So I have fallen waaaay behind with my posts, but as you know I started a book club this year:
Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed.
There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. Back in May, one member choose the first book in The Mitford Years series, so when it was their turn to pick they decided on us reading the second book in the series.
A Light in the Window (The Mitford Years #2) by Jan Karon
This book is set in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina. The last book centered around the Vicar, Father Tim as he is contemplating at age 60 if he should continue or retire. In that year he faces all kinds of changes from a dog adopting him, taking in a child, jewel thieves, a fake antiquities ring, health changes, a new neighbor/love interest, all kinds of secrets being revealed, and more. This town and Father Tim will never be the same.
At the end of the first book he and Cynthia (his neighbor) have become boyfriend and girlfriend. This is a huge step for Father Tim as this is his first relationship in forty years.
While he loves Cynthia, he finds himself unsure about the relationship, and draws into himself pulling away from her.
Cynthia, understandingly gets upset:
And now Father Tim has a choice to fight for her or let her go.
Meanwhile, a recently widowed parishioner has set her sights on Father Tim, not caring he’s in a relationship. She starts cooking him up his favorite dishes in the hope of capturing him.
Father Tim had just returned from a trip to Ireland and discovers that one of his cousins has followed him home and wants to stay with him while she works on her book. However, something about her is not right as she spends all her time in her room, her dishes disappear, she eats everything, she never leaves her room, etc and more.
Something is not right.
So I loved the first book
But this one, not as much. I mean it has some real good parts, funny moments, and things that I really enjoyed, but it was missing all the fun characters and their interactions from the first one.
The other thing I didn’t like was how a big part was done in letters between Cynthia and Father Tim as she has to go to New York for months to work on her book. While I like epistolary novels, this made me feel like a voyeur reading such personal mail. I was the only one who didn’t like it, as the other book club members loved it. What can I say:
So on a whole, the book was good-but I just felt it paled in comparison to the first one. It was just missing a little spark.
So every month a different member in my book club chooses a book for us to read and discuss the next month.
So the member who’s turn it was, was thinking of possibly doing a mystery. When our group met, she decided on this:
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus: A Novel by Beth Moore
This is Beth Moore’s first novel after years of nonfiction. It was something new but something she had been thinking about doing for a while.
Julia Stillwater is living in San Francisco in an controlling and very bad relationship. But when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her she is hit hard and unsure of what to do.
Then she receives a call that her long estranged father is dead.
And that her grandmother, the ice queen, who she also hasn’t seen in over twenty years is offering to pay her way to New Orleans so she could attend the funeral.
As her life is currently in shambles, Jillian decides to take it.
However, there is a lot that was kept from her. It turns out that the housekeeper, Adella Atwater, came up with the idea for a family reunion, not her grandmother, Olivia.
This could get ugly.
It also turns out that she lives in an church turned boarding house-full of all kinds of characters. There is David a forty-year old bachelor and music teacher; Carrie a student in medical school and always studying or working; and an elderly dementia suffering woman.
What have I gotten myself into?
With no money, no reason to go back to San Francisco, and not sure what to do…she remains in the house.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Police Department have been looking into the murder of Jillian’s father, Raphael. But while they try to uncover a killer, a lot of other strange things start happening. Baby things are left outside the house, someone tries to break into the house, things go missing, etc. The NOPD spend a lot of time coming to the house trying to figure out what does this all mean? A sentiment shared by the rest of the residents.
Besides that Saint Silvanus holds a secret from its first beginning as a church. Will it be revealed?
Will Jillian ever learn the truth about her fathers death? Will she grow to enjoy living in Saint Silvanus? Will her family rifts be mended? Or torn further apart?
So let’s start with what I didn’t care for or thought wasn’t as finished.
1)First of all Jillian is unsure what to do when she comes across the homeless. She has never had to deal with such things and finds the “sour smells” of the city unbearable.
Come on now. I am from California and have been to San Francisco many times. I have been everywhere from the high price areas to the touristy ones and there are homeless EVERYWHERE. They hide in bushes and jump out to surprise you; walk out into traffic; are on every street corner along with “sour” smells. I don’t know what San Francisco Moore encountered but that sounds nothing like the one in California.
2) What happened with the church?
So throughout the novel, Moore has the story of the church’s beginning and the first pastor intersecting with the story of Jillian. But she never really says why this matters to the characters as they have no connection to each other and they never say who killed the minister. Was it suicide or murder?
3) There are a lot of little details missing.
In my class, The History of the Novel, we read an article about how hard it is for a nonfiction author to switch to fiction as there are a lot of little things they aren’t used to writing about-how they look, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, etc. Moore falls into the same issue as she doesn’t always describe her characters. For instance she calls Julianna “dark”. Dark hair? Dark skin? Mexican? African-American? Greek? Spanish? Italian? Black hair? Brown? Chestnut?
I know it is her first time writing a “novel” so it makes sense there are a few kinks.
4) The mystery isn’t really mysterious
I knew as soon as the character entered the picture. It was extremely obvious the way they acted was not normal
So what was good?
1) The characters
The characters were amazing! I loved every single one and each felt extremely lifelike and ones you would meet in real life.
They all had their own hangups, issues, and backgrounds that were relatable-either to you or reminded you of someone you know. They made the book interesting, a page turner, and had you feel at home in Saint Silvanus.
Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie Retelling of a Classic Novel
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies #1) by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
When I saw what Z stood for I knew that this was going to be the book I was going to review for it. First of all I have read very little Zombie themed books as that is just not really what I am in to. And secondly, pass up a chance to talk about Jane Austen?
So I remember when this book was first released. It was right as the teen book world was moving out of wizards (Harry Potter) and Vampires (Twlight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, etc.), and was searching for a new thing to fill this niche. They settled on Zombies.
But not just Zombies. They decided to take it one step further and pair it with Jane Austen.
And not just her. After this book, almost every classic was getting some kind of overhaul. We had Little Vampire Women,Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, Jane Eyre: Vampire Slayers, etc.
It was a pretty bad time.
Anyways, back to this book. So when it first came out it was a big hit. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone was reading it. The library was backlogged in holds.
I wasn’t really interested until my friend Elise recommended it to me. She really liked it and told me she would let me borrow her book. I was a bit wary as I didn’t understand why Austen needed any “makeover” or “spin” as her books were amazing the way they are. But I’m a sucker for a free book and borrowed it.
I should have remembered:
So I read it. And how did I feel afterwards?
I HATED this book. I thought it was badly done and the parts inserted by Seth Grahame-Smith were horribly written. And a lot of it made no sense.
But that was seven years ago. Could I still feel the same way?
IT IS HORRIBLE! JUST HORRIBLE? HOW CAN PEOPLE LIKE IT? THEY RUIN AUSTEN. Grahame-Smith IS HORRIBLE! EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT….I could go on for hours.
But you don’t want to hear that over and over, instead let’s dissect everything I hated about this book.
A) So Seth Grahame-Smith takes Jane Austen’s work and doesn’t really write a new story but just swaps out pieces for zombies.
B) Mr. Bennet’s Motivation
So the first biggest problem is Mr. Bennet not wanting his daughters married but “engaged in the deadly arts”. But that doesn’t change that the house and money all revert to their cousin because the estate is entailed.
So if these girls don’t get married how will they live?
C) Mr. Bennet Hates His Children
And the way Mr. Bennet hates his daughters? He didn’t hate them in the original book. He thought they were silly and not worth his time, but he didn’t have an outright hatred for them like in here.
That’s not how it was in the book!
D) The “Warrior” Code
In this world “the warrior code demanded she avenge her honor” for the insult that Darcy gave her when he said she wasn’t handsome enough for her. If they can kill for that why didn’t Darcy just kill Wickham?
I mean it makes no sense. Yeah, he doesn’t want what happened to his sister to taint her or make her an outcast in society, but in this world you can kill someone for an insult. Why didn’t he just kill Wickham and make up that he said an insult. The rules of this world just don’t work.
E) Elizabeth is a Jerk
Lizzie is so freakin’ cruel. She is incredibly mean to her sisters and everyone around her. Just downright cruel.
F) More “Rules” of Society That Don’t Make Sense
It is “unladylike” to bring more serious weapons than daggers and knives to a ball, but is okay for them to kill, flip around, kicking and showing off their lady parts (no underwear like us), etc. Wow Grahame-Smith you aren’t confusing at all.
G) No Knowledge of Martial Arts
Does Grahame-Smith know anything about martial arts? He has Elizabeth get into a crane position to attack the zombies, but then does a chop on the thigh. That makes no sense at all. Crane positions are for kicking, kicking! Why would you get ready like that and then chop on the leg? It is completely weird and wasteful of energy.
H) None of the Characters Have a Heart
Mrs Bennet says all Charlotte Lucas deserves is a “crust of bread washed down with a cup of loneliness.” You see? Grahame-Smith is so cruel. None of these people were that mean. They all had faults but they wren’t downright heartless. How does removing the heart and soul of the characters make them better? Huh, Grahame-Smith? How. Well I’ll tell you, it doesn’t. It makes it horrible.
Or an author
I) Mr. Bennet is Abusive
Seriously, the way Mr. Bennet talks to his wife is downright abusive. Thanks Grahame-Smith for ruining a fantastic book.
J) You Need to Reevaluate Your Career Choices
All the girls say that they could make great lives as assassins, bodyguards, or mercenaries. Really? Really? You think with all those in the military eventually coming out of the service that won’t be a problem? And how many people need a bodyguard or assassin? And if they are rich enough to hire assassins, bodyguards or mercenaries, why wouldn’t they just get ninjas from Japan or something? And to top it all off you are really only trained to kill zombies, not people. Slow moving, barely threatening zombies. Not the same thing at all. You don’t have the same training for the others.
K) You Can Pretty Much Kill Anyone for Anything
Mary almost kills Mr. Collins when he insinuates that one of them did the cooking. Now, don’t get me wrong, that is a serious insult. He implies that they are so poor they have to take on the role of a servant putting them on the same level of a domestic. But hey, if that is open for murder why didn’t Darcy just kill Wickham? I mean seriously, I just keep circling back to that.
L) People Do Not Understand the Levels of Class
I hate how everyone praises that Mr. Bennet says the girls aren’t trained in the kitchen but are trained as warriors. Only one problem, they were never trained for the kitchen. They were too wealthy for that. I blame the Pride & Prejudice (2005), in which they are made to look really dirty, muddy, with animals running all over the place. They made them look really poor, but the Bennet family wasn’t. They were well-off; the only problem was the estate was entailed and the wealth they had wasn’t theirs to keep, like in Sense & Sensibility. And the reason there is an issue with marrying Mr. Darcy is that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is in line for the throne. I mean a lot of people would have to die, but still hypothetically she could become the next queen of England. That means it would eventually come down to him, so who he marries is a big deal.
Get it right!!!!!
M) Why Wasn’t There a Duel?
So we have Wickham’s big pack of lies about Darcy and how he dishonored himself and Wickham by not giving him the legacy that was originally promised. One issue with that, if in this world you can kill someone for insults why didn’t Wickham do a duel with Darcy or kill him? Why doesn’t Elizabeth think of that?
N) All the Innuendo
The sexual innuendo. Come on Grahame-Smith, is sex all you think about. I feel like the girls in Grease 2, refocus your mind.
And that’s what makes Austen so great. She didn’t need cheap paltry things. She created a fantastic novel full of great wit and amazing work. Every sentience piece of art, delightful storytelling, Grahame-Smith not so much.
O) Front Lines? You Mean No Lines
Elizabeth writes to her aunt that she is on the front lines of battle and prefers it to marriage, love, and family. Only one issue she’s on the front lines of nothing. She’s just hanging out in the country. Front lines would be the battlefield with the soldiers, but Elizabeth isn’t a soldier! She talks as if hired by crown but why isn’t she paid? And she’s only battling the village zombies she’s not even out there fighting where the hordes are coming from. Get off your high horse.
P) Why/Where Did the Zombies Come From?
And that’s another thing that bothers me. Why did this happen? How? Why don;t they ever explain?
Q) Grahame-Smith is a Child
Grahame-Smith is a ten-year old boy. I mean think about it. His obsession with body fluids (poop, pee, vomit, farts, etc.) and likes saying balls as much as he can. It’s the only explanation.
R) Charlotte a Zombie?
I hated how they turned Charlotte into a zombie. I thought that was a dumb decision. How can no one notice but Elizabeth? Really?!
S) Fifty-Five? Schfifty-Five
Fifty-Five years of zombie attacks? How are there that many zombies in existence to keep living? Why did zombies even start? Explain!!!!
T) The Battle Scenes are the Worse
Let’s talk about my least favorite part-when Elizabeth fights the ninjas. First the way that Lady Catherine talks about being taught by Ninjas. False, ninjutsu wasn’t something you were taught, but passed through families as they were assassins.
Second Elizabeth fights at least three of them according to the illustration, but when she takes the time to strangle one with its own intestine why didn’t the other ninjas kill her?
The second ninja she blocks the throwing stars, and then grabs the last one midair and throws it back unharmed. You grab something moving that fast that sharp, no way. She would have cut her hand. And hands bleed like crazy.
The third ninja she just throws her katana and kills him. That easy?! Really Catherine with all her money and fame, that’s the best she could hire.
Oh, and I forgot. Elizabeth did that all blindfolded. Hmm, maybe she was hit by the same radioactive stuff that Daredevil was hit with because I don’t think she could have done that.
U) Elizabeth is a Cannibal?
She rips the heart out of the ninja and starts eating it. First that is serious zombie signs right there, I would have killed her. And second, eating human parts, i.e. a cannibal, makes you go crazy and get extremely sick. She should be totally insane right now.
V) Grahame-Smith’s Mind
Ball joke after ball joke and now fingering? Austen is rolling over in her grave. If she became a zombie and hunted Grahame-Smith down, I wouldn’t mind at all.
W) Why Won’t They Explain About the Zombies?
They travel to the Orient multiple times? Is the zombie plague just in Europe? Western Europe? In America as well? It would be nice if Grahame-Smith gave a moment to EXPLAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On pg. 169 Jane and Elizabeth punish Catherine? Catherine who? Do they mean Kitty? Why call her Catherine suddenly? Strange.
Y) Grahame-Smith Does Not Understand Women or Sisters
Elizabeth dreams of cutting off Lydia’s head? Really? Grahame-Smith doesn’t really know how to write female characters or sisters. First he has Elizabeth being mean to Jane, then Mary, and then Lydia. So completely cruel. And that is one of my biggest problems with this book. I hate Elizabeth! She is mean, cruel, harsh, rude, judgmental, and just downright nasty. I dislike her and don’t want to read more about her as I just can’t stand her. Yes Grahame-Smith, you actually took a character I lived and made me hate her. Good job.
Z) Not Hatred, Circumstances
In this book Grahame-Smith makes Mr. Bennet hate Mrs. Bennet as he finds her stupid and dumb. That’s not how it was in the real book. Mr. Bennet married Mrs. Bennet and didn’t realize that they werent well suited until much later on. They lived well together, spending all the money as no need to save, they will have sons. When no sons came each went to the opposite extreme. Mrs. Bennet became so worried and crazed over her “failure” that she threw all her efforts into trying to catch husbands. That’s why she puts the girls “out” all at once, she wants them settled as soon as possible or they will be worse off then the Dashwood sisters. Mr. Bennet took the failure of no male heir and money a different way, he isolated himself in his library and books, trying to escape reality. They didn’t hate each other, they just didn’t really suit each other, drawing farther and farther apart.
AA) Elizabeth is a Freak
Elizabeth enjoys listening to the screams of burning zombies. What a sadist and creep.
BB) Return of the Bad Fight Scenes
The fight between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth is horrible as well. Leaping all over the place like they are taking part in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or something, The way Lady Catherine attacks, Elizabeth should be dead. Elizabeth stabs Lady Catherine in the stomach but Lady Catherine survives? What, that isn’t even possible. She’s dead, end of story.
CC) Ew, Yuck, and Gross
Words some Catherine’s lips “After I behead her, ninjas you can do what you want with the body”, Grahame-Smith has some serious issues.
So yeah I hated it.
Grahame-Smith just plagiarized someone else’s work changing a few words here and there and making it horrible. Grahame-Smith offends me to my very core. Destroying talented writing with his scribbles.
This is what I would like to do to him
Grahame-Smith doesn’t even know how to write. His characters are unlikeable, story underdeveloped, and just all around bad, bad, bad. Only one thing left to do: