Book Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Book Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Published: 1817
251 pages
Genres: Classic, Romance
Source: Purchased

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.
5 Stars

Northerner Abbey might be my favorite Jane Austen novel.  One of the main reasons is because Catherine is my new favorite heroine.  She’s a tom boy and she treats her life like it’s a fictional novel.  Catherine is the kind of person that would yell “plot twist!” at an unfortunate event in her life.  I aspire to be this way.  It’s the kind of attitude I try to have when, say, I go to the ER because I’ve been awake and in pain and on Google and have convinced myself that I have appendicitis when all I really have is severe constipation and get sent home from the ER with a laxative.  Again.  See, in a novel that’s freakin’ hilarious.  In real life it sucks paying $200 for a laxative.  Catherine has quite the imagination and I want to be her in every way.

Also, could someone explain to me how Jane Austen can just tell her stories and backgrounds in an info-dumping way but keep my attention completely because she makes it fun and visual and easy to imagine?  Jane Austen has this biting honesty that is delightful to read even though her books are old.  Don’t dismiss Jane Austen.  She writes the truth.  Don’t tell me you’ve never met a person like this:

Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.

– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (p. 7)

And I love, love, love the two ladies who are constantly talking at each other but never have an actual conversation because one talks about her kids and one talks about clothes.  Jane Austen doesn’t really show many of these conversations but I can totally imagine them.  As much as Catherine is living in a fictional novel, her friend Isabella is overdramatic because she’s got the lead role in this play called life.  Isabella is clingy and scheming.  I think Jane Austen didn’t mind scheming but I think she hated it when it was obvious.  Jane Austen is the queen of sarcasm, irony and relatable characters.

Book shaming has been around since the 1800s and Jane Austen is having none of it.  Catherine loves reading novels but is also ashamed that she reads “only novels.”  Jane Austen has this to say about mere novels:

… in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed …

-Jane Austen,  Northanger Abbey (p. 23).

Overall, I loved this novel and if you haven’t read it, fix that immediately.

Content Rating: None. Clean read.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  

About Jane Austen

CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c.1810)_hires

She was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her realism and biting social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics. Jane Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer.

Visit her grave

Book Club Christmas Party

Book Club Christmas Party

You may not know this but I host a book club in my neighborhood.  We had an awesome Christmas book exchange on December 2. I wanted to blog about it in case anyone wants some fun ideas for their book club.

There was tons of food. Thank you Brit for modeling the food for us :)

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There was:

  • Pistachio Pudding
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bread
  • Heath Bar Fruit Dip
  • Christmas Crack
  • Baked Taquitos
  • Cheese Ball and Crackers
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Bruschetta
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken Club Squares
  • Soy Soaked Cream Cheese with Crackers

And it was so yummy. I’m really glad I didn’t eat dinner because I had seconds of everything.

Everyone brought their favorite book and we had a book exchange.

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Here’s everyone before the gift exchange begins! (Sorry some of them are blurry!!)

We passed around presents using this rhyme.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, Give your gift to someone to whom you’ve talked today.

Sleigh bells ring, ring, ring and ring into the night,Give your gift to the person who’s directly on your right.

Hark the herald angels singing from above, Give your gift to someone whose shirt or shoes you love.

The little drummer boy is drumming a song for two, Your gift will now go to the person furthest from you.

Rudolph the reindeer’s nose was very very red, To your left the present now goes, Santa’s elves said.

Santa Claus is coming faster than you know, Give it to anyone you want because now you’re a pro!

Joy to the world and all that good cheer, Give the gift to someone who’s wearing earrings in their ear.

Deck the halls with boughs, of holly red and green, Share your gift with someone whom you sit between.

Silent nights aren’t so silent when you have a kid, Pass your gift to someone to whom you already did.

Go tell it on a mountain that the game is so nearly done!, Toss your present to someone who looks like they’re having fun.

We wish you a merry christmas and want you to know this is the last, Give your final gift to someone you haven’t in the past.

Sometimes someone would end up with more than one gift from a line in the poem and then they would just give out more on the next line.  Dayna ended up with a bunch once!

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Each person opened the present they ended up with one at a time so we could hear why it was the favorite of the person who brought it.  Here’s the stack of books opened.

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I got a reading journal for everyone.  I tried to make it look like a tree when they were all stacked.

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Merry Christmas everyone!!

What are some things you love doing for you book club at Christmas time?

Reading Queue December

Reading Queue December

Reading Queue is a monthly meme where you share what books you plan to read for the month.  You can hop to other blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide.  Reading Queue is hosted by Book Tasty and Books:  A true story.

I have 5 more books to read if I want to hit my goal of reading 50 books a year.  Since I joined Goodreads in 2011 I have always won my yearly reading challenge and it’s always been 50 books.  So here’s my reading list to make it to the finish line! I’m dying to finish something after failing NaNoWriMo.  In case you’re curious, I clocked in at writing 28,000 words before I burned out.

Zombies Vs UnicornsZombies vs. Unicorns

This is a collection of short stories about zombies and unicorns. Short stories are not for me. I thought they would be a fast, easy read. But getting into a story is the most difficult part for me and having to get into so many stories made it feel like it was dragging even though the stories weren’t long.  I just struggle with meeting new characters and figuring out a new setting.  It felt like once I’d gotten into a story it was over.  Still, it was something interesting to learn about myself.  You’ll never know if you’ll like something until you try it. And shhhh don’t tell anyone but I might be skimming the zombie stories. #TeamUnicorn.

SpousonomicsSpousonomics by Paula Szuchman, Jenny Anderson

It’s had one chapter unread since 2013.  This will be an easy way to make sure I hit my goal this year of fifty books since it’s been 90% read for a year :)

Ruin and RisingRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

After reading so many short stories, I want to jump back into a world that I already know and love.  Coming back to a familiar world and story is like curling up with a cup of hot apple cider and a blanket while you watch snow fall.  Plus I’m in the mood for something epic and this one is going to be epic.

Year of Living BiblicallyThe Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs 

I don’t believe in reading Christmas books because if I’m being quite honest I’m a bit of a Scrooge and I’ve never seen a Christmas book that wasn’t cheesy.   Reading a book about a guy trying to live the laws of the bible is as close to Christmas-y as I will probably get.  I’ve heard this is funny and I already own it on my kindle so that’s a bonus.  I’m excited to read it.

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer

I loved Cinder and when the sequel, Scarlet, went on sale for the kindle I had to get it.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one!  I think this will be a fast and fun read to help me relax during the holidays.  I mean, normally the holidays don’t stress me out but I decided this year that my kids had too many toys and it would be a good idea to paint and decorate their rooms.  That might have been a little ambitious lol.

 

 

 

(I read Zombies vs. Unicorns the whole month of November and never finished it! So I only have a list of books I finished for October).

 

Anna and the French kiss by Stephanie PerkinsFINISHED Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It was cute and I liked the Paris setting, but it was a little too dramatic for my taste.  I did however love Anna’s dream to be a movie reviewer. It was something I can relate to as a book reviewer :).

Stray by Elissa SussmanFINISHED Stray by Elissa Sussman

This was a good fairy tale retelling.  It took a while to get into and I’m not sure that I’m a huge fan of the world, but the characters were good.

Coraline by neil gaimanFINISHED Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This is probably the maximum amount of horror I can handle – horror written for kids lol. It was creepy and disturbing, but unlike most horror it had a nice ending.

A Monster Calls by Patrick NessFINISHED A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This book was amazing.  It’s not like anything I’ve read before.  It’s about a monster who helps a boy face his inner demons and face the truth no matter how hard.  I thought it was a beautiful but haunting story.

 

 

 

How I Did for November

I didn’t read anything in November. November was NaNoWriMo for me and I burned out at about 28,000 words.  I didn’t win and that makes me very sad.   I learned a lot about myself from the event.  I learned that I need to do a “telling” version of my story so I can work out the plot and then expand it with scenes.  I learned that I’m not a huge fan of making things up.  I’m very analytical and I struggled with making decisions since there wasn’t a way for me to analyze what the “right” decision was.  For this reason writing will probably be good for me because sometimes there just isn’t a right answer and I need to get used to that.  I quit NaNoWriMo mostly because I wasn’t having much fun. The biggest thing I learned about myself while doing this was I love rewriting and revising more than the actual writing and since I couldn’t do that with the NaNoWriMo format, I didn’t enjoy the writing very much.  I will have to come up with a writing process that fits me more that includes rewriting as I go.

P.S. I apologize for not being more regular with these meme posts.  I appreciate everyone who participates in this meme and I’m sorry if I’ve let anyone down.  I wasn’t able to make a linky so I hope that it’s okay to leave links to your posts in the comments.  I read every post that you link here!

Book vs Movie: Sherlock – A Study In Scarlet

Book vs Movie: Sherlock – A Study In Scarlet

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I hate crime shows but I LOVE Sherlock. The character of Sherlock never reacts the way you think he will.  His character is what makes this show amazing.  I loved the battle of wits with the killer.  It was epic and I totally think Sherlock would have taken that pill! (If you’ve seen A Study in Pink then you know what I’m talking about). The cinematography is creative with text on the screen for what Sherlock is thinking, text messages, traffic signs while chasing down murderers etc.

The story line feels so completely modern that I was curious about how much inspiration they use from the original story.  I read A Study in Scarlet before watching episode 1 of the first season of Sherlock which is called A Study in Pink.  When I saw how much was actually in common between the two, I was blown away by what an amazing job they did of taking the story line and elements from the book and making them modern.

After watching A Study in Pink I was surprised at how many details are straight from the book or as close as they could get it considering the modern time period.

  • Watson fought in Afghanistan, just hundreds of years apart between the setting of the movie and the book.  That still kind of blows my mind.
  • Watson tells his friend that he is looking for a place to live.  In the book his friend says that Sherlock is eccentric.  In the movie the friend simply says, “Yep, he’s always like that.”
  • Sherlock and Watson meet in a lab/morturary for the first time where Sherlock is doing experiments
  • Sherlock and Watson’s first interaction is Sherlock asking about Afghanistan.  However, in the book he politely says “I perceive” while in the movie he just bluntly asks “Afghanistan or Iraq?”
  • Sherlock has a passion for definite and exact knowledge
  • They live at 221B Baker Street
  • Sherlock has a homeless network do spying for him.  This shows up in the book A Study in Scarlet but isn’t in the show until later in the season.
  • Two pills – one poison and one harmless
  • The suicide happens in an old house in Brixton
  • Sherlock says that he is a “consulting detective” which is a job he made up.
  • Watson compliments Sherlock and you can tell that Sherlock revels in it.
  • The cabbie breifly mentions that he’s survived because God just loves him – an allusion to the theme of religion in the original story where he asked them to pick a pill as revenge and let God decide their fate.
  • The murderer was a cabbie.  In the book it was a disguise and in the movie it was his real job.
  • The murderer is dying of aneurism.  In the movie it’s in his brain instead of his heart.
  • Sherlock has the idea that a man’s brain is like a house and you stock it with things you choose – like a mind palace!! – which comes up later in the season. (page 12)
  • Watson has a blog to document their crime solving which is an updated version of Watson documenting Sherlock in the books. As part of the marketing for the show, they have a real blog that looks like it’s written by John Watson!  There are comments and everything and it’s hilarious.

 

Reading this list made me realize how clever of an adaption it really is.  The things they changed were to add modern devices like the mobile phone instead of the ring.

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Book

  1. Sherlock’s character seems cheerful, eccentric, bluntly honest, sarcastic and loves flattery.
  2. Sherlock doesn’t learn things that he sees as irrelevant like the theory of the solar system.
  3. Sherlock asks Watson very politely to share their faults with each other to see if they can live together.
  4. Mr. Lestrade is described as rat faced in the book
  5. The wedding ring was held by the dead person
  6. The word “rache” is spelled in blood on the wall because it means “revenge” in German
  7. The motive for the killer is revenge for the death of the girl he loved who was forced into marriage
  8. I know from a special feature that Sherlock deducts information about Watson from a pocket watch from a short story in the Sherlock series.
  9. The girl’s name was Lucy
  10. Sherlock doesn’t want to help because the cops will get the credit.
  11. The murderer approahes crime scene pretending to be drunk.
  12. Sherlock puts an ad for a found ring and sees who claims it.
  13. Sherlock tests the pills on a dog so they know that one was poison and one was real. But the murderer is still alive and reveals it too. (Sad that they just killed the dog!)
  14. The revenge plot was removed.  In the book a man named Ferrier adopts a girl named Lucy and they “join” the Mormons.  Lucy loves Jefferson (the eventual murderer). Lucy dies from a broken heart after a forced marriage and her father is murdered by the Mormons. Jefferson uses a nose bleed to write on the wall.

Movie

  1. Sherlock has all the same characteristics as the character from the book except for the cheerful one I think. They had him be more of a high functioning sociopath.
  2. Sherlock learns everything and sees everything as relevant.
  3. Sherlock bluntly points out Watson’s faults when Watson says that they don’t know each other and don’t know if they can live together as roommates
  4. Mr. Lestrade looks normal and not like a rat.
  5. The wedding ring was worn by the dead person
  6. The word “rache” is scratched into the floor and was her daughter’s name and password to her phone.  Sherlock says the word “revenge” in the floor is too obvious and lame.  I love how it pokes fun at the original story.
  7. String of suicides is the case they are working on. Loved the question of how can you have serial suicides.  Such an interesting twist on a crime!  Nothing connects them that they know of until they find out later it’s they rode in the wrong cab.
  8.  Sherlock deducts Watson’s family dynamics from looking at his mobile phone.
  9.  The girl’s name is Jennifer Wilson.
  10. Sherlock wants to help because he enjoys the hunt and he’s so smart that he’s bored.
  11. The murderer approaches the cops as a cabbie confidnet that no one will notice him
  12. Sherlock has Watson text the murderer because he still has the phone to see what he’ll do.
  13. The murderer reveals the game to Sherlock but only if he’ll play along.
  14. Watson is  kidnapped to meet Sherlock’s brother who calls himself Sherlock’s arch-enemy.

 

Questions

There were a few elements in the Sherlock series that I’m curious about if they are in the book or not.  I wanted to write them here in case I come across any of these things as I finish reading the Sherlock series.  And if you know the answer to any of them I’d love to know!

1. Watson has a real shoulder injury from the war and a psychosomatic leg injury with a limp and a cane.  Is that in a later story?

2. Is Mrs. Hudson, the land lady in the book?

3. Is Sally Donovan or an equivalent character of a deputy or assistant to Lestrade anywhere in the books?

4. Why was the book called A Study in Scarlet?

5. How does Moriarty show up in the book?  He’s not in A Study in Scarlet.

6. What does Sherlock mean that the killer’s mistake was “pink”?

5 Stars

Trailer

Book Review: Among the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Book Review: Among the Nameless Stars by Diana PeterfreundAmong the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #0.5
Published: June 4, 2012
60 pages
Genres: Dystopian, Novella, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Purchased

 
The Short, Sweet, and Spoiler-Free Blurb:

Before Kai joined the Cloud Fleet, he wandered… AMONG THE NAMELESS STARS

Four years before the events of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, the servant Kai left the North Estate, the only home he’d ever known, and Elliot North, the only girl he ever loved, in search of a better life. But the journey was not an easy one.

Featuring narrow escapes, thrilling boat races and at least one deadly volcanic wasteland.
2 Stars

Among the Nameless Stars was a prequel novella for one of my favorite novels, For Darkness Shows the Stars.  The writing in this novella didn’t seem to be the same quality that I loved in the novel.  The story was ok but not terribly interesting.  I feel like if there’s going to be a prequel it should be about something mind-blowing or amazing and the simple plot about the boat race was not enough to keep my attention.  I just didn’t see the point of this novella.  I didn’t get any new insights into the story.  It fills in details about Kai but I already knew where the plot was going.  It might be that it’s just been too long since I’ve read For Darkness Shows the Stars that made it feel like I didn’t learn anything new or interesting.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of this prequel, you should definitely still check out For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Content RatingMild, for very brief non-graphic mentions of abuse.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. 

About Diana Peterfreund

diana peterfreund

Diana Peterfreund has published eight novels for adults and teens, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampant and Ascendant (Harper Teen), and For Darkness Shows the Stars, a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about popular children’s literature. Diana lives in Washington D.C., with her family.

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