Wednesday, 30 June 2010

DIK Challenge - Persuasion by Jane Austen

My June DIK Challenge book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. This is the first time in the challenge I have chosen a second book from the same DIK lady. Persuasion was a choice of Renee. I think what decided me on this book was a post Renee wrote on her blog about her favourite book moment.

Anyhow - on with the review. I read my first Jane Austen book last year, and I guess like a lot of people my first book was Pride and Prejudice (which I loved). I think in the back of my mind I always thought the next Austen book I'd read would be Emma - as I'm reasonably familiar with the story. Methinks along with P&P it's the most adapted for film and television (Sense & Sensibility is probabaly right up there too). I was unfamiliar with the story of Persuasion so approached the story with some apprehension - was my love of P&P just a fluke.

No. :)

However, I did find Pride and Prejudice easier to get into. But I think a large part of this is the abovementioned familiarity with the story. I think once I've read Persuasion a couple more times it's grade will probably also be A.

Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot. Eight years ago she rejected the man she loved - Captain Wentworth - because her friends and family persuaded her that he wasn't rich or important enough. Now, he's back and it's his turn to reject her. Is all hope lost, or will Anne be able to regain the affection of her Captain?

I don't think readers should be put off by the fact that Jane Austen wrote these stories nearly two hundred years ago. Once you sink into the language, you quickly come to appreciate that her themes are timeless, she also has a way of condensing the traits of a character into a single sentence or phrase.
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and of situation.
So you're immediately able to understand the character's place in the story.

The prose is elegant and beautiful to read, with the feeling that every single word has been chosen with care.
Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery.
It's particularly interesting to see when the word persuasion/persuade is used. One of the things I love most is that Austen lets the reader see things for themselves. Some characters behave in a hypocritical manner but you are never told this, you see how they behave and discover the characters for yourself. You need to pay attention to what characters are saying, who they are saying it to and compare it to the conversations they have with other characters. I think this is why the more times you read Austen the deeper your appreciation becomes. (Lol - well this is my opinion after having read two books.)

For the majority of the story Anne and Captain Wentworth are apart. Even though they've been apart for eight years, each still needs to grow that little bit more. Austen brings her hero and heroine's together at exactly the right moment - whether it's the putting aside of pride and prejudice, or seeing what had been there all along. And I completely agree with Renee about her favourite book moment. I encourage you to go and read her post as she speaks about it far more eloquently than I. When Anne reads the letter that Captain Wentworth has written to her, it brings a smile of joy to your face and a warm glow to your heart.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half in agony, half in hope. Tell me not that I am too late. That such precious feelings are gone forever.
This is definitely a book that I will come back and read again, and makes me more determined than ever to read the remaining Austen books on my shelf.

Spookily the 2007 version of Persuasion starring Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins was on tv this week and I recorded it, now I've read the book I'm going to treat myself to watching the adaptation.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Apropos of Nothing the Google Doodle...

yesterday was of The Little Prince:-

If you go today it's back to the usual format.

I was quite chuffed with myself when I used it at work and thought Why is the Google a drawing from The Little Prince?

Well it's the 110th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupery who wrote The Little Prince. He was born on 29th June 1900.

The Little Prince contains one of my favourite lines in literature and something well worth remembering.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

If you've never read The Little Prince I'd urge you to give it a read, even if only once. If nothing else, when I read it, it made me appreciate how easily we lose the gift of our imagination.

Edited to update post - the drawing was only there on the 29th, but I'm glad I spotted it. :) Made me get my copy off the bookshelf and have a re-read. :)

Challenge Update

We're roughly halfway through the year so this seems like a good opporunity to review how I'm doing with my reading challenges. The overall response so far is probably best summed up as - could do better.

DIK Challenge

Currently 5/12 books. Pretty much right on track, just need to get June's book finished and reviewed.


M/M Challenge

Currently 5/20 books. Maybe I should have picked one of the smaller challenges. Will have to try and squeeze more m/m books in during the second half of 2010


52 books in 52 weeks

So far only read 15 books! That seems a very small number. Way behind on this one, not sure I'll make it to 52.


12 Knitting/Crocheting Projects
4/12. Two jumpers, a pair of socks and a crochet throw. Don't think I'll make it up to 12 projects, that was admittedly a little too ambitious. Maybe 8 would be a more realistic target. Have started my fifth project a sweater in Araucania Patagonia, and had to undo it because I can't get the ******* tension right. Am leaving it a few days before I try again.


So what about you? Did you start any reading/knitting challenges in January? Are you on target or have you given up? Have you readjusted your challenges or are you going to try and make an extra effort in the next six months. Any hints or tips for getting back on track or is the journey more important than the destination? :)

I've a copy of A Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley to give to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number at randomnumber.org on Saturday.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Anybody else seen this link...

...on AfterElton?


To The Straight Guy at the Party Last Night

Well worth following and reading if you haven't. :)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Winner of the When Good Characters Go Bad Giveaway

Winner of the When Good Characters Go Bad Giveaway is...



Sullivan McPig



Number chosen at randomnumber.org was 1 and Sullivan was the first poster. There's a copy of Shadows and Lace waiting to be posted to you.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Three Words I Hate

A little bit of a grumble.

Okay - three words I hate.

What's the point?

Not sure if those were the three words you were expecting. :) I get so fed up of hearing - What's the point of :-

  • recycling
  • conservation
  • picking up your own litter
  • anything!

Feel free to insert your own activity of choice. What's the point of me doing it when nobody else is? What's the point when it only makes a small difference? What if Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King...what if the suffragettes had said that?

Instead of asking what's the point?Ask instead, is it a good thing to do, is it the right thing to do, is it of benefit? And if the answer is yes, maybe that's the point. Or in other words stop moaning and get on with it.

Grump over.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Some Spoilers May Follow

The Thief tells the story of Gen a thief who bragged he could steal anything. Unfortunately the only thing his boasting gets him is thrown in the king's prison. Then the king's magus approaches Gen with an offer - the chance to steal a hidden treasure, to commit an impossible crime. Gen knows that this is only a temporary reprieve, but he is a thief with plans of his own.

I wasn't sure about this. I'd read quite a few reviews (all positive) but I didn't know if it would be my sort of thing. I needn't have worried because I loved the story.

I don't think I've read that many unreliable narrator stories. Most of the heroes and heroines I read are pretty straightforward, no-nonsense characters, so The Thief made a refreshing change. I liked that Megan Whalen Turner was able to get us onto Gen's side even though we aren't completely aware of his motives.

Whether or not you like this book will depend (I think) on whether or not you like the character of Gen. He's a boy who thinks very quickly on his feet, and he's got a very smart mouth.
"I pointed out that he'd been no help at the ford. He pointed out that I had climbed a tree. I pointed out that I had no sword. He offered to give me his, point first."
He makes very cutting and snarky observations about his travelling companions, even when he should perhaps keep his own counsel.
At one point I muttered, "You learn something new every day."
"What are you learning?" Sophos asked.
"To keep my mouth shut, I hope."
We learn about the history and myths of the world as the magus quizzes Sophos and Ambiades (apprentices to the magus and christened Useless the Younger and Useless the Elder by Gen) during the course of the journey. It's worth trying to see the story through Gen's eyes, rather than just reading it. His observations give you important clues to the truth of what's going on, though you often don't realize that until further into the story.

Perhaps what I most enjoyed was the relationships that Gen builds with his would-be captors - the magus, Sophos, and Pol the soldier who guards him. Gen is something of an unremitting brat, but you understand his position, he's a prisoner, he's not there to make life easy for everyone else. However, you sometimes make friends and build relationships despite the circumstances you find yourself in.

This is a book you could read over and over again, each time getting something different from the story. I am very much looking forward to reading the next books in the trilogy.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

When Good Characters Go Bad

Have you ever really loved a character only to have them change into a completely different person between one book and the next?

Is this just a matter of personal interpretation? You think that they've changed but actually you're wrong. Have you misjudged everything about the character to the point where you didn't see what was blindingly obvious to the rest of the readership? Or on the other hand, you're not going mad and they've definitely changed.

Is it ever acceptable for a character to do a complete 180 personality wise - as regards beliefs, character traits etc. - with no other explanation than, that's the way it is.

A couple of examples. (My personal opinions other readers may disagree)

For me John Matthew of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series changed in Lover Avenged. Up until that book he'd been my favourite character and my main reason for following the series. I loved that though he was young and unsure of himself and his worth, he had a depth and vulnerability that put you firmly on his side. Unfortunately in Lover Avenged he turned into a bit of a wanker. (I now find I'm reading the series for the relationship between Blay and Qhuinn).

Another character who suffered an extreme personality change was Nicolette Peltier of the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. She'd always been portrayed as this earth mother type, firm but fair. However, in the book Unleash the Night she turns into a right cow (for want of a better description). Apparently all the compassion, understanding and diplomacy she showed in the previous books was just for show.

I'm sure there are other cases where I've read something and thought Noooooo, that character just wouldn't do/say that. Don't you remember way back in book 2 he said he'd never do x,y or z. (Insert the appropriate action in place of the algebra)

Are there characters who you feel have changed without good reason? Or has this phenomenon never happened to you? (In which case consider yourself lucky)

I have a copy of Shadows and Lace by Teresa Medeiros* to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number at randomnumber.org on Saturday.

* Yep the giveaway is going a bit historical. :)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Winner of Who Owns the Story?...

...giveaway is

Booklover0226

She was the 5th poster and the number chosen at random.org was 5. Hopefully winning a book will make up for the fact that we've confused her. :) Booklover send me a mail at

lesley7312 at yahoo dot com

(words changed to the appropriate symbols) with your snail mail details and I'll get your copy of Kitty and the Silver bullet out to you.

And yet again I haven't posted The Thief review, this WILL get done. I've unfortunately spent the last three days poorly in bed. Hopefully there will be much more blogging done next week.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Who Owns The Story?

Firstly I'm not sure that owns is the right word here but it feels the most appropriate. And there's a lot of topic here, so I may carry some of this over to next week.

I've recently read a couple of author interviews and over time 'witnessed' a few author meltdowns via the internet about how readers choose to interpret stories.

So who does a story belong to? Who gets to decide what it means?

My own take on this is that once a story is published it 'belongs' to the reader. If a reader chooses to interpret a story in a certain way then I think usually it's either because the author made things too vague allowing the story to be interpreted in that way, the author was influencing the reader in a certain way as a source of misdirection or the author wanted to take advantage of the wishes of the minority of their fans whilst reserving the right to write whatever they want to.

Vagueness - I don't really have a problem with. I like when authors give their readers credit. I want to engage my brain when I read. I want to puzzle things out. I don't like always having everything spelt out for me. For me the joy of reading is engaging your imagination and the more someone chooses to guide you through the specifics the less you get to do that.

Misdirection - I don't really have a problem with. :) For all the above reasons to do with vagueness. I read a LOT. And if an author can get me to think one thing while really something else is happening I love it. Mainly because this increases the re-readability of a story by 100%. To read through a story for the second time and see where you read all the signs wrong, to have the insight of knowing where a story is going, is one of the best parts of reading and it happens so rarely. (Recently read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner which has one of these moments and I'll hopefully have the review of that up this week - loved it).

I don't have a problem with vagueness or misdirection. If it's done well the reader will 'get it'. If it's done badly it's no use the author throwing their teddies out of the pram if a reader chooses to interpret the story in their own way.

I believe the author should write the story they want to write to the best of their ability. If a fan/group of fans says they want an ethnic character or a gay character or they want a certain couple to end up together* the author should ignore it unless it's organic to the story they were already telling, unless that's where they were already going. You can't please all of the people all of the time and you shouldn't try to, you'll just end up disappointing (and annoying) everybody.

So who does a story belong to? I have a copy of Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen at random by random number at randomnumber.org. on Saturday (I add here that as far as I'm aware Carrie Vaughn has never thrown her teddies out of the pram, it just happens that I have two copies of KatSB after accidentally buying a second copy. An occasional hazard of having such a HUGE TBR pile.)



*I admit this is something I'm guilty of as a reader. Sometimes you can't help yourself.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Winner of the Multiple Series/Same Author...

...giveaway is

Li

She was the fourth poster who wanted to be entered into the draw and the number chosen at random.org was 4.

I have a copy of Dark Thirst waiting for you.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Multiple Series/Same Author

Thanks for the suggestions last week. They will definitely keep my musings topics going for the next month or so.

This week I read a review of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels books - a series that I love. And it got me to thinking why I've never been able to get into the other series she writes. And why this seems to be the case with certain authors but others I can read all the series they write.

Black Jewels is a series I've enjoyed since I read the first trilogy. But I've not been able to get into either the Ephemera books or the Tir Alainn. I struggled through the first Tir Alainn book before giving up. I'm not sure if this is a case of subject matter not appealing or the writing style being subtly different. Is the association with the Black Jewels books so strong that I don't want to get into the other series?

When I was reading the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon I was never interested in following her other series.

This isn't the case with all authors. I love Kelley Armstrong's writing whether it's the Otherworld series or the Nadia Stafford. In fact I think I'm more eagerly looking forward to the next Nadia book. And I love Lynn Viehl's Darkyn books and also the Stardoc books she writes as S.L. Viehl. Having said that I have yet to start her new Kyndred series though I've heard nothing but good things about the first book and it's been on my TBR pile for a while.

So do you think it's easier to follow multiple series if the authors stick to similar genres? Or does it have nothing to do with that? Are there series that you love and series that you hate written by the same author? Or are you faithful to whatever your favourite author writes?

I have a copy of Dark Thirst by Sara Reinke to giveaway to one poster to this thread. Winner chosen by random number at randomnumber.org on Saturday.