|Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Narrated by Juliet Stevenson
|Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Phyllida Nash|
Genre: Teen romance / Fairy Tale
Reason for Reading: The publisher, Zondervan, provided a copy of Destined for Doon in exchange for an honest review.
The first book in the series is Doon.
Summary: For Veronica’s entire life other people have walked all over her and abandoned her. When a recent break-up leads to Veronica hallucinating a handsome Scottish boy, she’s half convinced she’s crazy…but as she continues to see flashes of him, she realizes it is her destiny to cross over the Brig ‘O Doon in Scotland and meet her destined. MacKenna, her best friend, has other plans for herself and Veronica, though.
Review: This was a sweet teen romance for people who are fans of fairy-tale endings. It had a nice combination of adventure (saving an imperiled kingdom from a nasty witch, while dodging angry mobs) and angsty teen romance. It was fun to watch how close Veronica and MacKenna were, despite their differences in personality. They each had strengths and weaknesses, making them a fantastic team. This is a story just as much about friendship as it is about romance.
Lorie Langdon: Lorie Langdon has wanted to write her own novels since she was a wee girl reading every Judy Blume book she could get her hands on. So a few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word and continue to build the young-adult-focused blog, HonestlyYA. Read more at HonestlyYA.com.
The Annotated Emma, by Jane Austen
Genre: Classic / Regency Romance
Reason for Reading: I’m rereading all of Austen’s novels. I’ve seen these Annotated versions and been tempted to try them out for a while, and this is the one I ended up picking up.
Synopsis: Emma is young, rich, beautiful, and the most important gentleman’s daughter in her neighborhood. When her governess marries and moves away, Emma must find another friend to entertain herself. She chooses Harriet Smith, the love-child of nobody-knows-whom, and boarder at a local country school for girls. Emma, well-meaning but naively self-important, makes a mess by foisting potential suitors upon poor Harriet, while Emma’s old friend Mr. Knightly tries in vain to check Emma’s eager naivete.
My thoughts: I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. This is the third time I’ve read this novel, and I’ve seen all the movie renditions multiple times. I love watching Emma grow in wisdom throughout the story. And her romance is, in my opinion, the sweetest of those written by Austen. But I recognize that this is a difficult book for many people to get into because of Emma’s painful flaws and poor choices. Another reason that Emma is less appealing to some readers is because the narrator’s perspective is so unique. The POV focuses almost entirely on Emma’s perception of the world, to the point where it is easy to be mislead about what is really occurring since we are only seeing what Emma sees. Emma, especially at the beginning of the novel, tends to be very self-centered and aloof, and so is the narration of the novel. However, even though this POV makes the story harder to get into than the other Austen novels, this is Austen’s most appealing work for character study.
The annotations of this book are lengthy and detailed. Many interesting images and comments are included so that we can visualize antique customs, fashions, and furniture that Austen’s readers would take for granted. That aspect of the annotations was fantastic. The annotations also included a lot of character analysis commentary, such as “Emma thinks such-and-such is happening, which shows you how much she lacks self-awareness at this stage.” These annotations included a lot of spoilers (the reader is warned which annotations include spoilers, but sometimes these warnings were dropped out of the ebook version – so caution should be practiced if you’re reading the book for the first time and you have ebook format). These character analysis annotations were sometimes interesting, but mostly they told me things I’d already knew – either because I was familiar with the story or because I am sensitive to Austen’s nuances. Therefore, I think this annotated version is for you if 1)You are interested in having some historical perspective, 2)You are reading the book for the first time and don’t mind spoilers, 3)You’re re-reading the book, but don’t remember the details and nuances, and/or 4)You just love reading annotations. In other words, I am glad that I read this one book from The Annotated Austen series, because I enjoyed the historical perspective notes, but I probably will not pick up any of the others because I think I got the main idea now.
Written by Kendare Blake, Narrated by August Ross
Reason for Reading: I wanted to check off category 12 in Reading Outside the Box
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Horror
Cas Lowood has always worked alone on his quest to dispatch murderous ghosts and discover the demon who killed his father. But when he moves to Thunder Bay everything changes – first, he has an explainable fascination with Anna, the ghost he’s come to kill; second, he accidentally picks up a team of teenagers who insist on tagging along as he rids the world of Anna’s horror. And Cas isn’t quite sure he wants to kill Anna anymore…
I picked this book up because of the fascinating cover art. (Yup! I’m one of those people.) I’m glad the cover was so awesome, because I enjoyed the book. Yes, it was sort of a copy of the TV show Supernatural, but that’s ok. Every story has its origins in another story, right? This book was fun and quick – I enjoyed the mystery and characters. If you like teen ghost stories, this would be a good book to pick up. But I recommend you pick up the physical book and not the audio book. Ross annoyed me with his too-clear annunciations, his pauses, and his slow reading. It ruined the rhythm of the narrative, and made the dialog fall flat. There were several times I wanted to give up on the book just because the narration was annoying me – and I generally am pretty laid back about audio books.
Some Quiet Place, by Kelsey Sutton
Reason for Reading: A free copy of the ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Teen paranormal romance
Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t remember a time when she felt emotions – her whole life has been blocked by a wall of nothingness where her feelings should be. Instead, she is able to see the personifications of Emotions all around her – Anger touches her former friend Sophia. Longing touching Joshua, the boy who has a crush on her. And Fear touches her mother, who claims Elizabeth is not her child – but perhaps a changeling that has taken the place of her daughter after a tragic accident at the age of 4. With the help of Fear, who has formed an obsession with the untouchable Elizabeth, she searches for answers to the questions that haunt her dreams. How did she become this way? Who is she? Is she in danger?
In some ways, this was an amazing book. I really loved the idea. I enjoyed thinking about Emotions as external personifications – powers that influence us by their touch or mere presence. I enjoyed the allegory of hiding your emotions in an abusive relationship – whether that be the result of an abusive parent or cruel bullies at school. I felt that this was a refreshing change from the dystopias, vampires, and werewolves that are popular these days. In this way, Sutton deserves 5 stars, and she has a lot of potential as a writer.
On the other hand, this book does have the earmark of a debut novelist. Some things could have been done with more subtlety or finesse. The ending felt a bit long and clunky, for instance. And I sat through the entire book feeling that Elizabeth was an incredibly empathetic person considering she didn’t feel emotion. Was that intentional? Maybe. In fact, I’m inclined to give Sutton the benefit of the doubt and say that it was quite intentional. This was a very difficult character to develop, and Sutton did an amazing job of writing a character that had no emotions – but with whom I could relate.
I’m sad to say, this book DID have the dreaded love triangle. *sigh* I DO feel love triangles have a place in literature – my favorite Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, features one – but lately (ever since the Twilight series, I think) it seems to be the basic romantic cop-out. Story doesn’t have enough romantic tension? Put in a love triangle! I wish more writers would take the time to think of a different technique to create tension. Isn’t there enough tension created just by the fact that Elizabeth doesn’t acknowledge emotion?
So, yes, I have a few quips about this book…but overall I think it was really creative and unique and I certainly hope Sutton continues writing. I have no doubt her debut-novel style will quickly vanish as she develops her career as a novelist. 🙂
Reason for Reading: I’m leading the discussion of Against the Tide for the ACFW Bookclub on 5/27 – 5/31. If you would like to join the discussion (or see what else the bookclub is doing) you can join the Yahoo Group. There’s still time to read this fantastic book!
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Lydia Pallas grew up surrounded with instability, but she is finally content with her comforting home and rewarding job as a translator for the U. S. Navy. She meticulously organizes her surroundings so that, for the first time in her life, she feels she’s in control of her life. However, her landlords are now threatening to throw her out of the only stable home she’s ever had. She needs to raise several hundred dollars to buy her home by December. Seemingly fortuitously, Alexander Banebridge (Bane), a friend of her boss, offers to pay her a lot of money for some free-lance translation work. Even though Lydia begins to question the odd requests of Bane, she finds herself attracted to his cleverness, charm, and sense of humor. Soon, she is swept up into a dangerous world of opium smuggling.
I have a lot of good things to say about this book. I loved the late 1800’s Boston setting – it’s a time which lends itself easily to romance. Although there were a few moments that I wondered if the language was historically accurate, I felt Camden did an excellent job with her research into opium trade. Despite (or possibly because of) Lydia’s OCD quirks, she was very lovable. I really found myself empathizing with her pain – losing her family, the stress of raising money to buy the only home she’s ever felt safe in, and her feelings for Bane. On the other hand, I inwardly groaned at her devotion to Bane and his cause. I totally understood WHY she was in love, but cringed at the foolishness of loving a man who claims he has no interest in marriage, but doesn’t mind a bit of flirting. But love is foolish, often, isn’t it? 🙂 I was sort of torn – I empathized with her frustrations with Bane, but I also wished she would find herself a nice dedicated man. This is a similar conundrum I felt while reading Jane Eyre – I wanted her to live happily ever after with the man she loved, but I thought she was risking too much by loving him. I guess that makes it more romantic, in some ways?
The other thing that I really appreciated about this book (though my attention was only drawn to it because I’m about to lead a book discussion): the questions that Camden provided at the end of the book were really deep! I didn’t realize how many sticky philosophical and spiritual questions were brought up in the story until I read the discussion questions. And they’re not spiritual questions that have an obvious “right-if-you’re-REALLY-a-Christian” answer, which is what a lot of end-of-book discussion questions in Christian Fiction seem to be. Personally, I don’t see the world in black and white, so I love the opportunity to discuss grey. 🙂
Hi everyone! I’ll be leading a discussion of Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden for this month’s ACFW Bookclub. The discussion will take place from May 27 – 31st on a Yahoo groups email list. Everyone is welcome to join, and there’s plenty of time to read the book! Elizabeth will be participating in the discussion as well. I’ve included an interview with Elizabeth to entice you.