Austenland

***** (5 out of 5)

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland

Do you ever imagine scenarios in your head while you are trying to fall asleep? Like if you are reading a really good book and you replace yourself with the main character?You go through all the scenarios in the book and then make up new stories using the same characters? No? Then this book probably isn’t for you.

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But if you are like me, and especially if your scenarios tend toward the romantic side, then this book is just what you have been looking for.  (I don’t have a good word to describe these “scenarios” I play in my head.  The closest thing I can come up with is daydreaming, but that isn’t quite right) In the book Jane gets to live out her “daydreams” in Austenland.  Don’t you wish you could actually experience the romances that play out inside your head?

Jane is a perfectly normal Thirty-three year old New Yorker with a Pride and Prejudice obsession.  While she loves the book it was the Colin Firth DVD that did her in.  Every boy she dated she compared to Mr. Darcy.  She took it to the point where it interfered with her relationships.

When Jane’s Great-Aunt Carolyn arranges a trip for her to Austenland, Jane hesitates but ultimately decides to go.  At Austenland she gives up all her 21st century gizmos and clothing and submerse herself into the 1800s (with the added luxury of indoor plumbing and electric kerosene lamps).  Austenland contains a mix of guests and actors.  No one is allowed to break character.  For 3 weeks she lives and breaths as if she actually lived in the 1800s.

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I can’t say much more without giving any spoilers, but once Jane enters Austenland, her life changes forever.  She struggles with remembering that everything is just an act and she learns a lot about herself in the process.

The book is amazingly witty and fun to read.  I got sucked in and couldn’t put it down.  I loved all the references to the different Jane Austen books.  They were obvious enough that I could pick up on them without having read the books in years, but they weren’t forced either.  They fit naturally into the story.

Speaking of things fitting naturally into the story.  I really liked how the author set up the story.  It is hard to put 21st century characters into a 1800s type setting.  I liked that everyone knew they were being “transported” in time.  That they were all in on it.  I hate books and movies where a person is unwillingly transported to another time or when two character switch bodies.  (Freaky Friday, Its a Boy/Girl thing, Big, 13 Going on 30, Kate and Leopold, etc.) That whole story line makes me cringe.  It probably has something to do with a deep-seated fear of not fitting in and making a fool out of myself, but lets not get into that.  It is almost physically painful for me to watch people trying to fit into those situations.  I don’t find them funny at all.

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I almost didn’t read this book because I was worried that it would follow that path.  It sound just different enough that I decided to give it a chance, mostly because living in Austenland seemed to fit so perfectly with my “daydreams.”  I had no intention of finishing the book if it went into cringe-worthy territory, but, to my immense relief, it didn’t.  It was amazingly written, and there was no cringing!

I would recommend this book to any Jane Austen lover who has ever fantasized about meeting her “Mr. Darcy” (or his “Mr. Darcy”, no judgement here)

There is a sequel to Austenland called “Midnight in Austenland”  It is definitely the next book on my reading list.  They also turned Austenland into a movie!  It didn’t get very good reviews, but I am going to watch it anyway.  Even if it is only half as good as the book I know I will enjoy it.

 

Just a Geek

***** (5 out of 5)

Just a Geek

To start out I just want to say how I know of Wil Wheaton.  I know he was in Star Trek but I have never seen any of his episodes.  I know he was in Stand By Me, and I am pretty sure I watched that movie as a child, but I don’t remember enough about it to recognize any of the characters.  I have seen him in Big Bang Theory and in The Guild.  In both, I think he is awesome.  Especially in The Guild (tho the furry thing was weird).  I decided to read his book because I had just finished Felicia Day’s book. And it seemed like a good book to read next.

The books tagline about sums it all up: “Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise.”  And Wheaton is most definitely unflinching honest.  He isn’t afraid of bearing his soul.  He talks about his depression and how much he struggled since quitting the enterprise.  It is refreshing to hear how celebrities deal with the same issues as everyone else, just on a bigger scale.

The only issue I had with the book was that I could not figure out the timeline.  It seemed to jump around a lot.  I know he has dates on his blog posts so this is mostly my own fault, but it would have been nice to have a little more continuity.  Also I didn’t know who a lot of the people he mentioned were, though, again, that is my own fault.  He does give brief introductions of all the new people and I just don’t know who they are.  (I would probably recognize at least some of them if I saw their pictures.)

Finally, Wheaton’s book is very easy to read.  It is full of funny antidotes and cool stories.  There was one quote in particular that I really liked and it struck me at how cool it was.  I thought about writing it down but though “nah, I’ll remember it” … Famous last words.  It is going to bug me until I can find it again.

Wheaton’s book reminded me of a quote from Pride and Prejudice; “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” Wheaton takes you on a journey of self realization and growing up.  Through his stories you see exactly how he came to that conclusion.  It was amazing that he decided to let the world see into his soul and take them on the roller coaster that is his life.

Pride and Prejudice

***** (5 out of 5)

Being my favorite book I have to make my first post about it!

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Pride and Prejudice is perfect.  If you don’t believe me watch The Big Bang Theory season 7 episode 4.

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I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was a junior in high school.  I fell in love with it instantly.  I felt a certain connection with Elizabeth.  She was strong willed and free. She wasn’t afraid to admit when she was wrong. She stood up for what she believed in.  She fought for her family.  I could go on and on.  She was everything I wished to be.  Even now 10 years later, she is still one of my biggest role models.

Part of the magic of the book is that you fall in love with Mr. Darcy as Elizabeth falls in love with him.  At first you hate him. Then slowly without realizing it, you start to fall in love.  Elizabeth even says herself “It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began.” It is a true masterpiece that takes the reader on a journey without them even realizing till the end.

All the characters, good and bad, are so real.  Even 204 years after it was written you can still understand and relate to the characters.  Pride and Prejudice has withstood the test of time.  Both in my life (it is my go to book whenever I need comfort) and throughout history.  It was written in 1813, and people are still reading it and loving it.  It is often required reading in high school, which means a lot of people should hate it (don’t lie, did you really like most of the books they made you read?) but people don’t.  People love it. (It has a 4.24 out of 5 right now on goodreads.)

I don’t know what else to say.  Its my favorite book. I think everyone should read it!