A Booktastic Anniversary

April 29th was my one year wedding anniversary and my husband booked us two nights in this fabulous B&B in Camden, Maine (which was actually a suggestion from my maid of honor, so without her, we never would have found the place!) called the Norumbega Inn.

We stayed in their library suite, which is so appropriate. The room is where the original library is located and has a balcony that spans the top half of the room with a ton of vintage books! We also had a little room with a gas fireplace (where Sweetbeeps would read in the mornings because he gets up earlier than me.) When we arrived we got a little history lesson about the place, but of course, I don’t remember much. But I know this mansion (castle?!) was built in 1886 by some guy who invented something (haha yep) and it was a private home until the mid-80s. I also know it’s the coolest B&B I’ve ever been to (she says, having only been to one other) and I had the best food there I’ve had in my life and we definitely plan to return.

Camden is a cute little town by the water with quite a few shops to check out….though some get pricey because of tourists and vacationers. There’s hiking in the area, but we didn’t end up doing that because it was still fairly cold. Anyway, on to the pictures….be prepared, there are a TON:

                                                       That fog so atmospheric!

                                           That cage needs a peacock, doesn’t it?

                                       A doggo!

                              Get ready for all your woodworking dreams to come true

                                                                  Soooo delicious!

                               I totally made Sweetbeeps touch that statue’s boob

                                       Even our doorknob was well designed!

                                     Our little side room…and a small view of the main room.

                                                               The view from bed!

                                                                I really love this shelf.

                                          Booooooks!

                                            This book maybe came home with me…….. 

                                                         Just casually browsing….

                                                          Me: Look like you’re browsing. Him…

                                                                       He thinks he’s funny.

                                                                   Found us in book form.

There were four bookstores downtown and naturally, we went to all of them!

                                                  Basically all vintage, but pretty pricey!

                             Super cute, but more of a cafe with small book selection.

                                  Too crowded to focus.

                          Half a toy store, but decent selection!

The 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Bookhoarder

Are you new to the bookhoarding scene and looking for pointers on how to live up to your fullest hoarding potential? Well, I’ve put together a few tips to help you on your path to building a successful hoard of books.

  1. Love Books and Reading – this may seem like a no-brainer, but to truly build a fantastic hoard of books, you actually need to love them. And while you will probably never read them all, you should at least want to!
  2. Buy More Books Than You’ll Ever Read – it’s not a proper hoard if your TBR pile isn’t insanely long and probably impossible to ever read in your lifetime. You may think, “But I want to read all the books I own!” and that’s an excellent goal, but for a true hoarder, it means  you don’t own enough books!
  3. Buy Multiple Editions – found a cover you love but already own the book? Buy it!  Already own three copies of the same book, when you find another beautiful edition you want? Buy it! Nothing says “bookhoarder” like a large collection of the same book!
  4. Invest In Your Collection – If buying books is your thing, budget your money for it. But don’t go broke! Bookhoarding is a life-long marathon, not a sprint, so don’t forfeit your rent money for a sweet collectors edition.
  5. You’re Not a Library – this is certainly a personal preference, but from my experience, when you lend books to people, they don’t always come back, or come back in the condition you gave them out in. How can you build your hoard if you’re constantly letting books out of your sight and maybe never getting them back? Of course, this is at the hoarder’s discretion, but the key to hoarding is holding on to all those books.
  6. Encourage Hoarding (and Reading) in Others – the best gift is to pass on your love of books and reading to others. When you know other hoarders, you can talk about your collections together, discuss books you’ve read, compare cover art and have someone to tell you “Oh, just buy it!” when you’re on the fence about adding yet another book to your collection. Plus, reading is magic and what better gift is there than to inspire a love of reading in another?
  7. No Regrets – this is possibly the most important habit. You cannot properly hoard books if you are constantly regretting large or expensive purchases or feeling guilty for owning hundreds (thousands!) of books that you may not ever read. This can also be the hardest habit to keep up with, as people who don’t understand your bookhoarding will often ask you why you’re buying more books when you haven’t read the ones you own, or why you need yet another copy of Pride and Prejudice when you already own 16 of them. But stay positive in the face of adversity!

I hope you found this list helpful – if you have any other tips or tricks to bookhoarding, please feel free to share them with me!

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Jane Eyre

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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I finally made a move to start collecting the rest of the Penguin Drop Caps series, after owning “A” (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, of course) for quite some time. I’ve decided to go in order, so naturally “B” was next. In case you don’t know, this series goes by the last name of the author, so “B” is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Each book has a quote from the novel on the back (and an annoyingly large and hard to remove barcode sticker) and the edges of the pages are colored to match the book. ISBN: 9780143123149.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves and Other Little People

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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This is a book that used to belong to my mum (and I’m not 100% sure she knows I’ve adopted it) and it contains various lore and poems about mythical creatures (like gnomes, fairies and elves!) as well as lovely illustrations. Published in 1978 by Avenel Books.

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Austen Month Wrap Up

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February!

I read 10 books for a total of 2,287 pages and an average of 82 pages per day. This month, my focus was Jane Austen, and while I didn’t reach my goal of 5 novels, I’m happy with what I achieved. In hindsight, I did pick the shortest month of the year, and her novels are not “quick reads” so having two of them to read did slow me down. But I did a little catching up on my collection and I plan to focus on reading the other works I have over the next few months.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
First Sentence: About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of  Mansfield Park, in the country of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank f a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.
Challenge: A book more than 100 years old

Y The Last Man: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man: Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man: Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan

Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster
First Sentence: The news that nearby Netherfield Park has been let to a man of above five thousand pounds a year greatly pleases your mother, who is utterly convinced that this will immediately enhance the prospects of one or another of her daughters marrying well.
Challenge: A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit (yes, a Jane Austen novel!)

Y The Last Man: Paper Dolls by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man: Kimono Dragons by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan

Y The Last Man: Whys & Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan

Emma by Jane Austen
First Sentence: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed  to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Challenge: A book that became a movie

In addition to the books I read, to further Austen-ize my life, I watched a couple of movies: Mansfield Park and Emma

I also put together a couple of Austen related posts: Why I like Jane Austen and Austen Recommendations 

And of course I featured copies of Pride and Prejudice for my first Judging A Book post this month.

I really enjoyed focusing so much on Jane Austen’s work and I think this month helped deepen my appreciation for her work and the works it has inspired.

Book Review: Emma

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Emma
By Jane Austen

My Edition:
Hardcover, 512 pages
2010, Penguin Classics
ISBN: 9780141192475

From Amazon:  Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

What I liked:
This is the first time readers are given a heroine who is well-off. I don’t think that the Bennets or the Dashwoods were meant to be shown as truly poor, because they probably never would have married  as well, but maybe middle class. But Emma Woodhouse is very well off and isn’t a heroine that’s striving to be part of the upper echelon (even if it’s just to take care of her family) like we’ve seen before. She doesn’t even desire to marry, which felt refreshing. Other Austen heroines do seem to strive for a little something better, and I like to see them achieve that, but Emma has everything she needs in life and would rather see others happily married than herself. I like Emma as a character – she’s confident (maybe overly so), lively, and talented, and watching her matchmaking schemes unfold was amusing.

There seemed to be more over-the-top characters in this book. Mr. Woodhouse, the Eltons, Miss Bates, Harriet, and Mrs. Churchill. Miss Bates was especially ridiculous, with her never-ending speeches. I think we’ve all met someone like that before – you can hardly get a word in edgewise and if you do it’s ignored, because they simply want to talk about themselves or what they know. At one point, Emma says something rather cutting to Miss Bates about all the stupid things she says, and while it was mean, there was a bit of justification. After having to read through so many pages worth of her nattering, I had a little “oooh burn!” moment. Don’t we all want to tell someone off? It was less passive aggressive than most of  Jane’s insults, so it felt fresh.

Emma grows as a character and begins to notice her faults as a matchmaker after repeated blunders. She’s a bit of a silly girl as the book begins, and it was nice to see her mature by the end. Her relationship with Mr. Knightley was different too – most heroines happen to meet the man they marry at a party or something, and then develop a relationship from there. Emma and Knightley have grown up together and are already fast friends when we’re introduced to them.

What I didn’t like:
At first I had a hard time keeping track of the characters. There seemed to be so many more “main” characters in this book than any other Austen book I’ve read. There 5 main couples in this book, plus additional characters like Mr. Woodhouse, and Mrs. and Miss Bates. I actually went on wikipedia to look up who some characters were, because they were being mentioned in the book, yet with no detailed information on who they were, leading me to believe I had missed something. They were later introduced to readers, but I feel it would have been more helpful to have that information early on.

Also, Miss Bates drove me up a wall. I know that was intentional, but her monologues were so boring that I ended up skipping over most of them – if she actually said anything important to the plot, I missed it.

~

Overall, Emma is another enjoyable Austen novel. Now that I’ve read all her completed novels, I can say that I don’t dislike any. Pride and Prejudice is still (and always will be) my favorite. I think maybe Sense and Sensibility and Emma rank equally for second place, with Mansfield Park and Persuasion in third. I’m not sure where I class Northanger Abbey – as when I read it, I just didn’t understand what she was going for. I have a better understanding of the plot and her intentions now, and I think if I read it again, it would be right up there with Emma. 

 

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice in Wonderland (VI)

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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This little Alice comic is incredibly adorable and I’m glad to have it in my collection. It was released in 2010 by PublishingWorks and is illustrated by Jamison Odone, as part of the Stickfiguratively Speaking series. However, I haven’t found any other books in this series, which is a shame because I would love to have more classics done in this style. ISBN: 9781935557616.

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Austen Related Recommendations

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Before my Austen Month comes to a close, I wanted to make a little post of Jane Austen related materials that I would recommend for other Austen lovers. I don’t know about you, but when I love a certain author or story, I’m usually interested in works that have been inspired or influenced by said work. I know there are loads of Jane Austen spin-offs and reimaginings that I’ve yet to explore, but I wanted to highlight some of the ones I’ve discovered and enjoyed.

Let’s start with books. First off, the adaptations of her novels:

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hey, this picture is actually mine!

 

These BabyLit editions are too cute not to mention! Yes, they’re intended for children, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t admire the adorable artwork! They’re a great way to introduce children to characters from classic literature, and in the case of the Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility editions, counting and opposites too!

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pics from Amazon

 

Comics! Who doesn’t love comics? I recall being happily surprised to find that there were Marvel editions of Austen’s work, and Nancy Butler’s adaptations are fabulous, as well as the artists she works with. She really needs to hurry up and write Persuasion and Mansfield Park so I can have a complete set! I’ve also included the adaptation I read recently by Ian Edginton – while I wasn’t over the moon about the art style, that’s just my opinion, and it’s definitely worth reading or adding to your collection.

Next on to the companion books – I’m just making up this category, I have no clue what they’re called:

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pics from Amazon

 

The Jane Austen Companion to Life is a cute little book with quotes from her novels and little illustrations to accompany them. The Jane Austen Handbook dishes out advice and life skills from Regency England, as the cover implies. Both are cute little books and I’m glad to have them in my collection.

Now on to novels (probably using this term loosely) inspired by her work:

pics from Amazon

pics from Amazon

I stumbled upon Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in a used bookstore and had to have it – it’s a hilarious mix of the original work and a zombie semi-apocalypse. Dancing with Mr. Darcy is a collection of short stories inspired by Jane Austen and her home, Chawton House. Lost  in Austen, as you may be aware, is a choose-your-own-adventure book that I recently enjoyed very much. You can read my gushing review here.

Finally, some movies – direct adaptations of her novels:

pics from Google

pics from Google

I’m not a big and of Keira Knightly, but I really do enjoy the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I think they captured all the right scenes from the book, the acting is solid, there’s a dramatic scene with Elizabeth and Darcy in the rain, and a kiss at the end! I’ll  admit that my love for the Sense and Sensibility movie really stems from my obsession with Alan Rickman, and my enjoyment of is mostly nostalgic. It’s not a terrible film, and I still enjoy it, but it’s not exactly noteworthy. I threw in the Colin Firth adaptation because, duh, Colin Firth! Sadly, I haven’t actually watched  it, but I intend to.

And a few movies more loosely inspired by her work:

pics from Google

pics from Google

I watched Austenland recently after a recommendation from my mum and I’m so glad I did! It’s incredibly cute and a great depiction of what it might be like for the Austen-obsessed to live out life as in one of her novels. I forget how I came across Lost in Austen, but that’s another great scenario of what might happen if a modern Austen fan could exchange places with Elizabeth and wreak havoc on the plot of Pride and Prejudice! (And oh man, that lake scene.) Bride and Prejudice is a Bollywood (though probably Americanized) edition of Pride and Prejudice, and another very fun, cute movie. All three are worth watching and owning!

Bonus category – Austen accessories:

pics from Etsy

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Who doesn’t love bookish accessories!?  I actually own two Austen scarves, both featuring this lovely quote from when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth the first time. (Note: it is a very romantic quote, though it makes me laugh because the majority of his proposal is offensive to Elizabeth and he’s ultimately rejected). One is white with the words shaped in a heart, and the other is exactly as pictured above, purchased from this shop on Etsy. I’m actually shocked I don’t have more Austen related merchandise…I’ll have to work on that.

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If you have any Austen related recommendations, please let me know!

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Lamb

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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This week I’m showing off my special edition of Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal and I was lucky enough to get this copy signed that one time I met Christopher Moore. When I first read this book, I borrowed a copy from my local library – it was actually my first Christopher Moore experience. I fell in love with his writing right away and decided I needed to own his work. When I found there was a special edition of this book, I had to have it. It’s beautiful with its gilded cover and pages and ribbon bookmark – and of course it’s modeled to look like a bible. If you’re wondering, this edition was published in 2007 by William Morrow, ISBN: 9780061438592.

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Book Review: Lost in Austen

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Lost in Austen
By Emma Campbell Webster

My Edition:
Paperback, 345 pages
2007, Riverhead Books
ISBN: 9781594482588

From the back of the book: Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine you own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what would happen if Elizabeth accepted Mr. Darcy’s proposal the first time around? Or ran from his arms into those of Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth? Now is your chance to find out.

Get ready, this is a long review!

What I liked:
First and foremost, the concept! Who doesn’t love choose-your-own-adventure stories? I honestly can’t believe it took me so long to discover this book, but I’m so glad I finally did! This book has many moments which will be familiar to readers of Austen’s work, and not just from Pride and Prejudice. In addition to the various choices you get to make, there’s also additional (and sometimes smarmy) commentary inserted throughout the stories. But wait, there’s more! Webster also included some score keeping elements. Different actions, or just the narrator’s whims, will cause you to lose or gain points in Intelligence, Confidence and Fortune. You can also gain Inferior and Superior Connections, Accomplishments and Failings.

This part is optional and I decided to participate fully. You start with 200 Intelligence, 200 Confidence and only 50 Fortune points. I kept little post-it notes handy to track my scores, which varied wildly. I was constantly losing and gaining points, which was sometimes frustrating, but I suppose that in real life little things happen all the time that cause us to lose or gain a little confidence or intelligence. There are also a few quizzes to help you gain (or lose) points in these categories.

My list of failings was quite long and included gems such as: No style, taste or beauty; blind partiality; willful prejudice; no real friends; no governess; breathtakingly poor judge of character; reprehensibly remiss in duties to those less fortunate; and many, many more! Some of my accomplishments were: screen covering, outstanding appreciation of the picturesque, and the ability to feign interest in the utterly boring.

In the end, I finished with 150 Intelligence, though I reached a high of 640 at one point, -170 Confidence (or 50 if the point is not to get into negative numbers), and 190 Fortune (or 340, if again, the point is not to have negative numbers).

And let’s not forget the various endings! I was very surprised at the (usually funny) results I received when I strayed from the traditional path and a surprising amount of them ended in death! For example, if you decide not to dance with Darcy when he asks you at the second ball, and instead take a walk outside to clear your head, when you rush back inside to get warm you slip on some ice, fall, and break your neck. That was actually the first ‘Failure’ ending I received and it cracked me up, mostly from surprise. Other endings could include suicide, you (Elizabeth) murdering someone else, being murdered, unhappy marriages, scandal and ending up sad and alone. Each one was pretty amusing. I used little sticky tabs to keep track of my choices and it made it easier to go back and explore different paths. In my journey I happened upon all but two endings (somehow I missed both concerning Colonel Brandon!) and very few result in a “successfully completed mission.”

Funny Quotes:

“You do have more than one failure of perfect symmetry in your form and are wearing unfashionably long sleeves.”

“You are displaying an inappropriate level of psychological maturity. Stop trying to be clever, and deduct 20 Intelligence points for your impertinence.”

“Add ‘Ability to Feign Interest in the Utterly Boring’ to your list of Accomplishments. You’ll need THAT when you’re married.”

What I didn’t like:
Remember the phrase from Whose Line Is It Anyway? “The show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.” Sadly, I feel that mostly applies to the points in this book – there are a few instances where your Intelligence score matters, but they are rare. In fact, I spent the last portion of the book in the negatives for Confidence and Fortune, and in the end (the true end that you’re supposed to achieve) neither of those categories mattered. My Connections, Accomplishments and Failings didn’t matter either – though all of these did provide amusement, so I don’t think it was a wasted effort, but I do think it could have held a little more weight.

As much as I loved the endings, I wish there were more successful options. I discovered 4 successes: one is obviously marrying Darcy, and there are two other Austen gentleman you can marry IF you pick the right option in regards to your Intelligence. If you’re too smart, you won’t be happy – not sure how I feel about that statement, but maybe I’m thinking too hard. The last ending is a result of rejecting Darcy a second time, and if you decide to read the book, I’ll let you discover that clever result on your own. However, I wish there had been a few more options for happy endings. Since I’m familiar with Austen’s novels, the path I was supposed to take was fairly obvious. I purposely tried to deviate and really create my own Austen adventure, but I was constantly foiled by these failure endings!

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All in all, this was a very fun and amusing read. I would have enjoyed a little more liberty with my choices and the resulting endings, but I enjoyed the journey anyway. Austen fans should check this out!