Austen Obsessed

16 01 2010

I just finished Emma last night. I dearly loved that book and I still can’t believe that I didn’t get into Jane Austen before now.  The main character is lovable if a bit naïve about the world around her.  She spends most of the story trying to match her friend Harriet with gentleman she has been associated with and ends up finding that most of those men prefer another woman.    The story has a happy ending of course, as do all the other Austen novels I have read. 

Next on my list is a copy of Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sandition that Penguin gave me for Christmas. 

In addition to reading a great deal of Austen recently I have procured copies of many movie versions of her novels.  I hope to do a little comparing and contrasting once I have viewed them.  There is also a movie called Lost in Austen , one called Becoming Jane, and another called The Jane Austen Book Club in my queue to watch.    I’m pretty excited to see what those are all about.

I have no idea what I’ll do here in a few more weeks once I’ve run out of Jane Austen novels to read.  It has really become a compulsion to find a new one to grab at the used book store or Borders.  I’ll have to move on to other great authors and find a new obsession.


A Year In Review

6 01 2010

So, I have been a terrible blogger this year. I started the blog with the best intentions and then life got in the way. I spent January though July taking classes in addition to my full-time job. Then I focused on work and a new relationship letting everything else take a back seat to love and money. I’ve read plenty of books. I’ve thought about blogging most of them. 2009 had me reading 30+ books and re-reading at least 4.

Quick list of 2009 reads:

Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson–Novel about Superman and Batman set during the 1950s. The two begrudgingly team up to stop the world from total destruction. 4 stars

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–Classic chick lit. 5 stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith–The classic regency romance with added zombie mayhem. 4.5 stars

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters–More classic literary romance with some slimy, tentacled or clawed disaster. 4 stars

Persuasion by Jane Austen–Classic tale of a girl letting herself get talked out of love based on a mistaken emphasis on wealth and status. To my knowledge there are no plans to add vampires or ghosts. 5 stars

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen–More classic chick lit. Poor girl lives with rich relatives and finds herself between the two worlds trying to find love and happiness. Also no plans to add any strange apparitions as far as I know. 5 stars

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery–French-American girl goes off to Japan and become separated from her family through fire and choice. Passes herself off as a Japanese lady’s maid in a respectable teahouse. 3 stars

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte–More classic lit about two selfish people and their love for themselves and each other and their inability to function in their worlds apart. 2 stars

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown–Intrigue with a art history geek trying to solve the mystery, murder, and win the pretty girl. 3.5 stars

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown–Same hero as The DaVinci Code with a new mystery, murder, and pretty girl. 3.5 stars

White Oleander by Janet Fitch–Dysfunctional family at its finest. Plus a look into the foster care system through the eyes of a teen. 3 stars

Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George–Novel of the possible and probably life of Mary Magdalene. Rich with history and a little possible blasphemy. 3.5 stars

Death of a Darklord by Laurel K. Hamilton–Weird novel filled with magic, zombies, and a witch hunter. 4 stars

Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris–Murder mystery set in England. Part of a series. 3.5 stars

Chocolat by Joanne Harris–French lady opens a chocolate shop in a rural village and turns the town upside down. I believe I actually reviewed this one. 4 stars

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson–Hilarious blasphemy. No way to really explain this. You just have to read it. 3 stars

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini–By the author of The Kite Runner. About 3 separate females and how their lives intersect in Afghanistan. 5 stars

A Widow for One Year by John Irving–Reviewed last January. About a family and how their actions impacted them and those around them. 4 stars

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd–Reviewed already. About a girl looking for her roots and finding them in unexpected ways. 4 stars

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster–Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster–More Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Pretty In Plaid by Jen Lancaster –Less snarktacular but totally hilarious chick lit. 4.5 stars

The Host by Stephenie Meyer–Alien being inhabiting human bodies and a band of refugees trying to survive without detection. 3 stars

Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer (re-read)–Sparkly vampired and teen love. If you haven’t already heard about Twilight; you’re probably hiding under a rock. 4.5 stars

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison–Can’t even really describe it. 3.5 stars

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton–Mystery about a lost child with amnesia trying to find the truth and her granddaughter who finally figures it out. 4 stars

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson–Non-traditional Patterson safe for the whole family to read. Daniel is an alien hunter with a few advantages trying to get revenge for the death of his family by killing the most dangerous aliens in the U.S. 3.5 stars

Swimsuit by James Patterson–Killer on the loose ravaging models. Sort of standard for Patterson. 2.5 stars

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath–Whiny, depressed, suburban girl. 0 stars

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks–Love story spanning a few decades about reconnecting with first love. 4 stars

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner–Short stories about everyday women finding their Prince Charming. 2 stars

I also failed two books (Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift). I may try them again later but I have plenty to keep me busy right now.

All in all it really wasn’t a bad year for reading. Despite a lot of happenings I truly read 2-3 books each month with a full time job and classes.

Here’s hoping 2010 is even better!

Austen and Sea Monsters

16 11 2009

One might not think of sea monsters as having a place in regency England. Much like Quirk Classic‘s zombies enriched the story of Pride and Prejudice the sea monsters have livened up Sense and Sensibility.

Another Austen tale of English ladies and their suitors has been altered thanks to the wonderful writers that Quirk Classics has managed to dig up. The original Sense and Sensibility follows the lives of the Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away the estate goes to their older half brother and his cold and selfish wife. The older Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters seek another home at a distant relative’s estate and thus experience romance, love, and heartbreak.

Elinor is attached to Edward, the brother of her sister-in-law. She is also introduced to and courted by Colonel Brandon who is nearly twenty years older than she. Elinor thinks that loving and marrying a man so many years older is grotesque but does decide that being friendly with Colonel Brandon would be acceptable.

Marianne is swept off her feet by a wealthy adventurer after falling while out for a walk. John Willoughby is dashing and very similar to Marianne and many mutual friends believed them to be engaged.

Through the course of the story both girls have their hearts broken. One girl gets her happy ending after some turns of events take place, and another finds that what she thought she wanted was not correct anymore at all.

That’s all that should be said in hopes of not ruining the book.

Sense and Sensibility is a little dry, much like most other books written in and around the 1790s. The story often lags on talk of money and how so-and-so has so many pounds a month and how no one could possibly wish to marry into so little amount and so on much like the talk in Pride and Prejudice. However, the story was definitely worth reading with its themes on emotion vs. sense, money, propriety, love, and many more. The ladies Dashwood and the gentleman acquainted with them all learned something by the end of the book, and the outcomes were suprising and in some aspects a little disappointing.

Now, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters used the same story line with subtle and not so subtle additions of tentacled beasts, water dangers, and facial disfiguration. In Sea Monsters, all places in the story are either near water or under water and many hours each day are dedicated to keeping sea monsters at bay. Estates were fortressed, weapons skills were mandatory, and traveling too near or over water was usually met with death by at least one character of little consequence. Instead of the Dashwoods traveling to London at one point they travel to an underwater city called Sub-Marine Station Beta. In addition to romantic intrigue, family drama, and sisterly bickering and love is the giant tentacled monsters and oversized lobsters out for human blood.

Sea Monsters, no matter how entertaining, loses something of the story when all changes were said and done. Colonel Brandon with a tentacled face, Willoughby as a treasure seeker, a lady competing for a gentleman’s attention as a witch, and a sea creature large enough to disguise itself as land detract from the Dashwood daughters and their personalities and choices made.

In doing some research it can be found that though Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had 90% of the original novel’s content with only about 10% additional content added; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters started with only 60% original content with 40% added (source for Sea Monsters numbers, but cannot re-find the Zombie’s numbers at this time).

In conclusion, whereas Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was worth reading because the integrity of the story did not change; the same cannot be said for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. In this case it is best to stick to the original.

New Purchases

20 10 2009

I’m a horrible blogger, I know. I have been reading and I have been buying books though. I’ve just been a little wrapped up with work, sleep, and Netflix. 🙂

Recent book buys:

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (another QuirkClassics interpretation of Austen)
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky

My roommate has made a number of purchases recently too. I have a nice stack of things to read that she’s finished already. I love that it’s winter and I’ll have more inside time to read too.

I hope to get my desk cleared off so I can sit and write a few reviews in the VERY near future. To anyone following, I’m happy you’re here and sorry that I’m not a little more punctual with the updates.

Zombie Mayhem Reviewed

29 07 2009

I finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a few days ago. I must say that all in all it was wonderful. The original integrity of the story Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is maintained with small additions to the characters. All of the Bennet girls are Chinese trained zombie slayers as is Mr. Bennet. Mr. Bingley is a pansy who loses his dinner at the sight of zombies consuming brains. Mr. Darcy is quite skilled at zombie slaying, as is his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

I found only a few things unnecessary. First and foremost was the sexual innuendos. Sure a comment about “his most English parts” in his trousers or a play on words while tossing about gun ammunition (balls) is ok. But, there were a few places where the additions took away from the stry somewhat. They altered the perception of Elizabeth Bennet’s proper decorum. The second thing that I had issues with was Charlotte turning into a zombie. It added nothing to the story and actually seemed silly in some places.

Other than just a few areas that I thought could do without the additions it was still very much the same story. The zombie mayhem actually made the story progress faster than the original because there was action to spur a reader on.

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a few sexual innuendos off from a perfect rating in my book.

In telling an acquaintance about the book I recieved the following comment: “Jane Austen is probably turning over in her grave!” My response is: Perhaps she wants to join in the brain munching mayhem.

Zombie Mayhem!

17 07 2009

I totally bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at Borders a few days ago. All I can say is that all classic literature needs a little zombie mayhem (or vampires, frankensteins, etc) to lend a little action and make things more interesting. So far the integrity of the original has not been affected. I’m excited to see how it progresses.

Pride and Prejudice

15 06 2009

Once upon a time I tried to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre) and failed. I could grasp the language and cadence of the writing. I was not engaged in the story or the characters. Granted, the fact that I attempted all of these books at the age of 12, and again at 16 or so was possibly part of my problem.

This time around I found that it took only a few pages to be completely enamored by the Bennet girls, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy. Seriously, who can’t understand a family where the mother is constantly trying to marry off her girls and the girls who are hoping for something better than just a marriage of convenience. Of course, most families don’t have five girls to marry off; or the manners that most of the Bennet girls possess.

Truly the story is mostly about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy who supply the roles of protagonist. It is an intense distaste that they have for each other’s company that eventually leads them both to find that they truly love each other; though not without some fighting on both of their parts. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy both have witty, quick tongues that are as likely to bestow praise as they are barbs.

Of course, the one minor annoyance with this story is that I find myself using similar language. As I had spent a better part of the day reading about the Bennet girls before heading to work, I found myself being pulled over by a police car. As I was trying to ascertain whether or not I was speeding and come up with an excuse before he came up to the window, I found myself thinking through my head words that are not often used in casual conversation. I checked myself and made a few simple phrases in response to the officer’s questions figuring that my original thoughts would have earned me a breathalyzer. (I wasn’t ticketed, I just had dirt obscuring my expiration date. Guess the cop was bored at 11pm on a Saturday night.)

I am intensely interested in reading another version of Pride and Prejudice. This one is the tradition Jane Austen with additions by Seth Grahame-Smith called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance. It’s hitting bestseller lists right and left. I guess they’ve inserted lovely zombie killing sequences throughout while still keeping the integrity of the original story. I hope to get my hands on a copy soon.

More updates to come. Look for Chocolat, Wuthering Heights, The Host, Gulliver’s Travels, and Pretty in Plaid in the upcoming few days/weeks.