Emma by Jane Austen
What can I say, I love Jane Austen; she was an amazingly talented author. I hadn't read her books since I took a class on her works in college, and since it's been about four years since then I figured it was time to reread them all. I really enjoyed Emma- if I remember correctly it isn't my favorite Austen book, but I do really like it. I read through this one faster than I did my recent reread of Pride and Prejudice probably because I found this one a bit more interesting. I'm not a fan of Emma's character, but I think that's probably the point Austen intended. She's not the most likable character (well, she's pretty flawed, not really unlikable, I guess), but she's certainly well-developed, so my dislike of her has everything to do with how well she was written. What I mean is Austen made a believably flawed character who is human enough to get on my nerves as a reader- that takes far more skill than writing a poorly-developed character who gets on my nerves because they're so poorly written! I did really like the character of Mr. Knightley, so I think that made up for my annoyance at Emma.
I like any story where the characters are well-developed, interesting, and rounded (if you couldn't already tell, well-written characters are what make a story great for me), and I don't think I've ever found fault with any of Austen's. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, mostly because Emma tended to get on my nerves, especially with her matchmaking, so that kept it from being five stars. However, the interesting plot and all the character development worked in the book's favor.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Somehow I had missed this book as I've done various rereads through the Discworld series; I didn't realize it was a Discworld book until recently. I don't really see how it's a young adult book in comparison to most of the rest of that series (I think there are three other YA books?); yes, it has talking animals, but it's a mature and deep book that can be cynical and dark at times. Since this is a Discworld book it has Pratchett's usual wit and humor about it, and the main character is a cat- what's not to like about that? (I want to add that Pratchett writes some very cat-like cats; definitely praise from a cat person!) Like a lot of the other books in the series, this is a sort of parody off another story, in this case the Pied Piper. The characters were all intriguing, especially the rats and the cat. The human characters were far less interesting, but that's mostly because the animals stole the show; the main human character was called "stupid-looking kid" for most of the book, if that gives you an idea of what I mean. (Speaking of stealing the show, my favorite character was Sardines, the tap dancing rat.)
I enjoyed this book, but it was kind of dark for my taste; maybe I was expecting it to be a bit more cheerful and funny since it's a young adult book? Still, though, it was a good read, even if it's not one of my favorite Discworld books. I'm not sure whether to give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars- can I give it 3 3/4? No? In that case, I'll leave it at 3 1/2, but it might go up to four on a later reread- I've read the rest of the series at least three times each, so I'll give this book another chance later, too.
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
This is my second favorite Shakespeare play, just narrowly being beaten out by The Tempest (if you want to know how much I love these books, I'm tempted to name future children Miranda, Lysander, and Demetrius). I love all the subplots that occur throughout the story (the play within a play and the men acting in it are just hilarious!) and I love all the humor throughout. And this play has Puck- what a great character! He's the character that says one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes "Lord, what fools these mortals be!", and he's definitely up there as one of my favorite characters written by the Bard.
This is just such a fun play that I'll heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it- and if you have, you should go reread it (I must be up to about six or seven rereads by now). ;) Hands down, this gets 5 stars out of 5; if I could give it more, I would! I may be biased, though; this is a play about faeries, so how could I not love it?
So far I'm up to 39 of the "52 books in 52 weeks" challenge; I'm going to aim for 75 read this year, then try to beat that next year.