Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James

December 17, 2014

18693943

If you know me at all, you already know that I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan. Sadly, she only has a few novels to choose from…But that doesn’t stop me from being a die-hard devotee, thanks to the many authors out there who love her as much as I do. One wonderful thing about the legacy of Jane Austen is that it opens up a world of spin-off literature. Tribute sequels to the novels are wildly popular, and authors enjoy speculating on the life of the author herself, too.

Fans of Jane Austen will already know that Jane never married in her lifetime, and spent most of her life acting as a companion to her father. Her many novels about Edwardian love send out the message that despite her celibacy, she may have had some idea of love, herself. We love to speculate that Jane might have had a lover once, too. Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James, is a devoted follow-through on this very fantasy.

Jane Austen is 15 years old, one step behind her debutante sister and desperately hoping for love and adventure, despite being very much under her mother’s thumb. Enter Edward Taylor (Yes, Edward-if you read Austen, you will immediately think of Sense and Sensibility), a college-bound young man who saves Jane when her carriage gets stuck in the mud (sounds like Emma, doesn’t it?) The politics of marriage and courting are exhibited in Jane Austen’s First Love just as well as they are in the novels by Austen, herself, and fans will not be disappointed. Definitely worth picking up for your fellow Austen lover as a Christmas gift this year.

If you enjoy Jane Austen’s First Love, and other Austen spin-off literature, please also be sure pull up this Goodreads List of Jane Austen Spin-offs and check them out!


What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

October 13, 2014

20765978

Maya Rodale is one of my favorite smutty romance novelists. Her heroines are always plucky little things, very spirited and cheeky, and her tales are full of comedy and warmth. The “Bad Boys and Wallflowers” series has been a fun collection to sprinkle among my more intense reading choices in the last year or so. What a Wallflower Wants is no exception.

Miss Prudence Merryweather is approaching her 4th year as a debutante, and she is the only graduate of her finishing school to be unwed after so many seasons, much to her mortification…But Prudence has a complicated past and a dark secret that keeps her away from eligible bachelors, until she finds a gentleman who is willing to offer her a marriage of convenience that will solve both of their marriage woes without compromising their mutual secrets. Unfortunately while they are on their way to finally be wed, a highwayman stops their carriage and her deplorable fiancé throws her out of the carriage in offering to the blackguard-and she decides that he is no man she could possibly spend her life with…And she is alone on a country road, with no idea where she is, walking for hours before a handsome gentleman pulls up beside her in his carriage…But can she trust this man? What are his intentions? Is he who he claims to be?

This story is full of fun, the bad guys always get what they have coming, and love always wins….So if you haven’t tried Maya Rodale and you love bodice rippers, pick up her Bad Boys and Wallflower series and you won’t regret the purchase.


Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

September 24, 2014

21491406

Kathryn Campbell is a grown woman, but she finds herself haunted by events from her teenage years. Her best friend Jennifer said goodbye to her at a campfire after graduation, and no one ever saw her again. Did she run away? Was she kidnapped, or worse, murdered? The mystery remains unsolved…Until Kathryn’s marriage falls apart and she finds herself living back at home with her mom, and seeing the same faces she once saw in her high school hallways. To make matters more complicated, the editor of the local newspaper asks her to write a freelance piece in tribute to her missing friend, in light of their ten year reunion in a matter of days.

Kathryn doesn’t want to stir things up or dredge up those old memories…Or does she? She finds herself pulled into a cyclone of tensions that she was too clueless to realize as a teen…And finally finding a challenge that she can’t back down from no matter how tempting it might be to do so.

I, personally, love this kind of books, in the vein of Emily Arsenault (or Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places), where someone is tracking the steps of someone who died or disappeared after the trail has run cold…Probably because I really adore anything related to cold case kinds of files and stories about killers who get justice long after the public has given up the chase. This novel was a decent read, although I have to admit I was occasionally confused by inconsistencies in the heroine’s behavior…Check it out for yourself and feel free to comment your thoughts, too.


Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

September 11, 2014

20306788

Annie Hewitt is down on her luck. Her mother passed away, leaving her a secluded island house in Maine, and since Annie is broke and jobless she has no choice but to sort through her mother’s things and decide what to do next with her life. Unfortunately, the island has many bad memories for Annie, mostly attached to the house next door, a giant mansion where her mother was briefly the lady of the house.

Is the current man of the house responsible for her near death as a teen? Is he a sadistic murderer, waiting for his next victim? Or is he just a dark, brooding, reclusive writer with serious sex appeal? The line is getting blurry for Annie, especially when she is very limited on social company…with the exception of her 3 larger-than-life puppets, of course.

I didn’t know what to make of this book at first-I truly thought I was stepping into a serious “unreliable narrator” situation, which is great because I have a penchant for that type of literature. But as the story unfolds, there are others on the island who might not have pure intentions, and evil is lurking in the corners. Annie has to use her humor and wits to shake down the community and figure out just what is going on there on Peregrine Island..And where is the legacy her mother claimed to have left her at the cottage? Does someone else want it, too?

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a darker sense of humor and a taste for sarcasm. It is a combination of romance, comedy, suspense and drama, all tied together. I plan to read whatever else Susan Elizabeth Phillips has to offer the world, after reading Heroes Are My Weakness. Highly recommended!


Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

July 9, 2014

This book will creep you out. I mean seriously. I read Gone Girl a couple years back and when I saw that the movie was coming out this year, I decided to check out what else Gillian Flynn has been up to. Sharp Objects came onto my radar since it was available in audiobook from my library and I was in need of some new listening. So here it is:

Camille Preaker is a journalist who grew up in a small southern town. She is mostly estranged from her family, but her boss sends her home to cover story-girls keep going missing and when the bodies appear, they are missing teeth. Camille will stay with her overbearing, narcissistic mother and horribly spoiled half sister while she talks to community members and the police about the missing/dead girls.

Going home is never as simple as it seems to be, however. Things aren’t quite right in the small town, there are secrets and somehow Camille can’t help but feel they are somehow tied into her own past. And Camille may not be what she originally seemed, either. What is true and what is warped out of focus? Who is telling the truth and who is hiding something? Who would kill a young girl? Multiple young girls?

I like mysteries, and I LOVE unreliable narrators. If you liked The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, or if you enjoyed Gone Girl as much as I did, let this book leave you sleepless and horrified. I’m pretty tough and I have to say, Gillian Flynn, you really know how to leave readers looking for psychopathic killers around every corner. If you think you can handle it, pick up Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn today.


It Takes a Scandal, by Caroline Linden

July 9, 2014

18480594

Abigail Weston has a life of promise in front of her. Her family is “new money” and she has a very promising dowry to make up for her lacking aristocratic background, she hopes to find a suitable (and hopefully devilishly handsome) husband when her father buys a country estate. She is immediately attracted to the brooding, serious neighbor, Sebastian Vane. But she learns that he has a dark past, and much of the town steers clear of him.

Sebastian Vane cannot pretend the lovely new neighbor exists, nor can he deny that he finds her irresistible. But what can he offer a woman who has everything, when he has nearly lost everything in his life?

These two love birds will fight against all odds to make their way to one another…But is their love strong enough to bring them together in the end? It Takes a Scandal is (obviously) a bodice-ripper of the first order. If you like smutty romance novels (you know who you are), then don’t miss Caroline Linden’s latest release.


Mrs. Hemingway, by Naomi Wood

June 12, 2014

18114165

Anyone who knows me well AT ALL knows that I will never turn down a book if I hear the word “Hemingway”. I’m not sure why this is, because as far as I can tell he was a moody, morose alcoholic most of the time. But my interest started when I was very young, and I watched In Love and War, with Sandra Bullock, and I thought he seemed so tortured and passionate (even portrayed by Chris O’Donnell). I think, in real life, he was very charismatic and even magnetic…And he hurt everyone around him when he fell into the darkness that consumed him more and more throughout his life, leading  up to the moment when he took his own life in his later years.

Hemingway was married to four different women-each of them remarkable in her own way. When I was asked if I would be interested in covering Mrs. Hemingway, by Naomi Wood, I was ecstatic. A novel that describes Hemingway’s relationships with his four wives, based on letters and anecdotes from his life? I couldn’t resist.

When Mrs. Hemingway begins, Ernest is married to Hadley, his first wife and the mother to his first born son. She has been traveling with Ernest and living in Europe, and she recalls the moment when she met Ernest and how they fell in love, then the terrible events leading up to her divorce and the entrance of Pauline, the spunky young fashion journalist with family money and not a care in the world for anything…Except the charismatic Ernest Hemingway, of course.

Next we travel through Pauline, who was always a little naïve, and who swore she would never let Ernest go…But when the driven, intelligent, recklessly brave war correspondent Martha Gellhorn enters the scene she doesn’t stand a chance.

Martha and Ernest were passionate and explosive, feeding off one another for energy, for inspiration, and eventually draining one another until Martha finally had enough…But Ernest had the sweet, lovely Mary waiting in the shadows to swoop in and give him the affection and care he craved.

Ernest’s wives were very different, but they all saw something in Hemingway that made them risk everything to have him. Perhaps this is one of the things I find so fascinating about him. So many women, smart, decent women, fell into the storm of his life and fell back out again.

Mrs. Hemingway only takes a surface-level approach to the relationships of these women with Hemingway, but I believe Naomi Wood’s most remarkable accomplishment with this novel is her painfully accurate portrayal of life with a talented, charismatic man who said and did despicable things, hurt people around him, and who was so afraid to be alone that he didn’t have space for a single gap between women in his life…who drowned himself in liquor until he finally lost his mind.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 484 other followers

%d bloggers like this: