Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

 

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

By Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Quirk Books

ISBN: 978-1-59474-442-6

4.5 stars

I was so very excited when this book went on sale on Tuesday. I ran to the store, got my copy, and started reading as soon as I got home. Sense & Sensibility is one of my favorite books and I wondered if the addition of sea monsters would alter my view.

I’m happy to report it didn’t. I’m not rating this book as high as the original but that’s just because I don’t really think of this as the same book and I will admit to being extremely partial to the original. It’s fresh and fun but the original it’s not, which is a good thing in this case.

The story is much the same. Mr. Dashwood dies; Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret move to the Devonshire coast; Marianne falls for Willoughby; Willoughby leaves Marianne; Elinor and Marianne go to London; a meeting with Willoughby goes bad; Marianne is heartbroken; Elinor suffers heartbreak silently; Marianne get sick and recovers; Elinor reunites with her love; Marianne finds love and a life she never imagined for herself. Oh, yes, don’t forget the letter writing — there’s a lot of it.

Sea monsters, yep, there’s a lot of them too in the new version. Mr. Dashwood is eaten by a shark; Mrs. Dashwood kills a sea monster on the way to the Devonshire coast; Willoughby, the treasure hunter, saves Marianne from a huge octopus; Elinor escapes the fang beast; Elinor and Marianne visit Sub-Marine Station Beta (AKA London); Sub-Marine Station Beta is attacked by sea monsters; Colonel Brandon is part sea monster thanks to a curse by a sea witch (descriptions are amusing and somewhat disgusting); a lot of talk about underwater gear and, of course, fish stories. Also, there is an interesting explanation for the sea monsters — the Alteration which no one knows the cause of.

After reading it, I have to say that I truly enjoyed it. I also think this can be a love it or hate it book. If you’re not willing for liberties to be taken with the original text then you might want to skip it. Me, I like parodies and found the characters and situations with the addition of sea monsters to be entertaining. Enjoy it for what it is.

And for those interested in the other Austen re-imaging this year, my review of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies can be found here.

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Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

 

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

By Amanda Grange

Sourcebooks, Inc.

ISBN: 9781402236976

4 stars

The story begins on Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding day. The Bennett house is in full celebration with the marriage of both Elizabeth and Jane on the same day. Elizabeth believes this to be the happiest day of her life and cannot wait to become Darcy’s wife.

After a short ceremony and celebration, they leave for the Lake Region on their honeymoon tour but as soon as the carriage leaves, Darcy announces they area going to Europe instead. He makes a few arrangements, and before Elizabeth can utter a word or question, she finds herself in Dover awaiting a boat to France.

In France, Darcy introduces Elizabeth to family and friends — some she finds friendly, others she finds off-putting for a reason she cannot understand. She is overwhelmed but is happy to just be with Darcy. Shortly after arriving in France, he announces they will be going to visit his uncle who lives in the Alps. The journey to his uncle’s is difficult and she finds herself scared frequently by wolves and stories from the locals. Darcy reassures her that all will be fine and once again she finds herself calmed by his words.

At Darcy’s uncle’s castle, she is introduced to many new family members and acquaintances. Elizabeth is unsettled by comments and customs but does her best to make an outward show of happiness for Darcy. Their stay is cut short by a revolt from the villagers but Darcy and Elizabeth are able to escape without harm and find shelter in an old hunting lodge of Darcy’s. He decides they will head to Venice, Italy for safety’s sake and they are off again. Upon their arrival, Elizabeth is transfixed by the city and its inhabitants. It is also were she begins to question some of the strange things going on with Darcy and their relationship.

After a near abduction and narrow escape from which Darcy rescues her, she asks many questions and finds she doesn’t like any of the answers. Fortunately, a friend of Darcy’s may have the cure they both seek.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is an interesting re-imagining of these characters. Grange is able to fully en robe herself in Darcy and his brooding thoughts making the character very believable. He is just as dark, daring, and confusing and in some ways even more intriguing because of his dangerous secret. The love between Elizabeth and Darcy is strong and you find yourself hoping she is still willing to accept him after his secret revealed.

One small thing that did bother me — Elizabeth does not pickup on any of the clues. Reflections that don’t appear, no mirrors, wolves, Darcy mysteriously missing always at sunset and sunrise, an inordinate amount of bats. I always thought of Elizabeth as witty and smart and was a bit disappointed she didn’t question Darcy earlier, but then again, she is a new bride wanting to be with her new husband and willing to forgo a few mishaps after what they had already been through. I guess in the end I am willing to forgive that.

Rooftops of Tehran

 

Rooftops of Tehran

Rooftops of Tehran

Rooftops of Tehran

By Mahbod Seraji

New American Library

ISBN: 978-0-451-22681-5

5 stars

In addition to this blog, I also do reviews for The Book Reporter website. Below is a short summary of my review of Rooftops of Tehran which can be found on their website in full here.

During the summer of 1973 in Tehran, Iran, Pasha and his best friend Ahmed spend their summer evenings sitting on the roof discussing life. Just 17 years old, the two are about to learn the harsh realities of love, friendship, and the sacrifices we are sometimes forced to make.

Rooftops of Tehran is one of those rare books that stays with you long after the last page has been turned. It reminds us of the good and bad in life, that joy has a painful side, and that love comes in many forms. Pasha’s love for his family and friends is so strong it is heartbreaking for him. His need to help and to fight only makes the reader fonder of him.

Marvelous characters inhabit the book. They are loving family members we all know — the mother who cares deeply for her child, the proud father who wants only the best for his son, the friend that is always by your side not asking why you’re fighting but standing next to you ready to land the next punch, and the love of your life which can be heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same moment.

Rooftops of Tehran is masterfully told. The author seamlessly drops the reader right in the middle of the story. The emotions are so strongly rendered you’ll feel as if you are these characters. He makes you laugh and cry at the same time remembering the joys of first love and pain of loss. It’s a fabulous read and one that will stay with you a long time.

The Strain: Book 1 of The Strain Trilogy

 

The Stain

The Stain

The Strain: Book 1 of The Strain Trilogy

By Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

William Morrow

ISBN: 978-0-06-155823-8

4 stars

A plane lands at JFK airport and goes dark. No one can raise the pilots and no signs of life exist. The window shades are drawn and there is no movement to be seen. Unsure of what to do and concerned about a deadly infection, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is called in to investigate and asked to find the cause of what is believed to be the simultaneous deaths of all the passengers on board.

Dr. Ephraim (Eph) Goodweather heads up the CDC ‘s Canary Project, a rapid repose team setup to deal primarily with problems of this nature. He gathers his team and heads to the airport and once there finds what appears to be a plane full of dead passengers with no explainable cause of death. There are no visible injuries and the air is clean making an initial diagnosis impossible. While checking individuals for signs of any struggle or sickness, four survivors are found. Also found, a large black box full of dirt in the cargo hold that is not listed on any manifest.

Back at the hospital, Eph is not able to find anything wrong with the few survivors and the coroner is finding more than he can explain in his lab. Not knowing what they are dealing with, Eph makes an attempt to lock down the few survivors and hold bodies in the morgue but is unable. Soon after, bodies go missing from the morgue, and unbeknown to Eph and anyone else at the hospital or the CDC, the four survivors begin to evolve into something dark, sinister, and deadly.

Enter Abraham Setrakian — vampire hunter. His first attempts to plead his case to Eph fail but eventually his is able to convince him with an interesting show and tell display with a one of a kind specimen. With help from Nora, a member of Eph’s Canary team and Fet a city rat exterminator, they move to end the infestation.

Del Toro’s screen writing experience is key to this book. You see and feel exactly what he wants you to — slowly inching up the tension, keeping you in suspense wondering if the noise you heard in the hall is really just the floorboards creaking or something unholy making its way to you. His take on the vampire follows some of the old traditions but he adds enough to make it feel fresh and exciting. If you prefer a vampire story that holds true to the Dracula mythology than this book may not hold your interest but it’s worth the read to experience his take on the vampire mystique.

The first 50 or so pages of the book are intriguing. He holds back a lot, playing only a few cards and slowly building the story. While he does keep the pages turning, the story slows a bit in the middle and feels like too much of a re-telling of each new vampire being born. He quickens the pace at the end and leaves readers creeped out and anxiously waiting the next installment and probably sleeping with the lights on.

As a final note, I loaned this book to two people who both told me it qualifies for read only in daytime status — least they worry someone bite them in the night.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

 

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Quirk Books

ISBN: 978-1-59474-334-4

5 stars

I will start this off by saying that Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite books so I felt a bit predisposed to liking this book even before I finished the first page. Really, who cannot love a brooding Darcy who slays zombies while trying to court Elizabeth Bennett in his rather unorthodox way?

The book follows along the same lines as the original with a few new details regarding swords, training, and the newly minted dead.

It all begins with a new arrival in Netherfield Park. The Bennett’s are, needless to say, very interested in the newcomers as they don’t see many in the county and, well, with all the zombies running about, people have cut back on their travel. Of course the proper introductions are made and Mrs. Bennett, in a conniving move to get her daughter Jane close to the newly arrived and very much single, Mr. Bingley, she sends her to pay a visit. Jane gets caught in the rain and becomes sick necessitating a stay at the house. Elizabeth, fearing the worst for her sister, trudges over fighting zombies and inclement weather to see her. She gets her first real look at Darcy during this visit and finds him abhorrent.

Days and weeks follow, balls come and go, visits are paid, trips made and Darcy keeps falling further down on Elizabeth’s likability scale. She must admit his skill for killing the reanimated is legendary but she cannot bring herself to like him. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she does have to spend time in his circle of friends and acquaintances, making life annoying for her, at least as far as he is concerned.

It is only after she finds out he has helped immensely with a great family mishap and possible embarrassment that her opinion of Darcy changes. However, after having already vehemently denied his proposal of marriage, Elizabeth is not sure anything would still be possible between them.

As Austen fans know, there is much more to this story that I am providing here. It is certainly more than a boy meets girl love story and one that keeps readers engaged to the very end with some amazing characters. It’s witty, smart, and endearing. Each time I finish the book I can’t wait to read it again. I have to admit that Pride & Prejudice & Zombies may be have made it onto my must re-read list of favorites.

Why? It’s fun. I adore the original for the wonderful love story that it is and the new one brings freshness (with the exception of the addition of zombies and rotting corpses) to the story. It’s an amusing take on a classic. I found the blood and gore talk nominal, (although you are talking about zombies here so beheadings are to be expected) but there is a lot of talk about vomit that I could have done without, but all in all, a good read. And for those strident fans of the original, Darcy is still proud and Elizabeth is still prejudice.