Book Review: Me and Mr. Darcy

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Click above to check out this book at Barnes & Noble

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, when writing a book review, it is imperative that one does not give away important plot points.

But when the plot of the reviewed novel is a play on the exact same plot of a far more famous and thoroughly studied novel, how could you not?

And like what would have been perhaps a more stimulating review had it not been forced to focus so much on basic storyline, Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr. Darcy also suffers from an overindulgence in plot.

Just not it’s own plot.

Aimed at Jane Austen fans, this novel tells the tale of one Pride and Prejudice fanatic who travels to England for an Austen-themed tour and ends up having a romance of her own — exactly like the one in Pride and Prejudice. There’s pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of misunderstandings. As main character Emily Albright is swept off into her own fantasy world by Mr. Darcy (literally, he appears out of the book), she is annoyingly ignorant of the fact that Pride and Prejudice is playing out, word for word, in her very own life: She meets a seemingly rude man who insults her behind her back. She loathes him for a while as he attempts to be friendlier with her. There’s a misunderstanding about a man who seemed nice but really isn’t, and the rude man proclaims his love for the girl all so that she can yell at him and then decide she loves him later.

And as a huge P&P fan she couldn’t notice these similarities before the end of the book?

Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with this plot will find Me and Mr. Darcy a tad too predictable. Yet the similarities don’t end there. After a while, the characters even spout the exact same lines from the novel. Really? I knew just by looking at the cover that this was going to be a typical Pride and Prejudice spin-off/parody/homage/fangirl story, so I suppose a little similarity is necessary, but I think the author took it a little too far.

However, this book is not without its redeeming qualities. For instance, it was a very light and enjoyable summer read. I was able to move through the pages quickly once I was able to get into it. A few of the characters were fun, though I would have liked to have seen a little more development, and the dialogue, although at times unbelievable, was current.

But it was during the times in which the dialogue was not so believable that I really cringed. Not only was the speech teetering awkwardly between exaggeratingly-current to I’m-pretty-sure-no-one-talks-like-that-anymore, but it was also mainly coupled with our star character Emily Albright. She too stood oddly between two ends of the spectrum. Initially, we are told that Emily is a bit of a nerd. She works in a bookstore, would rather pack books in her suitcase than clothes, would prefer doing anything other than partying in Mexico with her polar-opposite best friend, and is a hopeless romantic. Yet further along in the book, we soon are met with Emily smoking a joint, thinking about her partying college lifestyle, and, for some unnecessary reason, deciding she now likes fashion more than books. A little unbelievable? I’d say yes.

And while perhaps all this unbelievability stems from a British author trying and failing to write from an American perspective, she does wrap it all up with a nice moral: Ladies, lower your standards a little bit. Your fantasies are lovely and all, but you know what’s great about non-fictional guys? They’re real.

So just like Emily fell in love with Mr. Darcy for all the wrong reasons, I think that readers have fallen in love with Pride and Prejudice for all the wrong reasons as well. Yes, the love story was in there, but Austen’s book said so much more about society, people’s character, and their views at that point in time. I think such updates of the original novel mask what was truly good and important about it in the first place, and I’d be more interested in another adaptation than a plot-twister (kind of?) like this book any day.

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Blog Boost: Becky Says Things

I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but the word “life” is the first word in “LifeAccordinglee.” And one would assume that, with that kind of a name, the person who created this blog must have intended to, at least at some point, write about life. And because I am the proud owner of this lovely work-in-progress, I guess that would mean I should be writing about life.

And I suppose I do.

For the most part.

Starting out, I had indeed intended this blog  to be more of a mishmash of my opinions on life and all the positive, negative, and hilarious things that come with it, but lately the blog has evolved by focusing more on regular life and the life of a writer (essentially, my own life). And although this evolution might not necessarily be a bad change (or a good one), it certainly has left behind the original purpose of the blog: writing about life’s…things.

Though I may have failed in this department, my next featured blogger has not. Becky writes about things.

Becky Says Things is one of my recent blogging finds. She’s quirky. She’s funny. She’s British. Not to mention, fantastically clever.

Basically, Becky says things about all sorts of things. Becky says things about the dentist. Becky says things about monstrous things about working in an office. Becky says things about failed exercise attempts.

Becky says things about things normal people constantly think about yet overlook when seeking inspiration for a story. This is why I’m saying these things about Becky.

I think she’s absolutely hysterical. She writes with a strong, personal voice that makes the stories feel like they’re being spoken to you by your close friend. Her concept is original: she uses a Stickman and various other drawings to illustrate and add further detail to her stories. She’s been FreshlyPressed, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, but I think her blog deserves even more recognition. That is why I’m saying things about Becky Says Things.

Please check out her blog, like a post, follow, fall in love. I don’t know how she doesn’t have a million followers by now, but she definitely deserves them. I only wish I could find the way to say so many clever things about so many…things.

Click the picture below to check it out!

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Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines

There’s a saying out there somewhere which describes the intense odor of fail that so often emanates from the unturned pages of authors’ first novels.

 

However, since I can’t seem to produce that actual quote, I’ll just assume that I made that up and this is all just based on my own opinion.

 

See this book at Barnes & Noble

See this book at Barnes & Noble

Nevertheless, debut novels (whether they get thrown out or actually published) usually don’t measure up to the quality of work put out by authors later on in their careers. And as I was under the impression that An Abundance of Katherines was John Green’s debut novel, I was ready to write it off as a sloppy yet decent first try. Turns out his real first novel, Looking for Alaska, was pretty successful and I actually just finished reading his second (and clearly less successful) book.

 

Well that doesn’t fit the formula.

 

But, while I can’t tell you why the quality of his work seems to have declined during his career, I can explain to you a formula which is intended to predict the outcome of your romantic relationships. Yes, the main character of this book spent much time obsessing over creating this formula…also math…and anagrams…and his unfulfilled genius…and girls named Katherine.

 

He also enjoyed engaging in what I believe was very unrealistic dialogue and overly cliché post-break up behavior. After being dumped by his 19th Katherine, Colin (main character) and Hassan (trusty sidekick, AKA “Daddy”) embark on a road trip that spans about .0034% of the book, after which the plot becomes increasingly predictable.

 

As an unpublished and still-learning writer, I really have no room to give this criticism. Maybe the incessant footnotes, factual tangents, anagrams, math, and constant use of the fake word “fug” are supposed to be reflections of the boy’s genius (did I mention he’s an alleged child prodigy?). I have no idea. But as a reader, I found these factors majorly unappealing.

 

What I found interesting (but still not that appealing) is that the main character Colin is really just John Green. For those of you who are familiar with Green’s personality (either because you’ve met him or are a member of his immense Nerdfighter following), you’ll know that he often goes off on factual tangents himself and is an all-around smart guy. I think that’s why I was so disappointed by this book.

 

John Green comes off as this very intelligent and witty guy, so I expected a very complex and well thought out story line that would challenge me as a reader. What I got was basically like one of his YouTube videos. Seen it. I need something new.

 

I wanted to like this book. I did. Katherines honestly had the potential to be like one of those quirky indie comedies that always casts Michael Cera as the lead role, but it fell short for me.  Though I’m giving this novel a thumbs down, I do promise to revisit Green’s work later on so I can better evaluate his work through the more successful of his novels.

 

 big news

 

This past week, LifeAccordinglee hit 200 followers. I just want to thank you guys so much for reading my posts and sticking with me through this journey. It’s been a rough few weeks of change for my blog, and I want to let you all know how much I truly appreciate your constant support. I’d have no reason to write if I didn’t have readers, so you guys mean the world to me. I hope you all are learning about yourselves along the way, because I’ve learned so much about myself since starting this blog. I feel so lucky to have so much support for my passion. With your guys’ help, I know it will continue to grow. Thanks!

The Diet Beast: Lee-Green Smoothie

So here’s where I’m at right now.

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Dieting is hard.

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But not as hard as you might think.

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For those of you who read Monday’s post, you know that I’m trying to get back on the fitness wagon. I haven’t quit yet (hooray for two days!) despite being tired and sore. The exercise is just as hard as I remember, if not harder now that I’ve been exercise-deprived for a good few months. But the workout isn’t near as difficult as the diet.

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I think it’s safe to say my diet is probably what has derailed me the most when it comes to losing weight.

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And while I’m sure I can excuse my way out of eating the wrong things (I’ve already come up with three excuses while writing this sentence), there’s no excuse for not learning to eat the right things.

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That’s where Pinterest comes in.

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Though it’s probably not the best go-to site for all things healthy, at least Pinterest is a good way to find millions of recipes for foods you never would have thought to put together.

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And I found the perfect healthy meal replacement:

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The Green Smoothie.

It’s become fairly popular lately as the smoothie that lets you drink your vegetables. As a vegetarian who isn’t the biggest fan of vegetables (wait…what?), I can appreciate that concept. So after trying various Pinterest versions – and disliking them all – I made up my own. Here it is.

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The Lee-Green Smoothie

  • a small handful of ice
  • a cup of skim milk (today I used organic soy milk)
  • two spoonfuls of Greek yogurt
  • one medium banana, cut into slices
  • four medium strawberries, tops cut off
  • two to three cups of spinach
  • a scoop of protein powder

Add ice, milk, yogurt, banana, strawberries, and spinach (stuffing in as much as you can until the blender is completely full — around 2-3 cups), and blend.

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Add protein powder and blend until the spinach leaves look like tiny green specks (if you leave it too leafy, the texture will completely turn you off from this smoothie, trust me).

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Now pour and enjoy.

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Mmm.

Now, I guarantee if you make this smoothie properly, you will not be able to taste the spinach at all, just the strawberries and banana. If you’re wondering about the calories, this smoothie packs a healthy punch. It gives you all the nutrients of almost all the main food groups for only 434 calories. That might seem like a lot to you calorie-counters out there, but for what you get, it’s really not. I even made some soy chicken nuggets and I still have 768 calories left to eat for dinner. But if you’re worried that it’s too much, you can always vary the ingredients to lower the calories or to satisfy your taste.

These smoothies are a regular staple for me when I’m doing P90X, and I can honestly say that I craved them while I was away at college. They keep you full for a long time and taste delicious. So for right now I’d say Smoothie – 1, Diet – 0.

To Be, or Not to Be: 10 Reasons Why You Should Never Be an English Major. Ever.

The year is almost at a close. My last final is tomorrow morning and I am rushing to get everything done. All this finals stress has forced me to reevaluate my decision to become an English major. In my limited experience, being an English major sucks, and writing papers for every class isn’t as fun as I might have thought. So if you’re thinking about choosing English as your college major, here are some things you may want to consider:

1) There’s no real way to study. If someone knows how to condense down three centuries worth of literature onto a 3×5 index card, please share your wealth.

2) Valuable skills, but no jobs. Not unless you want to be an English teacher or … nope. That’s it. Job fairs, help me out here.

3) You’ll never get into grad school. Have you heard of our GRE? We like forcing you to recall obscure lines from poems throughout time and be able to identify the title and poet.

4) If you aren’t familiar with Shakespeare or Greek mythology, you’re screwed. Allusions? That’s like Harry Houdini, right?

5) T.S. Eliot. Enough said.

6) You will be forever stereotyped as a really weird theater kid or a stuck-up hipster. I just like reading…

7) No one understands you. Honestly, no one understands how time-consuming English homework can be. Plus, we talk funny.

8) You get the oldest and dirtiest college building on campus. And no windows. Unless you go to a liberal arts college. Then you might get windows.

9) You don’t get nearly enough printing credits. They realize we live to write papers, right?

10) First question everyone asks after learning your major: “Oh. So are you going into teaching?” No.

But hey, there’s always this…

(Note: English is actually the coolest major you can possibly have, and you should definitely be an English major. I’m just a bitter college student at the end of a long and painful finals week. Disregard this entire post.)

Blog Boost: rpdpod

In Monday’s post, I had a little bit of a rant about some people who, quite honestly, annoy me (which I feel kind of regretful about posting). So today I wanted to mention someone who doesn’t annoy me.

Some of you who have been following me long enough might recall the photograph poem I posted a while back – Paige’s Pages: A Literary Work #1. The inspiration for this poem came from a photo/painting (take a look and tell me what you think it is) that I had found while creating an assignment for one of my college courses.

I’ve also mentioned in another post of mine – What I’m Inspired By: Photography – how the art of one person can often times jumpstart the art of another. Creation is a difficult task for anyone, so why not find your inspiration in the creations of another?

Well each day when I browse my Reader, I find one, if not several, new photographs by my fellow blogger Paul Davis, or rpdpod. As one of the only photography blogs that I currently follow, rpdpod is a great source of inspiration not only for me, but for his other followers.

His mostly landscape photography demonstrates the mastery he has acquired (according to his Archives) over years of experience behind the lens. He titles the photos, but usually keeps the captions short or nonexistent, letting the art speak for itself.

He experiments with different techniques, subjects, and colors, keeping the photos refreshing to look at and admire. His blog is basically void of any personal information or context for the photography. Paul Davis is a true artist, letting his work take the spotlight.

If you haven’t seen his work before or are interested in following rpdpod, I strongly suggest you check him out. Even if you’re not an artist who needs to find that special inspiration, everyone can use something nice to look at, right? And Paul Davis delivers.

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Click the picture to check out the blog!

50th Post! And Why Blogging Makes You Better

Today marks 50 posts since I began this blog, so I thought this was cause for a little celebration.

In honor of this milestone, I’d like to highlight 50 random things about 50 of my favorite bloggers.

So let’s get started!

Yeah, just kidding.

Actually I just want to talk about three of my favorite things I’ve learned about blogging over the span of 50 posts.

So, seriously, let’s start.

  • Connect across boundaries: I can’t even tell you how many followers and viewers I get from other countries, people who I never would have been able to reach had I not used blogging as my writing platform. Even my readers from around the U.S. are able to share their opinions and viewpoints with each other and myself. Idea sharing like that on a global scale, the way it shrinks the world up, is really quite astounding to me.
  • Shy person Heaven: Not to say blogging is restricted only to those of us who can’t seem to emit the right words in person, but it is an awfully great tool for the average shy person. Introverts alike can freely express their thoughts in a space that is not nearly as daunting as a crowd of people. Voices that wouldn’t have had the chance before can finally be heard now.
  • Get yourself known/Community: This point has two parts to it. Firstly, blogging is an excellent resource to a budding artist, someone with talent who yearns to be recognized. Not only do the posts advertise those talents, but the way in which blogs are able to showcase those gifts in their designs, whether they be photos or writing pieces or recipes, is really special and so easy to use. Secondly, the sense of community you gain through being a part of the blogosphere really helps to drive you forward in your interests, especially with all the amazing support you get from fellow bloggers and other followers.

For now, these are just a few of the things I’ve learned during my beginning time as a blogger, and I’m sure that as time goes on, I’ll have learned a couple more lessons and gained a bit more knowledge along the way. Maybe another 50 posts from now, I’ll revisit this idea again. But, maybe not. There’s a lot of blogging to be done!

Until then, keep blogging, Bloggers – you made the right choice.