Saturday, July 28, 2012

Only A Novel

Only A Novel
Amy Dashwood
I have been following the progress of this book nearly since I was introduced the author’s delightfully fun blog here. I had always enjoyed reading her excerpts, so when I found out that she had self-published the book, I did a little happy dance and then promptly ordered it. I actually read it a few weeks ago, but lazy me has only just now sat down to write a review.

Only a Novel begins in the late 1800s with Elizabeth Markette utterly alone and down to her last penny. Obsessed (although, of course, she would never admit it) with Jane Austen, she decides to use the last of her money to head to Europe and seek a job as a governess. After all, the classic works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens are proof that romance and adventure (and eligible, wealthy young bachelors!) abound in England, right? Things, of course, do not happen exactly as she hopes.

My sister read this book after I did, and she made the comment that she felt like she was reading a book by a good friend who knew all the same inside jokes she did. That’s exactly how I felt, too! Allusions to so many of my favorite classic books had me smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. I think it was when she used the phrase, "no nonsense" that I finally lost it and keeled over laughing. Even so, I have to say, what I liked most about this book was the characters.

Lavinia, the scatterbrained, slightly eccentric socialite, was definitely my favorite. I think I was smiling on every page she was present. Of course, Rodney was a close a second. Even if he was too "Henry Tilney-like" to be a hero. Oh…Henry was the hero of Northanger Abbey, wasn’t he? Hahaha. Ahem. Another inside joke…

This book is not written in the typical fashion of modern novels. In fact, I doubt I’ve read any other book like it. It was greatly refreshing, though I understand it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, if you take my meaning. The only downside to this book is that if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, you probably won’t get half the jokes, and wonder why on earth this lady is mentioned so much, especially at the beginning. So….go read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey before you read this book. Or, at the very least, watch the movies!

Objectionable content: to my delight, there is really, absolutely NOTHING. Sigh of pleasure :)

Rating: 8

(Sorry about the font sizes...out computer is acting up!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Lady of Bolton Hill

The Lady of Bolton Hill
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers

I heard several good things about this book from various reviewers, so I decided it was definitely worth looking into. I had originally gotten a free copy of this book in e-book format several months ago, but I really dislike reading books on the computer, so after reading about a third of it I finally decided to cave in and buy a hard copy a few weeks ago.

The story of The Lady of Bolton Hill was original, but I have to say that the characters of Clara and Daniel didn’t really seem to "do" anything for me. I liked Clara, but Daniel drove me nuts until the very end. This mostly had to do with the fact that when characters are intent on revenge, I get sick of it easily, even though I know, of course, that by the end they’ll let go of this desire. I understand that this is a personal preference of mine, though, so I’m sure for some people it wouldn’t bother them.

Overall, this book was pleasant, but not spectacular. I would probably give this book a 7, except for one thing: and that, my dear friends, is a certain secondary character.

Alexander Banebridge ("Bane") was just cool. I mean, I do in general find villains fascinating, but he was just…very well done, let me say. And then -*SPOILER ALERT* the author reformed him. We always joke about reforming villains, but nobody ever actually does it! I loved that Elizabeth Camden did so. I loved it a lot *END OF SPOILER* I am supremely happy that Ms. Camden’s latest book is about Bane. I am totally reading it. He’s not the only reason this book is an 8, though: I also loved the epilogue of this book. It was great and absolutely satisfying. The ending pretty much made the entire book worth it for me : )

Objectionable content: This book deals with a few scenes of the criminal "underworld", but I didn’t find it to be too disturbing. There were a few kisses, although I admit it was a little "romanc-y" for my taste.

Rating: 8

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Promise Me This

Promise Me This
Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers

Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be a "Titanic" story...but I was wrong. It was so much more than that.

This book was extremely emotional- for me. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Er...bed, anyway. This book spanned not only the Titanic disaster, but also the horrors of World War One. Although, at first I wasn't sure if I would like Annie (Michael won me over immediately:) I did like her by the end. The second half of the book I loved and hated simultaneously. It was very bittersweet. I thought this book was well-written and researched. I liked it a lot.

The only reason I'm not giving it a ten is simply because I felt the ending was little rushed. Well, I'm not sure if "rushed" is really the best word, but it didn't feel quite as resolved as I would have liked. Even so, this is one novel I highly recommend!

Rating: 9

Objectionable content: This book deals with -let's face it- a lot of death. Between the sinking of the ship and the Great War, well, it can be pretty depressing. There are a few kisses near the end.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Love in Disguise

Love in Disguise
Carol Cox
Bathany House Publishers

     Unemployed with nowhere to go, Ellie Moore jumps at a chance with a job with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Leaving snowy Chicago behind, she travels to sunny Arizona to solve the reoccurring theft of silver shipments. Putting her acting and dressmaking skills to good use, she masquerades as a middle-aged widow named Lavinia Stewart. But when her expected sleuthing partner bails out, Ellie finds herself juggling two roles- now in addition to her first disguise, she must go about town as Mrs. Stewart’s dazzling and energetic niece, Jessie Monroe! Beautiful Jessie attracts several of the men in town, including mine owner Steven Pierce. As Ellie’s identities and lies mount, she feels as though she has lost her chance at faith and love. What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he loves doesn’t really exist?

     I have mixed feelings about this book, because though despite the exciting plotline, I did feel that in several places it lost my interest. However, overall, I had enough interest to keep reading despite so. I did enjoy Ellie’s transformations into her two roles, especially the way she practiced acting like each of them! Once character I really liked was the neighbor boy, Billy. My, did he crack me up!

     I liked the detective/Pinkerton aspect to this story- it fascinated me. The only thing I found truly lacking was the romance. I’m not sure why, but even though I was glad that Ellie and Steven got together at the end, I just didn’t care about their relationship as much as I wished I did. I did greatly appreciate Steven’s forgiving nature in regards to Ellie’s deception, though!

     Overall, this read was pleasant, and I must admit that I did not discover the culprit until he was revealed! This book is a definite "must" for readers who enjoy mysteries and tales of secret identities.

Objectionable content: There were some "situations of peril", but nothing that really bothered me. There was one kiss.

Rating: 8

(for some reason I feel like I’m always giving books an "8". Do I give most books an "8"?)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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