of my goal for the year—by the end of the month (but honestly, it will probably happen by the end of this week).


Television

TV has been unexpectedly complicated for me in 2017. TV tends to be my breeziest medium, but I’m having a very difficult time finding something that clicks for me this year. To be fair, I’ve still completed 7 series this year, but each of those has been under 20 episodes, so I haven’t had to really commit.

My biggest surprise was my lack of interest in The Americans, a show I started expecting I would love it and planned to catch up before the new season comes later this spring. I watched the entirety of season 1 and the premiere of season 2, and just kept finding myself underwhelmed. This is the show every critic says is totally underrated and deserves nominations it rarely receives, but nothing about it really hooked me. I kept watching in the hopes that would change, but I finally decided to stop. It was a decision accompanied by a surprising amount of turmoil, but I really haven’t thought about the show at all since, so I think I made the right decision.

I’m finally committed to a new project with Flight of the Conchords, though this show is only 22 episodes overall, so again, it’s fairly temporary. It’s silly and strange and I like it. Same goes for Moone Boy, which I watched very quickly a few weeks ago.

There is a handful of shows currently airing/soon to return that I’m keeping up with, including: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Mindy Project, Girls, Legion, and Bates Motel. It’s nice to have a few things to rely on, especially when I’m not particularly inclined elsewhere.

And speaking of my lack of interest, my roommate and I have developed an exciting and cut-throat habit of “canceling” movies and books and TV shows (aka we deem things “canceled” when we stop liking them, and they cease to exist). So The Americans? Canceled. Together we tried to start back on Penny Dreadful, having both watched the first season when it aired, but that only lasted 14 minutes before cancelation. I also canceled The Leftovers after watching 19 minutes and feeling like I never needed to return. I have a lot of random things on my TV list for the year, and I expect some of them to be canceled as well. At least I’m giving them all a shot.

Of the things I have actually watched, I would most highly recommend A Series of Unfortunate Events because it is just delightful, and I also had fun watching Chewing Gum, Looking, and Glitch in January. And seriously, Moone Boy is super sweet and charming if you’re looking for that type.


Now I’m off to go finish a movie I started this afternoon and enjoy some quality reading time. Next time I write, I fully expect to have canceled a few more things.

I can’t wait.

Year in Review: 10 Favorite Books of 2013

As we near the end of 2013, I thought, like all other somewhat self-centers millennials, it might be fun to write a few year-end posts reflecting on my favorite pop culture ventures this year. To start it off, I’ve decided to discuss my favorite books I read in 2013, and I’ll move on to TV and movies closer to the end of the year (there are still too many worthwhile movies to see before I can make my decisions!). So, in the order in which I read them, here are the 10 books I most enjoyed this year.

Little Women

1. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, completed January 2013

There isn’t much more to say than that this is a rather perfect read, especially in winter, for all female audiences. I’d also like to say it’s appropriate for male readers, but there’s something about the March women that speaks to women of all ages. This is one of those stories that can simultaneously warm and break your heart, and it certain to be one you’ll want to revisit.

 A Moveable Feast

2. A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, completed March 2013

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Hemingway fangirl, so you can’t be too surprised here. Not only does this book present Hemingway’s characteristically simple writing style, it also features the idyllic setting of Paris in the 1920s. As a French major who loves Papa Hemingway, this book is basically catnip for me. An added bonus: my favorite Hemingway wife, Hadley, is present for the majority of the book. She’s perfect, and you should read this, but only after familiarizing yourself with some of Hemingway’s great fictional writing. This cannot be fully appreciated if you don’t know Hemingway’s writing or life to some extent.

Fault in Our Stars

3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, completed March 2013

In all fairness, this was a reread, but it doesn’t get any less devastatingly perfect the second time around. In fact, I think I cried more this time because I knew what was coming. Even though this book was just released last year, it’s become an instant classic; it’s an absolutely essential read for young and old audiences. John Green, you’re a god. And an added perk: the film adaptation will be released in June of 2014, so if you haven’t read this yet, be sure to before then.

The Great Gatsby

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, completed May 2013

Another reread, but also a perfect classic. I reread Gatsby before the new film was released, and I was happy to realize that I was just as enamored with the book now as I was when I first read it four years ago. Fitzgerald’s story is timeless and brilliant; I feel like I marked or underlined every other sentence because I loved the language so much. If you’re looking for “easy” but literary reading material, this is a must read.

The Awakening

5. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, completed May 2013

Before I started this novel I basically knew the whole story; I remember hearing my fellow students complain about the ending my junior year of high school. This knowledge, however, did not stop me from loving the 100-page novel so important to feminist literature. I understand why my classmates disliked this story in the past, but since I was four years older when I read it, I think I had the necessary perspective to understand how great it really is.

Divergent

6. Divergent, by Veronica Roth, completed June 2013

I debated reading this series for a while before finally buying the first installment on a whim, and I’m so very glad I did. This series is definitely for fans of The Hunger Games as it also features a strong-willed teenage female as the story’s heroine, but it’s important not to compare the two series too often. The film adaptation of Divergent comes out in March of 2014, and the sequel begins filming in April, so read this over Christmas break if you want to be part of the hype for what I imagine will be the next big thing in teen reading.

The Penultimate Peril

7. The Penultimate Peril, by Lemony Snicket, completed July 2013

I’m happy to say I completed the entire Series of Unfortunate Events in 2013, and there’s really only one reason why this one stands out as my favorite: this book had one of the funniest lines I’ve ever read in children’s literature (if you’re interested, I posted it as a quote in July after finishing the book). The entire series is great, but I’m not sure I’ll ever quit laughing over some of the humor in this one.

The Cuckoo's Calling

8. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith, completed August 2013

This is probably the most talked-about book of 2013 due to its real author: J.K. Rowling. It was definitely worth the fuss. The twists and turns are sure to keep readers’ attention, but the story also keeps to a rather straight and simple format that makes it an easy read. I certainly hope Rowling feels compelled to continue this in the future.

My Antonia

9. My Antonia, by Willa Cather, completed August 2013

Like The AwakeningMy Antonia is a notable work of female literature, though the settings and events of the two couldn’t be more different. As an almost-native of the plains of Nebraska, this novel speaks to me in a way that’s probably difficult for most readers to comprehend. Cather captures the frontier lifestyle of Nebraska perfectly; one reason I enjoyed this book so much was that I felt so at peace when reading it. I could feel the wind and smell the earth that can only be understood by visiting the region. This is certainly a novel I’d recommend, but a regional recognition is almost imperative to really appreciate it.

The Giver

10. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, completed November 2013

I had a hard time picking my final book, partially because this fall I took a long time to get through one reading project, but also because nothing else was really standing out to be as especially stellar. Maybe I’m being picky, but I had a hard time picking great books from those I read this year. On a positive note, I read several things outside my normal genres this year and completed some bucket list goals (A Series of Unfortunate Events, for instance) while exceeding my year’s goal by 10 books (so far). Ultimately, my favorite book I’ve read recently was probably The Giver, though I wasn’t totally satisfied by it. I liked the story so much for probably three-quarters of the novel, but I felt like Lowry rushed through the book’s climax and conclusion so much that I was left in a lurch. The ending chapters struck me as very odd, and I’m interested to see if it plays better on screen when the film adaptation is released in 2014.

So, what books did you read this year? If nothing else, here’s to a 2014 filled with quickly turning pages and stories worth reading.

Book Update #8: 36-40

The End

36. The End, Lemony Snicket

I’m happy to say that after many years, I’ve finally read A Series of Unfortunate Events in its entirety. I was a bit disappointed with this finale, but I’m still happy to have finished the series, and I’d definitely recommend it to young readers. There were still many questions left unanswered, which I found a bit frustrating, but I know that this air of mystery works with the context of the books, so I guess I’ll just have to accept that I’m left with questions. On a side note: I really enjoyed all the literary allusions in this final chapter in the series. There’s definitely something to be said for reading these books at an older age, because many of the references have a bigger significance for older readers. Overall, The End was a fitting conclusion to a great series.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

37. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple

For the past year, I feel like I’ve seen this book everywhere — bookstores, magazine, etc. — so I finally decided it was time to buy it and see what all the fuss was about. Where’d You Go, Bernadette has been recognized as one of the top books of 2012, but I must say, I don’t think it measured up in any way to Gone Girl, another top-seller and critically-acclaimed novel of 2012. Bernadette is the story of a semi-dysfunctional, elite Seattle family comprised of wacky genius mother Bernadette, Microsoft superstar father Elgin, and their over-achieving daughter Bee. As the title implies, Bernadette disappears into thin air, leaving her husband and daughter to cope alone (though this story shouldn’t really be considered a mystery). I really enjoyed the storytelling, as the majority of the story is told through emails, notes, memos, etc. from a variety of people in the characters’ lives. However, I would’ve preferred more of Bee’s voice throughout (she narrates the penultimate section of the book, but is only rarely heard from otherwise). Personally, the most frustrating aspect of the novel is what to me seemed a fairly unbelievable time frame. Without spoiling anything, the action that occurs after Bernadette’s disappearance is a bit ridiculous, especially in the case of a missing person, and the aftermath of this “action” is really unresolved by the conclusion of the book. Overall, I’d say this is a good enough read if you don’t put too much thought into the details. (And on a side note: if you have any interest in Antarctica, it’s a must read. I, however, don’t really fall into this category, but I’ve developed a new arsenal of fun facts about our southern-most continent.) As a student of pop culture, I’m glad to have read it, but this won’t be a book I’ll return to time and again.

My Antonia

38. My Ántonia, Willa Cather

This was my first experience reading anything by Willa Cather, and I must say, it was well worth the effort. My Ántonia is a beautiful story of several inter-connected characters growing up on the prairies of Nebraska in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The story is written episodically, so there isn’t much plot to speak of, exactly, but you are certainly put into the moment as a reader. The setting is a major character in and of itself, and, as a woman who spent every summer in Nebraska as a child, I loved the connection I felt to the story. Reading this book was relaxing, but never boring, especially if you come to love some of these characters as much as I did. Though the story itself isn’t often heralded as one of the greats among American literature, Cather writes in a ground-breaking fashion, especially with concern to gender roles. I did a bit of research, and it seems that Cather put a bit of herself into the two biggest characters, Ántonia and Jim, neither of whom fit into typical gender stereotypes. After finishing this book, I’m happy to have finally read one of Cather’s works, and I definitely look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Carrie

39. Carrie, Stephen King

In preparation for the film remake of Carrie being released this fall, I decided to read the novel, which was definitely a worthwhile experience. In comparison with the original film, I would say the book is more violent, taking you into the mind of Carrie and her victims on Prom Night. I would also say that the book has an equally unsettling ending, though the concluding moments are different. I’m still a bit wary of the choice of Chloe Grace Moretz as the title character in the film remake, but I’m interested to see if this version does anything different with the story than the original film. One thing I would say that makes the book worth reading: the style of storytelling incorporates bits of newspaper articles, interviews, testimonies, etc. that fall after the incident on Prom Night, so readers get a future perspective on the whole situation. Personally, this is something that I think makes the book superior to the original film, so I’m interested to see if they attempt to include these sections in the new version. Overall, Carrie is a fun, quick read perfect for fall, especially if you’re looking forward to the new film.

Tuck Everlasting

 

40. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

I read this book while I was in elementary school, but a friend gave me a copy recently, so I decided it would be fun to reread this one. This is a sweet story about a 10-year-old girl who meets the Tucks, a family who became immortal long ago thanks to drinking from a fresh water spring. The story was shorter than I remember, though that may be in part because I also remember the film adaptation. I think overall the story is a bit abrupt, and the movie did a better job of developing the connection between Winnie and the Tucks, but the story is still a good read for young audiences.

With this list, I’ve officially completed my 2013 New Year’s Resolution of reading 40 books this year! I must say, I really didn’t expect to finish so early in the year, and I’m excited to see how far I can get before year’s end. Next up: Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Book Update #7: 31-35

I can’t believe that I’ve been making progress so quickly! For the past few years, I’ve come in at just under 40 books for the whole year, so I think my progress thus far has been pretty great. Anyway, here are my reviews for my most recent reading ventures.

Insurgent

31. Insurgent, Veronica Roth

As I said in my last post when I reviewed Divergent, I’m kind of obsessed with these books. The sequel puts heroine Tris in more dire situations as she and her cohorts struggle in a war between factions, and the war against Divergent citizens continues to worsen. One thing to note about this series: author Veronica Roth does not hesitate to kill off important characters in a way that can be surprising for the pacing of the books. This novel definitely ends with a bigger cliffhanger than its predecessor, so I’m already anxious to be able to read the final installment when it’s released this October. Until then, I’ll be keeping up with filming updates for the Divergent movie which is scheduled for release in March of 2014.

The Penultimate Peril

32. The Penultimate Peril, Lemony Snicket
I must say, The Penltimate Peril was one of my very favorite books in this series. Though there isn’t a ton that gets accomplished during this novel, it’s still quite important to the story and provides lots of great humor. (Side note: I was reading this on a flight back home from New York and couldn’t stop laughing at this line: “But the three siblings were not born yesterday. Violet was born more than fifteen years before this particular Wednesday, and Klaus was born approximately two years after than, and even Sunny, who had just passed out of babyhood, was not born yesterday. Neither were you, unless of course I am wrong, in which case welcome to the world, little baby, and congratulations on learning to read so early in life.”). I’m really looking forward to finally reading the last book in this series, but I’m sure it will be a bittersweet conclusion. However, I’ll be very thankful to have closure on this wonderful story of the Baudelaire orphans.

Fifty Shades of Grey

33. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James

Okay, the most embarrassing thing about this is that this was my second time reading this book. Yeah. So… I was on an airplane and wanted some mindless entertainment and this was on my iPad, so voila, that’s how a girl ends up reading the Fifty Shades trilogy for a second time. Whatever. In terms of review: um… Christian didn’t bother me a much as he did when I first read this a year ago, but I assume that’s because I know where the story is going. And I guess because I’m in a phase of crappy entertainment, I’m probably going to be rereading the other two books as well. Thank God for summer break when reading can be this silly.

Fifty Shades Darker

34. Fifty Shades Darker, E.L. James

Okay, again, this is embarrassing, but it happened, so oh well. This is my guilty pleasure summer indulgence reading at its finest. There isn’t really much to say about it, except that I have enjoyed the characters more during my reread. Other than that… It’s silly, trashy, mindless entertainment, which is sometimes exactly what you need.

The Cuckoo's Calling

 

35. The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

Being a huge J.K. Rowling fan, it was absolutely necessary for me to purchase The Cuckoo’s Calling once the news leaked that the book had been written by Rowling under a pseudonym, and I’m very happy to say it did not disappoint. The Cuckoo’s Calling features a fairly minor group of characters in comparison with Rowling’s other works, but this allows readers to get a better sense of who these characters really are. The story centers on Cormoran Strike, a detective who’s been hired to investigate the alleged suicide of supermodel Lula Landry. The pieces in this mystery come together very slowly, but they ultimately result in a satisfying conclusion. If you’re a fan of Rowling’s other works, this book definitely contains her characteristic writing flair, and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good read to end your summer. Rowling proves herself as an intriguing crime author, including enough twists and turns to bring Agatha Christie to mind. I’m very interested to see if Rowling decides to continue with these characters in a series. If so, count me in.

Next stop: The End, the conclusion to A Series of Unfortunate Events. Stay tuned!

Book Update #6: 26-30

My reading has slowed down a bit since I’m trying to incorporate a bigger variety of material into my repertoire. Here are my most recent reads and a quick review of each.

Image

26. Beautiful Chaos, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Like I said when I read Beautiful Darkness (the second book in this series), I’ve continually been surprised by how much I’m enjoying these books. This installment ended in a cliffhanger, so I’m anxious to get the final installment to see how the story wraps up. Once again, these books are filled with compelling characters and interesting story lines that interweave supernatural incidents with traditional Southern culture.

Image

27. Persuasion, Jane Austen

This is only the second Austen book I’ve read (after Pride and Prejudice) and I can’t say it lived up to my expectations. I think the biggest different in these two books is the lack of appealing or likeable characters in Persuasion. Unfortunately, the only people I was very interested in were the heroine Anne Elliot, her long-time love Captain Wentworth, and her incapacitated friend Mrs. Smith. Because of this, I found it difficult to motivate myself to read this one very quickly. However, the story wraps up nicely in a true Austen fashion with a happy engagement. I plan to read Emma and Sense and Sensibility sometime soon, so hopefully those will be more enjoyable than Persuasion.

The Slippery Slope

28. The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket

Reading these last few installments in the Series of Unfortunate Events has been a much more exciting experience for me, especially as the mysteries of the series begin to resolve. Once again, this is a book full of Snicket’s literary humor that is more easily understood with age. (My favorite from this book was an allusion to Citizen Kane when Sunny utters “Rosebud.”) Looking forward to finishing this series in the near future!

Divergent

29. Divergent, Veronica Roth

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN TO READ! I was definitely itching to read something of this style, and I was very pleased with my choice. Divergent is a must-read for fans of The Hunger Games series, but don’t make the mistake of trying to compare the two too much (this is how I was at the beginning, but it’s easier to let your assumptions go when you’re reading). Tris is a great female lead — I’m so happy that more and more young adult books are being published that feature strong, complex females in leading roles. Even at 485 pages, this story moves very quickly, and it only took me two days to get through it. I can’t wait to start reading Insurgent, the next installment in this trilogy, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any copies when I went out yesterday. However, I’m taking that as a sign to do some other reading before I return to this series, which will also probably help me stay less anxious in waiting for the final book to be released this October and the movie adaptation in March 2014.

The Grim Grotto

30. The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket

I have to say, after reading eleven of the thirteen books in this series, Captain Widdershins is one of my very favorite supporting characters in this series. His dialogue was always hilarious to me, and since his whereabouts were unknown by the end of The Grim Grotto, I’m hoping I can expected more of him in the final two books. Also, big news everyone: Klaus got kissed! Not by my favorite person, but I like how we can see the Baudelaires growing up throughout the series. And I’m assuming Violet may have a similar situation when she’s reunited with Quigley Quagmire.

I’m already about 50 pages into my next reading project: Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent. I’m sure I’ll be completing it far quicker than necessary. Look for my review on that and the two final Series of Unfortunate Events books in my next update. Stay tuned!

Book Update #5, 22-25

Excuse my lack of humility for a second, but I am pretty proud of myself for the progress I’ve made thus far, and I’m excited to see if I can surpass my goal for the year. Here are my thoughts on my latest reading ventures.

The Vile Village

22. The Vile Village, Lemony Snicket

So, I was wrong in my last post when I said that The Ersatz Elevator was the last Series of Unfortunate Events installment that I’d read before. It took me about 10 pages of reading The Vile Village to realize it, but I now know that this was actually the last one I’d already read. This book definitely marks another turning point in the series, as the Baudelaires begin to take matters into their own hands rather than relying on Mr. Poe. The worst part about this book: the enormous number of crows in the village. Birds stress me out.

The Hostile Hospital

23. The Hostile Hospital, Lemony Snicket

I finally reached the section of the series that I’ve never read! This somehow feels like an accomplishment in and of itself. This isn’t the most exciting of the series, but it’s interesting to see Klause and Sunny cope without the help of their sister for about half of the book. I also enjoyed the literary allusions in some of the patients’ names (like Clarissa Dalloway and Emma Bovary) and seeing little Sunny grow and learn to speak more like a real person. This book also offers a few more clues into the mystery of the fire that started the problems for the Baudelaires, so I’m interested to see how this all pans out as I near the conclusion of the series.

The Awakening

24. The Awakening, Kate Chopin

I was excited to read this, because I remember when most of my classmates read this my junior year of high school, but I chose to read something else instead (I like to rebel in very minor ways). The Awakening is a must-read for lovers of American literature. I breezed through it in three days, and I actually wished there could have been more to it. The ending is upsetting, but satisfactory. I would definitely recommend it for others looking for a more serious summer read.

The Carnivorous Carnival

25. The Carnivorous Carnival, Lemony Snicket

It’s safe to say that I am thoroughly enjoying getting into the parts of this series that I never read as a child, especially since these books get closer and closer to solving the mysteries of the Baudelaires’ misfortunes. Again, The Carnivorous Carnival offers up a few more bits of evidence and hints of the connection between the Baudelaires and Count Olaf, but these mysteries are still far from being solved. For now, I’ll be taking a brief break from reading these books to reading some others, but I’m anxious to see how the story continues.

Stay tuned! My current read: Beautiful Chaos — book three in the Beautiful Creatures series.

Book List Update #4, 17-21

I have to say, I’m fairly proud of myself for completing another five books so quickly. However, having three books from A Series of Unfortunate Events makes that accomplishment slightly less impressive. Either way, here are my thoughts on my recent reading.

The Secret Garden

17. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I vaguely remember this story from my childhood, but I was glad to read it again. I think there are parts that are a bit long, but The Secret Garden is still undoubtedly a children’s classic. This is a sweet story full of magic and wonder that can be appreciated at any age.

The Miserable Mill

18. The Miserable Mill, Lemony Snicket

This is not my favorite of the Series of Unfortunate Events, but it still has lots of the humor of the others in the series. As a reader, I think the most frustrating thing about this installment is the lack of allies for the Baudelaire orphans, and it’s also safe to say that this is a transitional book in the series as we move from some of the lighter plot lines into the greater mystery of the series.

The Austere Academy

19. The Austere Academy, Lemony Snicket

I do enjoy The Austere Academy more than The Miserable Mill, but I  still hate that the orphans don’t have any supportive or friendly adults in their lives. The best part of this book: meeting the Quagmire Triplets, two orphans who have suffered a fate similar to the Baudelaires’. This novel also serves to spark the mystery of the series that I mentioned earlier, and provides new and intriguing plot lines to follow.

The Ersatz Elevator

20. The Ersatz Elevator, Lemony Snicket

I’m almost positive that The Ersatz Elevator was the last of the series that I read as a child, so I’m excited to move into the part of the series I’ve never read before. It really seems that the Baudelaires are moving closer to finding out the connection between Count Olaf and their dead parents, a mystery I’m excited to solve. Stay tuned for my reactions to the others in the series!

The Bell Jar

21. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

This was a bit of a dramatic departure from my recent reads, but also a classic I’m glad I finally read. I was surprised to see how much I related to Esther at the beginning of the novel; Esther is exactly the same age as I am, trying to figure her life out as she prepares for her final year of college. But pretty quickly I lost my feelings of connection to Esther as she enters Crazy Town. The only problem I had with the book was the rather dramatic shift from “normal Esther” to “crazy Esther.” I understand that her condition is unstable, but I wished that the transition had been more gradual. The best thing I got from this book is an interest to read more Sylvia Plath.

Now onto my next project: The Vile Village. Stay tuned!