Tag Archives: Shannon Hale

2019 Reading Challenge: Jane Austen Related

You’ve all been lovely about my inundation of book-related posts but I am going to put you through one more: the best and worst Jane Austen related books of 2019. Because here is a fact: if there is one saturated genre, it is the spin-offs, reimaginings, and retellings of Jane Austen’s works. And I read a lot of them this past year. So here are a few of my favorite and least favorites from the past year that maybe did not make 5 stars, but proved memorable. 

Listed from best to worst: 

  1. Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace (a surprisingly delightful P&P retelling starring dragons!)
  2. Longbourn: Dragon Entail by Maria Grace (sequel to Pemberley) 
  3. Netherfield: Rogue Dragon by Maria Grace (final book in the trilogy) 
  4. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (P&P with a Muslim twist. Keep your eye out for a longer blog post contrasting this one with Unmarriageable and Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors)
  5. Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (P&P in Pakistan)
  6. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (sequel to Austenland and better than the original but not as good as the movie)
  7. The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan (good beginner read but gives advice like the author is Caroline Bingley which is weird.)
  8. All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith (an interesting premise–American professor leading Austen book-clubs in South America–but execution fell flat) 
  9. Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken (basically Mansfield Park 2.0 but with a gutsier heroine)
  10. An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aidan (P&P from Darcy’s POV)
  11. First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice by Alexa Adams (imagine Darcy and Elizabeth did not take an instant dislike to one another. What would happen?! With this plot, nothing interesting.) 
  12. Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd (took forever to get murdering!) 
  13. A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly (hated it)
  14. Bespelling Jane Austen by Mary Balogh and others (4 short stories–1 decent, the others trash)
  15. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn (see my 1 star posts)
  16. Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos (so bad I did not finish)

2018 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 4

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott

Giving and receiving criticism are two of the most difficult parts of being a boss. This book takes that reality and addresses it head on. I really, really enjoyed and appreciated it. It is somewhat niche as the author’s main case studies come from Google, Apple, and Twitter. However, a lot of the principles she mentions carry over into everyday life. Even as someone not currently managing people, I found a lot of her principles just good advice for every day relationships.

Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci

This Young Adult novel tells the story of a high school girl who copes with her messed up life by cosplaying as her favorite comic book character. I unexpectedly loved the book. It tugged on my heartstrings and wrapped me up in a world of fandoms and cosplay. It wasn’t perfect – a little on the nose with its “all fans are equal” message and I’m never a fan of teenage romance – but it successfully walked the line of emotional and angsty. While it could have been more fleshed out, I liked it because it wasn’t. Short, fun, appealing. It captures what brings people to fandoms and cosplay and how one girl channels her anxiety about life into her costumes. If I have one complaint, it is with the title. It does not do the book justice.

2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shannon Hale

I am officially obsessed with Shannon Hale’s Squirrel Girl. And this is solidly Juvenile fiction. Not aimed at adults at all. Doreen is a Marvel superhero – Squirrel Girl. She doesn’t get to hang out with the Avengers much, but she does text with them! (The Winter Solider is scary…) Her powers include a giant tail that she hides in her pants and the ability to communicate with squirrels. It sounds weird, it is weird, but it works so well. I giggled my way throughout. Also, I am pretty sure I am Squirrel Girl. I need more books in this series PRONTO.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Sometimes, Young Adult novels are really terrible, and sometimes they are written by Maurene Goo and are amazing. This book hit me right in the feels. Clara Shin doesn’t take life too seriously. She loves pulling pranks, though, and finally her pranking goes too far and her Dad forces her to work at his Korean-Brazilian food truck over the summer with her arch-nemesis. I loved Clara from the start. I loved the diversity in this book. The character growth. The food truck. I d that even though it is packaged as a sort of Sarah Dessen teeny romance, the real focus is on female friendships and learning to care. The romance hits the right note of important, but not all consuming for the plot. Just good.

My Plain Jane by by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

This is the second book in the The Lady Janies series. The first one told the story of Jane Gray – the fated 9-day, English Queen – and the third one will tell the story of Calamity Jane (I wanttttt). My Plain Jane, however, tells the story of Jane Eyre. But not the story you know. As always, the Lady Janies mess with history (or in this case, literature) to include a host of fantastical characters and hilarious, witty plot points. It is so fun and creative. You can read it with without reading the first one (only the names connect them.)

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

Using psychology, philosophy, theology (ish), and some biology, Jonathan Haidt digs into what brings true happiness and how we define it. I like how intellectually engaging the book was. Most of the studies, philosophies, and ideas he presented were familiar. However, I’ve never seen them combined like this. It really is about “modern truth” born from “ancient wisdom.” I might disagree with how he reaches his conclusions, but overall I liked chewing it over.


Challenge: Ten Books That Stayed With You

Reading Challenge

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends and me so I can see your list.”

Following the example of Lady Z, The Artist Librarian who tagged me, I decided to turn this challenge into a blog post instead of a Facebook note.

This is a true challenge for me. Only 10 books? I re-read 10 of my favorite books on a monthly basis! (Okay, maybe not anymore, but I used to!)

Instead, I offer a compromise. 10 author and 10 books. 10 authors because rarely does a particular author influence me only once. 10 books because occasionally one novel completely wins over my heart and deserves a spot on the list. I am leaving The Bible and C.S. Lewis off the list because, though they deserve spots, both fulfill an ‘obvious’ role in this post.

I suppose ‘stayed with you in some way’ means ‘books that have affected you in some way’, but I could never narrow that list down to 10. Possibly not even 50. For the sake of your attention span, I am going to go with books I have read over and over. Books I can replay in my head. Books that I cannot walk past without walking to pick them up. Books (or authors) that formed me.  In only a very general order…

10 Authors That Have Stayed With Me

  1. Elizabeth George Speare. The author of my favorite novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Speare also wrote Calico Captive, The Sign of the Beaver, and The Bronze Bow. I’ve re-read them all numerous times over the past 10+ years.
  2. Elizabeth Marie Pope. As far as I know, she only wrote The Sherwood Ring and The Perilous Gard. I love them both.
  3. Eloise Jarvis McGraw. She wrote The Moorchild, The Golden Goblet, Moccasin Trail, Master Cornhill, and The Seventeenth Swap. Most importantly, though, McGraw wrote Mara, Daughter of the Nile.
  4. Georgette Heyer. Though best known for her Regency novels, Heyer wrote detective mysteries and medieval fiction. My favorites by her are The Grand Sophy, Frederica, Cotillion, Arabella, and Devil’s Cub though I also really enjoyed Regency Buck, Friday’s Child, The Masqueraders, and The Talisman Ring. If Heyer wrote it, I’ll definitely re-read it.
  5. Jessica Day George. Though her novels do not represent as much of my heart as the first four authors, I have read (almost) every book she has written. Her Princess and Dragon Slippers series always make for a good read.
  6. Emmuska Orczy. The Scarlet Pimpernel, people! I’ve read most of the series. It doesn’t matter how predictable his characters may be after a while, nothing beats Sir Percy Blackeney.
  7. Shannon Hale. She wrote Goose Girl. Like Jessica Day George, I easily include her as an author I have faithfully followed.
  8. Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia C. Wrede. I stick them together because each offers a series I have read numerous times but I haven’t really gotten into the rest of their work. To find my favorites, however, look no farther than Howl’s Moving Castle (all 3 books) and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
  9. Gail Carson Levine. I debated putting her on the list and then remembered that I re-read Ella Enchanted for like the 18th time a month ago. She definitely belongs on the list for that book alone. Fairest a good, frequently re-read, one too.
  10. Robin McKinely. I don’t like all her books. In fact, I loathe quite a few. But she did write The Blue Sword and Beauty so for those two she deserves a spot because I love The Blue Sword.

 

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

  1. A Murder For Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner. Third favorite/most re-read book of all time.
  2. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. Read it, loved it, read it again, loved it more…and so forth.
  3. Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. In my opinion, a hidden gem of historical fiction. I grabbed it when the library was selling it and now have a very well-loved copy.
  4. The Iron Peacock by Mary Stetson Clark. Another great historical fiction novel.
  5. Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. A story that takes place in the world of Scheherazade and her Thousand and One Nights.
  6. Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. A favorite adventure novel!
  7. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. If you have not had the pleasure of reading this one, go by yourself a copy. Delightful storytelling.
  8. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. Maybe because the princess’s name is Amy, I’ve always treasured this one. Truly a charming little story.
  9. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. It inspired me to try and read Bowditch’s The American Practical Navigator and Newton’s Principia numerous times. I never made more than a dent in either but I sure wanted to be as smart at Nathaniel Bowditch!
  10. Seven Daughter and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen. Captures the imagination and tells a good tale

 

In retrospect, I did not purposefully make this a list of fiction or choose just about only female authors. These are just the books I go back to, over and over again, since I was a kid. They are just some of the books that make me…me.

If you liked mine, you’ll love The Artist Librarian’s! Check out Z’s post at – http://theartistlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/09/ten-books-that-have-stayed-with-you.html#comment-form