Bookit Review: Mr Darcy’s Mail-Order Bride

Title: Mr. Darcy’s Mail-Order Bride
Author: J. Dawn King
Publication: November 24, 2016 (Kindle/Kindle Unlimited edition)
Grade: C

This variation novel was alright.  I didn’t want to throw it out the window.  It just wasn’t something that made me want to ignore the clock and keep reading.  In this particular variation, Darcy and Bingley have become landowners in Oregon, seeking wives from the east due to a lack of possible wives in the West.  Darcy writes the letters for Bingley to Jane, the niece of an acquaintance of theirs, Mr. Gardner.  Elizabeth responds for Jane, and the two fall in love through the letters, not realising that they weren’t speaking with the real Jane/Bingley.   Thus awkwardness when the two arrive to be married (Darcy deciding at last minute to marry the sister).

This reads almost like vengeance fanfic.  Like Ms. King wanted to see characters she thought less of punished in some way.  Caroline is pretty much out of the picture right away, and Lydia barely spends any time before whisking away with Wickham (who keeps getting fired, and barely talks to Elizabeth).  Meanwhile Elizabeth and Jane remain the optimum examples of virtue and good nature.

So in a sense, it was like all the characters were more pushed towards the good/bad guy roles then they were in the original.  Poor Denny, the first-nameless soldier who makes the unfortunate decision to be friends with Wickham in the original book, now has become Wickham’s second hand man, possibly starting a fire at Bingley’s ranch.  Mr. Bennet turns out to just sit in his study and do nothing while his remaining children run close to starving. I must admit this is the first time where I’ve read a book and fault for the awkward marriage between the elder Bennets is placed on Mr. Bennet instead of just assuming he was dealing with a nutsy wife.

Although I did find the implication of Lydia/Colonel Fitzwilliam (who in this novel isn’t a colonel but crime lawyer) an intriguing idea.

Its an alright novel if you can’t get enough of Jane Austen variations, but nothing I’d put on my “read again later” list.

Bookit Review: The Promise Kitchen

Title: The Promise Kitchen
Author:  Peggy Lampman
Publication:  August 16, 2016/June 25, 2015  (Kindle Edition/Kindle Unlimited Edition)
Grade:  B

With The Promise Kitchen I spent half the book wondering what I thought of it.  It kept changing on me.  It starts off strange with the one POV character (Shelby) and her mother trying to save money by burying two people in the same urn.  Which was not what I expected when I saw this on the “Recommend for you” scroll on my Kindle.  Still, I decided to continue to read it.  AFter all, I’m sure there was a point to why this scene was included.

The story  is about two women named Shelby and Mallory and how their lives change drastically over a year.  Shelby is a single mother of a daughter and lives with her mother, daughter and a Jackalope in a poorer community in lower Georgia.  Mallory comes from more affluent background, and lives as a food reporter in Atlanta.  They both start out the year with a big change.

Shelby gets a job at Grassos, an Atlanta based grocery chain that offers to pay for culinary school.  This is a step in the direction she wants to go to provide her daughter with a better life, but it does mean leaving her daughter for weeks at a time when she works in Atlanta (there is a 3 hour drive between Atlanta and home).

Mallory on the other hand, is having job issues of her own as her newspaper folds and decides to become a digital only company.  She barely retains her job in the transfer and has to double her job description while getting a pay cut.  And the man she believes to be the love of her life randomly left her.

Throughout the book the two women’s life criss cross without really meeting till halfway through the book when they are involved in a car accident.  Then both of their lives change quite a bit. Mallory ends up going on a tailspin that wakes her up to ongoing problems, while Shelby seemingly loses everything

Its better than I can summarize, and surprisingly, there was a point to the first scene, if its only brought up again at the very end.  The only issues I had with the book were the quick time changes where weeks would go by.  Clearly this has to happen to get through a year but at times it seemed a little confusing as to what had happened.

The summary on the back is a little misleading, as I kept thinking the two women’s lives would be more integrated.  I did enjoy it.  From what I was reading, this is Peggy Lampman’s first novel, and I’ll be interested in seeing what else she may write.  For now it seems like she is primarily focused on her food blog.

It was also originally published with the title Simmer and Smoke and contains several recipes at the end.

 

Bookit Review: Her Hopes and Dreams

Title: Her Hopes and Dreams
Author:  Terri Osburn
Publication: November 15, 2016  (Kindle/Kindle Unlimted Edition)
Grade: B-

Please note:  This novel contains references to PTSD and other trauma-induced psychological issues  (One character has PTSD from military related events, another from being abused by their spouse).  If you feel triggered by this, please skip this book.  

I was a bit underwhelmed by this addition to the series.  Carrie Farmer’s story has been a back plot along most of the first three books.  In the first book we are introduced to her as Spencer’s ex-wife, who is being abused by her second husband.  In the second and third books she is adjusting to being a widow, a single mother, and being free from abuse.  In the last book in particular, she starts to focus on helping others who are in similar situation by creating a shelter for the area with Haleigh and her mother.

In this book, we get her point of view and see how she is adjusting.  She seems to have settled into her life, but she is determined, sometimes against her own safety, to help other women.   She meets her next door neighbor, Nathan, who happens to be an old childhood friend of her late husband.  They get off to an awkward start due to Nate not knowing what had gone on while he had been away at war.  There is also the aspect that both of them have trauma-induced psychological issues that they have to deal with.

The story is enjoyable, although it seems at times to be overly optimistic.  I do like the fact that Ms Osburn brings up the idea that people with PTSD and other trauma-induced psychological disorders can find a happy life.  The idea that it can be relived by finding “the one” seems a little misleading because it puts a lot of pressure on the significant other, but considering this is a romance novel, and the concept that love heals everything is a trope we all tend to find/write into these books.

There is a fifth book in this series, but it won’t be released till May 2017, so look for it under the ‘bookit 2017’ tag on this blog or the Terri Osburn tag.

 

Bookit Review: My One & Only

Title: My One & Only
Author: Terri Osburn
Publication: May 17, 2016 (Kindle Edition/Unlimited Edition)
Grade:  B

This is the third book in Ms Osburn’s Ardent Springs Series, and I reviewed the first two books earlier when I was doing my reviews on Bubblews.  Sadly since that website is down I can’t link back to those reviews, but I enjoyed the first two books and was happy to see that she had two more books (and one in the works) for this series.

In this particular one, we go to one of my favorite romance novel cliches – old friends who finally notice one another as something more than friends.  Although in this case its more they notice they might be able to take the chance more than just notice one another.   It also has a focus on a few issues.  Haleigh, the main female character, is a recovering alcoholic with relationship issues with her mother, Meredith, who has some issues of her own to overcome over the course of this novel.  Abby, the sister of Cooper (the main male character in this novel) is dealing with grief after the death of her husband and it affects the various characters in different way.  And a side plot involving a young mother trying to find her own family with the help of Haleigh, Copper and Abby and their Ardent Springs friends.

This book was enjoyable.  My only issue was the fact that sometimes the issues seemed circular.  Instead of movie along, it just repeated itself. Which I suppose, given the obstacles involved is just the way things work but sometimes It felt like we had just had this scene already.  That is why I gave it a B.   It also made Haleigh have objections to various things and then have her not explain why or it disappears later in the novel and nothing is said as to why she changed her mind.

My next bookit review is the fourth book in this series, Her Hope and Dreams which should be posted on Wednesday.  I am looking forward to the yet unpublished 5th book, which is Abby’s story, which may fill in some of the blanks of this story.

 

Bookit Review: Second Impressions

Title:  Second Impressions
Author: Amy George
Publication Date:  August 10, 2016 (Kindle Unlimited version)
Grade: C

The concept of Second Impressions is an interesting one.  In this, Darcy ends up holding up the engagement to Anne Darcy, and Elizabeth travels to America to visit some family there in an attempt to get over her heartbreak.

A few years later she returns to help her sister who’s expecting a baby and she is reunited with a depressed Darcy whose wife has died.  SHe and Darcy have to reintroduce themselves with who they are now.

The issue however, is that the book doesn’t really live up to the concept. In fact, the story seems to be almost more about Elizabeth’s gutsy futuristic cousin Emmeline Poston.   There is her awkward romance with John Dalton, and the side plot that really only shows up in the last third of the book where an Ex of Emmeline’s shows up and decides to kidnap her at Elizabeth’s wedding.

The positives of this book include an expansion of character with Charles Bingley, Jane, and Kitty.  They start to have more of a personality then in Austen’s original novel.  Although Jane seems more outgoing then she really was in the original material.

I feel like there are two novels in here, just both didn’t have enough so she threw them together and they didn’t meld as well as perhaps the Author hoped.

Although it should be noted that I didn’t realise it was a novella (despite that being listed on the cover) till I was finished with it.

Bookit Review: Cinder & Ella

Title:  Cinder & Ella /  Say Car for Me:  Bonus Brian POV scene (C&E 1.5)
Author: Kelly Oram
Publication Date:  Cinder & Ella:  October 1, 2014 (Kindle Unlimited Version)  Bonus Scene: Kelly Oram website, 2016)
Grade: B-

As is the case with many of the books I’ve been getting off Kindle Unlimited they aren’t the best books.  They won’t be put on my re-readable shelf.  I may persue sequels, as I am doing with this one, but not strongly.

Cinder & Ella as you can imagine was inspired by Cinderella. The book gets credit for making an interesting reason why things end up in the arc that does follow the traditional cinderella story.   Its the other parts where it goes off the rails.

Ella, the main character, is a 19 year old girl who was in a car accident and has severe burns that left scaring over her body.  She is somehow declared incompetent and forced to live with the father that abandoned her when she was a child.  Her step-mom and siblings are traditionally insensitive and in some cases outright cruel.

The “Prince” in this story is the titular “Cinder” who is in fact actor Brian Oliver.  The two of them haven’t met, haven’t even given their real names and have fallen for each other.  Brian is currently starring in the movie adaption to their favorite book (where their nicknames come from, although hers has the benefit of being her real name).

The issues with this book is that none of the characters feel particularly sympathetic.  Some are outright caricatures of stereotypes.  The story keeps you reading long enough but I can’t say I stuck around for any of the characters.  I’m hoping that the full length sequel that is coming out soon will improve on that, give characters depth.

The Author did recently publish a reverse POV of a pivotal scene as a anniversary celebration for the two year anniversary of the book’s original publication.  It doesn’t really make me like any of the characters more.  Brian and Kaylee don’t look too good in it, honestly.

I am tenatively giving the full length sequel a chance when it comes out, and the Author as well.  Hopefully they will both improve my expectations.

 

 

Bookit Review: Epic Fail

Title: Epic Fail
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publication Date: August 2, 2011. (Kindle version)
Grade: B-

Claire  LaZebnik has a series of novels that take the general plots of Jane Austen novels and makes modern versions of them.  In the case of Epic Fail she took Pride and Prejudice.  And in a sense, failed herself.

Now the book itself wasn’t horrible.  Let’s start with that.  It was a nice novel for the pre-teen set who like a little romance with their stories.  It doesn’t have overdone love scenes and for the most part is PG.  The only scene where it might be higher is where they discuss a possible sexual assault on a minor character.  I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading Epic Fail.  I just wouldn’t be “Oh, you definitely should!” should anyone ask me.

This year I’ve been reading alot of Jane Austen adaptions and variations.  Some are good, most seem to fail the mark in some way, and this one is no different.  Derek and Elise, the modern versions of Darcy and Elizabeth, don’t really feel like they have any connection to their 19th century counterparts.  Some of the structure of the original novel can be seen, but for the most part, I would say this was more an inspired by then a true modernization.   The characters seem to fill the slots but don’t really have much of the rest of it.  I do however like that this book took Kitty Bennet/Kitty Benton and gave her a personality.

So I’m going to give it a B-.  It’s a nice rainy day read, easy to digest and nothing that will make you want to throw the book out the window.  However, it’s not Jane Austen really.

Bookit Review: Ella’s Twisted Senior Year

Title: Ella’s Twisted Senior Year
Author: Amy Sparling
Published May 31, 2016 (Kindle Unlimited Edition)
Grade: C

I was a bit disappointed in this novel, to be honest.  While it wasn’t a horrible read, and seems good for younger readers who like romance (no sex scenes, and it is about 16 year olds), It didn’t really stand up to my expectations.

Given the title, I thought the focus would be on Ella.  Ella at the start of the book has just lost her home and pretty much all of her belongings (bar those on her person,in her car, and a few things they find in the rubble) due to a tornado.  I expected a good portion of the book to be her dealing with her emotions about that, about how that effects her schooling and her plans.  However, while it is somewhat touched, most of the story goes to two other plot points.  You also expect the main plot to be Ethan and Ella realising their feelings for one another and their changing relationship, but that is more B plot (C plot being the Tornado).  No, the main plot seems to be Ella’s fight with Ethan’s ex-girlfriend who has become a cyber bully due to Ethan breaking up with her right before prom.

Way too much of this story revolves around two girls fighting over a guy.  And the end when the one girl aplogisizes seems out of the blue, and I don’t like the premise that alot of teenage girls crack under the pressure of not having a prom date and become bullies.

 

Bookit Review: Someone Like You

Title: Someone Like You
Author: Barbara Bretton
Published: August 2, 2014 (Kindle Unlimited Edition)
Grade: B-

This is the second novel in Bretton’s Idle Point series, and as far as I can find out the last book.  The location seems to be the largest thing in common these two novels have, with a few minor characters that seem to come along for the ride.

In this novel, we have two sisters.  Cat and Joely are the daughters of two musicians who made a mark on musical histroy before their own relationship seemed to implode and their father Mark seemed to walk out on them.  With their mother more interested in finding their father, it ended up being Cat (along with their grandmother) who did most of the raising of Joely.  This has naturally left both girls with some issues.

Like the first book, I think some of the resolutions to the problems the two sisters face comes rather suddenly, but unlike the first book, it doesn’t seem as bad.  The story flows well for the majority of the story, and you want to see everything resolve happily.

I do give points to this novel for having the two love interest staying the course when problems arise.  The whole story of Mark’s life after he left was a little weird, but I enjoyed the story enough to just suspend my disbelief.

I feel as if this should have been a little longer, maybe a few chapters, to allow for the ending to be developed more, but thats just as a reader. This was much better then the first novel in the series and gives me hope that I’ll enjoy the second series I got from KU written by this author.