#ReadingMyLibrary Challenge Weekly Update-April 25

A whole month! Wow, this challenge went by too fast.

ReadingMyLibrary

I’m currently reading The Daughter by Jane Shemlit. But I highly doubt that I will finish before May 1.


This week’s topic:

Share how often you visit your library.”

With 87 library branches across three boroughs in New York, I have numerous chances to visit a library. But I visit my local branch sometimes once a week. During the work week, I would go through the online catalog to see any new release books or DVDs and put them on hold. I usually get them fairly quickly so that’s why I visit my branch at least once a week. If I don’t have a hold awaiting for me, I just go to browse the book or DVD shelves. I always find great finds when I do that.

How about you? How often do you visit the library?

No, Pops: Book Review of Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 7th 2015
Publisher: Pantheon
Genre: Fiction, Romance
From Goodreads:
The summer after she graduates from university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury, where she will live with her health-conscious father until she is ready to launch her interior-design business and strike out on her own. In the meantime, she will do what she does best: offer guidance to those less wise than she is in the ways of the world. Happily, this summer brings many new faces to Highbury and into the sphere of Emma’s not always perfectly felicitous council: Harriet Smith, a naïve teacher’s assistant at the ESL school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard; Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma’s former governess; and, of course, the perfect Jane Fairfax. This modern-day Emma is wise, witty, and totally enchanting, and will appeal equally to Alexander McCall Smith’s multitude of fans and to the enormous community of wildly enthusiastic Austen aficionados

Calling all Jane Austen fans!

Revolt!

We have another horrible Austen adaptation on our hands brought to us again through the Austen Project. It was complete torture for me to continue with this one. But I am stubborn and I always try to finish a book, no matter how bad it is. People told me that it wouldn’t be good and it received poor reviews on Goodreads but I guess I just wasn’t prepared on how bad it would really be.

Let’s begin with the start of novel. How do you begin a novel with little or no mention of the main character?! This went on for at least 60 pages. You had to deal with tedious descriptions on how far Mr. Woodhouse’s hypochondriasis could go and going into too much detail on Ms. Taylor’s background. With all this unnecessary details, you never get the feel or the connections for that characters which is vital for a beginning of a story. And when Emma did finally enter the scene, most of the time you get a description of her education background, not her upbringing. That is another problem with this work: the characterization. Unlike with Austen’s original work, you get a personal connection with the characters. I did not get here. I think McCall Smith was trying so hard to mimic Austen’s characterization style but going into too much unnecessary details severely hurt his chances.

I am now writing a character that no one but myself will much like”

That is what Jane Austen said to described Emma Woodhouse and it is clearly true. I had discussion with friends and others where Emma is their least favorite Austen novel. But while Austen’s Emma was a snob, underneath that superior attitude was a compassionate soul. You did not get that with Smith’s Emma. In this novel, Emma is completely unlikable. She’s selfish, condescending, sexist (her views on love and marriage are outdated), small-minded, basically, and excuse my language, a total bitch. In Austen’s work, Emma and her father have a close relationship and she cares for him deeply. Here, you don’t get that sense here. You find yourself wondering how it McCall Smith perceived Emma’s relationship with her father turned into this dysfunctional relationship.

The depiction of Emma’s and Harriet’s relationship was really out there. Smith implied that Emma’s initial attraction was of a sexual nature. He enforced this theory by having Emma painting Harriet’s portrait nude. I don’t know where and why Smith decided on this interpretation. But if you are going to have a character who is so set against being in love and only marrying for money to having sexual desires for a woman, at least try to be consistent. This theory just really didn’t fit in with the story and just added to the problems  of the poor narrative structure.

But the thing that really irked was Emma and Mr. Knightley’s relationship, or I should say lack there of . A relationship that is the main focus of the story and the characters have a total of THREE conversations throughout this 368 page novel. How are we, the reader, suppose to believe that these two characters fall in love when they have little interaction with one another? There was no jealous sentiments due to Emma’s close relationship with Frank Churchill (another lacking relationship). I don’t think Smith and the rest of the world were reading the same Austen novel.

I could go on and on with the many flaws with this book. But, then I would be like this novel, dragging on to unnecessary means. I can’t judge Alexander McCall Smith’s status as an author because this is the first book I ever read by him and I don’t think this is the right book to judge him fairly on. That being said, I don’t think McCall Smith truly didn’t either read or understand Emma. In order to do any adaptation of an Austen novel, whether it is a modern adaptation or continuation of the original, you must have a real passion for not only the novel but the author as well. I just did not see that here. I believe that Smith lacked the personal connection that most of us Austenites have and that flaw gave him less determination to this narrative justice. You can see that with an article he did a month ago, viewing the passion for Austen as an industry. Also, authors have to remember when doing a modern adaptation of a 18th century, most of the ideals that were common during the time may not be relatable to the 21st century. For example, Mr. Weston’s reasons for giving up Frank Churchill were plausible during Austen’s time. But I have hard time believing that in the year 2015, a father, who just lost his wife, would just easily give up their only child, when he had the means to support him. Smith could have changed that part of the story.

The Austen Project and Harper Collins, I implore to you. STOP doing this project. It is not working. Like I said before, you are sullying up Austen’s hard work. Your intentions may have been true but sometimes bad things come out of good intentions.

So if you love Jane Austen and the novel Emma, don’t read this book. If you love Austen but you didn’t like Emma, don’t read this book. If you are just a fan of reading overall, don’t read this book. You shouldn’t put yourself through this torture. If you want a good modern adaptation of Emma, watch Clueless. I’m going to be like Emma and say that Clueless is far superior than this travesty.

Now I have to go reread Emma and forget that this torture ever happened.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

(NOTE: To my British readers, Do you call your father “pops”? Emma call it her father that and I didn’t know if it was a common thing to say. It was very annoying half the time)

#ReadingMyLibrary Scavenger Hunt and Week 3 Update

Reading My Library Challenge

Hello fellow readers!

With April almost coming to a close (April went by so fast, don’t you think?), this #ReadingMyLibrary is almost coming to a close. I’m a little saddened, this challenge has been a lot of fun! But reading from our libraries doesn’t have to stop ;).

Here is my findings from the #ReadingMyLibrary scavenger hunt, the rules for which you can find here:

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Now for this week’s topic:

Why you love libraries or why you love being a librarian.

I love libraries because it is my home away from home! It is any book lovers’ paradise: one big place entirely dedicated to books. What can’t you love about a library?

I may not be a librarian by name but I feel like I am a librarian at heart. Although I do have MLS, I work as a rare book processor in a rare book and special collections library. I love working with rare books because while books can tell you stories, the history of the book as an object can tell you so much more and that is what intrigues me so much about it. Lately, I have felt disheartened with my current position due to the work atmosphere and the disillusionment of special collection librarianship. I love to help people and share my passion for books with others. That is why I entered librarianship. However, I will not let this deter me. I will still strive to help people, no matter what type of atmosphere my job has.

Books read for this Challenge:

  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Currently Reading:

  • Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith (Almost finish with this one so look out for a review!)

ALA’s Top 10 Frequently Challenged Books of 2014

Yesterday, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom released the top 10 frequently challenged books of 2014. The ALA does this every year to inform the public about censorship attempts that affect libraries and schools:

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”

2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”.

3. And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleged child pornography”

6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9. A Stolen Life Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit

Good thing the challenge never took.

I ask you guys to take this survey:

Share any other read challenged books in the comments below!

National Library Week April 12-18 2015

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I forgot to mention this yesterday. I got sidetracked.

Yesterday was the start of National Library Week! This year’s theme is: “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®.” The time of the year that we celebrate all the contributions that are libraries have given us and to also promote library use and support. Actually this should always be year-round event but I’ll guess we’ll settle for a week.

So why don’t you visit your favorite library and congratulate your librarian and the staff for a job well-done! They deserve it!

If you like to show your support on social media, American Library Association (ALA) has some great badges and banners you can post on your blogs or share on Facebook and Twitter.

Support our libraries!

#ReadingMyLibrary Challenge-Week 2 April 11

Books you would like to suggest to your library

I don’t think there are particular books I would like my library to order. I just think they should acquire more books from independent publishers. I like to read a different variety of books and I think that also pertains to who publishes the books. Maybe if we didn’t read from just the “big five” publishers, independent publishers and also writers will get the recognition they deserve.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Riverhead Books

Rachel is really down on her luck. She is a severe alcoholic, which led to her losing her job, losing her husband to another woman, and has a small room in another person’s flat. The only solace she finds is the same commuter train she takes every morning. She also takes comfort in watching the same suburban couple, breakfasting on the deck. Rachel starts to feel intimate with them, even giving them the names of “Jess and Jason”. Until she sees something shocking. And this shocking event leads Rachel becoming involved in an event with serious ramifications  that will affect all the lives pf everyone involved, including Rachel’s.

This was a captivating novel. But when I say “captivating”, I think I use that term very loosely.Let me just say this right off the bat. A lot of reviewers and other fellow readers have compared to this novel with Gone Girl  by Gillian Flynn. The two things that are relatively similar to Gone Girl  are the three different perspectives the novel is told and you won’t like any of the characters. That’s basically the only connection.  Continue reading “Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins”

#ReadingMyLibrary Update: My Library Haul of the Day

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Hello fellow readers!

Shown here is my library haul for the day! This is only the second week of the #ReadingMyLibrary challenge and I only have one book in so I really have to step up. This is what I have so far:

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (You can find my review of it here.

Currently Reading:

The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins (I’m also finish with this so anticipate a review about this book tomorrow)

If you can’t see the titles clearly, here is what I got from the library:

Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith (This one is part of the HarperCollins’ Austen Project. Hope I won’t be disappointed like last time)

The Half-Brother by Holly LeCraw

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

I can’t wait to read these books and I also can’t wait to share my feelings with you all.

Happy reading!

LibraryReads List April 2015

Library ReadsIf you are looking for your next read, here is a list of LibraryReads top ten books published this month that are loved by librarians:

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At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen

From Goodreads:

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

Continue reading “LibraryReads List April 2015”

Book review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

https://i1.wp.com/d.gr-assets.com/books/1350193583l/15776309.jpgKate Baron, litigation lawyer and single mother, is shocked when her daughter’s prestigious school calls her with stunning news: her highly academic 15-year-old daughter, Amelia, was caught cheating. Kate has a difficult time believing that her daughter would be capable of doing such a thing. But before she arrives at the school and find out the truth, Kate is hit with even more devastating news: Amelia committed suicide from a rooftop.

Overcome with grief and guilt, Kate has choice to believe the story that both the school and police are giving. That is until she receives an anonymous text:

Amelia didn’t jump.

With an intense investigation through Amelia’s social media, text messages, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to find out the truth behind her daughter’s death.

Continue reading “Book review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight”