Friday, October 20, 2017

Reader, I Married Him

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 304
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  This collection of original stories by today’s finest women writers—including Tracy Chevalier, Francine Prose, Elizabeth McCracken, Tessa Hadley, Audrey Niffenegger, and more—takes inspiration from a line in Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel, Jane Eyre.

A fixture in the literary canon, Charlotte Brontë is revered by readers all over the world. Her novels featuring unforgettable, strong heroines still resonate with millions today. And who could forget one of literature’s best-known lines: “Reader, I married him” from her classic novel Jane Eyre?

Part of a remarkable family that produced three acclaimed female writers at a time in 19th-century Britain when few women wrote, and fewer were published, Brontë has become a great source of inspiration to writers, especially women, ever since. Now in Reader, I Married Him, twenty of today’s most celebrated women authors have spun original stories, using the line from Jane Eyre as a springboard for their own flights of imagination.

Kritters Thoughts:  A collection of short stories with the prompt - Reader, I Married Him.  Each author took that line and went with it!  I loved the set up in the beginning with the forward by Tracy Chevalier, she describes what these authors were given and kind of a small glimpse of what the authors did with that prompt, I appreciated that little spoiler.

Many of these authors this was my first time reading them and this is one of my favorite parts of reading short story collections.  I have a list of authors that I now want to seek out their full works after reading just a small bit of what they can do.  In this collection there was only one or two stories that I didn't enjoy and could have skipped over, but this was probably the highest percentage of liking stories out of a collection.

It was interesting to see a few authors take on legit Jane Eyre.  There were flips on the point of views or "sequels" of sorts and I liked seeing an author take on the original work in a different way.  I am glad I had recently read Jane Eyre and was close to the original work and had it fresh on my mind!

I have enjoyed reading short story collections here recently and this one just sealed my feelings and I will continue reading them the rest of this year and into next year.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Madwoman Upstairs
by Catherine Lowell

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she's rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë's literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that's never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn't exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father's handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world's greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë's own writing.

Kritters Thoughts:  Samantha Whipple is now the last woman standing of the Bronte family and there have been rumors circling that there is a long hidden estate that will be coming her way, except she has no clue what and where it is.  Samantha heads to Oxford for a few reasons, one being an education, but also to reconnect with her previous generations and maybe find what she should be doing next with her life.

I loved that Samantha had her own story aside from her Bronte tie.  Yes, the story circles around her connection to the Brontes, but she had her own things to deal with and she was at such a great time in life, the cusp of adulthood and the time when decisions need to be made.  

There were things being pulled from all the Bronte books and having only read one of them, I got all the Jane Eyre references, but the others probably went over my head just a bit.  I was a little disappointed that I knew I missed things, but it didn't lessen my love of reading it.

I loved reading a contemporary story that was connected to Jane Eyre.  I would love to read another Catherine Lowell book that is maybe connected to another classic!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jane Steele
by Lyndsay Faye

Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons
Pages: 416
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.
Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past? 
A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.

Kritters Thoughts:  As Jane Eyre week continues, this was the first book I thought of when I knew I was going to do this week.  I went to the signing for this book a bit ago and it has sat on my shelf because even though the author said I could read without reading Jane Eyre I knew I would want to do Jane Eyre first before reading this one.  

Overall this book was a great adaptation of the book and I loved how it was formatted exactly like Jane Eyre.  With three volumes that divide up the story, it was fun to read a story in that format again.  I absolutely loved that Jane Steele clearly referenced and referred to the original work Jane Eyre, she was obvious in the way that she spoke about Jane Eyre and I liked the transparency.  

The part of the book that dragged away for me was the middle volume.  I just couldn't get into the Sikh drama and the significance behind it.  I couldn't get connected with that part of the plot and was ready to get back to Jane killing people (that seems weird to say, but sort of true!)  

I liked this adaptation.  I loved giving Jane the "ability" to kill those who wrong her that was fun to read!  I would say I think you should read or have read Jane Eyre first because there are so many references and extra things you will pick up if you have read that previous to this one.  

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 507
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

Kritters Thoughts:  I am not a reader of classics, so when I found out that it was the 170th anniversary of the publication of Jane Eyre, I knew I wanted to do a week celebrating and I had to start where all these books were inspired from - the source material, so here it goes!

My usual pacing for reading books is a page per minute, meaning I can read 120 pages in two hours, that was not the case with this classic.  I read much slower and I think for a few reasons.  One, I knew that I was going to read books inspired by Jane Eyre after reading this one, so I wanted to really read this one closely so I could see the original in the back of my mind when reading the inspirations.  Also, the language used.  The language in this book wasn't completely archaic, but it was definitely older which made me read a little slower.  

But even though I read this one at a slower pace, I enjoyed it.  I saw some inside jokes that in the past went over my head and realized where they were coming from.  After reading this classic and spending a whole week with inspirational work, it makes me want to do this once a year.  So I am going to try to tackle another classic book next fall and maybe do a week of books inspired by again - this was fun!

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2017 Challenge: 47 out of 50

I am doing a week of Jane Eyre fun to celebrate the 170 anniversary of the publication of this book.  I will be reviewing books each day this week that were inspired in some part or another by this book!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It was another nutty week at work and my evenings were busy and a bit of a busy weekend, so I am proud with what I completed this week.

A meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
Honey on your Mind by Maria Murnane
Chocolate for Two by Maria Murnane
News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Currently Reading:
The Diplomat's Daughter by Karin Tanabe

Next on the TBR pile:
The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff

Friday, October 13, 2017

Single, Carefree, Mellow
by Katherine Heiny

Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 221
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Maya is in love with both her boyfriend and her boss. Sadie’s lover calls her as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counseling. Gwen pines for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tells her that her palm is sweaty. And Sasha agrees to have a drink with her married lover’s wife and then immediately regrets it. These are the women of Single, Carefree, Mellow, and in these eleven sublime stories they are grappling with unwelcome houseguests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and all manner of love, secrets, and betrayal. 

In “Cranberry Relish” Josie’s ex—a man she met on Facebook—has a new girlfriend he found on Twitter. In “Blue Heron Bridge” Nina is more worried that the Presbyterian minister living in her garage will hear her kids swearing than about his finding out that she’s sleeping with her running partner. And in “The Rhett Butlers” a teenager loses her virginity to her history teacher and then outgrows him. 

Kritters Thoughts:  Another collection of short stories and I am growing to love these in the middle of long, heavy novels.  There were a few of the stories in this book that had the same characters and as an amateur short story collection reader I am not used to repeat characters that are intermixed with other short stories.  

On that note, I loved Maya's stories.  I wouldn't mind a full novel that took those stories and flushed out the rest of her story.  

After finishing the collection I did read some reviews and I agree that there were quite a few books about cheating spouses and they got a little old, I wish that there had been a little more variety in the topic of stories.  I wouldn't have minded the theme of the stories if I hadn't read them back to back.  

Final thought - I loved her writing, so I would be open to reading more of Katherine Heiny.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Rules of Magic
by Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. 

Kritters Thoughts:  A little out of my comfort zone, the Owens family current generation highlighted in this book is made up of three siblings who are each trying to figure out who they are.  With magic abilities running through their blood, trying to figure oneself out may be a little harder.  AND then throw in a curse!

I don't tend to read books with magic, but when I saw a release date of 10/10 and I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone again and again, I decided to try this one out.  It had the right amount of magic where the characters were still human, but they all had great abilities where they could see the future or see things in other people, but at the end of the day the weren't floating around which made me enjoy this more than most books with fantasy and magic.

I loved at the heart of the story was family.  I love a good family drama, so with the foundation of the book being a family dealing with pain and tragedy and maybe a dash of a family curse.  I was so glad to read a book with magic with a male in the family with abilities.  I don't read a lot of books with magic and witches, but I still feel like every time witches are mentioned it is a female connotation, so I enjoyed some male witch action.  

I have only read one other Alice Hoffman book and I two-starred that one, so I may need a suggestion or two of where to go from here with Alice Hoffman.

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2017 Challenge: 49 out of 50

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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