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Review: Jane by April Lindner

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cover of Jane by April Lindner
3 Stars

In this modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is a penniless student who's just had to drop out of college and take a job as a nanny working for rock star Nico Rathburn.

I love Jane Eyre. I love Mr. Rochester. The idea of this book intrigued me. How exactly would all that Gothic deliciousness translate to the modern age? Reasonably well.

But first, what didn't work. For me, anyway.

For my taste, this book was actually a little too faithful to the original. It was like there was a list of the major events and they were dutifully checked off. Jane as an orphan? Check. Older brother figure locking her in a room overnight? Check. A dog named (Co)Pilot? Check. A chance meeting where Mr. Rochester/Rathburn almost plows over Jane and they argue because she doesn't know who he is? Check. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I somehow would have preferred the story to veer off in its own direction more. I know Jane Eyre. I want to read Jane Moore's story.

And then there's the whole...does it even count as a spoiler if you're talking about a well-known twist from a classic? I'll be safe. If you know the story of Jane Eyre, read on. (Highlight below to see what you're missing)

Begin possible spoiler:

The wife in the attic. There's no reason for that to happen now. Back in Jane Eyre's day, once married, always married. You didn't have many options to get rid of a crazy wife. Nowadays, not so much. The author did what she could, which is definitely more creative than anything I would have thought of, but I still didn't buy it. I couldn't even quite decide exactly why Nico kept her locked up. He said it was because he didn't want to see her locked in an asylum. OK. I'll try to buy that one. Even though my head says, "He could pay for the nicest place in the world, or at least keep her somewhere that she's not going to burn the house down around his ears." But then Jane's going on about the unexpected tenderness he shows toward Bibi (the wife). So is he keeping her around because he still loves her? And there's an element of him feeling guilt about getting her hooked on drugs and possibly setting this all off. I know people's reasons for doing anything are complicated but this felt too complicated. Still, I think it's the best anyone could do.

End possible spoiler.

It was fun to think of Mr. Rochester as a rock star. In my head he became Jon Bon Jovi. That's just fine by me. I'll let him dance through my imagination anytime.

I've spent more time on what I had a problem with than what I liked. I did enjoy the concept of the whole book. I would never have attempted to move that story into the present, for the big spoiler-y reason above. Hats off to April Lindner for tackling it and handling it as well as anyone possibly could.

Read an excerpt.

Find author April Lindner on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Jane at

Off the Shelf 2014

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cover of Testimony: The Legacy of Schindeler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation
3.5 Stars

Testimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actual project, and now sharing the testimonies and collecting new ones from ongoing genocides around the world.

The first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. I love the movie so seeing the behind-the-scenes photos and reading about the actor's thoughts was fascinating. I also liked reading about the real people the characters were based on and how filming such harrowing scenes affected all the cast and crew. When the narrative moved on to the idea of the Shoah foundation and collecting the survivor/witness stories, I was still on board. I liked reading about how the USC Shoah Foundation is sharing their expertise with other groups around the world with similar goals. I was reading in bed wondering how you get a job collecting stories. I even searched StoryCorps to see if they were hiring (They were but I'm not bilingual). The idea of such a huge, important undertaking just appealed to me--no, it called to me.

The second half got more technical, focusing on ensuring that the testimonies are secure and stay in a format that is always relevant to the modern age. That started to lose me. I'm proficient with the technology that's relevant to my life. I don't really stay on the cutting edge of anything. And I definitely don't understand anything about movie editing, etc. I do understand that all of this is important but I didn't really follow it. I was back on slightly firmer footing when the narrative switched to sharing the testimonies with the world. Even at that, I quickly got to the point where I just wanted to know what website I could go to for myself.

What kept me going were the transcribed excerpts sprinkled throughout the book. I'm drawn to stories of the Holocaust so reading about what these survivors endured was a highlight of the book. I was glad that the editors chose to include narratives from not only Jewish survivors, but also a homosexual survivor, rescuers/witnesses, a Jewish woman active in the resistance, a Sinti and Roma survivor, and survivors from other genocides (Rwanda and Cambodia). I personally know very little about other genocides or even really other perspectives on the Holocaust. I especially like that all these excerpts included current photos of the speakers and photos from their past.

Anyone interested in the Holocaust and/or Schindler's List will find this book fascinating. Pick it up for yourself and bear witness. We must never forget.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Read an excerpt.

Visit the USC Shoah Foundation's website.

Buy Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation at

Nonfiction Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader


I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Posted:
Nothing. Again.

Read:
Cover of The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant


Cover of Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation



Cover of Jane by April Lindner

Jane by April Lindner


Cover of 3:00 AM by Nick Pirog

3:00 AM by Nick Pirog

Currently Reading:
High Five by Janet Evanovich

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, read by the author

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

Up Next:
I just started most of these so I don't expect to get to any new books soon.

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I got behind in a busy May! I haven't posted one of these since May 4. That's a month ago! Where does the time go?

Posted:
Review--The Pearl That Broke Its Shell--4 Stars

Review--More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon--4 Stars

Character Connection: Doc Holliday

Review: Lisey's Story by Stephen King--4 Stars

Read:
Keep in mind this is a month's worth of books!

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker, read by George Guidall

The Fugitive Wife by Peter C. Brown

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

Birdman by Mo Hayder

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Currently Reading:
The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant

Testimony: The Legacy of Schindler's List and the USC Shoah Foundation

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, read by the author

Jane by April Lindner

Up Next:

I'm hoping to finish up Testimony soon. It's a review book and I've been reading it for well over a month. If I do, I want to pick up something by Mary Roach. I enjoyed her book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Friday Flashback Review: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Friday, May 9, 2014

4 Stars
Scott Landon, award-winning novelist, died two years ago. His wife, Lisey, is finally cleaning out his study. As she goes through his old papers, awards, and photos, buried memories come boiling to the surface. Then she gets a call from a man who tells her to hand over her late husband's unpublished work or face the consequences.

What I love best about starting a new-to-me Stephen King is that feeling. If you're a SK fan, you know what I'm talking about. There isn't really a "getting into the story" phase. You're just in it. Right where he wants you to be. And right where you want to be: in the practiced but never predictable hands of a master storyteller. This one didn't let me down.

I actually enjoyed this a lot more than Duma Key, the most recent King novel I've read. It's really sort of the story of a marriage: the good times, the bad times, the barely-got-each-other-through-it times. I loved that these characters had their own insiders language. I think most relationships have this, but it's hard for a writer to get it right. I felt like I was right in the middle of a real relationship where the magic words are bool, SOWISA, strap it on, smucking, and Boo'ya Moon. He really just got this so right. I even wondered if he was using catch-phrases from his own marriage. This quote struck me:

"Lying in the bed that had once held two, Lisey thought alone never felt more lonely than when you woke up and discovered you still had the house to yourself. That you and the mice in the walls were the only ones still breathing."

Don't go into this expecting the freaky, terrifying blood baths that everyone associates with Stephen King. He's grown past that. This was really an introspection on the nature of marriage--with some creepiness thrown in. He is still Stephen King, after all.

Reviewed May 10, 2009

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Character Connection: Doc Holliday

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cover of Doc by Mary Doria Wilson
Doc Holliday. To most of us, it's a name out of legend. The Wild West. The Shootout at the O.K. Corral. Wyatt Earp. But there's a real man behind the myth and in this work of fiction, author Mary Doria Russell tries to find him.

I must admit upfront that the O.K. Corral, etc. is not much more than a name to me. I've never seen Wyatt Earp or Tombstone or any of those movies. (I have, apparently, seen enough in channel surfing that I could not for the life of me get Kevin Costner's image out of my head as I read about Wyatt. And now that I've looked up Tombstone I see why Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer kept making appearances in my imagination too).

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I was a little taken aback at first by the style. It reads very much like nonfiction but the author says straight up at the beginning that it's not. I kept thinking that I was reading a nonfiction prologue and the story would begin later. But eventually I realized it was just the style of the book so I settled in and got comfortable. It worked. Telling the story in that way made Doc seem like more of a real person. The legend doesn't need more layers. This was a stripping away to get at the man underneath. And I liked him. A lot.

The cards are stacked against him from the beginning. Born with a cleft palate before the Civil War, he shouldn't have stood a chance. But his family came through and shaped him to be a Southern gentleman. His uncle operated and corrected the palate. His mother taught him manners and music. A cousin taught him horsemanship and how to choose his battles. A--friend? illegitimate cousin? I can't remember--taught him how to play cards and win. Then he had to watch his beloved mother die of tuberculosis, or consumption as they called it back then. And then he started coughing too. And so he was set on the path that would define him forever after.

The Doc in these pages is not perfect by any means. But that's part of his charm. He drinks too much and gambles too much and takes unnecessary risks and is too stubborn for his own good. But he's a loyal friend and a gentleman. He tries to treat everyone with respect if they deserve it. He's equally kind to the respectable townsfolk and to the town prostitutes, the Chinese man who does his laundry, and the Native American teen who does odd jobs for everyone. He has a vicious temper that he tries to keep under control and mostly succeeds in doing. But those who see flashes of it never forget it. He has a real musical talent but he refuses to play on an out-of-tune piano. When he finally does play, he moves his audience to tears.

He's caught in a tumultuous relationship with a prostitute named Kate. They need each other but they're not good for each other. They say hurtful things and hurl accusations and break up and get back together and are on a constant roller-coast ride. They're exhausting. There's one scene where the author imagines how different Doc's life might have been if he had finally left Kate for good and met a "nice girl." It was bittersweet. I was firmly attached to Doc at this point and I wanted him to have this gentle life. But the author points out that he still would have had consumption, so in the end, nothing would really change.

This Doc Holliday probably still isn't like the real Doc, but he's closer than most other books are going to show him at this point. He's a true Southern gentleman doing his best with the lousy hand he's been dealt.

Who have you connected with recently? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

Character Connection meme hosted at The Introverted Reader
Who do ya love?

Or love to hate?

You know you've got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!

Be sure to post the book's title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader on the first Thursday of every month um, apparently whenever I feel like it.

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I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cover of More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon
4 Stars

Hannah Gray is now an old woman, reliving the summer when she was seventeen and in love. She's revisiting her grandparents' house on the coast of Maine and re-reading her journal from that summer. She was fighting with her stepmother, her father was back home in Boston, and the house they had rented was haunted but Hannah was the only one who could see that. She eventually stumbles on the tale of a gruesome murder with ties to the house when it was located on an island out on the bay. In a dual narrative, the book contains Hannah's journal and relates the events surrounding the murder.

I really just grabbed this out of a box of books that I borrowed from my aunt a long time ago and haven't finished reading. I glanced at the back and saw something about Maine and decided that sounded good to me. I was surprised to get a murder and a ghost!

Don't get the idea that this is a horror novel. There's a lot more going on here than that. The ghost seems to serve more as an illustration of the ways we hurt each other in countless ways, both big and small, and the way that bitterness and anger cause effects that ripple out from us and down through generations.

I liked Hannah and thought her parts captured that feeling of being young and in love and knowing that the world is too small to contain everything you feel. She just wants to do what she wants but she has her stepmother constantly trying to clip her wings. And Conary, the boy she loves--he's fabulous. I got the feeling that he could be a heart breaker but he's tender and caring and charming and almost perfect with Hannah.

The story about the Haskells and their miserable lives together is horrifying. They just about hate each other. Well, they really do hate each other. Claris and Danial are married in spite of her parents' misgivings. They see Danial more truly than Claris although she'd never admit it. Claris thinks his quiet demeanor hides a deep soul when really it hides a man who just wants to work and be hateful and not much else. The two warp their children and even drag a schoolteacher who is boarding with them down into their spite and hate. They're one of those couples that seems happiest when they're tearing each other apart. They were exhausting.

The harsh Maine landscape of the early twentieth century plays a part here too. A visit to Maine is definitely on my bucket list and the descriptions in this book only added to my desire to go. But the tough climate shaped a tough, proud bunch of people and that's reflected here. This is one of those books that just wouldn't be the same if it was set anywhere else.

I haven't read The Woman in Black but, based on the movie, I get the feeling that readers who enjoyed that would enjoy this book and vice versa.

When you're in the mood to explore the darker side of human nature, give this one a try. It's a quick, atmospheric read that won't disappoint.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Beth Gutcheon on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy More Than You Know at
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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