Thoughts on Jane Austen’s Emma & Sense and Sensibility

I listened to both Austen novels as audiobooks in German and I really enjoyed listening to them. So, here is a short (very short) post with my thoughts. I feel it’s not really a review.

Jane Austen – Emma

Plot:

Emma Woodhouse is the daughter of Mr. Woodhouse who cannot stand changes and does not want his daughters to ever leave him. His oldest daughter marries and moves away so he clings to his daughter Emma who loves nothing more than to stay with her father. She likes to meddle in other people’s business and love life in order to improve those and because she believes to be such a selfless person. That meddling, however, complicate the lives of those around her and her own.

Characters:

Emma is the most unlikable character of the Jane Austen novels I have read so far. She seems so self-involved and so judgmental and a little mean sometimes, and she is a little annoying. I don’t think she intends to be all that, she just happens to be. She is not vicious or anything just sometimes completely unaware.

Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility

Plot:

After Mr. Dashwood passes away and his son from a previous marriage inherits the Dashwood fortune, he dismisses his sisters and their mother. They move into a small cottage. The two older sisters couldn’t be more contrasting in their demeanor and their temperament. Both loose the loves of their life and deal with a similar experience in very different ways.

Characters:

Unlike Emma I liked the two Dashwood girls. One had what the other lacked and they seemed to be polar opposites. I certainly liked their sisterly bond. Yet I almost preferred Margaret – the youngest sister.

General Thoughts on Both:

Not a lot of things happen in an Austen novel. I like reading them. They end somewhat happy for the female main protagonists, the nasty people get their share of nastiness back or just can’t destroy the intended couple’s happiness, the wrong learn their lesson or not, but at the end I don’t really care about that…as long as the main protagonist is happy, I am content. That might not be what Jane Austen intended or others feel when reading these books, but I somehow do. I am lulled into a content and happy place while reading and sometimes that is all I care for.

Since I listened to the German audiobooks I cannot say a lot about the writing of these specific books. But its an Austen so it is witty and full of irony.

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Iny Lorentz – Die Kastellanin (incl. Short English Review)

This book was written by a German author. For a short English review, please see further below.

Die Kastellanin

Hörbuch gelesen von Anne Moll
Information zum Buch:
Taschenbuch
Verlag: Knaur
veröffentlicht: 2006
Seiten: 589

Klappentext:

Marie lebt zufrieden mit ihrem Ehemann Michel Adler, den sie innig liebt. Ihr Glück scheint vollkommen, als sie ein Kind erwartet. Doch dann muss Michel in den Kampf gegen die aufständischen Hussiten ziehen. Er beweist so viel Mut, dass er zum Ritter geschlagen wird – und verschwindet nach einem grausamen Gemetzel spurlos.
Nachdem er für tot erklärt wird, ist Marie ganz auf sich allein gestellt und sieht sich täglich neuen Demütigungen ausgesetzt. Schließlich bleibt ihr nur ein Ausweg: Sie muss von ihrer Burg fliehen. Marie hat die Hoffnung nicht aufgegeben, dass Michel noch leben könnte, und schließt sich als Marketenderin einem neuen Heerzug an. Es beginnt das Abenteuer ihres Lebens. Wird sie den geliebten Mann jemals wieder finden? (Amazon)

Meinung:

Handlung: Die Handlung ist diesmal ebenso spannend wie im vorangegangenen Band. Auf der Suche nach ihrem Mann und der Flucht vor einer erneuten Verlobung wiederholt sich eine ähnliche Entwicklung wie im ersten Buch – bleibt dabei aber immer spannend.

Figuren: Marie ist eine starke und diesmal auch erfahrenere Figur, die sich so schnell nicht von ihrem Weg abbringen lässt. Sie geht einige Risiken ein, die sie vielleicht auch hätte vermeiden können…aber das ist halt Marie.

Stil/Sprecher: Der Stil ist einnehmend und flüssig, die Details genügend um die Zeit in der der Roman spielt zu kontextualisieren, die Handlung steht jedoch im Mittelpunkt. Anne Moll liest wie immer ganz toll.

In English:

This novel is set in the Middle Ages in Germany. Marie’s husband goes to war and is missing and presumed dead. Therefore Marie is forced to marry another knight so that knight can inherit her money (as she is not allowed to own any). She flees with her newly born daugther and travels with the army in order to find out what happened to her husband since she is sure he is still alive.

This second installment in the series is as exciting as the first. Though a certain narrative pattern can be detected and is similar to the first novel, it is well told and thrilling.

Marie is stubborn and strong, she takes risks (some she could have prevented) and she does not give up. The writing is fluent and effortless, the historical details enough so a context is created, yet the action is still the major focus of the story. A good read.

Bette A. Stevens – Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale

AM Look Inside Cover

eBook
Pages: 34
Bette A. Stevens’ Blog

Blurb:

Unlike her meadowland friends, Matilda doesn’t want
to leap onto ledges or bound across fields, she only wants to fly. At first,
Matilda’s friends laugh at her because she doesn’t have wings. They wonder: How
can a creature without wings ever hope to fly? While Matilda progresses through
the various stages of her metamorphosis from egg to butterfly, her friends
recall how they felt before they were able to do all of the things they had
dreamed of doing and how hard they had to keep trying to do all of those
things. Encouraged by her meadowland friends, MATILDA learns that if she tries
hard enough and long enough, she can do anything that she really wants to do. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ story about the monarch butterfly Matilda
+ wonderful illustrations
+ great message

My Opinion:

This is a beautiful children’s book about the monarch butterfly Matilda who wants to fly, but she doesn’t have wings yet. All her friends tell her their stories and thus teach her that if she tries hard and long enough and if she is patient, she can do anything.

It is a wonderful story which is beautifully illustrated. I loved the drawings which are done by the author as well and the message of the book. I think this is great to read to kids and I really recommend it.

Rating:

rating 5

 

Veronica Roth – Divergent (#1)

© Katherine Tegen Books

Audiobook
Informations on the physical book:
publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
published: 2014
pages: 576

Blurb:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . .or it might destroy her. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ first book in a trilogy
+ fun, entertaining, exiting YA fantasy
+ well-developed characters, great premise

My Opinion:

I was reluctant to start this trilogy, and I am generally late to hypes because I a) try to avoid them or b) I really don’t notice – I see those books around but somehow they don’t stick with me (brain does not work). Anyhow, I was lucky enough to find the unabridged audiobook in my local library in English and I was ecstatic. I really, really enjoyed the book.

Tris lives in a world made up of factions – each faction living up to only one ideal. As a young person she is about to choose which faction she wants to belong to for the rest of her life and a test is supposed to help her determine. But during that test, it is revealed that she is different from the others and that this difference can cost her her life. In order to avoid discovery, Tris has to hide in a faction and try to blend in.

I liked Tris. The author was able to make me understand her and relate to her. Though I sometimes did not agree with the choices she made or the thoughts she had, I was never alienated. I comprehended. I liked that Tris had to fight, that things did not come natural to her and that she did get beat a few times. But she always got back up and she always remembered (though she might not have acted accordingly) where she came from. Both Tris and Tobias (as well as other characters) were very well-developed and complex without being complicated and hard to follow.

The arc of suspense was continuous but left enough room to breath and time to look at Tris’ character and her world more closely. The love story (the thing that annoys me so many times in YA fiction) was a slow burner, understandable, and enjoyable. I thought it was cute at times, yet not so much on the nose.

The minor characters were likeable and the antagonists easy to loathe. I liked the several sides to Tobias and the fact that he was not perfect and strong. There was always some form of mutual respect and both had times where they saved the other without putting them in the position of damsel in distress.

The writing was fluent, I really want to know about the world and how this whole story continuous.

Bottom Line:

A great audiobook, a wonderful and fascinating story with well-developed and complex characters.

Jennifer Estep – Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1)

Touch of Frost

e-book
published: 2011
publisher: Kensington
pages: 385

Blurb:

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody’s head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I’m determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why – especially since I should have been the one who died . . . (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ fantasy boarding school novel with vikings, amazons, magic and something evil
+ a likeable main protagonist Gwen Frost
+ fluent and captivating story
+ great premise, fun, and entertaining novel

My Opinion:

I somehow thought that I have long passed the age in which I will be captivated by boarding school stories. But I have heard so many good things about this novel that I had to have a look or better a read. And yes, I was wrong. I did really enjoy this novel. So much for being too old…but then again I do read lots of children’s books as well and I not a child anymore…technically 😉

Back to the book: Gwen has a gift. She touches an object, a person, something really and every emotion, every piece of history flashes before her eyes. She knows everything about whom or whatever she touches. So, she finally has to go to Mythos Academy where many magic and warrior descendants train. Not only is she the weird loner because she does not fit in, but there is also something evil lurking and she seems to be the only person to care.

I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the series. Descendants of mythical beings or people with their own magic individual to each group and person, all striving to save the world, yet still in school. There is a similar segmentation of the pupils into groups as in every other school and since Gwen is the only one of her kind, she doesn’t fit in, and she is not sure whether she really wants to or not.

I liked Gwen, she is witty, funny, nerdy and sometimes insecure, befuddled, and annoyed. The whole mix was well-blended and made her a round and approachable character. It was interesting to learn about the academy from her sometimes clumsy perspective – I get it, the floor hates me too and I do think it is an unrecognized art form to fall on an even surface 😉

The writing was fluent and washed right over me and the story developed at an evenly pace. Since the story world was new to me, it did not feel dragged or slow. Yet the author’s writing style is not necessarily the quickest – if that makes any sense.

I enjoyed the relationships that started to develop and while this story line is closed, there are enough unanswered questions that will get me to read the next one rather sooner than later.

Bottom Line:

An entertaining and fun novel centering around a mythical boarding school, amazons, vikings, magic, and evil things with a likeable main protagonist. A good start to a series.

Rating:

rating 4

My (late) Reading Month August

August was a good reading month – I did listen more than I read, but all in all it was good. This time I will start with a little statistic and will then turn to the titles.

  • Books: 3
  • Audiobooks: 6
  • Pages (only books): 939
  • Pages (incl. Audiobooks): 2995
  • Minutes listened: 2231 min. (over 37 hours)

Books:

Jessica Fletscher and Donald Bain – Coffee, Tea or Murder?

A Murder, She Wrote novel about a flight to London and the death of one of the participants. Good as always.

Emma Grey – Schuld war nur der Tee

Crime story set in England – mysterious deaths of seemingly random people, an unkown substance and a police officer with problems, a past, and alcohol.

Kai Meyer – Seide und Schwert

A fantasy adventure set in China with people who live on clouds, dragons, and the undying (and no not vampires).

Audiobooks:

Hape Kerkeling – Ich bin dann mal weg

One of Germany’s most famous and popular comedians on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – it is not a comical book but it sure has some comical moments.

Rita Falk – Dampfnudelblues und Schweinskopf al dente

Two regional crime stories set in a small town in Bavaria: each crime is a little more absurd than the one before, but quite hilarious and funny.

Derek Landy – The Faceless Ones/ Die Diablerie bittet zum Sterben

The third installment of the Skulduggery Pleasant series – this time fighting the faceless ones, needing more than a little humor to survive this disaster. (We’re not retreating, we’re advancing in reverse 🙂 )

Susanne Fröhlich – Aufgebügelt

A chick lit for the older more mature chick: about being left, leaving and finding new beginnings.

Iny Lorentz – Das wilde Land

The third book in an emigration saga of a family who fled Germany to make their way in the new world and finding a place there.