Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Sense & Sensibility" by Jane Austen

Author: Jane Austen
Published:  Oxford University Press, 2004 (originally 1811)
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I was reading all of Jane Austen's novels in order of publication

You can find this review over at The Broke and the Bookish too!

*This review contains marked spoilers*

I think that most of us can agree that, yes, Pride & Prejudice is a great novel. The characters and overall plot are memorable and inspiring, yet I feel it greatly overshadows some of Jane Austen's other wonderful books, such as this one. 

In Sense & Sensibility, the two main characters are sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. They live a comfortable, well to do life with their parents. When their father dies, all his property reverts to his son from a previous marriage. The Dashwood women are essentially left homeless and must start a new life living in much more modest means. The story follows the girls in their new home as they meet new friends, encounter dramatic situations, and of course, meet men and fall in love.

The sisters both deal with love and heartbreak simultaneously, although in completely different ways. Elinor is more mature and gentle with her feelings, while Marianne weeps loudly and stomps around for weeks. As a person who identified with Elinor emotionally, I become slightly irritated with Marianne's dramatic ways, but her general youthfulness and fun spirit definitely made up for it in the end (she's barely 17 after all). 

The way their respective 'love stories' turned out in the end took me greatly by surprise. Did anyone else feel completely shocked that Marianne married Col. Brandon? I later realized that, duh, this is what the whole story is wrapped around and leads up to, but still. I'd been picturing him as a very old man in my head the whole time, that's probably why it was so odd. Yet the more I think about it, the more I like this couple. Brandon made Marianne finally grow up. 

I felt that this book was much lighter than any of Jane Austen's other works. Many of her common themes show up (death, sickness, betrayal), but not in as much abundance and it is taken in a much less serious mood. The characters have their flaws, but they ultimately end up being endearing. 4 stars for a fun and lighthearted classic read.

If you enjoy movie adaptations of books, I highly recommend the 1995 movie Sense & Sensibility  starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. It is extremely well done and true to the book, as well as being delightfully entertaining. Also, if you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies, you will find a slew of those actors in this movie as well. Professor Snape, Madame Pomfrey, Professor Slughorn, Professor Trelawney and Umbridge all show up!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 10 Scariest Books!

I missed out on Top 10 Tuesday last week and am excited for this week's list, just in time for Halloween!

Top 10 Scariest Books

I've kind of cheated on a few, but just hang with me.

  1. Super Fetus by Adam Pepper - um, yeah. My roommate's boyfriend told me about this one; it sounds horrifying in a stupid way. Let the synopsis stand for itself:

    "Too tough to be aborted, Super Fetus fights back! He's a fetus growing in the womb of a whiny white trash whore of a mother. His problem: she wants to have him aborted. But what this bitch doesn't know is that she isn't pregnant with some mild-mannered developing human form. Heck no. This is Super Fetus. He has an attitude and he is deter mined to be born, whether she likes it or not. Doing push-ups in the womb day and night, until he becomes amazingly buff, this little fetus is prepared to fight off the onslaught of vacuums, tongs, coat hangers, and scalpels. Once that sonofabitch doctor comes for him... he'll be ready. A horrific and humorous romp with strange characters, stranger sex scenes, and one kick-ass musclebound fetus."
  2. The Shining by Stephen King
  3. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  4. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski - Still haven't read this, but I've heard things.
  5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - I hate post-apocalyptic books.
  6. Any book by Miley Cyrus - It's scary she even wrote a book.
  7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - This could be a realistic dystopian book, which should be scary for all women.
  8. Almost any book by Lois Duncan - I read almost all of her books in middle school. As a 12 year old, books about kidnapping, stalkers, ghosts, and murders really freaked me out.
  9. 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese - OK, I know this book can be taken a million different ways, and the fact that this guy was transported to Hell for 23 minutes is VERY hard to believe, his descriptions of the demons and fire and torture seriously gave me nightmares for a few days. Seriously.
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - this one is scary only because it's the LAST one! I kept dreading getting closer to the end of the series. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"The Countess & the King" by Susan Holloway Scott

Title: The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
Author: Susan Holloway Scott
Published: NAL Trade, September 2010
Where I Got It: I won it in a giveaway!
First Line: "It is true." (haha..)

I've been slacking on reviews lately, sorry for that. Also, no Top 10 Tuesday for me :(

Before I say anything else, a BIG thank you to Historically Obsessed (one of my favorite blogs) for the giveaway that I won this book in! It was my very first time winning something like this! Also a thanks to the author, Susan Holloway Scott, for providing copies of the book! :)

If you read my somewhat recent-ish review of The Secret Bride, you'll know that I've been wanting to read a book about a less than perfect heroine, particularly one whose beauty wasn't gushed over every two pages. I've found that heroine! Katherine Sedley was a mistress to James, Duke of York before he became King. She was very plain and an unlikely candidate for a mistress to royalty. She did however have wit beyond her years and gender that made her a favorite at court.
Katherine Sedley

The Countess and the King chronicles the life of Katherine from a child of about ten years until the time that James becomes King. We follow her through adolescence, heartbreak, scandal, and finally the love that she found with James. I really enjoyed reading about their time together. After reading about Charles II mistresses (the brother of James) and how corrupt and power-hungry those women were, it was refreshing to read about a woman who did not care for titles or jewels (although she got both).

Upon initially finishing the book, I would have rated it somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. I then turned a few pages and found an Author's Note. The author filled us in on what historically happened after the book ends; what happened to Katherine, her children, and the monarchy. After reading this, I immediately bumped my rating up to 5 stars. I LOVE when authors do this. When a novel is based on historical events or a real person, I always want to know what happened after the book ends, just a few pages of information is sufficient. A big thumbs up to this!

Overall, I adored this book. As I said before, 5 stars to a beautifully written and interesting story. After reading this and Dark Angels, I am borderline obsessed with the Stuarts and Charles II's reign (I feel like I am cheating on the Tudors!). I am definitely interested in picking up more of Susan Holloway Scott's work.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15 Blog Hop!

The blog hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books!

This week's question is:

"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

As a personal rule, I always finish books! I might abandon books temporarily promising myself I will pick them up later, but I usually can't just leave them without knowing what happened forever! (I have a 'Putting Aside' shelf on goodreads that is usually have 10-15 books on it). I usually end up feeling guilty and tormented if I abandon a book. The only exception to this rule has been War and Peace. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The trend of headless women on historical fiction covers

I've been on a cover kick recently, as some of you may know. A few posts back, I mentioned that I am working on a school project where I recreate covers for some of my favorite (or not so) books. Since then, I've been looking at covers with a much more judgmental eye. Since I obviously read a lot of historical fiction, I've noticed that there are a lot of AMAZING ones, but also that a good number have the women missing their head, such as these:

This gets a bit tedious after the 40th book, but I then came along this cover which made me realize exactly why historical fiction women have no heads:

<--That woman is supposed to be Mary I! What?! This is so traumatizing. This here is the real Mary, she doesn't exactly ooze sex appeal now does she? -->

 In short, my theory of headless HF women is this: since we don't know EXACTLY what these women look like, let's just keep it safe and show no heads. Does that make sense? I was once against the headless-ness, and now I am all for it. Here are some HF covers that have been ruined in my opinion by faces:

The Boleyn Wife cover is the most terrible.....Jane Boleyn looks like an elf from The Lord of the Rings.

I'm sorry if this is a spastic, ranting and random post, but this is just something I'd been thinking about recently. It was finally The King's Daughter cover (the main focus of this post) that pushed me over the edge! Who knew that cover art was such a science?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top 10 Books I Will Never Read

It's Tuesday, time for Top 10 Tuesday from The Broke & the Bookish! This week's list is:

Top 10 Books I Will Never Read

Ouch, that's pretty harsh. This should be interesting!

  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Just sayin'.

  2. If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans by Ann Coulter - or any other book by her for that matter...

  3. Miles To Go by Miley Cyrus - My worst nightmare would be to listen to Miley herself reading this book to me in her awful, gravely chain-smoker's voice.

  4. How to Be Famous: Our Guide to Looking the Part, Playing the Press, and Becoming a Tabloid Fixture by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt - I am typically a nice person and try not to hate anybody, but I frequently wish these two would die a horrible, horrible death.

  5. Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose by Paris Hilton - I am starting to use the word 'by' very lightly. I really don't dislike Paris Hilton that much, but I don't want to read a book about a person who is famous for absolutely nothing.

  6. Any book by Glenn Beck - please keep your politics out of my literary library, thanks.

  7. Hooking Up with Tila Tequila: A Guide to Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being the Life of the Party by Tila Tequila - I'm not really sure that Ms. Tequila is an expert on any of these things, except maybe the last one.

  8. Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar - If you are familiar with my blog/reading preferences, you know this is a type of book I would NEVER read. I have little patience for rich spoiled girls in real life, why would I want to read about them?

  9. How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks - This is my representative for all the terrible vampire books out there.

  10. The South Beach Diet - I feel pretty weird for putting this on here, but I hate diet-related books. They give me the heebie-jeebies and make me feel fat.
Looking over this's official: I am a major dork.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Autobiography of Henry VIII" by Margaret George

TitleThe Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
Author: Margaret George
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 1986
Where I Got It: Barnes & Noble
First Line: "My dear Catherine, I am dying."

I've read countless books about Tudor England, the majority focused on Henry VIIIs wives. I've heard the same stories dozens of times, but they never, ever get old. In these countless books, Henry is almost always portrayed as a tyrannical, mad, lusty old fat guy. He is written to be evil and disliked, the antagonist of his own realm. In this book, Margaret George took on one of the biggest challenges ever: to write the life story of this infamous king - all from his point of view, actually giving him a chance to defend himself. My first impression was suspicion and doubt that that could ever be done, but boy, did she pull it off.

The book is written in memoir form. The actual diary is being sent from Henry's fool, Will Somers, to his illegitimate daughter, Catherine Knollys (the niece of Anne Boleyn). Will Somers throws in some quirky little thoughts now and then, which is quite enjoyable. Henry's memoir starts from his early childhood as the overlooked second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and runs all the way to shortly before his death, when he is the ailing King of England and on his sixth wife.

My favorite aspect of this book was how it changed my view of Henry. Margaret George's Henry VIII is not obsessed with women or heirs, like we've seen before; this Henry is mostly focused on his struggles with religion. We find logical reasons for why Henry did some of the tyrannical things he did (though they may just be speculations). I actually sympathized with this man in some parts.

You might think that in order to read a detailed memoir of a famous king who ruled for many years you would need to previously know a lot about him or this time period. Well, you don't. His family history, wars, famous people of the day and customs are all explained to you by Henry (Why? I don't know.) As usual with a Margaret George book, The Autobiography of Henry VIII is HUGE! It may be 900-plus pages, but don't be daunted! The reading actually passed very quickly for me, as I was enjoying it so much. I wish I could give it more, but 5 stars will have to be sufficient for now!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

This may be the best In My Mailbox EVER! I've gotten so many books recently, I just needed a place to show them off :)


Margaret George wrote my favorite book ever, The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers. This one wasn't actually on my TBR list, but I found it for 99 cents, so why not?

This one wasn't on my TBR list either, but I've heard a lot of good things about it. Another 99 cent pick, so I felt I could splurge.
Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl

I could have sworn I read this back in the day but I don't remember it well. I also need to read it for the Fall/Winter challenge on the College Students group on goodreads.

AtonementAtonement by Ian McEwan

I LOVED this book when I read it the first time! I just wanted a copy for my personal library if I want to read it again in the future.

Revolutionary Road (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

On my TBR list. No real hurry to read this one......but it was only 59 cents.

A Victorian book. A bit scared to read this one.....

Silent in the GraveSilent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. A Victorian mystery!

<--- I'm not sure what this picture is. Or this book. I'm a bit schizophrenic when I buy books.

Wolf Hall: A NovelWolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel

I won this one! SO EXCITED! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

I won this one too! I had such good luck entering giveaways! :)

Given to Me

Given to me for my birthday. Looks pretty good!

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

A classic! Thanks to my parents :)

Yes, my library took quite a beating :)


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