Winners Announced in the Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

aafThree people have been chosen winners in the Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Congratulations to:

  1. HOLLY who left a comment on February 15th
  2. Erin @ ITIO Book Reviews who left a comment on February 15th
  3. Christina B who left a comment on February 22nd

Please contact me with your mailing address by Tuesday March 2, 2015 to claim your prize.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

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Happy Valentine’s Day Giveaway!!

heart-bookHappy Valentine’s Day readers! As promised, I’m hosting a Valentine’s Day giveaway! Instead of books for reading, I’m offering up three books for art! Three winners will be chosen to each receive one ArtFolds folded book. What is an ArtFolds folded book you ask? They are real books, folded into words (see the pictures below for examples.) Giveaway instructions are below the photo.

The three options you have to win are:

  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery folded into the word “Joy”
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen folded into the word “Love”
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte folded into the word “Read”

aaf

Giveaway

Three lucky winners will have the opportunity to each win ONE ArtFolds book!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight on Sunday, February 22, 2015.  Winners will be picked at random and announced on Monday, February 23, 2015.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Kim’s Review of Jane by April Lindner

9780316084208_p0_v1_s600I have a confession to make.  I may be the worst reader ever.  I was 25 years old when I read Jane Eyre for the first time.  I know, I know. Who am I?  Jean Valjean! …..wait, that’s Les Miserables.  I’d always been a Jane Austen fan and it honestly never occurred to me that there could be a book that could come close to the love I felt for Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.  Little did I know that Jane Eyre would eventually become my third favorite book of all time.  I remember that while reading Jane Eyre, my friend was reading a modern adaptation of it by April Lindner entitled Jane.  At that point I decided to mark it on my to-read list.  Now over a year later, and needing a Jane Eyre fix after reading The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, I decided to read Jane.

Jane begins with the sad and sudden death of Jane Moore’s parents, an event which causes a cataclysmic shift in her life that forces her to quit going to college and sign up to be a nanny to make ends meet.  The nanny job is offered at Thornfield Park, the large estate of Nico Rathburn, a once world-renowned rock star who is close to making a huge comeback in his career.  Even though she does not want the job, Jane reluctantly begins working for Nico, and against all odds she becomes attracted to him.  She cannot resist his enticing qualities, and she is soon swept up in a romance with Nico that she had neither planned nor expected.  This comes at a price, however, as she discovers a dark secret that threatens their new-found relationship.  Jane finds that she must decide whether her attachment to Nico is worth having to live with the dark secret he carries with him.  What is she willing to do for love?

My feelings are all over the place on this book.  I think the only way for me to review this is to just list everything out, good and bad.  First the strong stuff. I think it’s an excellently written modern adaptation of Jane Eyre.  Jane Eyre is one of the harder classic literature books to modernize (IMO) because of one thing: the age difference.  In our modern society a relationship between a 19-year-old girl and a 30+year-old guy is definitely going to turn some heads.  I thought it was slightly bizarre that the age difference is never brought up as an issue.  Nico’s friends just accept that Jane is his girlfriend and fiancée all in the same breath.  Not once does anyone ever question it.  I’m sorry, but in 2013 someone is definitely going to have some questions.

Take away the age difference issue and I think Jane is extremely creative! Mr. Rochester, a rock star? Excellent!  His dark and moody personality translated wonderfully into the world of brooding musicians and paparazzi.  While Nico isn’t as dark as Rochester is, he still has that mysterious air about him that defines so much of his character.  Lindner’s Jane is an almost perfect replica of the Jane that Brontë herself created.  She’s just as self-sufficient, independent, honest, true, moral, and strong as expected.  One of my favorite things about Jane is that no matter how horrible her life seems, she never feels sorry for herself.  Even when her engagement falls to pieces, she picks herself up, remains true to herself, and moves on.  I think Jane is an awesome role model and the fact that this book is geared towards the Young Adult/New Adult demographic, means that another generation of readers might be inspired to read Jane Eyre. 

In the end, are there parts of this book that are a bit far-fetched for the modern world?  Yes.  However, much should be said about Lindner’s ability to capture her audience and keep them enthralled as she slowly develops the deep love that Jane and Nico eventually realize exists between them.  Jane is definitely a worthwhile read for not only Jane Eyre fans, but fans of dark, brooding, and mysterious love stories, as well as those who love a good tale of self-discovery.  You won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 Stars

Jane by April Lindner
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)
eBook 277 pages
ISBN: 9780316122344

SUCCESS!

It is with GREAT pleasure that I announce I’ve succeeded in completing my goal of reading 100 books this year!  I’m a bit behind on posting my reviews, but I promise you within the next week I’ll complete them and get on track for the new year! Since I’ve completed my goal of 100 for the year I’ve thought about increasing my goal for 2012 and am thinking of upping the goal to 110.  I’ll post my definite plans tomorrow in my kick-off post, similar to what I did last year.

2011 has been a pretty amazing year of reading for me.  Looking back I’ve read some fascinating memoirs, heartbreaking fiction, and  suspenseful mysteries among other things.  My top ten for the year with links to their reviews are as follows:

  1. Jane Eyre
  2. One Day
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Stardust
  6. The House At Riverton
  7. Lunch in Paris
  8. A Wife For Mr. Darcy
  9. Eat, Pray, Love
  10. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian/The Silent Governess

It was SO difficult to come up with a top ten for the year; I have to pat myself on the back for choosing such a wide array of excellent reads.  I do hope that you’ll tell me what you’ve enjoyed reading this year! There is no better recommendation to read a book than a recommendation from a fellow reader!

In terms of the challenges I signed up for this past year I completed the Historical Fiction Challenge and the Page to Screen Challenge with flying colors.  The Chunkster Challenge continues through January 31, 2012 so I still have a month to finish my last two “mega-chunkster” books.  My Austen challenges I did not do so well on.  I only completed 2 of the Jane Austen mystery novels, and completed 50% of the Sense and Sensibility Challenge.  I’m disappointed that I did so terribly on them, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that I still completed my 100!  I’ve already begun to sign up for 2012 challenges, so make sure you head over to my challenge page to track my progress.

I hope that you will all enjoy the holiday today, checking back in tomorrow to join me on my journey of reading in 2012.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Reflections of a Book Addict: ArmchairBEA Day 2 & 3

Unfortunately my day got a bit hectic yesterday, putting me a day behind on my ArmchairBEA posts.  The theme of yesterday’s post was supposed to be “The Best of 2011.”  Below are four of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year!

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Classic book that I just had the pleasure of reading for the first time.  (Epic failure on my part)  This tops my best of 2011 list because of how much I loved the book.  Jane Eyre embodied everything that is wonderful about books. The writing was superb; the story was dramatic, emotional, passionate, etc.  There is a reason why people still fall in love with this book 100+ years later.
  2. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – Amazing series of books!  Collins describes a post-apocalyptic world in which “tributes” are chosen to fight to the death for the honor of their home state.  Peeta and Katniss, two main tributes that hail from the same district, must fight for their own survival and deal with their feelings for each other.  It’s never a dull moment with this series: I was always on the edge of my seat! 
  3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman – Neil Gaiman writes the story of Tristran Thorn, an average young man living an average life until he goes on a quest to find a fallen star.  The writing of the narrative was very descriptive, allowing the reader to experience the world that Gaiman created.  It makes for an interesting way to read a fantasy novel.
  4. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris – What can I say about Sookie Stackhouse.  Full of humor, violence, sex, plot twists, and other extremes, Harris creates an amazing novel where we follow Sookie along on her quest to live a normal life among the supernatural world.  Her hilarious asides blend seamlessly with the action and make this series one of my favorites.  I am already eagerly counting down the days until book 12 is released next May!

2011 has so far been an awesome year for books!  I’m really looking forward to continuing along my journey to 100.  If you’re interested in seeing what other books I’ve read so far this year check out my 2011 book list.

Today (5/25)’s theme was a way to create a network amongst the ArmchairBEA participants.  Bloggers interviewed other bloggers and posted the interviews up on their own blogs.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Bethany of Subtle Melodrama!  Bethany posted the interview today, and you can find a link to it here.

Due to my finding out about ArmchairBEA super last-minute I myself wasn’t able to interview anyone for today’s posting.  Fear not readers, as I will be signing myself up nice and early next year so that I can take part in all the festivities!

For more information on ArmchairBEA click here.

Until tomorrow, happy reading!!

My Top Ten…Villains (Part II)

As promised yesterday, here are my top five villains!!!

5.) Aunt Reed from Jane Eyre

Aunt Reed makes the list for being cruel and cold-hearted to young Jane Eyre.  For those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, Jane is orphaned at a young age and is adopted by her Aunt and Uncle Reed.  Uncle Reed dies shortly after and makes Aunt Reed promise him that she will take care of Jane and raise her as one of their own children.   Once he’s dead she does the exact opposite, allowing her son to physically beat Jane, locking her in “haunted” rooms in their home, and eventually sending her off to a school that has horrible conditions.  Aunt Reed also makes sure Jane will live a meager life by telling a rich uncle of hers that she’s dead.  She’s a horrible woman made worse by the fact that kind-hearted Jane forgives her before her death for all her misgivings.  (I don’t think she deserved to be forgiven after everything that happened, but it just goes to show you how kind a person Jane truly was).

(You can find my review here)

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4.) President Snow from The Hunger Games Series

President Snow is the leader of the Capitol and ruler of Panem in The Hunger Games series.  We get to see what a truly horrible man he is in Catching Fire and Mockingjay as his interaction with Katniss grows.  You come to learn that Snow is a truly evil person, poisoning those that got in his way during his rise to political glory.  He tricks Katniss and the rest of the districts into believing that District 13 was destroyed and that they need to continue the hunger games as punishment.  He is a master at deception and is always playing a game with the people around him, using them as pawns.  He gets what he deserves in the end, but it still doesn’t make up for all that he’s done during his ruling years.   

(You can find my reviews for here for Book One, Two, and Three)

3.) Silas – The DaVinci Code

Ah, religious fanaticism.  A member of the Catholic organization known as Opus Dei, Silas is an albino who practices corporal mortification (flogging one’s self) while repenting for one’s sins.  Depicted in Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code, Silas is driven by a desire to atone for his past and discover the secrets protected by the Priory of Scion.  Driven to live on the streets after murdering his father (who had murdered his mother out of shame for having an albino child), Silas is given a second chance at life after an earthquake frees him from prison.  Driven to devout religious belief, Silas is especially villanous because of the rhetoric he believes in.  He justifies his murders and attacks by believing that it is the will of Opus Dei for him to commit these atrocities.  His blind faith in this organization makes him especially dangerous in the novel, and he is a constant threat to Robert Langdon, the protagonist.  All in all, Silas has nothing to lose as he is fully indoctrinated to commit evil acts and will stop at nothing to please those who are superior to him in Opus Dei.

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2.) Mr. Burroughs – A Wolf at the Table

Augusten Burroughs is famous for writing heartbreakingly honest memoirs.  A Wolf at the Table mainly focused on his childhood and the relationship he had with his father.  Mr. Burroughs is the only actual “person” on my list, and for good reason.  The man was an alcoholic, beat his animals, and definitely partook in abusing his sons.  Augusten had a dog that would physically sleep on top of him to protect him from Mr. Burroughs while he slept at night.  His older brother John taught him how to shoot a gun just in case he needed it one day.  After reading this book it made me see how truly malicious some people can be in the world.  Mr. Burroughs shot straight to nearly the top of my list of villains because he preyed on his young sons and helpless wife.  To be that type of man you have to be truly evil.

(You can find my review here)

1.) Voldemort – The Harry Potter Series

While the rest of the characters on this list have aspirations to conquer those around them and bring evil into their lives, none have grander plans than Voldemort.  Not content to just conquer the magical world around him, Voldemort set his sights higher, aiming to control the human (aka Muggle) world as well.  In hiding for years after a failed attack on Harry Potter that left him on the cusp of death, he slowly rebuilds his strength until he makes a triumphant return and power grab to control the ruling body of the magical world.  As if this wasn’t enough, consider his name.  Anyone who is referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named” because he/she is so evil that their name can’t be spoken must be #1 in my book.  All in all, Voldemort deserves the top spot in this top ten countdown because of the encompassing nature of his power and ambition.  He won’t let anything, including death, get in his way to kill Harry Potter and rule all.  Now that’s villanous!

Well my fellow readers, who makes your list?  Leave your comments below.

Until next time, happy reading!!

March/April Wrap-Up!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a wrap-up (terribly sorry) but life has gotten very hectic the past two months! 

Todd and I had a pretty good March.  The Relay for Life fundraising season officially kicked off on the 2nd!  For those new to the blog I co-chair a 24 hour cancer event called Relay for Life for my town and the next town over from me.  The past two months have been busy with planning details and booking locations and entertainment for the event.  Our event last year raised over $118,000, so we’re striving for a high bar again this year.  If anyone is interested in learning more about the event, you can check out our website here.  Anyway – meetings, answering emails, and committee get-togethers have been happily eating up a bunch of my time.

Lots of birthday celebrations happened in March.  Todd and I had my entire family up to our apartment for a party for my parents birthdays.  It was fantastic.  I tried out a new recipe for a coconut cake (my mom’s favorite) and god it was so good but holy crap, making it was insane.  The cake and icing took 5 sticks of butter, a pound of cream cheese, pound of confectionary sugar, 6 eggs, etc.  It was nuts, but actually didn’t taste super sweet at all.

St. Patrick's Day Crowds

March was also a time for firsts for us.  We hit up the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade which is supposedly one of the top 5 biggest in the US.  Who knew!! The police shut down whole streets and you just bar hop from place to place while a parade of every fire truck in the state goes down the street.  Fab times were had by all.

Some of Hooker Brewery's Awards!

Our friends Greg and Ashley took us up to Bloomfield Massachusetts to go to a free beer tasting at the Hooker Brewery.  For $10 you get a small glass and can sample all of the beers they currently brew as much as you want.  At the end of the tasting, you turn in your glass and get a pint glass to take home.  Needless to say Todd was all smiles while we were there.  He loved checking out all their equipment and getting to talk to some of the brewmasters.  (I think Todd is seriously considering a career change, but that’s just between you and me)

Bonfires at friends houses, a trip to New Jersey for a funeral, and countless happy hours brought us to the end of March.  I completed 11 books in March, which got me back on track from the books I didn’t finish in January and February.  That was the huge highlight of March for me.  I still have no idea where I found the time to read 11 books, but I can tell you that I slept less in March than I did in January or February.

April slowed down slightly, but not enough to really make a difference.  Our cat Belle turned 4 so of course a celebration of wet food was in order for her.  (It was thoroughly enjoyed in case you were wondering)

Belle

Another trip to New Jersey followed at the beginning of the month, one to my cousin’s new house which was FAB.  My cousin runs his own catering business and so he loves food/cooking.  His kitchen was redone to include a brick pizza oven.  It was fantastic.  The pizzas he made as appetizers were to die for.  (My favorite was the mushroom and truffle oil combo – delicious!)

 
We also took a trip to this awesome art house theater near us to see the new Jane Eyre film.  Shortly after I finished the book I made Todd promise he would take me as soon as it got released near us.  It was AMAZING.  Loved loved loved the adaptation of it.  My only complaint was  wishing the end could have been a bit longer and more drawn out.  The sudden cut to black left me wanting. Le sigh…
 
Highlight of April for me was probably my weekend trip to Cape Cod with my friends Jen and Kate.  Kate is headed off to Vietnam next month to teach English, so we wanted to make sure the three of us could get together and chill before she left.  We stayed at the BEAUTIFUL Chatham Bars Inn and had an amazing view of the ocean.  The weekend, minus a bit of bad news I received, was awesome and so enjoyable.  Good friends, good food, and good wine were all I needed for a stellar weekend.

Our Hotel Room View

Me, Kate, and Jen

 Closing up the month was yet one more visit to New Jersey, this time for Easter at Todd’s parents house.  We got to see our adorable little flower girl, Sarah, and spend time with Todd’s family.  I absolutely love when we go visit Todd’s parents, because his mom Karen and I always have awesome discussions about books.  She takes part in a book club offered by their church and always clues me in to awesome books that her club is reading.  I always find myself signing on to Goodreads just to make sure I mark all the books we discuss as “to-read’s”.   

I almost forgot about one of my favorite things that we did this month!  On Tuesday, April 26th, Todd, Adam, and I went to my new favorite bookstore, R.J. Julia, and got to see John Elder Robison speak about his newest book Be Different.  For those unfamiliar with Robison and his work, he is the older brother of Augusten Burroughs and writes about his battle with Asperger’s syndrome.  I was able to buy a copy of Be Different which he signed for me as well.  It was an awesome event, and I’m eagerly looking forward to my next event there.

I promise I’m almost done with my post.  My last piece of info is that I bought a car yesterday!! YAY!  My car was seriously costing Todd and I SO much money in repairs that I finally said that’s it, I’m done!  We purchased a 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan with about 18,000 miles on it.  I took it for a test drive and damn it was such a smooth ride.  I pick it up tomorrow after work and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about the whole thing! (Todd was impressed with my haggling skills.  I knew my job would come in handy someday!)

Anyway – now that I’ve bored you all to tears with the crazy thing that is my life I will sign off.  I’m off to hopefully finish one of the three books I’m currently reading.  Make sure you check the blog tomorrow as I’ll be posting the link for a podcast I’m going to be a guest speaker on at 10pm eastern time tomorrow night! 

Until next time, happy reading!

#21 A Review of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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I feel the need to start this review off by saying I’ve always been an Austenite.  Knowing that there was a feud between Austen and Charlotte Brontë has always made me distance myself from giving any of the Brontë sisters’ works a chance (horrid of me I know).  I began seeing previews of the new Jane Eyre film and they looked so good that I decided I had to put the feuding aside and give Charlotte a chance.  Never did I think I would have the experience reading Jane Eyre that I did.

Jane Eyre is supposed to be an autobiographical novel told through the eyes of Jane.  She begins her story by telling of her childhood growing up in the house of her aunt and uncle Reed.  After her parents deaths her uncle Reed adopts her and takes her into his household as if she was one of his own children.  Shortly after Jane moves in with the Reed’s her uncle dies, but not before extracting a promise from her aunt that Jane will be raised as one of her own children.  Aunt Reed promises to do so but in reality does nothing of the sort.  Jane is a very passionate child and aunt Reed decides it’s really “wickedness” and punishes Jane often, leaving her in solitude.  Jane’s cousins are horrible to her as well, with her cousin John abusing her both physically and mentally.  During one particular physical altercation Jane fights back against her cousin and is punished by being sent to the room her uncle died in, also known as the red room.  During her time in the room she thinks she sees/hears a ghost and actually faints from fear.  She is found and brought back to her room and a doctor is called.  After speaking with Jane the doctor convinces aunt Reed to send Jane away to school.  Jane is sent to Lowood Institution where she spends the next eight years of her life, six as a student and two as a teacher.  The students at Lowood Institution are mistreated due to the neglect and greed of a Mr. Brocklehurst, the schools treasurer.  After a bad typhus epidemic that kills nearly half the students in the school an investigation is launched and a complete overhaul of the school is completed.  Jane spends the rest of her time there relatively happy, until age 18 when she decides that she would like to leave Lowood and become a governess.  Jane places an ad in the paper which is answered by a Mrs. Fairfax of Thornfield Hall.  Jane accepts the position and heads to Thornfield where her life will unknowingly change forever. 

Shortly after her arrival at Thornfield she meets the master of the house, Mr. Edward Rochester, during one of her walks to the town.  His horse comes out of nowhere in the fog, is startled, and slips on a patch of ice causing Rochester to fall off of his horse.  Jane helps him up and sits with him until he is able to get back on his horse, thus beginning their strange relationship.  I say strange because eerie things begin happening at Thornfield Hall and Jane seems to be there to help out just in the nick of time.  Someone sets fire to Mr. Thornfield’s bed in the middle of the night, a man is attacked, and some of Jane’s clothing is ripped in the middle of the night by an intruder to her bedchamber.  Through all of this Jane falls in love with Mr. Rochester.  Will Mr. Rochester ever find out that Jane loves him as deeply as she does?  Will the strange events prevent a future for the two of them? 

I think my favorite aspect of this novel is that it is totally pro-feminist.  Jane has a horrid life, but she’s never a damsel in distress.  She deals with the shortcomings of her life with grace and piousness.  She doesn’t let the misgivings of her life turn her into a cruel person.  She is forgiving and accepts the life she’s been handed. 

The writing is absolutely exquisite.  I found myself being so moved by certain passages that I had to go find my husband Todd and read them aloud to him.  Brontë knows exactly what she wants to say and uses the most perfect and vivid language possible to convey it.  The scenes I must specifically point out are the fortune-teller scene and the scene with Rochester and Jane in the garden.  The narrative is absolutely breathtaking.

“I tell you I must go!” I retorted, roused to something like passion.  “Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?  Do you think I am an automaton? a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?  Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart!”

It’s difficult for me to find the words to express how in love I am with this novel.  Brontë takes the reader on an emotional journey that is stunning, vivid, depressing, shocking, romantic, dark, joyous, melancholy, courageous, righteous, and so much more.  Your emotions while reading the novel literally go on a rollercoaster with Jane.  Brontë’s writing allows you to literally become one with Jane and experience everything with Jane as she explains it.  I’ve never felt more in tune with a character than I did with Jane. I laughed and cried with her, felt dejected and happy when she did, was depressed at some times, and overcome with joy at others.   She is filled with a passion that I now see has been lacking in many other novels I’ve read.  This novel has forever changed the eyes I read with. 

I cannot recommend this novel enough.  Upon finishing it I’ve watched two of the mini-series versions of it as well as a film version.  I’ve become utterly obsessed with Jane’s story, and I have a feeling that you will too after reading it.

7 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my first completed review for the Chunkster Challenge

Jane Eyre by Charlotte  Brontë
Barnes and Noble Classics (2003)
Paperback 558 pages
ISBN: 9781593080075