Monday, October 12, 2015

It's Monday! Giveaway Winners!

I started working night shift a couple nights ago and while I do enjoy it for the most part it is tough sometimes on my sleep life.  This last week was like that as I ended up working several days in a row.  Thankfully I've caught up a little.
Before I get into my reading life I'd like to announce the winners of the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along Giveaways. Heidi won the Jane Austen bookmarks and Ekaterina won the 200th Anniversary Annotated edition of Emma. Congratulations girls!

Currently Reading

  • The Golem and Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins (audiobook)

Finished this past week

  • none

Coming Soon

  • Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody 

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review- The Brothers Karamazov

For the library reading challenges, the literary movement challenge, Victorian bingo challenge, new author challenge, alphabet soup challenge, books in translation challenge and Classics Club I read Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov.
I had only one previous experience with Russian novelists before The Brothers Karamazov and that was Anna Karenina years ago, which was not my favorite. However, with my more mature years (ha ha) and maybe a better book (?) I think I might be coming to appreciate the Russian authors. All that to say, I liked The Brothers Karamazov and I liked it better than Anna Karenina.
Synopsis from Godreads: The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia.
I know that's a lousy synopsis but that's the best I could find on the internet. :(
I found all of the Karamazov brothers very fascinating and it was also interesting to compare them. However, to explain the sons you have to look at their father, Fyodor Karamazov, a thorough scoundrel. While he fathers all of the sons he is hardly a father to them.

The first son, Dmitri is the son of Fyodor's first wife. Dmitri is the most like his father of the three sons. He's a scoundrel and sensualist.  The second son, Ivan, is from Fyodor's second wife. He's an atheist and probably the most philosophical of the three brothers and his dialogue has some of the most thought provoking lines from the novel... thought provoking as they may be though, they're wrong. The third son, Alexei, is from his father's second marriage as well. At the beginning of the novel he's a novice in a monastery though later at one of the Elder's encouragement he leaves the monastery though his faith never waivers. All three are raised away from their father for the most part and don't come back until they are grown men. There is also Smerdyakov, a young man rumored to be Fyodor's illegitimate son. It is never clarified whether or not he actually is but when his mother died in childbirth he is taken and raised by Fyodor's servant and comes to be a servant in Fyodor's house. Smerdyakov suffers from seizures and is generally considered to be odd and sullen.

There are many various side plots to The Brothers Karamazov. There is Grushenka, a temptress who flirts with both the father, Fyodor, and the son Dmitri, until both are driven mad with love (lust) for her. This drives forward the main plot of their rivalry, a rivalry so strong that Dmitri swears to kill his father after beating him up in front of his brothers. There is Katerina, the proud young woman engaged to Dmitri more out of a sense of obligation than love after he paid off her father's debts. Ivan though loves her as well... but does she love him? And does Dmitri even love Katerina if he is flirting madly with Grushenka? Katerina is certainly jealous of Grushenka. There is Illyusha a schoolboy that throws rocks at Alexei and his schoolmates but then Alexei strikes up a friendship with him and the schoolmates. Alexei stand in all of this the counselor and friend to all. Everyone turns to him to bring peace... but can he?

Alexei is my favorite character in the novel... and honestly there really isn't anyone else to like. The way in which everyone feels safe in going to him with their concerns and how he is able to give advice and kindness to them all is something I envy.

Everything leads to Fyodor Karamazov being murdered and the question is who did it? Is it Dmitri? It makes sense that he did it after he swore he would murder him. Or could it be Smerdyakov who Dmitri insists is the murderer though he was under a seizure attack at the time. Or could it be someone else?

I found this book fascinating and sad. The characters are so complex and the plot not any less so. It was a long book but if you're wanting to try Russian literature and don't know where to start I would recommend The Brothers Karamazov.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Monday! Life After Emma

This is my first It's Monday post since June as I've been doing my Emma read-along posts on Monday. Now though we're done with Emma. However, I have a couple of giveaways running for it still so be sure to check out the one for the 200th Anniversary Annotated edition of Emma HERE and for the Jane Austen bookmarks HERE. I have been reading a lot though in this time of course and I'm almost caught up to be on track for my Goodreads goal for reading! So here's my reading life right now. :)

Currently Reading

  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins (audiobook)

Finished this Week

  • Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
  • The Home Ranch by Ralph Moody

Coming Soon

  • Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Male Characters Tag and 5 Female Characters Tag

I've been meaning to do these for awhile and then Olivia from Meanwhile in Rivendell tagged me in the 5 Male Characters Tag and I figured I might as well go ahead and do both. I'm not sure why they have different categories but they do.
AND, before you go any further, make sure to check out my two giveaways going on HERE and HERE!

5 Male Characters

Hero- Mr. Knightley... I just re-read Emma and then re-watched all of the movies so I'm on a huge kick Mr. Knightley kick right now! For me he embodies so much of what I would want in a husband. A man of moral integrity, someone willing to tell me when I am wrong, kind, generous and loving. He's also got a sense of humor. :) My second favorite would be Austen's Henry Tilney. He is similar to Mr. Knightley but is far lighter and so funny!!!  

Villain- Gollum. I like what Peter Jackson did with him in the movies actually, making him an even more complex character then he already was.

Anti-hero- I don't read a lot of books or watch a lot of movies with anti-heroes so this was hard for me to come up with. I think though I'd go with Han Solo from Star Wars and Malcom Reynolds from Firefly. They're actually fairly similar characters. I'd say they are the more hero like of anti heroes but it's what I could come up with.

Best book-to-screen adaptation- After much thought I have decided on Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel and the screen adaptation is OBVIOUSLY the 1982 version.... aka the only version. ;) I think Anthony Andrews perfectly take the character from the books and dazzlingly brings him onto the screen much to my endless laughter! 

Best character perception- This one and the previous seem kind of similar but whatever! I'd go with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a very reserved character so taking him and acting him out would must have been hard but I think Colin Firth did it with so much perception. He just was Mr. Darcy because I think he understood the character. He will always be Mr. Darcy to me.

5 Female Characters

Heroine- I'm torn between Elizabeth Bennett and Molly Gipson so.... both

Villain- I tend to say I love to hate Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter. She irks me so much! Sure she's not the main villain in the series but that does not matter! I hate her so much more than Voldemort! 

Superhero- Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow! Basically she's awesome! 

That I would want to be friend with- I think I would have to chose Anne Shirley! So much imagination and fun! 

That I wish had better development- I'd have to agree with Olivia here and go with Buttercup from The Princess Bride. In the movie she's a bit better developed but in the book she's really just kind of there. :(

These are such fun tags! If you want to participate just steal them away! 

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Birthday Month Reading Challenge- October

Well fall is here and it sure looks and feels like it!
Below is a list of some October birthday authors. A more complete list is HERE.

  • Isaac Asimnov
  • Michael Crichton
  • E.E. Cummings
  • Nora Roberts
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Frank Herbert
  • Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Edward Stratmeyer (Had various pen names but wrote The Hardy Boys series and the Rover Boys series as well as others)
  • Oscar Wilde
  • P.G. Wodehouse
  • Lois Lenski
  • Katherine Patterson
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Emma GIVEAWAY- Jane Austen Bookmarks

This week's next giveaway are six Jane Austen bookmarks with the front pieces and first page of three of her novels (P&P, S&S and Emma). See more info on Etsy HERE.

There will be one more giveaway this week so stay tuned for it!
Participation in the read-along is not a qualifier for participation in this giveaway but it does win you bonus points.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enjoy the giveaway and be sure to share!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Books if you like J.R.R. Tolkien

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is the top ten books to read if you like a certain popular author or book that would be similar.
Tolkien is the greatest fantasy writer. I think few would argue this. I was looking up what the first fantasy novels were and it talked about how it was difficult to define when the genre first began as people believed in the wonders depicted in works like Midsummer Night's Dream or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. However they said that modern fantasy began with George McDonald who re-created the genre. George McDonald, who wrote books such as The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind, directly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. So Tolkien was also one of the first fantasy writers and directly influenced by the person who re-created the genre.
If you read my blog you'll know how much I love Tolkien's books. The world building he did with his books is incredible. So I though for this top ten Tuesday theme I would go with the top ten books to read if you like J.R.R. Tolkien. These will of course all be fantasy. None of them in my opinion measure up to the greatness of Tolkien but they are still good.

  1. The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald- Speaking of which! ;) 
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  4. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander 
  5. The Dragon King series and others by Stephen R. Lawhead- Those are the only books of his I've read but I think he's more famous for others of his fantasy series. 
  6. Binding of the Blade series by L.B. Graham 
  7. Redwall series by Brian Jacques 
  8. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini- These aren't my favorite but I do think Paolini did a great job with world building and he had a good start with his first but then in my opinion they went downhill after that. 
  9. The Wingfeather saga by Andrew Peterson 
  10. The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper 

Now a disclaimer. I know that George R.R. Martin and his Song of Fire and Ice series is widely acclaimed and considered great fantasy but I haven't read them and I won't read them because however good his books may be, he decided to also include inappropriate content in them.

So, any great fantasy novels you would include on this list? Comment and let me know!
ALSO.... be sure to check out my GIVEAWAY!!!

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Emma GIVEAWAY- 200th Anniversary Annotated Edition

The 200th Anniversary Read-along is over! :( It was so much fun to do and I learned so much from the discussion and I can now say that Emma is far higher than my estimation than it used to be. Thank you everyone who participated. The discussion was awesome! If you haven't checked out the movie reviews that I posted last week be sure to check them out. I'll link to them here. 
Also, everything posted to do with the 200th Anniversary read-along can be found under the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along tag. 

So to the giveaway!
For the first giveaway of the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along is the actual book Emma! Singular thought eh?
Penguins Classics is releasing a special annotated version of Emma for it's 200th Anniversary on September 29th (aka tomorrow)! Whoever wins this giveaway will get their very own brand new copy of it!
Participation in the read-along is not a qualifier for participation in this giveaway but it does win you bonus points!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have fun and join in! This giveaway is open until next Monday!
And yes, there will be more giveaways this week for the read-along! Stay tuned

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Movie Review- Emma (1996- Gwenyth Paltrow)

Though this was not the version of Emma I grew up watching I still do enjoy it. It's a very light version of the story that's perfectly accurate to the book but is enjoyable.


The screenplay is okay. Not perfect and it does stray from the book in some areas but I've actually found this to be just a light enjoyable version of Emma that I don't think we're really supposed to take seriously. However, I still can complain about it's accuracies to the book. ;) 


Emma- I think Gwenyth Paltrow was a great pick for Emma. I really like Kate Beckinsale as Emma but I think Gwenyth Paltrow does an awesome job as well. She gets the pride (not quite to the extant Kate did), she's elegant and refined and she does the controlling very well.
Mr. Knightley- Jeremy Northam is a decent Mr. Knightley but not my favorite. While he does get on Emma's case often enough, he does it in a far too good humored manner. The only time I ever felt like he was truly frustrated with Emma was at Box Hill. As eBeth said, he's a little too tall dark and handsome for the role. Besides that I think he's good. :)

Mr. Woodhouse- Not bad not good. Just there. And, might I say it is nigh near impossible to find a picture of this Mr. Woodhouse!

Mrs. Weston (aka Poor Miss Taylor)- A good Mrs. Weston but not my favorite. I really do like her in the role though.
Miss Bates- I like this Miss Bates she prattles on delightfully and really my only complaint is that they make her far too young. Besides that well done!

Frank Churchill- I can't ever quite wrap my head around Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill but that's probably more due to the fact that I'm used to him being a jedi. Plus his long hair annoys me.... this is the only version where Frank doesn't go get a haircut in London.... and he actually needed one! He wasn't bad in the role but he wasn't great.

Jane Fairfax- An elegant and beautiful Jane. Not real complaint with her.

Harriet Smith- A good Harriet but I think they almost make her too stupid in this version. She's good humored and pretty though. Not bad. :)

Mr. Elton- A fine Mr. Elton but something about him just doesn't seem right to me. Not sure what it is though.

Mrs. Elton- A well done Mrs. Elton. No complaints. In fact I would say this is the character every movie consistently gets right for some reason.


Lovely! Already added to my repertoire! I love listening to it on repeat. 


Lovely. No complaints

Overall an enjoyable but not perfect adaptation. 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie Review- Emma (1996- Kate Beckinsale)

This is the version of Emma I grew up with and because of that, and because I think it's the best version anyways, this is my favorite version of Emma.


Well done for the short time frame it had to work with. Obviously there were parts left out though. A couple ones I noticed were the party at the Coles and the riddle that Mr. Elton wrote for "Harriet" (aka Emma). However I think it keeps well with the spirit of Austen and works Austen's lines in effectively into the movie. 


Emma- I love Kate Beckinsale as Emma. She captures the haughtiness and pride of Emma at the beginning but makes an effective change into a kinder more compassionate person. I don't think any other version has really captured the pride of Emma that is such an important part of character as evidenced in the book. I've heard a few people complain that Emma is supposed to be blonde but as Jane Austen didn't give her a hair color I think you people just need to get over it. ;)

Mr. Knightley- Mark Strong is a great Mr. Knightley. I think he spends too much time getting angry though. Chill! ;)

Mr. Woodhouse- I think my favorite casting of Mr. Woodhouse though I would say they make him too old. They perfectly capture his worries and his hypochondriac nature!

Mrs. Weston (aka Poor Miss Taylor)- I think my favorite casting of Mrs. Weston. She's dignified and ladylike. She ends up defending Emma far too much of course as she does in the book.

Miss Bates- My favorite Miss Bates... though maybe a trifle too old. She prattles on ceaselessly and drives us all crazy as she's supposed to.

Frank Churchill- I like the casting in the 2009 version a lot but I think this is the best portrayal. He's handsome, charming and of course a total jerk in the end!

Jane Fairfax- My favorite portrayal of Jane. She's beautiful and very elegant. She has great poise in this version and really pulls off the character so well.

Harriet Smith- A good portrayal but not the best. They do a good job of showing her sweetness but I don't think they show her ignorance as well... I think that partly maybe be due to the fact that they leave out the riddle.

Mr. Elton- The best version of Mr. Elton. He gets the pride and snobbery of Mr. Elton that's shown in the book very well as well as the "devotedness" to Emma.

Mrs. Elton- My personal favorite for Mrs. Elton but I do like the 2009 version a lot too. She's perfectly vulgar and annoying.


There really isn't any soundtrack to mention for this film which is a disappointment! 


No complaints.

As I said overall it's my favorite version but I did grow up with it. I just think they get most of the characters so perfectly in this version and stick gorgeously to what Jane Austen was trying to write in her book. 

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