Cover of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Story Adaptation by Stacy King. Manga: Classsic Literature. Morpheus Studios (Illustrator), Shane Law (Illustrator), Po Tse (Artist). Udon Entertainment (August 19, 2014). Price: $19.99.

Stacy King has adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a manga-reading audience with illustrations by Shane Law, Po Tse, and Morpheus Studios. Whenever a story is adapted for a different media format, choices must be made in order to use the strengths of the new media to tell the story. Overall this adaptation is beautifully done. The basic storyline is intact and the artwork is beautifully rendered as you can tell from the lovely cover image (though the interior artwork is all in grey scale).

The basic story is a love story that threads its way through horrible first impressions, misunderstandings, pride, and prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a country gentleman and his wife, is insulted when she overhears Mr. Darcy’s response to his friend, Mr. Bingley, urging Darcy to dance with her. Mr. Darcy is actually shy and uncomfortable in crowded social situations but she doesn’t know that at the time. Later Mr. Darcy realizes that she’s witty, educated, and not fawning over him; thus, he finds himself falling in love. Meanwhile, she is fed a lot of balderdash about Mr. Darcy from a man who has “all the appearance of goodness” and makes a grand impression on all he meets. There’s also a secondary love story involving Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s older sister, and Mr. Bingley. As with most love stories things work out in the end but the journey is what makes the story a classic and loved by many no matter what format it takes — book, film, and now, manga.

Still, the problem with adaptations is that choices need to be made. This time the story is told and shown to be set close to the period in which Austen originally wrote it. However, the societal mores of the time depicted in this version do not match those that existed during this time period. For example, in the version of Longbourn shown in the artwork, no member of the Bennet family would be answering their own door let alone folding the linens; there would be servants to do such work.

It was a time when the distinctions of class were kept to and there were many rules of behavior that now-a-days we’d find archaic and maybe even silly. Upper class single women could not write to an unrelated male unless she was engaged to him. She’s have to write to his mother or sister and leave it to them to pass on the information. People could not simple talk to another person — they had to be formally introduced first. In fact, public venues such as assemblies usually had a designated person who was responsible for introducing people to one another if they were not yet acquainted and wished to meet. There are many instances where modern social customs are referenced that would, in the original work, be offensive to the characters of that time period. This may bother readers who are familiar with the original Austen work and time period — new readers reading Austen for the first time would most likely not even notice these issues.

However, if you read this version and enjoy it, you may want to read the original Austen novel on which it is based because the actual story is one that transcends the time in which Austen wrote. It’s universal appeal is why her works live on. Not only have her novels been adapted for film, manga, and classic comics, but they have, by other authors, been updated to modern times and still they resonate with readers.

Overall, this is a wonderful adaptation and a great way to interest new readers in classic literature.

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Of course it would happen. The minute I post that I’ll be getting this blog up and running again the world — my world — conspires to see that it doesn’t happen. I’ve been so busy lately. First, there was getting the magazines up and live on time. Then there was gearing up for Capclave, attending Capclave, and decompressing from Capclave. Then getting back in the groove to get the next issues of SFRevu and Gumshoe set to go live on November 1st. But, wait there’s more — I’m doing at-con registration for this year’s World Fantasy Convention in DC so there’s been meetings, planning, working with the pre-con reg people and programming people and others to be sure nothing gets forgotten in the registration packets and we don’t duplicate effort. Luckily, the chairs of the convention this year are great people and keeping us all on track.

Meanwhile, there’s been the headaches — they’re baaaack. Mostly they’ve been related to the weird changes in the weather. Luckily, none have yet reached migraine status — that hardly every happens now that I see an acupuncturist fairly regularly and have started to meditate (or my version of meditation anyway).

I’ve been losing weight and exercising. The weight loss has helped with the arthritis and the exercise is supposed to help with losing weight and with my fibromyalgia. Some days it’s all I can do to make my steps for the day. I swear some days there’s just not enough spoons in my world but I force myself to push on — one step at a time. Paul got me a mp3 player (Sansa) and that has really helped with the walking — I’ve been listening to NPR Ted Talks and audiobooks. Love the Ted Talk compilations and find them really entertaining as well as informative. For audiobooks — I’ve downloaded from Librivox so they’re mostly public domain. I’ve listened to “The Man Who Was Thursday”, “Emma”, and “The Letters of Jane Austen” (finishing this one tomorrow I believe). I started “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” but it kept referring to maps and while I’m pretty good at geography I was having a hard time picturing the terrain in my head so put it aside for awhile. Then I started “The Federalist Papers” and so far have listened to 1 to 6. I end up playing each paper two or three or more times to be sure I really get it all. Honestly, if I didn’t know they were written so long ago, I’d swear they were about what’s happening in politics today. So, my long walk everyday takes up a chunk of time but it does stimulate the brain and keep me going. I will have to come up with some way to stay warm once it gets colder and after walking in a misting rain the other day, I’ve got to get better walking shoes so my feet don’t get so wet. (It’s wonderful to come in to a hot cup of tea and dry thick wool socks though and a 1/2 hour of sitting with the cat and reading.)

I’ve got so many plans and so little time. I need more days in a month and more hours in a day to get everything I need to do done. To top it all off, I’m all set to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Sometimes, I just can’t square the hours in a day with the stuff I want to do. So far I have a lot of scenes and partial chapters from previous years so I’m trying to get an outline done for this year so I know where I’m going or I’ll end up with more scenes, character studies, and interesting settings again. Not that they don’t occasionally come in handy.

I’ve also finally got around to unearthing my knitting projects. Several pairs of socks on the needles in various stages of done-ness. Got one pair all done except for weaving in the ends of the cut yarn. I did pick up the stitches for the first sleeve on the top-down sweater I started in August — really need to watch a movie or two and that would be all done, but squeezing out the time is an issue at the moment.

I’ve got six books read so far this month but I need to finish the reviews for the zines and then post the ones for Amazon Vine, and for here on the blog. I should be posting the review of the Manga Classic version of Pride and Prejudice soon.

What have you been doing?

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Today my husband and I planned a date. We would go out to eat, and then to a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy). The new theater has very comfortable recliner-type seats and the trailers of the movie were outrageously funny. We even had to turn down a couple of invitations because of our plans to spend some quality time together. But like all plans, they seldom stand up to circumstances.

The circumstance this time was that … well, I have to start back a bit. We’ve been doing a lot of yard work this year to make up for the several years of neglect from various problems of health and time. Time is always a problem and we’ve (hubby and I) always had difficulty saying no when we really want to do something and so often find ourselves over committed and burning the candle at both ends to be sure to meet all our commitments. Anyway, we’ve been doing yard work — lots and lots of it. From clearing out the old garden area, refreshing the soil, planting a garden (doing well of this, by the way, this year) and reclaiming a walking path around the perimeter of the property that has become overgrown — so clearing brush.

The upshot is that I’ve had poison ivy treated three times so far this year. The doctor wants me to be very careful and stay with antihistamines and use steroid cream. That had been working, until hubby finally got a case of poison ivy that didn’t go away in a couple of days as it usually had. Instead it just hangs on, and as one area seems to heal, it breaks out in another. And, I’ve been picking it up from him — again treating an area and having it get better but popping up somewhere else. So far I’m holding my own in the fight but it’s taking its toll.

This morning he had some new patches and so did I. He finally gave in and went to the clinic — we hoped he could get in and see someone get the steroid pills and we’d go to the next showing. Well, best laid plans and all that. The place was crowded. By the time he was registered in, seen, got the Rx, filled it and we got out. It was mid-afternoon.

We still hadn’t had breakfast yet. I hadn’t had coffee yet. And, if you read this blog you know how dangerous that is. So we decided to eat first so hubby could take his first dose.

By the time we got to the restaurant, ordered, ate, and paid it was late afternoon and we needed to get the weekly shopping done and back home. The pills had Paul nearly asleep on his feet, so I had to drive, not to mention that he’d have fallen asleep in the film by then.

So, we decided to do the shopping. I’d drive. Tomorrow we’ll try for the movie — again. This time no real date plans, nothing special going on just two people going to the movies — and we’ll see how messed up things can get. (That’s rhetorical… really.)

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Well, I say not much going on because things are only now beginning to show. I’ve been working a lot — A LOT — in the garden area. For the last several years health problems have kept us from doing much in the yard area of our home ground.

I’ll post pictures later but so far we’ve weeded and cleared out all the brush from the fruit orchard. A couple of the trees have died but most survived and seemed to have flowered and are starting to grow actual fruit. We’ve never really got any but that’s mostly because with the deer, the squirrels, and the birds, there’s usually not anything for us to pick if it lasts to ripen on the tree. But the worst of the mess is cleared out. We’ve got the areas around each tree cleared of all brush and crap and most now have a mulch mat around them. We’ve ordered some for the larger trees and we’ll get them down when they arrive.

The side yard, where our square foot gardens (2 of them) and the herb garden are located, is now cleared and the gardens have been planted with broccoli, pumpkin, radishes, carrots, nasturtiums, onion, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce (3 separate planters so we could stagger the crops), potato and tomatoes. The herb garden is mostly perennials. We’ve planted the annual herbs, and the ones that are invasive, in pots.

The quarter of the herb garden we’d planted with strawberries, we are now working on clearing out, since wild fake strawberries invaded and we never got any real strawberries. We figure we’ll clear it out and retry next year with a netting over the area. By then we should have a chance to see if we got all of the invaders. Meanwhile, we put strawberries in one of those deck planter things were you put 12 plants in one big pot. We’re getting lots of flowers and even some berries, but they seem to disappear during the night before they ripen fully. We’re suspecting the squirrels because they’re sneaky and sly but it could be the birds or even the raccoons we’ve chased off the deck (if you can call waddling away when we open the door being chased).

Today, we put the ladder up to the carport and climbed up to rake and sweep a couple of years of storm accumulation off. We still need to do our shed and the higher part of the house roof. I already did the lower section of the house roof, but still need to go over all the rain gutters.

We’ve been clearing some of the brush out of the woods around the house and thinning the trees a bit. We have five acres and hope to put in some walking paths (once we settle on a way to make them look natural, and with minimal upkeep). We also want to put some nice seating areas here and there for the peace and quiet and views of nature. — We’re really dreaming but it’s nice because our property backs onto other wooded acreages so it’s nice out here in the woods but with people just a few 100 yards away (in the right direction).

A side effect of all this working in the woods in making sure we do tick checks after every session of yard work. And, yes, we usually find them on us but, now that we’ve cleared the areas we’re mostly working in, not so much.

I’ve also been having a poison ivy adventure. I’m on my third course of prednisone and I’m really hoping that this is the last time. This time it is paired with a strong antihistamine and steroid cream. The blotches from the first and second poison ivy assaults seem to be clearing up as well as this last time. I see the doc tomorrow mid-course to check that maybe we’ve beaten it back. This last time, I wasn’t even out where the poison ivy was and it was popping up in areas that didn’t even get exposure — so systemic. I’m so done now with this that I won’t even touch something with shiny leave no matter how many leave they have or anything with three leave even if they aren’t shiny. I’m from Maine and I haven’t seen anything here that even actually looks like the poison ivy plants I’m used to from my childhood. I will learn to recognize it at some point hopefully before too much longer — we’ve got it down to between 4 different plants (all of which I’m now avoiding touching or even going near).

I figured it was about time I updated this blog regularly. I’m going to try for once a week for a while to get back into the groove of posting. I’ll add pictures to this entry once I can find the cord to download the photos from my camera to the laptop.

How are your gardens growing or do you even have one?

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The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Giving Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini. Dutton (October 30, 2012), ISBN: 978-0525953609.

The Giving Quilt is part of the Elm Creek Quilts series of books. One of the greatest joys when reading a book in a series is that you, as a reader, get to visit again with characters you’ve come to know and care about. In this case the continuing characters are the instructors and workers at Elm Creek. The stories never get stale because ever book there’s a new group of people who have arrived to take class or teach a class. Each of these new characters bring with them their own set of problems and concerns — the plots and story lines flow naturally from the events or lives of participants before they arrived at the seminar and their interactions at Elm Creek.

In The Giving Quilt, the theme is Thanksgiving and all of the emotional turmoil that can arise when family, jobs, or life situation isn’t what you want it to be but you feel that you have no control over what is going on. The women that come to Elm Creek all want to make a difference for others. They are all giving of their time, energy, and quilting stashes to make quilts for others. But they also have lives outside of this event and like all our lives they have problems they are dealing with and in one degree or another are feeling stretched and bereft of hope for the holiday season.

Each of them have a problem or problems that we’ve all at one time or another dealt with and can relate to as we’re reading. Chiaverini’s writing pulls you into the story and while reading you feel more like an invisible member of the group listening in on the lives of these women. There’s joys, sadness, loss, growth, and friendships forged between these women who happen to meet and share a passion for quilts.

I don’t want to give details because that would take away from your chance to meet these women and become part of their group while learning about their lives before they arrived for the session and following them as they return to their homes and the lives they put aside to attend this event..

Good strong character development coupled with writing with heart and interesting story lines keep me coming back to the quilters of Elm Creek. I hope you also find that when you close the covers after the last page, that you’re ready to face the ups and downs of your own life with a lighter heart knowing that other people also have problems and somehow manage to move forward, solve the puzzle, deal with the job, or whatever. Never preachy just solid stories that don’t sugar coat the problems or solutions but somehow leave the reader with renewed hope and a less jaundiced view of life and the world we inhabit.

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Handknit Holiday by Melanie Falick
Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice by Melanie Falick with Betty Christiansen. Photograph by Susan Pillard. ISBN: 978-1-4532-6816-2. STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books (October 30, 2012) (Hardcover: $12.46; Kindle version: $6.99). (Review based on a digital review copy.)

As you might expect this book has a few things for just about every holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice — missing is Kwanzaa but with an adjustment for color some items would fit for that holiday) grouped by patterns for the home, and gifts (for men, women, and children). Many lovely color combinations — some bright, some colorful neutrals, and some monotones — as well as texture (cables) and lace. There’s also patterns for just about all skill levels — so no matter how long you’ve been knitting you are bound to find something that you can knit. The patterns also have a number of techniques that would allow a knitter to try out something new as they knit for a family member or a friend.

I counted about 50 patterns but several are variations rather than new patterns so depending on how you count you’d get different numbers. Also, there are tips and special techniques, abbreviations used in the book, sources for supplies, various holiday facts and short bits, a list of greeting for the holidays in several languages, holiday knitting strategies.

There are patterns from the following people: Susan Alain, Suzanne Atkinson, Veronik Avery, Betty Christiansen, Amanda Blair Brown, Carrie Brenner, Cynthia, Crescenzo, Sandy Cushman, Teva DUrham, Nicky Epstein, Norah Gaughan, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Kim Hamlin, Michelle Heyman, Penney Kolb, Faina Letoutchaia, Robin Melanson, Nancy Minsky, Annie Modesitt, Jillian Moreno, Kathy Pasusta, Leigh Rackford, Michele Rose Orne, Leslie Scanlong, Iris Schreier, Jo Sharp, Cindy Taylor, Jolene Treace, Gina Wilde, and Anne Woodbury.

I found several things I wanted to make and lots to make me take a few minutes to dream over and wonder who I could make it for because I couldn’t wear or use it but it was sooooo nice. There were some interesting gift items — gift bags that could later be used as purses seemed very nice. The stocking to ‘hang by the chimney with care’ were lovely and would make nice heirlooms for children or grandchildren. There were even some nice shawls and sweaters that those hard to knit for teens might like and actually wear.

All in all a great book for finding holiday gift ideas. I read the digital review copy and before writing this review, I pulled down a sample copy to check to see if my problems with the uncorrected review copy were fixed in the ‘for sale’ electronic version. It appears that most of the problem area were corrected. I still have a bit of problem with the format going from 3/4 of a page to full page but it’s not something that should take away from the great photos and the directions/patterns for the items — but if looking to get a digital copy be sure to look at the sample first.

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“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home–so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

On October 16th, 2013, bloggers throughout the world will be post their thoughts on the Blog Action Day topic of Human Rights. I’ve been thinking about what I could possibly say since I signed up to take part. Human Rights. The rights of all humans. The rights you have because you’re human. It seems overwhelming. There are organizations set up to deal with Human Rights even one that’s part of the United Nations, if I’m not mistaken.

Those large organizations deal with modern day slavery of several varieties, indentured servitude, torture, genocides, repressive regimes, starving children, abuses of power of many sorts, bigotry, and hatred. Mankind has not yet left behind its hatred and fear of the different, the non-conforming, the ‘other’.

What can any one human being do to better the world, their country, their community regarding the recognition that everyone has certain inalienable rights that can not be abridged or denied? How can any one person do anything that matters?

This is where we have to read the above quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. We, as individuals, begin with where we live — in our homes, our jobs, our communities. Everyone of us must strive to live as if everyone we meet is a human worthy of respect and courtesy, irregardless of income, skin color, religion, educational level, employment status, gender, or sexual orientation.

I looked up the definitions of Human Rights and found the following:

Dictionary Definition: human rights (noun) fundamental rights, especially those believed to belong to an individual and in whose exercise a government may not interfere, as the rights to speak, associate, work, etc. Also, the rights of individuals to liberty, justice, etc.

Cultural Definition: Freedom from arbitrary interference or restriction by governments. The term encompasses largely the same rights called civil liberties or civil rights but often suggests rights that have not been recognized.

You see the problem with ‘rights’ of any sort is that if they can be taken away, they are not rights. Some people see ‘rights’ as being only for certain people not everyone. But the rights to speak, associate, work, etc. and to liberty, justice, and safety are for everyone. If only one group has a right then it’s not a right — it’s a privilege that only a few possess.

The problem is that many people, who probably should know better, believe that some people are better than others and deserve these rights, and that other people, because of income, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, are somehow lesser beings and should not have the rights and privileges that they have. Your rights are not belittled just because everyone else has the same rights as you do.

I saw a YouTube video last week where actors played the part of an angry bigot and a worker who appeared to be of middle eastern descent in a quickie mart type store. When the store had a few customers the young man playing the ‘bigot’ would approach the counter and demand to be waited on by a ‘real’ American and then berate the young man behind the counter for terrorism, taking American jobs, and not being fit to wait on him. It was pretty ugly. The thing that struck me was that of the six or more times they ran this scenario, only 2 people came up to the ranting young man and asked him to leave because he was disrupting the place and being unAmerican in his behavior. They stood up to him and forced him to back down by saying what he was doing and saying wasn’t right and it belittled the country and him. When questioned about their standing up for the young man behind the counter after they left the store by the director each of them said, “It was the right thing to do and someone had to stand up for him.”

The above is one way that an individual can stand up for Human Rights in their small way in their communities.

When a homeless person stops you in the street, actually look them in the eye and reply in kindness if you can’t afford to offer any assistance. Mostly they want recognition that they exist beyond the help in getting a meal or a place to sleep for the night.

When you see someone being bullied, don’t just turn away, do something. Report it to an authority if you don’t feel comfortable stepping into the situation.

Don’t walk away when someone is being injured, insulted, hurt, abused, or exploited. Try to find a way to help even if that is only reporting the incident.

Make an effort to recognize your own prejudices and biases. I do my best, but I know I have them, and it’s often a constant battle to overcome some of the habits of thought that I’ve fallen into. All humans are equal no matter what they look like. If we were all the same, life and the world would be one heck of a boring place.

Every day, try to treat all those you meet throughout the day as equals who deserve respect and courtesy even if they don’t look or think as you do. (That also includes your family members. And this can be the hardest part of doing your best to support Human Rights.)

Pay attention to politics. Educate yourself on the issues and vote. Recently, the equal pay for equal work bill (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) was voted down in the United States. Also, voted down was the Violence Against Women act. Shouldn’t women as well as men be protected from violence?

Act locally and in your community to make it a safer, fairer, and more egalitarian part of the world. Every act and every action adds up and eventually we will have a world where all humans have equality with every other citizen of the world.

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Cover of Great Little Gifts to Knit by Jean Moss
Great Little Gifts to Knit: 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns by Jean Moss. Taunton Press (September 3, 2013). ISBN: 978-1600858475. Photographs by Burcu Avsar. Charts and Schematics by Jean Moss.

Great Little Gifts to Knit has a subtitle, 30 Quick and Colorful Patterns and the photos are enticing and beautifully done, pulling you on to see just how difficult or easy that lovely pair of mittens, hat, shawl, or sweater really is to knit. The patters are arranged in four sections: Baby, Hers, His, and Home. There’s far more patterns in Hers than in any of the other sections.

There are patterns for beginner, intermediate, and advance knitters. There’s a fairly comprehensive tips and techniques section and some of the patterns focus on a technique such as intarsia, shadow knitting, knitting in the round, Fair Isle, chart reading, and twisted stitches. A beginning knitter could learn a lot of new techniques/skills by simply knitting one of everything in the book.

These patterns are, in my opinion, a step up from most books of gift patterns in that there are a lot of items I’d really like to knit in this book. My bias is toward simple classic items with texture, color, or both. Though there’s also a good mix of items you’d have to concentrate on such as the Fair Isle child sweater, and then ones that you could take with you and knit while listening or being sociable because it has lots of easy to remember pattern sections.

All the patterns in the books were done with Rowan yarns which are lovely, beautiful yarns that can be a bit pricey for those on a budget. Moss includes the gauge that should be achieve for a successful result. She also specifies when gauge is not important. So, don’t skip knitting a gauge swatch if you chose to use a different yarn. There’s also a small section in the appendix to help you choose a substitute yarn for your project. There are also a few projects that could probably be done with left-over yarn from your stash such as the bean bags.

At first I thought the major drawback was that the time frames were listed as one day, weekend, or vacation. Since we don’t know the length of time in each of those units devoted to knitting it is difficult to say how long they would take. On reflection, I come to the conclusion that this lets you take as much time as you need without developing a complex about your knitting speed — or lack thereof. My problem is that I usually knit while doing something else like watching a DVD or even reading, so I’m really a slow knitter — at least I never ever get anything done within the time frame given in books.

This is definitely a book worth looking at because it just might surprise you with its variety of projects and the opportunity to try new techniques.

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