Books

Book 560: Camp Austen – Ted Scheinman

I reached out to the publisher for a copy of this book when I saw the author, Ted Scheinman, was going to be in Boston giving a talk at the BPL.* Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it as it was the same day we moved houses (in a snow storm no less), but if you’re on the west coast, he’ll be talking about this at Skylight Books in LA this Saturday, July 21! (Skylight Books LA website)

I’m torn about my review. I’m wondering if I had the opportunity to hear him speak about the book and his experience, if my response would be different. I read his interview with the Jane Austen Summer program, but there are things you can only tell when you listen and watch someone interact with others.

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Books

Book 553: Dear Mr. Knightley – Katherine Reay

"Dear Mr. Knightley" book cover artThis book is what I was worried of when I found out these were categorized under clean romance and Christian fiction. It could’ve been A LOT worse, but it was just enough to start to put me off toward the end of the novel. That being said, I know there’s a HUGE market for both clean romance AND Christina fiction, so I can’t really fault it too much because it was just a little too preachy for me at some points. I’ll talk more about this later.

I’m still not sure where to categorize this for my own references. I think they’d be more accurately described as inspired by Austen rather than the traditional fan-fiction/fanfiction. Reay does a great job weaving in the stories and characters from Austen’s works but doesn’t necessarily use them as frameworks or even plot outlines. I’ll read the other’s books in her oeuvre that are Austen/Brontë connected because they’re such quick reads, but I’m not sure I’ll follow her into the future.

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Books

Book 430: The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) – Lev Grossman

Grossman, Lev - The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3)The bad news is that the trilogy is finally over. I read this book in less than 48 hours and even I’m impressed with that because I had to go to work AND I had trivia with my friends. (They have no idea how close I was to bailing.) The good news is that I’m exhausted because of how great it was and I can FINALLY watch the SyFy TV series without fear of spoilers!

This series was definitely one of those books/series where you feel as if you’ve lived multiple lives and then when it ends you just feel empty inside. I’ll probably take a day or two before I try to dive into anything else. The Magician’s Land was an excellent follow up to The Magician King and The Magicians. If you don’t want spoilers for the first two books I probably would just skip this post and come back when you’ve read them.

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Books

Book 412: Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Are You My MotherAfter re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.

This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.

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Books

Book 411: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Fun HomeI first read Fun Home in undergrad after my friend Mia gave me a copy not long after it came out in paperback. (I’m pretty sure it was paperback and I’m pretty sure it was Mia. I wasn’t so great at tracking who, when or where books came from back then…oh the olden days :-D)

Either way, I remember thoroughly loving it that first time I read it. I even went out of my way to read Camus’ A Happy Death after I finished even though I have very little recollection of it now other than these quotes I saved on a proto-blog I had that I’m pretty sure it was called East Coast Traditional Meets West Coast Casual or something like that (I stole it from a furniture magazine.)

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Books

Book 410: First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - First Among Sequels (Thursday Next #5)This series has finally slowed down. This isn’t a detraction, just a statement. Picking up more than 14 years after the end of Something RottenFirst Among Sequels just didn’t feel quite the same. Don’t get me wrong, there was absurdity, Fforde’s genius pushes the boundaries and Thursday Next is still a great character, but it just wasn’t the same.

As I mentioned in my post about Something Rotten I found out after I’d started this novel that the last three of the published novels in the Thursday Next series are actually a second series and not the same. It’s a little misleading as websites like Goodreads and Amazon group them together. There’s even a compendium of the first five: A Thursday Next Digital Collection: Novels 1-5 (Amazon Link). If I would’ve known about the time gap and the “separate series” portion I would’ve paused after book four instead of five, but oh well.

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Books

Book 409: Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) – Jasper Fforde

Fforde, Jasper - Something Rotten (Thursay Next #4)Just when you think it can’t get any stranger, Jasper Fforde makes sure to let you know it can and it will:

“The fate of all life on this beautiful planet decided on the swing of a croquet mallet.” (351)

I mean COME ON! Anyone who can turn croquet into a full-contact sport and make me want to watch it has to be a genius right?

I also can’t believe it took me until almost 12 hours later to finally connect the title to most of the story, as in hey this story has a lot about Hamlet in it and the quote “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” even appears! Thanks Fforde for reminding me I’m just another cog in the human machine. Epic fail on my part.

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