Monthly Archives: February 2009

Jane Austen Ruined My Life – Review

When I was first offered this book to review, this thought ran through my mind: I like Jane Austen, whose life did she ruin and why?

This wonderful novel by Beth Pattillo did a good job answering my question.

Jane Austen Ruined My LifeThe novel starts with the main character, Emma Grant, on a plane trip to England, set to destroy Jane Austen’s reputation through a set of undiscovered letters written by Jane Austen. The reason behind Emma’s determination? Emma was a University Professor and a Jane Austen scholar who found her husband and her teaching assistant having sex on the kitchen table. The TA later accused Emma of plagerizing one of her papers and the husband, Edward, backed up the TA, leading to Emma’s dismissal from her position. Without a home, a husband and a job, Emma blames Jane Austen’s promise of “happily ever after” after marriage for the end of her marriage and professional career.

In London, Emma stay’s at her cousin’s house, and wouldn’t you know it, her ex-boyfriend is staying there too, also invited by the cousin, who happens to be in Paris. Emma sets out to meet an elderly women named Mrs. Parrot who puts Emma through a series of tasks, each task is rewarded with one or two of the coveted letters. Mrs. Parrots holds the proverbial carrot over Emma with these letters, as they are an undocumented set, protected a secret society known as The Formidables. If Emma can acquire these letters, authenticate their history, they will be the vessel that places her back in the good graces of academia. While Emma’s plan seems sure-fire, she is not prepared for the emotional attachment and revelations that spring from these letters as well as the tasks she sets out to do. While on this secret missions, Emma learns more about Jane Austen’s life and love, as well as her own. Emma takes an introspective look into her life coming to mini realizations about herself and her relationship with Edward.

This book is well written and very funny. I started reading it before work, and had to very reluctantly put it down. The book was never too corny, it has just the right amount of wit, I had myself half hoping that iwas all based on a true-story at one point. Pattillo has a great admiration of Jane Austen, and while this is still “chick-lit” its intelligent chick-lit with a surprising ending, but an ending that I readily approved of. This book makes me want to fly out to England and scout out all the notable Jane Austen landmarks. Now that I’ve read almost all but one Jane Austen book, I felt that I could appreciate books about Jane Austen and her career more.

FINAL GRADE: A

Jane Austen Ruined My Life
by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts, 2009
ISBN 0824947712
265 pages
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The Courageous Charitable Philanthropist

Don’t you want to be a hero too? I love the song they have playing in the background.

myhero21

Wednesday Trivia!

This is the first in a 4 part trivia contest. Each Wednesday I’ll post a different question about books, libraries, reading, etc. At the end of the 4th week, I’ll tally up the results and the grand prize winner will receive a really cool prize! If you are interested in playing, you have until the end of today to e-mail me your answers. (rantsandreads_at_gmail.com)

Q1.  Before settling on Tiny Tim, Charles Dickens was considering what other names for the sickly boy in A Christmas Carol?

Q2. In C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, what mythical creature does Lucy meet in the forest during first trip through the wardrobe?

Q3. Which famous womanizer was a real person

– Don Juan

– Lothario

– Casanova

– Romeo

Have fun!!

Dewey Decimal Jan & Feb Review Round-up

Here is a collection of reviews for books for the Dewey Decimal Challenge out in the blogosphere. Lots of good selections. Thanks everyone for participating. I’ll keep updating with review links as I keep finding them!

@ Rebecca Reads

The Book that Changed My Life by edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannesson.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

@ A Striped Armchair

Rereadings, ed. by Anne Fadiman & The Library at Nightby Alberto Manguel

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton

@ Urban Honking

Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children by Michael Newton

@ Book Kitten

@ How Will It End

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Critical Thinking by Amy Wall

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

@ Ready When You Are C.B.

Aliens Among Us by Ruth Montgomery

@ Enough to Read

A Natural History of Senses By Diane Ackerman

Book By Book: Notes on Reading and Life by Michael Dirda

Lucky Man by Michale J. Fox

@ Books and Musings from Downunder

A Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

Enough Rope by Andrew Denton

Dewey The Small Town Library Cat by Vicki Myron

@ An Adventure in Reading

The Darwin Awards by Wendy Northcutt

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell 

Dewey the Small Town Library Cat by Vicki Myron

Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby

@ Nothing of Importance (aka Reading Challenged Obsessed)

Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule

That’s Life: Finding Scrapbook Inspiration in the Everyday by Nic Howard

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Teaser Tuesday (Feb 24th)

https://i1.wp.com/www.devourerofbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/teaser-tuesday.jpgTEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Please avoid spoilers!

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“On the train to Bath, I opened my copy of Jane Austen’s letters and looked through the book, searching for any clues about Jack Smith.

Surely some inkling of her relationship with him remained, although I was beginning to suspect that Cassandra’s caretaking of her sister’s legacy had been far more thorough than anyone had dreamed. “

From:

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

“He dragged a shredded tarp to the top floor of the house and climbed in the fiberglass garden tub sitting unplumbed in the master bedroom.

He made a nest and slipped into dreams.”

From: Jesus Swept by James Alexander Protzman

Jesus Swept

The Housekeeper and the Professor – Review

Set in Japan in the early 1990’s, this is a beautifully written story about a bond between a humble housekeeper and her boss, an aging professor with a memory lapse. After a tragic car accident in 1975, his memory lasts only 80 minutes at a time. As a way to cope, he writes notes of relevant facts and clips them to his clothes, notes like “my memory only lasts for 80 minutes.” With her son, nicknamed Root, the three formed a strong filial bond that lasted well into Root’s adulthood.

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel I liked how the story was written, very quiet and peaceful. There were traces of competition between mother and son for the professor’s limited attention. There is a lot of discussion of math in this book. After the accident, the professor finds solace in working endlessly on math puzzles published in magazines. Often winning first prize, the reward is not in the checks sent in the mail, but only in finding the solution.

Although it was a very sweet book, there were a few paths I wish the author had investigated more, like whether or not there was really a relationship with his sister-in-law, why she always hid in the back of the house and was never a presence in his life.

This is a good rainy day book, at only 180 pages, it shouldn’t take long to finish.

FINAL GRADE: B

The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa
Picador, 2009
ISBN 312427808
180 pages

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Internet Footnote #7

Free Book Friday

Who doesn’t love free books?

The about section says

It’s simple. Every Friday, we give away free books!

That’s right. Each week, we feature a new author with an exclusive author interview podcast or written Q&A and host a drawing to win free signed copies of his/her book.

All you have to do to enter to win each week is sign up using the entry form on the left sidebar. Winners are chosen at random and posted on the site every Friday morning. Hence the name, “Free Book Friday!”


This week, on Friday, they are giving away two books by Maria de los Santos, Loved Walked In and Belong to Me.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I heart Coke...I mean I heart You by you.

Fables: Legends in Exile – Review

This is one graphic novel that caught my eye. There was a series of this books on the New Shelf at my library yesterday. I found the first graphic novel in the series and read it all in about an hour. Its a very quick and fun read. Its a Young Adult graphic novel, so it was pretty toned down compared to some of the other graphic novels out th

legends in exile

This one, is a mystery graphic novel. My, what a transition I made. The main character Bigby Wolf is on a murder investigation of Rose Red, Snow White’s sister. In the course of the investigation we meet King Cole, Little Boy Blue, Bluebeard, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) among others. The concept is clever, but since its YA, its a little to neat and clean for my taste. The newer versions that popped up at the library are for adults, so I’ll check those out and see if they are any better. The concept is that all these fables were kicked out of their kingdoms by an evil Adversary, and now all the fables (immortals) have to blend in with the mundanes or “mundys” as we are affectionately called.

This is a good series, a good middle step between fairy tales for kids and fairy tales of adults, but I’d recommend this book for the preteens 10-13 years old. The older teens might find it lame.

FINAL GRADE: B

Fables: Legends in Exile
By Bill Willingham (writer)
Vertigo Comics,
ISBN 1563899426
119 pages

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Buy this book on Amazon

Latte Trouble – Review

This is the third book in the Coffehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle. Her first two books, On What Grounds and Through The Grinder, laid out the basic framework and introduced the reader to the consistent characters in the serie. There is Clare: the shop manager, Matteo: co-shop manager, Clare’s ex-husband, Madame: The owner of The Village Blend, and Matteo’s Mother, Joy: Clare and Matteo’s 20 year old daughter going to Culinary School in Manhattan, Tucker: the overly gay barista, Esther: the moody, typical angsty college student, Detective Quinn: well, he’s the cop most frequently sent to the Village Blend to investigate murders.

Unlike book two, Latte Trouble starts out with a murder in the first 50 pages. Its Fashion Week in New York, and the Blend is hosting parties for Latte Trouble (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 3)
some of the fashion industries elite members. During one of these parties for accessory design Lottie Harmon, someone poisons a latte meant for Lottie. The drink never makes it to Lottie, instead the drink goes to Tucker’s ex-boyfriend, who ends up dying from the poison. Tucker is arrested on charges of murder, and Clare takes it upon herself to prove Tucker innocent and find out who is meddling with her store’s drinks and killing clients.

Reading these books in quick succession really lets me see Coyle’s growth as an author. While the first book was rated, PG-13, this recent one could almost be rated R. The stories and the characters are becoming more complex, and acting more like adults in New York City (ie, cussing, and being abrasive) than they were in the first two books. I actually figured out who the murderer was this time round, but the main clues didn’t confirm my suspisions until the last two chapters of the book. There are lots of twists and turns, and not all of them are that predictable. I like where the series is going, and I’m curious to see what the rest progress.

FINAL GRADE: A

Latte Trouble
by Cleo Coyle
Berkeley Prime Crime, 2005
ISBN 425204456
243 pages

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Buy this book on Amazon