I got a Kindle for my birthday and recently signed up for NetGalley, which is a site where teachers and librarians can get advanced copies of book in exchange for feedback and reviews. Jokes on them since I don’t need to be asked for my opinion of books, I give it regardless! Anyway, between that and being home way too much this semester I’ve been stepping up my leisure reading game this month. Mostly that’s because I pretty much only read ‘serious’ literature for work, plus (thanks to ten years in grad school) I’m kind of a literature snob. Now I’m trying to find my leisure reading legs, so to speak, all while trying to figure out my new-fangled Kindle. Without further ado, here’s all the books I read in November …
Manga Classics Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’ve recently been working my way through a pretty serious book purge and I realized that I have not one, but two copies of the Manga Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice. In December I’m going to see the play, Christmas at Pemberley, with my family, so I wanted to re-read the novel before we go. I thought that this edition would be a fun way to quickly review Austen’s book before I saw the play, and that it was. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to, and now I want to read their versions of Emma and Sense and Sensibility. There are, of course, some inaccuracies, like some modern colloquialisms, Mr. Darcy’s open shirt, and Wickham trying to sexually assault Elizabeth after he’s married to Lydia (which is just an odd scene). All that aside I think it would be a really great way to get younger kids interested in the classics, and I’ve heard of teachers having great success with these editions. Jane and Elizabeth are still great, and the way Mrs. Bennett is illustrated is pretty fabulous. As much as I was prepared to dislike it, I couldn’t put it down, and ended up reading the whole thing in one afternoon.
Marigolds and Murder by London Lovett
A few months back a friend recommended a genre to me that I had never heard of before: the cozy mystery. Apparently, they are Murder She Wrote style murder mystery novels, generally set in a small town, that are free of graphic violence and sex (and since I’m an old lady trapped in lousy young lady body I steer clear of such vulgarities). Marigolds and Murder is the first book in the Port Danby series and I got it for free through my Kindle for some reason (I think it was through Kindle Owners Lending Library, but I can’t return it so maybe it was just free). I’m suffering through a bout of medicine induced insomnia where, once or twice a week, I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back asleep for hours, and this book was my companion through those nights. It was as advertised and was a pretty straightforward story with a surprising amount of literary allusions (Pride and Prejudice and Poe’s “The Raven”). The murderer wasn’t even a little surprising, but it was fun to read. I still don’t know if the genre, or series, is for me, but I’m interested in reading the next book in the series regardless. If you have any recommendations in this genre please leave me a comment.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I received the Sweet Cherry Publishing edition released in September 2018 from NetGalley for this classic. It’s a Canadian children’s classic from the turn of the century and it’s absolutely adorable. I read voraciously as a child, and, while I read every single Amelia Bedelia book, I never read Anne of Green Gables. I absolutely love the title character, she’s deeply imaginative, kind, forgiving, and very intelligent. I’m kind of taken aback by how much I love her, and it makes me incredibly happy that she’s super competitive in school. I also really like that Anne is both extremely emotional and extremely intelligent at the same time; usually female characters are one or the other, and Anne is wonderful because she has both depth of feeling and thinking. Imagination is something that children have less and less, so I think this book would be perfect for late elementary to early middle school children because it shows how children can imagine the world around them. There’s some old timey slang and vocabulary, but not enough to obscure meaning. The only thing I wish for with this novel is that I had read it as a little girl.
What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De Pesloüan
I received an advance copy of What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De Pesloüan and illustrated by Geneviève Darling through NetGalley in exchange for a review; this title will be released by Second Story Press in March 2019. As a zinster from way back, I love that this book started out as a zine. It’s an illustrated list of things that girls and women around the globe are “sick and tired” of dealing with. Every statement is illustrated with simple yet expressive line drawings to emphasize the message. It’s not graphic or needlessly upsetting, but it doesn’t shy away from the issues that women and girls face around the world, and it supports them with statistics that are cited. I would recommend the book to High School teachers who want to introduce feminism into the curriculum without it being misunderstood. It’s also a good way to introduce feminism to young women and men. When my son asks why he should care about feminism, I’d like to hand him this before we start talking. As the book itself states, it’s a conversation starter, and because it’s illustrated many students would be more receptive to it. I also think it’s important that the title specifically uses the world ‘girls’ even though women, of course, don’t want to be infantilized, because the book is addressing a younger audience. Women will not be surprised by anything in the book, but girls may.
Manga Classics The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I received a digital edition of the Manga Classics The Count of Monte Cristo from Udon Entertainment via NetGalley. This is a classic novel, but one that I didn’t know much about. I used this adaptation as a sort of toe-in-the-water to see if I would be interested in the novel by Alexandre Dumas. I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely loved it. The story itself is a classic and satisfying revenge story; the count is wrongly imprisoned as a young man, and, after a daring escape from the dungeon, punishes those who betrayed him. It’s a gripping read and I loved every part of it; the vengeance was quite satisfying. The adaptation itself was great, the framing and illustrations added a lot to the story, and I supremely enjoyed it (even more than the edition of Pride and Prejudice I also read this month). The story has so many layers that were represented by this adaptation, and it have left me wanting to read the novel itself. I’m quickly falling in love with this series.
Manga Classics Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I received a digital edition of the Manga Classics Sense and Sensibility from Udon Entertainment via NetGalley. Unfortunately, of the three Manga Classics I’ve read this month, this one is my least favorite. Maybe it’s because this is my favorite Jane Austen novel and no adaptation can make me happy, but the plot is so complex that I felt a lot of nuance got lost here. Also, the illustrations just don’t work for these characters; Marianne is a mass of curls, and Col. Brandon looks weathered, Edward looks too young and pretty, while Eleanor doesn’t look as dignified as she should. There’s so much cut out, which I’m sure was necessary, that the character’s actions barely make sense after the edits. The Steeles were pretty well done, in all their awfulness, but whole characters were chopped out of the plot. Maybe it’s the novel that doesn’t work for this format; perhaps Emma will have to be grounds for my final verdict.