For Darkness Shows the Stars

darknessshowsthestars

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund

So I picked this book up as you know I will review anything Austen. I thought it was going to be about Pride and Prejudice as most are, but it surprised me and was about Persuasion instead.

persuasion

Persuasion was published in 1818 after Austen’s death, alongside Northanger Abbey. Out of all the Austen works, these two seem to have the least amount of fans and notice.

It is sad they don’t have more.

I have always found that strange as I love both of these novels.

Even though it isn’t as loved by people, Persuasion has had two films made of it and a lot of it is based on Austen’s feelings of her first love and a wish fulfillment of being reunited.

Anyways, just in case you’ve never heard of it (and as I have yet to work through it as I am still stuck on Emma) I think we need a quick review.

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Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth fall in love. He asks her for her hand in marriage, but Anne’s father refuses. Anne is unsure and goes to a family friend for advice; as her mother is dead, her father lives in his own world, and her sisters don’t care. This family friend persuades her to say no as Anne is above him in station, Fredrick has no options for promotion (as his family can’t procure it), the likelihood of him dying and living Anne a penniless widow (as her father will leave her nothing) is very high, and the two are so young.

Hmm…

Anne goes to Fredrick and refuses, him becoming angry as he thinks it is just because of his lack of money and station. (In Anne’s defense the real thing that made her unsure was the stressing of him most likely being killed and her being left alone.)

Years pass, Anne has never seen Fredrick again or stopped loving him. She had other men interested, but refused them as she didn’t love them.

What has changed is the Elliot family fortune, her father and older sister have blown through their money so fast that they are being forced to let out their home to a sea Admiral. A Captain Admiral Croft and his wife, Mrs. Croft. Mrs. Croft who turns out to be Fredrick Wentworth’s sister!

Anne goes to stay with her sister, Mary Musgrove, for a while, while her other sister and father are staying in Bath, with Anne to join them later.

When she is staying with Mary, Fredrick Wentworth returns to visit his sister and husband. Now a Captain, he has also become extremely wealthy; having taken so many risks in the war that he excelled monetarily and was promoted. Captain Wentworth is searching for a wife, and is funny and kind to all; but Anne.

It appears that old hangups remain so. Will Wentworth and Anne be reunited? Will Wentworth marry another?

You have to read the book!

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So this science-fiction/Fantasy book takes place in the not too distant future…

Sorry, anyways…there were advancements in technology, so much that they were able to do DNA procedures to make your body excel in ways previously unimaginable, almost cyborg like.

These DNA procedures cause a war between people who believe this is not what God wants, and those who believe that the pursuit of science is the only answer. Unfortunately, they discover they did not know everything, as many of these experiments go wrong as people lose a majority of their faculties.

After wars, bombing, and a complete restructuring of the world they know, the people are divided into two groups: Luddites and the Reduced.

Like the class system in Metropolis.

Luddites are the royalty and own all the land, they care for the Reduced in a feudal system/slave system as the Reduced are tied to the land, but more extensively like slaves, yet not traded and sold as slaves are. Reduced are mutes, who aren’t in complete control of their faculties, need to be supervised, etc.

Recently, things have been shifting as there are “Reduced” who are born very intelligent, able to speak, often called “Children of the Reduced” or “CORs”, and “Post-Reduced” or “Posts” by themselves.

Our main character is Elliot North (Anne Elliot) a wealthy Luddite, one of the oldest Luddite families. She, her father, and sister have a farm; but it is going downhill as her father and sister don’t care about the people, the farm, long term care, but only themselves and what they want. For instance her father has cut down all their apple trees for a “better view” or destroyed Elliot’s planted field for a racetrack.

Elliot tries hard to keep things running, to take her mother’s place, but finds herself drowning in the debt her father and sister, Tatiana North, create. In fact, they have had to rent out her grandfather’s, Chancellor Boatwright, home and ship yard to a set of wealthy free Posts- Admiral Innovation, his wife Dr. Felicia Innovation and their crew: Captain Malakai Wentforth, Andromeda Phoenix, and Donovan Phoenix.

Not good

Elliot’s only solace is the barn, where she would work on her plans, and relive her memories with her old friend, the boy she loved, and Post; Kai. Since she has lost her field and all her months of hard work, nothing seems right. But there is plenty to do on a farm.

When the Innovations and their crew arrive, Elliot finds herself admiring and enjoying the company of the Innovations and the crewman Donovan. Andromeda doesn’t seem to like her one bit, although Elliot has no clue what she could have done to upset her. However, everything changes when she meets Captain Malakai Wentforth. It appears it is her old friend and love has returned-Kai (Captain Fredrick Wentworth).

Years ago the two forged a friendship, (despite her father’s constant striving to keep them apart), a friendship that turned into love. The two made plans to run away together, but in the end Elliot couldn’t do it. She knew she had to fulfill her promise to her mother and take care of the farm and the Posts. She wrote Kai a letter:

Dear Kai,

Please do not hate me. I couldn’t bear it if you hated me.

                      But I cannot go with you.

                      I thought I could. Last night, I thought everything was possible. I thought you were right, that there was nothing for me here, either. Mother’s dead, Grandfather’s locked in his own head, and you’re leaving. Why in the world should I stay? It was a beautiful dream. But outside your room, outside the barn, in the cold light of morning, I realized that was all it was. A dream. There is nothing for me here, but that doesn’t mean I am nothing to the North estate.

                     Today, when I was supposed to be packing, I wandered the estate. I watched the Posts in their little cottages, I watched the Reduced in the fields, and I thought about our lots in life.

                    We can’t escape who we are born to be, Kai. The Reduced are Reduced. They will always be Reduced. And I will always be a Luddite. I was born this way. I will die this way. I can’t turn my back on that. Luddites were handed a sacred trust-we are the caretakers of humanity. Without us, the world would have burned, and all mankind would have been destroyed. I cannot ignore that. I cannot forget who I am.

                    But you are not a Luddite.

                    That’s why I cannot go with you. And also why I can’t ask you to stay.

                     God be with you.

Yours,

Elliot

 Elliot’s feelings for Kai resurface but he wants nothing to do with her.

He is rude, cruel, cynical, and nasty around her. He spends a lot of time with their neighbors, the Groves-Horatio and his younger sister Olivia. Olivia has fallen for Kai, and to Elliot’s utter disappointment it looks like he feels the same way.

Noooo!

But Elliot cannot focus on that only as her long lost cousin, Benedict and air to the North estate, returns eager to regain control of the promised land, her grandfather grows more ill, and her father tries to engage her in even more power plays.

During one of her free moments, she joins Andromeda, Kai, Donovan, Olivia, and Horatio on an outing to the sea cliffs. Kai and Donovan jump from incredible distances, and Andromeda explains that they recognize the wind shifts because of their piloting expertise. As they continue, Elliot realizes something is not right.

When Olivia tries to do the jump, she falls and is horribly injured. While they try and help her, Elliot realizes that Kai is hiding a big secret, one that could destroy everything.

Not good

Once again Eliot finds herself at a fork in the road. Should she follow the man she loves? Or cling to her Luddite responsibilities.

***Spoiler Warning***

I thought it was pretty good story and interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Having Wentworth as a slave/serf rather than lower standing put a completely new spin on the relationship.

I liked how in between the time of the novel, there were letters and notes their younger selves passed, giving us a view of how their relationship started.

Aw!

It doesn’t follow the book exactly, but the author did a good job in staying true to the core of the story, while at the same time doing her own thing.

Good job!

Now there are two things I didn’t like.

First, I didn’t like how the author inserted God to create conflict between those who wanted change and mutation and those who wanted things to remain the same. The insertion wasn’t really what bothered me as much as the author not really giving us a stand on how our main character felt. One of the laws is to not try to play with genetics as you are raising yourself for a a fall, messing with things you shouldn’t control, etc. As much as the main character struggles with her ideas and wondering if they are against God, we never see what her relationship to God is. Is she extremely devout? Who or What is her God? What exactly do they believe in their religion? She brings it up constantly, but we never really know why this is such an issue to her because the author chooses to ignore it. We never see her pray, attend church, do any type of worship, etc. In my opinion you either need to go all the way or just leave it out; no in-between.

The second thing that bothered me was how mean Kai was in this. I mean he was horribly cruel. Now in Persuasion she doesn’t really explain herself as to way she refuses him, so he draws his own conclusions. I this Kai knows! He knows that she needs to help care for the people! He knows how her father and sister are, and without Elliot they would be cruel, starve everyone, and run the whole farm down into the groumd! Yet even though he knows this, he is so horrible to her. I understand why the author made him that way, and it completely makes sense as to character to behave in such a way. But it makes it hard to read as he acts like a jerk, before he finally comes to his senses.

But otherwise I thought it was an excellent read and one of the better Austen reinterpretations on the market. I suggest you check it out for yourself.

For more on Persuasion, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Persuasion variations, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

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Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) by Carrie Bebris

So a while back I reviewed a Jane Austen mystery, Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged).  I enjoyed  the first book, although I did solve the mystery quickly, but it was very well written and worth reading.

So while the first book focused only on Pride & Prejudice characters (and ones she made up) this one combines P&P with Sense and Sensibility.

A mashup

Sense and Sensibility actually takes place in the 1790s, twenty years before Pride and Prejudice. All the characters have been aged accordingly so they match up with the Pride and Prejudice ones. It can be a bit confusing when the characters are no longer how they were in their book.  To make it less confusing, I will give a brief reminder of the plot of Sense & Sensibility.

So the Dashwood family:

The estate of Norland belongs to Old Mr. Dashwood. When he was sick he was visited by his family and found young Henry Dashwood, John’s son, to be just so adorable that he entailed it to the men in his family. After he died Mr. Henry Dashwood, the elder, ended up dying and the estate passed over his second wife and daughters going to his son John, (which would ultimately go to his son, young Henry.)

John promised his father to help his sisters, but with an ambitious wife; that quickly ended.

John’s wife is horrible, just evil. Fanny, the demon wife, convinces John to give no money to the sisters as they really “are not his siblings”. She then rearranges the whole household and makes life unbearable for all.

John also has an incredibly bratty son, Henry:

When Fanny’s brother visits, she sees that he and Elinor like each other, but as Elinor is too poor for her soon to be wealthy brother Edward, she ends that immediately. The second Dashwood family all move from their home to renting out Barton’s Cottage, owned by Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin.

They spend a lot of time with Sir John, as he constantly invites them over so that they can eat well, as money is extremely tight. Eventually after all kinds of twists and turns, the two eldest girls marry the men of their dreams and the story ends happily. If you haven’t read it you should.

**Spoilers**

So Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Kitty are all heading to London for a “London Season” as they are husband hunting for Kitty. They are invited to Sir John’s where they meet him and his wife (sadly I think Mrs. Jennings the mother-in-law has passed on) and their now adult children. Also there is the young Mr. Henry Dashwood, who is now no longer a boy, but a young man in his twenties. He meets Kitty and immediately finds her to be a fantastic partner, good conversationalist, and all around enjoys her company.

Only one problem, he thought she was Georgiana Darcy.

The next day it seems as if all the men were only interested in Georgiana, not Kitty, as she is going to bring an extremely large dowry.

Except for Mr. Henry Dashwood. After he discovered his blunder, he still spent the night with Kitty and fell for her. That works perfectly with Kitty as she has fallen head over heels for him.

While everyone finds him agreeable, and Elizabeth definitely thinks that he will be a good match for Kitty; Mr. Darcy thinks of him as a fop and a dandy wanting Kitty with someone who has more brains.

He goes to talk to Henry, and discovers that his lack of business isn’t from him not caring, but from not being instructed on how to run an estate. It turns out that his parents sent him away to school immediately and he has spent hardly any time with family or at Norland. However, he is eager to learn and Darcy soon takes him under his wing.

Henry has won over the whole family, but soon Fanny arrives to meet Kitty.

Here I am!

Fanny does not like Kitty as she is too poor and would rather spear Georgiana with her impressive dowry. But Henry will not be deterred, as he invites them to his 21st birthday and proposes to Kitty.

Everything seems to be going well, until Henry finds an old strange mirror and a painting of his notorious great-great uncle Sir Francis Dashwood. Soon after Henry starts acting completely different-gambling nonstop, drinking, carousing with all women (married and single of every class). What could have happened to him to make him so much worse than his nefarious relation? Could he be possessed?

So what did I think? Did I like it?

No

I thought this book ran into a few problems and wasn’t as good as the first one.

1) Henry Dashwod was too likable.

So when you read Sense and Sensibility, you don’t like Henry. He is a total brat and completely annoying.

But in this book they made him tooo likable. This caused problems as that reading about his possession made it sad because you knew it wasn’t him, and this poor guy has lost everything.

Secondly, because he is so likable, you know that he isn’t the one doing all these horrible things and that something has caused him to have a personality shift. It wasn’t a real mystery, like in the first novel, as you weren’t sure if Caroline was hypnotized or going insane.

2) No Mystery

In the first book, Caroline starts acting weird after she was married. This makes us wonder is someone making her act this way like in Gaslight or is she actually going crazy?

Crazy eyes

Secondly, there are a multitude of suspects:

  1. Mr. Kendall– He could be trying to kill the Bingleys because of the money he feels that he has been cheated out of. He also could be trying to get rid of Caroline because of his daughter being thrown over. Remember, his daughter was with Caroline when her horse bolted.
  2. Mr. Hurst– If his debts are as extremely high as Elizabeth suspects, he might be trying to kill his relations off for money.
  3. Professor Randolph– Professor Randolph has been drifting from place to place as most don’t feel his studies are legitimate. Now that Caroline is crazy, he has room and board as the prime caretaker for Caroline. Maybe he is making her seem crazy, and could even be trying to make it look as if she set the fire, to only further cement Mr. Parrish’s need of him.
  4.  Mr. Parrish- He only married Caroline for her money and is trying to remove her from the picture. He is supposed to be extremely wealthy, but for some people what they have is never enough. Besides, he could be lying about how wealthy he is, or have hidden debt that they don’t know about.

In this however, we immediately know that Henry is being possessed as the writer gives it away in the beginning introduction and the back of the novel. Instead we are just waiting for events to unfold.

Yeah, I don’t like those kind of mysteries. That’s how Death Comes to Pemberley was (the book, not the TV miniseries. The miniseries is better.)

3) Hardly Any Elinor, Marianne, Colonel Brandon, or Edward In It

I’m sorry but I don’t know why they were missing so much in this novel. We LOVE this characters so if we are reading something to so with Sense and Sensibility we want to have then in the book. It was a crime to not have very much of them.

4) Supernatural Seems Like an Afterthought

This is a supernatural mystery (not Supernatural) but it takes a long time for the characters to reach that point and even evoke in anything. Professor Randolph is there for a second, and then the weirdest thing-the ever staunchly “realistic” Darcy decides to do battle with the demon mirror? I don’t know, it just seemed hastily thrown in, instead of carefully worked like in the previous book.

So we will see what the next book holds. Will it get better? Or worse?

There is one question though that this book presented that I think is worth mulling over. Who should Georgiana marry?

So I started thinking, out of all the non-attached Austen men, who would be the best match for Georgiana (yes I know the author might just make a new character like P.D. James did, but forget that lets focus on what Austen made.)? I narrowed it down to three characters who I think might work.

3) Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride & Prejudice

Pros: Known Georgiana a long time, is kind, caring, funny, amiable, etc.

Cons: Is like a brother to Georgiana, she might not be able to see past that. She might also think he is too old (which he isn’t).

For more on Colonel Fitzwilliam, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)

2) James Morland from Northanger Abbey

Pros: James is a kind, compassionate, caring, and hardworking guy. He has studied constantly and will soon be taking his orders to become a minister. He is a kind older brother and has many traits, in that respect, shared with her brother. Educated, well read, etc.

Cons: Not from a wealthy family, but still does alright; naive, and like Bingley, more easily persuaded.

1) Lieutenant William Price from Mansfield Park

This is actually my top pick, I think they would be good for each other. I just see them as being a great couple, him so sweet and gentle with fragile temperaments. Georgiana needing someone who can be kind and caring.

Pros: Kind, caring, compassionate, honest, and hardworking.

Cons: While his mother came from a high class family, she married down (although that wouldn’t really matter to Georgiana.) He is in the navy a peon, but he does get a great commission through Fanny’s connection to Henry Crawford.

For more on Lt. William Price, go to Let’s Hear it For the Boys

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Too Pretty

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more Sense and Sensibility variations, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen mysteries, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie Retelling of a Classic Novel

Zombies

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?

Like that's happen

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.

ZombiefilmsTheWalkinDead

But not just Zombies. They decided to take it one step further and pair it with Jane Austen.

AA_KnightleyDisapproved

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.

Bad Sequels psycho-1960-alfred-hitchcock-janet-leigh-pic-21

It was a pretty bad time.

Ew Yuck Gross

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.

ineedthis

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.

blanceTea&Books

I should have remembered:

notwopersonsreadthesamebook

So I read it. And how did I feel afterwards?

Guy you suck!

You suck!

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.

Whattheheck

But that was seven years ago. Could I still feel the same way?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

Let’s see!

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13 Days Later

I HATE THIS BOOK!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IT IS HORRIBLE! JUST HORRIBLE? HOW CAN PEOPLE LIKE IT? THEY RUIN AUSTEN. Grahame-Smith IS HORRIBLE! EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

wordICan't say Toy Story

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.

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But you don’t want to hear that over and over, instead let’s dissect everything I hated about this book.

DeanSupernaturalLetsGetStarted

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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.

really?

Really?

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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.

Lady-Mary-DOWNTONABBEYENTAILMENTSUCKS

So if these girls don’t get married how will they live?

Seriously

Seriously

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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!

That’s not how it was in the book!

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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?

ooh!

ooh!

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.

uh-no-gifuhno

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E) Elizabeth is a Jerk

Lizzie is so freakin’ cruel. She is incredibly mean to her sisters and everyone around her. Just downright cruel.

you're evil

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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.

confused

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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.

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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

Or an author

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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.

I don't like it 11

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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.

Night of the living dead zombie

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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.

Why?

Eh?

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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!!!!!

Get it right!!!!!

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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?

BraveheartVictorySwordinAir

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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.

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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.

Seriously

Seriously

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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?

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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.

Seriously

Seriously

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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?!

stupidmoranhmm_yes_i_see_youre_a_moron_trollcat

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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!!!!

totalrecallmachinedestroyargh

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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.

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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?

Really?

Really?

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.

ouch Hermione

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.

I don't think so

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.

uh-no-gifuhno

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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.

I'm crazy

I’m crazy

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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.

immatureHowIfeelBones

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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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fliptablesangrysurprised

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X) Who?

On pg. 169 Jane and Elizabeth punish Catherine? Catherine who? Do they mean Kitty? Why call her Catherine suddenly? Strange.

SayWhat?BuffyVampireSlayernosense

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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.

dialMforMurder Killer Hate

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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.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

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AA) Elizabeth is a Freak

Elizabeth enjoys listening to the screams of burning zombies. What a sadist and creep.

Gilmore girls creep

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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.

stupidestThingeverheard

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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.

Certified Creepo Ribbon

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So yeah I hated it.

Hate YOu

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

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:

DissedP&P

This is one book you should defintely skip!

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Why I Still Love My Fair Godmother

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For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Austenland

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Zombies, go to No Mere Mortal Can Resist the Evil of the Thriller: Thriller (1983)

Xactly Why I Think Beastly is An Xcellent Story

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Say What

An X?

Wow

I couldn’t think of anything, of any name that had an X in it. I decided that I would just shelve it for now and come back to it later.

Whatever.jpg cheese fries

But then the days passed and we grew closer and closer to the 24th and I had no idea what to pick.

I don't know what to do

But then my friend returned my book Beastly, by AleFlinn, that I had let her borrow. I looked at it and I knew!

batmanBamSmackKaboom

This was the book I was going to use for my X.

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Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1) by Alex Flinn

So I don’t know exactly how I stumbled onto this book. But I read it, loved it, and then went on to read everything else Flinn wrote.

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Flinn is a master teller at taking fairy tales and rewriting them in modern times with youth audiences and characters.

FairyTales

Now I read this years ago, a few years after it was published and just absolutely loved it. Then I heard the movie was coming out based on it, and tracked that film; so excited to see it on the screen and dragging two of my friends with me. But then I saw it:

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It was horrible. I did not like it one bit. They just cut the heart and soul of the book leaving a shadow of what it was. The book was much better.

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Now when I first read the book I had only previously seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and read the tale it was based on. Since then, I have seen a few other things and I have noticed that Flinn pulls from both La Belle et la Bête

And the Beauty and the Beast TV show from the ’80s.

In fact one of the characters is called Lindy in the book and Linda Hamilton played “Belle” in the TV show. Coincidence? I think not. Plus the way he looks, the way he protect Lindy, havoc on the subway, etc.

Well that’s enough of that, let’s check out the book.

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So we start in a way I have never seen a retelling of a fairy tale start before. With IMing between a bunch of different fairy tale characters. We have the little mermaid from The Little Mermaid, the Bear from Snow White and Rose Red, the frog prince from The Frog Prince, and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast,  And who is the chat room run by? Mr. Anderson.

No, not that Mr. Anderson. Anderson as in Hans Christian Andersen.

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So then we flashback to how our Beast, became a beast.

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Part 1: A Prince and a Witch

Kyle Kingsbury is a freshman at a private school, Tuttle, and the son of the very wealthy news anchor, Rob Kingsbury. Kyle is a perfect dreamboat, utter perfection in height, looks, etc.

swoon dreamy

But while the outside is a treat, how he acts is the exact opposite.

Jerk

All he cares about is his looks and popularity, hurting and being cruel to others around him. This year they are getting ready for homecoming and have their election for freshman Prince, of which Kyle is nominated. As they start voting, one person speaks out.

I don't think so

Kendra Hilferty is not what most would call beautiful. She has a strange green hair, is rather plain, and dresses in black “gothish” type clothing. She is upset about how this contest is all about looks instead of who they are, telling Kyle he is ugly where it really counts.

Ugly

Kyle is angry over what Kendra said so he decides to play a trick on her. He invites her to the Homecoming dance, all the while planning on going with his real girlfriend, Sloane, and roasting Kendra.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

When Sloane hears that Kyle will be going with Kendra, she is livid, but Kyle calms her down when he tells her about his “joke”. Kyle doesn’t really like Sloane, she’s really annoying and bratty, but she is the hottest girl and after tonight is going to let him come to her house while her parents are out…well as long as he brings an orchid.

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Kyle goes home and tries to talk to his dad, but he doesn’t care. Kyle doesn’t have a mom as she left years ago and has never tried to contact him. His dad is super shallow and only cares about himself and his needs, never thinking of his child or the example he is setting.

jerk_alert32

That night Kyle is ready to go to the ball, dance I mean (I’m reading too many fairy tales), when it turns out his maid Madga didn’t buy the orchid but bought a single, white rose. Sloane is furious about there being no orchid and refuses to have the rose. However, there is a scholarship student taking the tickets who exclaims over its beauty. Kyle gives it to her, the only genuine, nice thing he has ever done.

How sweet!

How sweet!

When Kendra arrives and discovers what he has done she tells him he will pay for what he has done and will be as ugly on the outside as he truly is on the inside.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

Kyle is upset, and scared, but continues to do what is expected as Prince of Homecoming. But at twelve o’clock that night Kendra appears to him and reveals she is a witch, and Kyle is turned into a beast.

yellangrybeastbeautyandthebeast

NOOOOOOO!

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Part 2: The Beast

When Kyle’s father discovers the transformation, he carts him all over the United States to see what they can do. But nothing can change him.

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He cuts his hair, it grows back. He slices his skin, it instantly heals. Kendra gives him a magic mirror that allows him to see anyone he wants, and she uses it to “call” him throughout the book. Nothing can destroy him, and nothing can change him back except if he could find someone to love him in this bestial form. And he has two years, because of his gift of the rose, to find it or be stuck as a beast forever!

Belle could

And this is what I don’t like about the film. They just give him a bunch of tattoos, but that isn’t as hard to love as something that doesn’t even look human. Plus they cut out how long he has to be a beast, removing his first year of angst, anxiety, and depression and being pushed apart from the rest of the world.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

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Part 3: The Castle

Yes, Kyle’s father can’t stand the sight of him and ships him off to an old brownstone in Brooklyn which has old windows that can’t open and no one can come in and see him. He sends Magda to take care of him and things to amuse him.

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Kyle decides that he is no longer Kyle. After careful consideration, he chooses Adrian as it speaks of his new nature. He tries to find love online, but Kendra warns him that won’t work.

I don't think so

After deciding he will spend the rest of his life alone, he blackmails his father into providing him a tutor. The father complies, but selects a blind tutor, that way no one will hear of what his son is.

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Will, the tutor, comes into Adrian’s life and he and Magda become his only friend, besides those who also have been transformed that he IMs. This is really interesting as they follow what occurs in those stories too.

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Adrian discovers that Will used to have sight, but lost it as he aged. Magda had a family, but they weren’t allowed into the country so she is alone now. Adrian calls Kendra and works a deal that if he finds his love to break the spell, Kendra will grant the wishes of the others.

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Adrian begins to read and study as he has nothing else in his life.

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Something else he does with his time is watch people from his former life and school. One day he looks up the girl he gave the rose to, Lindy. Lindy is from a poor neighborhood and is a scholarship student. Her father is a drug addict and pusher, and she tries as hard as she can to take care of him. She spends as much time as she can reading, the library being her refuge.

LibraryOK

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Part 4: The Intruder in the Garden

One night everything changes. Adrian hears a crash and discovers that someone is trying to break into the house.

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He goes to protect it and threatens the man with police. The man, in fear for his life, offers to trade his daughter for his life. He shows Adrian a picture and it is Lindy.

Whattheheck

Adrian is horrified that he would do such a thing, but accepts as he wants to protect her and has hope that maybe she is the one to break the spell.

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Lindy moves in, and things do not go according to Adrian’s plan. Lindy is furious and wants to leave. Will at first feels the same way, but after meeting her father agrees with Adrian’s solution.

truestoryofmen beauty and the beast

After giving him a lot of time, Lindy starts to come around as she is just as lonely. At first she is weirded out by Adrian’s appearance, but as their friendship grows she begins to enjoy being around him.

Beauty&theBeastLibrary

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Part 5: Time Lapses, Autumn and Winter

Adrian begins to care more about Lindy’s feelings than his own desires to have the curse broken and gets his dad to rent them a place in the country where they are freer to roam and hangout. He also decides to release Lindy from her commitment to stay with him, and she decides to remain there.

How sweet!

How sweet!

However, one night Lindy says how she is worried about her father and Adrian shows her the mirror. When she looks into it, she sees her father, sick and shaking. She leaves to go take care of him and promises to return.

Terminatorillbeback

Months pass and no Lindy.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Adrian starts to become depressed and decides that he will be a beast forever.

feelings

They move back to the brownstone and still no Lindy.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Adrian watches her in the mirror but she never comes to him. All have given up hope except Magda, who keeps encouraging Adrian. It comes down to the final day and still no Lindy.

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Then at night Adrian hears Lindy scream and looks her up in the mirror. She is being held up for money owed by her dad. Adrian takes off in the subway, not caring who sees him, but going to her aid.

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When he arrives, the other pusher is so freaked at his appearance he shoots Adrian, who continues to run at him tossing the gun aside and saving Lindy. As Adrian starts bleeding, Lindy says the words he has always desperately wanted to hear:

Beauty and the Beast

Instantly, he is transformed into Kyle again.

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Part 6: Happily Ever After

The police come and after they deal with that mess they return to the brownstone. When they get there it is revealed that Magda is really Kendra.

what what'shappeningSupernatural

She too had to serve a sentence and Kyle’s breaking of his spell has allowed her to return home to her family. Will’s eyes are healed and three pick up their lives; Will teaching at Tuttle and Lindy and Kyle attending. They continue to live at the brownstone, a happy family, with Kyle being a better person.

Carl and her married!!!

In the end we hear from the chat group how each has completed their own journey, some with happy endings and others with ones that were not quite what they expected.

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It was a great book and I just LOVE it.

Iloveit love

I highly recommend it for any fairy tale fan.

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bookonWorldoff

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previos post, go to There’s a Cyclone Coming: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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For more Alex Flinn, go to Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

For more on Beauty and the Beast, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more fairy tales, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more Audrey Hepburn quotes, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

For more on Hans Christian Anderson, go to I Will Not Bend, I Will Not Break

For more G. K. Chesterton, go to A Book Only a Reader Could Write

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Let me just start with this, George you will be missed.

So as this book is about true and false love, I decided to go with the song that has been on the radio nonstop, Last Christmas by Wham!

I love Wham! I’ve been obsessed with them for a looong time. This isn’t my favorite by them, for the longest time I didn’t even like this song; but after hearing it on the radio constantly I grew to really love it.

It was written by the late, great George Michael and tells the tale of someone giving their heart to someone, only to have it broken as they were unfaithful.

LoveBrokenHeart

But luckily they find someone to give their heart to that will protect it.

It has been extremely popular and been constantly redone by other artists. Wham! is my favorite, not just because I love the band, but because it is nice to hear the broken heart from a guy’s point of view instead of always a woman.

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For more ’80s music, go to No Mere Mortal Can Resist the Evil of the Thriller: Thriller (1983)

For more Christmas Carols, go to It Looks…as Though We are Being Kidnapped: Five Were Missing

She Struck Him as a Fixer-Upper, a Block of Clay Ready for Pygmalion’s Chisel: The Overnight Socialite

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a Book that is a Retelling of a Classic

theovernightsocialite

The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark

I was in the college campus bookstore because I needed to buy some scantrons and decided to look around as my friend’s birthday was coming up. She is really into being environmentally friendly, so I was looking at the recycled products when I spotted one of my favorite things: Clearance Books. You know how I feel about that.

Books not shoes

I didn’t really see anything that I was interested in or would be a good gift for my friend. As I pushed the books around I spotted this one.

theovernightsocialite

The first thing that intrigued me was the cover and how the hair is butterflies. I flipped the back over and read that it was a retelling of Pygmalion, the story most would recognize as its musical form My Fair Lady.

2-My-Fair-Lady-quotesAudreyHepburn

I thought it sounded interesting and was reduced to a good price, but I felt like I couldn’t buy it as I didn’t have the extra money for myself and was supposed to be shopping for my friend. So I left it behind.

I don't need it.

I don’t need it.

Later I began thinking about it.

Good job screenwriters.

I just couldn’t get it off my mind so I ended up looking for it in the library.

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But they didn’t have it!

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

But I was able to ILL (Inter Library Loan) it and I got it from another place.

Double double yay

I then read the story and quickly loved it, finding it hard to put down.

bookhumor

Now you know how I feel about remakes and sequels:

Bad Sequels psycho-1960-alfred-hitchcock-janet-leigh-pic-21

But this was nothing like that. I thought this book was absolutely amazingly written and was incredible in retelling the story.

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Background:

So the original play Pygmalion takes place during Victorian Era England. Eliza Doolittle is a woman from the lower classes who sells flowers to survive. She comes upon an angry Professor Henry Higgins, an aristocrat, who is appalled at how her cockney butches the English language. He makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he could take Eliza, teach her how to talk eloquently, and she would be able to pass off as a wealthy woman. He never imagined that Eliza would take up his offer, but she does and Col. Pickering insists on them continuing the bet.

nicetollokatnitbadlookingokay

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Plot Synopsis:

In this version, we are in modern day Manhattan. Wyatt Hayes IV is from an old family stock, high in the community, and biological anthropologist with his doctoral degree from Harvard. He is bored with his life and stalled career, and disgusted with the way that these modern Manhattanites conduct themselves. More like the Kardashians, taking every bit of limelight they can, rather than being the Jackie Onassis.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

He breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, Cornelia, as all she cares about is becoming a “brand” and working on her “career” as a socialite.

That guy!

He heads over to his favorite bar to hang out with his friend Trip Peters, fellow Gothamite and complains that these women today, are just like the animals he’s studied.

Or them

Or them

Meanwhile, Lucy Jo Ellis is the daughter of a manicurist in Milwaukee. She came to New York in the hopes of becoming a fashion designer; but has barely been able to scrape by on her pay as an assistant seamstress for a designer. She believes she is given her dream when she is gifted an invitation at the designer’s fashion show, but that turns out to be a call for assisting in catering and does not go well.

ouch Hermione

Fired, and with zero options and no money; it looks like Lucy is headed back to Milwaukee.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

Wyatt muses on this thought of society women like the animal kingdom, and as he drinks decides it is the perfect project for him…for a book! He could take any average woman and using his knowledge of the animal kingdom and New York socialites; he could change her into the top debutante.

I-got-this-reaction-gif

A chance meeting with Lucy, as she is trying to make her way home, he bets he can turn her into the top socialite.

Let'sdothis

Lucy reacts like any normal girl would, and freaks out thinking that he is crazy or trying to pick her up. She takes off.

I'm getting out of here

I’m getting out of here

However, with no possibilities coming her way and living on her last dollar she decides to take Wyatt up on his crazy experiment. Wyatt is eager for this to work as he has his book deal, which he has not told Lucy anything about (bad idea)

meettheRobinsonsPlannotthoughtthrough

And Lucy believes that when she becomes a socialite she can use that to create bonds with the right people, finding a new designer to work with or possibly even start out on her own.

Double double yay

Will Wyatt be able to make due on his bet and turn her into a real lady?

nicetollokatnitbadlookingokay

Or will the whole plan flop?

Not good

Not good

Will Lucy be able to score her dream job?

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Or will she become the laughingstock of the upper crust and be kicked out of New York City?

And run fast

And run fast

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How Does It Compare?:

I thought the characters were amazingly well done and I loved how the book was able to follow the map of the original story; but at the same time infuse it with their own style and create a new-old tale.

Some changes that the author, Clark, made , I felt enhanced the story. She added a girlfriend for Wyatt’s Professor Higgen’s character, being the catalyst for his bet. She is shallow, vain, and only cares about her image; being the foil for Lucy.

DrJekyllMrHyde

We also have a girlfriend for Trip (the Col. Pickering character), being Eloise. Eloise is a personal shopper/stylist ad gets recruited to assist in dress and makeup for Lucy. The two become fast friends and we become invested in her and her distress over Trip’s lack of commitment.

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Clark also extends the characters of the Eynsford-Hill family; the mother, daughter Clara, and son Freddy (Max in the book). Mrs. Eynsford-Hill is a social climber; trying to overcome her family’s downfall by trying to marry her children up. Her daughter is closer to the mother while Freddy is ruled by both women in his life. In the play, they treat Eliza poorly when they see her as a peasant, Freddy later becoming one of her biggest admirers, falling in love with her. In a way they are seen as Eliza’s accomplishments; so well trained in being a lady they don’t even realize she is the same women from before.

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In this book we spend a lot of time in their head and learn that Clara wishes to have wealth and fortune, but is willing to put that aside for love and true happiness. Freddy, Max in this book, isn’t interested in continuing “wall street business” but is more comfortable creating things and doing capentry. He has a lot more to him, and eventually strikes out on his own. He later becomes a love interest for Eloise, who is tired of Trip’s stalling.

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I thought this was a fantastic read and highly recommend it.

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To star the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

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For more retelling classic literature, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more modern remakes, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more on Oprah Winfrey, go to I Have A Problem

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Today’s Christmas carol is Silver Bells. It was written in 1950 and composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. At first it was called Tinkle Bells, until Livingston pointed out the other meaning of tinkle.

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There is a big conflict as to where the idea came from. Livingston was quoted saying the idea came from hearing the Salvation army bells, while Evans said it was a bell on their desk. Oh well, it doesn’t really matter as a great song came out of either source.

The song was orginally sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in The Lemon Drop Kid, but the first official release of the song was done Bing Crosby and Carol Richards.

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For more Bing Crosby, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

For more Christmas Carols, go to So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

 

Midnight in Austenland

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

So I know I said I wasn’t going to review one of Austen’s works as that isn’t really fair as I talk about her books all the time.

reading Jane Austen

But I never said anything about a retelling!

Go on...

Go on…

So I’m going to review my absolute favorite out of all the books I have read so far.

Austenland

Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

So I one day I was going through Goodreads and looking at if any authors I liked had published anything new. I really enjoyed reading Shannon Hale, and thought Austenland was pretty good except for a few things, so when I saw that she did a sequel I decided to check it out.

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I got the book and started reading it…but then I couldn’t stop.

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I became so invested, I actually snuck it into my History of American Music class and read it instead of listening to the jazz music.

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This book was AMAZING!!!!!

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It had Austen and mystery, both things I love!

Put my crime-solving cap on.

Putting on my crime-solving cap on.

I just adored every page of it and didn’t want it to end.

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So the book is a sequel, but you don’t have to read them together or in sequence. While the place they visit, Pembrook Park, is the same; the characters and story lines are new and different.

While the other book focused on Pride and Prejudice this one went more Northanger Abbey; something I appreciate as it just doesn’t get enough love.

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Charlotte Constance Kinder is a nice woman. So nice no one thought she would live an interesting or adventurous life. But you know what Austen says about that.

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Charlotte went to school, met a nice man named James, married him and had two kids; and then did the unexpected. She created a website, sold it for an outrageous profit, and started another one.

Wow

Wow

She bought nice things for her, her husband, their kids. Everything seemed fine, but then it turned out her husband was cheating on her and wanted to leave her for another woman.

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Fast-forward, he is remarried and living with his new wife receiving alimony from Charlotte. And Charlotte is alone, left to pick up the pieces of her life.wantYoutoStay

She starts dating A LOT!. Anyone and everyone her friends and friends’ husbands toss her way; but nothing feels good or right.

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Besides being worried about her own self and issues, she starts to worry about her daughter. Will she make all kinds of horrible mistakes, have “Daddy issues,” or go looking for love in all the wrong places?

Not good

Not good

She makes a really bad decision to have a private investigator follow her daughter’s boyfriend around, and even tries it herself; convinced that he is going to hurt her. After her daughter says she she doesn’t remember what it was like being her age, Charlotte decides that her daughter is right.

I'm crazy

I’m crazy

That Easter she goes home and digs through her old items that her mom saved and tries to look into her teenage mind. She finds a diary and on the first page is a list she made.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE I’M 30

  • Get married [✓]
  • Have a baby [✓✓]
  • Walk in high heels without wobbling [✓]
  • Climb Kilimanjaro…
  • Understand Physics [✓ish]
  • Help save the whales or other animals in danger [✓]
  • Read Jane Austen…?

Charlotte couldn’t remember why she wanted to read Jane Austen, but the next weekend the kids are with their father, and Charlotte devotes the weekend to reading

JaneAusten

And she reads and reads and reads. And before you know it, she is a hardcore fan.

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And caught in the Austen cycle like us all.

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Charlotte’s sister-in-law Shelby convinces her to take a vacation when the kids are with their dad for the summer. The only place Charlotte wants to go is into Austen’s books

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And luckily we have just the thing…Austenland.

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Yes, for a few weeks Charlotte will leave, breathe, and be Regency woman. And at the end of her time there is a big ball.

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And possibly a proposal…

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Charlotte is sold on it, packs up her stuff, and flies out ready to dive into her fantasy.

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As Charlotte is a “quality guest”, i.e. rich, she gets the best treatment and the gold standard in clothes, transportation, etc. Charlotte takes on the character “Mrs. Charlotte Cordial”, a widow with two kids. In this story, Charlotte doesn’t have to go it alone but has a “brother”, Edmund Grey.

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Besides him there are two other ladies, Miss Elizabeth Charming (from the previous book) and Miss Lydia Gardenside. And then there are two other men who will come to call on them: Colonel Andrews and Mr. Thomas Mallery who is…

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Charlotte meets the ladies and enjoys Miss Charming, but is shocked to see that Miss Gardenside is none other than the famous pop sensation, Alisha. What is she doing here?

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So their days at Austenland begin and one of the reasons I like Charlotte better than Jane Hayes, the heroine of the last book, is that Charlotte embraces her love of Austen and goes full force into it.

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That day the Colonel has a surprise, they are going on a trip to an old crumbling abbey! What mysteries await them?

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As they journey in twos, the phaeton holds only that umber, with Charlotte with Mr. Mallery. Mr. Mallery is very intense and lives and breathes being the Regency gentleman. When two backpackers come upon them he isn’t threatening but so forceful that he causes the pair to run off like frightened rabbits.

And run fast

And run fast

When they reach the Abbey it turns out there us a dark tale that goes with the old ruins:

Three hundred years ago (~1520) the abbey was home to twenty-one nuns, an abbess, and one novice. They worked in the kitchen garden, growing healing herbs, kept goats and chickens; everything was peaceful until one January night.

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The sisters made dinner as usual and sat down to eat. The abbess was getting older and not feeling well, so after she made the tea she blessed the meal and went to lie down. She rose an hour later to do chapel prayers, but found all the nuns dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The abbess went through trying to find one that was alive. There were no wounds on the body, but all’s pulses had ceased. All except Mary Francis, the novice.

The next morning, the abbess awoke to find that Mary Francis had cleaned up from dinner, and laid all the nuns out, covering them with blankets.

No one was ever hanged for the deaths…the bodies were buried, the abbey abandoned, and the abbess went to live with a niece and succumbed to dementia. But she was known to cry out: “Either she saw who did it or she did it herself.”

Mary Francis was an orphan and after the deaths wandered from house to house as a trying to work as a servant, but the suspicion around her past always pushed her on. Some believe ghosts still haunt the area….

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The last place she went she worked for a few years, and they say uncanny things happened. The place she worked? Pembroke Park.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At first they don’t believe the house is old enough for the story to be true, but Mr. Mallery corrects them. He is second cousin to the Wattlesbrooks and says that parts of the houses go back that far. Sadly he would have inherited the grand old house, but his grandfather lost it in a card game.

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

Colonel Andrews says that that isn’t the end of the story, he has an old text that they may read and reveal all.

I love it!

I love it!

Charlotte is enjoying Pembrooke Park because she doesn’t have the strain of having to do the work. As her “brother” Edmund pointed out, she is here to have fun and relax, Mr. Mallery and the others have to work to impress her. It is a nice feeling after all those blind dates and trying to put on a show that you are okay; all you have to be is yourself or your character and the others have to do the real work.

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The group has a picnic in which Colonel Andrews reads from the diary of Mrs. Kerchief, the housekeeper three hundred years ago, and supervisor of the newly arrived servant, Mary Francis.

(I’m just going to paraphrase as it would take to long to write word for word)

“Hired the new scullery maid, Mary. No one else will hire her because what happened. I don’t care what happened in her past as long as she is ready to work.

Coal is running low and they seem to be burning more and more these past weeks. Simon says that it is Mary, she bring the cold with her. Nonsense. Still…she sleeps in the room next to mine and at night I hear noises I have never heard before. It wakes me up”

Gilmore girls creep

Mr. Mallery “Regency” flirts with her and Charlotte finds herself surprisingly enjoying every minute of it.

When they return to the house, Miss Gardenside retires as she is suffering from “consumption” (is it really or something else? Maybe withdrawal?). Miss Charming and Charlotte are still psyched from the mystery and decide to search the house.

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However, the only thing they stumble upon is a maid dressing. No clues, no bodies, no nothing.

Before Divorce: When Charlotte first started her website it was just to be a hobby. She liked growing plants, she often helped others, and decides that it would be nice to have a place people could go for inexpensive custom residential landscaping. They weren’t as grand as those who would visit the place and see it, but her designs based off a questionnaire they answered were cheaper and still beautiful. People loved it. She had to hire employees, and revenue increased crazily, and she made her first million.

That night they are having dinner toasting to each other when who should walk in, Sir John.

That guy!

That guy!

This is the only thing that enhances if you read the previous book, but like I said it is not necessary. You quickly learn why we hate this guy. Sir John is Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s husband and he doesn’t care about the park or their home. All he does is drink, gamble, and take any of Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s money away. He also tries to hit on the women, and doesn’t take no for an answer. In the last book, they had to cart him off as he was causing problems.

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This time he goes by Mr. Wattlesbrook instead of Sir John, and is dressed in modern day clothing instead of Regency wear. It unsettles everyone, but Colonel Andrews tries to bring them back to 1820.

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That night they are interrupted of their sleep. As they go outside they see firetrucks and that Pembrooke Cottage, (the one Miss Amelia Heartwright stayed in, in the last book) has been burned. Mr. Wattlesbrook has no remorse even though he started the fire.

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Mr. Mallery has a bucket by his feet, as he was trying to put out the fires. He is furious that the cottage went as it was his inheritance. Now that is the character’s motivation, but he seems as if he is really upset, the man behind the character.

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The next day Charlotte continues her search of the house. She really has become invested in the mystery and wants to find clues.  After a finding nothing and a game of croquet, she goes to Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s office to call her children.

dangerous crossingphoneringsscared

This does not go well at all. Her daughter finds out she had hired a private detective to follow her boyfriend.

ouch Hermione

Her son doesn’t want to talk to her.

Not good

Not good

She finds out from Justice, the new wife, that her son called her mom.

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Not a good call at all.

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Charlotte decides to snoop through the office and discovers that Windy Nook and Bertram Hall properties were sold off, foreclosed, and contained a series list of debts. She sees the former casts and notices that Mr. Mallery used to be in all of them. Mrs. Wattlesbrook is a very smart businesswoman, so it is clear that the one who caused the trouble is Mr. Wattlesbrook.

Jerk

The next day rained all night and morning. The group play charades and a card game that involves running about.

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But after the men leave to do whatever they do, maybe a break room, the women are embroidering.

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They are interrupted by the return of Mr. Wattlesbrook, who once again is dressed in modern clothes and tries to get in with Charlotte.

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The men come and try to carry him off. Miss Charming thinks it is a part of the “experience”, but Charlotte doesn’t think that Mrs. Wattlesbrook would do such a “messy” plot.

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Hmm…

That night is stormy, spooky, gray…

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Just perfect for reading more about the mystery of the nuns, the diary of Mrs. Kerchief!

I hear sounds in Mary’s room at night. It sounds like a pacing or scraping. It is unnerving and I want to talk to her, but in the morning Mary Francis is so tired I can’t say a word. The girl Betsy who used to room with her took off and never came back to get her money. The cook says she feels a cold wind around her…

The lights go out and all they have are firelight. They decide to play a game called Bloody Murder, with Mrs. Wattlesbrook going off to bed.

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They decide to play the game: the murderer has to hide in the house somewhere, after a count of fifty the rest hunt him out. The first to discover the murderer shouts, “bloody murder”, and all run after him. After that they all run off, and the murderer chases them. If he catches them, they fall down and the last one to “die” is the next murderer.

They draw straws and the short one leads Mr. Mallery to be the murderer.

One of the characters I love is Charlotte’s “brother”, Edmund. He is just so fun and fantastic, a real Mr. Tilney.

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Charlotte finds Mr. Mallery and ends up being the only one who has been touched. Now she is the next murderer.

She doesn’t want to walk and go around the house on her own. She is extremely scared and as she roams the dark halls she accidentally goes into a secret room. As she is searching the room for a way out, she finds a person laying on a chaise. She goes to touch them, feels the hand…they are dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She goes running out and finds the group telling them everything. They don’t believe her and can’t find the room. Charlotte is so incredibly freaked out, that Miss Charming can see that she needs a little care and asks if she wants to sleep in her bed for comfort.

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The next day, she starts questioning people trying to find out who the dead person was. Eddie goes to help her and they find the room but nothing but a fencing foil.

They leave for breakfast and run into Mary, Charlotte’s maid. Mary is really strange, always jumpy, and acting weird.

strange things are afoot at the circle k

She tries to tell Mrs. Wattlesbrook about the dead body, but she doesn’t believe her. She thinks it is just part of a game.

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Charlotte deduces that the dead body must be Miss Gardenside’s nurse or Mr. Wattlesbrook as they are the only two missing; and that it must be a part of the Colonel Andrews mystery as no one seems to care.

Eddie, Edmund, doesn’t believe that the murder is real, but helps Charlotte investigate. He is hilarious and I just love him. Forget Mr. Mallery with his brooding, smirking is so much better.

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After Divorce: Justice, James’ mistress, sends Charlotte an invite, can you believe that? An invite!!!

Charlotte worries about how the divorce affects the kids but James doesn’t care. He says that 50% of marriage end in divorce. Here are statistics that matter to Charlotte.

-James saw the children 75% less than before

-He missed 85% of their afterschool woes

-He was absent for 99% of their family dinners

-100% of Charlotte’s marriage ended

That night they read the diary:

Mary and I were shelling peas. Mary has been here for three months and doesn’t seem as if she can settle down. All the other hands treat her horribly but all Mary does is pray. Why does she pray so much? For other or her own soul?

The next day Charlotte picks up her search with Eddie. They go back to the room, but find nothing but a glove, a washing dishes type of glove. Is that part of it?

suspicious Hmm

Charlotte drops it as she thinks it is nothing. Eddie picks up fencing foils and the two duel before lunch.

You're so cute

Even though everyone has forgotten the game, Charlotte still thinks that someone might be after her, but who?

Gilmore girls creep

The next day Charlotte goes riding with Mr. Mallery. They stop a while so Charlotte can call her kids, but no answer. She tries her husband, no answer. Charlotte spends the rest of the night worried about them and that something happened. The next day she finds out their phones were dead.

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The next day Charlotte decides to write her kids a letter. Eddie joins her and consoles her over her missing her kids. He shares about his daughter and that he misses her as he hardly gets to see her. They start writing and Charlotte wonders if Julia exists, but Eddie is writing a long letter to someone.

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After the letter writing, Eddie goes over the dances, as “their mother” was a dance instructor. They have such fun, with Mallery interrupts them. They go for a walk, but are found by Colonel Andrews who tells them he has a great passage for tonight.

Everyone is mean to Mary. They start chanting “What do you know of our Mary? Twenty-one nuns did she bury.” We were working outside when there was a howl and they saw something white and filmy, floating. It had a horrible screeching voice that shouted “Leave innocent Mary alone. The nuns cannot rest when folk stain Mary’s name with lies.” Mary was the only one who wasn’t afraid, but continued her work.

Right after they read that, they see a ghost outside!

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They all run after it and try to find it, but the ghosts disappear.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

Charlotte is the only one who notices tire tracks on the ground, as if someone drove their car.

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The next morning, Charlotte takes Miss Charming and Miss Gardenside aside and tries to have them help her find the missing clue. They come across a painting of Saint Francis. Miss Charming spots it as a fake and they rip it open, finding a note written in lemon juice:

Among the dusty tomes stands

The work of the saint

And one girl’s confessions

Penned without constraints

They run to the library and find a book on St. Francis, in it is Mary’s tale. The nuns died accidentally. The abbess eyesight and memory was failing and she accidentally boiled yew, poisoning them.

OMG gasp

That answers one question, but what about everything else? What about the secomd mystery with the dead body? Then Charlotte gets a few more realizations:

  1. The Murderer approached the victim and had to lure them into that room, with an intent to kill.
  2. The victim was killed in a secret room and the body abandoned on the sofa, as whoever had to leave, and then return to move the body at a more convenient time.
  3. Charlotte finds the body in the room. The body was not smelly; so they were killed recently.
  4. Charlotte announces the find, but all claim to know zero about the room.
  5. Charlotte hears a thud in the middle of the night, below the secret room. Maybe someone tossed the body out the window?
  6. The next morning the body was gone.

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Before Divorce: Late nights “working”, phone calls from unlisted numbers, caller hangups, James never touching her, James staying out of town but spotted by a friend, lingerie in the closet not her size…etc. It is easier to solve someone else’s mystery than your own. Sometimes we see only what we want to see.

They only have three more days, only three more days to solve the case. Charlotte sees that Mrs. Hatchet, Miss Gardenside’s nurse, has returns and deduces that Mr. Wattlesbrook must be the murdered one. She questions the men about the night they removed him and they say that they put him in a room out of the way as he was incredibly wasted, Edmund punched him after he spoke nastily about the women, and the next day he was gone.

suspicious Hmm

Later Charlotte looks after Miss Charming as she seems out of sorts. Miss Charming was unhappy thinking of her former husband. She had married and helped her husband build up the business into millions, as she was the brains of the operation. She found him with a salesclerk, divorced him, and took off with the staggering alimony. She’s been running as she can’t go home and and face that she was dumped.

Broken Heart

Afterwards, Charlotte decides that with the limited time left, she can’t be messing around. She has searched everywhere for the body and there is only one place left, She and Eddie, the Watson to her Sherlock, head to the pond. She goes swimming to see what it may hold and finds a car submerged.

OMG gasp

They convince Mrs. Wattlesbrook to call the police and it turns out that Mr. Wattlesbrook is dead. Now the question is, which one of the guests is a killer!

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Could Mrs. Wattlesbrook have done it? Eddie? Colonel Andrews? Thomas Mallery? Miss Charming? Miss Gardenside? One of the staff?

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Charlotte realizes she doesn’t really know any of these people and any one of them could be a killer. And they may be after her next!

tumblr_dr.jekyllhydemirrorsneakupbehindscareaah!

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So I won’t reveal the ending, as it was amazing. Shannon Hale just did a fantastic job.

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And that through the rest of her trip Charlotte learns her own worthiness.

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And is able to pick up to the strong person she used to be.

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I also just loved Eddie and thought he was just an amazing character. A real Mr. Tilney!

find mr.tilney

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to Austenland

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Candy Girls

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more mysteries, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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As this is a book that goes to the past but is also modern, I thought the best carol would be What Child is This?

In 1865, William Chatterton Dix was an insurance company manager and became seriously ill. During this time he gave his life to Christ, writing this carol. He set it to the song Greensleeves which has been registered in 1580 by Richard Jones.

I have never been a fan of this song, I’m not sure why, until I heard the Josh Groban version, so that’s the one I went with.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a Fairy Tale

So you all know how I feel about fairy tales:

FairyTales

And besides fairy tales, I like to read retellings of them. So out of all the ones I read and have ever read I had to think, which is the best one. So I thought and thought and thought…

Thinking Hmm

And then it came to me…

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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

When I was younger I loved going to the library (still do).

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I used to go and look through the stacks for the next books I wanted to check out. I would go down the rows and pick whatever stood out to me, along with the book I would read all the time, The Phantom of the Opera. I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera and would check it out, return it, then check it out again in an endless cycle.Fangirlfinishedreadingwhattodonow

 My mom didn’t like my obsession with The Phantom of the Opera as she is not a horror fan.

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So she also roamed the stacks and tried to find something, anything else, for me to read that wasn’t dark. I don’t know where or how she found it, but after I picked out as many books as I could take:

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I ran into her. She wanted me to leave The Phantom of the Opera behind as I had just read it, and wanted me to try out this book, Ella Enchanted. She had read it while waiting for me and thought I would like it. I didn’t want it as I wanted what I had picked out.

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We argued for a while and then reached a compromise, I would check out The Phantom of the Opera but had to check out and read Ella Enchanted. I agreed, but secretly thought I wouldn’t like it, even if it was based on a fairy tale; and I loved fairy tales (still do).

Oh well.

Oh well.

But then I read it!

And I had this reaction…

I love it

I thought it was absolutely amazing! I loved it so much I went on to read her other books: The Princesses of BamarreThe Fairy’s Mistake, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, The Princess Test, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, For Biddle’s Sake, The Fairy’s Return, and Fairest. Levine is amazing in how she rewrites fairy tales and breathes new life into them.

loveitSupernatural

This story is a retelling of Cinderella but not one of those average ones that film companies throw out year after year; this one has curses, ogres, elves, quests, fairies, obstacles, etc. It is amazing!

Wow

Wow

And then they made the film of it…

I don't like it 11

They ruined it! All the amazing things and hard work, and all the challenges she has to work through tossed out for a silly comedy?!!

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The book had heartbreak, real emotion, pain, suffering, while having comedy, and fun; and the film was a stupid facsimile.

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I mean they only had two things in common: Ella’s curse and the name of all the characters. Everything else was completely wrong. I was so mad I started yelling in the movie theater. That film is crap and deserves to be destroyed.

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But this book is AMAZING! And I think everyone should read it!

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If you recall from the original tale of Sleeping Beauty, or the film, fairies were invited to births and would bestow gifts on the new babies.

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Ella is visited by the fairy Lucinda and given the “gift” of obedience. Lucinda called it a gift, but it is really a curse as Ella must always find herself at the will of others, forced to do whatever she is told.

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Her mother and their cook, Mandy, tried to intercede for her but nothing could change Lucinda’s mind. Ella was stuck.

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Ella’s mother was a lady who married Sir Peter, a merchant. At first, to win her heart, he came off as kind but he really only cares about money and having his way. Luckily, at Ella’s birth he was not there but off trading, or else he would have seized upon the gift and used it to have his way always.

you're evil

When Ella was a young girl she told her friend about the curse when they were playing games. Her friend immediately seized upon it and commanded all kinds of things, only stopping when punched in the nose.

Scream-Punch

After that, Ella was commanded to never tell anyone about it, but that command didn’t matter. She knew not to trust anyone so easily again.

Trust

How the curse works is that if Ella is given any command she must follow it. Failure to comply makes her very ill, in pain, nauseous, and feeling as if she will shatter into pieces. As soon as she begins following the orders, she is okay again.

The problem with the curse is not only that she must follow any order given, such as kill yourself, is that the curse does not recognize sarcasm or jokes, and she must follow every letter of the command. Very dangerous indeed.

i'mscared

But Ella is no one’s willing puppet.

Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way unnaturally.”

When given commands, even harmless ones that were just for her own good, Ella would do her best to fight back. Asked to bring something, she would only take part of it. Asked to do something, would only do half or find some loophole to work around it. Did all she could to fight back against it.

addamsfamilyvaluesperservereconquernotadmitdefeat

When Ella was fifteen, she and her mother became extremely sick. Mandy gave the two unicorn soup, but instead of drinking it with the unicorn hairs in it, Ella’s mother removed them. Because of this Ella became well, but her mother died.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

The funeral comes and Ella is heartbroken. She makes a mess of herself and is told to go off until she can be calm. After crying her soul out, she notices that one person remains. The Prince.

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Prince Charmont introduces himself as Char and tells Ella how he enjoyed meeting her mother in the past. He tells her the stories his cook has heard from Mandy about Ella, and walks her back to her father.

Back at the house Ella meets Dame Olga and her two daughters; Hattie and Olive. Dame Olga is after her Sir Peter as he is extremely wealthy and she wants to increase her wealth and power. Hattie and Olive are annoying, boring, and just want to eat and talk about money.

Men?

Men?

Later that night, an upset Ella questions Mandy about her fairy godmother. Her mother was going to tell her when she was older, and Ella wants to see her to get her help. Mandy reveals she is the fairy godmother. She only does small magic, and her soup should have cured her mother but she removed the unicorn hair. After that, there was nothing else she could do. She can’t take her curse away either, but one day Ella will be able to break it herself.

Mulanbelieveyoucan

Ella’s family line are the friends of the fairies. They all have a drop of fairy blood in them, which doesn’t give them anything different except for unusually small feet.

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Sir Peter is not the fatherly type, as anything that doesn’t have a monetary ching doesn’t interest him. He wants to send Ella away somewhere, but she wants to stay. But nothing she can say will stop him.

Not good

Not good

Mandy has nothing she can do and promises that Ella will have fun meeting different school girls and making new friends. She gives her a fairy tale book that is magic! And a Gnomish necklace that belonged to Ella’s mother.

Before Ella leaves, she heads off to the zoo to visit all her favorite exotic animals: the dragons, birds, centaurs, etc. She runs into Char and the two spend a fun afternoon together. As they walk further toward the ogres, they come upon a baby gnome.

Ella tries to help the gnome, using the gnomish she imitates from the exotic birds. Char looks around for his parents, but the real danger lies in the ogres. Just by looking at you they know your secrets. As Ella holds the baby, the ogre commands her to come to him and give him the child.

Not good

Not good

Luckily Char commands her to stop and they find the gnome parents. Gnomes can see into the future, and one gives Ella a glimpse:

Gnomes do not see detail. What you wear tomorrow, what you will say, are mysteries. I see outlines only…Danger, a quest, three figures. They are close to you, but they are not your friends…Beware of them.”

Not good

Not good

They next day she is off to finishing school, going with Hattie and Olive. After being together for a few minuets, Hattie discovers that Ella must follow every order given. She doesn’t know why, but that doesn’t stop her from lording over Ella.

What jerks

What jerks

Hattie takes everything from Ella; her money, jewelry, and food. And when they get to school it gets no better. No matter how hard Ella tries, Hattie always has the power.

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The teachers make it no better as they are as bad as Miss Michin in A Little PrincessElla does all she can to fight back their commands, constantly trying to keep herself from becoming a puppet.

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Ella has only two bright spots in her day. One is the magic fairy book that not only presents a new tale every time you open it, but also gives letters from her friends and those she cares about. One night she reads a letter from Mandy that Char caught her a centaur and is training it for her. He is extremely upset that she was sent away as he thought Ella was perfect the way she was.

How sweet!

How sweet!

The other thing that goes better for her is that she befriends an Ayorthaian girl, Areida. None of the other girls like her because she is poor, but she and Ella become the best of friends. One night,  Hattie decides she doesn’t like this glimpse of happiness. She commands Ella to stop being her friend.

Jerk

Ella looks in her book as she contemplates what to do. In it is a note from Dame Olga to her daughters, one from Char about his ogre hunting, and then a letter from her father that he will be visiting a giant’s wedding in the hopes of seeing a fairy, and getting a fairy gift to trade. Ella sees this as the perfect opportunity and decides that she will run away from school and go to the wedding to try and get Lucinda to get rid of her curse. Before she goes she steals Hattie’s wig.

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Ella heads out to the giants, trading her wig with a baker for bread. She is told that the giants aren’t too far off, but as she travels the journey is longer and longer. She then comes upon elves with spears.

Not good

Not good

She tells them who she is, Sir Peter’s daughter, and they invite her to dinner. She shares her book with them and afterwards they show her their elfin products. Elfin made objects look as if they are alive, and are extremely valuable. They end up giving Ella one, as they like to give their gifts to those who love them.

thankyou15

The net day she sets off with an Elfin pony and is told it is only four days to the giants. Unfortunately, her luck turns.

Reality Sucks

Ella is captured by Ogres. They have eaten her pony and want to eat her next, but luckily she vomits, making her too “sour” to eat. She hopes to leave, maybe if they bind her she can go, but the ogres know her story. They just command her and she is stuck.

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But Ella has one other option. She has been studying languages at school and learned how to speak ogreese. She tricks them into falling asleep, a small win but what to do next?

I don't know what to do

As she contemplates, she sees a vision of knights coming. But they aren’t a vision, they are real! It is Char. They try and capture the ogres, but are only able to when Ella charms them again and puts them back to sleep.

gossipgirlpowerfulWonderfulwoman

After a wonderful reunion, Char sends her on her way with one of her knights. He promises that he won’t be gone long and hopes to see her again soon.

How sweet!

How sweet!

They get there just in time for the wedding. The knight heads back to the ogres, and Ella sits watching for the fairies. They arrive, but before Ella can talk to Lucinda, she grants a horrible gift to the Giants and disappears.

Ugh great gatsby

She is upset, but at least there is food.

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As she is eating she goes to talk to the other two normal fairies, but then Lucinda reappears. Ella tries to talk to her about the fairy gift, but Lucinda just commands her to to be happy, and Ella runs off looking for Sir Peter to get more orders.

Sir Peter has sold land that didn’t belong to him and will have to pay for this with all his money and then some. He tries to marry Ella off to Edmond, Earl of Warwick. To make sure things flow right, he feeds her special mushrooms to make her extra attentive.

What jerks

What a jerk

It works as she fawns over him and he is interested in her hand in marriage.

That guy!

That guy!

The next day, Ella has a horrible hangover and feels stupid about what happened. But luckily, the Earl has lost a lot of his lands and is too poor for Sir Peter; no marriage. But what’s worse, Sir Peter is to marry Dame Olga.

Blackmail!

Uhhhhh!

Hattie and Olive will be her step sisters.

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The wedding happens in the old castle and Ella tries to hide from her family and the fairy Lucinda. Luckily it is a masquerade and she has a mask to hide her identity. She sits through the ceremony and takes off as soon as she can.

Run Away

She runs upstairs into a room, when she is come upon by Prince Char.

see cute guy look

They skip the ball and search the castle for secret passageways and rooms, having a reunion. They stop at a garden shed where they open a bench and find glass slippers. Char puts them on her.

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Then Char asks her to dance.

Cinderella

So romantic!

So romantic!

Afterwards, they decide to slide down the bannister. The second time the two run right into Ella’s confused parents.

clueless mybad oops

Afterwards, things go bad. Dame Olga finds out that Sir Peter is poor. She decides that Ella will be a servant in their house as soon as Sir Peter leaves.

hate her

Hattie is upset that the prince likes Ella and punishes her.

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Char is going away to the neighboring country and wiill be gone for a while. He stops to see Ella before he goes, but Hattie imprisons her in her room.

Jerk

After that Ella lives out every day a servant, doing the worst and most horrible tasks. She writes to Char, and the two develop a beautiful relationship. Char is a dream come true, although he does have his faults. When his opinion is lost it is lost forever.

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But we all have our faults, if the person was a perfect person with nothing wrong with him, then he’d be as bland as a saltine.

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As they write Ella falls in love with Char, and her dream comes true when Char asks her to marry him.

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Ella wants to say yes, but she can’t because of the curse. It would be too dangerous, so she writes as Hattie and refuses the prince; her heart breaking at every moment.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

There’s real love there. She cares more about Char’s happiness rather  than her own and would never risk his life.

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She tells Mandy, and Mandy decides that Lucinda really needs to be stopped. She calls her in and they make an agreement: Lucinda will be a squirrel for three months and then an obedient child for another three months.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

Ella holds on to the hope that in six months Lucinda will take the curse away and she can marry Char.

DreamingCinderella

The night before Lucinda is to com,e Hattie tells Ella that the Prince is coming back and is holding a masked ball. The ball will last for three nights and the Prince is rumored to pick his wife there.

OMG gasp

Ella is ecstatic. She has hope again to win Char back! Lucinda comes that night and says that she regrets everything and would love to take everything back. But Lucinda won’t, as she is done with “big” magic.

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Ella is heartbroken, but she is planning to go to the balls. She won’t talk to him, she will just sit and watch.

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They take the dresses saved from her mother, refashion them, and all is ready except is rains, a pouring rain.

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Saddened at this, she wishes that Mandy would do magic, but Mandy refuses. She calls on Lucinda who gives her a pumpkin carriage, mice turned into footmen ands she is off to the ball.

under capricorn ball

She sees Char and stays as far away as she can. But she ends up being unable to hold out and talks to him. She tells him she is Lela and they spend a lot of time together, so much that they fall all over again for each other.

iLoveyou

But Hattie, not to be undone, removes the mask she wears

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And it is Ella.

OMG gasp

She hurries home as fast as she can, and they try to leave, but the Prince and entourage arrive. Char asks Ella to marry him.

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Dame Olga says yes, as that will give her power and money; Olive says yes as that will give her money; Hattie says no as she wants him for herself. Char tells her to say yes. Ella wars within herself, what should she do!

I don't know what to do

She knows that saying yes would be death of them, she practically splits apart in two; but then she refuses! She refuses!

No thank youhowaboutno

After she let’s it all out, after she has finally broken the curse: she tells Char yes.

Double double yay

They get married and live happily ever after; with Ella finally being able to make choices: good and bad, she finally is in charge of her own life.

TheEnd_Title_2

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

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For more on Cinderella, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more books based on fairy tales, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more Audrey Hepburn quotes, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more J. Cole, go to A Cautionary Tale

For more John Green, go to The Fans and the Furious

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Since this is a fairy tale, I thought I should pick a fairy tale Christmas Carol. I settled on the Miniature Overture from The Nutcracker Suite.

Reminds me of Degas

The Nutcracker is based on the fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet was written by Ilyich Tchaikovsky and premiered in 1892.

I like this song a lot and it is my favorite in the entire suite.

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For more Christmas carols, go to Austenland

30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

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Yes it is that time of the year, our new tradition of a 30 Day Challenge. As I am a book lover and just can’t get enough books, I decided this year we will cover that love.

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As any book lover knows, it is difficult to choose a favorite book.

ChoosingFavoritebookNeilGaiman

So this will either fit the category of the book challenge, or will be a book I love. I’m hoping to meld both, but I know that won’t happen for every one of them.  I also ran into a few issues finding 30, so I had to get a tad creative.

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I am also going to skip the Jane Austen novels as I always talk about them on this blog. I’m going to try and do books I haven’t mentioned already, but no promises on that.

I can't help it.

I can’t help it.

Now every time I try to do something in December, it tends to fail. I just get toooo busy.

The-best-laid-schemes-of-mice-and-men-often-go-awry-erobertFrost

But this year I am really going to try.

vulcanvulcantcandoit

So here we go!

30 Day Challenge:

Day 1) A is for Apocalyptical: Choose a book with an Apocalyptic theme

Day 2) B is for Best: Choose a Best-Selling novel

Day 3) C is for Childhood: Choose a book you used to read over and over again when you were a Child.

Day 4) D is for Diary: Choose a novel or memoir in Diary form

Day 5) E is for Elephant: Choose a book with a Elephant on the cover

Day 6) F is for Free: Choose a book you got for Free

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a fairy tale

Day 9) I is for Island: Choose a book that takes place on an Island

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer

Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List

Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Since this 30 Day Challenge is being done in December, let’s pick a favorite book that captures the merry Christmas spirit.

Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

Day 15) O is for Ocean: Choose a book that takes place on or in the Ocean

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a book that is a Retelling of a classic

Day 19) S is for Short Stories: Choose a collection of Short Stories

Day 20) T is for Translated: Choose a book that was Translated from one language to English

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

Day 22) V is for Vanished: Choose a book with a missing person

Day 23) W is for Weather: Choose a book where the Weather plays a major role

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Day 25) Y is for Young: Choose a junior or Young adult book

Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie retelling of a classic novel

Day 27) One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Shoes symbolize wealth. Choose a novel that involves wealth or fashion

Day 28) Three, Four, Shut the Door: Doors symbolize new beginnings. Choose a novel where a character has to start over

Day 29) Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks: Sticks symbolize power, strength, or judicial decisions. Choose a book that revolves around a powerful ruler or ruling.

Day 30) Seven, Eight, Lay Them Straight: Straight means upright. Choose a book with a moral or strong moral character

Additional one to keep the Symmetry

Day 31) Nine, TenA Big Fat Hen: Hens symbolize motherhood. Choose a book that revolves around a family or strong motherly character.

Have Card will Travel

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For more 30 Day challenges check out 30 Day Challenge: All About Me! and 30 Day Challenge: Disney Edition

For more book loving posts, go to Sadly I’m a Stalker

Baby Jane Austen

So I’m sure some of you might be thinking that I will be writing about Jane Austen’s life as a baby.

Hoe cute she probably was

She was probably a cute baby.

Well no, I’m not. Instead I am talking about Jane Austen novels for babies!

OMG gasp

I know, how cool is that? There is a company called BabyLit that takes classic novels and turns them into baby primer board books; that is learning books for babies.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Now they can also read classic novels!

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So far they have Dracula on counting: Alice in Wonderland on colors; A Christmas Carol on colors; Wuthering Heights on the weather; Moby Dick on the ocean, Jane Eyre on counting; Romeo & Juliet on counting; The Jungle Book on animals; Sherlock Holmes and the Hounds of Baskerville on sounds; Anna Karenina on fashion; Jabberwocky on nonsense; Frankenstein on anatomy; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on colorsand Huckleberry Finn on camping.

keanu Whoa

And of course they have covered Jane Austen with Emma, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility.

Double double yay

And of course me being a major fan, I just had to buy them and check them out.

LifeasaFangirl

But as I have no children and didn’t have any extra book space to hold onto them for if that ever happened (my books are already in every spare spot I have) I bought them for my friend’s baby. So far I have only purchased two (Emma and Pride & Prejudice), one for Christmas and the other for her first birthday. When I buy Sense & Sensibility for this Christmas I’ll review it.

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Emma

Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer by Jennifer Adams

So we know the story of Emma right? The bare bones of it is a bored girl tries her hand at matchmaking:

Emma-Woodhouse-mr.elton

But in the ends her schemes don’t go anything like she planned.

clueless mybad oops

However, that is too advanced for a baby; so this one is all about emotions with cute illustrations. Emma is excited! Mrs. Bates is scared! Mr. Knightley is Loved.

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You got that right!

EmmaMrKnightlyP&PMrDarcy

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Pride & Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

So Pride & Prejudice, the most famous of the Jane Austen novels. In it a mother is trying to marry off her offspring, but her meddling can cause some issues.

Pride&PrejudiceTruthUniversallyAcknowledged

Plus some manipulations, misunderstanding, and perseverance see that four couples find their happy match (once again bare bones).

Pride&PrejudiceDarcy

So once again too much for a baby, so this one is all about counting: nine fashionable dresses, five sisters, two gentlemen, etc.

darcybingleypride&prejudice

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sense&sensibility

Sense & Sensibility: A BabyLit Opposites Primer by Jennifer Adams

So this is the story of two sisters who go from being wealthy, to having nothing.

Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold. Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man. Elinor Dashwood: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

They get caught up in others manipulations, in their own striving for happiness, and discovering that being all sense or all sensibility isn’t the right way to be; their should be a balance of both. Plus sisters will always be there for the other.

Frozen Sacrifice self love you sisters

There are also manipulations, secret affairs, meddling matchmakers and more. But of course, that isn’t something babies can grasp so instead we have opposites: big, small, happy, sad, etc.

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So What Did I Think Of It?

So while it doesn’t tell the whole story of these novels (which I didn’t expect it to) I thought these were a wonderful idea and I want to purchase them all.

ShutUpTake MY Money

In a world where less and less people are reading, especially the classics: it is important to bring these memorable works back into the mainstream. I mean there is a reason why they were chosen as classics and they need to be read by everyone.

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And while this book focus on it’s theme (colors, counting, feelings) more than the plot of the novel; two very imoprtant things come out of here.

First, the child is being given a classic novel and grows up hearing that name and the characters; making them much more open to reading the real book when they are old enough.

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And second, you reading to your child teaches them the importance of family time and the importance of reading. Thus making them book fans too.

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So I highly recommend buying these and adding them to your child’s bookshelf. After all:

raybradburybooksburnstopreading

Save Our Youth! Read Classics Today!

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For more on Emma, go to When You Shockingly Relate to Mr. Woodhouse

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more on Sense & Sensibility, go to I Don’t Want You Far From Me: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Emma variations, go to The Austen Series: Amanda

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy

For more Sense & Sensibility variations, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary 

The Austen Series: Amanda

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Amanda (The Austen Series) by Debra White Smith

So this book is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in modern times Australia

Under Capricorn

I know, Australia was an odd choice for a retelling of Jane Austen. I mean most people in Austen’s time wouldn’t really like Australians as they would see them as robbers, thieves, criminals, etc.

I also had a few issues with it being Australian as I am not scholled in Australian. Sometimes they way they talked I had no idea what it was about.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

But moving on…

Emmafakesmile

Amanda Wood Priebe (Emma Woodhouse) is a successful owner of a travel agency. She lives with her father and takes care of him as he is aging. Even though he doesn’t really need additional care.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

This was one of the problems I had with the book. In Emma, her father was destroyed with the death of his wife and became the biggest hypochondriac and worrywart you could ever imagine. He ages exponentially and this is why Emma want to stay and take care of him. She knows that he needs her or will fall apart, and that factors into her decision to never leave or ever marry.

Emma

In this he is confident, lucid, and perfectly al;e to take care of himself with maybe a little extra help. There is no reason why she feels the need to stay with him. In fact it is kinda weird…

awkward-look-on-face1

So Amanda’s best friend is her secretary Haley Schmitz (Harriet Smith). She is currently dating Roger a farmer, who Amanda feels isn’t right for her. Instead she wants to set her up with the new music minister, Mason Eldridge.

EmmaWoodhouse

Her other best friend is Nathan Knighton (Mr. Knightley) owner of a well to do department store. He is also the younger brother of the man that Emma’s sister married.

JAH_Mr-Knightley-Jeremy-Northam-jane-austens-heroes-9172970-1024-567

So the book mostly follows the story of Emma with a few differences.  Instead of a ball, Emma throws a yearly party at her agency. You know, small things like that.

No big deal

No big deal

So let’s go over first what I liked in this adaption.

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Nate Knitghton/Mr. Knightley

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I really liked the way that Smith wrote the Mr. Knightley character.

Say What

Yes. Unlike other adaptions, she really got into his head and showed aspects of the story from his point of view. Often authors only go so far, but I enjoyed how he interacted with Amanda/Emma and the other characters, how they built up his attraction, and his qualms about having a relationship with a friend, what if she doesn’t reciprocate? What if it goes bad?

Knightly proposel28o7_250

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Haley/Harriet

emmaharrietsmith

The Harriet character was also done well. Giving her a background of foster care and being moved from place to place established the perfect level of insecurity to blindly follow all Amanda’s plans with matchmaking.

It makes sense why she would act this way.

It makes sense why she would act this way.

I also like how you see her love for Roger has a few insecurities with him going away and focusing on the business, coupled with her own insecurities and Emma’s manipulations; all creating the perfect breeding ground for her to be swayed to another. But at the same time we see how she is able to quickly move past that heartbreak of Mr. Elton (as she didn’t really like him), and return to her real love of Roger.

HIMYM TedLove you and not tolerate quirks

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Now what I didn’t like:

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Colonel Wood Priebe/Mr. Woodhouse

I already talked about the Mr. Woodhouse-Emma relationship, so let me move on.

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Christian but Not Really

guardyourheart

Another thing I didn’t like about this book was that it marketed itself as Christian but isn’t really.

Ryan-Gosling-Oh-No-You-Didnt-Half-Nelson

In reality the the praying or  when they talk about their “relationship” with God is just a footnote or an afterthought.

Blah, blah

I mean write if you want to write a non-Christian retelling of Emma then write it. If you want it to be Christian then write that. Just don’t give me this lukewarm mess that is “Christian” but only a smatter. I mean go big or not at all, no in between.

No thank youhowaboutno

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 Amanda/Emma

Emma

So to our final piece, the one that carries it all…how did she do?

Emma_Buggin

I did not like the character of Amanda.

Something is not right!

Mostly because Emma just didn’t work in this modern setting.

No thank youhowaboutno

In Jane Austen’s work, Emma is from a wealthy class and doesn’t really have any friends her equal to spend her time with; especially with her sister and governess married. She is extremely lonely and bored.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

She begins manipulating, not out of spite, but because it is far interesting than another night alone with her dad, reading, just doing the same old thing. It doesn’t fit with Amanda having this other outlet, as she is great at her job and her work is something she loves. Australia is not as constrained by “social standing” so there isn’t the same level of alienation either. Instead of being bored and turning to matchmaking, she just comes off a controlling manipulator who only cares about herself.

incontrolchucknorris

It just didn’t work; instead of the character being lovable or enjoyable she just seemed cold and cruel. A real “Mean Girl”, if you know what I mean.

MeanGirls I know right!

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So in conclusion? I didn’t like it.

dislike hate you

I mean some parts were good like Harriet and Mr. Knightley’s modern counterparts, but on a whole the book was kinda boring and just didn’t work without a fantastic main character, Emma/Amanda.

No thank youhowaboutno

If I were you, I would just pass this one by.

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For more books based on Jane Austen’s work, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more on Emmago to Is This Really Just the Same?: Daring Chloe

For more Emma variations, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

For more on bible verses, go to I’d Lay Down My Life for You: Pocahontas (1995)