Third Time’s the Charm (A review of Pride and Prejudice years in the making)

I’ve always been slightly ashamed of never having read a book as well known as Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. Whether you have read it or not, its fame is obvious from the slew of remakes and parodies on the internet and in literature as a whole.

My first attempt to read the novel was at some point in middle school. At this time, my reading taste was limited to girly YA novels with happy-go-lucky endings and whatever my teen librarian recommended we read each month for book club. (Which by the way, I was the only female member of, and then eventually the only member of at all.) So P & P seemed like something I would read, if I had the brain for it.

I got through a few pages and then set it down, thinking to myself how impossibly boring and abstruse the text was. “People read this, how?” was all I could think.

The second time was less than a year ago. I really wanted to try it, and like it, so yet again I sat and attempted to beat my middle school Pride and Prejudice record. Nada. I felt like giving up on it forever. Until I started my current literature course.

A bad literature teacher or professor can make every book seem like generic brand cereal. A good one, however, can make the most banal of details an hour long discussion topic into which the class is fervently engaged. Luckily, I have a great professor. So great, in fact, that I’ve declared myself a literature major.

This professor happened to assign us Pride and Prejudice as our third novel in the semester. My first thoughts were a mix of how the devil was now coming back (You again!?!) and how I would finally finish this novel. I had to. It was for an assignment.

I was so happy upon finishing it I even took it right to Twitter at that moment.

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OK, enough about me and my snail book-finishing pace. Let’s hear what I actually thought of Pride and Prejudice.

Part of what increased my appreciation for this classic novel was context. Having studied it for a literature course, we read novels chronologically, in the order they were published. So prior to reading Austen’s novel, we read The Coquette by Hannah Webster Foster. We discussed how this novel may have been one of the reasons for the soon-to-come women’s suffrage movement, after having been a bestseller for 50 years. (Can you imagine that in modern times? When was the last time a book was a bestseller for 50 years!?) Pride and Prejudice tells a similar story, yes, but with a dramatically different ending that preaches a different, even more empowering message.

Friends, Pride and Prejudice is not the fluffy, junky romance novel my previous, young self thought it was. Pride and Prejudice is the story of a woman who thinks for herself and gets what she wants as a result. Compare Elizabeth to her sisters and their different marriages and you’ll discover marriages based purely on “but darling, he’s rich! Marry him for money!”, marriages based on desire, and marriages based on both, and the various outcomes for them. The happiest marriages were the ones based on more than just someone’s wealth; the ones based on what you actually think and feel for each other.  For the time period, this novel, and especially The Coquette, were incredibly revolutionary.

So for me, I read Pride and Prejudice not for the plot itself, but for the message, for what the novel accomplished. Pride and Prejudice also represents the introduction of the third person narrator (a huge invention!) into literature, rather than using the epistolary form. (Gosh, say Pride and Prejudice ten times fast. Could I say that phrase any more times during this post?!)

And if Pride and Prejudice (!) is still bland for you, you can always check out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, whose movie trailer just debuted this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAChymiQC-o

So, now that I have officially read Pride and Prejudice, we can have discussions about it! Have you read it? What did you think? Join me in the comments below!

Testing “The Awesome Author Recommender” Tool

I was scrolling through Reddit this morning and discovered a neat little link called “The Awesome Author Recommender.” Similar to sites like WhatShouldIReadNext, it is a site that recommends you authors based on previous ones you have read. The site claims to use real people, not a computer formula, to recommend an author to you.

Excited to try it out, I first put in Marissa Meyer, the author of one of my favorite YA series, The Lunar Chronicles.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Well, I suppose Marissa Meyer isn’t the most widely read of authors. For the heck of it, I also tried Ernest Cline, whose books are certainly selling quite a bit at the moment.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh well, we’ll keep trying.

How about a YA romance novelist who has been writing and publishing a multitude of books for years now?

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I do like that the site at least gives me a brief description of the author, even if it can’t make any recommendations to me.

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Hold that thought; no recommendations or even a description of J.K Rowling? Perhaps I’m pushing this a little far, but isn’t she British? This is a British website. Yikes.

Figuring I was being a tad unfair by choosing the previous authors, I tried Jane Austen, in honor of my current read, Pride and Prejudice. Surely something will come up.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh dear. That’s a problem.

In a desperate attempt to get the website to make any recommendation to me, I just started searching random authors. Classic ones, modern ones, anything. I also tried ones it automatically began to suggest to me as I typed.

Thankfully, I did get some recommendations, including for Karen Thompson Walker, one of my favorite authors, who has only written one book. Why she is in there but not Jane Austen, I am not entirely sure. Nevertheless, I am certainly intrigued by the site’s sole recommendation to me.

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Lauren Oliver. I clicked “View Books”, and this is what it gave me:

Screenshot of LoveReading's Lauren Oliver page.

Screenshot of LoveReading’s Lauren Oliver page.

Below this was more of her featured books, as well as other books by her, which can be sorted by paperback, hardcover and audiobook.

For fun, I tried out the “compare prices” tool that the site offers on her book, Rooms.

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Gotta love loading symbols.

After several minutes of waiting, I decided to try a different book to compare prices with.

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5 minutes later, I was still looking at this picture.

Oh, boy. I really, really wanted to say something good about this site. For the sake of this experiment, I kept the tabs loading, and even tried them in other internet browsers. Nada.

As other reddit users are saying, the idea of this tool is great. It is unique and pretty close to the experience you’d get asking a librarian for recommendations, yet with a wider scope. Ideally, at least. But there are far too many holes in the site’s author database, and too little recommendations given when you even find an author that is in the database. (For example, I was given just one recommendation for Karen Thompson Walker.) Perhaps in a few months, or however long it takes to add more authors to the database, this will be a fun and worthwhile tool for readers. But at this moment in time, I just don’t think it is ready.

Try out the site for yourself and let me know what you think and/or find! If it were more complete, would it be a useful tool to you? Comment below!  http://authormachine.lovereading.co.uk

P.S If you saw my tweet on twitter, I redid my Tumblr page and am now posting on it again! Hooray! Give it a follow for some cute bookspiration!

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Ah yes, another YA recent release with a boatload of hype and plenty of raving fans. To put it in perspective, The Winner’s Curse has garnered an impressive 4.07 star /5 star rating on Goodreads, the average of 25,779 reviews. It’s … Continue reading

Books I want to Buy and a rant on Bookstores

You’ve heard me say it only a million times; I’m kind of a library fanatic. If I’m reading a book, I probably got it from the library.

However, being the breed of bookworm that I am merits people getting the idea that I must spent years of my time in my local Barnes and Noble. Hence, I tend to accrue several bookstore gift cards on just about every occasion there is. (My high school even gave me a small Barnes and Noble gift card as an award. I was grateful, but you know, do I really read THAT much?) Don’t get me wrong; Barnes and Noble is a glorious wonderland, and so are my favorite independent bookshops and comic stores, but if I’m going to spend money on a book, I better have reason.

I don’t reread books very often, which is why the library is always a great idea for me. Why buy something I’m going to read once? However, after reading Looking for Alaska by John Green at my library, I went out and got the collector’s edition from Barnes and Noble. I definitely plan to reread that book in the future, it’s that good. And maybe get a tattoo, move to Alaska, and name my firstborn HankJohn..

I’m totally kidding here.

About the tattoo.

OK. Fine, I’m bluffing about the first born. JohnHank is a far superior title for a 21st century human (*if you would like some FABULOUS name suggestions, I’m totally your girl! #sarcasm*)

So, here are a few books I want to buy/own at some point in the future:

1. S by JJ Abrams

Yes, you read that right. If you hadn’t already heard, THE JJ Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Fringe, and a whole lot of other shows and films) created the concept for this book. I myself was pretty darn shocked, and excited, when I found out it was a thing a few days ago on Booktube.

I haven’t read this yet, so my desire to own it isn’t based on knowing I want to reread it. I want to own S because I know that inside it, along with the text, are lots of inserts. I think this is such a cool idea, and I don’t know that the experience of the book would be the same at a library. Mine does not own this book yet, so my question would be; are we going to lend it out sans inserts, or not own it at all?

Plus, it just sounds freaking awesome.

2. Armada by Ernest Cline
Again, haven’t read this book yet, but I do have high hopes for it. I already stand behind Cline’s work because of the pure amazingness that was/is Ready Player One. I know Armada isn’t RPO, and you shouldn’t expect it to be RPO, but I know I will enjoy it. Plus, instead of a gazillion 80’s pop culture references I don’t understand, Armada is all about video games, which I can totally be thrilled about.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I just reviewed this one last night, and in my review I mentioned the collector’s edition. I like the idea of reliving Fangirl all over again, because of all the emotions that went on while I read it. I actually had a bunch of overdue fines on this one from not wanting to let it go.

(Oh god, I spent all afternoon with my Frozen-loving cousin and does that song ever end??)

And of course, comics.

Now, I’m not going to list all the comics and graphic novels I want to read in the future. I’ve already spammed my Goodreads friends with Green Lantern volumes. However, I adore some ongoing series like Ms. Marvel, and I’d love to start picking up more of the individual issues. Waiting for trades is an absolute PAIN, especially when some series you are interested in are not even in Trade form yet. *cough* Spider Gwen *cough* I also want to continue on with Saga; Volume 1 had me hooked.

That’s it for today, friends! What books are you looking forward to purchasing/receiving from your super nice pals in the future? Let me know in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone- first time reader discussion!

Friends, the day has come. I have finally (FINALLY!) read the first Harry Potter book. I know, I know. It’s insane. Hold your tears and applause until the end please, we have much to discuss.

In case there are other people reading this who like me (well, like the previous me) have not yet dipped their toes into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, I’m going to keep this discussion spoiler-free and to the book.

The Characters
I’ve seen several of the Harry Potter movies over the years. I knew Ron was the redhead, Hermione was played by Emma Watson, Harry Potter by Daniel Radcliffe. I knew that Voldemort was not someone to invite to your child’s birthday party, no matter how cool of a talent show he might be able to put on. There are still some Harry Potter characters I have yet to meet, though- a coworker was trying to show me a little girl who apparently looks exactly like a younger version of Luna Lovegood and until she begged me to look at a photo I had no idea who she was talking about.

This basic knowledge was enough to carry me into the book. I remember loving Hermione in the movies, but I was really rooting for her in the book. She’s “goals” really, wicked smart, friendly, and loyal to her friends. And of course there’s Harry, who you can’t help but pity as he lives in a cupboard. I’m incredibly thankful my parents are not the Dursleys and I promise my future children will not be named Dudley. Sorry guys, it’s just not happening. Yes, I know it’s a FANTASTIC name. (And if your real name is Dudley then I apologize for Dudley Dursley’s correlation to you. You are much cooler than he!)

Reading the book also instilled in me a love for both Hagrid and Dumbledore. I just love how each and every character in this book is distinct and memorable; there are no characters that are just carbon copies of one another and totally useless to the plot of the story.

The Plot
Great plot twist. Seriously, Ms. Rowling, that came out of nowhere. I feel almost foolish for not expecting it, but I was so enthralled with the world of the book that it just never occurred to me that you might be tricky and pull something on me.

As for the rest of the plot, the world unfolded so nicely. You can almost picture the map of Hogwarts in your head; you know why you shouldn’t have a picnic on the third floor. Every plot point helped sew this world together, whether characters played Quidditch, did some exploring, or feasted in the dining hall. (Speaking of Quidditch, I am much wishing my college had a Quidditch team. My friend is going to try out for hers, and given I didn’t know Quidditch, sans levitating brooms of course, was an actual, playable sport nowadays.)

HP #1 is the first juvenile/children ‘s book I’ve read since, well, I was a child. At first, the language took a little getting used to (younger audience means slightly less difficult sentences) but there is absolutely no reason a teenager or adult can’t enjoy a book like Harry Potter. I’ve heard some shaming of people who read YA or kid’s lit, and it’s sickening. (“Blah blah doesn’t read, they just read comics and Harry Potter!”) I’m sure reading Pride and Prejudice would expand your vocabulary and challenge your mind, but reading shouldn’t be about challenging yourself. Reading can be and should be FUN. Why don’t all kids like to read? Perhaps because they are being taught it isn’t fun. Comics and graphic novels ARE reading. If you want to read YA or Harry Potter, go right ahead. Don’t let people tell you what you like to read doesn’t matter or is worthless. It all counts for something, and you can be incredibly proud of that.

In closing, when did you first read Harry Potter, if at all? Did you read the books before the movies? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Prelude (Book One of the Nocturne’s Reaping series) by Jennifer Alice Chandler

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this novel in exchange for a review. As always, all of my opinions are 100% honest!

Before I get into my review, I want to mention that I’m also going to post an interview I did with Jennifer. She’s very sweet and while she may not be the most famous author in the world, she has some insight into the genre and in publishing. I think you’ll enjoy it, so stay tuned!

Official Book Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Lark Tampy was falsely convicted of a crime and sent to an adult prison colony as a child. She soon comes under the thumb of the ruthless leader of a syndicate of outlaws. This man is known by the name Leader Monrage. Still, as bad as being Leader Monrage’s pawn can be, it pales in comparison to the secret plan he has in store. It is a plan that could take countless lives throughout the universe.

Nocturne's Reaping Cover

Can you sense the drama yet? Can you feel it? *looks into camera while dramatic music plays*

I’m going to start with Lark. Lark is pretty commendable, considering she did not do the crime (won’t tell you what it is or who actually did it of course) and yet is serving the time. (Whenever I rhyme by accident I get pretty darn happy with myself. “She didn’t do the crime but still did the time HA!) But Lark isn’t in just any sort of prison. She’s in a prison COLONY, meant for adults, as a child. And then there’s Leader Monrage. Let me tell you one thing; he’s creepy. But he also seems so…human. He is human, but he didn’t seem that ruthless or vile to me. I don’t know if he was intended to be, but this made it more interesting. He seemed more like a crazy guy with big ideas and an evil mindset. Still, don’t mess with him if you ever meet him. Just don’t.

I’ve also gotta give this novel points for such an interesting array of names. No John Smith’s here. Lark, for example, is such a cool name.

I can’t say much else without giving anything away, so I’ll leave you with that. I’m going to give Prelude 3.5 stars, because it was fast-paced and enjoyable, and had interesting characters. There were also a couple twists along the way that made it even easier to keep reading. Overall, a good sci-fi novel that will especially please sci-fi connoisseurs more than those who just dabble in the genre. Not my favorite sci-fi novel, but still something I don’t regret reading.

You can pick up Prelude on Amazon for your kindle here:

http://www.amazon.com/Prelude-First-Book-Nocturnes-ReapingTM-ebook/dp/B00TYVROKK

or you can snag yourself a nice print copy here:

http://www.amazon.com/Prelude-First-Book-Nocturnes-Reaping/dp/1507537980/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Happy reading! 🙂