Gothic Classics

We all love classics. Whether it’s Pride and Prejudice or it’s the Great Gatsby, it doesn’t quite matter. Gothic Classics are the classics that combines fiction,  horror, death, and even romance at times. Here’s a list of some amazing Gothic Classics that you should read if you enjoy horror!

Jane Austen’s first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen’s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the Gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.-Goodreads

As a fan of Jane Austen, I was surprised to discover this one! I personally haven’t read Northanger Abbey, but even if it is poking fun at the Gothic novels, it is still considered a Gothic classic!

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave. –Goodreads

Who hasn’t heard of Daphne Du Maurier?! She is the face of all romantic Gothic classics! So many people prefer Rebecca over all the other classics and if you read it, you’ll discover why!

 

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?-Goodreads

Once again we come across another classic that I didn’t realize would fall into the Gothic classic genre! Though, it has everything needed to be considered a Gothic classic!

Wuthering Heights, first published in 1847, the year before the author’s death at the age of thirty, endures today as perhaps the most powerful and intensely original novel in the English language. The epic story of Catherine and Heathcliff plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the wild English moors, and presents an astonishing metaphysical vision of fate and obsession, passion and revenge. -Goodreads

Another Bronte on the list! I guess they have something in common! Interesting tidbit I wasn’t aware of: this is Emily Bronte‘s only novel.

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The Picture of Dorian Gray was a succès de scandale. Early readers were shocked by its hints at unspeakable sins, and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895.-Goodreads

Though I’ve never read this book, reading the summary (placed above in italics) makes it go onto my to-be-read shelf!

The scientist Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with possessing the secrets of life, creates a new being from the bodies of the dead. But his creature is a twisted, gruesome parody of a man who, rejected for his monstrous appearance, sets out to destroy his maker.

Mary Shelley‘s chilling Gothic tale, conceived after a nightmare in 1816 when she was only eighteen, became a modern myth. It is a disturbing and dramatic exploration of birth and death, creation and destruction, and one of the most iconic horror stories of all time.-Goodreads

I haven’t read Frankenstein but I knew Mary Shelley‘s story would land her on this list!

First published in 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker has become the standard against which all other vampire stories are compared and the inspiration for countless film and stage adaptations. Indeed, the name Dracula has been synonymous with the Undead for at least a century, and the original novel still has the power to chill. Come then to Castle Dracula, hidden in the forbidding peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, where an undying creature of evil casts his sights on unsuspecting England. Voyage on the doomed ship Demeter as it carries a monster out of ancient superstition in search of new life and new blood. Tremble as first one woman, then another succumbs to the unholy thirst of the nosferatu, and as a small band of men and women, horrified by the supernatural forces arrayed against them, risk their lives and their very souls to oppose the evil known only as… Dracula.”-Goodreads

As a fan of vampires, I have to say that Bram Stoker‘s story of Dracula is amazing!

A single person—but with two personalities: one that’s noble and kind and another that’s pure, repulsive evil. Robert Louis Stevenson’s engrossing masterpiece about the dual nature of man—and a good doctor whose thirst for knowledge has tragic consequences—serves up all the suspense and satisfying chills one expects from the best horror and science fiction.-Goodreads

This story is amazing and unique in every way! I’m not surprised that this book appears on lists of Gothic classics.

 

All the books listed above are literary masterpieces, which is why they are now known as classics! Though I’ve personally only read a few on this list, I know many people who enjoy them all! They are all available at APLD!

Comment below and let me know what Gothic Classics I missed and which one is your favorite!

 

Carpe Librum!

 

P.S. Thanks to Goodreads for providing the italicized summaries for this blog!

Who is Oscar?

Movie Reel

On Sunday February 24th, the Oscars will be handed out to those who have achieved success in film.   I started wondering why winners of the Academy Awards are given this strange gold statue of a man? Why is the statue called “Oscar?”  

The award is officially called the “Academy Award of Merit.” Since 1929, over 3,000 people have won an Oscar.

No one really knows why or how “Oscar” got his name. There are two theories.  According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website, Librarian Margaret Herrick remarked that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar.

Another theory is that journalist Sidney Skolsky called the statue “Oscar” when Katharine Hepburn won Best Actress in 1934.  

The one thing that is fact, is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started calling the Statue “Oscar” in 1939.

Here are some facts I learned in my research about this prestigious award:

Oscar

The statue is not solid gold.  It is bronze and only plated with 24-karat gold.  

MGM art director Cedric Gibbons is the one who designed the statue to resemble a knight.  To this day statues are made holding a sword as a tribute to Gibbons original design.

Each statue is 13½ inches tall.  They are heavier than I imagined as well, weighing 8 ½ pounds.

Due to a metal shortage during WWII, Oscars were made out of plaster.  

One “Oscar” takes 10 days to make.  

Today, the Polich Tallix art foundry in New York is the one who makes the statues.  They were made in Chicago by R.S. Owens until 2016.

The winners are kept private.  The plaques are not affixed to the statue until after the award ceremony to ensure that word does not get out about a winner.

It is very popular today for stars to kiss Oscar when they win him.  Did you know that the first star to give “Oscar” a kiss was Audrey Hepburn in 1954?

If you are interested in what movies and stars have been nominated for this year, you can click here for a full list.      

Happy Viewing 🙂

Michael Vey

I’ve personally read most of the books in this series and really enjoyed each book I read. The characters are all unique and the story itself is written well. If you are a fan of Percy Jackson, then look no further than Michael Vey!

To everyone at Meridian High School, fourteen-year-old Michael Vey is nothing special, just the kid who has Tourette’s syndrome. But in truth, Michael is extremely special; he has electric powers. And he’s not the only one, either,

Join Michael, Taylor, Ostin, and the rest of the Electroclan as they use their powers and wits to prevent a dangerous organization from achieving its sinister goal of global domination.-Goodreads

Stephanie Plum Series

 

You’ve lost your job as a department store lingerie buyer, your car’s been repossessed, and most of your furniture and small appliances have been sold off to pay last month’s rent. Now the rent is due again. And you live in New Jersey. What do you do?

If you’re Stephanie Plum, you become a bounty hunter. But not just a nickel-and-dime bounty hunter; you go after the big money. That means a cop gone bad. And not just any cop. She goes after Joe Morelli, a disgraced former vice cop who is also the man who took Stephanie’s virginity at age 16 and then wrote details on a bathroom wall. With pride and rent money on the line, Plum plunges headlong into her first case, one that pits her against ruthless adversaries – people who’d rather kill than lose.

The New York Times Book Review calls Stephanie Plum “a Jersey girl with Bette Midler’s mouth and Cher’s fashion sense.” In Stephanie Plum, Evanovich has created a resourceful and humorous character who stands apart from the pack of gritty female detectives. –Goodreads

Stephanie Plum is a 26 book ongoing series that is filled with just enough romance and laughter to keep you reading on! If you’re a fan of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series and are sad that it’s ended, this is a series for you! If you’re looking for a series to start, look no further!

 

Carpe Librum!

 

Charley Davidson: A Series

Finally, I’d found a series that I could enjoy and stay entertained with! Darynda Jones‘ Charley Davidson series is the perfect series for romance lovers, mystery lovers, paranormal lovers, and even action lovers! Charley Davidson is the heroine of this beloved series (Of course! It’s named after her!), and she is amazing and kicks butt! Reyes Farrow is her love interest and is drop dead amazing and swoon-worthy! Cookie is her beloved best friend who keeps Charley on her feet! Every character within this series is so amazing and likable that you can’t help but love each and everyone of them, despite their faults!

Private investigator Charlotte Davidson was born with three things: looks; a healthy respect for the male anatomy; and the rather odd job title of grim reaper. Since the age of five, she has been helping the departed solve the mysteries of their deaths so they can cross. Charley’s dealing with a being more powerful – and definitely sexier – than any spectre she’s ever come across before. With the help of a nuisance skip tracer, a dead pubescent gang member named Angel, and a lifetime supply of sarcasm, Charley sets out to solve the highest profile case of the year and discovers that dodging bullets isn’t nearly as dangerous as falling in love. –Goodreads

Darynda Jones makes it her mission in writing to portray Charley as human, even though she’s supernatural, Charley makes mistakes and suffers with the same things that anyone would–all while the dead pass through her! She struggles with her life and everything she goes through in the series, that it’s sometimes hard to read her describe how she feels. Though, Darynda Jones will make anyone laugh! Charley is a hilarious and unique character that stays the same beloved person through the whole series!

If you enjoy Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series, then Charley Davidson should be your next series to read! There’s twelve books out and the thirteenth and final book comes out this January! Be on the look out!!!

A Downton Abbey Movie

If you haven’t checked out the amazing television series that is Downton Abbey, then you are seriously missing out! Luckily, the Aurora Public Library District owns all six seasons of the popular PBS drama that are just waiting for you to check them out! You have plenty of time to catch up with the series before the release of the full-length Downton Abbey movie next September!

(In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan.)

Downton Abbey follows the aristocratic Crawley family from 1912 to 1926, as well as the lives of their domestic servants in Yorkshire, England. The series opens with the sinking of the Titanic and with it, the heir who was to inherit the estate, as Lord Grantham only has three daughters. The scramble to find the next heir to the estate is on, and on the way viewers are taken through monumental historic events in British and world history, like World War I, the Spanish influenza epidemic, the Irish War of Independence, and various scandals and elections. The personal lives of the Crawley family and their servants are also swirled into the mix, investing you so deeply in the characters’ lives, you’ll forget they aren’t real people at all.

If you like historical and period pieces, as well as drama and Dame Maggie Smith, I urge you to check this series out as quickly as you can. Then you can track me down anywhere in the library and I will gladly discuss the series with you at length. We can wait in agony together for the movie to be released on September 13, 2019. (Which, by the way, will also include the majority of the original cast and will also be written by Julian Fellowes!)

In the meantime, check out these titles to hold you over:

Downton Abbey: A Celebration by Jessica Fellowes

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

The World of Downton Abbey by  Jessica Fellowes

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon

The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy by Anne De Courcy

The Manners of Downton Abbey

PBS Secrets of Highclere Castle

Happy Watching! And Reading!

Shakespeare Day!

To celebrate, or not to celebrate? That is the question, but the answer is: Of course! April 23 is National Shakespeare Day!

Baptized on April 26, 1564, William Shakespeare is widely considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, having works ranging from plays to poems, as well as being an actor himself. He was born in raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Not much is known about his early life except at the age of eighteen, he married the much-older Anne Hathaway and had three children with her. He traveled to London sometime between 1585 and 1592 and became a successful writer, actor, and part-owner of a playing company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men. He retired to Stratford around 1613, around the age of 49, where he died three years later.

Little else is known about Shakespeare, except that he wrote and produced 37 plays during his time in London, ranging from comedies, including Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, to historical dramas, like Richard III, Henry IV, V, and VI, to tragedies, such as Hamlet, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus. He also wrote 154 sonnets as well as narrative poetry. Shakespeare set the bar that many other writers would follow, influencing generations of writers still today. If you’re interested in learning more about William Shakespeare, follow this link to books in our collection about his life.

So, how can the Aurora Public Library District help you celebrate National Shakespeare Day? Well, you can check out DVDs based on his plays and life, as well as modern retellings of his classic plays. I think it is important to read Shakespeare, but I think it is even more important to watch Shakespeare to really understand him. There is nothing quite like watching words on the page come to life before your eyes, in period costumes with facial expressions and vocal intonations to help you to really grasp the play.

You can also check out copies of his plays and poems to read for yourself, if you’d like to let the words wash over you and give yourself time to process what takes place in each scene, or what each poem is really trying to say. There are physical copies as well as digital copies through the Indiana Digital Download Center. The Aurora Public Library District has a collection of No Fear Shakespeare titles, which puts the original text side-by-side with modern-day language in order to make it easier to understand. This will definitely come in handy if you want more depth to the play.

I am continually amazed at how relevant the themes of the plays are to today, even though Shakespeare’s time was almost 500 years ago. The language might seem archaic, but if you dig deeper until you find the meaning behind the prose, you’ll be surprised, too. Shakespeare was a genius at capturing humans, from their words to the words they weren’t speaking, but that their body language, facial expressions, and tones would show. If you ever get the chance to see one of Shakespeare’s plays in person, I highly recommend that you take it.

How will you celebrate National Shakespeare Day? I think I’ll reread my favorite play, Hamlet, and then watch The Lion King, which is what the Disney movie is based off of. Pretty cool, huh?

Happy Reading!

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day I wanted to republish this post, first posted Feb 13, 2017.

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is a celebration of accomplishments by African Americans. It’s also a time to recognize how African Americans helped shape this nation. The US is not the only country who dedicates a month to celebrating black history, Canada and the United Kingdom do, as well.

Black History Month actually started out as a single week called ‘Negro History Week’, by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. They chose the second week of February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

In decades that followed, cities across the country issued yearly proclamations recognizing the week. In the late ’60s, around the same time as the civil rights movement and the growing awareness of black identity, the week evolved into the month. President Gerald R. Ford was the first president to officially recognize the month in 1976

To help celebrate Black History Month, below are some books showing African American History.

      

 

 

Series Selection

Cassandra Clare is known for her series: The Mortal Instruments, but many don’t know about the series she wrote after that is supposed to be a prequel series to the Mortal Instruments: The Infernal Devices.

Clockwork AngelThe year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Clockwork PrinceIn the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends. With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

Clockwork PrincessTHE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING! A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray. Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever. As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

 

“You can’t be serious —” Tessa began, but broke off as the door to the library opened, and Charlotte entered the room. She wasn’t alone. There were at least a dozen men following her, and — Tessa saw, as they filed into the room — two women.

Tessa gazed at them in fascination. So these were Shadowhunters — more Shadowhunters in one place than she’d ever seen before. She stared at the two women, remembering what Will had said about Boadicea, that women could be warriors as well. The taller of the women had powder-white hair wound in into a crown at the back of her head; she looked as if she were well into her sixties, and her presence was regal. The other of the women was younger, with dark hair and catlike eyes. The men were a mixed group, all in carefully tailored dark clothes: the eldest of them was an elegant-looking gentleman with an iron-gray beard and a steely gaze to match; the youngest was a boy probably no more than a year older than Jem or Will. He was handsome in a pretty sort of way, with delicate features, tousled brown hair and a watchful expression.

Jem made a noise of surprise and displeasure. “Gabriel Lightwood,” he muttered to Will, under his breath. “What’s he doing here?”

Will hadn’t moved. He was staring at the brown-haired boy with his eyebrows raised, a faint smile playing about his lips.

“Just don’t get into a fight with him, Will,” Jem added hastily. “Not here. That’s all I ask.”

“Rather a lot to ask, don’t you think?” Will said, without looking at Jem. He was watching Charlotte as she ushered everyone toward the large square table at the front of the room; she seemed to be urging everyone to settle themselves into seats around it. “Mr. Wayland,” she was saying, “and Mr. Harrowgate, here, by the head of the table, if you please. Aunt Callida — if you’d just sit over there by the map —”

“And where is George?” asked the gray-haired man, with an air of brusque politeness. “Your husband? As head of the Institute, he really ought to be here.”

Charlotte hesitated for only a fraction of a second before plastering a smile onto her face. “He’s on his way, Mr. Lightwood,” she said, and Tessa realized two things — one, that the gray-haired man was most likely the father of Gabriel Lightwood, and two, that Charlotte was lying.”

Disney’s Live Action Remakes

First Maleficent, then Cinderella, and now Beauty and the Beast?! Disney is coming out with some great live action remakes that I, personally, am excited for.

Christopher Robin (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)- A grown up Christopher Robin returns to the Hundred Acre woods to reunite with Pooh and his friends. This will be directed by Marc Forster, who also directed Finding Neverland which stars Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.

Tinker Bell All we know right now about this live action remake is that Reese Witherspoon has signed to play Tinker Bell. This will not be a musical at this moment in time.

The Little MermaidMarc Platt who also produced Girl on a Train is set to produce the story. We currently aren’t sure whether this will be a musical like the others or not.

The Lion KingJon Favreau, the director of the new live action The Jungle Book, is going to direct. Donald Glover who stars in the FX Original: Atlanta, is set to play Simba. James Earl Jones who voiced Mufasa in The Lion King and The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, will reprise his role. This will be a musical with original songs remade and new songs.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs- Negotiations are for Erin Cressida Wilson, who adapted the scripts for The Girl on the Train. Once again, Marc Platt is on board to produce. It will be a musical with some original songs and some brand new songs.

Peter Pan- With as many remakes with Peter Pan there are, Disney has decided it’s time again for a new one. This will be directed by David Lowery who also directed Disney’s Pete’s Dragons.

DumboIn the cartoon, Dumbo is only a baby, in this remake it is rumored that Dumbo will be an older version of himself. Eva Green is in talks to play a trapeze artist. Danny Devito is the ringmaster and Colin Farrel is going to play a widowed father of two children who fall in love with the elephant. Tim Burton is set to direct!

Cruella De-Ville-The most hated villain from 101 Dalmatians is getting her own big screen movie. The movie is going to relay her younger self and star Emma Stone as the young Cruella.

AladdinThe new live-action film will not adhere to the storyline we all know. Instead, it’ll be a new take and new version of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. Filmmaker Guy Richie, is said to direct. Though it isn’t adhering to the cartoon version, the remake will have many of the musical elements.

Continuing on from Aladdin The great big blue Genie we all know and love is getting his own movie as well. It’s unknown at the moment whether the two storylines will intersect like Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty did.

Mulan There’s been so much controversy over Mulan. Disney has announced that it will not be a whitewashed movie, meaning only Chinese actors and actresses will play the vital roles. A decision has not been made whether there will be music or not. Niki Caro, who directed Disney’s McFarland, USA, is rumored to be directing Mulan. Mulan is set to be released in November of 2018.

 

I’m really excited about Mulan, but while Disney is making remakes of movies that have already had several remakes or sequels, what about the underappreciated movies, like Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, and even Atlantis: The Lost Empire?

 

What Disney remake are you most excited about? What Disney movie would you like to be remade?