Saturday, January 13, 2018

First Book Reviews of 2018

I admit to reading these books last year (2017), but I'm still catching up on posting my book reviews. The first three reviews are of Austenesque novels based on Persuasion; the next two reviews are of novels based on Pride and Prejudice. The final review is of an older book I came across at a library sale, a young adult paranormal story which I read for the second time.

Reacquainted Reacquainted by Meg Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first of three volumes of a variation of Austen's Persuasion in which Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth meet up again is nearly as stunning as Austen's original. Ms. Osbourne keeps Austen's characters in character (with Mary being even more annoying and complaining than in the original novel), but she also tweaks the plot just a bit. It's a lovely read, especially for fans of this final completed novel by Miss Jane Austen which was published six months after her death.

I can't help but highly recommend all three volumes of this Persuasion variation; they're just so lovely that I could barely put them down. In fact, I read all three volumes in two days!! These books are truly excellent, and if I could give a 4 1/2, I would!!

Rediscovered Rediscovered by Meg Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second of a three-volume variation on Austen's beloved Persuasion, this volume has the group of young people: Charles Musgrove and his wife Mary (Anne's younger sister), the two Musgrove girls, Louisa and Henrietta, plus Anne and Captain Wentworth off on a short trip to Lyme to visit some friends of Captain Wentworth. But here lies the major twist in this variation: Louisa Musgrove is not injured in Lyme; it is Anne who becomes very ill after walking in the rain, causing everyone to scurry to care for her.

Through this crisis, we can see how much Anne is beloved by everyone, even complaining Mary, but especially by two men: Captain Wentworth and Captain Benwick. But whom will Anne choose? Is her choice inevitable? Will true love last through eight years of separation?

This is a lovely variation of Austen's Persuasion, and in some ways, is even more satisfying than Austen's sixth and last complete novel. I highly recommend the entire three-volume series. Ms. Osbourne captures the romance and the tension of Austen's novel while providing some of the small details so satisfying to the modern reader. A truly excellent series--if I could give 4 1/2 stars, I would!!

Reunited Reunited by Meg Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This third and final installment of Meg Osbourne's excellent variation of Austen's Persuasion finds Anne on the mend but with two suitors: the shy Captain Benwick and the withdrawn Captain Wentworth who says little, but his actions during Anne's illness show his devotion even if his words do not.

Anne knows where her heart lies, but is her eight-year love returned? And will Anne be able to withstand the persuasion of her family and her neighbor and substitute mother, Lady Russell, all of whom did not approve of young Wentworth eight years previously and may not approve of him now?

Mr. Darcy's Secret Mr. Darcy's Secret by Jane Odiwe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bit of a rockier road for Elizabeth and Darcy--probably more realistic, too--but a good story that was difficult to put down. :)

This story begins after their marriage, and everyone seems to be trying to separate the newlyweds. Caroline Bingley is of course cattier than usual, and Elizabeth discovers clues that seem to indicate that Darcy loved before...and may still be in contact with his beloved. Georgiana meanwhile falls in love with someone who is not of her station, yet when confronted with her brother's wishes for an illustrious match, agrees to become engaged to Darcy's choice for her. Her unhappiness infuriates Elizabeth who cannot change Georgiana's mind--or Darcy's for that matter--which drives another wedge between the young couple.

Other obstacles arrive on their doorstep, such as Lady Catherine De Bourgh, and then Elizabeth, Darcy, Georgiana, the Gardiners, and Mrs. Gardiner's Derbyshire friend Mrs. Butler all descend upon the Lake District, only to be joined by Lady Catherine and her highbrow artistic entourage. Much occurs, and Darcy and Elizabeth continue to learn much about love and marriage and...extended families.

Pirates and Prejudice Pirates and Prejudice by Kara Louise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pirates and Prejudice is a rather unlikely but charming tale in which Darcy, wandering London desolate for months after Elizabeth's refusal of his proposal, is mistaken in his scruffiness for a infamous escaped pirate and is thrown into prison. The next day he is released on the condition that he impersonates said infamous escaped pirate in order to capture him so that he will hang at long last. He even learns to speak roughly and to walk with a swagger to his step.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bennet and Lizzy set off for the islands off the coast of England to visit Mr. Bennet's dying sister and her family. On their return trip with Elizabeth's cousin David (who seems to like her quite a lot), their ship runs aground on rocks during a storm, and Elizabeth and some other passengers are captured by the real escaped pirate, but they are soon rescued by "Captain Smith" (Darcy in disguise). Elizabeth likes the abrupt and roughly-spoken Captain Smith who seems familiar to her, but she can't place the resemblance. More adventures ensue, and I'll let you discover the rest. It's a wonderful tale of adventure and derring-do!

Down a Dark Hall Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young girl named Kit is taken to the remote Blackwood School by her mother and her new stepfather while they tour Europe on their honeymoon. Kit plays the usual resistant teenager, but she genuinely feels something is quite wrong when they enter the driveway to Blackwood School. Kit feels certain the evil lurks there. She spends the first night as the only pupil, looking forward to meeting all the rest of the student body who is to be arriving the next day. But only three more young ladies join Blackwood School, taught by Madame Duret, her handsome son Jules, and the elderly Professor Farley. Classes start out quite normally, but the four students experience frightening dreams and later, strange talents that work through them while they sleep. Whatever is happening at Blackwood School is much more sinister than it seems....

This is my second time through this slim volume, but I found it just as suspenseful and chilling as the first. A wonderfully enticing tale by the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I'll keep posting these book reviews; it's nice to be able to send my reviews straight from Goodreads here to my blog, and then it's a fairly simple matter to gather the book review drafts into a single post and voilĂ ! A book review post is born!!

Reading with you,

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