Category Archives: Books

The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel Book Review

Up until the recent past (and in still in some parts of the world), a woman’s only option was marriage. If she was lucky, the backbone of the relationship would be love. But for other women, the choice of a husband is a pragmatic decision.

The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel by Molly Greeley, was published last December.

The book takes place three years after Pride and Prejudice has ended. Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas), the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet, has a busy life. Completely aware that she did not marry for love, she is juggling being a wife, a young mother, and her responsibilities to her husband’s parishioners. Her husband, William Collins is not the brightest bulb in the box and. His patroness, Lady Catherine De Bourgh is not afraid to speak her mind. She balances it all with an ease that many would envy.

Then she meets Mr. Travis, a local farmer. For the first time in her life, Charlotte feels like she is more than her myriad duties and the self perception that she is plain. The question is, does he feel the same way and if he does, do they have a future together?

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I like that the author chose to use Charlotte Lucas as her main character. It is rare that she would be given the spotlight in a JAFF (Jane Austen Fanfiction).

The problem is that I did not feel the chemistry between Charlotte and Mr. Travis. I wanted to believe that for the first time in her life, she was the romantic heroine who had a chance at true love. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said the following:

Easy reading is damn hard writing.” 

Reading Jane Austen is deliciously easy. Her books are full of characters that seem as real as you or I.

As any writer will tell you, writing is not as easy as it seems. The work and effort that is required feels nearly impossible to accomplish sometimes.

Jane came from an era in which women pursuing any career was frowned on. Her primary responsibility was that of a wife and mother. Initially publishing her books under the pseudonym of “A Lady”, public recognition of her as an author came later on.

One of the things I have learned as a writer is that sometimes you sometimes need to put your work away for a while. Recently, I have been going back to pieces that have been sitting on my hard drive. Delving back into those particular pieces (with the help of a handful of keen eyed fellow writers), I have been working on them with a level of excitement and energy I have not felt in a long time.

Her first three completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice were initially written when Austen was still a young woman. Like any budding author, she eagerly sent out her manuscripts to publishers, hoping for an eventual publication. The response was a decided no.

The next few years were an emotional roller coaster for Austen. After her father’s retirement and subsequent passing, Jane, her sister, and her mother moved frequently. It was only after finding a permanent home in Chawton House did she had the space and comfort that she needed to write again.

Rewriting the books of her youth and writing three new ones (Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion), she finally became the writer she had always wanted to be.

She didn’t know it, but she is one of the writers who paved the way for so many of us. As both the mother of the modern novel and a female novelist, she continues to delight readers and inspire fellow writers who want to follow in her giant footsteps.

Happy Birthday Jane, wherever you are.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Rage Book Review

Journalism at its core, is supposed to be non-partisan and non-political. But sometimes, those who work in that industry have no choice but to be partisan and political. Especially when the future is at stake.

The new book by respected journalist Bob Woodward, Rage, was released back in the fall. The follow up to his 2019 book, Fear: Trump in the White House, the reader is taken into a world and a presidency that few have ever seen. Using 17 on the record interviews as the back bone of the narrative, the man he portrays on the page is arrogant, in denial, and believes that he knows it all.

Reading this book, I thought I had a good idea of the man whom we unfortunately refer to as President. I could feel a chill down my back as I delved into the story. Between his inability to stop the destruction that Covid-19 is wreaking on us and the delusional idea that he will have another 4 years in office, it was as if I was reading a fictional political thriller.

The one thing I was struck by is that not everyone who works or worked in the administration is either related to him or got the job by becoming a brownnoser. There were and still are many who genuinely believe in the work they are doing because they understand the importance of this country and the constitution.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, National News, Politics

Thoughts On the Bridgerton Trailer

There is nothing like a good BPD (British Period Drama). It has the power to sweep the audience into another world and for a short time, take them away from their everyday life.

The full trailer for the new Shondaland Netflix series, Bridgerton, premiered earlier today. Based on the series of books by Julia Quinn, the audience is introduced to the influential Bridgerton family living in Regency England. As the program progresses, they deal with the ups and downs that are unique to that world and that era.

The characters and the narrative are in the vein of Jane Austen, but the stories are not specifically based on any Austen novel.

I am intrigued by the casting of Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, the all knowing gossiping narrator who, according to the trailer is only heard, but not seen.

From a writing perspective, the couple pretending to be in love to get others off their back is one of those storylines that is used semi-regularly. The question is if the writer(s) make it their own or just copy what has been done before.

I am really excited for program. I can only hope that the promises made in the trailer are kept.

Bridgerton premieres on Netflix on December 25.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies, Netflix, Thoughts On...., Writing

The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War Book Review

Books are more than words on a page. They can educate, inspire, and provide hope in a time when all seems lost.

The Syrian Civil War will be a decade old next year. As of 2015, 3.8 million Syrians found refuge outside of their home country. 380,000 souls have been lost since 2011. Once thriving cities and towns have been destroyed beyond recognition. And yet, those who stayed found light and life via books.

The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War was published last month. Written by Delphine Minoui and translated by Lara Vergnaud, the book follows the conversations Minoui had with a group of resistance fighters who kept a secret library in Daraya during the war. As government forces pounded the city, these young men came upon a small library. Within a month, they created a sanctuary that contained 15,000 books. Containing literature of every genre and subject, they found a brief respite from the destruction that was their new normal. Speaking to journalist Delphine Minoui via social media, they told the story of survival, hope, and faith.

I found the concept to be compelling. Beyond my love of books, I was drawn to the idea that the medium is able to give us something to hold onto when all seems lost. The problem is that the story does not live up to the hype it creates.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, International News, World News

Jagged Little Pill Book Review

In every generation, there are handful of musicians who bust open the door musically and emotionally. They speak their truth and in doing so, allow their fans to do the same.

In 1995, Alanis Morissette burst onto the scene with her third album, Jagged Little Pill. It became an instant classic, speaking for and to a generation of young people who were confused, angry, and disappointed. Last year, the musical adaptation of JLP opened on Broadway. Combining Morissette’s music with a narrative that is firmly entrenched in our era, it became a hit and has been nominated for 15 Tony Awards.

In November, the official book from the musical was released. Taking readers behind the scenes, the book contains interviews with the cast and crew, discussions of the real world issues that are weaved into the narrative, and incredible photography.

I loved this book. It is a must read for fans of both the musical and the original album. I loved how deep readers are taken in, for me it is a reminder why this show is so dam good. It is also the perfect companion to keep us happy until next spring, when Broadway (hopefully) re-opens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Music

Cinderella Is Dead Book Review

We all know the story of Cinderella. Her tale has been part of our culture for an untold number of generations.

Cinderella Is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron, was published back in July. In the fictional kingdom of Mersailles, women are chattel. At the age of sixteen, young girls are required by law to present themselves at the annual ball. If any one of them is unable to find a husband by the time she turns eighteen, her fate is either servitude or disappearing forever.

 Sophia Grimmins is sixteen. She would rather marry her girlfriend, Erin, than be forced to say I do to a man she does know or care for. But she also knows what could happen to her parents if she does not attend. At the ball, Erin falls in line with the other girls. But Sophia is having none of it. After she escapes, she finds herself in Cinderella’s mausoleum. Meeting Constance, a direct descendent from one of the step-sisters, the girls hatch a plan to remove the King from the throne. Sophia also learns that the tale of Cinderella that has been drilled into her is missing a few critical pieces of information.

This book is interesting. A sort of The Handmaid’s Tale meets YA/LGBTQ fantasy, it is not our grandmother’s simplistic, Disney-fied version of the story. Which is perfectly fine with me, I am always up for a fractured fairy tale. I love the author’s creativity, the world she created is nuanced and feels closer to our world than the traditional world these narratives take place in.

The problem is initial chapter and the concluding chapters feel rushed. Instead of dropping the big reveal on the reader and letting it soak in, she pushes through it as if it were a minor plot point. Which, to be honest, was a little bit of a letdown because I wanted to feel the climax. But I didn’t.

Do I recommend it? The answer is a strong maybe.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now Book Review

They say that hindsight is 2020. However, our past does not always define our future.

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos, was published last month.

This brief biography takes readers on a journey from President elect Joe Biden‘s early years to the his current life as the future 46th President of the United States. Osnos describes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, both personally and professionally. His story is that of a man who has not only thrived in spite of the challenges in his way.

I really loved this book. I loved it because it tells Biden’s story in a way that is down to earth, readable, and sweetly brief. It was a reminder that unlike the so called paragon of perfection that sits in the White House, Joe Biden is presented is imperfect, human, and thoroughly fallible.

If nothing else, it is a reminder why America made the right choice.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Politics

Flashback Friday: Of Mice and Men (1992)

When a book is adapted into a movie, the results can be mixed. The best of these films brings the novel to life while remaining true to the original content.

In 1992, an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novella Of Mice and Men hit theaters. Starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, the movie follows two nomadic ranch workers in California looking for work during The Great Depression. George Milton (Sinise) is the brains of the outfit. Lennie Small (Malkovich) has a good heart, but he is not the brightest bulb in the box.

Directed by Sinise, this is one of the best book to film adaptations I have ever seen. It holds up to the source material while entertaining the movie-going audience.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Books, Flashback Friday, History, Movie Review, Movies

Running on Empty Book Review

At a certain point in our lives, we come to the realization that our parents are not perfect. If we are lucky, they are loving, supportive, and provide the foundation that allows us to become happy, healthy, and productive adults. But that does not mean that our emotional needs as children were met.

Running on Empty, written by Drs. Jonice Webb and Christine Musello was published back in 2012. This self book explores how the specter of childhood emotions that have not been dealt with can grow into a shadow that can hold us back as adults. Using a number of examples, worksheets and practical advice, the authors are guiding readers to move beyond the unseen scars of their past.

I really loved this book. The authors are able to explain how CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) does not end when we are no longer children. They also empower their readers to examine and understand their childhood emotions and ultimately, overcome what is holding them back.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health