The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A Flynn

“Queasy as I was from the bumping carriage, with the stink of horse and mildew in my nose, with the gibbet and the meat pie and the innkeeper’s rudeness still vivid, the Jane Austen Project no longer seemed amazing. What I’d wanted so badly stretched like a prison sentence: wretched hygiene, endless pretending, physical danger. What had I been thinking?”

I’m so thoroughly pleased with this book. I hadn’t really heard much about it but was attracted by the title when browsing the library’s ebook catalogue. It’s an intriguing storyline, going back in time to retrieve (i.e. steal) a manuscript from Austen herself. One that wasn’t published in her time. Rachel and Liam are well prepared and well researched. Rachel is a doctor and has worked in disaster areas and Third World countries. But nothing could really prepare her for this.

But eventually, with mishaps often skirted by their use of their back story – that of a brother and sister who grew up in Jamaica and who have only for the first time stepped into England – they get used to life in the 18th century. It’s especially hard for Rachel – she’s the doctor but has to let Liam play the doctor (of course women couldn’t be doctors at the time). The plan is to befriend Henry Austen, Jane’s brother, and somehow weasel their way to Jane.

The chief danger of time travel, aside from the obvious physical risks to travelers themselves, was of somehow changing the past so as to decisively alter the future you’d come from, setting in motion some version of the grandfather paradox.

Time travel is always such a fascinating idea. What do their actions change, for example, the simple hiring of their staff, or when Rachel saves a young climbing boy from a horrendous future by paying his employer and letting him live in her household?

I wasn’t that big a fan of Rachel at first. She seemed a bit tactless at times but she eventually grew on me. I like the way Flynn brought the Austen family to life, especially Jane, sharp and intelligent, an acute observer initially wary of Rachel.

I tend to stay away from any Jane Austen spinoffs (if that’s the right word) but I really enjoyed this one. I mean of course every time travel story leads to many many questions and possibilities but I feel like Flynn handled it all really well.

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Last week’s #comics

Buffy Omnibus Vol 1 and Vol 2

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to read the Buffy Omnibuses. I’ve read Season 8 (loved it) as well as the High School Years (not so much). It was so much fun being back amongst the Scooby gang and also Drusilla and Spike (I love how I can imagine Drusilla’s accent as I read her speech bubbles, which are very true to her character – poetic and also a bit insane).

Pop Vol 1 by Curt Pires

A fun enough but violent comic set in a world in which celebrities are grown and bred and one manages to escape. The storyline wasn’t the best but I really loved the pop art style of illustrations.

Ghost Vol 1 and 2 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex Ross, Phil Noto (Artist), Jenny Frison (Artist), Patrick Thorpe (Editor)

In this case, I’m not a fan of the illustrations. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the male characters apart (and there are quite a lot of them). I do like Elisa, the mysterious Ghost, who has a strange power and an unknown past. The storyline gets a bit better in Volume 2 as we find out more about what’s happening in the city. Not exactly DeConnick’s best but it’s still interesting enough so far (especially since I am just now only finding out about Elisa’s past life) that I may continue. However, it looks like Vol 3 wasn’t by DeConnick so we’ll see how that goes!

It’s Monday and I seem to have forgotten that it’s Monday

It’s 720 am and the kids are still asleep! Or at least they’re still quiet and in bed. The 4yo has been having a bit of a runny nose and cough over the weekend so hopefully he can make it for swim class later.

We’ve had a fun weekend. On Saturday, went to Shoreline Park in Mountain View for some cycling, scootering, pedal-boating and picnicking with friends. We spent pretty much the whole day out in the park. It was just lovely!

It’s been a rather mild winter here in NorCal (well not like we have harsh winters). We had a few days before the winter break with some frost on the ground but nothing since. There’s signs of rain this week so hooray!

Currently…

Reading:

Two Serious Ladies – Jane Bowles

 

Watching:

Season 2 of The Good Place. I adore this show! It’s got a fun cast (Ted Danson! Kristen Bell!) and such a great premise (the after life). We recently picked up a new TV and it came with a coupon for Sling TV and so I finally got to watch more episodes of this fantastic show – Netflix only has the first season.

Listening:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with the kids. The Stephen Fry-narrated version of course!

Eating:

I just had some chocolate cake and toast.

Drinking:

Yorkshire Gold

Cooking:

Last night we cooked up some butter-basted ribeye steak on the stove – so good!

Last week:

I read:

 

Buffy The Omnibus Vol 1 – Joss Whedon, Joe Bennett
Ghost Vol 1  – Kelly Sue DeConnick
Pop Vol 1 –  Curt Pires
Buffy Omnibus 2 – Joss Whedon (Series Creator), Dan Brereton (Script), Christopher Golden
Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes – Mary Talbot, Bryan Talbot

Jane Austen Project  –  Kathleen A Flynn

I posted:

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Back to the Classics – Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Anne Brontë was the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. And arguably the least well known? I mean most people will know of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre but may not have heard of Agnes Grey – perhaps they may have heard of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, at least if they watched that episode of Downton Abbey!

Agnes Grey is a relatively short (just 251 pages) story of a young woman who begins work as a governess after her family falls into financial ruin. It’s very autobiographical, based on Anne’s own experiences working as a governess at age 19 – and apparently features people she knew and worked for.

Agnes Grey’s first position is with a family of absolutely horrid spoilt children.   One of the boys even enjoys torturing birds, and is even encouraged by an uncle (shudder). The second position, where she mostly teaches the daughters, is still an uneasy and difficult one. The older daughter is determined to bat her eyes at every available (or even those who are married) men she meets, including the curate, the sweet and kind Mr Weston, whom Agnes has grown fond of.

Life as a governess sounds absolutely dreadful. Hired to teach and care for these children, they were obviously educated and at least considered respectable enough. Yet Agnes is treated like she “ceased to be visible”.

I liked how determined Agnes is to:

“go out into the world; to enter upon a new life; to act for myself; to exercise my unused faculties; to try my unknown powers; to earn my own maintenance, and something to comfort and help my father, mother, and sister, besides exonerating them from the provision of my food and clothing; to show papa what his little Agnes could do; to convince mamma and Mary that I was not quite the helpless, thoughtless being they supposed.”

And how her mother married for love, forfeiting her fortune to marry a parson, and still determined, later on when the family’s financials are in greater trouble, not to depend on any money from her wealthy father.

Agnes Grey was a quick read for a classic, with a straightforward narrative, a very proper protagonist and a fascinating and honest look into what life as a governess in the 1840s really was like (especially when compared to Jane Eyre).

It also has the simplest of endings, perfect for this book:

And now I think I have said sufficient.

I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate – A 19th century classic (published in 1847)

It’s Monday and hooray the kids are back at school!

Well that was some week. I sure am glad school has started again. Luckily the kids have been playing together well enough. It also helped that they had Christmas presents to occupy them with!

One of the highlights was going to the Exploratorium in SF.

We also tried a new to us ramen place. Quite good! The one below is black garlic ramen.

And meeting up with the first grader’s classmates for a play date on a rainy Friday.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

The Great British Bake Off on Netflix

Listening:

The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate

Eating:

Noodles at a local noodle place.

Drinking:

Just lots of water

Cooking:

I’m thinking of making shepherds pie. Maybe some pork chops.

Last week:

I read:

Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte

Dollhouse: Epitaphs

I stumbled upon this while browsing the library’s comic catalogue. It’s been some years since I’ve seen the TV series and it was fun re-entering the world of Alpha and Ivy and Echo. Apparently this comic is takes place after the series and before the “Epitaphs” episode. The Active tech is going viral.

Great illustrations. I loved how the characters look just like the actors! Good storyline too. Makes me want a rewatch

Works for #readharder2018 – A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image

badgeIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Summing up 2017 in books

Happy new year!

I’ve done these year-end summaries for a few years now, you can check out what I was up to in 20162015, 2014, and 2013

Total books read: 216

2016’s total: 234
2015’s total: 286
2014’s total: 217
2013’s total: 223
2012’s total: 227
2011’s total: 171 

 

Gender

I like this female-majority reading that I’ve been doing, and hope to continue with it.

 

I was surprised by this one – not expecting that many new-to-me authors.

 

I know that technically comics are a medium and not a “genre” but it just simplifies things to put it as such.

Source

I’ve been trying to read more of my own books and I think I’ve done slightly better this year!

 

Type of reading material

This is one statistic that really surprised me. Last year, e-books made up 57% of my reads and I thought I was on track for a similar half-half statistic this year.

I realize now that it’s because last year I read a lot of comics on Scribd. I don’t use Scribd anymore so this year my comics all came from the library, as physical books (my library has a great e-book catalogue but not really much of a e-comic catalogue).

 

Diversity

A slight improvement from last year which was 32-68. But I will continue to try to make that more equal.

Decade published

The oldest book I read was published in 1817.

I read 39 books published in 2017!

 

Page length

The longest book I read was Voyager by Diane Gabaldon at 870 pages. The shortest book was Locke and Key: Small World at 32 pages.

Places visited in books

Thanks to these books, I travelled to many strange imaginary lands but also some incredible real-life places like Bangladesh, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England France, Haiti, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad, Vietnam, and also plenty of states in the US like Texas, Florida, Michigan, California.

Here’s to a wonderful reading year ahead! Despite everything else that happens, we will always have books.

My Life in Books (2017)

A bit late to this but here is My Life in Books, a fun year-end reading round-up, which Adam at Roofbeam Reader posted:

    • In high school I wasSweetbitter (Stephanie Danler) 
    • People might be surprised (by):Mother of all Questions (Rebecca Solnit)
    • I will never be: Labyrinth Lost (Zoraida Cordova)
    • My fantasy job is: Witches of New York (Ami McKay)
    • At the end of a long day I need: One Week in the Library (W. Maxwell Prince (Writer), John Amor (Artist))
    • I hate it when: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)
    • Wish I had: A Closed and Common Orbit (Becky Chambers)
    • My family reunions are: Ministry of Moral Panic (Amanda Lee Koe)
    • At a party you’d find me with: The Mothers (Brit Bennett)
    • I’ve never been to: Hotel Iris (Yoko Ozawa)
    • A happy day includes: A Time to Dance (Padma Venkataraman)
    • Motto I live by: Coming to my senses (Alice Waters)
    • On my bucket list is: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe (Ryan North (Writer), Erica Henderson (Artist))
    • In my next life, I want to have: The Soul of an Octopus (Sy Montgomery)