YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories

So I had planned to review the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe but after reading the book, I really was in a bah humbug mood, and needed something to lift my spirits.

I had Holiday Mix Tape, which I will be reviewing soon, but I was in the mood for Pride and Prejudice and Holiday Mix Tape is a modern adaption of Persuasion. Too bad no Jane Austen film adaptions don’t show more of Christmas, or I could include them in my watching a Christmas film every day.

Aw, man!

But then, I realized-I had the next best thing! The YULETIDE audiobook narrated by Harry Frost, and edited by Christina Boyd.

Christina Boyd has worked with several writers to create many different Jane Austen anthologies. The first I read was The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams. These stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.

After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. This book is Dangerous to Know Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more. This book was a lot of fun as we got a chance to see things from the bad boys point of view.

The next one was Rational Creatures, with stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams. Each story was on a different woman of Jane Austen novels-our heroines along with supporting characters and a few bad girls.

So the book was published last November, and this year they came out with the Audiobook.

So audiobooks, I like but my problem is that the people read too slow. I get into the story and then I need to find out what happens NOW…so I usually get the book and read it, and stop listening to the audiobook. That did not happen with this one. Harry Frost is amazing! I could listen to him over and over again, and while I am writing this I am on my third go round with this book.

Or in this case Audiobook, and I could never hate it.

Harry Frost is a marvel at doing the different tones of voice and accents of the different characters. This book has Regency and Modern Darcys and even though both are done in a British accent, there is a big difference between the two.

He also does an amazing job at the female voices by giving them a higher tone, but not doing that thing most narrators do when they make the ladies talk really high pitch, you know a voice that sounds so unrealistic and annoying. Instead, he changed his tone so you knew it was a woman speaking and not in an annoying way. And with each character he made subtle changes so not all sounded the same.

I love it!

He also did a great job with the American accents, especially the one when Mr. Collins sounds like a total bonehead (many of you are thinking which one doesn’t he sound like that in everything?), and his voice was spot on what I would have imagined he sounded like.

And listening to him didn’t make me want to leave the audiobook and get the book to read. When Harry Frost narrated he wasn’t just reading it, he really put in emotion and captured the spirit of the characters and the stories that it was all together a fantastic experience. How fantastic my you ask? Well, I’m on my third listen…listen through? I don’t know what the term for it would be but every time I finish the audiobook I just start it back from the beginning.

Audiobook

So Harry Frost is amazing, now that we have talked about him it is time to talk about the stories themselves. I LOVED ALL OF THEM!

Like when I said that Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe made me lose my Christmas spirit and put me in a Scrooge mood-I’m dead serious. It is an awful book, that made me feel awful.

These stories, they were perfect! They fulfilled my need for Jane Austen Christmas!!! They filled me with Christmas joy! They were exactly what I needed to help get me in the Christmas mood after reading Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Listening to them brought back my Christmas spirit faster than the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

They were so enjoyable, they made me think of that song from Jack Frost:

“It’s just what I always wanted, it’s perfectly right! It’s just what I always wanted, a Christmas delight!!”

This book

So usually I save the praise after I’ve gone over each story, but I don’t know I felt like doing it first. I mean I have said I keep listening to it over and over again, so I don’t think anyone was in suspense whether I thought this was good or not. But each writer deserves their due, so we need to go through the individual stories.

The Forfeit by Caitlin Williams

So this is my favorite of all the stories. It made me laugh, it had me in suspense, it made my heart go all fuzzy in feelings.

I love it!

This is a Regency story and takes place in Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Charlotte is engaged to Mr. Collins, and the Bennets are getting ready for the holidays-even though not everyone in the family is happy (Jane brokenhearted, Mrs. Bennet angry at Elizabeth, and Elizabeth upset at Darcy). Elizabeth is walking home after visiting Charlotte and runs into Mr. Darcy!

He came for some business but oh no, his carriage is stuck in the snow, a storm is coming, and he’s stuck at the Bennet’s home for Christmas. Will this be a Christmas to remember? Or the worst Christmas of their lives?

It was great, as I said already it was my favorite. The story was fantastic, the language and the writing amazing, I loved this line “their elbows bumping as frequently as their intellect…” Oh and the story-not only do we have Darcy trapped in the Bennet home, but oh-no then Wickham comes on the scene, and Elizabeth and Darcy make a bet, and they plan a Christmas scavenger hunt, and oh I loved it. I would talk about it more but I’m afraid I’ll give away the ending.

Oops! Wrong book!

For more by Caitlin Williams, go to “In Good Hands” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

And Evermore Be Merry by Joanna Starnes

This is also a Regency story told from the point of view of Georgiana Darcy. It has been a few years since the end of Pride and Prejudice with Georgiana having been married and visiting Pemberley for Christmas.

This is a cute story that starts in the present festivities, Pemberley filled with family again and children laughing, but then takes us back in time as Georgiana remembers the Christmas when Darcy and Elizabeth fought over who she wanted to marry. That moment that did start with fighting, was also a great lesson to Georgiana on love, marriage, forgiveness, and family.

I loved seeing the events from her point of view and it was a cute tale that showed the bonds that formed between this family.

For more by Joana Starnes, go to “Charlotte’s Comfort” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

The Wishing Ball by Amy D’Orazio

This is a modern Pride and Prejudice tale, set in 2014, with Mr. Darcy in New York with Georgiana. She gave him a christmas gift, a wishing ball ornament that you place a wish in when you hang it on the tree. In a Twilight Zone-esque twist the ornament has his initials on it and a wish inside-even though Georgiana didn’t get it monogrammed and it was sealed.

Spooky…

The strangeness of the evening, doesn’t end there as that night insomniac Darcy goes on facebook to kill time and sees that even though he hasn’t been on facebook since he joined everything is different! He’s married, has children, and when he looks at the most recent date it says 2018!

In a reverse Christmas Eve Darcy sees what his life could be like, but after the night ends will it be enough to change his ways, or will he continue on the path he is on?

I LOVED it, it totally appealed to my love of Twilight Zone-esque plots and kept me on the edge of my seat! What was going to happen next?!

For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “Happiness in Marriage” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

By a Lady by Lona Manning

This takes place in the Regency Era, a few years after Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy have a little boy and a baby girl, and are headed to spend Christmas with Lady Catherine.

She still doesn’t like Elizabeth, but likes the children so that’s what mended fences between them. This trip Elizabeth is on a mission as she wants to befriend Anne. She takes with her as many books as she can possibly fit in the carriage, hoping they can be a great conversation starter…hopefully?

This was such a cute story as Anne does open up about her secret hobby of writing and Elizabeth tries to help her secretly get published. But will anyone be interested in the story? Will Lady Catherine discover the truth?

So heart melting! We need more Anne stories anyway, I really liked the way many of the authors portrayed her in The Darcy Monologues and she definitely deserves more attention.

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Art of Pleasing” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Homespun for the Holidays by J. Marie Croft

Mr. Darcy was in America for business and is stopping by a shop called Homespun to get the jumper, sweater, that his sister wants for Christmas. He is in an extremely bad mood, made even blacker when he gets there and discovers that the sweater he asked to be held for him was purchased by someone else.

He throws a bit of a fit, I love all the English slang in this although I wasn’t always 100% sure what he was saying, but after talking to Elizabeth he calms down and apologizes. Unfortunately, to make things even worse-a giant storm stops him from being able to leave, there’s no room for him at the local inn, and he has to stay on a loft in the barn.

Yes, he joins the Bennet family for dinner and her cousins keep thinking he’s Jesus, lol (not in a sacrilegious way, but a way that kid’s make connections). This is the one that has the serious bonehead Mr. Collins, but is a story of bad first impressions and trying to set them right again. A hilarious and fun tale, I particularly love Elizabeth’s retorts, oooh Mr. Darcy…

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Simple Things” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

The Season for Friendly Meetings by Anngela Schroeder

This story takes place in the Regency era and takes place in the same time as the first story-the Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Mrs. Bennet is unhappy and when an opportunity comes for Jane and Elizabeth to visit York and be in the presence of eligible young men-she sends them off to stay with the Longs, Mrs. Bennet’s sister.

There the girls attend a ball and their cousins hear some not so happy things about Mr. Wickham. She also meets Colonel Fitzwilliam, who talks to her and starts to raise some serious questions about the truth of Wickham.

If that’s not enough Darcy and Bingley are headed to the same party! Whoo, it’s going to be some type of party!

This was another cute story and it brought up a lot of points that Elizabeth and we overlook in Wickham when we first meet him as we are still smarting from Darcy’s remark about being “tolerable”. I loved it! Plus Colonel Fitzwilliam as a matchmaker?

For more by Anngela Schroeder, go to “Knightley Discourses” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Mistletoe Mismanagement by Elizabeth Adams

Darcy and Elizabeth have only been married a month and are having Christmas with the Fitzwilliam family. Colonel, his older brother, along with his mother and father are all attending.

Along with them we have a Miss Wheeler and two Miss Becheems. Colonel Fitzwilliam is interested in Miss Wheeler, and Elizabeth is trying to help him and her get together.

But that has to take a backseat to some other Christmas shenanigans, as Captain Watson comes interested in Colonel Fitzwilliam’s brother’s wife and they have another guest who the Earl is trying to swing with.

They don’t want that happening in their home, and the evening becomes an unhappy game of musical chairs to outwit these couples.

For more by Elizabeth Adams, go to “An Unnatural Beginning” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

I LOVED this and it is going to become a yearly tradition for me. And if that isn’t enough to get you interested, all proceeds from buying the book go to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor house of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

This has been the best Christmas gift so far!

At first I was sad that I didn’t get this review out when I wanted to, but then I realized that not posting on Friday lead the next post to be on December 16th, which is none other than Jane Austen’s birthday!

Happy 244th Birthday!

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more Christmas posts, go to I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas, There is Just One Thing I Need

Literary Tea Parties

So I few years ago I did a post on a tea party that we had at my church. Of course, you know how I love books…I just had to tie them in together!

To read the whole post, click here. So every year at my church we do a Christmas Tea Party, and the past three years my friend and I had a table that I’ve been in charge of decorating. And if you think I just had to feature a book each year, than you are right! I love books!

In 2016, the theme was “Our Journey”, and shoes were the center as it was about “the paths we take”. Of course shoes made me think of one thing:

As Dorothy and all her friends go on a journey, along with having a magical pair of shoes,  it was PERFECT! We did a:

  • Yellow Brick Road Runner: Canvas that we painted with three different shades of yellow
  • Poppy Magnets as our favors: I used this one from Hometalk and did button centers and glued magnets on the back.
  • Mason jar water glasses with gingham ribbons and red mugs for coffee or tea.
  • Wicked Witch of the East candy straws: I got the straws from Wal-Mart and made the shoes from Swedish Fish.
  • We painted our own Emerald City on glasses.
  • And I sewed a sock monkey king of the flying monkeys, out of black and white socks (just like the ones the Wicked Witch of the East wears). Yes, I sewed it-help from Madsen Creations and my mom.
  • We made our own Dorothy’s magic red shoes, but they weren’t ready when I took the picture, so I put my own red shoes in there.
  • And of course, a copy of the book.

The next year the theme was “Friendship”

So my friend and I choose to do:

Last Christmas the theme was Holy Ghost…hmmm ghosts. Which book? 🙂

  • We used a holly and cranberry patterned runner on the table.
  • Sheets of music as place mats, with red chargers over them.
  • The centerpiece was a Christmas Tree, as those became popular in the Victorian era with Prince Albert, that I strung with popcorn.
  • I also placed a basket with the Christmas gifts/favors as that was how Victorian tables were set up. Each package was a different copy of A Christmas Carol. I got them all by swapping on PaperBackSwap.com I wrapped them up in brown paper and red yarn.
  • We had chestnuts on the table and each place setting got on orange, as they were very popular gifts, but I didn’t put cloves in it as you can’t eat them when you do that.
  • We had Earl Grey Tea, Hot Chocolate, and candy canes.
  • Each person received a homemade Christmas Card (made by me), and each had a little token in it, my version of the Christmas pudding.

This year the theme is gifts and I have to admit, I’m a bit at a loss. Any ideas of a book that gifts plays a role?

Please help me!

For more on The Wizard of Oz, go to Bookish Thank You

For more on A Christmas Carol, go to Book Club Picks: A Christmas Carol

For more tea posts, go to I Ran Out of Milk So I Put Buttermilk in My Tea

For more book-filled posts, go to Stranded at the Bookstore

Catherine Morland’s Reading List

So I was at the library and shelving some books when I came across The Inn at Half Moon Bay by Diane Tyrell. It was described as a Gothic novel and I thought Catherine Morland would totally read this.

So if it is something she would read, I need to read it.

So then I started thinking about all the other book Catherine Morland would read. Like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Frankestein, etc. All the books mentioned in Northanger Abbey and ones that were published at the time and after.

Wow!

I then thought, oh it would be nice of I could review this on my blog and the other books.

Why not start a new series, Catherine Moreland’s Reading List? Here I would review books that Catherine Morland would read: Gothic novels.

I know, I know-haven’t I already started two other series recently?

Not to mention all the Austen remakes I have listed out to review?

Yes, but you know me. I like to challenge myself.

Yeah, plus you know I love to read.

So books on this list are going to be Gothic novels. For those wondering what classifies a book as a Gothic Novel, here is the definition.

Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

So some of these books I have already reviewed, and the rest are what I plan on doing in the future.

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Poison Diaries by The Duchess of Northumberland

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Rebecca by Daphne du Marier

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest by Karl Friedrich Kahlert

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

The Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story by Eliza Parsons

The Mysterious Warning by Eliza Parsons

The Murders in the Rue Morgue” from The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart” from The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allen Poe

The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve 

Clermont by Regina Maria Roche

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Orphan of the Rhine by Eleanor Sleath

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Inn at Half Moon Bay by Diane Tyrell

 

For more Gothic Novels, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights

For more book lists, go to The Retellings Strike Back: Pride & Prejudice, cont.

Book Club Picks: The Illustrated Man

Thirteen weeks after a Friday the 13th, we have another

Don’t worry I got you covered with my new post.

So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I am now right on track!

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I don’t remember when I first read this book, but I know it was after Fahrenheit 451Out of all his short story collections; this is my ultimate favorite. The stories range from funny, thoughtful, and downright creepy. It is an incredible collection and once you start, you just can’t stop. I’ve talked about this book before, but here we go again:

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

Since I have posted on this before, I am only going to discuss the stories we went over in our book club.

The Illustrated Man starts with an average joe taking a walking tour in the summer of Wisconsin. As he stops for the night he is come upon by an illustrated man.

This man used to work for the circus, but back in 1900 he broke his leg. Looking for a way to make money while he rested, he went to a tattoo artist who covered him from neck to belt. What he didn’t know was that this tattoo artist was a witch.

Yes, she infused his illustrations with magic making them be alive and always moving telling their story.

However, there is one blank spot on his back. If you are a woman, you see your whole life from birth to old age. If you are a man, you see how you die.

The illustrated man warns his companion not to look, but he doesn’t listen and has to see them…

Illustration I: The Veldt

The Lion King

This is what the DCOM Smart House is loosely based on.

The live in the future in a smart house that does everything for them. They even can change the pictures on the walls to be anything they want them to be. The children constantly want it to be a veldt with lions.

The parents try to discipline their children and get them to do more but all they want to do is sit around and have the machines do everything for them. The parents determine it is time to turn off the house and go back to how things are supposed to be. Will the parents be able to change their kids? Or will the kids make sure their parents can never boss them around again?

“The lions look real, don’t they?…I don’t suppose there’s any way—–‘

‘What?’

‘—that they could become real?”

No one else really enjoyed this story as they felt it was too sad. I like it as it is a great blend of creepy and thrilling. It shows you why you should not spoil your children-and a big wake up to having your kid just sit in front of a tablet, phone, or TV. I love it, and think you should check it out.

Illustration III: The Other Foot

HateTwilightZone

Mars has been colonized only by African Americans. Now they hear that European Americans are traveling to Mars and decide to institute a Jim Crow law for them. Will they decide to make them pay for past wrongs, or will they all be able to start a new life in equality?

“This is the other shoe, Mayor, the other foot…”

We all loved this story. It has such a great message and a fantastic ending!

Illustration V: The Man

Bethphage-Jesus-enter-Jerusalem

A crew arrive on a planet ready to have glory and fame, but find the people uninterested as the person who came before them brought extreme happiness and bliss. One crewman believes him to be Jesus and wants to learn from the people. The Captain, however, is set on getting his glory and will stop this man any way he can.

“Leave these people alone. They’ve got something good and decent, and you come and foul up the nest and sneer at it. Well, I’ve talked to them too. I’ve gone through the city and seen their faces, and they’ve got something you’ll never have–a little simple faith, and they’ll move mountains with it. You, you’re boiled because someone stole your act, got here ahead and made you unimportant.”

The member who chose the book, this is her favorite story. She loves how it plays out and how the character’s testimony was so strong it helped the one man believe and have faith. She compared it to Christianity and Jesus. We all enjoyed this story as well. 

Illustration VI: The Long Rain

rainbreakfastattiffaneyscat

We have colonized Venus, but it is a horrible place of endless rain. Sun domes were built to help us stay sane and in health, and this story follows a group of astronauts as they hope to make it to the dome, but will they?

“Drops fell and touched other drops and they became streams that trickled over his body, and while these moved down his flesh, the small growths of the forest took root in his clothing.”

We all enjoyed this story as well. One member posed a very interesting question: Does the sundome exist or is it just a mirage?

Illustration VII: The Fire Balloons

finishtherace

A group of priests go to Mars to start a church and help bring peace and morals to a crazed group of colonists. One priest makes it his mission to try and bring Christ to the Martians.

“We feel absurd here—even I; for it is something new, this business of converting the creatures of another world.”

One member just loved this story. He felt that it was a perfect illustration for missionary work and just loved how the one priest had such a fire and desire to be there for the fire balloons and try and show them God’s love.

Illustration IX: The Last Night of the World

TheEnd_Title_2

A married couple realize that today is the last day on Earth. How would you spend your time if you had such an inclination?

“What would you do if you knew this was the last night in the world?”

One member just loved this story. She felt that if it was her last night on Earth she would spend it the exact same way.

Illustration X: The Exiles

fahrenheit451firemontagguy

On Earth, countless literature from Edgar Allen Poe to William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens have been banned on Earth. They remain alive on Mars as their last books are still undamaged there. But when humans decide to completely destroy every page, these characters and their creators decide to wage a war on them. Will they win?

“His last book gone. Someone on Earth just now burned it.’

‘God rest him. Nothing of him left now. For what are we but books, and when those are gone, nothing’s to be seen.”

I love this one. Books fighting back, trying to survive in a world that feels they aren’t needed, a great story.

Illustration XVII: Zero Hour

Miscommunication is always funny as a kid. Not so much later on in life.

Kids are playing that aliens are coming, an invasion in which they will rule and the grow ups will be gone. But what if it isn’t a game?

“Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

All agreed super creepy, but a very good read.

Illustration XVIII: The Rocket

From the film Stargate.

From the film Stargate.

Fiorello Bodoni has saved $3000 to send a family member into space, but only one can go. Which one?

“We will remember it for always, Papa. We will never forget.”

We all loved this story. Just the love this family has and how much they care about each other. A fantastic read!

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

For more books by Ray Bradbury, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For more on The Illustrated Man, go toEach Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man