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Archive for December, 2009

This is my third read for the Austen Challenge and it was quite a treat.  Let me make a short confession real quick before I delve into a full review of this delightful little treasure: I’m not really a huge Jane Austen fan.  In fact, as much as I love the story of Pride and Prejudice, I have only seen it in the movie format.  I’ve never actually gotten around to reading the acclaimed masterpiece.  So in many ways, I’m a fraud for even entering the challenge.  Still, I believe that my reading thus far has definitely piqued my interest in Jane Austen’s work and life.  For this reason, I plan to create a challenge for myself and anyone who would like to join to read (or reread) all of her major works and maybe even some biographical pieces.  I need to think this out more thoroughly before I make it official.  Please, look forward to a post on this later.  Now for the usual review format ….

Publisher’s Synopsis: Scholars estimate that Jane Austen wrote close to three thousand letters in her lifetime.  Almost all of them were supposedly destroyed at her death.  What secrets did Jane Austen have to hide?

Emma Grant has always done everything the way her minister father said she should – a respectable marriage, a teaching job, and plans for the requisite two children.  Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author might say, until the day Emma finds her husband in bed with another woman.  Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for just foolish dreams.

Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal Emma packs what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England to find the missing letters of Jane Austen.  A reclusive widow claims t have the author’s correspondence, but she allows Emma to see the ltters only if she promises never to tell anyone about them.  Emma relunctantly agrees and sets off across Austen’s England – from Steventon to Bath to Lyme Regis – on a series of tasks that bring her closer and closer to the secrets Jane Austen hoped to bury.  And the reappearance of Emma’s old friend Adam doesn’t make her quest any easier.

As Emma uncovers the legendary author’s innermost thoughts, she beings to understand the reasons for her idols secrecy and Austen’s own struggles as a woman of faith.  Laced with excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who uncovers the true meaning of loyalty.

About the Author: Beth Pattillo’s love for Jane Austen was born when she studied at the University of London, Westfield College, for one glorious semester.  Her passion quickly became an obsession, necessitating regular trips to England over the past twenty years.  When not dreaming of life “across the pond,” Pattillo live in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband two children.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 quills

Review: Let me just say that from the very first page, I loved this book.  Pattillo’s writing is just perfect.  I could easily relate to Emma: after all who hasn’t been betrayed?  Who hasn’t dealt with heartbreak and felt like all her dreams and hopes were broken beyond repair?  We all have hit what feels like rock bottom at some point in our life.  But it’s how we pick ourselves back up that really matters.  Emma discovers this as she embarks on what seems like an insane set of tasks throughout England revisiting some of the place where Austen spent her life.  As Emma completes her tasks, we learn more about Austen (both real facts and some of the speculations that Pattillo makes).  And through reading this, I fell in love with England.  Let me tell you, if I had the money I would be booking a plane ticket and hotel reservations instead of typing this review.  But alas, that dream will have to be put on hold.

What I loved the most about this book is that it reawakened some of my passions.  I haven’t written about it much on here, but I failed Nanowrimo this year.  Not enough time to devote to the endeavor.  Or maybe I just wasn’t quite ready for the challenge.  After all, since I started college, I had largely given up on writing.  Sure, I write essays constantly, but I’m talking about the sit down and write your heart out, create funky scenarios, and test your imagination kind of writing.  That is the kind of writing that I miss.  And this book made me want to go out and buy a new notebook and just sit down for a couple hours to see what came out.  Luckily, I got one for Christmas – a nice one with a hard cover and lots of pages.  Not that I necessarily have the highest expectations for my reawakened writing endeavors, but I’m excited to see myself writing anything in my spare time again.

And so for these and so many more reasons, I loved this book.  The lessons that Emma learned on her journey really hit home for me and I’m sure for many other reasons.  I definitely recommend anyone looking for a good story to take a chance on this book.  It has reawakened a passion of mine, taught me some valuable lessons about life, love, and just being a woman, and it has definitely made me more interested in Jane Austen.

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Christmas Check In

Hello Blog World,

I hope that you are all having a wonderful day opening presents and sharing some Christmas cheer with family and friends.  Christmas has always been and will continue to be one of my favorite holidays.  There is so much magic wrapped up in the Christmas season and it always leaves me with high hopes for the upcoming New Year.

As some of you might have noticed, I haven’t been around very much.  I apologize for my sudden disappearance.  Although I planned to spend my Christmas break happily blogging and reading, there have been some developments in my family that have been an immense distraction and have torn me away from my desire to reconnect with my loyal followers.  I just want you all to know that I am still here and that I am still reading and will be back to blogging soon.  I doubt that there are many who come on here dying to see what I might write next, but for those of you who do take the time to read my thoughts, I very much appreciate you and look forward to blogging through 2010.  For now, I’m going to admit defeat on all my ongoing challenges.  I have a few days left to finish them, but doubt I will be able to accomplish much.

Next year will be different.  I promise.

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Publisher’s Synopsis: When a modern woman goes back to Jane Austen’s time, she needs to know everything!  Eleanor agrees to travel back in time to prevent a deadly duel, but she doesn’t know how to behave, what to say, and most importantly … how to tell a villain from a rake.  The captivating, infuriating, and mysterious Lord Shermont is a renowned rake and womanizer-but is he also a dangerous cutthroat spy?  Eleanor has to get up close and personal to find out.  Otherwise, she could fall into a most shocking scandal.  Thankfully, Miss Jane Austen herself arrives on the scene, with sage guidance and a twinkle in her eye, to help Eleanor navigate countryhouse society and the dangerous terrain of her own heart.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Quills

Review: This is my very first read for the Jane Austen challenge.  I’m in a rush to try and finish all (or any) challenge I can before the new year.  Let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy.  But this book was still a joy to read.  Granted, it did get a little graphic at times, but I fell in love with the characters.  Eleanor was a wonderful heroine to follow into regency England.  I hadn’t been really all that into the Regency era before, but this book was a wonderful introduction.  I loved the descriptions of the house, the clothes, the gardens, the people … well, EVERYTHING!  This was a wonderful book for me to begin the challenge with.  I’m not a huge Austen buff, and this book didn’t really require me to have any prior knowledge.  I’m definitely recommending this one!

Quotes: “I suppose this author is much like any other,” Jane said.  “I once… heard an author describe writing as taking bits and pieces of her experiences and observations, then she questions, dissects, and analyzes them.  She extrapolates from them, stretching the though out.  Then she adds from her imagination a big dose of what might have been, a good measure of what would never be, and spice it all with wishful thinking” (256).


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Publisher’s Synopsis: Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet.  For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night … Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis-and two parts fairy godmother.  With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands.  She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them-and who has a close connection to Josey’s long-time crush.  Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons.  And that’s just for starters.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Quills

Review: Sometimes, you need a magical book to take you outside of your own life.  This book was definitely that book for me.  In the midst of a very quickly ending quarter, The Sugar Queen managed to make me slow down and focus more on Josey and all of the characters in her life.  And I loved every moment I spent in her life.  I loved her developing friendship with Chloe and Della Lee as she fought to find her way into the world.  Even more than that, I loved the magical elements of the novel.  The way Chloe’s passion for Jake could cause water to boil and the way books always managed to find her when she needed them.  I loved the vivid descriptions of food and the comforting effects it can have on a person.  I just all around love Addison’s writing.  She has an amazing gift for vivid descriptions that take you away from wherever you are and bring you into the world she is describing to you.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a little bit of magic and an escape.

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Morning meanderings is a daily meme brought to you by Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books. It’s a forum for me to discuss books and other things while I sip my daily allotment of caffeine.

I can’t believe that November is almost over.  Wait, today is the last day of November!  When did that happen?  Thanksgiving break was a week long and it flew by!  I had such big plans on all that I was going to do during my time off.  Unfortunately, I came down with a cold.  I have since mostly nursed myself back to health.  I’m running at about 75% right now.  Don’t worry, I’m fighting my way through dead week and then finally, FINALS!  This means I will have a lot of time for reading in December and early January.  That is something to look forward to.

In the spirit of celebration and looking forward to my future reading prospects, I have decided to sign myself up for the TBR Challenge.  The rules are simple enough and I can insist upon digging in to my massive and ever growing TBR pile.

Here is my list:

  1. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
  2. Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation
  3. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
  4. Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell
  5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolf
  6. Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
  7. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  10. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  11. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
  12. Atonement by Ian McEwan

I haven’t come up with an alternate list, but I will.  I kind of like the idea of sticking to this list though!  We shall see … I might end up reading some of these before January!

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