The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Stand Alone

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult/Adult

Genre: Horror, Gothic, Classic

Release Date: First pub. 1890

Synopsis: First published in 1892, The Yellow Wall-Paper is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own beyond the hypnotic pattern of the faded yellow wallpaper – a pattern that has come to symbolize her own imprisonment. Narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision, The Yellow Wall-Paper stands out not only for the imaginative authenticity with which it depicts one woman’s descent into insanity, but also for the power of its testimony to the importance of freedom and self-empowerment for women.

My Thoughts:

Such a deliciously creepy story this book is! The Yellow Wallpaper is an unnerving story, to say the least. The short story sent shivers down my spine quite frequently. But this is also a short story that made me  feel a quiet sadness that I didn’t know I was feeling until I finished the last sentence.

With only a few more than ten pages, The Yellow Wallpaper packs quite a punch–much like Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day. It always surprises me when I read stories that are able to show so much in such a small amount of pages.

The Yellow Wallpaper is written as a journal by a woman who has been given a country rest cure. Confined in a room with barred windows, nailed-down furniture, a gated door, and ugly yellow wallpaper whose design has no pattern, the woman is denied any meaningful things to do, no stimulation for her mind. This clashes with her already mildly unstable mind and causes her to grow more obsessive and insane.

Gilman writes the story in such a way that it is actually hard to see when the woman’s sanity starts to crumble. The reader will be probably so enraptured that they will only notice the signs. It is only when you get to end that you really realize that the woman has been driven completely insane by the confinement, but by then it is already way to late… Her mind is already screaming.

The yellow wallpaper that the story is centered mostly upon is quite the mystery. There are many ways one can interpret the ‘meaning’ behind it. One could say that it represents how the woman has been imprisoned by her unstable state of mind. One could also say that the wallpaper represents how women in that time have been limited as people and mostly put under the rule of men (this seems to be the most shared interpretation). Again, there are many ways to interpret the story.

The writing is surprisingly light compared to many other classics. The prose is clean and pretty, but not heavy and wordy. And I loved it that way. It was easy to follow and compelling… It was the very definition of ‘readable’. Even with my tired, frazzled mind I was able to follow it.

And I must talk about the ending! I don’t want to spoil it by saying exactly what happened, but I do want to tell you all that it is as shocking as it is haunting. Never have I been so frightened (that seems like the best word) by an ending…

This is a breathtaking story that obviously had a lot of thought put into it. I did some research on the author and found some interesting facts about her reasons behind writing this beast (and beauty) of a short story. You can read it here.

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All Summer In A Day by Ray Bradbury: review

All Summer in a DayAll Summer In A Day by Ray Bradbury

Short Story

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: All Ages

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Margot is a nine year old girl whose family moved from Earth to Venus when she was four. She remembers the sun shining on Earth – something that it rarely does on Venus. All of the rain and cloud cover on her new planet are affecting her emotions, but her chance to see the sun once again is quickly approaching. The story takes place on the one day when the rain will stop and the sun will shine for a couple of hours. All of the children in Margot’s class are eagerly awaiting their first glimpse of the sun, but when the teacher leaves for a few minutes they decide to pull a very mean prank on Margot.

My Thoughts: It amazes me how Bradbury is able to convey such a great amount of emotion in such a short amount of pages. All Summer in a Day moved me greatly when I read it.

The atmosphere of the story was something that just gripped my heart. This short story felt dark and dreary. It made me feel sadness deep within my heart. The time and setting only added to the atmosphere.

I felt so sad for Margot. She lives on the planet where the sun rarely comes out. It has been a long time since she has seen the sun. She does remember it though, from the time she still living on Earth. She yearns for the feel of warmth that the sun delivers.

I think the sun is a flower,
That blooms for just one hour.

On the day the sun is expected to finally come out for a short time, Margot’s classmates play a prank on her. They think it is funny since they don’t understand how she feels. And then they do later. But it is to late.

I will never forget this short story. I wished it were longer but I do know that this short story is perfect as it is. I think All Summer in a Day should be read by everybody. You can read this short story for free here.

Hereafter by Jennifer Snyder: review + excerpt + giveaway

Review of Hereafter

Hereafter (Reaper, #2)Hereafter by Jennifer Snyder

Series: Reaper #2

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Jennifer Snyder(self-published)

Release Date: February 5th 2013

Synopsis: In Death I could finally see the importance of Life…

After being forced to become a Reaper Council member and being torn away from the one she loves, Rowan Harper must learn to accept her altered Fate as well as her death and move on. A task easier said than done, especially when witnessing those you love suffer in the wake of your death.

When an unlikely ally provides information that could change everything, Rowan sets out on a journey through Purgatory with her beloved by her side and a nonchalant Tracker to learn the true meaning of the word sacrifice. Another task which seems easier said than done, especially with the threat of Purgatory’s ability to corrupt your soul the longer you’re in its grip looming above their heads.

My thoughts: I really saw the vast improvement Jennifer Snyder made as a writer in this installment of the Reaper series. She corrected many of the mistakes she made in her past works and I applaud her for that.  

image

In this installment Rowan has reluctantly taken her place as a Reaper in the Reaper Council. Now that she has been separated from the one she loves and has been watching her father spiral into a state of utter depression Rowan decides that she will try to change her fate. With the help of her beloved Jet and a Tracker known as Val, Rowan sets to have an epic journey full of sorrow and pain through Purgatory.

What I liked…

*I felt that Touch and Choice lacked the emotion. Hereafter delivered me that emotion. I felt sadness, hope, and a little bit of fear.

*I looooooove reading about the Reapers.

*The characters felt more real in Hereafter than they did in the previous novella. Rowan was more determined and had more life in her. Jet really shows how much he cares for Rowan and the reader also gets a glimpse of how much suffering he has been through. Val was a decent character. She is a new character so we don’t know much about her but she is very helpful to Rowan and Jet.

*The world of Purgatory absolutely chilled me to the bone. The things that the character and me, as the reader had to experience were awful.

*Snyder’s prose is even better than it was in her last works. I could vividly picture everything in my mind.

What I disliked…

*The dialogue often felt forced to me. There were some moments when the dialogue was sincere but other than that it was lacking.

*The ending was tied up a little to neatly for my taste.

In conclusion…

Do I recommend this? Why yes I do! Especially to lovers of the paranormal romance genre and people who a craving a nice, quick read. Hereafter is definitely worth the time it takes to read it.

*An advanced copy was provided for review.

Excerpt of Hereafter

Sadness swallowed me, erasing the emptiness I’d felt earlier. I touched my fingertip to the edge of the glass and focused all of my energy into moving the dust beneath. I felt the coldness of the glass finally meet with my fingertip and glanced to my dad, taking in his sobbing frame as I concentrated harder on moving the dust partials beneath my finger. As I lifted my finger away to be sure I’d succeeded in making an imprint at all within the dust, I felt the familiar tugging of my soul and noticed the first few tendrils of blackness snake around my ankles.

Dread filled me.
Blackness swirled around me like a dense fog, making me lose my concentration before I could do anything more with my message. Dread turned into panic and panic turned into frustration quickly as I took one last glance at my father. I watched as he tipped back the bottle he’d held in his hand and stared at the old picture of my mother and me.
I wouldn’t get the chance to console him with my dust-written message today.
The blackness swirled around my hips moving upward, slowly encasing my shoulders in its thick fog as it formed my cloak. The tugging grew stronger with each second that passed, until I could feel the summoning of the ruling humming through my soul. It was a sensation not to be ignored, although I had tried to before. It left me feeling as though my soul were a rubber band stretched too tight, to the point of snapping, and if I didn’t close my eyes right then and release myself from my unwillingness to go, then I surly would have ripped my soul in half.
This tugging was nothing new. I knew exactly what was about to happen—I was being called to another Reaper Ruling.

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The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu: mini short story review

The Paper MenagerieThe Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

Short story

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis: A gentle fantasy. Love, paper tigers, mail order bride, culture clash.

Note: You can read this short story for free by clicking on the title. This short story was originally published in a magazine hence the cover image.

My thoughts: This story was absolutely heart breaking and memorable. The writer of this story blends together the magic of the paper creatures and the life of a mail bride, her son and their struggling relationship with such skill. The narrator of the story is Jack, the son of the mail bride. I felt so angry with him at first because of how he treated his mother. He treated her with cruelty, disrespect, and only talked to her in english which she could not speak much of. I couldn’t bring myself to hate him though. All he really wanted was to fit in with the people of Connecticut. The message the mother wrote in her paper animals that the son discovered after her death was heart breaking. I just stared at the words with my eyes tearing up.

This story although very short with only fifteen pages was well written, emotional, meaningful, and thought-provoking.

Ponies by Kij Johnson: mini short story review

Ponies by Kij Johnson

Short Story

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis: If you want to be friends with TheOtherGirls, you’re going to have to give something up; this is the way it’s always been, as long as there have been Ponies.

My Thoughts: This review is going to be very short as I just want to get the word out about this fantastic story. I read this short story thinking it would be a My Little Pony fan fiction. I was very very very wrong. I should have looked at the cover illustration more closely. This short story does have colorful ponies with wings and horns but it is very disturbing. After reading this I only had one thing to say: “What the heck did I just read?”

After clearing my head of the colorful bloody ponies I could find the message in the story very easily. This story is a metaphor for what lengths children-and adults- will go to in order to fit in and most of the time it is not even worth it.

The Spring Before I Met You and The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan: two short story reviews

The Spring Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy, #0.25)

The Spring Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Spring Before I Met You was definitely the best one of the two short stories as it really delved into Jared’s character. The short story is narrated by Mariel, an art teacher who also doubles as a guidance counselor at a highschool. She is told by the school to try to help Jared with his problems. We get to see the joy Jared gets from talking about Kami and how he really is just a sad, and lonely boy. Mariel was a very generous narrator giving us detailed information about Jared and never judged him. I thought she was a very fitting main character for this story. The Spring Before I Met You had touches of humour and darkness throughout the writing which I love. I was really impressed with this short story and am very happy to have read it.

I give The Spring Before I Met You 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summer Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy, #0.5)

The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan

Although this was an enjoyable and quick read this did not really tell us more about Kami. This prequel of Unspoken is about Kami and Angela’s summer at Cricket Camp. I loved the writing as it had everything I expected from Brennan: humour, wit, and great prose. The story is narrated by Liz a 23-year-old woman who decided to work at Cricket Camp for the summer to put off workign at the family business. I did not love Liz as much as Mariel but she was a good narrator for the most part. Sometimes I thought that she lacked some personality. In this short story we read about Kami beating up a dangerous guy, her relationship with Claud, all of her plans to make things more interesting, and her grandmother’s death. Liz’s growth throughout the story was very subtle and quiet and not takign the spotlight from all the other characters. I did enjoy reading this short story but I would have liked it more if it had given us more information about Kami and her friends.

I give The Summer Before I Met You 3 out of 5 Stars