“Jane of Austin” by Hillary Manton Lodge— Book Review

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This retelling of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” was a mix of like and dislike for me…. The book was not holding my best attention until the last third, so I’ve divided some of the review to share my thoughts on the parts.

First Two Thirds:

The story started out all right. There was drama (girls had to go from being rich to poor because of their dad’s mistakes, and therefore ostracized because of their association with their father), humor (which I won’t go into detail so as not to spoil story), and…yeah. It was just a pleasant little contemporary read. The story then progressed with the sisters trying to deal with life issues and moving to a new place. It was all right, but not a page turning wowzer. (<— I know, not a real word. o_O )

It was just like reading a novel about everyday life, which is not a bad thing—I have enjoyed this quite a bit in the past. Like a said, it’s pleasant, but it did not have me picking up the book as often as I could have.

Last Third:

This is when my interest picked up and I was like, dude, this is kind of good. Things started tying together with the romances, the drama became more heart-pounding-ly intense, and the SWEET ending? Totally an AWWWWW! ending. So,  yeah, all of this helped perk my rating for this book.

I give “Jane of Austin” a rating of four. It is an overall well written book, and it does have its enjoyable parts, especially towards the end. It’s not a bad book, just simple and… sensible. ūüėČ

Also, now I want to watch the 1995 version of “Sense and Sensibility.”

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

*Thanks to the Blogging for Books program for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

“The Hunter’s Moon” by O.R. Melling — Book Review

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About:

The story of two girl cousins who go on an adventure to see if the Irish world of Faerie is real. One of the cousins gets kidnapped by the faerie king (*gasp*), and the other cousin decides to rescue her cousin, going on a journey to do so…

My Review:

This was one of those books that was good in some areas, but not so great in other areas. *sad face* The descriptions could be so beautiful. The author gave many enchanting portrayals of  the world of Faerie. Her wording was gorgeous, and, as a fellow writer, I could not help but wish I could write just as prettily today one day. It was also interesting seeing all of the Irish elements, and how the Irish characters came off as authentic, using Irish phrases and whatnot.

Also, there’s a leprechaun. An urban city leprechaun. O_o

However, while this story had such overall potential, it lacked in the flow. The story felt quite a bit choppy in places, moving so fast that it felt like it was missing pieces to connect the jumps. It wasn’t missing plot stuff, but it felt like something could have added to it. I think the author could have given a little more time to parts of the story. She had the talent to write descriptions, but it seemed as if she was in a rush to keep the story going, and the end result was not a smooth as it could have been story. Romance that happened too quick was one of the biggest issues of this. ūüėõ

I give “The Hunter’s Moon” by O.R. Melling a rating of three.

 

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

“Wildwood Dancing” by Juliet Marillier

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About The Book :

¬†An awesome retelling of the fairy tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Seriously.

My Review:

¬† I had my eye on “Wildwood Dancing” for a over year. ¬†I mean, just look at the magnificence of its cover! It’s so whimsical and intricately detailed. But of course we all know that no matter how fabulous a cover is, what makes the book fully grip our hearts is whether or not the words inside touch us. Well, thankfully, the words inside this book were just as lovely as the cover upon it.

Going into a “Twelve Dancing Princess” retelling, I was somewhat wary that there would be dull scene after scene of just dancing. Do not get me wrong— dancing isn’t something I disapprove in books— but I prefer the story around it to flow and swirl just as smoothly as dancing should be done, and not just be focused on complicated steps and what not. And that is the case with this book. The author gave a story with sisters who visit a most magical world and dance, yet it is not dull and every dancing moment was far from putting me to sleep. *applause*

I found it rather interesting that this book takes place in Transylvania, a place we all associate with… well, monsters some people would rather not meet up with. And of course, vampires are the creatures that I speak of. And as weird as it sounds, this book does have these creatures, though they’re called Night People. Their use in the realm of magical creatures we are more familiar with in fairy tales (like fairies and dwarfs) was different, but a pretty neat idea to me. While there is mention of a supposed vampire attack on one person and some animals, it was never squeamishly gory, and so the inclusion of these creatures was well done. *more applause*

As for the characters, most of them were so likable. Jena is one of the more quiet literary heroines who doesn’t have to wield a sword to be cool. And I just love her little frog companion, Gogu. Her sisters were also very well developed, and they seemed very real. I actually liked that this particular Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling had only 5 sisters, so there were less characters to keep up with. But the few characters in them were awesome— save the villains — and I’d like to read more about them. (I have read the sequel to this book, but there NEEDS to be another…) *loudest applause*

Negatives for this book for me are few. ¬†First, there were a couple uses of God’s name as exclamations (not in my copy now, mwahahaha…).

Next, while there were parts I didn’t see coming, I guessed early on about one thing thing and was right, and I wished I could have been more surprised. But my Sherlock moment wasn’t enough to ruin my overall enjoyment of this tale.

Lastly, I wasn’t very comfortable with the inclusion of a witch character. It is a fantasy, though, so I just took her as another fantasy type, such as a fairy.

In the end, with sweetness, adventure, and cutest little ending, I closed the book and hugged it because it was such a lovely tale for me. No, it wasn’t one hundred percent perfect, but over all I really enjoyed it and do plan to try some more by this author. Her storytelling is beautiful, and I find myself wanting more. I give “Wildwood Dancing” by Juliette Marillier a rating of four and a half (since it’s not quite a five because some of the content, but I overall like it quite a bit.).

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

“Rules of Murder” by Julianna Deering — Book Review

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About The Book (From Publisher’s Website):

¬† “From The Tip of his black Homburg to the crease in his stylish cheviot trousers, he’s the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered.¬†

  Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. 

¬† With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he’s learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be–not the butler nor blackmailer, the chauffeur nor embezzler. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.”

My Review:

¬† This mystery book had been on my TBR list for a long while before I read it. I’m not as big of a mystery reader as I was when I was younger (the Nancy Drew and Mandie Mystery days…), but something about the vintage-looking cover caught my eye (seriously, isn’t it awesome?!). Then there was the praise I read about Drew Farthering (hero of this series) that made me a tad more curious… It took me awhile, but now I can say yes, I’ve met Mr. Drew Farthering. And my opinion of ¬†him is…

He’s one of my favorite kind of characters, He has a sarcastic sense of humor that may have amused me too much. Also, he likes reading, so that’s a bonus brownie added to his score board. I’ve read quite a few books with ladies who enjoy a good fictional tale, but it hasn’t as often happened that a story’s male lead is a reader. Thanks to the author for making the hero all the more awesome by his love of books!

But he’s not the only character that added to my enjoyment of this book. The heroine, Madeline, is a perfect blend of spunk and femininity. ¬†She’s a pretty tough character, but not so tough that she comes across as not having feelings I think the average lady has when under stressful situations.

And then there’s Drew’s best friend, Nick, a character that I liked just as much as Drew. I like the friendship between the two, and how the author made me feel the strength of their relationship from years of said friendship.

Obviously, as this book is a mystery, you’re probably curious on how this book did in the actual mystery department? I’ll say it certainly kept me guessing up until the near end. I felt pretty sleuth-like myself when some of my guesses were correct, but I was not sure until they unfolded, so that was pretty cool. I often love to be surprised and shocked in reading, and this book definitely held some unexpected moments.

Now, while overall ¬†this book was an enjoyable read, there were a couple of parts that I personally did not like. One, the romance was too instantaneous for me. It felt almost forced to me for a while. Yet I suppose that, while I certainly would have preferred a little less speed in the attraction, I was able to feel all right about it when the book was over. Even began to think some of the romance was kind of sweet… The other thing is that this book got somewhat gruesome in spaces. This is a murder mystery, so it is no surprise, but it still gave me a squeamish feeling.

This cozy mystery transported me to another time and place. The 1930’s are not a time I often visit in fiction, and this tale was an interesting trip into the period. Plus, the setting was England, and that just made it all the more better.

Overall, I did like this book, and therefore I’m giving “Rules of Murder” by Julianna Deering a rating of four. I recommend it to mature teens and adults.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

“Stalking Jack The Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco — Book Review

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About The Book:

¬† Audrey Rose Wadsworth is a young lady who has a different sort of hobby than most ladies in nineteenth century England have. The hobby? Well, she likes to assist her uncle in performing autopsies. It is because of this unique past time that she gets involved with the victims of Jack the Ripper, and therefore decides that she wants to find him. Only, doing so will test her heart in ways she may never have imagined…

My Review:

¬† The cover of this book is gorgeous (Doesn’t it just call out for those who pass by it to pick it up?). I myself have seen this book, but ignored it for some time despite the lovely cover. Then I listened to a sample of the audio book version, and, my interest piqued even more, I decided to give the full thing a listen.

The story is dark. There are a lot of sad happenstances, and gory details add to the grayish mood. Nonetheless, it was fascinating. It is one of the few stories I have recently read where I really was not sure what was going to happen. When I thought the story was having a lagging moment, something would happen to keep my interest. I love it when a story can keep me guessing for fair amounts of time. Otherwise, I can grow a little bored.

Another thing I like is that the author really painted her story world well without overwhelming me with too long descriptions. It’s almost as if I truly visited White Chapel, The Wadsworths’ Residence, laboratories, and even a mental asylum. ūüėõ

As for characters, I liked the heroine, and found ¬†some of her sense of humor entertaining. Some of the other characters were interesting, like Thomas and Audrey’s uncle. I liked her relationship with her brother, and I found the fact that her father was an extreme germ-a-phobe amusing (Probably should not have…). As for Jack the Ripper— well, I won’t tell you who he was in the story, but…just, why? WHY?

Since I listened to this book instead of reading it, I thought I would mention that I found the narrator’s voice to be perfectly chilly. She does a pleasant job of bringing the characters to life, and her tone really sets a mysterious atmosphere.

Negatives…. Hm, there were some curse words, and there were some negative references to God that I found off-putting.

Except for the negative stuff, I did really like this book, and am looking forward to its sequel’s release. I give “Stalking Jack The Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco a rating of four.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

 

 

“Immortal Fire” by Annette Marie— Book Review

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About:

Emi and the gang are on the final parts of their journey to save the world from the earth Kami. Time is running out, and for them to succeed, a too-soon-death is a possibility for one of them.

This is the third and final book in Annette Marie’s Japanese Urban Fantasy, “The Red Winter Trilogy.”

My Review:

I loved the first two books in this series. They were different than my usual reads, and I appreciated the unique quality they had for me. The characters were also awesome, and the endings each contained a cliff-hanger (*sings* Hanging from a cliff…. and that’s while he’s called CLIFF HANGERRR! *stops singing* *hopes someone understands this* ).

How did book number three compare? Well, there is not a whole lot I can say without spoiling the book/series, so I will simply say that…

A lot of it was still pretty. darn. cool. Just about all of the things that happened were a perfect blend for a series’ finale. All the questions I wanted answered were answered. There was action, sweet romantic moments, heart tearing tragedy… (What? I like a bit of drama, all right? All right.) Oh, and unexpectedness. When I read a book and things happen that I do not see coming, it always makes the book a hundred times better. (Yes, sometimes even if it is sad.)

Yet there was a big downer in this book for me. *sniffles*

I won’t ¬†go into vivid detail, but there was a long, intimate romantic scene between two characters. I liked that the previous two books were cleaner in the romance department, yet this book crossed my border of comfort-ability with the scene. So yeah, I did a bit of skim reading and skipping over this part. ūüėõ

Aside from that one scene though, I really did enjoy reading this final book in the series, and am a touch sad that it is over. It was a lovely time, and I terribly wish there would be future books with these characters in the works for the future. Alas, I know of no such thing.

I give “Immortal Fire” by Annette Marie a rating of four. If you plan to read this book, I recommend you read the previous two because you would seriously be missing a lot of important stuff.

 

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

 

*Thanks to Xpresso Blog Tours for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

“The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet” by Stephanie Morrill— Book Review

Fun fact that I have not discussed much on this blog: I’m a writer, and today I have a review for a book that I think other writers might enjoy (or even non-writer bookworms that like contemporary set books). It kind of reminded me of that old Disney Channel movie, “Read it and Weep,” yet was still its own story.

 

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About (From Publisher’s Website):

“When ousted by her lifelong friends, teen writer Ellie Sweet takes to story writing as self-therapy. She casts herself as Lady Gabrielle, a favorite in the medieval Italian court, her ex-friends as her catty rivals, and makes a pesky rake of the boy who thinks he‚Äôs too good for her in real life. But when Ellie achieves the impossible and her ‚Äúcoping mechanism‚ÄĚ becomes a published novel, she faces the consequences of using her pen as her sword.”


My Review:

I like how this book shows the ordinary aspects of a writer’s life. We writers can make some interesting worlds, but I can guess that most of our lives contain the ordinary circumstances of normal, everyday living.¬†I’ve¬†not read many books where the heroine is a writer, and with the first-person point of view giving me an in-depth look into her thoughts and feelings, I couldn’t help but end up liking her story.¬†Though Ellie’s life does have some aspects that do seem less likely to often happen in the real world (sixteen year old gets published =¬†wow), it was still realistic enough where it could have happened. Add in that Ellie has hard things to deal with in her life that remind me of circumstances I’ve been through, and she became¬†someone¬†easy for me to¬†cheer¬†on.

I also like the diverse characterization in the supporting characters. When I read a story that has characters that are so different than the usual, it makes a good impression on me. From the boy on the other side of the tracks, to the grandmother who isn’t exactly the “cookie-baking, hugging” type, I commend the author for giving an interesting cast to be a part of Ellie’s tale.

Now, though I over all liked this book, I do have a few negative thoughts. For one, I would have liked it if I could have gotten more glimpses into Ellie’s story world (just something I was curious about). And even though Ellie is someone I can relate to and whose wit and sass I found amusing, I¬†probably¬†would have liked her story a lot more if I had read it when I was younger. Don’t get me wrong— I still like the book— but I found that Ellie’s immature decisions in her teenage drama, especially when it came to romance, were somewhat more¬†irritating¬†for me than they may have once been. (That’s probably part of me getting older…)

But to summarize, I think that this is a fun, thought-provoking story. Entertaining, but certainly containing some depth, “The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet” is a winner in the contemporary YA. For sure, Ellie Sweet is one of the few contemporary fiction heroines who I’ve been able to relate to more than just a little.
I give “The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet” by Stephanie Morrill a rating of four.

 

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.