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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Classics Retold – Emma – The Graphic Novel version

classics retold

emma graphic novelEmma
Author: Jane Austen
Adaptation: Nancy Butler and Janet Lee

Review:
I’ll be the first to admit that i’m normally not a huge graphic novels fan mostly because they weren’t all that popular when I was growing up. I mean, you could easily get your hands on things like Marvel comics, things like the avengers, but things like a graphic novel interpretation of a classic novel, not so much. So when I was browsing for possible Emma adaptations and came across this, I realized that I needed to try it. It was the first classic that I had read in this form, although I have seen other ones, and I might potentially check them out in the future.

I will say one of the weakest forms of telling classics in this format, is that the descriptions of the settings, something which Ms Austen was well-known for, don’t always translate well. In that, a vivid scene that she describes, has to be translated into simple pictures. And the story itself has to be reduced to simple panels of conversation. So something just feels a bit, lost in translation, for lack of a better word.

But I did enjoy seeing the illustators (Janet Lee’s) interpretation of how she thought Jane Austen’s world looked like based on the words on the original page. There is that saying, a picture if worth a thousand words and for the most part, I enjoyed the illustrations at the beginning, but towards the end, I kind of felt that some of the illustrations felt a bit forced. The smiles just seemed a bit over-done, and there wasn’t necessarily under-stated elegance that I expect in Jane Austen’s work.

That being said, I do feel that these graphic novels would be a good/different way to get kids interested in reading the classics. Maybe if they had been around when I was younger, I might have read Jane Austen earlier than in my late-20’s (yes, I was a late bloomer).

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Five Flavors of Dumb – Antony John

five flavors of dumbFive Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony John

Description:
The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?

Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.

Review:
Sometimes my favorites books are ones which I pick up at random, and Five Flavors of Dumb was one of those books. I don’t even really remember how I ended up picking it up…I was in the YA section of the library, looking for another book (although for the life of me, I can’t remember what book it is), and this one caught my eye, so I figured what the heck. The first thing that I noticed on the cover was the gold award sticker and it was for an award that I had never heard of (which when I explored, it was for the accurate portrayal of a teenager with a disability in fiction – in this case, deafness).

It seemed to me that the author had some sort of experience working with individuals who were deaf because there just seemed to be a sense of realism in not only Piper’s character, but how people interacted with her. The father who struggled with her progressive deafness as a child, her brother who is her confident, and her mother, stressing about not only Piper, but about her new baby sister, born deaf. He also managed to bring in the use of technology to help individuals who are deaf, from hearing aids, to cochlear implants (on Piper’s baby sister). That was what made the story unique.

However, on the other hand, it had what seems to be the requisite teenage angst and drama that seems to be a dominant theme in YA fiction now days. While I thought the author did a good job of developing Piper and her family as characters, I thought that the band members of Dumb were very one-dimensional. there just wasn’t really anything about them that made me care about them. There was the golden boy pain in the ass; the magical musician, the requisite hot chick and the bad girl…I just didn’t really care about them all that much.

Overall, I gave Five Flavors of DUMB 3.5 stars, but i do think that people interested in the deaf culture would enjoy it. And i’ll be interested to see what else he writes in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Book Review

 

Classics Retold Review – Emma – Jane Austen

classics retold

EmmaEmma
Author: Jane Austen

Description:
‘I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.’

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

Review:
I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite Jane Austen (only slightly behind Pride and Prejudice). Of all the characters in the various Jane Austen books, I found the ones in Emma to be the most relatable. While all of them were bound by the various society dictates, there was a quirky-ness that shone through with Ms Austen’s descriptions and the development of the story.

It’s hard to say exactly what I really enjoyed about the book, there wasn’t one specific thing that I can say, yes, it was this scene, this person…but rather it was the amalgamation of everyone together. It was like seeing a stained glass mirror…while each part is individually created when its built and is pretty on its own, it is the final product that make people ohhhh and ahhh.

But I always find it hard to write reviews of these classics, because they are classics for a reason…so I’ll leave my review of Emma at that, but since I did listen to the audiobook, I need to address the narration a little bit. I have to admit when I saw that the only version of the audiobook that my library had had a male narrator (Michael Page), I was a tad skeptical, since Emma is told from a female POV and I can’t remember a classic that i’ve listened to, off the top of my head, that has had a male narrator. So it was a completely new experience for me. But I was pleasantly surprised. There was something smooth and flowing about his narration. I know that i’ll be checking out more books narrated by him in the future (and taking a peek, it looks like he had a pretty decent backlist).

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Audiobook Review, classics challenge

 

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Review – Tempting Bella – Diana Quincy

tempting bellaTempting Bella
Author: Diana Quincy
Series: #2 in the Accidental Peers series

Review Copy Provided By the Publisher

Description:
Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who wed her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed. The ton may call him “The Saint” but Bella knows better.

Forced to marry as a teen to rescue his family from certain ruin, Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day. When he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, he’s is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride and he is more than ready to make her his wife in truth.

Too bad the beguiling beauty has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed.

Review:
I’ll admit, i’m a sucker for the arranged marriage trope…and even better, the forced marriage in order to settle a debt – so I got the double joy in Tempting Bella. Its interesting that I was reading this book and reading a thread on the Amazon forums about age differences in between characters in romance novels. And while there isn’t a significant age difference (7 years), it did make me think. Especially since at the beginning Bella was only 13 (yes, you read me right)…but thankfully the author did a nice job forward in time to when Bella was a bit older and more mature (although at times, I do say that tongue in cheek).

I liked the idea of finding love with a couple that had actually been married for several years, although they had never officially been together. And how an individuals perceptions of one influences their behavior and beliefs (yes, that is the psychology geek in me speaking). While this is #2 in a series, it could easily be read as a stand-alone, but I am interested enough in going back and reading the first book, as well as later ones in the series. Overall, I gave Tempting Bella 3.5 stars and would recommend it to people who like historical romances with arranged marriages.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Book Review

 

Review – The Wishing Hill – Holly Robinson

the wishing hillThe Wishing Hill
Author: Holly Robinson

Review Copy Provided by Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
What if everything you knew about your life was wrong?

Years ago, Juliet Clark gave up her life in California to follow the man she loved to Mexico and pursue her dream of being an artist. Now her marriage is over, and she’s alone, selling watercolors to tourists on the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk.

When her brother asks her to come home to wintery New England and care for their ailing mother, a flamboyant actress with a storied past, Juliet goes reluctantly. She and her self-absorbed mother have always clashed. Plus, nobody back home knows about her divorce—or the fact that she’s pregnant and her ex-husband is not the father.

Juliet intends to get her mother back on her feet and return to Mexico fast, but nothing goes as planned. Instead she meets a man who makes her question every choice and reawakens her spirit, even as she is being drawn into a long-running feud between her mother and a reclusive neighbor. Little does she know that these relationships hold the key to shocking secrets about her family and herself that have been hiding in plain sight.…

Review:
I have to admit that I found it hard to write a review for this book. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it – but I have so many thoughts going through my mind that I almost need to sit down and write out my thoughts before writing this review (of course, i’m actually not doing that). So after stepping away for a few days to think about what I wanted to write (but still not really knowing for sure), i’m back to attempt to write my review. Either way, regardless of what I write, this was not quite a five star read for me – there was just something missing to make it just miss out on that list. But it was a good read.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the fact that while it was set in two different locations (Mexico and North-eastern US), and told from 2 different POV’s, that the story was pretty seemlessly woven – which made the reading all the more enjoyable. Sometimes when things jump between POV’s and locations, the story can seem really disjointed, but for some reason it worked here. Which I guess shows the strength of the author’s writing ability (and which is why I will likely pick up other books written by her in the future).

I think my biggest issue with the story in general, was the character of Desiree. Have you ever come across a character that you literally want to slap silly because they are so self-absorbed? That was Desiree for me. Normally, I can deal with insane type characters (I mean, I really liked Gone Girl for all its general screwyness), but for some reason, I just couldn’t get past the character of Desiree. Oh the shallowness, self-absorbed twit that she was. Thankfully, the character of Claire was a great counter for her, in ways that I can’t necessarily describe without getting into a spoiler zone. The supporting cast of Juliet’s brother (Will), Ian (the handy-man), Desiree’s various Beau’s were entertaining and I would be interested in seeing some more of them in the future. I will admit that the ending had a bit of a cheese factor and was maybe a tad overdone which also kind of took away from the power of the rest of the story.

Either way, I gave the book a solid 4 stars and I’ll be looking forward to reading more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Book Review

 

It’s time to party like its 1815 (Jane Austen style) – aka Classics Retold

classics retold

Ok, so I’ll admit that I’m a bit behind getting my first classics retold post up, but better late than never right? I’m also a bit behind in getting all of my books read (umm…no excuse there…just my normal too many books, too little time). But that being said, I’m finished my classic and watched one of the movie versions so far (a modern take on Emma). I still have a graphic novel that is in progress, 2 more movie versions (if I can get them from the library again) and 4 re-tellings…so plenty of books to go and hopefully, i’ll be able to fit them in.

I’m looking forward to this month and hope that others are too 😉

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Reading Events

 

Review – Risky Surrender – Robin Bielman

risky surrenderRisky Surrender
Author: Robin Bielman
Series: #2 in the Take A Risk series

Review Copy Provided By Publisher

Description:
Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she’s forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she’s carefully constructed around her heart.

Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she’s up to something. She’s secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get.

Review:
So I’ll admit that I went out and bought the first book in the series to read before reading this one because I was intrigued by the description and in doing so meeting Keats McCall (and BTW, I love the name) – so I was intrigued about him from then. Although, I will admit, that if I hadn’t been introduced to him in the book, I might not have been as interested in him, because I think his characterization in the book itself was lacking something. But Lucy was an intriguing character – she kind of reminded me of Anne Hathaway as the cat burgler in the most recent Batman movie…yes, I know a weird comparison, but hey it works…

the story of Keats and Lucy was mildly entertaining and slightly different from a lot of the contemporary romances out there, but Lucy def. had a few TSTL moments which irked me (hey, what can i say, they really irk me). And the evil/bad guy just didn’t really intrigue me – I think that storyline needed to be more developed – in the short context of the book, it was just too empty (for lack of a better word). But don’t get me wrong, the story wasn’t bad – it was just lacking in a few places…but overall, I gave it 3 stars and will likely be checking out more by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Book Review