Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

I really don't know what is going on with me lately. I have been all about Jane Austen this past month or two (which isn't a bad thing, it's just amusing to me). It must my obsessive pregnancy brain. I got a book from the library-- The Complete Works of Jane Austen-- and have been reading like a mad woman. I rented "Becoming Jane", partly because I am madly in love with James McAvoy (ok, mostly because of that!), and partly because I CAN'T GET ENOUGH of Jane! I cried like a baby--darn hormones.

So, as you can probably guess, this was right up my alley. The funny thing is that I checked this book out from the library over a month ago, and totally forgot about it! I was renewing my library books online and realized I still had it and had yet to read it. Of course, like an Austen-crazed lunatic, I picked it up and basically devoured it in one sitting. And yes, I waited 30 minutes to swim after doing so...

This was a fun, witty, very quick read. I loved Jane (the leading lady of the novel). I loved that she hid her BBC version of Pride and Prejudice in her house plants. I felt like she was a strong woman, even though she was a little bit lost. I loved that she "came into her own" throughout the book and I got to be a part of it. I loved that the author gave short blurbs about her "13 failed realtionships" every once in a while. It helped me understand Jane's character even more.

On another note-- who HASN'T seen Mr. Darcy a la Colin Firth and fantasized about what it would be like to be Elizabeth Bennett?? Let me tell you-- the "Mr. Darcy" of this book would do Colin proud. Mr. Nobley was spiteful and rude and just... full of himself. He was a character I loved to hate, because I was still loving him. Then he softened up a bit, and I loved him more.

Oh, to live in Regency England...

I guess that's actually sort of the point of the book. Separating the "real" from the "fantasy" in a relationship. Everyone wants to find a "Darcy", but we forget that he is the work of someone's (a very talented someone) imagination. If you hold out for a Mr. Darcy, you are going to be a very lonely lady. But, just because he doesn't exist, doesn't mean that there isn't someone who is perfect for you. Someone that is the Mr. Darcy to your Elizabeth Bennett.

Again, this was just a cute, fun novel. And it made me want a root beer... Happy reading!!

Broken Record...

I feel like I say this A LOT, but NO, I have not died. :) And YES, I have been reading. The book I have been reading lately is something I have been meaning to do for a long time. More on that later though... I just wanted you to know that I am living and breathing and reading, although not necessarily in that order. Hope you are all well!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Defect by Will Weaver

Maybe it was bad karma. Maybe it was just bad luck. Whatever the reason, fifteen-year-old David was born defective. His bug eyes, pinched face, and "hearing aids" are obvious, but there is a secret David keeps from everyone, even his foster parents. Terrified of doctors, wary of letting his guard down, David is determined to hide his secret at any cost. But then he meets Cheetah, a girl with a defect of her own, and suddenly his life begins to take wing.

Again... a slow moving book. Seems to be the trend lately. I started this ages ago and just couldn't bring myself to finish it. Finally I picked it back up last night (It's been gathering dust on my nightstand.) and I finished it. I never quite understood what point the author was trying to make. I could tell he was beating aroung ALOT of bushes, but he never really got around to just saying what it was he kept skirting. That annoyed me.

One bright spot in the book-- Cheetah. My favorite part of the book:
"Cheetah is my personal name for myself; my given name is Megan, but I've never felt like a Megan."
He looks at her. Rolls the window down a couple more turns. "What would a Megan feel like?"
"A Megan would feel great about herself all the time. She'd be a tall blond volleyball star who plays French horn and volunteers at the rehab center and has a perfect 4.0 grade point average."

Cracked me up, 'cause...you know, my name is Megan. :) Read this if you feel like it. It wasn't awful but it wasn't wonderful. Interesting. That'd be a good word to describe it. Happy reading!

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

The Wild is a fairy-tale world--at least it was until the fairy-tale characters escaped--but lately it's just a mass of hungry vines stuffed under Julie's bed. Julie, her mom Rapunzel (yep, that Rapunzel--think long hair, tower, prince) and her brother Puss-in Boots (okay, he's a cat) do their best to keep it hidden and under control. But Julie's sick of living with the Wild--it eats her jeans and sneakers whenever it wants! Junior high is tough enough, even with a normal family.

When someone makes a dangerous wish that sets the Wild free, it grows and grows and quickly begins to devour Julie's entire Massachusetts town. The Wild is hungry, and this time it wants its characters back for good.

Julie must venture deep into the Wild and outsmart wicked witches, feisty giants, and super-cute princes in the ultimate quest to save her family. She fights her way to the heart of the fairy tale and discovers she must risk everyting or lose her chance to live in the real world...and if Julie can't find a way to defeat the happily-ever-after, she'll never see her family again.

The concept for this book was wonderful, in my opinion. Fairy-tale characters escaping their fairy-tales and living in the world you and I live in (and take for granted) every day? Brilliant. The ACTUAL story?? I'm sad to say that it falls short of the mark. Parts of this book I really enjoyed, but mostly I thought it was slow-moving and quite boring. I felt like it dragged and then the last 50 pages were action-packed (as much as they can be when it's about a 12-year-old) to make up for the first 200 pages. There is a second book called Out of the Wild that I have sitting in my book pile on my nightstand, which I'll probably read. I'm not looking forward to it though. ;)

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster

Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine your own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what would happen if Elizabeth accepted Mr. Darcy's proposal the first time around? Or ran from his arms into those of Persuasion's Captain Wentworth? Now is your chance to find out.
Lost in Austen is a labyrinth of love and lies, scandals and scoundrels, misfortunes and marriages that will ever delight and challenge any Austen lover. Will Elizabeth succeed in her mission? It's all up to you.

I think Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books. Ever. I love the movie versions (except the Kiera Knightly one--yuck), and I just love being swept into that world. I always joke with my family that I was born in the wrong time period-- I really think I'd be more comfortable in a scene out of an Austen novel than in real life. Anyway, a few months ago I discovered, through the wonders of Netflix, a little movie called Lost in Austen. I laughed and cried, I cried from laughing, I laughed BECAUSE I was crying-- I loved it. Not like I love the Colin Firth version, but I thought it was a fun little twist.

To make a long story short, when I stumbled upon this book, I couldn't wait to get reading. I grew up reading the "choose-your-own-adventure" books, so a JANE AUSTEN theme was right up my alley. This is the perfect vacation book (I read it while I was camping last weekend)-- you don't have to concentrate on it very much, you just have to have fun and let the story guide you. There are so many twists and turns! One decision can mean absolutely nothing, other than making you look like a fool, when another seemingly harmless choice can lead to Miss Bingley running you down with a carriage, breaking your back and causing severe internal damage, and then she leaves you for dead to go steal Mr. Darcy's heart. You die alone. Obviously, this would mean you failed your mission.

Now, of course as a die-hard P&P fan, I stayed with that storyline (I'm a sucker for it) but I did look at all the other options too. It was quite amusing! If I were daring, I would venture away from the Elizabeth/Darcy story, but I'm not. You'll have to read it and let me know how the other versions end! Enjoy!