Books

Book 533: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

This is one of those books that has been on my metal list to look into since it came out. For some reason though, I had lumped it into the same sort of release period as Ender’s Game and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and boy was I surprised when I realized it was written and released in 2011. I knew I would get to the book some day, but the movie release in the next few months, preview embedded at the end of the post, my desire to read the book increased dramatically.

I didn’t read it quite as fast as I read some of the recent Jane Austen fan-fiction, but I did get through this one pretty quickly. I found the writing simple enough to breeze through and my vague familiarity with a lot of the 1980s pop culture helped (even if I did have to google quite a few). The strengths, for me at least, were the realistic vision of where we could easily end up as a society within the next few decades if something similar to OASIS actually becomes reality. The OASIS or, “The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation was a big place.” (48), is in essence an internet/game type situation that could include full or partial body immersion. Cline isn’t the first, nor will he be the last to write something like this. It’s a dystopian vs. utopian, good vs. evil, privacy vs. corporate consumerism story for the ages.

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ARC, Books

Book 434: Eligible (The Austen Project #4) – Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld, Curtis - Eligible (The Austen Project #4)I really should’ve read Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility and McCall Smith’s Emma before I read this, but getting my hands on a galley/uncorrected proof copy from Random House* sort of made that a moot point. Perhaps I’ll read the other two soon as I loved this one so much. Needless to say, I’m proud I saved it for as long as I did. I always get a bit nervous when an uncorrected proof has in big bold letters “DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR RESPONSE BEFORE X DATE.”

I mean I get it, but it’s still like you want me to read this book and then keep mum on it. How is that possible!? It’s 1) Jane Austen, 2) ADORABLE and 3) hilariously modern in a way only Jane Austen can be made so. I’ll go ahead and warn you that this response isn’t all sunshine and roses though. I will say I was hesitant of the name-change from the original, but as I read it I was convinced with the okay-ness of it. There is a tangent later that is not a reflection of the book, but of some of the stupid comments I’ve seen recently of The Austen Project adaptations.

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ARC, Books

Book 432: The Stranger – Harlan Coben

Coben, Harlan - The StrangerWHOA. Like really WHOA. It’s books like this that make me think I should give up my list of all the books I want to read and juts read thrillers and mainstream fiction! Who needs literary fiction or classics right? The ONLY downside is authors, like Coben, are SOOOOOO prolific. Even if I wanted to read all of his works, I would feel bad not reading other books. In this book alone he already has 26 other books listed. That’s one more than I’ve already read this year! Too much.

When someone from Dutton* reached out to me about Fool Me Once (Coben’s most recent book released this week) and this novel, I was a bit hesitant at first. I don’t usually read a lot of thrillers unless they come highly recommended by friends and even then they usually languish on my shelf for a long time. The good news is I found out out-of-order that my friends Hayley and Kennedy LOVE Coben! So I bumped these up my list and thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into his world.

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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 329: A Jane Austen Education – William Deresiewicz

Deresiewicz, William - A Jane Austen EducationWarning: Goodreads rant – skip to second paragraph. I’m not sure what jumped up everyone’s butts on Goodreads (I shouldn’t really be surprised), but this book doesn’t deserve as much vitriol as it has received on the site. So many people trashed it without even finishing the book, many obviously had read the synopsis (Amazon Affiliate link) and yet were shocked at what they read.

The book definitely deserves a lot of the criticism, but it doesn’t deserve the pure vitriol that Goodread’s reviewers thew at it. Sure, I wanted to smack Deresiewicz for being an insufferable grad student, but it’s very clear in the synopsis that the book was going to be full of naval gazing. He made a couple of questionable sexist and classist comments and he may have reduced a lot of Austen’s genius down to basics, but it would definitely work for people who are not familiar with Austen. Seriously, if you can’t find the good in a book, why bother finishing and trashing it? Just move on to the next book.

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2013 Challenges, Books, The Classics Club

Book 211: Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's CabinThis was a surprising read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike many of the ‘classics’ I’ve read the writing style and even the vernacular speech patterns were easy to read and kept the story constantly moving forward. This book counts for my Mount TBR and Back to the Classics reading challenges and is also on my Classics’ Club List.

I didn’t have to read this in school and I’m actually glad I didn’t. I know if it was a requirement to read this in high school I would not have had a good reaction to it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was an above average student when I applied myself, but I just would not have found this book interesting or a good read. And, to be honest, I’m a little shocked I did find it as interesting as I did with the strong basis in religion the author clearly had. But somehow it wasn’t so overpowering that it turned me off from the story/novel so well done.

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Books

Book 166: Midnight in Austenland – Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon - Midnight in AustenlandThis is why reading a sequel/spinoff isn’t necessarily the best idea. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the changes and plot twists were definitely worth the invested reading time and the ending was just as clichéd and wonderful as the first book, but I would’ve been just as good if I stopped after Austenland. And yet I’m already wondering if there is another book in the works for the ‘series.’

First, I want to start of with this. If anyone ever sets me up on a blind date there are two things you should know about who your setting me up with. If they can discuss both Jane Austen and Star Wars I will probably make a fool of myself. Somehow I feel as if the author knew this and I nearly died of embarrassment/enjoyment/excitement when I read the following:

“His slightest smile produced Death Star-size dimples in both cheeks, and his blue eyes sparkled in the candlelight.” (31)

I mean seriously? A Star Wars reference in a Jane Austen fan-fiction novel? OMG, YES!

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