The Raven's Bride

A while ago I posted a review of book I read back in 2007 but wanted to mention on this blog because it was a charming tale (and I was in the mood to write about something light). The book I mentioned was Becky by Lenore Hart.  In recalling how much I enjoyed that book, I did a little web search of Ms. Hart and found she had released another book - also dealing with a fictionalized version of historic characters but this time focusing on Edgar Allan Poe. I secreted the title away in my mind to pick up in the future, so imagine my surprise when on my very next trip to the library, Hart's book was facing me from the front of the New Fiction shelf!

The Raven's Bride is the story of Virginia "Sissy" Clemm, first cousin to Edgar Allan Poe who later becomes his wife.  The story follows young Sissy who is charmed by her cousin at a very early age and weds him when she was just 13 and he 27.  As a reader it was odd to think about this relationship in modern context, but Hart writes in such a way that Sissy's feelings for Edgar and her intellectual attraction to him seem quite natural.  Despite her youth, she comes across as very mature and her relationship with the moody writer makes for a very interesting story.

Hart ties Edgar's relationship to Sissy with the inspirations for his most famous works and paints a believable picture of what their life may have looked like.  Granted, the story of Poe's life is a tragic one.  Plagued with alcoholism and financial instability, Edgar and Sissy walk a rocky and troubled road.   Sissy's health also fails and though she and Edgar don't have long together, Hart weaves in a bit of the supernatural in a way that is both a positive spin to the story and a tribute to Poe's darker tendencies.

In the author's note, Lenore Hart reveals that her own name is taken from Poe's most famous poem and her admiration for him is shown in her dedication to detail regarding the life of the master writer.  The Raven's Bride is an unique and original story and acts as a great companion work to those seeking to learn more about the lives of Edgar Allan Poe and his lesser known wife.

A Dance With Dragons

George R.R. Martin's latest volume, A Dance With Dragons, was *the* most anticipated book of 2011 for me.  We all have that book, right?  The one you actually pre-ordered and counted down the days for.  The book that made you hyperventilate just a little when the cover art for it was announced.  The book that came in the mail and when you tore open the packaging, you stood there for a moment just reveling at the fact that you were actually holding it.  And the excitement when you first heard that little sigh of the spine when you gingerly opened the cover was indescribable. 

Despite my desire to chug this book down in a sitting or two, my hunger for the plot was tempered by the thousand pages of Martin's signature hefty and detailed prose that is better served chapter by chapter than in hundred page chunks.  I finished reading this one in the first week of August, and yet I've been sitting on the process of reviewing it because it is an immensely more difficult task than I first pondered.

On the one hand, I can evaluate this book as nothing more than the fifth Song of Ice and Fire book.  By that criteria, it's a solid entry in the saga.  There's perhaps a bit less action and drama than some of the previous books, but where Martin wins is in continuing to build upon his subtle style of character development.   For the first time, several major players in the drama are near to crossing paths and the tensions of how these heroes, anti-heroes and heroines are going to interact is a valuable impetus in driving the story forward.  And yet as delightful as it is to reunite with them, very little of substance actually happens in the story.  Once more a large portion of what makes this book good is the promise of what it's leading up to.

Which leads me to the second factor on which this book is inevitably being judged.  Did it deliver?  Nicknamed "Kong" on Martin's blog as the six hundred pound gorilla that hovered in the room of any project he worked on, Dance With Dragons carried with it astronomical expectations.  In terms of answering some of the lingering questions dangling in front of fans after A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows, it did.  Granted it also proposed numerous questions and cliffhangers of its own.  Story-wise this one doesn't seem to stand as solidly as the first three in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but it still manages to be compelling - perhaps more so because, after four epic books, the reader is undoubtedly invested in these characters than because of a dynamic plot. 

I suppose I loved the idea of this book more than I actually adored it as a work by George R.R. Martin.  Was it good? Yes.  Was it satisfying?  Partially.  Was it fantastic? Maybe.  I think it deserves a reread after a year or so, since I'll be better able to evaluate my true feelings on the book itself if I can distance it from my expectations for it. 

"The reader and the book"

"The reader and the book, 
either without the other is naught."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am the book nerd ...I am the walrus? (A Weekend to ReCOVER)

Red hair? Check.  Lab coat? Check...
Most people know that I'm something of a nerd.  I take the title with pride as the science fair medals of my youth turned me into I am a research scientist by trade, and I can be seen sporting the oh-so-glamorous accessory known as a lab coat on an almost daily basis.   What's new to me is how many of my friends and family also now identify me as a book nerd - a term I also willingly claim for myself.  I've always been an avid reader but it's only been during the past few years (and especially since I began this blog) that I am more vocal with others about my reading and writing habits.

I point this all out because it's really fun to get bookish feedback from my friends and family.  My aunt regularly passes me boxes of books to read and even my coworkers have started offering me their latest favorite picks.  Another fun bookish connection came from my friend Ellen who blogs over at The Art of Losing Myself. On a recent trip to LSU she stopped by the Louisiana State Museum and spotted, in her words, "a lisa thing".  It's a bit of artwork composed of book covers for Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Ellen apologized for the slightly blurry image, but I think it's really awesome that she saw this and thought of me:
I've actually never read Uncle Tom's Cabin (shame on me!) but this collage looks really neat and of course I love the idea of creating art from book covers!  Thanks, Ellen, for thinking of me and sending this along and for those that haven't already done so be sure to check out Ellen's blog. (And leave a comment - she loves comments!)

Oh and I'm not sure if it needs an explanation or not but the title of this post is from The Beatles' song I am the Walrus.  I've either been playing too much or too little Beatles Rock Band, but "I am the Book Nerd" made me think of the song. 

A Weekend to ReCOVER is the random feature in which I talk about just about anything relating to book covers, art or illustrations.  Feel free to join in the fun with your thoughts below or create AWTR post of your own with book cover comparisons or any striking cover art that caught your eye!  I realize it's been a really long time since I posted on this feature, so if you like it and want to see me talk art more often, let me know and I'll try to bring it back more often!

Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human

My "adopted chimp" reading Nim's story
I have a heart for great apes.  I love stories involving gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans and I think these amazing animals can provide valuable lessons of compassion and conservation for humans to learn.  Last year I spotlighted one of my favorite young adult novels, Hurt Go Happy, which features a fictional chimpanzee who speaks sign language, and this year I encountered a book dealing with the same subject from a nonfiction perspective. 
In Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human, author Elizabeth Hess chronicles the awkward but innovative experiment in which a chimpanzee was raised as a human in order to test the long held ideal that language is a uniquely human trait. Named in parody of linguist Noam Chomsky, Nim Chimpsky is the center of "Project Nim" and thus the book surrounding his life.

Delving into the details of the primate facility in Oklahoma where he was born to the home of his foster family and the research university in New York, Hess unravels a story that fluctuates between humorous, sweet, appalling, and unbelievable. I found myself exceptionally interested in the scientific side of this story but was shocked at the lack of ethics and standards in raising Nim. Though expected to learn ASL, the family he lived with was not fluent in sign language and few of his numerous handlers were intent on keeping records of his progress. Also, when the project began very little thought was given to the long term ramification of teaching a chimpanzee to behave as a human and predictably, the adolescent Nim quickly becomes too much to handle. The tragedy of the personable chimp left without a home or a purpose - and the greater story of research animals in general - is ultimately the most stunning part of Hess's work.

It's impossible to approach this book without falling a little bit in love with the precocious Nim. The photographic documentation of the tiny baby chimp who dresses in toddler clothes; growing into a midsized animal with enough sense to wash dishes and play with pets; and finally a full grown ape with a deep intelligence in his all-too-human eyes reveal the closeness of chimpanzees to homo sapiens in a way that statistics about genetic similarity will never match. Though it may not conclusively answer the questions of animals' ability to use language what Nim's story does is raise even more questions about our compassion towards other species. This is a book for lovers of animals and fans of science and anyone who enjoys an out of the ordinary biography. 
 I read this book with my husband (a lover of great apes as I am) earlier this year after stumbling upon it at a used book store.  Despite the occasionally tearful read, we were both fascinated by the story.  Last month we also had the privilege of attending a screening in Chicago of the film Project Nim based on the same story.  The documentary is an excellent companion to the book and offers a unique series of first hand accounts from those who lived and directly interacted with Nim himself.  Though I enjoyed the deeper details and background given in Hess's work, the movie was exceptionally well-done and is a great summary of the full length text. 

"I'm Trying to Tell A Story Here!" (Indie In Summer - Guest Post)

Many of you know that along with this blog, I'm a four time NaNoWriMo winner.  Some people claim that makes me a "writer" but I've never really owned that title and have no dreams of publishing my work.  So why did I spend the past four Novembers spewing out over two hundred thousand words of stories?  Simple answer: because I felt like it.   To me, writing is enjoyable.  I like the challenge of inventing a story and I like the goal of completing a 50K word work in 30 days.  The frenetic pace inspires me and despite what other people may think, I find novel writing - even really bad writing - extremely fun.

With this in mind, I'm pleased to present a guest post on the subject of writing and storytelling.   Earlier this year I read and reviewed Vessel: The Advent, book I in her series and she joined me for a great interview and giveaway.  As Indie in Summer continues please join me in welcoming back, author Tominda Adkins!

I'm Trying To Tell A Story Here!
Tominda Adkins

I don't know why you write. Only you know that.

All I know is that when I write, I don't do it to highlight what words are capable of, nor what I am capable of making them do at will. I don't write to create beauty. I don't write to change writing. I don't write to alter lives. I don't write to save literature. I write simply because these stories have built themselves in my brain, and writing is the only satisfactory way I've found to pass them on to other brains.

In short, I tell stories. I aspire to nothing else.

Many of us start out with a well-meaning but false reverence to the so-called 'artistic' aspect of writing. Too often, our commitment is such that we make failure inevitable. We sabotage ourselves. We hold our work up to ridiculous standards and aim to make statements that are beyond our own scope of experience. And just what is art, anyway, in terms of prose? I sure didn't know, but looking for it used to make me do all sorts of foolish things, like emulate Dave Eggers or write about the deeper observations of young white Americans. What steered me away from that nonsense? I got fired up about a long-neglected story, and just like that, my writing improved. To be honest, I was initially embarrassed that the story in question was akin to urban fantasy (how low!), and yet I was emotionally invested in it beyond control. The characters became people. The story progressed. And lo, there was my art.

So if you are writing, take a moment. What did you set out to do? Are you showing the reader how you write, or are you telling a story that must come out? If you are striving for some certain aesthetic, or trying to sound as crisp and soulful as your favorite obscure genius, then it sounds to me like you're either getting in the way of your story or you're taking a floundering stab at literary fiction. Trust me: if you spend every other second at the keyboard wondering what your MFA friends will think (and they will secretly hate your work no matter what), then you will never accomplish anything true. Move on. The best you can do is read a lot. Write a lot. Write some more. Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story. Do it until the way you tell it sounds about right, then get to the next scene. It's still art. I promise. Art for art's sake is a pretension. Art for the artist's sake is art.

As Stephen King says it in On Writing: "Practice the art, always reminding yourself that your job is to say what you see, and then to get on with your story." Tell it, brother. Write the truth. Write the book that is driving you mad, inside and out, not the book that will bowl the world over--no matter what it is. We can't all be Vonnegut or Plath, and if you still want to keep pounding away at the manuscript of your Great American Novel, hiding it from the light of day until every sentence flows like a polished little pearl straight out of Hemmingway's salty old prostate--go for it. Just know that in the meantime, some of us can still delight, entertain, and yes, even inspire, by telling a damn good story. That's enough for me, and that's why I write.

What do you think about Tominda's thoughts on writing?  Should I own up to the title and consider myself "a writer"?  Do you call yourself a writer?  What do you write and what are your main motivations for writing?

Tominda Adkins can be found online at the Vessel website or her author blogVessel: The Advent is available now in paperback or eBook format!

40 Love

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham, who also writes under the name Sophie Kinsella, follows the story of Caroline and Patrick Chance who invite a group to their country home for a tennis party weekend. Arriving for the tournament are Patrick's ultra-competitive client Don and his daughter Valerie; wealthy and elegant Charles and Cressida; and the unassuming academics Stephen and Annie. Drama ensues both on and off the court when Patrick tries to convince a few of his guests to invest in some risky business deals and the unexpected arrival of free-spirited Ella, Charles' former lover, is sure to upset the tournament.

Wickham's main success in this novel is her characters and the way their strengths and weaknesses are gradually uncovered. At first few of the protagonists seem at all likeable, but as the story unfolds she reveals their humanity through their actions, faults and double faults alike. Though parts of the book are amusing it lacks the outright hilarity of some of Wickham's later novels and never quite reaches the charm of those written under her Kinsella pseudonym. Yet there remains a simple sincerity to the story that captures a snapshot of realism creating a delightful tale.

This book was originally published in 1995 under the title The Tennis Party and has been reissued with the name 40 Love and the added link to associate Madeleine Wickham with Sophie Kinsella of Shopaholic fame.  I'm curious what others think of the name change and/or the reissuing of the book with a new title.  I know I'm always confused when books by authors I follow are given new cover designs.  I've been known to pick up a book from the "New" shelf at the library and read the description with a feeling of deja vu.  As I question to myself, "Have I read this before?", it's always startling to flip to the copyright page and discover a date from decades earlier.  But on the other hand, I find 40 Love a much more charming and catching title than The Tennis Party

A Feast For Crows

What do you do when a book just doesn't live up to its expectations?  There's nothing wrong with the book.  By any and all standards its actually quite good, well written, and thoroughly entertaining.  But somehow it's just not... well, you know... it's not what you wanted it to be.  So goes the story for me of one of my recent reads. 

A Feast For Crows is the fourth book in George R.R. Martin's ever-growing Song of Ice and Fire series but it is perhaps more appropriate to call it the fist part of the fourth installment in the series. Known by fans as "The Great Book Split", this novel continues the story of about half of the heroes (and villains) of Westeros portrayed so dynamically in the first three books in the series. For that reason alone, Feast has little to no chance of maintaining the avalanche of action that begun the epic series.

That's not to say that this is not a great book. Despite the nagging question of what's going on with some fan favorites, for those characters featured within the book's many, many pages suspense, action, drama, and intrigue collide, tumble together, and explode. The politics and geography of the saga expand to encompass Dorne, the southern realm of Westeros, populated by the Martell family and the dangerous women known as the Sand Snakes. Religion also takes a more heated role in the power struggles across the land and Martin's signature surprises are as present here as in previous books. More than one lead character is left in peril at the close, making the long-promised and recently-released book A Dance with Dragons a welcome addition to the saga.
I definitely enjoyed this book, but I found myself stymied by my inability to ignore the fact that one of my favorite characters in the series was decidedly absent and another only appeared briefly in one chapter.   The book was still great - epic on a scale that few authors can rival - but I know my expectations were pretty elevated.  Do you ever struggle with books not living up to what you want from them?  Have really awesome books ever let you down just a little?

Author Interview - Kate Ellison (Fairy Tale Fridays) (Indie In Summer)

As mentioned in my previous post, Fairy Tale Fridays and Indie in Summer have merged together this week with my review of The Curse Girl and today's interview of the book's lovely author!  Please join me in welcoming Kate Ellison!

Kate Ellison's "Portrait of a Writer"
*applause, applause*

Hi Kate! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as a writer?

I've always been addicted to telling stories, even before I knew how to read and write. I wrote fan fiction mostly as a teenager, and I dabbled in terrible poetry. When I was in college, I decided I would write a novel and get it published, but I knew almost nothing about how to do that, and I got discouraged and quit after a few months. After several years of no writing and a lot of creative stewing, I was inspired by some things I'd read, and I started writing again in earnest. I wrote a few books and began submitting short stories to various markets to build up some publishing credits. Then I read about the changes in self-publishing and the rise of the indie author, and I decided to give that a try. Now I have one novel out and more on the way. It's been an exciting journey and I'm absolutely thrilled to be where I am now.

Your book The Curse Girl is a modern adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast", do you have a favorite version (besides The Curse Girl) of the story?

Hmmm. It's hard to say--I think maybe Robin McKinley's Rose Daughter. But I also always loved the Disney version too.

Was it difficult to choose how much or how little to vary your story from the source material?

With a retelling, I like to use the original tale as a jumping off point and then see where the story takes me as it unfolds. When you set up certain constraints from the beginning, they shape the way the story plays out, but beyond that I wasn't devoted to a strict adherence to the source material. I did, however, want to preserve some of the original themes, and I think I did that.

Have you always been a fan of fairy tales? Besides "Beauty and the Beast", which one(s) is/are your favorite(s)?

I have always adored fairy tales. When I was a little girl, I had 3 or 4 big collections of them that I read them over and over. I liked seeing how different versions told the stories differently.

My favorite fairy tale might be Cinderella, not really for the story itself, but for all the lovely retellings it has inspired (Ella Enchanted is my favorite, followed by Ever After. Plus I have a Cinderella retelling that I'm itching to write!)

The Curse Girl begins at the moment Beauty, also known as Bee, is arriving at the house of "The Beast". Though I wanted to know more about her family and the reason she was there, I loved that you thrust the reader immediately into the story. How did you choose to begin the tale at that scene?

I probably could have started earlier, like the original tale does, but I felt it was unnecessary. I wanted to jump in right to the moment of action--since we all know the story, I felt like I could trim the extras without confusing anybody.

What are your thoughts on "happily ever after" endings - great conclusion or overdone cliche?

I like them. Some of my favorite book endings ever include the epilogue in Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and the ending of Pride and Prejudice, which are both pretty happy. You don't always get them in real life, and they might seem a little naive to some people, but I enjoy having them in literature. On the other hand, I also love dark, realistic stories that don't quite resolve, like Margaret Atwood's stuff, so I equally appreciate that sort of ending as well. I guess it depends on the story and what fits it.

Zombies vs. Unicorns: Zombiecorns
Your website features some pretty funny stick-figure cartoons, what prompted you to start expressing yourself with these drawings?

Well, probably two things. I was raised on a steady diet of Calvin and Hobbes comics (not stick figures, but humorous and definitely an influence on what I find funny) and I always loved Calvin's hilarious expressions. I'm also an avid follower of the blog Hyperbole and a Half, so her style influenced me. Plus I like expressing myself with humor. It's a nice change of pace from writing, and it's a great creative outlet when I'm frustrated with a book that isn't coming together the way I'd like.

What would you say are the biggest challenges and rewards to being an independent author?

The biggest challenge is probably being taken seriously/getting treated badly within the industry. The traditional/self-publishing debate is almost as polarizing as politics. A lot of people are awesome and very supportive of indies, but unfortunately, some writers look down on people who self-pub and either 1) dismiss their work as terrible or 2) dismiss the authors themselves as simply impatient hacks who were unable to get a traditional deal (although this mindset is thankfully changing). I hadn't expected to encounter this attitude and I was speechless the first time I did. It was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I never tried to get The Curse Girl published traditionally because I really wanted to try being an indie author. I wanted to do it out because it sounded awesome, not because I was impatient or incapable of doing anything else. These attitudes aren't fun to encounter, but I think the solution is to continue to behave professionally and treat other writers with support and graciousness no matter what path to publication they choose.

The biggest reward of independent authorship is total creative freedom. I love designing my covers, I love choosing my release date, and I love writing my own book blurbs. These are the reasons I wanted to be an indie! The only thing I don't love is paying for my own advertising (ha!) and doing my own copy editing (hopefully I'll be able to outsource that one soon ...)

What projects are you currently working on?

Several very exciting things are in the works! I have three books I'm working on right now--a dystopian novel about a group of people living underground who have never seen the sun, a fantasy about a human and a fairy who fall in love, and a paranormal monster story that takes place in wintery Maine. I also have a zombie book that keeps getting put on the back burner.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can find out more about me by visiting my blog: or following me on Twitter: @KEllisonWrites I love meeting new people!

Thanks for joining me Kate!

The Curse Girl (Fairy Tale Fridays)(Indie In Summer)

I know it's not quite Friday but consider this a double dose of Fairy Tale Fun with a book review today and an author interview tomorrow!

Taking a modern spin on the classic tale of "Beauty and the Beast", Kate Ellison's The Curse Girl begins with teenage Beauty, also known as Bee, arriving at the doorstep of a strange old house known to be the home of the village Beast. Dropped off by her father as something of a sacrificial lamb to save his family, Bee bravely enters the house where a world of magic awaits her.

The labyrinthine mansion with its self-lighting candles and ever-changing rooms and corridors is but one of many wonders Bee encounters as the structure's denizens are even more unique. She meets Butler and Housekeeper who are as integrated into the house as their names suggest and the little girl Rose, who becomes more plant-like every day. And then there is the Beast. Rather than some bizarre monster, Bee encounters the head of the household as a young man named Will. A large scar mars his countenance but the most beastly thing about him is in fact his short temper. Bee, however, has a fiery personality to match Will's own, and she soon discovers that it's up to her to break the riddle-filled curse that holds them all enslaved if she ever wants a chance to go home.

I enjoyed the fantasy elements that Kate Ellison blended into this story. The characters are intriguing and the puzzles involved in the curse were unique. I didn't find Bee particularly easy to relate to - the book would probably be better suited to a younger audience - but I still appreciated her spirited nature. I also enjoyed the relationship between Bee and Will, which developed throughout the story.

With a sprinkling of fairies, witches, and shapeshifters, this urban fantasy work manages to update "Beauty and the Beast" for today's teen readers, while still maintaining the elements of the story that make it so beloved. All in all, The Curse Girl is a creative new take on a classic story.

This work also marks an odd hybrid between my Indie In Summer feature and my 2011 Fairy Tale Challenge (7 out of 12).  Stay tuned tomorrow for my interview with author Kate Ellison as we discuss her work and favorite fairy tales!

Too much of a good thing... (Top Ten Tuesday)

I know this is a first for me to jump into two Top Ten Tuesdays in a row, but the superb bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish came up with another topic for which I'm eager to toss around my two cents:

Top Ten Eight Trends of which I'd Like to See More/Less
Awesome picture found here!
1. MORE: Though "cowbell" should be my number one on any list of what I want more of, the first trend I can think of is Stand Alone Novels!  I feel like series, and specifically trilogies, have become the norm and I really enjoy when authors can take the time to just write a single well-told story without any to-be-continued at the end.  I can think of a number of books that have been released since I began blogging (Matched, Nightshade, Paranormalcy, The Iron King, etc) that I've avoided reading because I don't like to be in the middle of too many unfinished series at one time. I don't inherently object to series books, but I much prefer them when each entry in the series is a complete story in itself.  (A great example is Delirium - though I recently found out Lauren Oliver has a sequel in the works, the first book works perfectly fine on its own.)

2. LESS: I'm a fan of color and the first trend I can think of that's starting to wear on me is Black Covers.  I talked a bit about the Twilight-esque covers in the comments of this post, but all-in-all I'm a bit amazed how many covers tend toward such dark colors these days.  I would think that bright vivid ones would be more eye-catching but I'm always amazed when I walk into the few remaining bookstores near me and am confronted by black, black, and more black. 

3. MORE: Though I mentioned the book in a previous Top Ten Tuesday post about movies, one of my favorite books is The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  I mention it here because I think it's a great example of a Young Adult Work that Appeals to Males as well as females, and I would love to see more books in that category.

4. LESS: Along those same lines, I think the book world can afford to do with less novels about Thirteen-Year-Old Girls riding around in Limos and Drinking Martinis.  I know a lot of what I read as a young girl was very much fluff-fiction, but I seem to see lots of books these days geared at girls in which the main characters are rich socialites.  Though I understand the fun of these characters, why not decrease this trend and have more females making a difference rather than just enjoying themselves.

5. MORE: And while I'm on the subject of having more characters make a difference, my wishlist of trends definitely includes more Novels Set in the Real World.  I like dystopia as much as the next reader, but I also enjoy a good story about friendship or a classic mystery in a suburban setting. 

6. LESS: Reading should be about connecting to real life as much as it should be about escapism or daydreaming, and while I'm dreaming about more novels with realistic settings, could we also get a little less Paranormal?  For a while it was just vampires that were overdone but now it seems that werewolves, zombies, angels, demons, psychics, and ghosts have all happily joined the parade.

7. MORE: Someone once explained the supernatural trend in literature in saying that all the good "normal" stories have already been told, but if that truly is the view, I say, why not retell them?  Great stories do stand the test of time and I love the trend of Updating and Reinventing Classics.  I'm not talking about all the "And Zombies" quirk stories that, for me, fall firmly in the LESS category, but rather the young adult novel that focuses on making a classic story accessible to today's audience.  There's a wealth of source material, so really authors, what are you waiting for?

8: LESS: Just don't be one of the countless authors that's writing a Retelling or Sequel to Pride and Prejudice.  Please.  Please, please, please, can we as a literary community agree to finally leave the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys alone?  The original is a masterpiece and some of the new spoofs and homages have been great fun but the market is saturated and I really think we can all survive without another glimpse into the life of Denny's cousin's butler or Georgiana's friend's secret diary.  There are countless other works out there - even plenty other Austen pieces - that haven't had the abuse attention given them that Pride and Prejudice has garnered.

I think I'm going to stop this list at eight today.  As always, I love to hear your thoughts, agreements, and disagreements.  Thanks for stopping by and thanks again to The Broke and the Bookish for always hosting such a fun start to the blogging week!