Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

I know I am long overdue for a book review post. It's not for lack of reading, my fellow bloggers. Life has simply been busy, as it almost always is. 

Today's book review is on The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. For my fellow readers out there, the name "Lizzie Bennet" should ring some bells. That's right, it is the name of the protagonist in Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice. A modern adaptation, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a spin on the original - with a very clever beginning.

Before I get into the book review itself, you may need a bit of background information. For those of you who are also interested in social media and networking in our 21st century era, you probably already know that this book is the follow-up to an overwhelmingly popular video web series. "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" was a start-up project with the initial idea pitched to Bernie Su by the one and only Hank Green (one of the Vlogbrothers on YouTube and John Green's brother). With the help of a Kickstarter project to fund DVD creation after the end of the series, it has now reached an incredible number of viewers beyond the initial postings on YouTube. An Emmy Award-Winning mini-series with a multi-modal media platform, it now is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon as well as other entertainment companies.

I recommend watching the web-series before reading the book as it enriches your understanding of the overarching plot. You can find the link to the (free!) viewing on YouTube here. There are a hundred mini-episodes of the initial series, with additional Q & A videos as well as some spin-offs (like Lydia's videos and those supplied by Pemberley Digital).

Now, regarding the book. As previously mentioned, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. For those of you who have read Austen's classic, you will appreciate the rich text of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. Set in modern day California, Lizzie Bennet is a graduate student studying Mass Communications. As part of her thesis project for the completion of school, she decides to create a video blog (i.e. "vlog") that captures the events of her life and those of the people she interacts with. The authors, Bernie Su and Kate Rorick, write The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet in a first-person perspective using Lizzie's point-of-view. This follows the initial project of the actual videos, as they are also told from Lizzie's perspective.

Lizzie and her best friend, Charlotte Lu, quickly realize how popular Lizzie's vlogs have become. Lizzie covers all topics in her life - her sisters, Lydia and Jane; her mother's obsession with their love lives; the arrival of Bing Lee and his increasing interest in Jane; and of course, her overwhelming frustrations with Bing's "snobby newsboy" friend: Mr. William Darcy.

What we don't see in the videos themselves is described in this companion novel. Many are familiar with the storyline of Pride and Prejudice thanks to a multitude of movie adaptations over the years, but this modern take has so many twists and turns that it still keeps the reader turning the pages. I won't go into excessive detail (as the story is definitely known!), but know that the authors did an incredible job taking something timeless and classic and making it that much more special for readers everywhere. The humor, the emotion, and the realism of the book make the reader feel as though they really are a part of Lizzie's colorful and unique life.

I hope you try this one-of-a-kind read - even if you haven't read the original by Austen. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is definitely worth it. Finally, don't forget to seek out the actual video web series. I encourage you to start a discussion about the series and/or companion novel here in the comments below.

Happy reading, fellow bloggers!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nothing Gold Can Stay

"So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay." -Robert Frost

Today is a short post, fellow bloggers. I will try to be more in-depth as my schedule calms down for the summer. Here we go:

My family moved many times while I was growing up. I got so accustomed to seeing brown cardboard boxes and clear packaging tape that it became second nature. I would watch the moving crew come and transport all of our worldly belongings not once, but many times over the course of my life. I'd stand by warily, watching them lift our heavy piano, and think, Please don't drop it. I'll be crushed if you do. I remember saying goodbye to friends, each time harder than the last. Each time wondering if or when I'd see them again. It's made goodbyes very hard for me over the years. I'm not good at them. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will be.

My point? Times change. People move on with their lives. Friends move. New career paths are discovered and old ones left behind. Nothing gold can stay. It is a part of life, moving on. Just like the physical act of moving from one place to another.

One of Robert Frost's lesser known poems, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" still holds a lot of significance in our everyday lives. While the poem has a nature metaphor, it is easy to see that it is also about beginnings and endings. Beginning in one place and ending in another. Such is the ever-changing course of our world.

Even though Frost believes that nothing gold can stay, do not forget that like the seasons, there are always new beginnings. Perhaps some of those good "gold" moments have faded, but new ones will take their place in time. The cycle will always continue.

Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy..."

Summer is great for a lot of things. Popsicles. Aviator sunglasses. Wiggling your toes in the freshly mowed grass. Endless starry nights. Beaches. Daisies. Having supper on the patio. Campfires. S'mores. Driving with the windows rolled down.

Or summertime is maybe simply a time to get out of the house and just go. Somewhere. Anywhere. A break from the normal daily routine of life.

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