{Book Review} Eligible: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Retelling

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Mhairi McFarlane’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice spoiled me. I read Here’s Looking at You two years ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about how perfectly it updated Jane Austen’s most popular work to modern day sensibilities. McFarlane impressively managed to keep the spirit of Jane Austen’s writing–the romance, humor, social commentary–without keeping every plot point of the novel in place. Too many of Jane Austen’s revisers slavishly stick to the source material without wondering whether the plot points transition believably to a story set in the 21st century.

One such revisionist is Curtis Sittenfeld, but even as Jane Austen acolytes go, I don’t think I’m completely off-base in calling her Pride and Prejudice retelling, Eligible, a particular train wreck. Unlike McFarlane, Sittenfeld forgoes the spirit of the novel in favor of transcribing the plot and inserting unnecessary twists for shock value.

In Eligible, Liz Bennet and her sister, Jane, leave New York City for Cincinnati after their father has a heart attack. Liz and Jane–the only vaguely respectable and responsible ones in the Bennet family–are forced to take over their father’s care and the maintenance of their parents’ crumbling house since their three sisters and mother claim to be unable to help.

Liz, a writer-at-large for a feminist beauty magazine, spends her days in Cincinnati trying to get an interview with icon Kathy de Bourg, sorting out her father’s astronomical medical bills, and trying not to dwell on her married boyfriend, Jasper Wick.

Jane, on the other hand, has bigger worries. She’s nearly forty and still single so she’s been trying to get pregnant from via artificial insemination. This may or may not have complicated repercussions when she begins falling for the star of a Bachelor-like reality show, Chip Bingley.

With Jane more than preoccupied with her own drama, Liz struggles to keep the family afloat while trying not to get too distracted by the pompous neurosurgeon, Fitzwilliam Darcy–who just so happens to know more about her boyfriend’s past than he’s revealing.

Things go from bad to worse for the Bennet clan over the course of Eligible as couples are ripped apart, spiders infest their already declining home, and Lydia runs off with her boyfriend, Ham–who has a Secret with a capital “S.”

Spoilers Ahead.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible has many problems, but the greatest of these is Liz Bennet herself. Somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make one of the most vivacious heroines in English Literature pitiful and annoying. Mostly, this is because she chooses to have Liz pine for scumbag Jasper Wick (our Wickham stand-in) for FOURTEEN YEARS. Unable to move on with her life during that time, Liz allows Wick to string her along through his various marriages until he finally notices her a decade and a half later(!!). They then begin an affair. For me, lead characters having affairs with married men is an absolute deal breaker, but somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make my standard deal breaker even more repellent by having the affair be really, really sad for Liz. She waited for this guy–who is the ABSOLUTE WORST, by the way–for so long. What does that say about her? Nothing good. It makes her come across as weak and pitiful–two words one wouldn’t generally think of as describing Elizabeth Bennet.  

To top that off, Liz is super sarcastic and mean about her sisters. She speaks ill of them to Darcy in a way that I *suspect* is supposed to be self-deprecating but is actually just awful. There’s shockingly none of Elizabeth’s wit present in Liz. Instead, her snarkiness is simply uncomfortable to read and makes her seem like a fifteen year old rather than someone who is thirty-eight.

While on her own Liz’s characterization is enough to make me loathe this novel, it didn’t help matters that I also hated how the other Bennets were presented (so cliched and predictable), the entire Bachelor plotline, and the incredible boringness of Darcy. As a Jane Austen retelling, Eligible is really one of the worst, but it doesn’t help matters that it doesn’t work on it’s own as a Contemporary Romance either. Dull Darcy and Elizabeth simply have no chemistry. I sincerely doubt their relationship would last beyond the last chapter of the novel–which isn’t the feeling I want to have at the end of a romance novel.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend picking up Eligible unless you are in the mood for a hate read. It really was only my rage and morbid curiosity that kept me going to the end of this book. If you like being fueled by rage, by all means, read this book. Otherwise, give it a hard pass and read Bridget Jones’s Diary or Here’s Looking at You instead.

What are your deal breakers in romance novels? Do you have a favorite Jane Austen retelling?

Five Books About Fascinating Women in History

Your Visual Travel Guide (5).jpgGoing back through my Goodreads categories, I discovered something surprising. Once upon a time, I’d read non-fiction regularly–particularly non-fiction of the ladies-in-history sort. Mostly, I picked up these types of books right out of college when I was missing all my History and English courses and looking to expand my horizons. I wasn’t drawn to the dry stuff though (I had gotten enough of that in school). I preferred histories with some scandal and lushness to them.

I blame watching a lot of biopics on the Tudors for this.

So, if you’re looking to expand your horizons and read more about prominent (and not-so-prominent) ladies in history, these books are a good place to start. Especially if you don’t mind a bit of outrageousness.

Five Books About Fascinating Women in History

Elizabeth and Leicester by Elizabeth Jenkins

Funny story time: In college, I was sitting on a bench reading this book about the scandalous romance between Elizabeth I and Dudley when some random dude walked up and told me I was beautiful. Me, being the very picture of tack, said “Thanks” before promptly returning to my book. (I was that girl in college who sat on benches and read and had to listen to people walking past me whispering in horror “Is she reading a book?!?!?” Basically, I am Rory Gilmore.) Gossipy historicals are completely my thing and so a book about one of my favorite historical couples (thanks entirely to Anne-Marie Duff’s Elizabeth miniseries) was pretty much un-put-downable. While it is more about the relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley, there is a lot of information about the early years of Elizabeth’s life to be had within its pages. Sadly, this book is ancient, but you just might be able to find it through the library. If not, there’s a book of the same name by Sarah Gristwood that might be worth checking out.

Bride of Science by Benjamin Woolley

Speaking of gossipy non-fiction, Woolley’s biography of Ada Lovelace is gloriously chatty about all the scandalous goings on of Ada’s life. I started reading this book entirely thanks to the webcomic Lovelace and Babbage and I wasn’t disappointed. While there might not be as much of a focus on the science-y aspects of her life, it was interesting to get a picture of what she was like as a person. I especially remember there being some focus on the relationship between Ada’s mother and Byron–which really is fascinating in and of itself.

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

There are plenty of books out there compiling biographies of kings, queens, bad marriages, and scandal. (Surprisingly, I don’t read as many of those as you might think.) Princesses Behaving Badly was one book of that sort I couldn’t pass up. Just reread that title! It’s so easy to overdose on toned down princess stories, but this was definitely not toned down. If you want stories of princesses who murder, cheat, and rule countries with an iron fist, this is the book to check out.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff ~ While not heavy on the melodrama (for once), Cleopatra’s a fascinating read. (Except maybe the parts about agriculture and the economy.)  I loved taking courses on world history in college and Schiff’s book totally satisfied that longing for more information about the ancient world. I’m really looking forward to reading Schiff’s new book about the Salem witch trials. How interesting will that be!

Wild Romance by Chloe Schama ~ Back to the melodrama for a moment. If you want to get mad about the plight of women in Victorian England, this is the book to read. It reminded me of the book/miniseries He Knew He Was Right because it was all about marriage, divorce, and who’s telling the truth. Theresa Longworth isn’t famous–like most of the others on this list–but her story was cool to read none-the-less.

What are some of your favorite non-fiction books? Any slightly gossipy histories to recommend?

Ten Bookish Items I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree

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Joining in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday yet again!

It’s usually fairly easy for me to think of ten books I’d love the have for Christmas, but this year, I keep coming up with only half a dozen. That’s fine, really, because that means I’ve been reading unread books from my own shelves since my birthday in May!

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Twenty-sixteen really was the year of rereads and shelf-cleaning for me. It might not be surprising then that a lot of the items I’m longing for are related to my Harry Potter reread. It’s still shocking to me that I managed to reread all of the Harry Potter books over the Summer and Fall. The last three books were a challenge but I got them all done (thanks to a little binge-reading) the day before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released. The one downside of my reread, of course, is that my stack of Harry Potter collectibles has grown exponentially since I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in May. I have a burgeoning Harry Potter Funko Pop collection and a desire to replace all those Harry Potter DVDs I got rid of a year ago.

I have a feeling my shelves will be in troubles–especially if I get a few of the things on this wish list.

 Ten Bookish Items I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree

christmas-wish-list.jpg1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition / 2. Harry’s First Spell Q-Fig / 3. The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke / 4. Hermione Ornament / 5. Labyrinth Tales by Cory Godbey / 6. Harry Potter with Hedwig {Hot Topic Exclusive} / 7. A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin / 8. Jacob Kowalski Funko Pop / 9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition 

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10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

What bookish items would be in your letter to Santa?

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Top Five Literary Classics on My TBR

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About once a year, I tackle a classic novel. In 2016, I reread Jane Eyre and in 2015, A Christmas Carol. While these rereads were pleasant enough, it’s a shame that it’s been several years since I attempted a new-to-me work of classic literature. The burnout from my years as an English Major are finally dissipating so, hopefully, in 2017, I can change that.

I don’t expect to read all the classics on my TBR, but I’d love to raise my count to two or three classics next year. It shouldn’t be too hard, especially since I’ve been longing to reread Persuasion for months.

Yes, I might even allow myself one more reread before the real work begins!

Top Five Literary Classics on My TBR   

Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott ~ Ivanhoe is one of the most enthralling novels I read during the course of my English degree. I attribute that mostly to the fact that I pictured Richard Armitage (in his Robin Hood leathers) as Bois-Guilbert as I read it. Beyond that, I loved the swashbuckling, adventure of Ivanhoe. It’s a shock, really, that I haven’t picked up Rob Roy already.

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens ~ Choosing one and only one Dickens novel to add to my TBR was difficult. There are several Dickens I’d like to read–Little Dorrit and Bleak House among them–but his books are too long for me not to narrow down my goal a bit. Our Mutual Friend caught my attention more than the others because (1.) I like the story and (2.) I can picture “Creepy Colonel Brandon” a.k.a. David Morrissey as Mr. Headstone as I read it.

Sylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell ~ I’ve read Gaskell’s Wives & Daughters, Cranford, and North & South. It’s about time I moved on from her books which have been adapted into miniseries and ventured into unknown territory. Sylvia’s Lovers is her take on historical fiction and I’m curious to see if it holds up to her more well-known novels.

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot ~ My relationship with Daniel Deronda is a fraught one. I’ve watched the miniseries twice, and I’ve come to realize there are few characters I loathe as much as Daniel Deronda. I want to read the novel because I’m curious if my hatred simply rests on Hugh Dancy’s version of the character or on the character himself.

Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress by Frances Burney ~ I’ve read Frances Burney’s Evelina twice. It’s ridiculous and fun and weirdly addicting for a 500 page epistolary novel about a socially inept girl. Burney’s definitely the predecessor to Jane Austen–which means I need to get on with reading the other two novels of hers I own. Cecilia, an “usual love story and deft social satire,” according to Amazon, seems the best bet for my second venture into her oeuvre.  

Are there any classics you’ve been wanting to read?

Read Like a Gilmore: A Starter’s Guide to Rory’s Reading List

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Rory is a hardcore reader–at least in the first several seasons of Gilmore Girls. As the show progresses, she reads less and less AND YET she still manages to read and/or name drop 339 books over the course of the series. That’s a lot of books, particularly when you take into account most of them are Literary Fiction, Classics, or Nonfiction. Those genres lend themselves to hefty reads.

The whole, wild list can be found here. Check it out and take in all those titles. I may have read a lot of Epic Fantasy and Literature in high school and college, but I certainly didn’t read that much–even as an English Major!

Thanks to the sheer overwhelmingness of the list, I decided to make my own abridgement to it. I haven’t read everything Rory has, but I’ve read enough to give a starter’s guide to some of the best of the best on her bedside table. (I’ve actually read a good amount of these books this year so I can attest they hold up outside of a college classroom!)

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Read Like a Gilmore: A Starter’s Guide to Rory’s Reading List

The Fun Stuff

  1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  4. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

The Spooky Stuff

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  3. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  5. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Carrie by Stephen King

The Awesome Women’s Stuff

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Other Stuff

  1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  5. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

What’s Your Favorite Book On the Rory Gilmore Reading List?

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{Top Ten Tuesday} Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR

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It’s been awhile but I’m actually joining in on The Broke and The Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday this week.

I’ve discovered one of the bonuses of working at a library is that the librarians let you look at through their Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist catalogues. I say “bonuses,” but I guess that depends on how long my to-read list gets in the future. For now, it’s manageable–only ninety-one books according to Goodreads.

Ninety-one might seem like a lot (not to most book bloggers, I suppose, but to some people) but, knowing me, ninety-one books will be culled down to twenty once I actually start reading what’s on my TBR.

My reading taste can be finicky, and I drop books for no better reason that sentence length annoying me.

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The books on this list will hopefully be lucky ones that get read. I’m certainly excited to give them a chance.

Top Ten Books I’ve Added to My TBR Lately

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones ~ Wintersong is a YA novel with more than a little in common with a certain film called Labyrinth. Obviously, I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I heard it included a Goblin King. *Dance, Magic Dance!*

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth ~ I couldn’t finish the Divergent series. I just couldn’t. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in trying Veronica Roth’s newest novel. It’s a political drama with space and superpowers. Definitely sounds up my alley.

The Gilded Cage by Vic James ~ When someone describes a fantasy novel as being similar to Downton Abbey, you know it’ll be high on my list of to-reads. The Gilded Cage is deals with class conflict and magic. I’m hoping it has more than a little in common with Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown.

Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold ~ I’ve been meaning to read the Vorkosigan Saga forever. I even started Cordelia’s Honor once years ago but never got far in it. The first book in the saga just made it back onto my to-read list because I decided that I’m going to finally try to tackle the series. It’s so popular. I want to know if I like it or not.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis ~ To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite Science Fiction novels of all time so when I found out Connie Willis had a new book–not in her Oxford Time Travel series–coming out, I figured it was about time I branched out and read her other work.

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders ~ I’m a fan of Charlie Jane Anders articles on io9. While novels aren’t exactly the same thing as website posts, I’m excited to try her book about friends, magic, and science!

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley ~ Somehow I’ve never read a book by Kameron Hurley. I’ve followed her on Twitter and read her articles, but I’ve never picked up an actual book by her (not even Geek Feminist Revolution!). The Stars are Legion sounds like a book I’ll enjoy–yet another book about space, politics, and a tough-as-nails heroine.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older ~ Urban Fantasy’s a genre I go back to when I feel the need for a quick, engaging read. Older’s Bone Rumba Street series is one of the more popular of the genre that I haven’t tried yet. I actually can’t believe it wasn’t on my TBR earlier.  

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle ~ I adore Peter S. Beagle’s writing. I’ve only been putting off reading Summerlong so I can keep up with Science Fiction novels for SciFi Month. As soon as December hits, I’m diving it! (Truthfully, I don’t even know what this books is about, and I don’t care: It’s Peter S. Beagle.)

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hern ~ One of my friends from work recommended this series to me. She said it was a fantasy which takes place in Japan, and that’s really all I needed to know.

What Books Have You Recently Added to Your TBR?

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{From My Shelves} Fall TBR

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Somehow, I’ve managed to get over two thirds of the way through my reading goal this Summer. It was rough. As per usual, Summer was the season of reading slumps and depression. I’m hoping Fall will be better. I can usually get through more books once the weather turns cool and I finally feel up to relaxing afternoons with a cup of tea and my beloved electric blanket.

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to get my expectations up too high. I have some classics and nonfiction that I’d love to get through before the end of the year, but I’m not including them on this TBR because I don’t want to set myself up for failure. (I tried to get through The Mill on the Floss this Summer, but I just couldn’t do it–in spite of loving George Eliot’s writing.) Instead, I thought I’d pull books from my shelves that would help me complete my reading challenge, get me ready for a new Fall show, and just plain entertain me.

We’ll see how it goes.

From My Shelves: Fall TBR

  • Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs ~ My easy book for the TBR! I always try to include at least one lightweight to keep myself from freaking out over all the heavy tomes on my list and Death by Darjeeling is that one for Fall. At the last library book sale, I grabbed a bunch of cozy mysteries–figuring I’d need to have some on hand for when I wasn’t feeling up to something denser. Most of the ones I picked were about books, tea, or cats–which just feels right to me.
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco ~ If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve owned The Name of the Rose for at least seven years. Most books that I’ve had that long and haven’t read have been culled from my shelves in the past year. For some reason, I held onto Eco’s novel. I’ve heard it’s fantastic so I really have no reason (besides how incredibly hefty it appears) to put off reading it any longer.
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote ~ For my Reading Challenge, I have to read one True Crime novel. True Crime is one of the few genres that I have absolutely no interest in so I figured I might as well stick with a classic. I’ve read Truman Capote before thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which is MUCH better than the film, by the way). I figure his foray into crime writing will be entertaining enough to allow me to check one more item off my Reading Challenge To-Do List.  
  • When Did You Last See Your Father by Blake Morrison ~ I’ve had this novel on my shelves forever. I bought it solely because David Nicholls wrote the screenplay for the adaptation–which, on reflection, seems like a weird reason to read a book written by a different author. Still, it’s a small book. It’s time I got through it and sent it back to the library.
  • Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith ~ The Crown premieres on Netflix on November 4th. To prep, I figured I might as well read a biography of the Queen. I’m not holding my breath that the book will be terribly interesting (I don’t expect a whole lot of trashyness), but I’m still curious about her thanks to watching the *almost* completely fictitious A Royal Night Out this Summer.

There are my five books. What are you planning to read this Fall?

My Fall To-Do List

Hamilton Songs On Repeat (2).jpgSweaters, electric blankets, hot chai, and new TV shows. Fall IS my season. I know you’re not supposed to wish your life away, but Summer is the worst and I’m so glad it’s over.

I cannot wait to eat all the (gluten free) pumpkin things!

Like with Summer, I figured I’d do a proper to-do list for Fall. Looking back, I can say I did alright on my Summer list. *Maybe* I didn’t get to any beach reads, but I did dash through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and see Top Gun in the theater so the season wasn’t an entire waste. Also, I went to three new coffee shops and an artisan Ice Cream parlor. Living my best life right there.

My plans for Fall mainly include watching Gilmore Girls with my mom, but I figured it’d be nice to make a more ambitious to-do than just getting through seven seasons of a show before November 25th.

Okay, the list isn’t incredibly more ambitious than that, but Fall is the season for books, tea, and coziness. I don’t want to do too much adventuring when I could be reading the next A Song of Ice and Fire.  

My Fall To-Do List

  • Carve Pumpkins ~ I’m terrible at carving pumpkins (because sharp objects and myself do not mix), but I love it anyway. The last two years I’ve missed out on carving but not this year! I will carve something wonky into a pumpkin’s side and display it proudly for trick-or-treaters.
  • Star Wars Watch-Through ~ Last year, I rewatched all of the Star Wars films in the Spring. I wish now that I’d waited until right before The Force Awakens came out so it’d all have felt more fresh. That’s why, this year, I’ve been waiting and waiting to start my rewatch for Rogue One. Originally, I’d planned to try watching it in “Machete Order” since I’ve only ever watched the series chronologically starting with the prequels. I’m not entirely sure that’s the best way to go since that would mean watching A New Hope (the film closest chronologically to Rogue One) first. I’ll probably just go with “Chronological Minus The Phantom Menace” as per usual.
  • Art Museum Trip ~ I’ve only been to the Cleveland Art Museum once. I was up in the city for an interview and was able to spend *maybe* an hour there–which meant that I got through the Egyptian exhibit and very little else. I’ve been longing to go back for a second visit, and Fall seems like the perfect time to wander through galleries.  
  • Reread Jane Eyre ~ Is it just me, or is Fall the perfect season for reading the Brontes? I might make that association thanks to my English Major days, but the gothic setting of Jane Eyre feels October-y to me. I haven’t read Jane Eyre since high school, and I’m well aware that I didn’t understand it at all back then. I need to go back and be more open minded about Rochester (unlikely) and more accepting of Jane (much more likely).
  • Go to a Craft Show ~There are indie craft shows ALL THE TIME downtown where I work. Unfortunately, a lot of them occur on Saturday so I end up working through them. I want to take advantage of one of the few Sunday fairs, even if that means venturing downtown on a day I’m not actually working.
  • Find a New 3DS Game to Play ~ So, I bought a 3DS last Fall and I’ve only purchased three games for it–two of which I hated (Disney Infinity and Animal Crossing). Right now, I’m playing through Legend of Zelda: An Ocarina of Time and I’m enjoying it. . .kind of. I have to use a walkthrough to get through the story–which can get incredibly frustrating. I want to find a game with more of a puzzle aspect to it. I loved computer games that had a nice balance of story and puzzle when I was a kid (like Torin’s Passage and Dr. Brain). I’m sure there’s something out there along a similar line. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!
  • Drink Spiced Apple Cider ~ Pumpkin Spiced Latte’s aren’t my thing. They’re too sweet and not pumpkin-y enough tasting for me. Spiced Apple Cider is the real deal. Every once in awhile, I even get to drink apple cider from the apples we’ve grown–which makes it even better!
  • Play More Games ~ I own a decent amount of board games, but this year, I’ve been terrible about actually playing them. I still haven’t touched my copies of Munchkin, Iota, or Diamonsters. Before Christmas, at the very least, I need to give them all a shot (then I don’t have to feel guilty if I ask for a game or two for the big day).
  • Watch Horror Movies ~ I’m a complete wimp when it comes to horror movies. I’ve always loved horror TV shows (Hannibal <3) and novels, but films just seem so much more intimidating. I have a short list of movies I want to watch in October (The Ring, The Host, Cabin in the Woods, etc), but I could definitely use recommendations for horror films that are scary but not terribly gory–which means do not recommend a Saw film! I will not watch it. 
  • Bake a Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie ~ I already have a recipe picked out. This will happen!

What’s on your Fall To-Do list?

Lazy Day Summer Reads

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Thanks to my Harry Potter Reread, my summer reading is more ambitious than usual. Last year, I mostly contented myself with binging X-Men comics and picking up the stray YA here and there. This year, unfortunately, I’m trying to get through 4,100 pages of Harry Potter while still reading other books in-between for flavor. It’s not tremendously fun, but I know I’ll be glad that I forced myself through it when I finally have Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in my hands.

Or, at least, I hope I will be. Some of those spoilers are bonkers.

Either way, none of that means I’m not dreaming of beach reads, cozy mysteries, and trashy biographies. (I’ve been so tempted to make myself a non-Potter summer TBR, but I know better than to tempt myself.) Still, I figure others are living the dream this summer and reading all the page turners and mass market paperbacks they desire. Since I can’t be among you, I figured I might as well make a list of lazy day summer reads to share instead. These are absolutely the sort of books I’d be reading if it wasn’t for this dratted Harry Potter Reread.

Lazy Day Summer Reads

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Is It Just Me? By Miranda Hart

I adore Miranda Hart. It’d probably be really difficult to read this memoir if you haven’t watched any of the TV show, Miranda, but if you have, it’s absolutely hilarious to read about Miranda Hart’s real life misadventures. Bonus: It’s very relatable for awkward nerds!

 

 

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Starter for 10 by David Nicholls

I had to include David Nicholls on here somewhere. A lot of you might be familiar with the film Starter for 10 (with James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, AND Dominic Cooper), and this is the book it was adapted from. It’s essentially about college students competing in a University Challenge competition–which is not usually my sort of thing–but it’s endearing like any of Nicholls’ work. Fun Fact: If you’re checking it out of the library, it *might* be called Question of Attraction. That’s the title on my cover. They didn’t use the original title for us Americans until after the film came out.

 

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Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Okay, I might be doing a movie/TV theme unintentionally. I know tons of people love Miss Fisher’s Mysteries. I’ve only watched the pilot, but I still enjoyed reading the first book in the series it was based on. There’s plenty of sumptuous costume changes and dreamy details in this Australia-based mystery series. It’s the perfect read for rainy afternoons.

 

 

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The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

There’s something about The Neverending Story that seems summery to me. Maybe, it’s the 80s soundtrack I hear playing in my head as I read the book. Who really knows?

 

 

 

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I Capture the Castle by Dottie Smith

Coming of age? In a castle? I don’t know that it gets much more “Cozy Summer Reading” than that. Also, if you haven’t seen the adaptation, track it down! It has a very young and strapping Henry Cavill in it.

 

 

 

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Sorcery and Cecelia (or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

There’s a very special place in my heart for fantasy novels set in the Regency period. There’s nice gowns, Austen-esque wooing, and magic! I particularly like that this series is written in epistolary form. It’s a quick but immersive read!

 

 

 

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Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

I never expected to like reading comedic memoirs, but Why Not Me? is fantastic. As comedians go, Mindy Kaling is one of my favorites. I have been terrible at keeping up with her show, The Mindy Project since it moved to Hulu Plus, but I will catch up. . .eventually. If you want to know what it’s like to run a TV show and be friends with B. J. Novak., this one’s for you.

 

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Hark a Vagrant! By Kate Beaton

Literary and historical comics. READ IT NOW!

 

 

 

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Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

One last mystery before I’m through. Peters’ series is about a Victorian lady, Egypt-enthusiast who fights crime and falls in love. Basically, the entire thing is very entertaining and fun.

 

 

 

What sort of books do you like reading in the summer? Have anything exciting on your summer TBR?

{Book Review} Edmund Bertram’s Diary

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Reading Edmund Bertram’s Diary showed me that it’s been too long since I’ve read Mansfield Park. It’s my favorite Jane Austen novel, but I don’t reread it as often as Pride and Prejudice or Emma. It’s insightful, clever, and fairly dense so it’s not the sort of story I go back to again and again. It doesn’t help that it includes my second least favorite Austen hero, Edmund Bertram.

You might wonder why on earth I put myself through reading a “diary” of one of my least favorite Jane Austen characters. Well, for one, Lianne from eclectictales.com recommended the series. Secondly, I balanced my love of Mansfield Park and my hatred of Edmund and Mansfield Park came out the winner. (It helped that I could picture Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund in my head too.)

The title, Edmund Bertram’s Diary, is fairly self-explanatory as far as plot goes. The novel is Mansfield Park as told through Edmund’s diary entries. The story starts just before Fanny Price (Edmund’s cousin) arrives at Mansfield and ends a bit after the conclusion of Jane Austen’s novel. It includes plenty of Edmund’s obsession with the lovely Mary Crawford (which is bad) and a decent amount of his struggle to keep the estate going while his father is away in Antigua (which is good).

If I thought (foolishly) that Edmund Bertram’s Diary would make me like this hero more as character, I was wrong. Amanda Grange’s novel doesn’t work as an apology for the character. Edmund spends a fair amount of the book being a privileged, oblivious jerk, and I am not so certain he even has an epiphany and changes at the end. Reading about his inner struggles and feelings only made me hate him more.

It probably didn’t help that it’s never sat well with me that Edmund was obsessed with Mary Crawford for 90% of the novel, but then–relatively quickly–falls for Fanny in the end. The diary retreads this ground and doesn’t even try to spark the chemistry between Fanny and Edmund until Mary is solidly out of the picture. That was one of the few faults I found with this book. At least the film adaptations try to give us hints of sexual tension. There was none of that to be found here–making me quite certain that Mansfield Park should have ended with Fanny marrying a nice seafaring man (her brother could totally introduce her). Then, she could have a nice house and keep cats and pugs and not have to deal with her ridiculous aunts and cousins anymore.

The end.

Sadly, this book gives only vague hints of chemistry between the cousins and fails to redeem Edmund. Worst of all, I don’t get my happy, pug-filled conclusion. Instead, I was forced struggle through the last hundred pages as Edmund Bertram repeatedly feels the need to mansplain Fanny’s suitor, Henry Crawford, to her.

The mansplaining got so annoying that I started dogearring the pages where Edmund felt that he knew better than Fanny. There were a lot of dogearred pages.

I mean, he’s just the worst:

“But I have refused him,” {Fanny} said quietly.

“Of course, for the moment. But when you come to know him better you will see that he is just the sort of man to make you happy.”

She said no more but, feeling sure that she would soon change her mind, I let the matter drop. . .

p. 207

“. . .There were never two people more dissimilar. We have not one taste in common. We should be miserable.”

This was bleak indeed. So bleak that I felt fancy was at work, rather than reason.

p. 220

Yeah. I won’t say I hate read this part of the novel because it’s too well written for that, but I felt a certain amount of righteous wrath reading Edmund’s thoughts. This book could have been retitled “Mansplainer: A Diary” and it would have been 100% appropriate.

As for the lightning bolt moment when Edmund FINALLY realizes that he loves Fanny, well. . .I’ll let you read that for yourself too.

As I watched her, I found myself wondering how it had happened, how long she had been like this. Had she suddenly blossomed? Or had I simply not noticed the moment at which she had turned from a hesitant girl into an assured woman.

p. 287

Shades of “Gigi” are all over that quote. I truly did want to give Edmund a chance, but can you really blame me for wanting to throttle him instead? I don’t blame Amanda Grange for this nonsense. It was in the original novel. She just extrapolated on it. Edmund Bertram’s horrible and reading how horrible he was on the inside delighted me in a lot of ways. I finally feel justified for my dream ending, and I really just want to read Fanny/Sailor or even Fanny/Henry Crawford fanfiction now.

Edmund can go fall in a hole.

In spite of all my. . .um. . .strong feelings about Edmund in this novel, I did really and truly love this book. (Surprising right?) It was well-written and gave me all the feels–not all of them positive but still. . .I’d recommend it to anyone who has no qualms about hating a Jane Austen hero and wants more Regency novels in their life.

I will 100% be continuing on with this series. I will probably read Captain Wentworth’s Diary next because it’d probably be best for me to go with a Austen hero that I actually adore as a follow-up. I won’t lie though–I’m beyond disappointed that there’s no “Edward Ferrars’ Diary.” He’s my most loathed Austen character and I would have hate-read the heck out of that book.

I give this book Four out of Five Pugs

Who’s your least favorite Austen hero?