Book 504: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart (Adventures with Jane Austen and Her Legacy #2) – Beth Pattillo

I really don’t know why I have such a backlog of Jane Austen fan-fiction on my shelves.I truly enjoy reading them and they’re so quick that it’s like why do I delay the gratification?

But then again, on days like yesterday, I realize that stocking them up isn’t necessarily a bad thing because they are WONDERFUL beach reads. Hopefully, this means I’ll be going to the beach more this summer (it’s like maybe a 10 minute walk) and reading quite a few more of these 😀

Seriously, though, this one has been sitting on my shelf since 2013 when Alie sent it to me, which is just a shame because I blazed through it in less than 12 hours. I started it on the beach yesterday, see very end of the post, and finished it on my way to work this morning.

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Book 437: A House Like A Lotus (O’Keefe Family #3) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - A House Like A Lotus (O'Keefe Family #3)As much as I enjoyed the other O’Keefe novels, this one just didn’t work for me. It’s still a great novel, but something about the lay out or Polly’s age, or the subject matter just didn’t work for me. It also didn’t help that I ended a job and started a new one all in the middle of reading this book, so the timing could definitely have been better.

A House Like A Lotus is the third of the O’Keefe Family Series, the sixth book published, but the seventh in chronological order in the Kairos (Murray-O’Keefe) series. It continues the themes of the O’Keefe books of humanity and what people can do to make the world a better place for everyone. Maybe that’s what I didn’t like about this one? Maybe it was too hippy-dippy for me? But considering some of the hippier-dippier books I’ve read recently I don’t think so.

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ARC, Books

Book 372: Not Gay – Jane Ward

Ward, Jane - Not Gay“Straight boys and men, I believe, already have all of the information and proclivities they need to manufacture situations that facilitate homosexual (and heterosexual) activity.” (165)

FINALLY! Academia is talking about fluidity of male sexuality (perceived, lack thereof, the dangers of, etc.). We’ve come a long way from Foucault, Butler, Muñoz. When we’re now looking at the idea that “heterosexuality is, in part, a fetishization of the normal,” (35) and no one is batting an eye. We’re starting to get somewhere.

One of the biggest critiques I had while pursuing my master’s degree was the lack of research, or even recognition, of the fluidity of male sexuality. So much of what we discussed resolved solely on women, women’s sexuality and feminists critique.

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Book 365: The Brontë Project – Jennifer Vandever

Vandever, Jennifer - The Brontë ProjectI’m not sure what it is about Brontë fan-fiction, but they’re just not as whimsical as the Austen fan-fiction. Looking at the subject matters and general ambiance of the works and the author’s lives it is fairly obvious, but when you think about it the options for fan-fiction are limitless. I picked this book (Amazon link) up in late 2012 and have finally gotten around to reading it.

The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read include Solsbury Hill and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and they were both a bit ho-hum. I did enjoy the vilification of Charlotte in Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax trilogy (here, here and here), but that could be the problem. Emily and Anne died so early and Charlotte had so much time to cultivate/purge their images in society that it’s all about Charlotte and not the rest of the family. (“What’s more, she [Charlotte] has become adept at spinning her own legend and constructing her image before the public.” (59) – and I would even argue spinning Emily and Anne’s images, obviously). Even this novel, whose main character, Sara, is in love with Wuthering Heights ends up being predominantly about Charlotte.

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Books, Professional Development

Book 277: The Willpower Instinct – Kelly McGonigal

McGonigal, Kelly - The Willpower InstinctThis wasn’t one of the original self-help books I set out to read this year, but one that I randomly found on the library shelf while looking for another book and I’m glad I snagged it. In case you missed it, I’ve just wrapped up a 10 week project following this book’s program and you can check it out here. I’ve also linked to each of the individual posts at the end of this post.

The book started out slower than I thought it would, but as I followed her instructions and spread it out over the ten weeks, a week per chapter, I found that it was laid out perfectly. Even though I struggled with how slow the implementation of the first bit was, it seriously helped lay the foundations for the later chapters. McGonigal clearly knows her subject matter and set it up in a way to slowly build on every thing until you were ready to tackle the more philosophical/psychological aspects.

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ARC, Books, Reading Events

Book 145: Israel/Palestine and the Queer International – Sarah Schulman

My third book for The Literary Others reading event, and the final ARC of this month was Israel/Palestine and the Queer International. I requested this book via NetGalley and the below response is my honest opinion and I did not receive any compensation. I requested the book as I’m well aware that my knowledge on what is going on and what has happened in the region is woefully lacking and I thought this would be a great perspective for an introduction and boy was I right.

Like most readers, at least on Goodreads it seems, I expected this to be heavier on academics, what with being a publication of Duke University Press (Go Heels! – sorry couldn’t help it 😀 It’s a gut reaction…), but I found it incredibly approachable, well-reasoned and well written. This work clearly shows that Schulman is first and foremost a writer, her eloquent language, pertinent anecdotes and a great mixture of academia and activism really opened this book to a wider audience than I expected it to be able to reach. Previously, I have read two of her novels, After Delores and People in Trouble, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and am definitely interested in reading more of her more recent work, as well as her more biographical works.

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Book 43: A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of DuncesWhat a peculiar novel.

I had to slog through this book and at various times was convinced it was repeating itself. I’m slowly understanding that books that win major awards such as the Pulitzer or Man-Booker are somewhat dense to read, whereas the books that almost make it, but don’t are considerably easier to read. When it comes to this novel, the author’s personal story is tragic, but perhaps not as tragic as Ignatius J. Reiley’s story, his protagonist.

This story takes place in New Orleans and has the most interesting cast of characters, from Jones and Lana Lee to Detective Mancuso and George to Myrna and Irene to Ms. Trixie, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Levy – all have encountered Ignatius J. Reiley and have not necessarily remained the same. Having never been to New Orleans I can’t confirm this, but I felt that Toole’s writing of the accents was brilliant even if I couldn’t read or give voice to all of them.

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