Book Review: Emma: A Modern Retelling

As promised, I am here to review another book I read in May.  This one was actually on my May TBR, so go me!  Today I am talking about Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith.  I've never read a retelling before, but I was feeling like trying something different, and also, pretty cover.  So of course.  Anyway, this was a fun read and I really enjoyed it!  But, let's get to the review.

Title: Emma: A Modern Retelling

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Publisher/Price: Pantheon / $17.74 here

Type: Fiction

Genre: Romance / Classic Retelling

Number of pages: 368

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My thoughts: This book is #3, I believe, in a series called The Austen Project, where good writers publish modern retellings of Austen's major novels.  To me, this seems like a daunting task.  Modernizing Jane Austen's famous works, while keeping her ardent supporters happy?  Close to impossible.  But as you know if you've been around these parts for a while, I am not a super crazy Jane Austen fan.  Up until reading Persuasion, I could take her books or leave them.  So going into this, I wasn't particular about the plot being accurate or the characters being identical to those of Austen's creation.  And I think Alexander McCall was the man for the job.  His writing style goes so perfectly with Austen's story, and that alone would have made me like this book.  His style is accessible, but also sounds exactly like the type of writing Austen herself would have been down for.  I absolutely adored the little tongue-in-cheek references back to the original novel.  For example, when Emma first hears of Harriet Smith, she exclaims that such a name sounds rather old-fashioned.  I loved those little things.

The Emma of McCall Smith's novel is a perfect modern reincarnation of Austen's Emma.  She is bright, witty and snarky, living with her ultra-health-conscious dad as she plans to open an interior design company.  I think the author did Emma justice, swapping horse-drawn carriage for Mini Cooper in such a way even Austen herself would have approved.  And her father is perfect.  Reading about him, I can only imagine how much fun the author had writing Mr. Woodhouse as a modern-day health nut.  He was the perfect character.  I really enjoyed all the characters in this book, especially Emma's governess, Miss Taylor.  I did think, however, like other reviewers, that there could have been more time spent developing Emma and Mr. Knightley's relationship.  That all happened rather quickly, and their lack of interaction left me feeling a little rushed at the end.

The setting of this book was a little unnerving at first.  A good portion of the first couple chapters or so is spent developing the characters, largely Mr. Woodhouse.  The author wrote Mr. Woodhouse as a very old-fashioned character to begin with, and although this retelling is placed in modern-day England, it took me a little while to get it straight in my head that it was in fact, modern day.  The idea of a governess, some mentions of Emma and her sister(s?) wearing dresses, and a couple other things left my brain a little confused while reading it.  Later on, however, I really began to enjoy the juxtaposition between a couple of the more old-fashioned characters and their modern setting.  If you aren't expecting that, though, it can be a little jarring at first.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that the little quirks that made the original Emma so endearing, are totally included in this retelling, even perhaps, magnified a little.  Mr. Woodhouse describes his health-craze in much more detail and he is even more eccentric than in the original.  Emma's painting of Harriet is even more scandalous and her interactions with Mr. Elton end up more serious than in Austen's Emma.  I found that really entertaining at times, and just a lot of fun.

Overall, I really enjoyed this retelling of Emma.  I'm not sure I would recommend it to one of those ardent, enthusiastic, have-read-all-the-books-twenty-times-and-watched-every-adaptation Austen fans, but I would recommend it to anyone who, like me, enjoys the Austen books but who wouldn't take offense if the story/character was altered slightly.  It was just a really fun, fast-paced book that would be an excellent choice for a summer read.

And those are my thoughts on Emma: A Modern Retelling.  I have some more reviews to do of books I read this month, so I will hopefully be back with more of those in the next few days, and also my June TBR.  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella


Book Review: A Room With A View

I read this book during the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon that took place a couple weeks ago.  I first heard about it from Ange @ Beyond the Pages on YouTube (she has an awesome channel where she talks about lots of classics) and she highly recommended this one.

I was excited to pick this book up over the read-a-thon because it's pretty short and I knew I'd be able to get through it pretty easily.  I wasn't wrong, and also, I loved it!  It was so fun and quick – just a really awesome lighthearted read.  Let's get into the review.

Title: A Room With A View

Author: E.M. Forster

Publisher/Price: Penguin Classics – $7.09 here  (my edition) / Penguin Books Ltd. – $8.11 here (really pretty edition, too)

Type: Fiction

Genre: Classic / Historical Romance

Number of pages: 256

My rating: 5 1/2 out of 5 stars (favorite!)

My thoughts: Once again, I'll just give a little background on the plot/story before I get into what I thought.  A girl named Lucy travels to Italy to vacation with her aunt.  While there, she meets and is wooed by two men, George Emerson and Cecil Vyse.  She previously knew and had already turned down Cecil twice, but she finally accepts him when he proposes again.  When George hears of the engagement, he professes his love to her.  Lucy agonizes over the decision, but she decides at last to choose the man who is not necessarily the socially acceptable one, but the one who will make her happy – George Emerson.

This book was just a pleasure to read.  I really enjoyed E.M. Forster's writing style – it's accessible and perfect for this story.  I also really enjoyed the setting of this story.  The Italian backdrop reminded me so much of Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, which I absolutely hated (but loves the setting).  A Room With a View was the book I wanted that one to be.  In A Portrait of a Lady, the main heroine, Isabel, started out as a naive, but spirited, ambitious young woman with hopes and dreams and who knows her own mind, much like Lucy.  She also vacations in Italy and is wooed by a man who vies for her heart against her cousin, who truly loves her and has her best interests at heart.  Eventually, she chooses the other man, Gilbert, who ends up being far different than he seemed.  He is cruel and vocally abuses her.  They end up quietly hating each other, but by then, Isabel is so far from the girl she once was, she remains in the marriage and her cousin, who truly loves her, dies.  Yeah, it was a terrible book.  A Room With a View was the book that should have been.  I loved Lucy's spirit and how she knew her mind so well, and knew that she would be happy with Cecil who wouldn't love her as a person and value her personality, but who would set her on a shelf and make her conform to his ideals.  Instead, she chooses the wild, unconventional George Emerson who admires her spirit and independence and who loves her for who she is.  And she makes the right choice.  It was a perfect ending.

I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between the two very different suitors.  Cecil is a perfect gentleman, but he seems too perfect, elegant, and conventional.  He is a bit colorless and stagnant, and basically there was no appeal to him outside of his social status and manners. He was terribly boring and reminded me so much of that awful dude from A Portrait of a Lady, that I was going to be ticked if Lucy ended up with him.  George, on the other hand, seems alive and wild and free.  He loves Lucy and will never try to change her or shut her up.  I loved him from the very beginning, even if he did seem kinda weird.   

Also, I really enjoyed Lucy's character quite a bit.  She shares many of the same (good) characteristics as the heroine from A Portrait of a Lady I mentioned earlier.  She is naive and innocent, but she is passionate and independent and knows her own mind.  I liked her from the beginning and only grew to love her character more.

Overall, this was an awesome, quick classic read!  There was a romance, but also suble hints at bigger stuff, too.  A Room With a View is a fun, lighthearted book that I highly recommend to anyone who loves classics and/or who hated A Portrait of a Lady as much as I did.  

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow with another book review!  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella

Book Review: Persuasion

Hi!  I am back to blogging after a couple weeks off – don't know how that happened – and I am super excited about talking about the books I read this month.  I read a ton of stuff this month, way more than I was expecting and I think that's why I took a break from blogging for a while – all I wanted to do was read!  I read some awesome things and I will continue to talk about those things the rest of this month (and also next month).

Today, though, I am here to review/talk about Jane Austen's final book, Persuasion.  Now, as you might know, I am not the biggest Austen fan.  I liked Emma quite a bit, but I was still kinda like 'meh' regarding Jane Austen.  But.  This book changed everything (so dramatic, I know).  Persuasion was so good and perfect and awesome, and I am very excited to share my thoughts.

Title: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Publisher/Price: Random House UK (Vintage Classics Edition) / $11.70 here

Type: Fiction

Genre: Classic, Historical Romance

Number of pages: 320

My rating: 5 1/2 out of 5 stars (favorite!)

My thoughts: I'm gonna skip the overview on this one, but I'll give a quick plot summary.  Anne Elliot refused Frederick Wentworth eight years ago because her father and friend, Lady Russell, persuaded her that the match was unworthy.  The ensuing breakup left Anne with deep regrets.  When Wentworth returns after eight years, now as a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his sister a tenant in the Elliot family's old home.  Anne realizes she still loves the Captain as they are thrown together in social circles and the question hangs in the air – does he still love her, even after her refusal many years ago?  At the end of the book, Captain Wentworth writes Anne a note revealing to her his growing feelings for her and they are once again reunited.

Okay, this book.  It was so awesome.  What made me love this book more than the other Jane Austen novels I've read was the maturity of the characters and of the book itself.  Anne Elliot was the oldest and most mature of any of Austen's heroines.  The book itself was the last Austen wrote, and it is by far the most grown-up of them all.  The story itself is more mature, not focusing exclusively on the romance, but speaking to a host of other pertinent social issues.  The romance was more subtle than that of Pride & Prejudice and it was just perfect.

I wasn't especially enjoying Anne's character a hundred pages into the book or so.  I was finding her a bit colorless and wimpy, unable to stand up for herself and in a continual pity party.  But later on, I really began to enjoy her and began to appreciate her maturity and level-headedness.  She is awesome.  Also, I will not watch the TV adaptation, because she looks like an old woman in that, and I am convinced she is far prettier than that.  I mean, she wasn't even thirty, and she looked about fifty in that!

Also, Captain Wentworth.  He was another character I grew to like.  He was an absolute gentleman, but again, he was a fairly reserved, mature character.  He was level-headed like Anne, but he didn't really know his feelings for her until the last quarter-ish of the book.  And then, he writes Anne a letter.  Holla!  This letter basically professes his feelings for her in the most eloquent and passionate way I think I have ever had the pleasure of reading (except for Sherlock's proposal in A Monstrous Regiment of Women, of course).  It was pretty perfect.      Now if someone will just let my future man know that's my preferred means of proposal, that'd be great.  Thanks. 

Now for a couple of characters I rather disliked. First, Anne's father is soooo unlikeable at the beginning.  He is super judgmental of everyone, highly vain, presumptuous, and selfish.  Don't like him at all, though I will say that later on in the book he became more comical and I was able to laugh at him instead of get irritated.  Also, Anne's sister Mary is super annoying.  She was kind of a baby and was selfish and wanted all the attention.  So yeah.  Not a fan of her.  

The other thing I appreciated about this book and the thing that made me really love it was the way it addresses topics and issues above and beyond the romance and the immediate lives of the characters.  I felt like Austen was speaking to women in general when she wrote this about a woman whose life was somewhat orchestrated by those around her.  And I don't want to make it sound like this book was advocating "follow your heart" over listening to others' advice – that's not what I mean, nor is that, I think, what Jane Austen meant.  I think she was speaking more generally, especially to women back then, who were expected to regard the advice and opinions of their mentors/parents over their own feelings and what they knew to be true.  And while Anne's story turned out well in the end, it's not always like that.  I think Austen is advocating listening to advice, but also to take control of your own life at some point and make those big decisions for yourself. 

Overall, this book is one of my favorites I've read so far this year, and I would definitely recommend it to those who aren't sure what they think of Pride & Prejudice, but want to give Jane Austen another chance.  Or, you know, I'd recommend it to anyone.  

If you care to read my more concise thoughts on this book in modest, 140 character pieces, I talked about it on Twitter after I finished it, and that conversation isn't buried too deeply on my Twitter page (which you can access by clicking the icon over there on the left).  

Thanks for reading and I should have more reviews up this week/weekend.  xo, Ella 


Bout of Books 13 TBR

Hello, and happy Monday!  Today I'm talking about the Bout of Books 13.0 Readathon that is taking place this week from the 11th to the 17th.  This is a very low-pressure readathon; the goal is simply to read more than you normally would during the week.  I've never participated in a readathon before, but since I need to get my "books read" number up on Goodreads, and because I felt like it, I decided it'd be fun.  My TBR is fairly modest, but realistic, some shorter (easier) books and one big one, and I'm hopeful that I'll at least make a big dent in it.  Only one of these books was a part of my May TBR, and I'm excited to read these ones.  First, though, let me link to the readathon.

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

To sign up for the readathon and keep up with the updates, challenges, and all that, head over to their website: here's the link to sign up and here's the website.  Sign up is open through tomorrow.  

Now, let's get to the books I hope to read this week.  

A couple of these books were shown in my book haul last month and they are A Room With a View and Bringing Narnia Home.  Both of those are pretty short and I've already started A Room With a View.  The Nero Wolfe mysteries are totally new to me – I've had this book sitting in my room for a long time now, and as the font is large and the page number few, this should be a quick read.  And finally, I really really want to try my hardest to finish The Bully Pulpit this week.  I have about 400 pages to go, and I'm just gonna power through it.  

And those are the books I hope to read this week!  I feel pretty good about this, but we shall see!  I'll be tweeting and updating my Goodreads status throughout the week, if you want to follow my progress.  Thanks for reading, and I'll be back later this week to talk about my favorite literary friendships.  xo, Ella


This Girl Likes #14

Hello, and happy Saturday!  I apologize for being a day late with this post.  I've had a fairly busy week (although, to be honest, a couple days were spent shopping #noregrets) and so I'm looking forward to the weekend.  Today I'm here to share some stuff I've been loving/enjoying over the last few weeks.

  • I am an avid fan of the Anne of Green Gables book series and I've been on the hunt for a new (prettier) series to add to my bookshelves, and Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy has an awesome round-up post of the prettiest ones out there.  I'm considering the flowery edition – it's so pretty and looks pretty Anne-ish if you ask me.  And then I plan on rereading the whole series because yes. 
  • The next couple things I have to talk about are not book-related, but I thought I'd share them anyway.  First up, a new print I got from the Etsy shop The 45 Collective.  Of course, why I got this one should be no surprise if you've been reading here for some time.  I've been on the lookout for a print that says something about being brave, and I just love this one.  The writing is pretty perfect.  If you want a print of your own, click on the name of the Etsy shop above to head over there.  
  • And next on the list of things not related to books, I was the main role in a play we put on with our homeschool group a few weeks ago.  The play was on the story of Esther in the Bible and it was a ton of work but a ridiculous amount of fun.  Probably one of the first truly brave things I did this year.  I loved it so much and it was just pretty awesome doing it with such terrific people.   
  • If you don't know, I am a HUGE fan of Captain America; he is my favorite Avenger and probably my fave superhero.  I cannot wait to see him in action again in Age of Ultron.  Anyway, I read an article about Chris Evans/Steve Rogers last week and thought it was excellent.  If you're a fan of Cap, I suggest you give it a read.
  • And last but not least, I've been enjoying some book-related things as well.  I started re-listening to the dramatized audio books of the Chronicles of Narnia last week and they are so good and so much fun, and I was basically mowing the yard last weekend grinning like a total idiot while I listened to the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  What a nerd.  And lastly, I finished the first book in the Mary Russell series last week – A Beekeeper's Apprentice – and like, totally loved it.  There are major hints in that book that allude to the sequel, so I had to get my hands on A Monstrous Regiment of Women to reread it.  Of course, though, my local Barnes & Noble didn't have it, and the library I checked didn't have it either.  So I ordered it from Amazon and it's supposed to get here today.  I've already read it, but cannot wait to read it again. 
And those are a few of the things I've been enjoying over the last couple weeks!  Sorry this is coming a day late, but as I said, I've had a doozy of a week.  Tomorrow I hope to post about the Bout of Books Read-a-thon that's taking place next week, as I'm hoping to participate this time.  I'm excited and I'll talk about it more tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella


Mini Book Reviews // April Library Reads

Hello there!  I am here today to briefly review the four books I read from the library last month.  I've tried to organize these in the order I read them, and since I've got lots of thoughts on all of these, I'd better quit the chatter and get to the books!
Clara by Kurt Palka - I read this book at the end of March, really, but finished it in April.  It's a book about a young woman living in Germany during WWII.  She is married to a German soldier, and the book follows her entire life, jumping around from the past to the present (when she is an old woman) and ends with her death.  First off, I'll say that I enjoyed the perspective of a young German woman during the war.  I'd never read from that viewpoint before and I found it very interesting and I was able to empathize with her.  Her husband wasn't a Nazi, really, he was one who was in the Wehrmacht, I believe, and wasn't a radical Hitler-lover or anything like that.  I'll talk about the writing a little.  This is a fairly detailed story - the author highlights lots of things that aren't really critical or necessary to the story, but which enrich the overall atmosphere of the story.  Other than that, the writing style wasn't super remarkable, but it was nice regardless and I didn't have issues with it.  Clara's character seemed rather distant and I found it difficult to relate to her or connect with her.  The author didn't really flesh her out or give her a very distinct personality.  She just seemed a little colorless to me.  She was very interested in philosophy in school and throughout her life, and there were fairly heavy themes early in the story of atheism and Marxist thought, and I even got some anti-Christian themes in the early part of her life.  I'm not averse to reading criticism of Christianity or totally turned off by that in a book, but for some reason, here it felt a little forced and distinctly purposeful, which I didn't appreciate both as a reader and as a Christian.  I did appreciate the author's direct look at war and the damage it inflicts especially on women and children and in this case, women and children who have husbands and fathers serving in the war.  War was hard on everyone.  Period.  Overall, while I appreciated this book's new-to-me perspective and realistic look at war, I ultimately did not enjoy it very much.  For that reason, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck - Being the book lover that I am, I was inevitably going to have to read Steinbeck at some point, and so last month, when I was on a classics kick, but was also on the lookout for shorter books, I picked up Cannery Row from my library.  This book is less than two hundred pages, and it's about the small cannery district of Monterey, California in the mid-twentieth century.  It's a humorous, but very real look at the loneliness of the individual but the vibrance and enthusiasm of community.  I want to talk about the writing style and format of the book first.  To me, this book really seemed like a series of short stories - some of the chapters were loosely connected while others were completely unrelated except through characters.  I really enjoyed that and it kept the pace moving as well as added to the nature of the story.  Also, I understand now why Steinbeck's books are so classic.  Apart from the relatable characters and universal themes of Steinbeck's stories, his writing is amazing.  That was definitely my favorite part of this book.  His writing style is very poetic and metaphorical and quite frankly literary, but is still able to maintain the reality of the story and never seems forced or out of place.  He is such a master of words and metaphor and creates descriptions and characters that seem real and believable.  I'm going to switch now and talk about the story itself.  Some of the chapters or stories are a little disturbing.  The characters are weird, strange stuff happens, etc.  But there's a theme throughout the book of the beauty of human connection and character and love.  At the same time, though, there's an underlying theme of individual loneliness, sadness at times and depravity.  But that's real life sometimes.  And to be honest, I really enjoyed the unexpected juxtaposition of those things.  It was humorous and beautiful and sad all at once.  I enjoyed this book and rated it 4 out of 5 stars.  I certainly plan on picking up more of Steinbeck's work.
Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King - I'm slowly making my way through the Mary Russell series, albeit out of order, and last month I read the eighth book, Locked Rooms.  I love that each book in the series has a different format, a different feel, a different location, and this one was no exception.  Locked Rooms takes place mostly in California, where Russell's childhood home is located.  She inherited the house, and she has come to the United States with Holmes to check on it and perhaps sell it.  Russell has been having a series of three strange dreams ever since she and Holmes were in Japan (where they were before coming to America) and each one is linked to a piece of her past which she cannot remember (she experienced slight amnesia as a child and can't remember parts of her childhood).  She is greatly affected by these dreams and is not her usual self for most of the book.  I really enjoyed this book, which is no surprise by now, but I wasn't sure what to expect since the mystery this time surrounded Russell and her forgotten childhood.  My favorite thing about this book was the way it was set up.  In part two of the book, the narrative switches back and forth a couple times between Holmes and Russell.  At this point it will be helpful to add that Holmes and Russell are also split up for much of this book.  Russell's a little touchy and doesn't want Holmes around asking questions and poking around with her, and so she goes and spends some time with her cousin and her boyfriend for much of the later part.  A large portion of the story is focused on Holmes, which I absolutely loved.  King's Holmes is one of my favorites, and I loved that we get to spend more time with him in this book.  And I especially appreciated that because Russell was not herself and got a little irritating at times.  Holmes trying to figure out the mystery of her father and what she forgot about her childhood behind her back when she wasn't around, like the bachelor we know and love was just perfect.  That guy.  I also noted that this book seemed to be more of a page-turner than the others.  I'm not sure why, perhaps because the mystery was more front and center and because Holmes was leading the narrative - I'm not sure.  But it was fast-paced and I enjoyed the look into Russell's past.  It was also awesome to see how much Holmes was truly concerned for Russell during the book - he's the best.  Also, it was fun to see him do his detecting and deducing alone - we see a lot of Sherlock Holmes doing Sherlock Holmes stuff in this book, and that was so much fun.  Locked Rooms was a fantastic book and I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

Neverhome by Laird Hunt - I got this book hoping that it would be similar to Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, one of my top favorite books from last year, and it was a really big let down.  Like seriously disappointing.  It's basically about a young woman who chooses to become a soldier instead of her husband enlisting mostly because she's the more masculine one and because she doesn't want him to go.  First sign that it was going to be disappointing right there.  I actually enjoyed the first half of the book or so.  I was able to follow the (very sparse) storyline and really liked the really literary (imagery based) writing style.  But I really disliked the second half of the book.  The woman, whose name is Ash gets super weird, almost insane, and the story just takes a dark turn.  This story is not plot-driven, the story is not strong, and is mostly character-based.  And this time, I didn't like the character.  Ash seems really unrelatable, especially later in the book.  We never find out why she really went to war, we never really get a whole lot of the war at all - all the sudden it's over and she's heading home, and we barely got started.  Her journey home is filled with weird and disturbing people and events.  She's thrown in a madhouse for a while, and by then it seemed like she actually belonged there, and then she continues home.  There is no hurry to get back, it seems, and I began to wonder if she really wanted to.  And when she finally arrives back home at the end of the novel, she walks into town and hears that there have been men on her property trying to take it from her husband or something, and she vows to get rid of them.  She goes back, greets her husband and then clears her land of the squatters (there are 5 or so) with her gun.  Except when it's all said and done, she realizes she killed one too many.  Her husband's dead too.  And then, she doesn't mourn him, she simply buries him with the others.  She was quite possibly the strangest character I have ever had the displeasure of reading about.  So yeah, this book was NOTHING like Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, and I'm disappointed I ever hoped it would be.  This story lacked conviction, the character wasn't relatable or believable, and I didn't feel like it was about the Civil War at all.  In fact, I got some vibes of A Red Badge of Courage in this book, and I am totally not a fan of that.  Blech.  Finally, I want to talk about the writing style real quick.  The writing style in this book is really literary, which I don't mind.  I don't mind literary writing styles.  In Steinbeck's book I talked about earlier, it worked brilliantly.  But here, it made the whole story seem really unrealistic and surreal.  And that is not what I want when I read historical fiction.  I want to learn something about the war or the people who fought in the war, even if the character itself is fictional.  That is totally possible in historical fiction!  Unfortunately, this book has turned me off of historical fiction for a while, even though I know there is a lot of good historical fiction out there.  For now, though, I'm going to stick with nonfiction books when I want to read about the Civil War.  In my opinion, when you choose to write about a historical event, you should not take all the history out of it.  This book was super disappointing, and I rated it 1 out of 5 stars.    

And those are my thoughts on the books I read from the library last month!  A couple hits, one miss, and one major disappointment.  Thanks for reading and I will be back later this week!  xo, Ella

*These were books I picked up for the Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge this year.  Find out more about that challenge here.


Monthly TBR / May 2015

So I thought I would change up my first post of the month to see how I like it, and instead of announcing only the 2 books each month that I planned to review in full, I would share all of the books I (tentatively) have on my TBR (to-be-read) for the month.  I feel like this will make it easier to not only keep myself more accountable regarding my reading, but then I could do a couple complete reviews a month and a couple posts where I review a couple books at a time.  We'll see how this works out, but I like the idea, and I think it'll be fun.

Note that only one of these is from the library, which obviously does not fill my monthly quota for the Snagged @ the Library Reading Challenge I'm participating in this year, so there will likely be another book or two from the library I'll read.  Also, I'm a little bit ahead on my goal for that challenge, so I might not read three this month.  We'll see.  Now let's get to the books.

First on my list is a book I actually read last month, but I want to review it in full this month, and that's how it made it on this list.  That book is Persuasion by Jane Austen and you guys.  This book was so amazing.  As you might know if you've been around here long, I've never been a massive Jane Austen fan.  I liked Emma more than Pride & Prejudice, but I still didn't love it.  But I loved Persuasion.  It was so good.  I want to do a complete review of it, so I won't say anymore, but I loved it a lot!

The only book I have from the library so far this month is The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, which is the first in the Mary Russell series.  I'm about 50 or so pages in and I'm really enjoying it.  I love that series so much.  And this cover!  I'm totally buying my own copy. 

The next book I want to read in May is The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  This is a nonfiction book about Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Taft and I'm already about 200 pages in, and as I'm currently in a wanna-read-all-the-nonfiction mood, I decided this would be the month I finish it.  If I read anything this month, I want this one to be it.  This book isn't the easiest read, but I absolutely love historical nonfiction, and I can't wait to dive back in.

And then I want to read the 2nd volume of the Complete Sherlock Holmes by the one and only Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  There is simply nothing better than the original Sherlock – he's my favorite – and I want to finish this one up so I can do a post all about Sherlock Holmes.  This book's around 600 pages, I believe, but it's divided up into short stories, and I'm already probably 100 pages in or so.  I want to curl up with this during a rainy Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.  Ideally, that is.

The final book on my May TBR is from my April book haul and it's a little unusual for me – it's a retelling, and I've never read a retelling – but I've heard great things about it, and Alexander McCall Smith's writing style is an absolutely perfect match for Jane's Emma.  I've barely started it, and I already tell I'll be a fan.  I'm planning on reviewing this in full if I finish it, so look out for that.

And those are the books I plan to read this month!  A little (read: very) ambitious for me, but since I've started all of these (and finished one), I think I should be able to do it.  Thanks for reading and I'll be back later this week!  xo, Ella