Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Throwback Thursday #1

okay... a new meme for me from The Housework Can Wait (don't you just love this blog title?

Since this one is new to me ...

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

My Throwback is Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Come on, you knew that was coming for my first one!

Persuasion was the last novel that Jane Austen wrote, and it happens to be my favorite Jane Austen novel.   She completed this novel in 1816 and it was published after her death in 1817.  A little known tidbit - Persuasion is actually the name that her brother gave to the book, not what Jane had named it.

Basic Summary:  Anne Elliot was persuaded by a family friend to decline an offer of marriage by Frederick Wentworth, who was just entering the Royal Navy, as he had little money and she was the daughter of a baronet.

Fast forward seven years and Captain Wentworth returns to the area.  Anne still has feelings for Captain Wentworth, but it seems that his attentions have been captured by the Musgrove sisters - related to Anne through the marriage of her younger sister Mary to Charles Musgrove (who had also proposed to Anne, but she refused him on her own accord).

Anne Elliot is the sensible sister of the three Elliot girls.  Elizabeth Elliot is just like her father, very much into appearances and her place in Society.  Mary Elliot Musgrove is a bit of a hypochondriac - always imaging herself ill when life is not convenient for her.  Anne also seems to be carried along with the tide around her, allowing herself taken from one situation to another.

However, we soon learn that Anne Elliot has deep feelings, specifically about love and about Captain Wentworth.  But how is she to capture his heart once again with younger girls full of flattery and boisterous personalities are around to distract him?

Why This Book:  What I love about this particular Austen novel is that Anne is so steady and calm.  She has an impossible family that she is trapped with, and has an inner strength that is tested again and again.  She has held true to her feelings for the man she fell in love with when she was but 19 years old.  She hopes silently that he feels the same, but she does not force the issue.

This story also contains the most romantic letter written by Captain Wentworth to Anne.  I love that this is a story about love that endures time.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.”

Some have likened the story to a retelling of Cinderella.  Others say that it stands out because it was written, and not re-written like either of her two most famous novels - Pride and Prejudice, as well as Sense and Sensibility.  I have found that Persuasion is the best written of all of her novels.  Little known fact about me... I have at least three print versions of this novel (and three different electronic ones - just in case one doesn't open) - it is the only book I have read at least three times, and I cannot tell you how many times I have watched the movie!

If you have not read this book, I urge you to!  It is the shortest of Jane Austen's novels, and it is highly romantic, with wit, intelligence and strength thrown in!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

review: Mr. Darcy Forever

Title by Author: Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly
Series (if applicable): Austen Addicts #3
Publisher: Sourcebook Landmark
Publication Date: April 2012
Page Count:  336
Blurb: The third in a trilogy of Jane Austen romantic comedies from UK author Victoria Connelly featuring characters obsessed with Jane Austen and set in Jane Austen locations (A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy). Sarah and Mia Castle, two estranged sisters (and Austen addicts) who have spent a lifetime fighting over the men in their lives, meet for the first time in three years during the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, the city where Anne Elliot (Persuasion) and Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey) found their happy endings. During the festival, the sisters realize that they can't bear to be apart, even though Mia fell in love with the man Sarah eventually married and settled with in beautiful Devon, another Jane Austen location (the filming of Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility). They discover that their sisterhood forms a bond stronger than their mutual connection as Jane Austen addicts. And in true Jane Austen fashion, they each begin to lose their hearts to dashing gentlemen. A beautiful, fun and quirky story of sisterhood and romance.

My Interest in this book is: Loved, loved, LOVED A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, read the second one, and wanted to finish the series.

My Review:
I’m a single mother with no career prospects who hasn’t spoken to her sister in over three years and who, in the Bath Pump Room, managed to slap her ex-lover who, it seems, wants nothing to do with his son.  – Mia Castle

This story is about two sisters who are nine years apart.  When Sarah and Mia’s mother walks out on them, Sarah is left raising Mia.  They share a deep love for everything Jane Austen, and on Mia’s 21st birthday, Sarah had managed to rent ‘Barton Cottage’ from the movie Sense and Sensibility.  It was to be a ‘No Man’ weekend, but that didn’t last long, as Alec was staying down the road from Barton Cottage.  That week that was meant to 'get away and spend time together' ended up driving the two sisters apart for the next three years.  Much had happened in that time period, but neither sister knew what was happening with the other, as they did not speak with one another.

Sarah is an accountant and a sufferer of OCD.  Everything must be in its place or it disturbs her.  Mia is a free spirit who loves to sing and graduated from drama school, in hopes of being on stage one day.  Even though Sarah is nine years older than Mia and feels that she has to always protect her little sister, a man came between these two sisters.

Three years after that fateful holiday, both sisters independently decided to participate in the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  They had done so in the past, and it was time to move on.  However, unknowingly, the sisters constantly think they are catching glimpses of one another, and have it verified when they end up as dance partners.

The book is written in alternating chapters of the past and the present.   A little bit is revealed in each chapter to get the two sisters together to work things out.  This was done well enough, and in the present you also learn a little more of what their past three have been like as they divulge deep secrets to perfectly strange men.  Thus, this leads to two romances by sisters who fall for different men, and fall in love in less than a week.

I loved A Weekend with Mr. Darcy – it was fun and flirty!  The second book, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy was an alright second book, but this last book in the Austen Addicts series almost seems to have been written by someone else.  I know that the author is British, and it is evident in the first two books, but this novel seems to have been washed of anything British – the speech patterns, the terminology and even how the characters acted seems to have been rather Americanized.  This was a great disappointment.  The conversations were also very stilted and not individualized for the different characters – they all sounded the same – men and women alike.

While it was nice to revisit some of the concepts of Jane Austen’s books, this book felt forced and ill-conceived.  It also seemed as if the author was told to do something with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (which was seen in another Sourcebook Landmark book, Compulsively Mr. Darcy) – granted, this book did a better job than the other, but still didn’t quite put in to words the true sense of OCD…it was more of an affectation.  The romance also had a certain lack-luster to it.

This book seemed void of much emotion.  When either Sarah or Mia tried to articulate whet they loved about Jane Austen and her novels, I was hoping to find words that describe how I feel about the novels, but it feel short and seemed a rather simple response.  The only passionate response was about reading on a Kindle – and how Mia felt it was not natural to read on an electric reader.  I kept waiting for the humour that is present in most of Miss Connelly’s books – and wasn’t rewarded until the Darcy Wet Shirt contest near the end.

Personally, I would recommend reading A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, and leave it at that.  That book was brilliant and a lot of fun!  Mr. Darcy Forever seemed rushed, forced and a bit sad.  I hope that future books by Ms. Connelly return to her previous humour, wit and romance.

This book was provided by the publisher through for an honest review.
Favorite Quotes:
Mia was a romantic and wanted to exist in the world where all men were handsome and eloquent and – above all – polite.  Was that too much to ask?

‘Why is life a constant disappointment?’  ‘Because we read fiction,’ Mia said, and Shelley nodded, knowing it was true.

‘Never give up.  If you have a dream – no matter what that dream is, whether it be to become a great actress or to open your very own sweet shop – never stop dreaming it, because if you do, life becomes one long nightmare.’

When I finished this book, I felt: Disappointed – left wondering if the same author who did A Weekend with Mr. Darcy wrote this book.

Rating: 3 stars
Other books to read by this author or theme: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy is a must!  Molly’s Millions was a fun one, but not as wonderful as the aforementioned!
Tag: romance, OCD, sisters, Bath, England

review: Death Comes to Pemberley

Title by Author: Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: December 2011
Page Count:  291
Source: library Overdrive account (kindle version)
Blurb: It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

My Interest in this book is: A Jane Austen spin-off by a well-known mystery writer… do I need more of a reason?

My Review:
While it was fun to visit Pemberley, I was a bit disappointed with this story.  It was nice to see that Elizabeth and Darcy were doing well, with two children.  Jane and Bingley lived down the road so that they could visit often, with or without their own children.  We already knew that Lydia Bennet married Wickham, who still cannot get a job.  Surprisingly, Mary Bennet made a match before Kitty did, and Mrs. Bennet will not visit Pemberley, if she can avoid it, as she feels rather intimidated around her son-in-law.

Georgiana Darcy still lives at Pemberley and is ready for marriage; but whose hand will she accept?  That of long time guardian, Colonel Fitzwilliam, now heir to his father’s estate, or the frequent visiting friend of Charles Bingley, a Mr. Henry Alveston, London barrister?  Georgiana is quite taken with Mr. Alveston, and it doesn’t hurt that he is rather wealthy himself, as well as considerably younger than the Colonel.  However, the Colonel hopes to have Georgiana’s hand in marriage.

We then have Lydia arrive at the doorstep of Pemberley before the large ball, shrieking that her dear Wickham is dead by the hand of Captain Denny.  Darcy starts to mount a rescue mission, which is quickly taken over by Colonel Fitzwilliam, who arrived on horseback right after Lydia did.  Why was the Colonel out so late on a stormy night, and arriving after the carriage containing Mrs. Wickham?

There is supposedly a mystery surrounding a certain portion of the woods of Pemberley – ghosts and suicide in the area of a cottage that now contains the Bidwell family.  Who is the lady in shadows that haunts the wood? 

This story was well-written, with a bit of wit, but I felt cheated on several levels.  The most important level is that of the mystery.  I felt that the mystery was not very well-played, especially considering that a venerate mystery writer wrote this story.  Was it simply because her publisher wanted to jump on the Austen wagon to the stars, hoping to get readers from across the two very different genres?  The second was the opening of the story and the piecemeal effect of the writing.  The first six percent of the book was a complete rehash of Pride and Prejudice.  There were other parts that it felt as if Ms James was trying to give the reader a load of information about Jane Austen works, without skillfully working it in to the story. 

What I did love about the book was the language.  I had learned a great many new words reading this novel, and I do appreciate a writer that uses words that are uncommon.  However, I feel that she did use a few phrases that might not have yet been in use at the time – police is on that comes to mind.  Ms James does write well – if not know how to spin a mystery well.  This reader fell for many of the descriptions of the people in the story.  The author did try to emulate Jane Austen in describing a person – not with outright “she was a pretty girl with blonde hair and blue eyes” – but more of a description of character:

                 With his square leather bag strapped to his saddle, he was a familiar figure in the roads and lanes of Lambton and Pemberley.  Years of riding in all weathers had coarsened his features but, although he was not considered a handsome man, he had an open and clever face in which authority and benevolence were so united that he seemed destined by nature to be a country doctor.

Not only were there nods to Jane Austen, as this book seems to be derived from many years of enjoyment of Miss Austen’s novels, but I also detected a nod to other writers, particularly Oscar Wilde with the following quote (reminds me of The Importance of Being Earnest):

I have never approved of protracted dying.  It is an affectation in the aristocracy; in the lower classes it is merely an excuse for avoiding work.  [I have] never gone in for prolonged dying.  People should make up their minds whether to live or to die and do one or the other with the least inconvenience to others.
       - From a letter by Lady Catherine de Bourgh

The majority of the book was spent on awaiting the inquest of Wickham for the death of Captain Denny, and then the trial of Wickham for the murder of his friend.  The story never developed that gothic sense of the haunted woods and the murder by a smug man.  It was more of a plodding story moving from the discovery of Wickham over the lifeless body of his friend to his trial and how Wickham was still smug while facing a jury for murder.  I never got the sense that there was a mystery in this story, simply a story of a trial with no evidence truly put forth.  It was one of those stories that had wrapped up the trial and the real story within a small percentage of the novel.  I have never read a book by PD James, and I am not likely to do so in the future.

Favorite Quotes:
You discuss what Miss Darcy should do as if she were a child.  We have entered the nineteenth century; we do not need to be a disciple of Mrs. Wollstonecraft to feel that women should not be denied a voice in matters that concern them.  It is some centuries since we accepted that a woman has a soul.  Is it not time that we accepted that she also has a mind? – spoken by Henry Alveston

A brutal murder on one’s own property by a brother by marriage with whom one is known to be at enmity will inevitably produce a large congregation, including some well-known invalids whose prolonged indisposition had prohibited them from the rigours of church attendance for many years.

When I finished this book, I felt: Let-down; I had expected more of a mystery, not a book about a trial of a man which I could care less if he hanged for a crime that he may or may not have committed.

Rating: 3 stars (The language deserves 4 Stars)

Other books to read by this author or theme: there are so many other books with Jane Austen mysteries, two authors in particular that do a much better job are Carrie Bebris and Stephanie Barron.

Tag: mystery, Jane Austen, Regency

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

top ten Summer's Cautiously Optimistic list

okay - we all have them - a To Be Read pile that is ever increasing!  Now we have to put in to words what we hope to read this summer... which officially starts tomorrow!

So, being cautiously optimistic - I have decided to take the items from my NetGalley list - since I have so many I want to read (and so many more I want to get, but cannot until I do these reviews!)... and then throw in a couple I hope to get my hands on, if our library system has these books!

1. Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly - I am actually reading this one now.  I have read the first two in the series, and would love to finish it.  It's interesting to see as you are reading a series that the writing of an author improves - but let's see if the story telling does the same thing!

2. Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell.  I have read a few Mansell books before and enjoyed the laughter that they typically provoke!  Looking forward to more amusing tales.

3. Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers.  I have seen so many mixed reviews on this book, I am looking forward to seeing where I stand in the Grave Mercy camp!

4. Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson.  It's always fun to read a YA book, and summer time is perfect to read something like this!

5. Touched by Cyn Balog.  What an interesting premise for a YA book - a guy who can see the future but can't really change it without dire consequences.  I am probably going to be sucked in to another series that I will have to impatiently await the follow-ons!

6. Endlessly by Kiersten White.  I have so enjoyed the humor, wit and snark of Evie, I cannot wait to find out what happens and how the Paranormalcy series is wrapped up! (So, public library, if I donate the money, will you get the book?)

7. Making Piece by Beth M Howard.  A Harlequin NONfiction - this should be interesting!  About a lady who loses her husband at a young age and uses PIE to heal, not only herself, but those around her.

8. The Art of Bliss by Tess Whitehurst.  I simply love the title!  We all need more Bliss in our lives, and hopefully this will help us find it!

9. Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire.  I know, I know...that's two books.  But I hope to read them back-to-back!  I have serious cover love for these books!

10. Nachtsturm Castle by Emily Snyder.  This is a follow-on (if you will) of Northanger Abbey - and who doesn't want a little Gothic Austen in the summer?!  This one is actually for a reading challenge - probably the only one I will finish this year!  Gotta have priorities; right?!

If nothing else, Dear Reader, you will have some interesting book reviews to look forward to this summer.  Now, I only have to stick to my list (with deviations here and there) and get these books read!

What's on your list - books to tempt me to stray from my own, and increase the maw of Frankie Stein, my TBR pile MONSTER!?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


A vacation is what you take when you can no longer
 take what you've been taking.  ~Earl Wilson

Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.
~Oscar Wilde
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