Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jane Bites Back

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is still alive a vampire." This line, on the cover of the book, is what made me want to read it. Unlike the popular Jane Austen mash-ups (here and here), this book is about Ms. Austen herself.

Jane has spent the last 2 centuries trying to get her latest book published. 116 rejections later, the manuscript finally gets a bite, throwing Jane Austen, a.k.a. bookstore owner Jane Fairfax, into a whirlwind. The twists and turns are quite amusing, and I loved the surprise characters.

Jane Bites Back is an entertaining, light read that includes a little bit of romance and mystery, and a lot of laughs. I was disappointed to reach the end of the book so quickly, and look forward to the sequel, Jane Goes Batty, that is promised to be coming soon.

Monday, February 8, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird

I just finished this book, yesterday. LOVED IT! When I was in high school, we only read a couple of books that are on your usual high school required reading list. This is one of the very many we didn't read, and I'm glad. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if I had been forced to read it.

I laughed, and I cried, and I sometimes laughed so hard that I cried! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, especially given some of the language. There are few words that I absolutely despise, and one of them is seen in this book...a lot. I find it shocking that it's even in one of my favorite quotes. Oh, how I laughed and laughed when I Scout commented on what kind of snowman she's never heard of! I'm not sure why it struck me as so funny, maybe it's because it was so unexpected. I don't know, but it still makes me laugh!

To Kill A Mockingbird takes place during the early-mid 1930's in Alabama. Jem and Scout, and their friend Dill, spend their carefree summers trying to get the reclusive Boo Radley to come out of his house. Then, when their father, Atticus, defends a black man accused of raping a white woman, Jem and Scout get an education they don't expect.

Atticus's wife passed away when Scout was still to young to remember, so he gets a lot of grief over the way he raises his kids. He may let his kids run around a little too much, and he may not dress Scout in cute, frilly, pink dresses and petticoats, but I think he's just the kind of father every kid should have.

To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely a book worth reading, and I strongly recommend it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Quirk Classics has a second hit on their hands with the adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. In Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Ben H. Winters throws the Dashwood sisters in with Sea Monsters and Pirates, they even stay at an underwater colony for a while!

After Mr. Henry Dashwood is eaten by a Hammerhead, Norland Park becomes the property of his son, Mr. John Dashwood. John's wife is not a very hospitable woman, and almost immediately encourages Henry's widow and daughters to find someplace else to live. They are offered Barton Cottage on Pestilent Island where Marianne is rescued from an octopus by the Mr. Willoughby. Shortly after he abruptly leaves the island, Elinor and Marianne are invited to spend some time at Sub Station Beta where they are forced to fight off man eating lobsters before the Station collapses.

Meanwhile, Margaret befriends creatures on the island whose description almost reminds me of Gollom from the Lord of the Rings movies. Poor Colonel Brandon is not only unattractive, he's hideous, but finds a little bit of hope when Mr. Willoughby breaks Marianne's heart. Between the pirates, sea monsters, and people who aren't who they appear to be, it's nothing short of a miracle that the lovely Dashwood sisters are able to find their happily ever afters!

While I found this book slightly easier to put down that PPZ, I still thought it was a good read, and definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Seth Grahame-Smith took a classic, and added an unexpected twist. When I first heard about the book, I had absolutely no interest in reading it. I've never read any of Jane Austen's books, but have seen a couple of the movies made from her books, and I'm not a huge zombie fan. I simply ran out of things to read, so I thought I'd give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a chance. I loved it!

The first line is a great hook; "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." It's just so absurd that you can't help but want to find out what's going on! Most of the text is Jane Austen's original work. Seth Grahame-Smith just tossed in a few zombies here and there, and enhanced the characters' personalities a bit and taken them to the extreme.

A plague has been sweeping through England, threatening all who live there. Even a small scratch can turn a person into one of the unfortunates. Luckily, that is rarely a problem. The zombies are generally slow moving and clumsy, as is the plague itself, as Charlotte Collins finds out. Changing from a living person to a zombie takes months. If a person is already dead and buried, the change happens much faster. Especially in the wet season when it's easier to claw through the dirt.

While Mrs. Bennett is more concerned with whether or not her daughters marry well, Jane and, especially, Elizabeth know what their main focus should be - keeping Longbourne and the surrounding areas safe. Can they find love and be ferocious fighters at the same time? You should definitely read this book and find out!

Up Next: Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters