Short Stack Reviews & Book Giveaway!

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

While I haven’t been blogging a much, I have been reading.  Although, not as fast as I would like, I’m still a bibliophile and love to share good reads with you! Don’t forget to click on each book title to read the synopsis and add them to your TBR list!

My Review:

The storyline has a great premise: sisters on different paths come back together for one summer that will surely change their life courses.  The story moves rather quickly in the beginning, so that it was hard to feel a connection or compassion for Paul, who wants a divorce from Iris.  However, the story really focuses on unfinished business with sisters, family, and lost loves.  It’s a simple read, a little predictable, but a good storyline that will keep you engaged.

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My Review:

This is a book that had been on my TBR list since its release.   When I saw it at the library on audio, I immediately checked it out and downloaded it to my iPhone so that I could listen to on a road trip.  Well, that didn’t turn out well.  You can read why here

I’m really glad that I decided to buy the book and read it on my reader.  First, the audio did skip, so I wasn’t listening to the story in the order of the chapters.  Secondly, there is too much information and the characters are complex that it would have been difficult for me to listen and understand their role within the story.  Thirdly, there were many times I would reread a quote or a page, and that would have been too difficult and not realistic to do with an audio.

This story is magical, complex and has stories within a story, that it is beyond words to actually describe.  The descriptive writings to explain an outfit or a scene were so amazing that I wish this book had been written with colorful illustrations! This novel could have easily been made into a trilogy because there were so many stories within it.  It is a novel that stayed with me for a long time and definitely makes me appreciate the life of a traveling artist much more!

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swirlMy Review:

This is a sequel to Firefly Lane, which I read in January.  You can read my review here.  I really loved the first book and like anyone who loves a great story, I jumped on the chance to read the sequel.  This novel, Fly Away, is really for those readers who want to know about “TullyandKate”.   While the novel did share about what happens to Kate’s family, it really is about Tully and her inability to forgive herself and move on from Kate’s death.  This novel reminded me a little of A Christmas Carol, with Kate being the ghost.  Overall, it was a good book that explores friendships, forgiveness, and second chances.

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*With the exception of The Night Circus, the other books were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Time for a Giveaway!

If you managed to read my mini-reviews, then I think you deserve a free book!

Giveaway

Win a copy of:

The Girl with a Clock Heart by Peter Swanson!

This is going to be an easy giveaway. Simply enter your email in the comments below and let me know if you read any of the books I’ve reviewed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Giveaway is open until May 28, 2015. 

Open internationally!!

Yes, I’m going to mail these books across the oceans, if you are randomly selected! I know I have quite a few followers outside the US and Canada, so I want to include them, too!

One winner will be randomly chosen and I will contact that winner via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to reply, if not, another winner will be selected.  I don’t announce winners because it takes too much time and energy on my part, however the winner knows and is more than welcome to post their winnings on social media :D

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Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My Review:

I first heard about this book from blogger, Cindy at “Utah’s Mom’s Life“.  I had the book on my reader for some time and was waiting for the perfect time to read this little gem.  I have been in a reading funk lately, so I wanted a book that was fantasy in some ways, a book that would take me away from the serious books I had read lately.

While this book is not a “light” read, it is definitely one that is magical, deals with heartache, family, and realizing that dreams do come true…even if they aren’t wrapped up in a way that one perceives.

I loved the rugged and rural setting of the book.  Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel decide to venture to a new land: Alaska.  There, they decide to make their home, away from the daily reminders of the loss of their child and family/friends to remind them of those painful memories.  However, as life always shows, no one can run from their past memories.  Mabel is quite stoic and has an inner strength that helps carry her and Jack through the cold winters and harsh reminders of their aloneness.  However, they soon find they aren’t alone and develop friendships with George and Esther, and become parents to Faina, their snow child.

I love the relationship between Esther and Mabel, how Esther’s resilience and strength helps Mabel and Jack, how George and Esther take care of them and teach them, and the way they all become friends, then family.  The details of their Alaska homesteads were quite descriptive, that it was quite easy to see it in my mind.

There were many times I didn’t know where the story would go or how it would end, and that was okay. I liked not knowing where the author would take her readers.  However, there were many times towards the end of the book that I would think: “awww…that’s a beautiful ending”.  Then, I would turn the page, only to find another chapter.  After awhile, I was ready for it to end.  I felt like one of the animals ensnared in a trap…quick to grab you and slow to let go.  However, that was just the last few chapters.  The first 30 something chapters actually move quite nicely and the characters are all connected in some way.

The ending, or multiple endings (in my opinion) are hard, sad, intense, which is reminder of the harsh times during that era.  Just like the snow is surely guaranteed to appear each year (and with it bring hope), this story also brings hope and shows how you can either stay stuck in your own tragedy or see each new possibility as an opportunity to bring joy.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4  *A huge thanks to my bloggey friend, who gifted me this amazing book!

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TLC Book Tours: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

 Paperback: 352 pages
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 7, 2015)

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

My Review:

If you know me, then you know I don’t like physical books. They are too heavy for me and I really don’t like lugging them around. So, for me to admit that I carried this book with me everywhere just goes to show how much I enjoyed this one!

Because it is stated in the beginning that different characters will be sharing their point of view, it seemed to flow better for me and I didn’t feel caught off guard.  It’s hard reading from multiple view points because I tend to like one character over another, however it seemed to go well.  Overall, this is more than just about sisters, but a family full of secrets, hurt, judgment, and decisions they have to make-individually and as a family.

This book does have a gay character (Ivy), who is together with this extremely intelligent and apparently good looking Asian (per Ashley’s point of view-Ashley is the sister to Ivy).  However, their romance isn’t the main focus and it isn’t “in your face”.  Rather, it was merely a part of the character and it wasn’t anything that made me uncomfortable. Although, I did feel horrible for him and his “camp” experience.

It was a little odd that everyone called each other by their given names (or nickname), rather than “Grandma”, “Mom”, “Dad” “Sis”, etc.  It’s not very “Southern”, but then again most Southerners don’t hob nob with Senators, either!

Reading the book, I felt like the psychiatrist on Sybil (the movie) and where Sally Field changes characters in one session.  As I’m reading and really getting to know one character, that chapter would end and another character would jump in.  Each character had a story to tell, their own opinion, and like magic…it just works.

In the end, it’s about a family that looks great on the outside, but things happen behind closed doors and they each feel alone with their issues, without realizing they are all struggling with rejection, conformity, family expectations, dreams, and so on.

I enjoyed this book.  It’s funny, tackles some heavy issues but doesn’t weight the book down completely, and it even has one crazy llama…yes, a llama!!

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*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

About Dorothea Benton FrankDorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dorothea’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 7th: The Discerning Reader

Wednesday, April 8th: The man thoughts of a reader

Thursday, April 9th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, April 10th: Books and Bindings

Monday, April 13th: Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, April 20th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, April 21st: Bibliotica

Wednesday, April 22nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, April 23rd: A Novel Review

TBD: A Chick Who Reads

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Julie Farley & The New Ever After Series

I was first introduced to author, Julie Farley, being on tour for CLP Blog Tours, back in 2013.  She wrote a trilogy, which I love.  Here are the books and reviews for them:

Click here to read my review.

Click here to read my review.

Because I enjoyed the previous two books, I was quite excited to learn that Julie had written another book! The last book in the trilogy: Another Tomorrow.  This is a book that cannot be read as a standalone and is a compliment to the two previous novels.  The cover, in my opinion, doesn’t adequately represent the storyline.  Although, it is both Heather and Jenny, best friends who have endured a number of situations and life changes.  This book deals primarily with Jenny and her self discovery, after her divorce.  I was uncomfortable reading about the yoga retreat, where there is a lesbian kiss, although it doesn’t define Jenny and doesn’t really impact the rest of the story.  I think that scene could have been excluded, without affecting the overall storyline.  While the story revolves more around Jenny, it is great to still know what is happening with Heather, her new marriage, and her ever growing children.  They were just born in the last book!  I loved the romance that happens for Jenny and the way she finds peace with her ex-husband, learns to be a single mom and venturing into dating, as well as dealing with a serious health issue. Overall, Farley fans will enjoy this book and be glad for the happy ending!

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*This book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

copyright 2015

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Short Stack Reviews

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

At the beginning of the year, I was reading so much that I simply didn’t want to stop and write about them. Before I knew it, they had accumulated and I wanted to share them with you here.  I plan to write more “Short Stack Reviews”, where you can gleam what I’ve read, add them to your TBR list (if you see any that you might like), and also to help me keep track of my reading.  Be sure and click on each book picture to read the synopsis!

This is my first DNF, this year.  I don’t typically include books I haven’t read because I certainly am in no position to rate them.  However, I am including this one.  From the first chapter, I was hooked into the storyline.  It was intense, an “edge of your seat” kind of book, that I just couldn’t continue reading.  I had so much anxiety worrying if Mark, the astronaut left behind, was going to die.  I didn’t watch Gravity, the movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, because I didn’t want to see him die.  I’m a wimp when it comes to movies and books.  Because I didn’t finish this book, I have no idea if Mark survives, but my heart couldn’t continue.  It is a book for sci-fi fans, those who want a narrative story (as Mark is the only one on Mars…and his potatoes), and for those who love intense books. So, what did I do with this book? I gave it to my son, who loves sci-fi, is fascinated with Mars, and loves an intense storyline.  He also saw Gravity and loved it, so there you go!

*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  So, when Cyndi from “A Utah Mom’s Life“, suggested this book, I downloaded it.  I loved this book and the adventures Jane (Jane in the book, not The Jane) has in Austenland.  I don’t know if there is such a place, but wouldn’t it be amazing to jump back in time and meet people that are from Pride and Prejudice? Jane has a great sense of humor and does admit the corsets get old, not being able to be alone with a male is stifling, and lack of cellphones can be a bit hard.  However, she has her own adventure, has some love challenges, and finds her happily ever after…or so I hope.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it was in perfect Austen form-love always prevails!

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 I must admit, before reading While Beauty Slept, I just didn’t have an appreciation for Princess Aurora.  This book is another twist on  Sleeping Beauty, where Princess Aurora wakes up but doesn’t have her happily ever after.  She isn’t in love with her prince, the kingdom is in disarray, and she learns that all is not as it seems.  This novel is the first to a trilogy, which I am excited about and is a great YA book for those who love stories about fairy tales with twists.  There are definitely some cliffhangers, which I am sure the other 2 novels will address, and can’t wait to read them!  This is definitely a book that different from Elizabeth Blackwell’s book, so don’t compare them because you will be disappointed.  They are vastly different and equally good in their own right.  I enjoyed this book very much!

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

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2014 Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:

I absolutely fell in love with Rainbow’s book, Eleanor and Park, so I was extremely excited to read her latest book. This book is definitely not YA, and is a modern twist to the movie, “Back to the Future” and “Scrooge”. What would happen if you could go back in time and rework your troubled marriage? Would you make the same choices? Would the ending still be the same? These are the questions Georgie finds answers to, as she faces the possible demise of her marriage.The story follows Georgie and her husband, Neal, as Georgie connects with her past through the yellow old rotary phone hidden in her childhood bedroom closet. Georgie is at a crossroads and is faced with the decision of: spending Christmas with her family or meeting a deadline and pitching a new show. As many women willidentify with:career vs. family, Rainbow raises interesting questions as readers follow Georgie over the course of 1 week.

Told through Georgie’s point of view, Rainbow gives reader a well-rounded character and helps readers see how quickly work can become the other person in a marriage, and ultimately the cause for breaking a relationship up.Rainbow Rowell gives readers an inside glimpse into Georgie’s interesting family: her mom is a sexy Cougar, her sister is “hiding in the closet”, and Georgie is stuck in the 80’s. While the story kept me glued to each page, it would have been interesting to have had the book told by Neal’s point of view, too, and to have had a little more story development about her sister, Heather.

I loved the way the book all tied up nicely at the end, although it would have been great had Neal given more clues about knowing something magical happened between the two of them, while both rekindled their romance on a landline.

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*This was a guest review I posted on another site, which has since been shut down.  However, I wanted to give this review a home, since I did enjoy this book, so it’s here at Books in the Burbs (where it belongs)!

 

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TLC Book Tours: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 27, 2015)

The #1 international bestseller reminiscent of After I’m Gone, Sister, Before I Go to Sleep, and The Silent Wife—an intricately plotted, thoroughly addictive thriller that introduces a major new voice in suspense fiction—a mesmerizing and powerful novel that will keep you guessing to the very end.

No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret.

Will you?

A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life—to start again as someone new?

Now, Emily has become Cat, working at a hip advertising agency in London and living on the edge with her inseparable new friend, Angel. Cat’s buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can’t bury the past—or her own memories.

And soon, she’ll have to face the truth of what she’s done—a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far. . . .

My Review:

This is a book that has a dark and gloomy feel about it.  It’s not until the very end, that there is a little ray of sunshine.  Emily leaves her husband and family behind, choosing to go by the name “Cat”, as she starts a new life in London.  She is determined to hide who she is to this new world, while there are moments the reader is brought to the past to shed light into the world of Emily and who she is.  Emily is the oldest twin, with her younger one (Caroline) being the reckless one.  It is shared that Caroline was not expected, as having twins was a surprise for their mom.  As a result, Caroline was treated differently from the very beginning, while Emily was the child that was loved and nurtured.

Told in alternating viewpoints, the reader gets to know what Emily and Caroline’s parents felt and experienced, Ben (Emily/Cat’s husband), Angel (Cat’s friend), as well as Emily/Cat’s perspective.  I would have loved to have known Caroline’s point of view because she is so central to this storyline.  However, the reader is left to speculate what she felt and why.

Emily is married to a loving man and has 1 child, pregnant with another.  She is a successful attorney and has the support of her family and friends.  Then, abruptly, she leaves to run away from her past and the reader slowly puts the pieces together to figure out what would make Emily leave the comfort of her home and wonderful family to start anew. Cat is rather reckless as she ventures into the world of drugs and partying.  She meets a friend, named Angel, who becomes quite close with her.  However, never close enough to know Cat’s secret.

This is a novel that I absolutely enjoyed reading. It’s a novel that will keep you guessing, wondering what’s happening next and what happened in the past.  As it all unfolds, the reader can’t help but have compassion and happy to see a silver lining at the end.  While it isn’t addressed as openly in the novel, it’s quite certain that Emily suffered from PTSD, which explained the alter-ego and the spiral towards self-destruction.  It’s simply a great novel that kept me guessing until the very end. It’s a great read that I truly enjoyed!

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*My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel! No forms of compensation were given.

About Tina Seskis

© Laila Hegarty

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, England, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent more than twenty years working in marketing and advertising. One Step Too Far is her debut novel, and was first published independently in the UK, where it shot to the #1 spot on the bestseller list. Her second novel is forthcoming. She lives in North London with her husband and son.

Find out more about Tina at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tina’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 27th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, January 28th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, January 29th: Fuelled by Fiction

Monday, February 2nd: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, February 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, February 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, February 5th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, February 6th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, February 9th: The Well-Read Redhead

Tuesday, February 10th: Vox Libris

 

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Books to Add to Your List for 2015

The best part about book blogging is having an opportunity to preview books before they are published to the general public.  Below are some books I read this year, and know you will equally love them as much as I did!

This is book 2 of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.  I loved the first book and while the 2nd one is more grotesque and quite violent, I still found myself on the edge of my seat reading this one.  With random and horrible murders happening everywhere, Juliet has an idea as to who is causing the killings.  Just as Juliet leaves the island and her father behind, she realizes her past is always there to haunt her.  It’s an excellent companion to the first book, although you will immediately have to purchase the 3rd book because it leaves you hanging!

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This is a fantastic wrap up to the trilogy.  It’s a bit long, but there are so many loose ends that Megan has to address so that it ends on a high note! I love the trilogy and how much Juliet grows through each novel.  She must choose her destiny: that of her mother, her father, or perhaps, even her own path that isn’t what her parents may want.  She learns about the family secrets, brings closure to the ghosts of her past and finds meaning that goes beyond that of her father.

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I absolutely loved this book.  I am always fascinated with how flowers have their own knowledge and the emotions they convey.  This is a story that will certainly be a favorite for many!

Tilly becomes an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls.  It is while she is there that she comes across a diary and reads about Florrie and Rosie. I love the historical facts weaved throughout this story and how the stories merge from past and present, to finally the present.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, but as always, this book gives hope.

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 I have read almost every book written about the fabulous Coco Chanel and have watched every movie and documentary made about her life.  I am absolutely fascinated with her and truly did not know what to expect with this book.  However, I have read C.W. Gortner’s work and love his writing.  From the first chapter, I am immersed in Coco’s life!  It’s a fantastic story with tidbits in there that aren’t in too many books.  Readers will love this book and finish it, wanting more! This is by far C.W. Gortner’s best work to date and I know this will be a huge favorite for many!

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*Each of these books mentioned have very little information about them.  I intentionally chose not to write a huge write-up on them because they aren’t going to be available to the public, until 2015.  However, I needed to put these books on your radar so that you can add them to your wish lists, pre-order, and buy them the minute they hit the bookstores.  The only exception is Megan Shephard’s books, however, I stayed with the same style: simple.

Happy Reading!

Were there books under your tree?

 

photo courtesy by School Library Beyond Survival

This was the first year that my sons purchased their gifts for the family, on their own!  With absolute no guidance, suggestions or hints.  It made me the happiest mom and avid reader in the world to know that they went to the bookstore and bought books!

My husband doesn’t typically read, so we bought him a couple of audibles, however had to buy a couple of hardbacks…because one can always hope!

My sons bought me:

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

My son read all the Alex Rider books and was excited to see that there was a book that he knew I would enjoy reading, too!

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

I have this book already for book review, but I typically post those as book giveaways. So, this really excited me and showed me how well my kids know what kinds of books I love!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

My son was given the book to read a few years ago and he loved it.  A close friend of mine also mentioned how much she loved it, so I’ve been reading it and am excited to know what happens.  I also am a huge fan of trilogies, so I’m excited that I get to read more about these characters in the other books by Cashore!

I’ve been reading such fantastic book lists, lately. With the gift cards for my Nook, I’ve been quite busy downloading and reading books.  I recently read:

It’s a pretty fast read and reminded me a milder version of “The Others” with Nicole Kidman.  As I was reading it, I thought it was quite interesting to read how a family operates, the dynamics between siblings, the relationship between daughter and father, etc, through the eyes of young teens.  It also shows that teens, while they may seem oblivious, do understand more than they are given credit for.  I enjoyed reading it, especially since I used to work with brain injured patients and their recovery can be quite long. I loved the stories Cadence tells at the beginning of each chapter, it’s her rendition of how she views her aunts and grandfather.  They read like a little fairy tale, some not so happy.  Because the story is told through Cadence, it’s hard to really understand the layers of issues each sister has and what the relationship was like before their mother, Tipper, dies.  However, it is brilliantly written, quite sad and beautiful, and is an excellent read!

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Which book did you read over the holidays? Which books did you receive that you can’t wait to read? I’d love to know!!

 

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Book Review: Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James & Giveaway Details

 

Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons–a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane’s affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race–and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

My Review:

As many of you know, my all time favorite author is Jane Austen.  I absolutely love her books, love reading about her life (albeit-it’s sad), and am drawn to anything Jane.  So, this book definitely peaked my interest.  Just when I thought I had read everything there was to know about Jane’s life, Syrie James does her research and finds Jane Austen’s first love: Edward Taylor!  This story is based during a short period of Jane’s life.  She’s 15 years old, visiting her brother Edward, and celebrating his engagement.

I love that Syrie James brings to life the charisma and charm that Jane Austen exudes in all of her writings!  While this story is based on historical fact, laced with some fiction, it is rather interesting to imagine how Jane created characters, shared her stories with others, and the interactions she has with family.  We all know that Jane never marries or has children, however, her childhood certainly shapes the views she had on relationships and helped create characters for her novels.  So, it was quite a treat to see the possibility that her summer experience helped with the storylines and characters in Emma and Pride & Prejudice.  The most special relationship, even more so than Jane’s and Edward Taylor, is between Cassandra and Jane.  The secrets they share, they talks they have, and just the concern they have for each other is quite poignant and wonderful to see how it evolves and becomes even more important for them to maintain into adulthood.

Overall, this is a fantastic storyline that Jane Austen fans will love.  It’s a book that gives a glimpse inside the world of Jane Austen, as a young teenager, who experiences first love and plays matchmaker to a group of people-only to realize that sometimes what is imagined, isn’t always realistic.  However, she never gives up on the idea of love, which we experience through her writings!

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*A huge thank you to the publisher and Syrie James for the opportunity to review the book and offer a giveaway!  No forms of compensation were given.

Photo courtesy of Syrie James website.

About the Author, Syrie James:

“The queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” —Los Angeles Magazine

Syrie James is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Jane Austen’s First Love, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, a Discover New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine.

Syrie is a member of the WGA and a life member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). She spent many years as a screenwriter and enjoys writing both novels and screenplays. Syrie writes practically every weekday. She says, “Many people can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. It’s the opposite for me. I truly love my jam-packed weekends, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I’m back in my chair on Monday morning, I’m anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story.”

Syrie was named after a character in a radio show that her mother listened to as a girl. Today, Syrie is thrilled that her name is pronounced the same as Siri, the iPhone personal assistant–even if they spell the name incorrectly. :)

Syrie was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved west at age one because her father didn’t like shoveling snow. She has lived most of her life in California, if you don’t count the two years as a child when she lived in France.

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