Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Narrated by Juliet Stevenson

Warning: here be spoilers

When Jane fights back against her abusive aunt and cousins, she is sent away to a boarding school for charity cases. There, she is starved, punished severely, and witnesses deaths of students due to school negligence. After living this life for 18 years, she is thrilled to find a place as a governess for the ward of the mysterious and wealthy Mr. Rochester. They find love, but only at a great cost. 


I first read Jane Eyre as a teenager and wasn’t thrilled with the book. I thought Rochester was a jerk. And Jane. Well. She started out feisty enough, but as an adult she allowed Mr. Rochester to be a total jerk to her. When she discovers his deep, dark secret, she throws herself about dramatically upon the steppe until she is rescued. Then she meets this nice cousin (St. John Rivers) who proposes to her and offers to whisk her off to India and she says no! 

I just listened the brilliant Juliet Stevenson narration of Jane Eyre with a more mature ear. I noticed several things – Jane’s fiestiness in the first chapters of the book were not necessarily looked on as a good character trait by Charlotte Bronte. In current times we have this view that everyone is equal and we should defend ourselves against abuse instead of just taking it with a bowed head. But look at it from the perspective of a Christian in the 19th Century who may have been taught to accept what she can not change. 

This acceptance is demonstrated to perfection in young Helen Burns – Jane’s friend at school. Helen patiently explains her philosophy to the angry Jane, and Jane heartily disagrees. They seem to be opposite ends of a spectrum. Jane wants to change everything because it’s unacceptable, and Helen wants to accept everything because it’s unchangeable. When Helen’s character dies with acceptance, Jane seems to adopt her philosophy – thus taming the fire within.

It is with this acceptance that she deals quite calmly (most of the time) with the rudeness and games of Mr. Rochester. Jane recognizes that this is how he is, she’s unable to change it, but she is still able to see the kindred spirit within. In other words, it is her acceptance that gives her a trait that I can admire – forgiveness. And it is this acceptance which brings her love in the long run. 

But Jane does not accept to the point of having a weak character. When Rochester gives her an unacceptable choice – living with him as an unmarried couple – she chooses to leave. This is not weakness. This is strength. Yes, she flopped about dramatically on the steppe for a couple of chapters, and it was her own fault for losing her money, but this was a choice she made when she left Mr. Rochester. She couldn’t stay, so she took an option that was very brave: the total unknown. Many a weaker character would have sacrificed her own values and self-worth by staying with Mr. Rochester because she had nowhere else to go. But Jane found a way to change when the “unchangeable” finally became “unacceptable.”

Jane is strong to accept what she can not change and she is strong to change what she can not accept. 


Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer

Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Phyllida Nash
When Kitty’s cantankerous care-taker insists that one of his own nephews marry Kitty for her to inherit his fortune, three of them rush to Kitty’s home to propose. When she spurns those three, they patiently explain that she must marry one of them or else she will be left destitute. Kitty hatches a plan (which the reader is left only vaguely aware of) to free herself from these constraints – but it requires her to go to London for a few weeks. That’s where her cousin Freddy comes in. He didn’t propose – had no wish to propose – but only came because he was curious what this big summons from his uncle was about. In secret, Kitty convinces Freddy to propose marriage so that he could take her to London. Of course, she’ll break it off when the few weeks are over….


This is my first book by Georgette Heyer. I’ve heard so many great things about her that I wanted to see for myself. At first, I wasn’t too pleased with the book, but I warmed to it once time had passed, and Kitty matured in London. You see, I didn’t like Kitty at first. She seemed so manipulative – getting Freddy to propose when he clearly didn’t want to. And it seemed her plan could end up destructive to both of them – even if we didn’t know what the whole plan was about. I realized as she grew that the plan was just naivete and not pure manipulation, but I still found all the dangerous lies a bit disturbing. Regardless, everything turned out well in the end, and I was left with a warm fuzzy feeling about the novel. 

Heyer’s writing is delightful. She mixes humor with the beloved Regency Romance genre, and she’s often suggested to readers who have finished all the Jane Austen novels. They definitely have the same feel as an Austen, though the humor has a slightly different tone. Austen has more sarcasm in her books. Both writers have a mixture of wit and silliness. I will hopefully have time to read another Heyer soon. Just think, a brand new author to explore!


Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake

After listening to the audio version of Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (and disliking the narrator), I decided to pick up an old-fashioned copy its sequel Girl of Nightmares

Cass Lowood has now become used to life in Thunder Bay. He’s finished a school year in the same school for the first time in years. He has friends: the beautiful and popular Carmel Jones and nerdy voodoo teenage witch Thomas Sabin. The three have tried to move on from the devastating events in Anna Dressed in Blood. They’ve been going to school by day and killing ghosts by night. But when Anna starts haunting Cass, he becomes obsessed with saving her from whatever hell she is suffering. His quest to save her drives a wedge between him and his friends, and leads him across the ocean to follow ominous clues sent by anonymous people.


I enjoyed Girl of Nightmares even more than Anna Dressed in Blood. I began the book with an attachment to all the characters, and was genuinely concerned about Anna’s fate. Cass, Carmel, and Thomas begin to develop more rounded personalities in this book – showing sides of themselves that weren’t obvious in the first book. Girl of Nightmares had a good mixture of action and intrigue, which kept me turning the pages. I’m hoping there will be another book coming up soon. 

4 stars for fluffy YA fun

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake; narrated by August Ross
Anna Dressed in Blood, Book 1

Cas Lowood has always worked alone on his quest to dispatch murderous ghosts and discover the demon who killed his father. Imagine his annoyance when he moves to Thunder Bay to kill the intensely horrific ghost Anna Dressed in Blood and he accidentally picks up a couple of teenaged tag-a-longs. When he attempts to dispatch Anna, he discovers that she’s unlike any ghost he’s ever fought before. She’s frightening and mesmerizing in her power. Cas digs deeper into Anna’s story and begins, for once, to see a ghost as an unwilling victim rather than simply a supernatural murderess.


Initially, I picked up this book because of the fantastic cover art (Yup! I’m one of those people). Turns out Anna Dressed in Blood was a really good choice if you’re a fan of teen horror. I hadn’t read a good ghost story in a long time, and this one was quite refreshing. The characters were easy to like, and the mystery kept the book interesting. This book was fun and quick. 

Unfortunately, I listened to the audiobook rather than reading the book. I don’t recommend this course. 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. But I couldn’t do it because I was enjoying the story too much.

4 snowflakes for fluffy YA fun

This post is for R. I. P. X @TheEstellaSociety and the 2015 Halloween Reading Challenge @ReadingEverySeason. It is also for #Diversiverse, @BookLust, which is all about reading books by people of a variety of ethnic/racial backgrounds, so I will provide tell you a little about the author, Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake


Kendare Blake was born in Seoul, Korea and was adopted by her American parents when she was very young. She writes dark fantasy including, but not limited to: The Girl of Nightmares series and The Goddess War series (beginning with Antigoddess). 

After enjoying The Girl of Nightmares series so much, I’ll probably be picking up Antigoddess sometime soon. 

Doon, by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Let me tell you about an adorable little series of teen romance novels published through Zondervan by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon. 

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.

Destined for Doon  ●  Authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Zondervan ● September 2, 2014 ● ISBN: 9780310742333
Hardcover/$17.99 U.S. ● Ages 15+

The second book in the series is Destined for Doon 
Summary: Unlike Veronica, MacKenna didn’t have a fairy-tale ending in the first book. She chose a difficult path, and one that didn’t make her as happy as she’d wished. But when MacKenna is given a chance to redeem herself (as well as save the imperiled kingdom of Doon from zombies), she snatches it up. But can she redeem the mistakes of her past? 

Review: For me, this book seemed faster-paced than the first one. It picked up a few months after the first one left off, and instead of focusing mainly on Veronica’s relationship with Jamie, it focused on Mackenna and Duncan. One thing I liked about this continuation is that (unlike many teen romance series) the problems that must be overcome in the second book are not simply continuations of problems from the first book. Mackenna and Duncan, as a couple, are so different to Veronica and Jamie. Again, this story is a nice combination of adventure and angsty teen love. 

And, of course, the moment you were all waiting for – this is where I give a free copy of Destined for Doon to one lucky winner. This offer is for a hardcover copy of the book, and it’s good for anyone within the US. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js


Carey Corpe: Carey Corp lives in the metropolitan Midwest with her loveable yet out-of-control family. Carey wrote her first book at the age of seven, and currently begins each morning consuming copious amounts of coffee while weaving stories that capture her exhaustive imagination. She harbors a voracious passion (in no consistent order) for mohawks, Italy, musical theater, chocolate, and Jane Austen. Carey’s debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction and was featured at the 2012 RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago in YA Alley.  

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

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. 


Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake

 Anna Dressed in Blood

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

Review
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.