Monday, November 21, 2011

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

I read this book for the December VSBA Book Club meeting. I was worried after my experience with A Curse Dark as Gold that I had lost the joy of reading. I have not! I LOVED this book in the way I loved Black Box last year. I can't wait for the next meeting so I can lead a discussion about this title!
Harper Evans, a 17-year-old California gal, is trying to flee her family problems by going on a service trip to rebuild a home destroyed by a tornado in TENNESSEE! (I LOVE TN books!). The rebuilding of the house is a metaphor for the rebuilding of herself after her own family has been destroyed.
What is your favorite book related to Tennessee (author, setting, etc.)?

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

This is a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story set in the Industrial Revolution in England. Honestly, I did not finish this book. There was a lot going on in my life (big-boy beds, Fall Break, surgery, Mom's relapse), so I didn't get the book finished in time for the November VSBA Book Club meeting. I tried to finish the book after the meeting, but I just couldn't. This title didn't hold my interest.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon

This short story can be found in George R.R. Martin's Songs of Love and Death, an anthology of short stories by modern masters.
I LOVED this story. It is the story of Jerry and Dolly MacKenzie, Roger's parents who are briefly mentioned in the Outlander series. This story is apparently referenced in An Echo in the Bone. I have not yet listened to this Outlander book because I am waiting for Susan to finish A Breath of Snow and Ashes...but I'm not sure how much longer I can wait after reading this short story!

Lord John and the Hand of Death by Diana Gabaldon

I went to Indiana last week to visit my brother and had surgery on Thursday after my return. With these breaks in my schedule, I knew I wanted to find something to read that would not need a big commitment. So, I decided to read some of DG's short (i.e. not 1500 pages) works of fiction. This books is one short story and two novellas regarding Lord John Grey, a minor, though influential, character in DG's Outlander series.
I enjoyed these stories, though not as much as the Outlander books. Interestingly, all tree of these read like mysteries, my favorite genre. I would recommend reading these once you have exhausted the Outlander books.

Monday, September 12, 2011

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

This is Book Three in The Mortal Instruments series.
This book feels like the culmination of a trilogy. It contains a mortal war of Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and Demons. Various romantic problems are solved. All is right with the world...but there is Book Four waiting at home for me to start. I don't know how I feel about this. I like my YA to end happily and my series to max out at 3 books (with the exceptions of Harry Potter and Outlander, which could go on forever, in my opinion).
I really do like this series, so I'm afraid I'm just going to have to keep matter how many books she writes...but I don't think I'll read the prequel series because I just can't get attached to another series.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

This is Book Two of The Mortal Instruments series.
I wasn't going to keep reading this series (even though I really enjoyed the first book) because I was sad Clary and Jace are...well, you'll know if you read it. Julie Bynum talked me into continuing, and I'm glad she did. I'm already on Book Three!
This series is about Shadowhunters (Nephilim...children of gods and men) who hunt Downworlders (Werewolves, Vampires, and Demons). Clary is adjusting to life as a Shadowhunter while Simon adjusts to life as a Downworlder.
My favorite quote has nothing really to do with the storyline, but it just spoke to me. It says: "A man doesn't have to agree with his government to be a patriot, does he? It takes a true patriot to dissent, to say he loves his country more than he cares for his own place in the social order" (261).

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

I read Beastly by Alex Flinn last year for the VSBA Book Club. It was fine. I can say the same for Cloaked. I think Flinn is a bit teen-y for my tastes. I had a third book by her waiting in my car to listen to next, but I returned it to the SPL without ever listening to it.
When I read a book, I always find myself imagining that I am one of the characters and thinking about how I would act in the situations. I don't do that with Flinn. She doesn't suck me in.
There was one tale in the book, though, that got me thinking. It was about a man who wished for one thing, the wish was granted, but he kept wishing for more; he wished for too much. My mom has just been told that her cancer is back. I am going to keep wishing that it will be healed, but I am also going to remember to be thankful for the last three-and-a-half years we have had with her.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Another 1439 pages of listening to be summed up in one little entry. As always, Gabaldon does not diappoint! I may need to get some of the Lord John books to listen to while I wait on SUsan to finish before I start the next one.

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

I believe that I now know all existing information on Jane Austen. I enjoyed this biography, but I learned nothing new. I must now decide on new biography topics since the royals and JA are complete...something American?...or current? I think not!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

William & Catherine: Their Story by Andrew Morton

200 pages of royal information! Sounds great to me...except that I think I have reached the point at which I am getting no new information. It may be time to schedule a personal interview with a member of the family so I can gather something fresh! I'm too much of a follower of all things royal!
This book is laid out such that one chapter follows William's development at a certain age and the next follows Kate's...I mean Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
The pictures in this are great!
One piece of info that I did enjoy finding...I have heard rumored of a visit by William to Nashville years back, but I have never heard it really confirmed. (Way to be Nashville! We protect our celebrities!) This book confirmed that in the summer of 2004, William did come to Nashville, Tennessee to visit the heiress Anna Sloan (no clue who she is!). In Googling her name, I have now found all sorts of fun articles; it seems I just wasn't up on things! "A Boozy Swim round the Moat"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catching Up

I haven't commented on my reading all summer. I've taken a break from blogging but not from reading. I read the following books over the summer:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (YA to keep up with the kids. I did not finish the series, though I think students will enjoy it.)
Through my Eyes by Tim Tebow (Enjoyable, but the amount of time and dedication to be a professional athlete amazes a shocking way.)
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers (She is one of Gwen's favorite authors. I had a copy of this book that we had withdrawn from the JOHS library. I kept seeing her name on the lists of admirable authors on my list of admirable authors! As to this particular book...once I got past all of the bell-ringing mumbo-jumbo, I really enjoyed the mystery-writing.)
I have been listening to Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes all summer while I work out at the YMCA. I love it! One more book and Susan and I will be caught up to the series!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ana Batts loaned me this book on CD during my May visit to Arkansas. I'm not sure how much the boys got out of it, but I know I enjoyed it!
I listened to this book in the car on the way to and from Indiana for vacation. On the way there, I relistened to CD1 on the way up since Dad and I had already tried to listen to it before. We finished the book on the way back home.
I really enjoyed this book. I have seen the TV series, but it was nice to hear these characters described again. It was fun to hear Mary described as the perfect one, since I had always viewed her in that way. I found the use of third person a bit odd since I already knew Laura was the author and main character.
I plan to listen to the rest of these books this summer with Dad and the boys.

The Agatha Raisin Companion

I ordered this book from ENGLAND! It is not yet available in the U.S.
This is only my second "companion" to read, and this is not my favorite. Diana Gabaldon's companion tot he first four Outlander books was excellent! It included so many fun facts and such diverse information (glossary, horoscopes, etc.). This companion consisted of varying glossaries, a very few recipes, and a quiz that rehashed information already conveyed in previous chapters.
Perhaps I will donate this book to the Nashville Public Library.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Susan and I just finished book 5! I think we started it 3 months ago. We always listen to them (which is what I recommend anyone does because Davina Porter rocks a Scottish accent like no other!). The CDs for these books come in 2 sets of about 25 each. Toward the end of the first set, I started to lose interest. Susan pulled me along for a couple of CDs and got me going again. See, you should read with a friend!
This story is meandering and hard to assign a "plot" to, but I think it was fun anyway. I had hoped it would end the saga of Stephen Bonnet, but it didn't. It did start to clear up some Ian Murray-ness. It did create a relationship between Jamie and Roger (huzzah!). It just did a lot, and it all satisfactorily!
Gabaldon's blog references some good lines from this book. I will echo Allison who said, "My favourite line? From The Fiery Cross, when Jemmy asks if Jamie has balls, and Jamie replies 'Aye, lad, I have … But your Da’s are bigger.' Lord, how that man warms my heart!" I think that was my favorite line from this book. The whole post is available at
These books just make me happy. On to A Breath of Snow and Ashes!

Readicide by Kelly Gallagher

I am a recently converted Kelly Gallagher-ite. I also have started poking around his blog at I just finished Readicide and, I must confess, found myself in a bit of a mid-life crisis. This book is all about ways for the English teacher to help students retain/gain a love for reading. The mid-life crisis part comes in when this book is paired with (1) the arrival of End of Course testing scores and (2) the graduation of the next to last class I will have taught.
The test scores affected me because I used to like getting them back. I know that is contrary to the popular belief, but I found them reassuring. I liked the concrete input from someone else saying that I was doing a good job. That just doesn't exist in the library. I don't get any feedback regarding how students perform as a direct result of my role in their lives. I don't know how to get this, but it is definitely something I miss.
Graduation made me sad this year. The faculty is always given an opportunity to choose students to whom one would like to distribute diplomas after graduation. Last year Dr. Pelham forgot to do this, and I had to email him about it. This year, I also sent a reminder email. When did the list get posted? On the day I was gone to Arkansas and was unable to sign up. By the time I returned on Monday, only kids I recognized (not felt connected to) were left on the list for me to choose. So, I spent graduation at a table next to 3 very connected teachers giving diplomas out to students who love them while I gave diplomas out to kids I had four years ago who didn't really like me then. What a drag! It totally deflated me. Next year's graduating class will be the last class of students I taught. I really hope I get to choose the kids I hand diplomas to! I also really hope I come to find a place within myself where I feel like I am affecting students in the library as much as I did in the classroom.
I know I was a great teacher, and I know I'm a good librarian (still figuring it out!). I just want to know I am loved by students again. I really miss their sense of reliance on me and the feeling that I made a difference in their lives.
This is a random post that really has nothing to do with this book. The book is great. If you teach English, you should read this book. It is revitalizing. That is another thing I miss about teaching. My favorite part of the year was reflecting on how I had done and planning for the next year. I guess that's the real source of this book's making me sad; I miss the chance try teaching some of my favorite titles again.
No one understands this. Susan and Mom think I'm crazy. Maybe I am, but it's still how I feel.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton

This is the latest Hamish Macbeth mystery; the English title is just Death of a Sweep. I enjoy this cozy series. These books are easy reads and rather enjoyable.

I usually listen to these on tape, but I'm listening to Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross right now, I read this one. When I read these, I am more aware that they are not really mysteries with the same connotations as usual (think Hercule Poirot). There is no great reveal of the murderer. Hamish usually knows who the murderer is throughout most of the story. The real story comes in when you try to figure out the motive behind the murder. (I also enjoy the Scottish element and reading the dialect!)

Once again, Beaton is a tried and true reading escape! I read this series and the Agatha Raisin series. You can find all of titles in these series at

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

I read Aurelia after reading Academy 7. It took me longer to get through Aurelia because, honestly, it was not as well-written as Academy 7. Since Aurelia was Osterlund's first book and I really enjoyed Academy 7, I will say that I am really glad she grew as an author. Since I read on her blog that both of these works are intended to be the start of a trilogy, I am glad to know that any successive books will have better writing.
In addition to writing, I also feel that the plot of this work was weaker. The basic premise is that there have been a few attempts on a princess' life and a childhood friend is called in to keep any eye on her without her knowing. The friends haven't seen each other in a while, and, before you know it, romance is blooming.
This story is set sometime in the past (when carriages and swords were used), but the characters are very modern in their words, actions, and names. An interesting question to pose here for a book club would be: Were teens in the past really very different from modern teens or do we just think they were because of the books we read today? (If you comment, go on and answer that one.) I think that people have always been the same. I think their language and syntax would have been different from ours, but their thoughts were to whether or not they really said what they thought...I don't know. I wonder how much history books have glossed over reality for the sake of propriety.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

This book is nominated for the 2011-2012 VSBA. I am starting to read them early!

I picked this one up first because I thought it looked like a historical fiction novel. I read the blurb on the book; it sounded like a teen love story, but nothing really to go on. As soon as I got into this book, I discovered that it is actually a work of science fiction. This is not my favorite genre, but I really enjoyed this book. It reminds me broadly of Stephenie Meyer's The Host in that it is a sci-fi story based on setting, but it is really a modern teen love story based on the plot.

This is the story of Dane, the rich son of a major leader in the universe, and Aerin, the fugitive daughter of a rogue trader. Based on their performance on an entrance exam, they are both placed in the most prestigious school in the universe: Academy 7. Dane needs to be there to be away from the shadow of his family and Aerin needs to be there because she has nowhere else to go. Initially the two conflict, but then...

I really did enjoy this book. On her webpage, the author states that this is part of a trilogy in her mind. I hope she publishes the rest!

I am hoping to change the format of our book club next year and, with the help of Limitless Libraries, have all of us read the same title at the same time. If we do, I really appreciate Anne Osterlund's posting questions on her webpage:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

This is a classic that I had never read. Both Gwen and Susan had recently mentioned it to me, so I took that as a sign to pick it up. It is one of those modern classics that I had not read (like The Witch of Blackbird Pond that I did not read until I was in my 20s; I've told Susan to read it).
I have now passed this book on to my Dad. He recently told me that there was a German POW camp near his hometown of Buhl, ID. Of course, he didn't know about it at the time (since he was born in 1942!). You can read about Camp Rupert at
This is the story of 12-year-old Patty Bergen, a Jewess in small-town Arkansas and her encounter with Anton, a German POW in the camp near her town.
This book is well-written. There are so many inferences to be made; I think it would be great for a 7-9th grade student.
I cried in several places when I felt that Patty was misunderstood by her family. The writing in those places is bare and painful. I would just be in tears thinking of things I wanted to say to her daddy.
If you read this or have read it in the past, please discuss the comparison of Patty's father to Hitler. Patty and Anton have a brief discussion about this. I also think that the discussion of how Hitler came to power can be compared to how it became acceptable for Patty's father to abuse her (gradual acceptance).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee

This is the last book Suzanne Supplee has out right now. I plan to read any others when they come out.
Premise: This is the story of a girl from Starling, Tennessee (fictional location) who comes to Nashville (REAL location) to make it in country music. Once again with Supplee, this is no extraordinary tale; everything in this book could really happen. It is relatable, and that is why I like it. Sure, the occasional vampire novel is nice for escapism, but girls need these stories. Girls need to find themselves in a novel and see a life that is real.
Question: What dream did you have that you never accomplished? I wanted to study abroad, but I never did.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When Irish Guys Are Smiling by Suzanne Supplee

I REALLY like Suzanne Supplee...I've even sent her fan email...and she writes back! Here is an interview with her:,,1000070368,00.html?sym=QUE. Her website can be found at I am currently reading her book Somebody Everybody Listens To.

This is a breezy novel in a series I didn't know existed: Students Across the Seven Seas. I am glad to discover this series because not every teen girl wants to date a vampire or really be a fairy. I think it is kind of like Sweet Valley High for exchange students. They can be found at I am trying to get them ordered by Limitless Libraries for our school's library!

I sometimes toy with the idea of writing. I had that bad experience with the writing competition a few months back, but I am still VERY happy with my short story that came of it. I have an idea for a book of similar short stories...maybe that will happen this summer. What I like about Supplee is that her stories are real. I have another idea for a novel I've been toying with but afraid to start it because it was just real, as opposed to extraordinary. Maybe I'll write it anyway.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Current Reading

I haven't posted in a while because I am in the middle of some long works. I am reading The Mists of Avalon (about half way through) and listening to Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross. I only have the first half of The Fiery Cross on CD, so I'll have to read the last half. When I get there, I think I'll start listening to The Help; I am a firm believer that accents and voice matter!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Breath of Angel by Karen Henley

This book will be publsihed in June 2011. It is Book One of The Angeleon Circle. Information on this book can be found at

I know that vampires were "it" a couple of years ago. Since then, people have been trying to find the next big thing in fantasy: ghosts, witches, zombies, and even angels. This book is about angels.

It is the story of Melaia, a priestess in Navia who has been trained as a chantress but has NOT been trained in the ways of angels. This is unfortunate, since an angel is killed in her courtyard by a hawk-man. Through her recitation of a song she has known all of her life, she comes to understand that angels and legends she had not believed in before are actually real. As the book continues, she comes to understand that she plays a great role in the angel legend.

I really liked Melaia's love interest, Trevin. I hope future books further develop this relationship. In fact, I feel that this relationship is the most well-developed part of this book. It seems real and captures the uncertainty and need for acceptance that constitute teen relationships.

The rest of the book seems rushed. I feel that the author probably wrote a 500-page novel and someone at the publishing company told her to cut it down to 300 pages. There is so much action (plot-driven-ness) packed into these pages, that character development seems left out. I think this book would benefit from first-person narration; at least one character would be more fully developed. In fact, there is so much action and there are so many characters, that I am not sure teen girls (the intended audience) will stick with it. There were times when I felt overwhelmed reading this, and I'm a good reader. Also, the end seems contrived and too neat of a package (Jerrod and Melaia's father, etc.); the story almost seems soap-opera-ish with all of the inter-connections.

With that said, I do want to read the rest of this series. I like Melaia and Trevin, and, since I pushed on and finished the book, I want to know what happens to them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I watched the movie version of this before I read the book; I do not recommend doing so.

Why do I read Nicholas Sparks? He just makes me sad. I know I looked like a goob crying in my car while I listened to this book on tape. I found this little nugget on the same webpage and find it enlightening: I like the 3rd paragraph best as an answer to my issues with Sparks.

There is a summary of this book at Will someone else who read this book please tell me if John Tyre dropped out of high school? I just read it, and I did not think he dropped out; I thought he graduated and then lived as a loser for a while. The description on Sparks' own page describes him as a drop-out. (If that had been the case, then the book would have had to describe his getting his GED before he could join the army...which it didn't do...BTW!)

My problem with this book is that I know what happened in it was the right thing to do, but I still wanted something else to happen (like her husband to die of cancer? Horrible thought!).

Finally, the saddest question of all: How many people did this happen to after 9/11? (I am particularly glad to say that my friend Laura Corlew's fiance just returned from a tour of duty and they are still in love and engaged and getting married in June!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Follies of a Youth by Misti Beem Jenkins

I wrote a short story for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It writing contest back in January. My story can be found at; it is #14. I really enjoyed writing my story and thought it was quite good. The English classes at Overton were encouraged to read the short stories and vote for their top 3. Of course, many of them came and told me they voted for me! I had the best compliment from John Robinson when he told me that it was the best short story he's ever read and he now wanted to read Jane Austen.
The competition ended on March 1. I came in 12th in the popularity portion of the contest and missed moving on to the talent round by 2 positions. I am very sad because apparently only one vote from Overton counted because our computers are all on the same network.
After several email exchanges with a representative of the competition, I ended yesterday morning in tears at her rudeness and relief that I didn't win becuase it would have meant dealing with her even more.
I have been encouraged by several friends to make my story into a book. I'll see what the summer holds.
My favorite part of this whole process was when the non-Austen fans asked me to write about what happens to Anne and Captain Wentworth. (If you don't know, please read Jane Austen's Persuasion.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe

I requested this book from the NPL after Gene and I went to see The Eagle ( on our last "Date Saturday." When I went to the movie, I had no idea it was based on a book. I left the movie wanting to read it.
I enjoyed the book, but the 1950s writing was a bit odd. In the last few decades, authors have come a long way with developing character among groups often thought to lack character (ex. Native Americans, Egyptians, Ancient Romans). In this novel, the old attitude that Ancient Romans were a bit heartless still comes across. Yes, Marcus and Esca have a friendship, but its depth is never explained. The romance element is hard to buy as well.
Speaking of the romance element, I am really surprised that it was left out of the movie. I would have thought that Hollywood would have looked for a way to place a beautiful woman in a guys' movie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

I read this book for the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge. This is the first book in the series. When I first discovered this series over five years ago, I started with the fifth book since it was the one I found in the bookstore. This time I have started with the first and am glad of it.

When I first read these books, I had only read Jane Austen's novels and was unfamiliar with her life. This series lured me into reading about her life and her times in Regency England. I remember that I checked out a cookbook with Martha Lloyd's recipes (it even had a recipe for white soup!). I bought Jane Austen's letters edited by Dierdre LeFaye. I asked for a membership to the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) for Christmas (and got it!). I am so grateful for these novels because they returned a desire to learn to me at a time when my personal growth was stagnant (I had just finished my Master's and was in a groove of teaching the same literature in English I every year).

As regards this book in particular, I enjoyed the rediscovery that Jane had initially not liked Lord Harold Trowbridge. Since I have been read what was out five years ago and have only read the new ones as they have come out (and not reread any older ones), I am so used to the idea that Jane and Lord Harold are "friends." It was fun to remember her first suspicions and that I had suspected him of the murders the first time I read this novel.

When I finish one of these novels, I am amazed anew at Barron's word choice and mastery of Jane's style.

It has taken me a while to get this one read along with the other books I am reading for my various responsibilities, but I have this one finished and can't wait to start my second one. My goal is to read one a month from now on.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

This book continues the story of Dr. Robert Langdon (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons). This thriller explores Freemasonry in Washington, D.C.
I enjoyed the interesting tidbits about nation's capital. The paintings and places referenced are always interesting in Brown's work.
Once again, it seems as if Brown cannot stay away from heresy. In fact, it seemed as if in the last few chapters of this book he tried very hard to add heresy on purpose. I suppose this might the result of his commercial success after the heresy of The DaVinci Code.
Yay Me: I figured out Mal'akh's secret as soon as the first clue was given.
Yay Me 2: A students came to the library last year looking for books on symbology after watching The DaVinci Code. We didn't have anything last year for him, but a book came in on the topic just last week. I took it to him and he was so excited. It made my day!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

I was given Room by a friend at work, Megan Lee. It is the story of a boy and his Ma. Ma has been held captive in Room for seven years. Jack, five years old, was born in the shed and has no idea that the world that he sees on TV is real; he thinks the world is just Room.
Words from the back cover that I would use to describe it include: changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness, darkly beautiful, and dazzling use of language. It is so odd in the way that I was laughing at Jack's word choice (I particularly enjoyed the description of the Virgin Birth on p.18. It's a hoot!) and the next minute I was crying at the emotions Ma must be feeling.
You can see a picture of Room at
Query: I wonder if this was modeled after the Jaycee Duggard case or if the timing was coincidental. A friend said she thought it was coincidental. Does anyone know for sure?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume I by Stephenie Meyer

-Art Adaptation by Young Kim
I think I would actually say this is my first manga. The pictures in the graphic novel are much more manga-like than in any of the other graphic novels I have read. This probably has to do with the artist being from South Korea. I like these pictures better than the ones I have seen in other manga works; the characters are manga-like (can't explain it in words, it's just a look), but their eyes are less huge and strange-looking.
I enjoyed this work. It follows the book, not the movie. Be warned: this work ends after the initial sparkly visit to the meadow; I will have to wait for Volume II (and more?) to know how it ends. (Good thing I own the whole set of books!)
Question: Does anyone else have a hard time looking at the pictures? I think I'm just a text person. The pictures don't add anything for me and I spend my time reading the text. (I never was a comic book person as a child.)

Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel by Charlotte Bronte

(American English, Quick Text)
This is the 3rd graphic novel I have ever read; I enjoyed this one more than the others. I'm not really sure what made this American since most of the text came verbatim from the original.
Since I am involved in the Smyrna Public Library's Winter Reading Program, leading our school's Volunteer State Book Awards Book Club, and participating in the Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge, I don't have time to reread favorites because I am reading so many new works. I like the fact that I feel like I got the meat of the text from this work. This version did not even shy away from Bronte's overtly Christian themes! I recommend it to those who already love Jane Eyre, those who want to read Jane Eyre but don't have the time right now, and anyone you want to read Jane Eyre.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge

I plan to participate in this reading challenge as an aficionada who reads 9-11 books! This quite the commitment since I am a mother of two-and-a-half-year-old twin boys and a full-time high school librarian who is working to read books for a book club...but I really love this series and am excited to reread them.

I think it will be fun to remember what Mona Swithin was like when she was younger (since I just read Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron) and just revisit this world again. When I first started the series over five years ago (we lived at our old house then!), the series inspired me to research Jane's life in a way I had never done before; I became serious about her and not just about her writing. I read a cookbook with Martha Lloyd recipes (even one for white soup...Bingley!). When I read Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House, I started researching the Royal Navy. They are just fun and they came to me at a time in my life when my knowledge was stagnant (I had just finished my Master's and my was teaching the same books...again...for the 4th year in a freshmen) and they set that desire for knowledge on fire again. I can't wait to reread books that made a difference inmy life when I needed them to.

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron

I have signed up for the Smyrna Public Library's Winter Reading Program. I have to read 6 books in 6 weeks. I see some graphic novels on my horizon!

This is the 10th book in this Jane Austen mystery series. Unlike other series that attempt to continue some of Jane's works, this series takes Jane Austen and places her as sleuth; I think this is a good fit because Jane was, obviously from her works, an acute studier of human nature. These books are Jane's lost "journals" from her life. The author looks at Jane's letters (Dierdre LeFaye) and bases the books on real places, real people, and real dates in Jane's real existing letters; ingenious!
This book is the first to veer from that premise of historical (letters) fiction. This book takes Jane to Brighton with her brother Henry after the death of his wife, the Comtesse Eliza de Feudille. It is recorded that Jane spent two months with Henry in London after the death of his wife; this jaunt to Brighton is purely fictional.
While in Brighton, Jane meets George Gordon, Lord Byron, who was really in Brighton at the time writing his poem The Giaour about the drowning of a young girl ( Barron uses this poem as the jumping off point of this mystery.
Like all books in this series, these "journals" are written in the style of Jane Austen. I just really enjoy them and recommend them to fans of Jane. This, the 10th, does not disappoint!

If you are interested in reading this series, then you can join the "Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Busy Body by M.C. Beaton

This is the newest novel in the Agatha Raisin series that I have been reading for a few years now. I really enjoy these English cozies (i.e. typical mystery novels). I look to these novels for a break from heavier things; they are just fun for me. This one, like the others, did not disappoint. This one included old and new characters, old and new loves, and crazy situations in the English Cotswolds. (BTW: I wish I had realized what the Cotswolds were when I visited Stratford-upon-Avon when I was 13. Ah, the mistakes of youth!)

Marvel Pride & Prejudice

Adapted by Nancy Butler and Illustrated by Hugo Petrus
This graphic novel just came in to our library; I ordered it because I hope some girl who is interested in manga and graphic novels might pick it up and fall in love with Jane Austen. In these graphic novels based on works of literature, the adapter pulls out significant quotes for the text boxes of the characters. The setting or any other vital information is places in a rectangular box to denote the difference between quotes and the author's extra information.
I may try to read the Jane Eyre graphic novel we already possess at JOHS.