A Million Brilliant Shadows

Archive for the ‘reading challenges’ Category

I disappeared for a while.  I had every intention of posting over the last few weeks, but I just never got around to it.  Since my daughter started daycare, I haven’t really felt like doing much in the way of things that aren’t directly related to her.  My internet usage lately has been limited to after her bedtime, mainly to check email and read a few blogs I just can’t miss. Well, with the exception of today/tonight.  I’ve spent tons of time setting some new things up, which I will get to in a bit.

While I was on my hiatus of sorts, I decided that I need to break A Million Brilliant Shadows up a bit.  I’ve been using it for too many things: a book/reading challenge blog, a writing blog, a personal blog, and a 101 goals project blog.  That just isn’t working for me anymore because there is no central focus.  I’ve decided to start new blogs devoted to one topic.  My writing can now be found at Muse Wanted. Inquire Inside. Book and reading challenge related information can be found at Whitney Reads A Lot.

I’m still working some things out concerning my 101 goals project and my personal blog.  I’m hoping to get details ironed out soon.


Each of us has the power to create heaven or hell, right here, right now. I do not know how I have come to be in this time, in this place, in this body. But I do know that any place where there are six novels by the author of Pride and Prejudice must be a very special sort of heaven.” – Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler (pg. 53)

“Most of us walk through our daily lives as if we were asleep.  We regard not what is before our eyes.  We see not how we construct the fantasies of our own and others’ inventions without having the smallest knowledge of what we, or they, are truly about.  We are all imaginists, storytellers if you will, and the pity is that none of us recognizes his sorry state.” – Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (pg. 105)

My synopsis: Jane Mansfield find herself inhabiting the body of Courtney Stone.  Completely overwhelmed by the technology and lifestyles she finds in the year 2009, Jane has to adapt to the shambles she finds Courtney’s life in while trying to do everything in her power to make things better.

My thoughts: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict was also a quick and easy read. I started reading it last night as soon as I finished reading and writing my review of  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and finished reading it earlier today.  I really enjoyed the book.  It was interesting to see how Jane Mansfield would react and adapt to the modern world she found herself in.  Rude Awakenings also answered all the questions that Confessions left me wondering about.

The only complaint I have with the book concerns the language.  It struck me as being awkward at times.  However, I’m beginning to think that it was just because the author was trying to make Jane’s character as real as possible without reverting a full-scale rendition of authentic Austen prose.  (There’s a sentence that puts my B.A. in English to work.)

I have to say that Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict were definitely the easiest tasks I’ve completely for Everything Austen.  I was able to read and review both books in about two and half days.

I’ve gotten into the habit of writing my reviews by hand and then typing them up and posting when I have the time. It keeps me on task more than staring at a blank screen with the internet beckoning me away to Facebook and other time-wasting things.

“There are many possibilities.  The night your attention left your home was time of a rare planetary configuration, the likes of which had not been seen in hundreds of years. Such a formation takes the fluid quality of time and makes it like quicksilver, with little clusters forming, breaking apart, and re-forming. then it becomes like the air, floating, escaping through the tiniest openings, before it becomes its usual liquid state.  Anything is possible during such events.  It is when the doors that are already there open wider than ever before and time defies its usual boundaries, if boundaries they could ever be called.” – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler (pg. 184)

My synopsis: Courtney Stone is woken up one morning by people she doesn’t know in room she’s never seen before inhabiting a body that no amount of plastic surgery could have believably made hers.  Stuck in an era she’d only visited through the works of Jane Austen, Courtney must come to terms not only with her own wounds but those of the Jane Mansfield, the woman whose body she finds herself inhabiting.

My thoughts: I’m not going to lie.  I was wary of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.  My library classified it as a romance and I don’t read books classified as romances.  Sorry. I just don’t. However, I was wary for no reason.  My library obviously stuck this book into the wrong classification.  It should be put in the general fiction section instead.

Despite my initial reservations, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a very quick and easy read.  I loved that it took people and places from Austen’s novels and time and put them into modern terms.  I guess I was initially expecting the novel to try to emulate the language that Austen would have used.  I just can’t get into books written by modern writers who are trying to make their works sound like they were written two hundred years ago by a British author.  (I tried to read Syrie James’ novels  The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, but just couldn’t do it.  I gave up before I’d made it more than two chapters in.

I wasn’t exactly crazy about the ending.  Not that I had a problem with it.   I just felt like the ending kind of came out of nowhere.  It left me with some unanswered questions, but that must have been the point since we now have Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.  I’m really looking forward to getting into  Rude Awakenings.  I’m hoping it is going to answer the questions that Confessions left hanging over my head.

I posted my thoughts on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey last week. Last weekend I watched the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre version. I have to say that the film version was a little better than I expected. I know Masterpiece Theatre almost always puts out great stuff, but I honestly didn’t think even they could Northanger Abbey as well as they did.

The film followed the book well. The actors and actresses did great jobs of portraying the characters just as they were in the book (especially Catherine and Isabella). Mrs. Allen wasn’t nearly as annoying to me in the film version as she was in the book. I loved the fact that a lot of book’s interactions between Catherine and John Thorpe were omitted in the movie. He was the main character that rubbed me the wrong way and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the film as much if he had had a bigger part in it. (I think I’m going to have to figure out what annoys me so much about Austen’s characters or I’m not going to enjoy the rest of my challenge reading and viewing as much as I should.

I did have a few problems with the movie. I felt like the events in the book were condenses a bit more than they should have been. I guess that’s what you get when you try to condense a 200 page novel into an 86 minute film, though. There were things I didn’t remember from the book (the Tilneys’ male friend showing up to say goodbye while they were walking in the woods with Catherine and a few others I can’t remember of the top of my head), but it could have been because I finished the book over a week before I was able to get the film from the library. I could have done without the scenes bringing Catherine’s daydreams of robbers and kidnappers to life. These scenes channeled The Female Quixote even more than the book did.

I just finished reading Northanger Abbey, the second book I’ve read for my Everything Austen challenge.

Northanger Abbey follows Catherine Morland as she vacations in Bath with her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. Used to live in the country, she is a bit in awe of all the activities and amusements that Bath offers her. Catherine becomes acquainted with two sets of siblings (Isabella and John Thorpe, Henry and Eleanor Tilney) and the relationships that develop bring about circumstances that change the lives of those involved.

I was pleasantly surprised with what a quick and easy read Northanger Abbey was. At only 205 pages, it didn’t drag on endlessly. For the most part, it was a good book. As with Emma, most of the characters rubbed me the wrong way. Isabella Thorpe was a shallow, self-centered, gold-digging brat. Her brother John wasn’t much different. In fact, much of the trouble in the novel could have been adverted had John Thorpe never gone to Bath, but then we wouldn’t have had a novel. Catherine was a decent heroine. Very naïve, but decent. When she developed her theory of what really happened to Mrs. Tilney, Catherine reminded me a bit of the main character in The Female Quixote. (I think that’s the title anyway. I had to read it over two years ago for British literature course. It’s about a girl who reads romance novels and then begins imagining that every male on earth wants to kidnap and ravish her. {Edit 8/15: The Female Quixote was the title of the book.)

I still have to watch the film version of Northanger Abbey. I picked it up from the library earlier in the week and will be watching it over the weekend so the review soon be up within the next week or so.

I’ve decided to join another reading challenge: The Harry Potter Reading Challenge hosted by Galleysmith. I’m looking forward to starting this one because I’ve been wanting to reread all the books for a while now.

Here are the details for the challenge (taken from Galleysmith):

What: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series

  • Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Chamber of Secrets
  • Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Goblet of Fire
  • Order of the Pheonix
  • Half-Blood Prince
  • Deathly Hallows

When: The challenge will run from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010. I know we’re all busy with life and work and other such fun things so join up whenever you want, there are no deadlines to the challenge besides the end date above. :)

Where: E-to the Everywhere! Post reviews on your blog, chat about it on messageboards, post vlogs or podcasts, comment on and converse about it in the monthly post I create here on Galleysmith. It’s entirely up to you, as long as there is some evidence of your having completed each book along the way you are good to go.

How: Sign up to join in and play, cause you know….Harry would want you to and all! Then, post a kick off post on your blog and link it back up according to the details on the monthly HPRC post also available here on Galleysmith.

I’ve heard of the whole 101 in 1001thing. I tried it and, failing miserably, gave up on it less than a month in. I was trying to be too ambitious with my goals and, to be completely honest, at least half of my goals were crap. You know, things that were on the list just to fill slots on the list. Well, now I’ve found a better way to complete the 101 in 1001things: read 101 books in 1001 days. Great idea, huh? (I found it at The Twiga Blog.) I’m not expecting this to be too difficult. I love to read and I’m sure I’ve managed to read a similar number of books within a similar time frame without even noticing. Who knows, if I can finish this maybe it will inspire me to actually complete the regular 101 in 1001.

So, to reiterate, between today (July 5, 2009) and April 1, 2012, I will read 101 books. My list is going to be made up of books I’ve ever never read or the ones I had to read for my college English courses that I would like to read at a more leisurely pace so I can try to understand them a bit more (Faulkner’s A Fable, for instance). Oh, yeah, I can’t forget all the used books I’ve bought with ever intention of reading that have been sitting unread ever since I brought them home.

Books read:

  1. Emma, Jane Austen (July ’09)
  2. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer (July ’09)
  3. Through Thick and Thin, Alison Pace (July ’09)
  4. Wife in the Fast Lane, Karen Quinn (July ’09)
  5. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  6. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

101 Goals in 1001 Days

Start date: 19 July 2009
End date: 15 April 2012

Total goals: 85
Goals to be determined: 16
Goals completed: 4
Goals in progress: 10

You can find my full list here.

**My goal project is on hold until September so I can figure some things out**