4 stars · classic · fiction · romance

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Pages [paperback] : 375

memorable quote:
Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

favorite characters: mr. bennet & mr. darcy

summary:

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Thus memorably begins Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s most popular novels. Pride and Prejudice—Austen’s own ‘darling child’—tells the story of fiercely independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry rich, as she confounds the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy. What ensues is one of the most delightful and engrossingly readable courtships known to literature, written by a precocious Austen when she was just twenty-one years old.

Humorous and profound, and filled with highly entertaining dialogue, this witty comedy of manners dips and turns through drawing-rooms and plots to reach an immensely satisfying finale. In the words of Eudora Welty, Pride and Prejudice is as ‘irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.’

review:

 I’ve been meaning to read this book for years and when I finally went and bought myself a copy I knew I’d have to buckle down and get to it. Sometimes trudging through the sentence structures and word usage of a book like this can intimidate a person enough to make them put it down immediately. But I suppose if school’s been good for anything it’s taught me at least that things as daunting as this can get better as time goes on. So I persisted, and so I loved it. And came to love the wonderful, quirky word choices as well.

The first part of the book as well as the last went by in gigantic chunks taken all at once for me. I was incredibly interested by the introduction of the characters, as I immediately found most of them hilarious. From Mr. Bennet, laughing at the expense of his own family, to Mrs. Bennet, outrageously silly and ignorant, to all of the sisters and their exaggerated personalities, to Mr. Darcy himself. I didn’t know much about the entire novel, or the premise, or how it was supposed to end . . . Only that for some reason many people are obsessed with this Darcy fellow. As a result, I spent the majority of my time wondering what on earth everyone and their mother saw in him that was so wonderful. Then I finished the novel, and well, okay, I might love him a little bit, now.

The middle was the hardest to pull through, consisting of a lot of nothing. I knew some of it was important, though the rest seemed just like a dull waste of time. Until some sentence or other would pull me back in again. I still can’t get over reading about someone staying over at someone’s house for only 10 days and how ‘short a stay it would be’! Um. Ten days is not very short. I understand carriage rides aren’t exactly the same as driving along in nice comfortable cars, but that doesn’t mean I want all of my relatives to come live with me for months on end.

I can see why this book has been recommended to me by friends, teachers, and enemies. (Alright, maybe that was a lie, but I’m assuming they’d like it, too.) Yes, I did like the entire romance aspect of it. (What girl can resist that? Seriously? Seriously.) I could perfectly picture all of the settings, and the strict social rules as well as the ideals of each social class.

This book made me laugh so much! The little insights on everything were delightful. Many of them were still relevent to today, and I could easily see connections to people like Elizabeth and Darcy to those living now. One of my favorite quotes from the book has to be, “As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or, in other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more.” Okay, so who doesn’t do that? I know that I do, and most of the people I know do this as well. See? Still relevent! And people say they can get nothing out of classic literature. By ‘people, I here mean my fellow classmates.

If you’ve been tentatively considering reading this, or been intimidated by it, give it a go! You might just enjoy it as much as I did. (:

TIMELESS. 4/5 stars

4 stars · Fantasy · fiction · history · romance · series · young adult

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray



A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray

Pages [hardcover]: 403

Memorable Quote: “How can my ankles and arms be obscene?”

Favorite Characters: Pippa and her knight, Reginald

Summary:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

Review:

 I didn’t expect to like this book. It started very slow for me, with several attempts at starting it, setting it aside, and then starting over once again. Finally, I convinced myself to read it, and once I was about a third of the way through, I began to like it, though there were a few things that hindered my enjoyment.

Gemma wants to make friends. In that respect, she’s exactly like any other teen girl. But she complains about how Ann immediately abandons her whenever it looks like it will make her more popular. A few chapters later she’s willing to do anything to keep the friends she’s managed to make, despite not actually wanting to participate. She’s a hypocrite, but then again, many people are. This irked me, and made me dislike her, because combined with her selfish attitude, she seemed exactly like the people she did not like.

I did think the supporting characters were wonderfully defined, and raised the plot immensely. Kartik was delightfully mysterious, though sometimes it seemed forced, and Pippa was the group’s romantic, though air-headed member. Even the teachers, so often neglected in young adult novels, had personalities and lives of their own.

While it isn’t one of the best books I’ve read, the plot of A Great and Terrible Beauty was unique and gripping. I kept wanting to see what would happen next-if the danger level would rise-but perhaps the great event I’ve been looking forward to happening will occur in the next book. I’ll definitely have to get that, and read more of Gemma’s journey of discovering herself.

I give A Great and Terrible Beauty 4/5 stars. Recommended for those who like historical fiction with fantasy thrown in.

5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · science fiction · young adult

Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Author: Brian Rowe

Pages [ebook]: 316

Favorite Characters: Kimber & Cameron

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day!

High school is hard enough; imagine rapidly aging from seventeen to seventy in a matter of weeks, with no logical explanation, and with prom, graduation, and the state championship basketball game all on the horizon. That’s what happens to Cameron, a popular pretty boy who’s never had to face a day looking anything but perfect.

All Cameron wants to do is go back to normal, but no one, not even the best doctors, can diagnose his condition. When he finds love with a mysterious young woman, however, he realizes his only hope for survival might be with the one person who started his condition in the first place…

Review:

 After the first few pages of Happy Birthday to Me, I was sucked into the story. Cameron is such a great character to read about; not quite a bad person, not fully good. His worst faults are selfishness, vanity, and arrogance. Though all three are not uncommon among boys today, they were portrayed in ways that subtly hinted he could be a better person if he actually tried.

Then, of course, he’s cursed to age a year with every day that passes. With that, his life is forever changed.

I loved the writing style of this novel. It was simple diction yet not dull for that, and the plot moved along so quickly I never wanted to stop reading! There were moments when I despised Cameron, moments when I rooted for him, and hilarious times when I wanted to laugh out loud. If a writer can pull you through all of those emotions in a smooth, effortless way, I’m destined to love that book.

And I did fall in love with Happy Birthday to Me. The story was unique as well as interesting-I liked seeing the little changes that came with each passing day. By the end, I was putting aside every other thing I had to do just so I could read the conclusion.

 This is a fantastically fun read that I immensely enjoyed and am sad to see finished. The different elements meshed together in a seamless fashion to form a great young adult novel. It’s definitely one of the better books I’ve read lately. I highly recommend Happy Birthday to Me, and give it 5/5 stars.

5 stars · fiction · history · romance

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 

Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Pages [paperback]: 331

Opening Lines: Only three people were left under the red and white awning of the grease joint: Grady, me, and the fry cook. Grady and I sat at a battered wooden table, each facing a burger on a dented tin plate.

Memorable Quote: “Keeping up the appearance of having all your marbles is hard work, but important.”

Favorite Characters: Walter, Marlena, Jacob, & Rosie

Available now!

Summary:

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out – orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive ‘ship of fools’. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn’t have an act – in fact, she couldn’t even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Review:

I came into this book not expecting much at all, and ended up excessively loving it! This is one of those stories where you think you’ve figure out exactly how everything is going to go . . . And then nothing turns out the way you thought it would.

Books that have a frame for the story like Water for Elephants had will, if done well, really get me to know and love the characters. Having Jacob’s narration of the circus events interrupted by ‘present day Jacob’ was a nice little detail. I definitely felt sad for the ninety-something year old, feeling nearly helpless and lonely. As he feels he’s losing control of his life, his mind slips back to the past, and through these lapses we’re told the story.

I never knew anything about how circuses traveled about in the past, and hearing about the cutthroat America during the Great Depression certainly brought an overpowering feel of reality to the story. Jobs were few and far between, and those that had them did anything they could to keep them. Describing the desperate times, the hobo jungles, and the pay cuts served to present a great representation of the time period.

I loved hearing about the different circus acts, though I know that was but a miniscule part of the story. The tiny facts and funniest little things kept my interest and had me smiling. This book is definitely dark and depressing at moments. At others, it is brilliantly bright and full of hope. Any novel that can pull off both sides of the spectrum nearly flawlessly is excellent in my book.

I give Water for Elephants 5/5 stars. It was fantastic, and I’ll definitely have to check out the upcoming movie now! I really recommend it. I have a feeling it is one of those books I will never forget.