Reader: Emily Smith, Mansfield University.
What I read: "Lady Audley's Secret" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.
Genre: Sensation novel, gothic, 19th-century British literature.
Synopsis: It begins with descriptions of Audley Court where Sir Michael Audley and his daughter, Alicia, live. All of the details about the darkness - the estate that reeks of death and the dismal well that no one knows if it is deep or shallow - all are important to notice and will become vital near the end.
The widower, Sir Michael, stumbles upon the governess, Lucy Graham, and though she nearly is his daughter's age, they marry.
Alicia will have no part in their relationship and does not trust her. We then find out about George Talboys, who is on his way home from a voyage to meet his wife, Helen, and son, Georgie.
He comes home to find that she is dead, and decides to stay with his friend Robert Audley, who is the nephew of Sir Michael. After attending Audley Court alone one day, George goes missing and Robert investigates his disappearance-murder.
He follows clue after clue, all of which lead to his new aunt, Lady Audley. With twists and turns, it is revealed that Lady Audley is in fact Helen Talboys, George's "dead" wife.
She claims Robert is mad, and after piling up enough evidence against her, Robert forces her to tell the truth to Sir Michael. Sir Michael leaves with his daughter and Robert sends Lady Audley to an insane asylum.
Here, she admits to murdering George by pushing him into the well.
She is given one last name - Mrs. Taylor - to not tarnish the Audley name. Robert returns to Audley Court and finds George there alive. Robert marries George's sister, Lady Audley dies, and all is well by the end.
Stats: Paperback, Oxford World's Classics Edition, 447 pages, $10.95.
What I thought: I've read a lot of novels from the 19th century up to recent times, but "Lady Audley's Secret" has been one of the richest texts I've come across. It's full of twists and turns, and to read it is like to watch a movie.
At the end of nearly every chapter, Braddon ends in suspense, that introduces a new link to the mystery and makes the reader want to continue reading. This technique was not done by accident, though. During the 19th century, novels were not available in their entirety like they are today, and were serialized instead.
People had to wait a month to know what happened next in these novels - Braddon's included. Knowing this, the novel's layout makes a lot more sense.
Braddon also chose to cover the themes of imprisonment, madness, power, gender and many others. Besides an interesting mystery, Braddon put in "life lessons" for the reader as well.
Reader: Sean O'Boyle, Mansfield University.
What I read: "A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life" by Bethenny Frankel.
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir.
Synopsis: New York times best-selling author, reality TV star and business mogul Bethenny Frankel gives the reader an insight on how she made her dreams come true throughout her life.
"A Place Of Yes" tells how Frankel built her company the now-famous SkinnyGirl brand into a multi-million dollar empire and struggles to find time for her personal life with her husband and her newborn daughter.
Stats: Paperback, Touchstone, 336 pages, $16.
What I thought: Frankel shares the 10 rules she created to get everything you want out of life. Rules such as "Find Your Truth," "Act On It" and "Own It" have all helped her achieve her dream of being a successful business woman.
Frankel tells many personal stories about obstacles she had to over come in the business and entertainment world such as being turned down by all the large liquor companies when trying to sell her SkinnyGirl margarita and making the choice to leave the Bravo network "Real Housewives of New York" reality show.
"A Place of Yes" is not just about thinking positive you have to be willing to put in the work and follow the rules Frankel has made.
I found this book both funny and sad at times because Frankel is so honest and real with her reader.
Overall, it was a great read and very inspiring.