Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…really?

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Jane Austen , Seth Grahame-Smith
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books; Later Printing edition (April 4, 2009)
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

About the book (From GoodReads):
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—& the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty & arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—& even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism & thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

My thoughts:
I started Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) and my sister started Pride and Prejudice (P&P) at the same time. I was really excited to read this book. With a first sentence like this who wouldn’t?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains

After the initial fit of giggling and comparing the first chapter with the original, I settled down to actually read the book in all seriousness. And now after having read the book there is only one question in my mind. Why was this book even written? I mean really it’s just a page by page copy of the original with occasional sprinkling of Zombies and Zombie slang here and there. It would be safe to say that it’s more than 80% similar.

Considering how well this book is doing I’m kind of surprised. I would not be fair to authors who write a book from scratch. Here Seth Grahame-Smith had everything at his disposal, a great setting, a great plot and awesome characters that you’ll never forget. To be fair the book does say it is written by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. But does that make it alright?

Don’t get me wrong. Although I’m a huge P&P fan I’m not sensitive to altering the original or of the countless sequels if it is well done. If you read the blurb, it says “ultraviolent zombie mayhem”, I mean really? There were occasional zombie’s attacks in the book but the zombies were very easily killed or dispensed. And the attacks hardly lasted for more than a page.

I feel it was a very good idea very badly executed. The author had just modified the fate of Charlotte and Wickham in the book. The charlotte angle was well done but the Wickham one wasn’t, it was absolutely unnecessary and illogical. In fact that’s how I felt about the book. Unnecessary. I felt cheated and it feels like this book is just a ruse to make money from a beloved classic and Jane Austen. The only positive thing was it felt like I re-read Pride and Prejudice which I had been meaning to do for some time 🙂

BUT…Care, I cannot thank you enough for sending me the book. I have one book less in my “REALLY want to read” list. Also, I might as well cross out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters from my wish list 🙂 Score!!!

If you have liked the book, please do spread some light on why is it so successful. If you haven’t tell me why you didn’t like it. If you haven’t read it, why not? Will you be willing to give it a chance?

After You by Julie Buxbaum

Title: After You
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: The Dial Press; 1 edition (August 25, 2009)
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My Review:
I have been sitting on this review for a long time. I tried writing it a couple of times but I just couldn’t do it justice. But I’m going to try and tell you how lovely this book is. Ellie’s best friend Lucy is murdered in broad daylight and Ellie goes to London to take care of her 8 year daughter Sophie. Lucy’s husband Greg is coping with his own grief and does not really pay much attention to Sophie or what’s going on in the house. He’s more than happy to hand over the ropes to Ellie for a while.

Sophie is understandably going through a shock and has stopped speaking at all. Ellie and her husband’s relationship is strained because Ellie lost her child some time back. Instead of working on it, Ellie goes to London to take care of Sophie and figure out what’s going on with her life and her relationship.

As you can see, After You is not strong on plot; it’s more focused on the relationship aspect of it, relationship between friends, between mother and daughter and between husband and wife. Ellie tires to get Sophie out of her shock by reading aloud The Secret Garden to her every night. And even though most of you know what I think of The Secret Garden, I really enjoyed how the author used the book in the story. I disliked Ellie sometimes because of the way she handled her relationship with her husband, the way she even refused to try. Why does a loss of a baby have to result in the loss of your relationship with your husband too? Is having a child or not the only basis for the marriage?

As Ellie comes to terms with these things and more, we get to see the transformation in her and as well as Sophie, who is a real sweetheart by the way. Everyone in this book has their own problems and in the end however everything is not resolved, there is an effort to mend what they already have instead of being distraught over what was lost.

After You is a story of loss, hope, grief, regrets, family, finding happiness and most important, finding a place where you belong to . After You is a brilliant look at relationships with beautiful writing from Julie Buxbaum. Although the book may sound really sad, it is actually quite funny most of the time.

Highly Recommended.

My favorite passages. They are probably understood best with context.

Time and place fall away. We dip into the book, as if bathing. There will soon be a garden. A buried key. A hidden door. We keep reading, and we can almost forget everything that has been lost and taken.
*****
“Can you at least try to understand?”
“Okay, I can do that. I’ll try.” And here’s the thing about Philip. Just when you think you may stop loving him, that you can give him up for good, that enough distance has grown between you that there is no climbing back into this thing, that he’s become more stranger than husband, he goes and says something that makes you forget why you could have ever doubted him in the first place: “Of course, I can try for you.”

*****
I want to be eight years old again, sit in a desk that wraps around on the right side even though I am a lefty, and I want to store my already made lunch and floppy school-books in its belly. I want to laugh when my teacher gets chalk on her back and get called on to recite my multiplication tables. I want my responsibilities clearly laid out: to go to school, to do my home-work, to go to bed at bedtime, and to brush my teeth twice a day. I want to surrender all of my decision-making power, the cruel weapon of too much freedom, and hand in my adulthood badge. I don’t want to keep falling up.

I’m so glad I’ve already ordered The Opposite Of Love by the same author, now just keeping my fingers crossed that it arrives 🙂

Review: Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

crossed_wires1Book Blurb from Amazon:
This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat.

Despite their obvious differences, they’ve got a lot in common – both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they’ve just found it?

CROSSED WIRES is an old-fashioned fairy tale. It is about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.
 
I picked it up thinking it was a romantic book. 2 single parents meet each other, fall in love and everything falls into place again.  I love romantic books, books with a lot of mush and the works, so I am actually surprised that I liked this book. I expected the guy and the girl to meet and fall in love or at least fall in love because of incessant online chatting. That didn’t happen and not once did I feel like abandoning the book because nothing was happening where their love life was concerned. They are busy with their own lives, they have friends and family to turn to during difficult times, but you can easily see why they are so perfect for each other even though they don’t meet for more than half of the book.
 
Peter, a college professor and Mina, a call center worker are the lead characters in this story. But more than that they are normal human beings, who make mistakes, who react the way you and I would. Peter has 9 year old twin girls Cassie and Kim and Mina has a 10 year old girl Sal. Not to forget the friends and family that comprise of Mina’s straight forward mother and Peters friends Jeremy and Trish. They are all interesting in their own way.
 
Mina’s character reminded me so much of myself. I like to skirt around situations that are difficult to handle, I avoid confrontation unless absolutely necessary and I too worked in a call center once. So I could, in a way, understand Mina really well, although I did feel like shaking her at times and asking her to do something. That’s exactly what my boyfriend does, shakes me up when required 🙂
 
This book has some of the best character descriptions I have read in a while. Very non-dramatic and real.
 
If you are looking for a typical, stereotype love story, this book is not for you. If you are looking for a plot driven story, again this book is not for you. Don’t be fooled by the pink cover, this book isn’t all mush. Read it with absolutely no prejudice or strict expectations and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you Rosy for the book.

rosyportraitAbout the author:
Rosy Thornton grew up in Ipswich and studied law at Cambridge University. She stayed on to do a Ph.D. and has been a lecturer there ever since. Rosy lives in a village near Cambridge with her husband, their two daughters and a Springer spaniel called Treacle.

Mermaids in the basement

First Line:

” If I had not read the cover story in the March 2, 2000, National Enquirer, it’s doubtful that I would have gone to Alabama and ruined my daddy’s engagement party, much less sent the bride-to-be into a coma.”

Renata is a Hollywood script writer. Her boyfriend is a Hollywood director who is currently directing Ulysses with an actress who cannot speak English and who is known for her colorful ways. Renata thought she had a perfect life, but then everything comes apart when she reads the news in ‘National Enquirer’ suggesting that her boyfriend Fergusson has been getting cozy with his new actress. This news comes after her mom, whom she very close to, and step father die in an accident. Renata is devastated and hurt. And she does the only thing most of us would do. She goes home. Home is Point Clear, Alabama. Home is her grandmother Honora and her nanny Glady’s. Home could have also meant her father Louie, but he has been distant from her since he divorced her mother.

But Renata has one more reason for going home. She finds her mother Shelby’s letter tucked in a drawer that said it is to be opened only after her death. Shelby wants her to know certain things from her past which only Honora and Glady’s could tell.

And thus begins a tale through mysterious letters and newspaper clippings found in her mother’s trunk. Every cutting has a story, be it a party or a wedding announcement. Renata, through these cuttings, her grandmother and nanny learns things that she never thought could have been possible.

The story and the mystery unfold slowly but there wasn’t a single boring moment in the book. The characters were brought to life in a way that made me feel like I was watching a movie. Honora, Glady’s, Shelby and Isabelle (a former actress and Honora’s best friend) are all very colorful characters in true Hollywood style. They have secrets to share and things to reveal that couldn’t be short of a soap opera.

‘Mermaids in the basement’ is more of a character based novel rather than plot based. As Renata learns of new secrets everyday, the reader also learns new facets of every character and makes you feel like you know them so well. The author creates a very ‘I feel I am right there’ atmosphere with her beautiful descriptions of different places. You can smell the food, the air which is a part of the typical Southern atmosphere.

But there is a little problem. Although it’s small I am going to mention it here. As Renata is learning the truth of her mother’s relationship with her father through memories of these women, the narration switches very frequently. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out whether they are talking to Renata or whether they are just remembering the past. You just have to read the end of every chapter carefully to know what’s coming next.

This is my first Michael Lee West book and I am sure I am going to read more. Don’t forget to check out ’Mermaids in the basement’.

By the way, the novel also has some yummy, mouth watering recipes at the back.

Michael Lee West is the author of five novels including Crazy Ladies, Mad Girls in Love, American Pie, She Flew the Coop as well as a food memoir Consuming Passions. She lives with her husband on a farm in Lebanon, Tennessee with three bratty Yorkshire Terriers, a Chinese Crested, assorted donkeys, chickens, sheep, and African Pygmy goats. Her faithful dog Zap was the inspiration of a character in Mermaids in the Basement.

Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe

I loved this book. Chinua Achebe writes a sad and melancholic tale about a man called Okonkwo in a small African tribal village called Umuofia. Okonkwo is a man feared and respected by everyone in his village and beyond. He is a wrestling champion and man who enjoys fame and respect because of his hard work. He is a self made man. His father was considered a looser because he did not work very hard to sustain his crops and did nothing else but play music and laze around. He died as an outcast.
 
The only thing Okonkwo fears is failure and being compared to his father. So he works hard, becomes prosperous and lives comfortably with his 3 wives and children.
 
But life is not fair to him. After working hard in his village to gain a title and a good life, he is exiled from his fatherland because he kills a boy by mistake. When European colonists come to his village and build a church and start converting the villagers into Christians, Okonkwo wants to take action, he wants to fight the Europeans and preserve his culture and religion and his gods. But no one else wants to fight. Okonkwo watches his son join the Europeans and turn into a Christian and he is in utter despair because he cannot do anything about it.
 
This book has a sad and tragic end.
What I liked about the book was the simple descriptions of the day to day life of the people in a tribal village. I enjoyed reading about how their lives revolved around the growing and harvesting of Yams, how their beliefs in their gods affected the men and women in the village and their unease and anger when Europeans come and build a church in the village.
I enjoyed reading about folk tales passed down from generation to generation.
 
Even though I like the book I would like to mention a few points here as I have heard a lot of criticism and bad reviews for this book.
 
‘Things fall apart’ has been termed as a literary masterpiece. But if you looking for outstanding language, this book is not for you. The language is as simple as it can get, which I think is the beauty of it. If you want to clear your prejudice that African villages are backward and primitive and you think reading this book will give you an insight into why they what they do, do NOT read this book. I thought the tribal customs and beliefs were down right against humanity and whatever way the author would have put it, I wouldn’t have believed otherwise. Would you approve of leaving new born twins in a jungle because twins are considered evil? Mutilating a dead infant’s body so that it isn’t born again? Out casting a man from his village and his loved ones because he has a disease?

If you are looking for a good plot and well rounded and lovable characters, again this book is not for you. I hated Okonkwo. He was a tyrant and he repeatedly beat his wives and kids. I couldn’t sympathize with him no matter what.
 
I couldn’t take sides with the European colonists either. Though they brought good things in the village, they brought law and order, I hated the fact that they thought their God was the greatest. Trying to undermine any religion is always wrong. Every religion has its good and bad points, what you can do is point out the bad points or the bad interpretations of it. Sorry, but I am against statements like, ‘There is no God except our God’. I believe God is one, whether he is in the form of Christ or Allah or Krishna, everyone is the same, there are just different names given by humans. I don’t want this to turn into a religious discussion, so I’ll stop.
 
All I can say is I loved this book. Read it if you want to live and experience a culture very different from your own. ‘Things fall apart’ is distinctively African.

Seduce me at Sunrise: Lisa Kleypas

CoverLisa Kleypas is a New York best selling author and she has more than 19 books published.
The only question I want to ask after reading her book ‘Seduce me at sunrise’ is ‘Where were you for so long?’

Seduce me at sunrise is the second book in the series.
Although i like to read books in the order they are published, I make an exception for romance books. It really doesn’t matter, does it?

Okay, so onto the premise.
Win and Kev Merripen have known each other since childhood. They both are in love with each other since Win’s father rescued him from the brink of death when he was a boy.

After some years Win is infected with Scarlet fever which leaves her sick for more than 2 years. Win’s family sends her to France to a facility for treatment. Although Win and Kev both love each other dearly, Kev does not express his love to her when she is about to leave for the treatment. Although he loves Win he does not confess his love to her because he thinks he does not deserve her and she is better off with someone else. She leaves for France heartbroken.

She returns 2 years later with the doctor in tow. Although Kev has hardened (even more) during her absence, he is jealous (obviously). The rest of the story is basically how both of them get together and how Kev finally confesses his love for Win. Considering this is a romance book, this is hardly a spoiler.

Kev is a typical hero. Tough and arrogant. Win is the total opposite of him. Here is a passage from the book that describes it so well.

‘Let’s look at the situation honestly, Win. You have nothing in common with him. You’re a lovely, sensitive, literate woman, and he’s…Merripen. He likes to chop wood for entertainment. And apparently it falls to me to point out the delicate truth that some couples are well-suited in the bedroom but not anywhere else.”

Is it sufficient to say that I loved Kev and Win? And their chemistry is just awesome. Lisa Kleypas writes really beautiful stories and makes you believe them as well. For e.g. When Win isdown with scarlet fever and had very less chance to live, kev gives her an experimental herb to drink which is enough to kill a person if taken in large amount. He keeps some of it aside so that if the herb does kill her, he will drink the rest and die as well. Now, i think this is funny. But while reading the book, you absolutely believe it. That’s the beauty of the story.

I loved all the characters in the book. There is Amelia, Win’s eldest sister and Cam, her husband. I am assuming the first book in the series is their story. Then there are 2 younger sisters, Poppy and Beatrix. And finally there is Leo, the brother. I guess there is going to be a book for each of the characters. I really hope so.

The one who actually stole my heart was Leo. The chemistry, perhaps non-chemistry between him and the governess is fantastic. Leo is a very funny character and the author has laid a foundation, I hope, for the next book. I would really love to read more about Leo.

Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas

Having said this, I have a few complaints. First of all after I think the book should have ended where Win and Kev express their undying love for each other. The author should have carried the story forward for only 10 pages or so after that. But she used some 100 pages to tie up all the loose ends. The connection between Cam and Win was not really necessary. Cam had his own book right? I want to read only about Win and Kev, or Leo perhaps 🙂

Also, Kev was sometimes called as Merripen, Leo was also called as Ramsay and Cam was referred to as Rohan. It really confused me for almost half of the book. Then I got used to it.

But overall I loved this book and I am certainly looking forward to reading the next in the series. If you love historical romances, you should not miss this one.

Thank you Jessica for the book.