Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Short Jane Austen Actor Love: The 39 Steps

Okay, so my AP students from  last year could (sadly) tell you that I have a bit of a crush on Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion.  This certifiable crush was sealed when I saw the newest film version with Rupert *sigh* Penry-Jones.  Yep.  He made my single girl heart go pitter pat.  I'm not much for the blondies, but I definitely made an exception from him.

Thanks to my Mr. Penry-Jones, I set aside my issues with mysteries to record an episode of Masterpiece Theater on PBS, The 39 Steps.  I hadn't watched it yet, so I settled down this evening to give it a go.  What a treat!!!  The premise of the story is that Jones's character, circa 1918, is given a booklet that contains coded messages from a German spy that will leave the British navy vulnerable to their enemies.  Said man who gave him the booklet is murdered in a hotel in front of him, and then he is blamed for the murder and must go on the run to Scotland.  His goal is then to try to get himself out of the murder accusation, and to uncover the German spy ring threatening home and country.

I have to say that this was a great spy thriller, and one that I could easily recommend to just about anyone.  Not only did it have one of my favorite leading men in it, but it had action, espionage, and even a romance.  Even the romance though was different than I might have expected.  The female lead was strong-willed and didn't need to be saved at every turn of the story, and Penry-Jones's lead wasn't as self-assured as a James Bond character might be, but was confused by his role in the espionage.  His fears and anxiety over what was happening to himself and could happen to his country had me eager to keep watching.  Regardless of any fear Penry-Jones might have displayed through his character, he was still quite the swash-buckling, handsome lead!  Also, he somehow managed to be more than a gentleman throughout all the action, which made him even  more charming.

Based on the novel The 39 Steps by John Buchan, I can absolutely say that the film version of this novel is a must see!  I'm not certain if it will be appearing again on Masterpiece Theater again, but it is well worth an effort to track down if you like spy thrillers or are even a fan of Rupert Penry-Jones.  In just under an hour and a half, this is a really great movie to watch!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Library Loot: Getting Back to Normal

First off, Happy Halloween to everyone! Where I live we generally don't get families with little kids roaming around trick or treating, but instead get teenagers who aren't dressed up, toting pillowcases around asking for candy.  I'm sure that since I work with teens all week, that I'm probably not their best stop along the way!  Halloween is one of those holidays that spells out the first of a string of fun holidays to come, so I'm happy, happy, happy.

As far as reading is concerned, I actually have read quite a bit, but need to find the time and energy to get reviews written!  Since returning to work, I've just been able to get through the day teaching and not much else.  Hopefully this weekend will help put me back on the right track, and my newest acquisitions from the library and in the mail will definitely help me get back into the spirit of blogging!  (P.S.  Thank you to everyone who left kind words this last week.  Your little messages were so sweet!)

Here are two new books that came in the mail this week, that definitely brightened my mood and got me eager to read for the holidays:

The first is a compilation of Pride and Prejudice remakes or tributes that are centered on Christmas.  I'm excited to read an Austen twist on the holidays!  Also, I am eager to read Dating Mr. December after I read the blurb.  When I noticed its about a girl who heads to the Lake District to heal a broken heart, I thought it had a very P&P meets Bridget Jones sort of vibe that should be kind of fun.

As for the library, here's what I picked up last night:

Bright Young Things is a new series by Anna Godbersen, who wrote The Luxe series, that I enjoyed so much.  I've been on the waiting list for this one for months!

Simply From Scratch just looks like a great book that will get me into the holiday baking and staying inside bit of this time of year that I love so much.

Finally, is Breadfruit, which is the follow-up novel to Frangipani that I read earlier this summer (and really loved).  My library actually had the first and the last in the trilogy, but not this particular book, so I requested that they get it.  How much do I love my library that they actually did?!?  Now I can keep reading this fun Tahitian-set story.

Before I forget, I wanted to share my library books for Library Loot, which is a meme hosted by Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Claire from The Captive Reader.  Join us, and share what you've picked up for one of our many great libraries!

Well that's what I've picked up this week.  I'm reading so many different things right now that it does me no good to even begin with that list, but am pretty excited about the new stacks of books waiting for me to read! 

What about you?  What great new book did you get this week that you're dying to dive into?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Short Review: A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers On Why We Read Jane Austen

Today was my first day back at work after five days off.  Let me clarify that those days were spent GRADING for end of term, whenever I wasn't falling asleep from my surgery on Friday.  Honestly, going back to work really only pushed me out of bed early, with real clothes on!  I suppose that's over half the battle though, right?  My voice is still really weak, which has me pretty frustrated.  I'm just hoping it comes roaring back to life soon...literally!

Okay, enough whining on my part!

In between grading and resting up this last week, I picked up a copy of a collection of essays and academic articles on Jane Austen.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but soon found that A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers On Why We Read Jane Austen wasn't a casual read.   This collection of essays really run the gamut, as I gathered when I noted the foreword was written by the very famous literary critic, Harold Bloom.  Other authors have included essays about Jane Austen, her individual works, or varied themes in her writing.  Authors such as:  Eudora Welty, E. M. Forster, Martin Amis, C. S. Lewis, A. S. Byatt, David Lodge, and Virginia Woolf are included in this collection.  Although their topics are varied, and absolutely astute in their ideas, their essays instantly took me back to graduate school. 

Edited by Susannah Carson, it appears that articles were chosen from as varied an audience as possible (among other authors and academics), with pretty critical approaches to Austen's texts.  I will acknowledge that I didn't read every article in the book, as I felt that would require me to get out a pen to annotate the ideas as I went!  I did, however, peruse many of the articles and found them to be pretty weighty reading.  Although I admit to loving a good bit of literary criticism once in awhile, I can't say than an entire collection of essays as presented could tear me away from the weightier selection of novels I have waiting for me right now.  My recommendation, if you are interested in checking out this collection of essays, would be to pick out a few of the articles that seem most interesting.  Otherwise, I might leave this collection to the college version of myself who needed great information and a resource for writing a literary essay of my own.

Here is another review by Jane Austen's World.
Also, another review by Austenprose.

If you've read this collection, or picked it up, what did you think?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quick Follow Up

I mentioned briefly that I was going to be out for surgery.  Thankfully, it all went really well yesterday and I'm home and feeling pretty good.  The entire thing was a bit of a whirlwind, as they found that I had a large mass that we only discovered after I struggled with laryngitis and sore throats for about five weeks.  I have to admit, that as a teacher, thinking about not having a strong voice is a little scary.  I've always been able to yell out over a large classroom of noisy students to get their attention, but have had to resort to whistling to get their attention at the beginning of class, and to writing a lot of things on the board.  Not fun.

Anyway, all is well.  I realize I'm going to really fit in with the Halloween theme this year, as my scar makes me look and feel a bit like Frankenstein!  Maybe I can pull off some "bride of" theme?  What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The W's of Reading: Reading Anxiety

I hate to admit it, but books have been causing me anxiety lately!  Tell me if any of these sound familiar to you:
  • There are so many good books coming out, that I feel like I can never die because of all the stories or sequels I'd miss.
  • My TBR (too be read) pile and "wishlists" on different sites have grown to the point where I feel stymied by all I NEED to read.
  • When I'm reading a book, I can stress myself out by anxiously looking at what page I'm on, over and over again.  A friend of mine in graduate school used sticky notes once to cover the page numbers in a book we were reading.  I've since thought that might be a good idea in some cases!
  • Work doesn't leave me enough time to read for several hours, only snippets here or there.
  • I see new books coming out, so I jump to reserve them at the library, only to get them and have to return them because I can't read them before they need to be returned!  Then, I'm back at the end of that monstrous wait list again. *sigh*
  • Sometimes I feel like there are books I "should" read, but I keep breaking off to read things I want to read, only because I deep down resent the "should" reads?  Yea, this one makes me feel really nuts.
  • If someone gifts me a book, it can take me up to a year to read it, only leaving me feeling guilty and needing to explain the whole TBR pile to them so they aren't hurt!
  • Since I read more than one book at once, sometimes I feel like it takes me forever to get through the books I'm reading (which is true).  My chunksters make me feel like the slowest reader on earth!
  • I carry a book around so that I can read at any given moment that might relinquish a few minutes to read, which never happens.  Then, when I DO need one, I don't have it with me!  Thank goodness for my Kindle application on my iPhone there, or this one would really drive me crazy.
  • I plan out books I'll read over vacations and holidays, knowing that there are certain books that just have to be read in one sitting and not over a number of days.
I'm sure I could go on.  You get the picture.  Maybe I need a bit of book therapy?  Actually, all I need is a couple of good hours a day of reading to help me feel less book/reading anxiety.  Is that too much to ask?  Am I alone in having a case of Reading Anxiety? Is there anything about reading that can cause you anxiety?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Emma volumes 6 & 7

For the manga faint of heart, these might just be the ticket.  Told in Victorian England, with a very upstairs--downstairs tale, the story of Emma is interesting and engaging.  I'm new to reading manga, but have really enjoyed this series!  Just a warning, there are *SPOILERS* ahead!

Synopsis #6:  Emma and William are now writing one another, since they are separated not only by class, but also by distance.  Although William loves Emma, conflict arises as his family and the people around him get wind of his attachment to a servant.  In the end, are his family and friends conniving enough to keep the two apart?

Review:  This is a gap piece in the series, but still very entertaining.  The tension has shifted to the distance separating William and Emma, and not whether they actually like one another (although that is still pretty understated).  You can't help but feel for Emma as she toils away at her job.  She just seems to be so good!  Maybe she's a bit too good to be true?  I also have to admit that with her big eyes and glasses, I keep thinking they will reveal she has magic in those glasses somehow.  Strange, I know, but I can't help but think the author will spring that on me!

Synopsis #7:  In this installment, Emma has been swept away to America as a drastic measure to separate her from William.  This doesn't dissuade William, who follows her there to save her.  Facing the disapproval of his upper class neighbors and friends, William brings Emma back to England with him, despite what they all think or say.

Review:  I have to say that this installment was a bit of a head scratcher for me.  I would think that taking a jaunt over to America in that time period would not be some casual endeavor, and yet that is how it is approached.  My assumption is that Emma would be in America for months before William could find her, but the story makes it seem as if everything happened in a matter of days.  Yes, it's all very hero-saves-the-day sorts of romantic, but seemed a bit implausible to me.  It's still a good story, but this installment was a bit odd.  I guess I got too caught up in the logistics and specific details of things to enjoy how the story unfurled.  I'm still off to read the next installment though!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off of library copies of the stories.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

I'm pretty hard pressed to remember where I'm at in this series half the time.  If I didn't keep a book log as well as this blog, I'd be lost!  Since I'm up to my eyebrows in grading right now, and just have a lot on my mind, the Sookie Stackhouse series has been a strange little escape from it all.  I recently finished reading From Dead to Worse and am still struggling to figure out what Harris was doing with this book.  This was a good book, but maybe a bit more of a transitional book than forwarding the story much?  I'm still not sure.

Synopsis:  Since I struggle a bit to identify this book, forgive me as I rely on Goodreads for a tidy summary:

"The supernatural community in Bon Temps, Louisiana, is reeling from two hard blows - the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the man-made horror of the explosion at the vampire summit the month before in the up-north city of Rhodes. Sookie Stackhouse is safe but dazed, yearning for things to get back to normal. But that's just not happening. Too many vampires - some friends, some not - were killed or injured, and her weretiger boyfriend, Quinn, is among the missing.

It's clear that things are changing, whether the Weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie - friend of the pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, the leader of the local vampire community - is caught up in the changes.

In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death... and, once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood flowing, her world will be forever altered."

Review:  I really liked this eighth installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series, as it seemed to get back to Sookie living her life in Bon Temps.  I sometimes find myself frustrated when Sookie becomes the target of a bunch of bad guys that she then needs protecting from.  That's not to say there wasn't some of that in this book, and maybe I'm just growing immune to the lighter variety threats, but these felt less dangerous than some of the previous snares Sookie has been involved in.  Thankfully, Quinn is out of the picture.  Yes, I think he was a nice, protective diversion for Sookie, but I wasn't a huge fan and felt that he might be pretty short-lived as a romantic interest.  Obviously, with a stronger connection to Eric that has been established over the course of the previous seven books, we know that he will probably be popping up a bit more.  I can't say that will be a disappointment!

Although there is a shifting of power going on in book eight, and there is a new king that Eric has to pander to, this book felt more about regrouping.  With the big catastrophe in Rhodes, from the previous book, that left the paranormal community rocking (and many dead), and also the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, this book seemed more about seeing where all our characters were at and how they were doing.  To me, this seemed like a slower-paced storyline that helped the reader retrace everything.  I enjoyed this regrouping and appreciate the continued strength that Sookie goes on to show.  Also, Sookie draws closer to family in this book, which adds an interesting twist to the story that had me reaching for book nine pretty quickly!  

If you haven't read this series, or started it and felt frustrated, I say continue on.  Looking back, I struggled through books two through four.  Once I got past that initial slump, I've been eager to find out what would happen in each book since!

As I mentioned in my review, I felt this book was a bit of a bridge.  Do you ever feel that there are books in a series that are there to bridge to a new twist in the story rather than to really add or continue what was started?  Are these books necessary, or at least necessary to that degree?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Library Loot: Sunday Blatherings

What a nice week.  Working three days out of seven seems the perfect answer to a full-time job, right? Actually, we've been off from school for "Fall Break," which is actually UEA weekend.  Technically, they run a state conference on Thursday and Friday, but the district didn't really even advertise it, nor call our break UEA weekend.  Considering that our district purchased a new grading system and we're being asked to turn in all of our grades, finished, by the day before the term ends (in two short weeks), I've been using this break to grade, grade, grade.  I'm almost half way through a stack of 115 essays and see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Next week I go in for surgery.  I can't say it's not serious, but I do feel confident that it should be all right.  In preparation to be gone for a few days, I've had to move my "serious" units and teaching until after I get back.  I'm crossing my fingers that I'll have a voice and the energy to really hit them  hard when I do return!  I'm kind of excited though, since I'll be starting Oedipus with my juniors and studying language structures and foreshadowing.  With my AP students, we'll be starting Beowulf before I leave.  I have this great couple of lessons on linguistics and the history of the English language that the students get pretty sucked into.  It's fun times!  As for my Popular Fiction class, we're fully into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.  Helping students who haven't read the first six get up to speed has been a lot trickier than I originally thought!  We've had to spend about a week talking about different elements of the story so they can read book seven.  Honestly though, most of them have seen the films, so they should get the gist of the story.  Now it's time for them to just start reading!

As for my own reading, I can say that I've been doing a lot.  Most of it has been centered around still trying to finish up the Harry Potter series.  I still have about 1/3 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to read, so I'll need to really keep reading as much as I can.  My biggest issue is that I have to bounce around a bit.  I have been reading other things as well, so I haven't solely been reading just Harry Potter. 

Many of the books I currently have on hold at the library are books that they are ordering or processing, so I didn't have many to pick up this week.  In fact, I only had the two:  The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig and Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  Both should be great reads though!  (FYI, Library Loot is a meme hosted by Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Claire from The Captive Reader.)

Well, I have nothing else great nor exciting to report.  I'm happily rested, my house is clean, and I know what I'll be doing at school for my lessons (that's over half the battle).  In short, I'm doing well right now.  How about you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Tumbling Through Time by Gwyn Cready

It's pretty ironic that on this Fall Break 2010 that I would be reviewing a book by the same author that I read two years ago at this time.  Being the big Jane Austen fanatic that I've finally acknowledged that I am, based mainly off the number of reviews I've posted on Austen-related material, I picked up Seducing Mr. Darcy.  Yes, for purists this could seem the grandest of sacrilege to place Darcy in a romance novel.  I couldn't help myself though, and had to see how in the world someone could take this on.  Honestly, I thought Cready's style was snarky and flat out hilarious.  My original thoughts on Mr. Darcy were not abolished, nor affected at all. 

This past summer I was asked to read Cready's newest novel that came out in March, Flirting With Forever, and which I still have to review.  However, I had already picked up a copy of her first novel, Tumbling Through Time and wanted to read that before I tackled her newest installment.  Interestingly enough, Cready just put out a fourth novel in September, Aching For Always.  I don't know if I'll be reading her newest as well, but we'll see.  I'm hoping that her characteristic "snarky" style carries out, which I'll see when I read that third novel.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Wandering the Pittsburgh airport before a business trip, Seph decides to kill time with some preflight shopping -- anything to get her mind off Tom Fraser, her irresistible, dimple-chinned coworker turned travel buddy. So when a pair of to-die-for pink stilettos calls her name from a store window, she tries them on -- only to be swiftly transported back to the eighteenth century and flung aboard a turbulent ship sailing the Mediterranean!
There, Seph is stunned to meet Phillip Drummond, an arrogant British pirate and the spitting image of Tom. Phillip has summoned her back in time to straighten out his complete mess of a life -- for he is the burly hero in the romance novel she someday hopes to write, and she is responsible for his destiny. But in the midst of turning things right so she can get back to reality, Seph starts to fall for the smoulderingly sexy Phillip. And when Tom is thrown into the mix, she doesn't know what -- or who -- she wants. Seph soon realizes that spotting the perfect pair of shoes may be easy, but finding the perfect man can be a real trip."

Review:  Having read Cready's Seducing Mr. Darcy, and genuinely getting a good laugh out of the premise, I was eager to go back and pick up her first published novel.  Cready's tongue-in-cheek style and sarcastic come backs are still, delightfully present in this story of Seph, Tom, and Phillip.  I still laughed, smiled, and even rolled my eyes a bit at the main character's antics.  The idea of going back in time and creating out of the main hero the love interest in your present day is pretty cute.  Outside of the personal voice that I enjoy (could that be because I've developed a good deal of snarkiness in teaching teens?), I have to say that I actually got mixed up a good deal in the plot.  It wasn't an easy story to follow for me, as it went from present day to the past, with two different male leads.  I mainly got mixed up in the past when it delved into the history that Phillip was caught up in.  Seph had the stress of trying to save her male lead's life, literally, through the way they shaped time (you know, like in Back to the Future).  This made for a somewhat confusing storyline for me, and one that I didn't connect to very quickly. 

While I can't say that I particularly loved Tumbling Through Time, I do like Cready's personal voice, which comes through her main female lead characters in this novel and Seducing Mr. Darcy.  If you're interested in a funny time travel sort of romance, I'd try her Darcy story first.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review based off of a personal ebook copy of the novel.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Film Review: Doctor Zhivago (2002)

Growing up, I somehow decided that "real love" had some sort of tragedy involved.  In fact, I didn't think it was romantic or a deep love if tragedy didn't separate the couple in some way.  I know.  As an adult I now realize how sick I was (and am), and that I've set myself up for a repetition of my own sick ways.  I won't go into my own love life, but I will say that tragedy was involved.  Do I think that was real love?  Yes, but I can't say that it is "romantic," nor a way to spend one's life.  Thankfully I have realized that's not the best form of love, but I do still, strangely, like tragedy!

Having backed up my view on tragedy, I have to precede my review of Doctor Zhivago with a quick explanation.  I grew up on musicals and old movies.  An 8-Track of Camelot piped through our house on Saturday mornings while we cleaned--in fact, I can't hear the song "Camelot" without feeling like I need to pick up a dust rag!  Although Doctor Zhivago isn't a musical, "Lara's Theme" is haunting and fits the film.  Yes, the film is sad and tragic, but I have loved it for a very long time.  This is why I had to watch the new, updated version with Keira Knightley that came out in 2002.

Synopsis:  From, "A man torn between two women amid the chaos and brutality of the Russian Revolution.  One of the world’s most famous love stories and half a century of Russian history come to life in this adaptation of Pasternak’s masterpiece by celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice). War and revolution bring poet and physician Yury Zhivago (Hans Matheson) together with the beautiful Lara (Keira Knightley), his muse and all-consuming passion. But both are haunted--Yury by guilt over his betrayal of Tonya, his beloved wife, and Lara by fear of Komarovsky (Sam Neill), the powerful man who means to have her any way he can."
Review:  This mini-series was good, but just didn't reach the epic scale of the 1965 film version of the story.  The acting in the series was surprisingly good, as well as the sets, and I thought that their demonstration of the conflict in Russia to be necessary.  Having said that, I somehow couldn't get past Keira Knightley as Lara.  I think that Knightley is beautiful and an amazing actress, but have to admit that I missed our more vulnerable Lara in Julie Christie.  Zhivago was also hard for me to take in Hans Matheson, mainly because his roles in other films have been so diverse as to distract me and remind me of his other characters.  For instance, he has played Marius in the film version of  Les Miserables, but also the dastardly scoundrel Alec D'Urberville in the amazing new adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.  Honestly, I saw him more as Alec, so couldn't sympathize as much with him.  Yes, he is a great actor, and one that I think has amazing talent to have me so riled up at his individual performances, but will admit that I'm overly influenced by these other parts he has played.

If you are a fan of the original Doctor Zhivago, I say you really must watch this version.  If you are not familiar with it, have a culturally iconic flashback moment and watch the older version of the film.  Actually, they are both are worth your time.  Let me be honest in saying that the story is sad and tragic, but is interesting in its treatment of love and marriage.  This movie haunts me, and to this day has me wondering if the loss in the film is worth it for that chance to have loved at all?  As the adage goes, "It's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."  In the case of this film, we encounter that adage up close, and I'm still not sure if that's true.  All I know is that I hope that's not my own destiny!

By the way, although the novel is dense with Russian politics that can be confusing, this is also a great novel.

What do you think?  Do you think it's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all? 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Give Away Winners: In the Arms of Mr. Darcy

Congratulations to:

Christy F.


Cynthia W.

Both of the winner's numbers were drawn and will be receiving a copy of Sharon Lathan's newest novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy.  I have forwarded your address to Sourcebooks.

Thanks again for stopping by to join in on this giveaway!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

24 Hour Readathon: Finish Line & Giveaway Reminder

Last night I ended up staying up until close to 2am.  By that point though, I can't say that it was that productive!  Here are my wrap-up stats.

Number of books read since you started:  2 (but they were manga) & a bunch of pages in a bunch of other books.
Running total of pages read since you started:  About 520? 
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 6
Mini-challenges completed:  Still just the 1 that didn't get posted during the insanity yesterday.
Other participants you’ve visited:  Not sure?  I bounced around a little.

After some sleep, I'm feeling better about all the interruptions to my Read-a-thon this time around.  Life happens!  :)  I actually think I'll be doing a bit of reading today, mixed with a giant stack of papers to grade as we head toward our end of term at the end of October.  Today, I'll be taking it easy though and enjoying my Sunday!

Just as a quick reminder though, don't forget to sign up to win one of two free copies of Sharon Lathan's newest novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, which came out at the beginning of the month!   The giveaway closes tonight at midnight so there is still time to join in the giveaway!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

24 Hour Readathon: Post Freak Out Reading Update

Well, I am back to close down shop in a sense.  I probably will be too out of it later to stop back to post.  My reading stats aren't stellar, but I tried, given my circumstances today. 

Number of books read since you started:  2 (but they were manga) & a bunch of pages in a bunch of other books.
Running total of pages read since you started:  400+??? 
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 4 1/2--I'm not judging it though.
Mini-challenges completed:  1 that I couldn't post because it expired, thanks to supposed carbon monoxide that was going to kill me.  :)
Other participants you’ve visited:  10+???  I bounced around a little.

I won't lie.  I feel pretty deflated about  my participation this time around.  Yes, I struggled to get going earlier, but was really thrown off track by the whole fire department bit.  It's a funny story though.  My apologies to everyone and a big thank you to so many great people who have been cheering for me and everyone else!  Also, the organizers have been fantastic, as always.  Thanks for giving us this chance! 

Well, I'm off to read until my eyes shut for the night.  I think a little Harry Potter just might help ease my sadness at the fail that was my readathon this time around! 

24 Hour Readathon: Update #1 & a HUGE Interruption

Title of book(s) read since last update:  None...yet.  Can you believe that?
Pages read since last update:  100+ ??? 
Amount of time spent reading since last update:  2 1/2 hours
Mini-challenges completed: 1--"Love to Hate"
Other participants you’ve visited:  None...yet.  Sad, I know!
Prize you’ve won:  0

I know I sound pretty pathetic so far!  I actually had a really slow start, as I seemed to not be able to really settle in right at the beginning.  Since I got a late start, and was struggling to get into my reading, I packed up my library stack and headed off to the library where I had a couple of books waiting for me.  That took me FOREVER thanks to a slew of construction we have between my house and the library.  Literally every street between my house and the library is down to one lane, filled with orange barrels, lights were blinking, and heavy trucks were dodging in and out of the construction.  To be honest, I have whittled down my trips to the library to Saturdays only, since getting around is much worse during the work week.  Anyway, I did THANKFULLY get into my audio book, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.  I grabbed a salad on my way home, and am back to really focus!

Since getting home, I popped in the audio book because I can't quite give it up.  I've cleaned my house from top to bottom as I've listened and am now ready to settle into a nice chair in my room and read for the next three hours!  At least my house is clean now and I've exhausted myself into the ability to settle down and read.  :)

UPDATE:  So, in the middle of this post, my fire/CO2 alarm started going off.  To make a long story short,  I had to call the fire department.  Big red truck with flashing lights pulled up.  No carbon monoxide, just change the battery.  Yes, I thought I was stupid.  Changed battery.  Still kept going off.  I looked it up online, tried everything known to mankind.  Nothing. Called builder.  He said call electrician, who said, "Pull it off the wall.  Sounds like you have a defective alarm."  Does it sound like I'm having a good Read-a-thon?  A stalled start, fire department visit, tears over a squealing alarm that was bothering me and my neighbors, and half a post that was written that I had to bag because the meme was over.  *sigh*  I'm calming down.

I think I'll keep going with the Read-a-thon casually, but I'm a bit flustered right now, as well as feeling pretty defeated.  All is well though.  I will try to come back and be supportive.  Sorry, but my parade was rained on today.  At least it didn't happen in the middle of the night! 

I couldn't help but think of that hilarious scene from Friends where Phoebe's fire alarm kept going off no matter what she did.  I tried to embed it here from YouTube but they are all disarmed.  Here is the link if you want a good laugh.  At least it's a universal frustration we can laugh about!

24 Hour Readathon: The Start

Yay!  Today I get started on Dewey's bi-annual Read-a-thon!  Yes, I'm off to a late start, but after a LONG work week I knew there was no way I'd be able to pull my eyes open and succeed in keeping them open if I didn't get some sleep first.  I'm here though and ready to start.  Just a few stats and thoughts before I head off to read.

1.  I rechecked the sign up sheet, and I was #40 on the original list.
2.  Last year I read for 11 hours, which doesn't sound stellar even to me, so I'm going to at least try to reach 12!
3.  Last year I read 3 books.  This year I'd like to read 4. 

See, nothing big, but I am going to push myself a little.  Now for the starting meme hosted by Dewey's Read-a-thon:

Where are you reading from today?  I'll be reading from home.  I know I'll be switching locations though, and at one point I have to run to the library, so I'll be listening to a book in the car!  :)
3 facts about me …  1)  Yesterday was my b-day and I, admittedly, planned my participation as a "day after" present to myself!  2)  I teach high school English in Utah, but my mom lives in Hawaii, where I spend my time off.  AND   3)  I'm a HUGE Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan.  In fact, I worry about annoying people during March Madness.
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?  Over 30.  Yep, I tried to narrow it down, but gave up.  I decided to just draw from my shelves for today, which is a combination of library books, Advanced Review Copies, books I've won, and books I've purchased and been waiting to read.
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?  I try to keep my goals modest, as I'm sure sleep will rule out at some point, so I'm just going to try to best my last Read-a-thon goals and read 4 books and 800+ pages today!  I'm kind of excited!  :)
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?  Don't get overwhelmed with how much others are reading.  Enough said.  I stay up as long as I can, but I don't kill myself off trying to stay up the entire 24 hours.  Since I want this to be a fun experience, I just put into it what I can and enjoy all the company I know I have out there who are reading with me! 
 All right.  I'm off to go grab my book and start reading.  I'm also going to simultaneously be fixing my breakfast!

Just a quick note.  I won't be posting every hour, but planned on posting every three so that I could keep on a roll with my reading.  I might be back in from time to time though for a challenge!  If you're reading today as well, then happy reading.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson

I'm not quite sure where this week has gone, but here it is nearing the end.  I've had little to no time nor interest in reading since Monday, which is crazy, but I think will prepare me well for the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon coming up on Saturday.  If you haven't yet signed up to join in, you can follow the link above to find out additional information. 

This summer I was approached about reading a Jane Austen mashup for her famous novel Emma.  Although I haven't yet read a paranormal version of her novels, I will admit to being somewhat curious, so I agreed to read and review Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson.  Honestly, it has me chuckling from time to time and can say that it wasn't as painful as I'd expected!  It was a funny diversion.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she's the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her."

Review:  Although some readers have found any retelling of Austen's novels blasphemous, I have to say that I found Emma and the Vampires to be pretty funny.  Much of the story is almost an exact copy of Austen's original, with the addition of vampires that stumble from the bushes to attack unaware humans at the end of a social occasion.  It quickly becomes obvious though that Emma can handle herself and easily uses the wooden stake tied to her leg at all times to eliminate her undead attackers.  

Many of our well-known characters from the novel are also undead, but have somehow learned to rely on animals and other food sources than humans (unless it is their own spouse).  Mr. Knightley, for one, is part of the undead, yet remains civilized and ready to stand up for the highest comportment of his society.  In some ways, these vampire battles and undead characters take little away from the original tale, but rather, add a bit of humor.  I found myself giggling at scenes where the undead were inserted in a casual conversation.  It just seemed a little funny.  In the end though, I didn't think that anything was taken away from the story, even though the majority of the plot was created and driven by Jane Austen's own imagination, only fueled by a little of the undead.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a copy of the novel provided by the publisher.  No monies were exchanged or received in relation to this post.

What mashups have you read and did you enjoy the humor that the paranormal element added to the story?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The W's of Reading: What's the Best Reading Weather?

Today the rain rolled in and the leaves were sticking to the wet pavement.  Who knew that they would bring such a smile to my face, but all of a sudden I felt the weight of work and bills lift for a moment to really see what was in front of me.  The other thing I find that I always want to do is to grab a nice, snugly blanket and read a few good books. 

I don't want to discount the fun times to be had reading on a beach, from a back porch swing, or even while out for a walk, but fall and winter just seem to be so much more conducive to long stretches of reading.  Who feels pressure to go outside when the weather is bad?  I know I don't. 

Here is to a beautiful fall ahead and a warm holiday season to boot!  I'm looking forward to:

--Snuggling down in the rain to joining in on Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this Saturday.  I have a huge stack of books, so I look forward to diving into them.
--Decorating a little for the upcoming holidays, because isn't that the joy of owning your own home?!?
--Finding a book or two that takes place over the holidays.  It's fun reading about the holidays in a story and it can add so much to the season.
--Re-watching some of my favorite shows.  I love films like When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, and even holiday episodes from Friends

I know this is a short list, but I'm leaving myself open to fun, relaxing times this season. Who would think I would say it, but I say bring on the rain and snow!

What do you most like about the fall and do you find yourself reading more?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review & Giveaway: In the Arms of Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan

I want to thank Sharon Lathan again for stopping by to guest post on my blog.  Sometimes I think of myself as pretty skeptical about real love, even though I'm ever hopeful.  For some length of time, I have determined that, like Lizzy, "Only the truest, deepest love would ever tempt [me] into marriage" (Pride and Prejudice).  Ideally that sounds wonderful, but put to test in the real world can seem impossible!  To put it simply, true love and affection seem pretty far off, but may be not quite so in Lathan's beautifully crafted novels of one of our most beloved couples, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Synopsis:  In this fourth installment, Darcy and Elizabeth are as besotted with one another as ever, and happily enjoying the gift that is their first child.  Their "felicity in marriage" is obvious to all that associate with them, as we see in the opening scenes at Christmastime at Pemberley with family and friends gathered round.  Although the Darcys have been married for about year, and there is much for the young couple to be involved, various other characters come to play a role in the story.  Georgiana Darcy is of age to step out into society, as is Elizabeth's younger sister Kitty.  Under the guidance and watchful eye of Uncle George Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, both young women learn about courtship, hoping to establish a relationship that is anything the likes of Elizabeth and Darcy.  All is not lost though to our most famous couple, as much happens for them to keep them busy and happily in love with their lives together.

Review:  Having read many different takeoffs and mash ups of Austen's novels, I continue to hold Lathan's at the top of the list.  There is something so fanciful and romantic about Sharon Lathan's depiction of Darcy and Elizabeth that I can't quite get enough!  I was happy to see that in this installment the couple have really settled into their roles as man and wife, and are letting go of previous insecurities they might have had previously.  While they have settled into their lives together, their passion and love for one another have only deepened. Yes, we are privy to their passionate relationship as it continues to unfold, but it is done in a beautifully mature sort of way.  Let's be honest here, who wouldn't want to continue to have a passionate relationship with the love of one's life?  If one is willing to suspend a certain belief that this iconic couple have been cemented into the pages of Austen's novel, then these books will allow the couple to live and breathe on into a beautiful, complicated and lovely future.

Although the story mainly centers on Darcy and Elizabeth, we learn much more about the people in their lives, such as their single sisters and friends.  Caroline Bingley makes an appearance in this installment and strikes out to find a match for herself.  Honestly, I wanted to hear more about her search for love, not enough to fill chapters at a time, but was genuinely interested in her struggles enough so that a few more mentions of her would have been well received.  I also was surprised at how much I wanted to read on about Darcy's sister Georgiana and Elizabeth's sister Kitty.  Usually I'm annoyed when a writer takes away from our main characters, but I didn't feel this at all in this novel, partly because our time with them is so judiciously spent.  I will say though that considering the turmoil that poor Georgiana experiences at the end of this installment, I have a feeling that more is to come for this sweet character. 

As with each of Lathan's previous novels, the language and style of her writing has a melodic charm to it that carries you through each line and chapter.  The sweetness of the writing adds depth to the story and leaves you wanting to escape into it more.  There are still the characteristic meanderings, journeys, and felicitous lounging to please any lover of Regency style and romance.  This happy, romantic couple is at no loss of love or happiness in the novel to keep any reader sighing along with them.

Thanks to Sourcebooks, who provided me with this copy of the novel.  In celebration of the release of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy on the 1st, they have offered two copies for giveaway here on One Literature Nut!  If you would like to win a copy of Lathan's newest release, just fill in the form below.  (US & Canada Only) The drawing will close on Sunday, October 10th at midnight!  Good luck! 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Post: Author Sharon Lathan on the Release of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy

I'm SO incredibly thrilled to have Sharon Lathan guest posting today on my blog for the release of her fourth novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, which comes out today!  I have made it clear from the beginning how enthralled I was with this follow up series to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in each of my reviews of her first three novels: Mr. and Mrs. Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy.  My review of her fourth installment will be posted tomorrow, but I wanted to share with you a little bit from Sharon about her experience of being a published author (with so many of us avid fans waiting for each new book). 

For Sharon's guest post, I really wanted to know more about how being a published author has felt and how things have changed for her.

Publishing a Happy Ever After Dream
Sharon Lathan
The first several dozen times anyone referred to me as a “published author” I looked over my shoulder to see whom they were addressing. I associated being published with being famous and rich and eccentric and wildly artsy. Of course that is not the norm for a published author, as I now know. The vast majority of us live in anonymity pursuing our ho-hum lives with little changing except that we are busier than we ever were before. I still encounter people at my work or at church who do not know I have books on a store shelf. I have yet to have a single person, even in my hometown where I have been in the newspapers several times, recognize me while I am shopping or waiting in the doctor’s office. I keep waiting though!

So although neither Oprah nor Ellen have called me up to guest on their TV shows – and I am not holding my breath! – there have been some nice experiences and perks along the way.

All jesting aside, I never wanted to be famous. I still don’t. Rich I would be willing to try though! But neither thought entered my mind when I began submitting my tale of happily ever after for Jane Austen’s famous lovers Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. My only motive was to reach a broader audience with what I believed was a positive story that people would enjoy and maybe even be inspired by. I knew that my prospects were limited within the online community and self-publishing world where I initially began. I knew that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands or tens of thousands, who would appreciate a warm story of marital happiness and a life lived to the fullest if only they could find my saga.

Thankfully Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks agreed with me and made my dream come true.

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One was released in February of 2009. To my joy the response was overwhelmingly favorable. I was right! There were people who loved Austen, loved these characters, and loved the idea of them being happy together! Sure, some folks did not get it. They wanted the unhappily-ever-after. That’s fine. I trusted in the hope for love that we all hold inside our hearts. That search for Mr. Right – or in this case, Mr. Darcy – that compels us to read another love story or watch another sappy chick flick!

Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley came next in September 2009, followed by My Dearest Mr. Darcy in January 2010. I held book signings, was interviewed for articles, flittered all over the net to talk about my novels, received some excellent reviews, and went to conferences. I kept writing and preparing for the next novels. I joined the Romance Writers of America, joined JASNA, and joined local chapters for both. I connected with hundreds of writers, many who are now my dear friends and supporters in this crazy business. I have met some of those famous writers who are on Oprah or in People Magazine or hit the NYT bestseller list.

Every second of that has been fabulous. I am incredibly blessed and enjoying myself to the max!

But you want to know a secret? The best part of all, the experiences that I treasure closest to my heart are meeting the fans. Whether that is face-to-face, via an email, on Facebook, or on my website, nothing compares to hearing from the people who pick up one of my novels and read it. That is when I know that my dream has come true. I have reached people who want a happy story! I have given a multitude of readers the life they imagined for the Darcys. My tale has restored the hope in something remarkable transpiring after the curtain drops or final page is turned.

What have been my favorite experiences as a published author?

Making readers happy and hungry for more. I have never asked for anything else. I plan to continue doing so!

In The Arms of Mr. Darcy is officially released today and carries on my theme of Regency life with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, their son, their family, and their friends. Love abounds not only with Darcy and Lizzy but everyone else! Arriving later this month is A Darcy Christmas, an anthology with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart. Find out how I envision the Darcys’ celebrating Christmas over the decades.

Thank you, Becky, for hosting me today. It is an honor to be on your website and an honor to say that you are one of those readers who have fulfilled my dream.

Learn more about my stories at my website: You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I am also part of two fabulous blogs: Austen Authors at and Casablanca Authors at

If only everyone could be as happy as they are…

Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance blossoms around them.

Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow; Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously; the very flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.

But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings, and lovers’ quarrels to reach their own happily ever afters…

About the Author
Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, and Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford,
California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Fore more information, please visit

Sourcebooks eBook Promotion: Sharon Lathan’s bestselling book, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, (epub: 9781402235184, pdf: 9781402228865) will be available for free download from 10/5 – 10/11. Please visit for more information!

Thank YOU Sharon for guesting today!  Check back for my review of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, as well as a great giveaway of TWO copies of her newest novel, thanks to Sourcebooks.