Everything Austen — Bonus Track

I know I’ve been missing in action. I’m happy to say that work has been really busy this school year, so I haven’t had the desire to be on the computer typing things after I’m done with all the paperwork for my job. Plus, I’ve read a few clunkers lately and didn’t have much to say.  But, this book moved me to report.

I finished this “remake” of Sense and Sensibility (which is my favorite Jane Austen) a couple of weeks ago. I was just not going to review it, but I can’t let it go. This book is ridiculous. It took me forever to finish and I contemplated NOT finishing it many, many times. I just hate not to finish a book I’ve started and have only abandoned a few books. I did persevere through this one and I’ll never get that time back.

The book did follow the plot, loosely, of Sense and Sensibility.  However, I was often offended on Miss Austen’s behalf.  I don’t know why the author felt the need to turn Col. Brandon into a sea creature.  And, the whole underwater substation Beta was ridiculous.  The author didn’t even explain what it was until half way through the novel;  he just kept referring to it like you’d know what he was talking about.  The addition of pirates didn’t help the novel along, either.  I’m not sure why this author had to use Sense & Sensibility for his sea monster story.  It was almost like Jane Austen’s plot was getting in the way.

I read Pride & Prejudice and Zombies and appreciated it and its humor, but I feel like this Sea Monster novel didn’t work.  I know it’s not supposed to be serious, but it was beyond……I found no humor in it at all.

I’m sorry that this is such a harsh review.  I usually try to find something good about a book I review, but this one just bothers me too much.  I’m going to try to forget about it and what it did to one of my favorite novels.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I recently finished Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  I used to read her novels like crazy, but then I took a bit of a hiatus.  They are always so intense, I just needed a break.  While Nineteen Minutes is definitely intense, I really enjoyed this novel a lot.  It gave me lots to think about and I found myself telling others about the book as I read it (I usually just save that for book club or the blog).

This novel is about a teenager who has been bullied since kindergarten and comes to his HS one day and kills 10 people and injuries at least 19 more.  The story tells what happen up until that day, that day, and the court case following the school massacre.  It isn’t told lineraly, we have flashbacks throughout the book, from several different perspectives.

Jodi Picoult gives us another disturbing tale in this book.  As a parent and school psychologist, this book really touched me.  As a parent, I sided with the parents of the victims.  As a school psychologist, I could appreciate the side of the killer, who was a victim himself.  I feel like the author gave such a balanced picture of both sides of this story instead of just focusing on one side.  This would bring up a lot of areas of discussion for a book club, that’s for sure.

The characters were numerous in this novel.  I felt like that added a great deal to it.  Not only did we get a victim’s and the killer’s outlook, we also saw this from several parents’ perspectives, the community’s and the law enforcement’s perspectives, as well.  And, all the points-of-view were realistic to me and not contrived.  They all made me think.

The relationships in this book were quite complex.  They never quite seemed to be as they always appeared.  I was shocked and often touched by the changes or behind the scenes looks at many of the relationships.  It made me remember that not everything is as it appears.

Of course, Jodi Picoult added a little twist at the end.  I’ve come to expect this of year, so I guessed the twist before it came (although not too much before).  I’m still thinking about how I feel about the twist.  If anyone else read this, I’d love to know what you thought of it.  I’m not sure the author fleshed this out enough for me.  I could see it coming, but I’m a little confused by it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would love to discuss it.  I have to get some people I know to read it!

Everything Jane Austen — Part 6

That’s right, everyone, I completed the challenge.  I’ve actually read and watched more than six, but I just finished Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange to round out my posts for this challenge.



I’ve been so into vampire books (in fact, my husband asked me if there were any left I haven’t read) that I was very excited when Jane Austen was connected to them.  Two of my favorite genres in one!  So, when I finally got this one from the library, I was quite excited.

This book picks up after Pride & Prejudice at the marriage of Elizabeth/Darcy and Jane/Bingley.  Elizabeth feels like the happiest woman in the world until shes spies Darcy’s face just after the wedding and wonders if he regrets marrying her.  The happy couple start their tour with a change of plans and head to Europe.  Elizabeth continues to have misgivings, especially when Darcy fails to come to the marriage bed.  And, from there, the story unfolds…..

I have to say that I was entertained with this book, but not until the second half.  During the first half, when Elizabeth was still trying to figure out what was wrong with Darcy’s and her relationship, I was getting very frustrated.  As the reader, it was quite obvious.  I always thought of Elizabeth as a smart woman.  She just seemed like a dunce to me.  Also, I was annoyed by her lack of courage in talking to her husband.  That’s not the Lizzy I remember from Pride & Prejudice. Plus, Elizabeth went along blindly with Darcy, even during very mysterious happenings without so much as a word of question.  Does that sound like Elizabeth Bennet?

But, once the real action started and Elizabeth finally learns Darcy’s secret, the book was much better.  It was exciting and the Elizabeth we all know and love seemed to return.  Her bravery and loyalty were tested and she rose to the challenge.  And,  she put forth what she wanted even when it went against Darcy’s directives.  The strong woman came back.

The author did present some great descriptions of scenery in this novel.  This is especially true near the end when the Darcys are in the ancient temple.  I could really picture the surroundings and they were breathtaking!

So, here ends my challenge.  Of course, I’m sure I will never leave this genre behind.  I would like to check out some more of Grange’s “Diary of” books.  And, I also found some mysteries that Jane Austen stars in herself that I plan to check out further.

Everything Austen — Entries 3, 4, & 5

While I havent been writing much, I have been busy reading.  I have completed three more items for the Everything Austen Challenge.  Of course, none of these items were on my original list.  I keep finding other things that catch my interest.



First, I rewatched Sense & Sensibility, the Emma Thompson version.  I really enjoyed rewatching this one.  It brought back the book to me very well.  I thought the acting was really good, even some of the secondary characters.  Mrs. Jennings was cast perfectly!  She definitely added some humor to the story.    I did have trouble with the brother’s wife, is that Fannie (I’m so bad with names, even in books!)?  She was soo awful.  But, I guess she was supposed to be, right?  While it’s been a very long time since I read the book, I think this movie did a good job relating the story well.


Austen sequel

Thanks to a review I read over at Fuzzy Cricket, I found out there is a sequel to Sense & Sensibility, called The Third Sister, by Julia Barret. This novel focused  on Margaret.  I found the author’s take on Margaret very interesting.  I liked how much Margaret had been affected by Marianne’s affair with Willoughby.  I never thought about Margaret much while reading the original, but it was fun to see her perspective of events now that she was 17 and faced with courtship.  Her story is almost the opposite of Marrianne’s past courtship.  This  plot line is  somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed it.

In addition to learning more about Margaret, the author does provide glimpses into Elinor and Marianne’s lives as wives and mistresses of their own homes.   I loved how Marianne matured and finally realized what a wonderful man Colonel Brandon was.  I think she finally falls in love.  Elinor continues to be strong.  I was a little surprised that Edward was portrayed as a little “weak” when it came to is mother.  After standing up to her so well in Sense & Sensibility, I thought he would not have been so anxious about his mother.



Next up on my Everything Austen challenge is Amanda’s Grange novel, Mr. Knightly’s Diary. I didn’t realize there was more than just Mr. Darcy’s Diary, but I ran across Mr. Knightly at the library.  And, when I looked up Amand Grange, I found she’s written a diary for most of Austen’s main men.  I want to check out one by Colonel Brandon!

While I liked revisiting Emma, I’m not sure the author hit the mark with Mr. Knightly’s Diary.  As I was reading this one, I remembering having some complaints, which I didn’t have while reading Mr. Darcy’s Diary. I think part of my issue was that I did not find Mr. Knightly endearing from his own perspective while I liked Mr. Darcy even better after reading his diary.   Amanda Grange did keep the diary idea realistic by including mundane days as well as days of interest.   While I did enjoy reading this book, as I always do with an “Austen” book, I don’t think it was one of the better ones out there.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be checking out some more of Grange’s work.  I definitely will.

At Last a Winner (Sorry I’m Late)

I’m still behind when it comes to posting.  I can’t get it together.  School started, YEAH!  And, I’ve been reading like crazy.  But, I’m not reviewing.  Not sure why.  I hope to get back to it soon.  Please stay tuned!

But, I promised a winner for Last Call by jd Seamus.  Here it goes:

Brenda Rupp, you’re the winner!!

(I’ve always been fascinated w/the mafia, too.  As a teen I wanted to be a mafia wife. Ah, the mistakes of youth!)

And, if you’re interested in finding out about the giveaways around the blogosphere, check out Brenda’s website!

MIA — Now Back with Review and Book Giveaway

I know I’ve been out of touch lately.  Summer has overwhelmed me.  However, it hasn’t stopped my reading.  I was offered Last Call by jd Seamus as part of my summer reading from Pump Up Your Book  Promotions.

With his ailing wife and disabled daughter nestled in Florida, Jimmie’s bar family is all he’s got.  They understand about the children’s charity balancing out the part-time smuggling job, that offshore accounts are necessary when medical bills aren’t covered by health insurance.  When Jimmie reveals his own terminal diagnosis, his friends vow to help him recover the millions he has in foreign bank accounts.  But somewhere between that promise and Jimmie’s death, things go terribly wrong.  The money is gone, their friend is dead, and it’s up to this close-knit cadre to track the cash.

I would categorize this book as a character-driven crime novel.  The author provides a colorful cast of characters reminiscent of your favorite mafia movie.  There’s Fat Sal, Sal the Bookie (you get the idea), cops who are on the “edge,”  lawyers using aliases, etc.  There were many characters which sometimes got confusing, but the main ones, Nathan, Jimmie, Terri, Ray, Lou were interesting characters who drove the story.  I really loved Jimmie.  While a little “crooked”  he was a great guy.  He is the guy I always wanted to know after watching all the mafia movies in my youth.  Not too good, but not too bad.  I did enjoy the sense of loyalty and camaraderie between the characters in this book.

The story really picks up after Jimmie’s money disappears.  The group of Jimmie’s friends that have appointed themselves to find his money is a motley crew.  Their planning meetings are amusing and their attempts at justice are even more fun.  There is definitely a comedic angle in this novel.

jd Seamus is an accomplished author.  He is currently working on his sixth novel.  The visit him, check out his website www.theseamus.biz


So, if this sounds like a novel you’d be interested in, I’m lucky enough to have another copy.  The author graciously sent me two copies.  To enter the giveaway, just comment and let me know who your favorite “crime” figure is.  For another entry, tweet about this giveaway or mention it on your blog.  You have until Labor Day when I pick the winner.

Classic #1 — The Old Man and the Sea



Well, I finally read one of those classics I was talking about.  I started with The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.  When I visited the Hemingway House on Key West last month, I learned that this book’s main character, Santiago, is based a good friend that Hemingway hired to fish with him during his years at Key West.

My husband read this one first and wanted me to read it and discuss.  So, our discussion will probably be tonight since I just finished it.  As most of you know, this is about an old man and his struggle catching the “big one.”  That’s pretty much it.  And, amazingly, that took up 127 pages.

While not much happens in this book, I found it a very interesting and quick read.  Hemingway is a master at description and I could picture the beautiful sea.  I did find his switching between third person and first person a little haphazard, but who am I to criticize a master.

The struggle of the old man was very poignant.  His strength of spirit was amazing and quite inspirational.  I did feel his loneliness, even as he tried to convince himself he wasn’t lonely.  His love of the young boy was really touching.  I also found the man’s respect for the fish touching.  The ending is sad and I left this book feeling a little down.

This definitely is outside of my “box,” especially with my recent jaunt into YA vampire novels.  However, I’m glad I read it.  I’m looking forward to this discussion with my husband as he always has some interesting insights that I often overlook.

Coming soon……..review of The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.  I LOVED it!!!!  And, I can’t wait for her new release, The Girl Who Chased the Moon in March, 2010.

Plus,  I watched the Emma Thompson version of Sense & Sensibility for the Everything Austen Challenge (even though it wasn’t on my original list).

So, I have a lot of catching up to do.  And, I miss reading your blogs.  I promise to catch up soon!

Darkest Powers Series by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve had a hard time keeping with the book reviews this summer.  Too much having fun, I guess!

Anyway, I’ve really been into YA series lately.  Can’t seem to get enough (I know, I said I was going to read some classics, but, right now, I’m hooked on the fluff).  I discovered the Darkest Power series and am really enjoying it.  I just wish I didn’t have to wait until May, 2010 to read book #3.

While I vacation, I read the first book, The Summoning. The series starts off with Chloe, a 15-year old who finally reaches puberty and discovers her supernatural powers — she’s a necromancer.  Of course, she doesn’t know what this is and thinks she’s going crazy.  She ends up in a group home for teens and discovers she’s not the only one with supernatural powers.  And, the group home isn’t what it seems.  Chloe hooks up with some of the other teens and escapes the group home.

This book had me hooked right away.  It was interesting to tap into other supernatural powers besides the typical vampire stuff, which I can’t seem to get enough of, either.  I think the author did a great job of tapping into the teen angst and the confusion of this age.  I enjoyed all the characters and they are all described well.  There are “click” issues presented and typical teenage relationship angst.  It seemed to have a whole new dimension with the supernatural stuff thrown into it.

The next book, The Awakening, picks up right where the first book left off.  I would definitely read these books in order.  The author does do a good job summing up the events of the first book, but you would miss a lot if you didn’t read the first book.  The relationships wouldn’t make as much sense.  I enjoy how Chloe seems to be maturing.  I also like the development in one of the other characters, Derek.  It’s actually funny to me how these two characters seem to change over the novel while the other teens seem to stay mostly the same.  I think that will change as the series progresses.

This book does offer some twists I didn’t see coming.  That makes the book even more fun.  It’s not quite as predictable as some of these novels can be.

I’m definitely looking forward to Book #3.  If you want to check out more about these books check out this the series website.

Back from Key West with Classics on the Mind

I just got back from my 10th anniversary trip with my husband to Key West.  We spent four wonderful nights in this beautiful place:  relaxing, eating, shopping, touring, and, of course, reading.  I was able to finish three books in this time, all fun reads and to think about what I’d like to add to my list in the near future.

First, I finished The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James.  This was a good read that I picked up from BEA from the lovely Jennifer over at Book Club Girl.   The story focused on Charlotte Bronte’s relationship with the man she finally marries as well as her road to publication.  I truly enjoyed this book, as it read kind of like a P&P type story.  However, it seems to be based on fact and lots of research.

And, this is where I find my first book for my TBR.  I have never read any of Charlotte’s books (I know, it’s a shame).  I did recently read Emily’s Wuthering Heights, which was mentioned several times in this book.  Now, I can’t wait to read Jane Eyre. I love reading books after I have some information about the authors.

I also finished The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, for bookclub.  I loved it!  I’ll review more later after our club discusses it at the beginning of August.  I’ll let you know what the rest of the group thought, too.  BTW, I have tried to convince my husband to read this one now.  I think I’ll wear him down.

I then returned to my young adult vampire phase with the first book in the Vampire Beach series by Alex Duval.  A fun, quick read.  Not much to review, but I will be going into the next book when I get a chance.

I just started another of L.J. Smith’s vampire series, Night World. What’s fun is that you get three novels in one.  I finished the first one last night about a girl who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and her vampire friend breaks all of the Night World’s laws to “save” her.  Again, a fun read!  I look forward to the next two novels.

You must be wondering about the rest of the classics that are on my mind since Key West.  While YA vampire books are fun, they are definitely NOT classics.  Well, while in Key West, my husband & I visited the Hemmingway house.  We took a tour and learned a lot about this author.  I love to get the background stories of these famous people, you know, the stories they don’t tell you in school.  They should because I think I would have been more likely to  have read the books I should have read in HS.

Anyway, Hemmingway was quite the character, incorporating people from his life into his books.  Since hearing some stories, I now want to read A Farewell to Arms and Old Man in the Sea.  That’s right….. I haven’t read either of these before (although, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to in HS).

So, my TBR is ever-growing, but I’m adding some old ones instead of the new releases.  After reading all these wonderful “new” books, I feel like it’s time I become well-read, in the classic sense.  And, with the stories behind the stories, I’m ready to do just that!

Everything Austen Challenge – Take 2

I saw it, I bought it, I read it.  My daughter found Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith on a shelf a Barnes & Noble and grabbed it and said, “Look Mommy, it’s vampires like Twilight.”  Well, not quite, but now you know what I’m always talking about at home.  My 6-y-o knows me so well!

I did buy it thinking in my head it was Mr. Darcy, Vampyre  (which I now realized doesn’t come out until later this Summer).  But, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies still fits the challenge (although not on my original list).  And, it was a fun read!

I’ve seen lots of reviews of this one from the Challenge page.  Most everyone seems to like it, but I did read one review that hated it.  That reviewer seems to be a Jane Austen purist.  So, I understand her qualms.  This is NOT a serious Jane Austen book.  It’s just a silly, funny read.

This book is Pride & Prejudice retold with the addition of zombies.  Elizabeth and her four sisters are master warriors engaged by the Crown to fight the unmentionables.  Other differences are: Mrs. Collins turns into a zombie, Lady Catherine is a celebrated zombie killer, and Mr. Darcy also is a strong combatant.  Otherwise, the basic story is the same.

At first, the book seemed almost too silly for me.  Elizabeth was a killing machine who often thought about killing zombies as well as regular people who hurt her pride.  But, once I got over it, I really started to see the humor in it all.  And, it was hilarious.  I laughed out loud more than once (always a good sign for a book).  My favorite, funny part is:

Elizabeth and Darcy merely looked at one another in awkward silence, until the latter reached both arms around her.  She was frozen — “What does he mean to do?” she thought.  But his intentions were respectable, for Darcy merely meant to retrieve his Brown Bess [musket], which Elizabeth had affixed to her back during her walk.  She remembered the lead ammunition in her pocket and offered it to him.  “Your balls, Mr. Darcy?”  He reached out and closed her hand around them, and offered, “They belong to you, Miss Bennet.”

You must also overlook the fact that provinicial Elizabeth and her sisters travelled to China twice to study the killing arts.  The author did stay true to the Bennetts still not uppercrust, since most zombie fights train in Japan.  And, also, the fact that everyone still travels around despite the dangerous “unmentionables” problem.  Elizabeth is almost a superhero, with others being killed easily by a zombie while she can put down more than a dozen alone.

If you are an Austen fan and like a funny read, definitely check this one out.  However, if you think you’ll be offended by such a satire, I think you should pass.  Have fun!!