Sunday, September 4, 2016

Reviews of Recently-Read Books

This summer, I invested in two months of Kindle Unlimited in order to make myself rest up. I knew that I had majorly overworked in the spring (well, all year, really), and I had to rest, one way or other. The first book I won as part of a lovely give-away on Austen Variations; the rest were straight from Kindle Unlimited with the exception of the second book (the mystery) which came from the library. Because of my very limited attention span this summer, I've read either series I know well (Anne Perry and Victoria Thompson's mysteries, each with more than 20 books featuring the same main characters) or Austen and/or Bronte fan fiction novels.

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The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was completely non-put-down-able. I should have been grading stories for my online writing class, but I spent all morning finishing this book. I won my Kindle copy of this book as part of a release give-away, and I am wearing my Darcy quote necklace as I type this. :)

I found Rose and Morgan, James and Aidan, and especially Jane, to be compelling and very "human" characters. Their flaws and embarrassing moments were blush-worthy at times and laughable at others. Some of the suspense was incredible, too, as the story took what could have been a very serious turn...but dodged the proverbial (not literal!) bullet at the last possible second.

I felt that the ending left us hanging a perhaps a sequel shall be in the works????

And how in the world do two authors write in tandem so seamlessly??? So very impressive!!

What a wonderful "ride," ladies, and congratulations on a delightful book! And thank you for my lovely Austen "goodies" although I'm not so sure about the Love Hearts--I think I prefer my American version of Sweet-Tarts. ;)

Murder on St. Nicholas AvenueMurder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rather shorter book, and I quite missed Sarah and Malloy as this mystery occurs while they were in Europe on their honeymoon.

But Maeve and Gino, with the great help of Sarah's parents, the Deckers, a well-known Knickerbocker family, solve the mystery before Sarah and Malloy return...and before Christmas

Steampunk Darcy Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such an intriguing book, especially with the Steampunk fantasy world which is so very detailed that I wondered if it were not a fantasy world in and of itself outside of this one novel.

The story itself is fascinating, the characters compelling, and the overall effect was truly out of this world! I loved it!!

Mr. Darcy's Pride and Joy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Mr. Darcy's Pride and Joy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Monica Fairview
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like everything written by Monica Fairview, I adored it. Her characterizations of Darcy and Elizabeth are always so fascinating. I had not read the first two books in the series, but to find Darcy and Elizabeth on the brink of their engagement that Mr. Bennet is trying to delay if not completely destroy because of his own pride, was indeed intriguing enough to push ahead and see what happens, even if I didn't have the complete backstory. I'm glad I did. :)

Mr. Darcy's Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Mr. Darcy's Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating romance set against the budding social unrest in the North as the workers in various factories revolt with violence and brutality against anyone of the higher classes, despite the fact that Darcy and his family are attempting to help the impoverished workers. Elizabeth is caught in the middle of it all, of course, and her poor opinion of Darcy quickly changes as she sees his true character readily displayed in his actions rather than in his awkward words alone.

Halton Cray Halton Cray by N.B. Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across Halton Cray as I sought out some variations of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, my favorite novel, on This fan fiction novel picked up Charlotte Bronte's language and characters so perfectly that I could have sworn that Charlotte had left an alternative ending of her famous novel behind, and it had just been discovered. Seriously.

In the author's notes on the fan fiction site, the author noted that she had written a modern novel that is loosely based on Jane Eyre called Halton Cray, and I happily downloaded it to my Kindle. Alexandra, a 21-year old recent college graduate, takes a part-time job at Halton Cray, a British historical landmark that is open for tours. The only problem: the house is reportedly haunted. Weird and inexplicable happenings occur, but skeptical Alex doesn't scare easily. The historian/archivist, Thomas, mocks her continuously, treating her with little respect, but she is inexplicably drawn to him despite the fact that he can be rather creepy and many of the staff steer clear of him.

And I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. ;)

Halton Cray started a wee bit slowly, much as Jane Eyre itself does, but once I got about 25% of the way into the book, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. In fact, the grading of my summer school class suffered as a result; I just had to keep reading this book.

The parallels to Jane Eyre are surface-level, mostly in the Gothic setting and the plucky but plain main character who falls for the brash and mysterious historian who seems to date the town's richest (and greatly Botoxed) widow, much as Rochester pretended to pursue Blanche Ingram with the view of making Jane jealous and realize her feelings for him. Alex falls into the same trap herself as she tries to uncover the mysteries that enshroud Halton Cray. However, a great deal of this modern novel diverges from Bronte's most famous book; Halton Cray went in directions I was definitely not expecting but found exciting and compelling all the same.

Halton Cray is apparently the first book in The Shadows of the World series, and I am very much interested in the second book which continues the story of Alex in the aftermath of the events at and around Halton Cray.
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So I have obviously done a lot of reading (and reviewing) this summer. Not bad for a mere $20 investment in Kindle Unlimited...given that I have another dozen books to post reviews on! :)

Happily reading,


Cass Grafton said...

Really enjoyed reading all your reviews, Susanne! I don't know how you manage to fit it in with all the things you are juggling!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on our book, too. We appreciate it so much!


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I love Jane Eyes so Halton Cray by N.B. Roberts. Sounds like fascinating reading. Thanks for the review.

Abigail Reynolds said...

Thanks for the lovely review, Suzanne! So glad you enjoyed Mr. Darcy's Journey. Monica Fairview's Steampunk Darcy is one of my favorites, and The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is next up on my reading list!

Monica Fairview said...

Thrilled at both reviews, Susanne, especially Steampunk Darcy since it's a more unusual JA inspired novel. I'm very flattered to be part of your first experiments with Kindle Unlimited and in such good company,too, with Abigail Reynolds and Cassandra Grafton!

Susanne Barrett said...

Thank you Cass, Monica, and Abigail! I have so enjoyed being part of Austen Variations over the past year or more. The first variation of P&P I ever read was by Abigail,and I was hooked! I am still reading tons of Austen variations as a way of relaxing for a few moments (or chapters) while homeschooling (Year #20!) and teaching online classes to homeschoolers. I studied Austen extensively in grad school and became such a fan, so the very idea of reading different "takes" of Austen's novels is like heaven for me! I also struggle with chronic pain syndrome, and these stories, both familiar and new, provide just the right level of distraction from the pain. So thank you all for the blessing you have been and are in my life!

Susanne :)

Monica Fairview said...

Thank you for your very kind words, Susanne! I'm so glad we could provide the chance for you to continue to interact with the world of Jane Austen and that it helps to distract you from your chronic pain. I have fibromyalgia so can empathize completely. In my case, writing has been a wonderful gift that has helped me in so many ways. Congratulations on completing 20 years of homeschooling!

Susanne Barrett said...

You're very welcome, Cass. I loved all of these books, and I read mostly to distract me from the severe discomfort of chronic pain syndrome. I haven't much brain, especially during summer break, so Austen variations provide me with great plots that distract me from the pain without taxing my brain with meeting new characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed your and Ada's book; you two ate am incredible team!


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