Books

Classic Novels I’ve Read This Year So Far

Do you remember my post about the top 10 classics I wanted to read? If you don’t, then you can read it here. Classics like Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby were on that top 10 post. I’ve read two of the four classics mentioned. Also, I read one other classic, one that wasn’t on the list. Here’s the list…

Great Expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

It chronicles the story of an orphaned boy named Pip as he becomes a gentleman with “great expectations.” Coming of age stories are one of my favourites; it’s the growth, the change, in the main character, due to their experiences that I find myself able to relate with. Charles Dickens wrote such a haunting, intriguing novel with a cast of likable characters that seem real.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina cover

It centres on the doomed love affair between the sensuous, rebellious Anna Karenina and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. I thought it to be both sad and amazing. It saddens me that Anna couldn’t be with Vronsky without being ridiculed by society. I must say that the final part was disappointing; when I was expecting the reactions of Anna’s close ones, it was instead something else; one of the only times she’s mentioned is through disrespect by Vronsky’s mother. Despite that, I will read the book again and see the film starring Keira Knightley.

Jane Eyre coverJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Surviving her harsh and lonely childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre takes up a post as governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with the dark and sardonic Mr. Rochester, who hides a terrible secret; one that forces Jane to follow her moral convictions—even though it robs her of her happiness. I admire and respect Jane for being strong throughout her childhood, as well as for her independence. Novels with strong women appeal to me immensely. One line I loved was: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” I loved Jane Eyre!

There are plenty other classics that I want to read: The Count of Monte Cristo; Les Miserables; Pride and Prejudice. Next to be read will be a Jane Austen, The Iliad, and The Count of Monte Cristo.

—Luke

Books

Melissa’s The Watsons By Jane Austen and Another Review

Rating: ★★★★★ – excellent!

Imagine if your favourite author wrote six novels (masterpieces, really) and passed away with a few unfinished pieces. Then imagine someone took one and finished it, adhering to the style as best they can. I have been reading The Watsons, by Jane Austen and finished by Another. It has been a great read!

Emma Watson is an unusual heroine for an Austen novel, she is the only protagonist who must work (or contemplate it) for her income. Fanny Price (Mansfield Park) is taken in by her cousins and Jane (Emma) is not a main character. The Bennet sisters (Pride & Prejudice) need to marry well to be secure, but they do not talk of finding work.

Emma is a gentle, nurturing young woman who has been bought up in luxury with a wealthy aunt and uncle. She is deposited home with her invalid father and sisters after her uncle’s death and her aunt moving overseas to marry a foreign man. In true Austen-style, she is noticed for her beauty and her intellect. The story begins with her settling in to her family home, after a long absence she is more like a stranger. But she manages to befriend her older sister and father, becoming indispensible to the latter.

After many trials, including the death of her father, Emma is nearly sent to work as a governess. However, fate intervenes when she is called to stay with a friend who helps along the process of courtship with a local parson. True to the formula, there are misunderstandings and we watch with breaths held, as the pieces finally fall into place for the match.

There was no way I was going to dislike this book. I was able to get lost in the fact that it was another Austen novel. While there was no escaping that it just wasn’t as deep – the plotting, the wit or the character development, it has taken a place in my heart beneath the other six treasured books.

Books, Movies/TV series, Top Ten

Melissa’s Top Ten Heroines and Films to Check Out

One of the first lists I came up with when we decided to compile a series of top ten posts (after books and authors, of course) was top ten heroines, so here they are:

  1. Elizabeth Bennet220px-Prideandprejudiceposter

    Lively, clever, independent and able to capture (and inform) the arrogant Mr. Darcy, who is above her station in life (which was important in the 18th Century) – Elizabeth is number one. I can re-read Pride and Prejudice repeatedly and still be amused and amazed at her. I adore both portrayals of her in the 1995 BBC mini-series) adaptation and the 2005 Keira Knightly version.

  2. Jane Eyre coverJane Eyre

    Her independence, morality and strength of character captured me from first reading. The 2011 adaptation with Mia Wasikowska is my favourite. I love the line, “I am come back to you.”

  3. Ann Elliot

    Ann Elliot (of Persuasion, Jane Austen) is an unlikely pick as I much prefer independent women but she is such a good, gentle character, so much put-upon and she learns her lesson eventually.

  4. Elinor Dashwood

    Elinor Dashwood (of Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen) is the pragmatic older sister to the romantic Marianne. I adore her sense of responsibility, pragmatism and dependability in the face of a family that needs her strength. I love that she gets her happily ever after, after all her sacrifice.

  5. Sydney Sagethe indigo spell

    In my review of The Indigo Spell I declare Sydney to be, “the perfect protagonist to read in the first person. She is intelligent, scientific, analytical, independent, strong, and some social interactions perplex her.” She also holds her own against some formidable opponents. The actress cast to play her (in the Vampire Academy films) will have to be pretty awesome in order to avoid letting me down.

  6. the time travellers wifeClare Abshire

    Another strong, romantic figure in a beautiful book and film, Clare Abshire is The Time Traveller’s Wife. Rachel McAdams is the perfect Clare.

  7. Margaret Hale

    Margaret (of North & South) is a lively, intelligent young woman who rises above terrible, successive events with elegance while capturing the heart of the tough Mr Thornton. Daniela Denby-Ashe is the perfect Margaret in the 2004 mini-series adaptation.

  8. Rose Hathawayzoey deuch

    Rose is the protagonist of the Vampire Academy series. She is kick-ass and unfailingly loyal. I can’t wait for the first of the movies out next year. I hope Zoey Deutch (set to play her) can do her justice.

  9. tomorrow when the war beganEllie Linton

    I love Tomorrow When the War Began, I loved it when the books came out in the 90s, I adored the movie when it came out in 2010. Caitlin Stasey wasn’t exactly how I imagined Ellie, but she was so awesome it didn’t matter. There will potentially be a follow up film out next year .

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    I came at this series the wrong way around, I saw the first movie and then began reading the books (because I had to know what happened next). You know the movie I’m talking about, because you haven’t been living under a rock have you? The Hunger Games. Either way Katniss is awesome – she is as compassionate as Margaret Hale, as integral to her family as Elinor the hunger gamesDashwood and as feisty as Rose Hathaway.

Is there anyone else that should be included in the list?

Fancy

Confessions of a Fancy Nerd Manifesto and Q&As

Who are we? What are we doing? And why? Below is a brief manifesto for Confessions of a Fancy Nerd and an introduction to Melissa and Luke (the humans behind Fancy Nerd).Fancy Nerd

Melissa: Reading and writing are my vehicles for developing my ideas and beliefs. My values, beliefs and ideals are constantly in flux, I don’t want to be held captive by stale ideas. The world changes quickly and education and self-awareness are vital to being an engaged, connected, productive human being.

I am always reading, analysing and considering how to articulate my learning. The pile of to-reads and to-sees will never end, even if I were granted an eternity with a library card (and I have high hopes for this), I would never satisfy my urge to learn.

Confessions of a Fancy Nerd is a place to share my adventures in reading, writing, movie/TV series watching and life in general – because I am doing it anyway, why not share it. It is such a joy to see Luke engaging and offering posts also. It is great because he reads a lot more Urban Fantasy and Young Adult fiction than I do, and he offers a unique point of view, being a sixteen-year-old student.

When my (three) brothers were young, I spent a lot of time reading to them, being read to by them and discussing what we were reading. Education is my core belief. Everyone should have the opportunity to access education (and the ability to engage).

It is my dream that everyone would cultivate a love of learning, and reading is an easily accessible way to do this.

With so many time constraints and multiple mediums vying for people’s attention, I hope that I can help people to decide what may be worth their precious time.

Below is a quick Q&A with Luke and myself:

What does your ideal day involve?

Melissa: Coffee with Luke, Yoga/Pilates, reading and writing, and walking the dog.

Luke: Coffee with Melissa, singing, reading and writing.

What is your favourite book?

M: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

L: (At the moment) Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini.

What is your favourite movie?

M: Pride and Prejudice (2005 adaptation).

L: (At the moment) Camp Rock.

What TV show can you not get enough of right now?

Source: www.disneydreaming.com
Source: http://www.disneydreaming.com

M: The Vampire Diaries

L: Revenge

What music/musicians are you obsessed with right now?

M: Florence and the Machine, Jana Kramer, Ellie Goulding, Pitt Bull (with almost anyone), Ricky Martin.

L: Demi Lovato, Hunter Hayes, Delta Goodrem.

What are your favourite charities/causes?

M: Education and equality (economically and socially)

L: Against animal cruelty (any cruelty, in general)

What’s your favourite quote?

M:  “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

L: “When I get sad I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” —Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) in How I Met You Mother

Favourite style star?

Source: adpremmagray.wordpress.com
Source: adpremmagray.wordpress.com

M: Audrey Hepburn (the little black dress, the accessories, the hair!)

L: None

What things do you most want right now?

M: Pride and Prejudice (with the first edition text), another dog and a tiny house.

L: To sing, Demi Lovato (Demi) and Hunter Hayes (Hunter Hayes Encore) albums.

What would you like to do next, what’s the plan for 2013?

M: Read more. Write more – get all of the blog posts, article ideas, short story ideas, novel ideas and non-fiction book ideas out of my head.

L: Sing in front of an audience, further develop my vocals, finish school, read more and write more.

It is a pleasure to be able to write here on Fancy Nerd. We always welcome feedback and love to hear from you.

Books, Fancy

Escape Antics: And Good Books to Escape With

I’m an “escaper”—when things get stressful (the compounded, excessive kind of stressful) I do a Houdini. Sometimes it is literally, but most of the time it is imaginatively. I create a plan, then imbue that plan Pink Pantherwith bucket loads of hope, and ardently look forward to the fruition of said hope. However, when I do this, I am no longer invested in the present, I am AWOL.

Three years ago, after my emancipation from an unhealthy five-year relationship, I literally escaped—I went to the Sunshine Coast in Australia alone. Two years ago, I moved cities, nothing like being nine hours drive away from home for an escape. The former escape was a relatively impulsive plan, hatched and undertaken within weeks of realising I was free. The latter was the product of six months thinking and six months planning. This was my lifeline; I endured all of the present knowing I would soon be rewarded with my escape.

The only problem was that I wasn’t enjoying the now. At the time, there was no other conceivable way to act, even with the benefit of hindsight; I don’t know what else I could have done. Now I have a choice. I stop myself from planning too far in advance.

When a situation arises, once I’ve pull my brain out of a tailspin, I find the space to look at the situation logically and make a short-term plan to deal with the problem. Lists are great. Mini to-do lists are my favourite. When I began this year redundant and half-employed, with no idea of what I wanted to do next, I was panicking (not visibly, but internally and quietly). So I created a to-do list for January, February and March. Naturally, finding a job I wanted to do (that wouldn’t bore me within two weeks, that didn’t involve central city parking or long hours etc.) was number one. But I also added several tasks that would keep me busy (like starting this blog).

I started my new position in April. Crisis averted.

Another form of escape is disappearing into addictive novels; I have been known to disappear into a series comprising several books. But single title books are still good. Below are a few good books/authors to disappear with:

The trouble with escapism is, defining when it is acceptable and when it is not. I am learning to avoid my inbuilt instinct to escape and can put in road bumps to slow me down. And it can be massively rewarding in the end to stick with something. Sometimes though, you just gotta go, and if it is just a mini-escape, there are many excellent books to go with.

Books, Top Ten

Melissa’s Favourite Ten Authors

Note: Not in exact order. Except for Jane Austen, of course. 🙂

1. Jane Austen

Must re-read every year!

Pride and Prejudice

Six truly classic novels that can be for any mood or stage, incisive and witty, and insightful.

2. Jodi Picoult

Will follow her anywhere!

Lone Wolf

Around twenty novels of all different subject matters, all treated with equal tenderness, intelligence, and insight.

3. Belinda Alexandra

Favourite historical novels set in the war period!

Golden EarringsBeautiful, sweeping tales from a range of different contexts  experiencing the war, i.e. China, Russia, Australia, France, Italy, etc Continue reading “Melissa’s Favourite Ten Authors”

Books, Top Ten

Luke’s Top Ten Classic Novels To Read

There are openings to some classic novels that I have heard:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”

Despite this, I haven’t actually read any of them. And this is the reason I’ve written this list.

Below are the top ten classic novels I want to read:
Anna-Karenina-Movie-Tie-In-Edition-Tolstoy-Leo-97803458039241. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy – Who hasn’t heard of the doomed love affair between the “sensuous and rebellious” Anna and the “dashing officer,” Count Vronsky? Everyone should, even those who haven’t read the book. I’d definitely like to read it. Back in early February, my desire to read it intensified when Melissa and I watched the newest adaptation starring Keira Knightley.

2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë – I’d like to read it because it’s about a woman’s journey for independence and love on her own terms. In her childhood, Jane was abused both physically and emotionally by her aunt and cousins, and despite this she managed to stay strong.

3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – Melissa adores all of the Jane Austen novels. She was the one who influenced me to want to read them. I’ve seen the 2005 movie adaptation starring Keira Knightley, and definitely plan on reading the novel.

4. Dangerous Liaisons, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – I’ve seen Cruel Intentions, which is a modernized movie adaptation of this book, and the thing that makes me want to read it is because I want to compare and contrast it with that movie.Jane Eyre cover

5. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald – I would like to read this because I’m interested in this period. Melissa read it and liked it, and recommended it to me. Plus, there is a new movie adaptation by Baz Luhrmann coming out soon.

6. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen – I started to want to read this after I saw a little bit of the 2007 mini-series.

7. Emma, Jane Austen – One day, I picked my sister’s little pink copy of this book and the opening line reeled me in:

“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.”

I like how Jane Austen knows her character so well.

Evelina cover

8. Evelina, Frances Burney – I discovered Frances Burney while reading one of the author bios of Jane Austen, her early works were read and enjoyed by her. And I’d really like to read this because of the time period its set in.

9. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë – What most interests me about Wuthering Heights is that the narrator is what you’d called an “unreliable narrator.” The main characters are Catherine Earnshaw and Healthcliff, but it’s Lockwood (in the beginning) and Nelly Dean (the main narrator) who tell the story.

10. Camilla or a Picture of Youth, Frances Burney – Much like Evelina, I’d like to read Camilla because I’m interested in the time period its set in.

By Luke Parkes