Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: First Impressions by Debra White Smith

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First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Lawyer Eddi Boswick tries out for a production of Pride and Prejudice in her small Texas town. When she’s cast as the lead, Elizabeth Bennet, her romantic co-star is none other than the town’s most eligible–and arrogant–bachelor.

My Thoughts: It was interesting to see how the story could have played out in the 21st century. And I really enjoyed the angle Smith brings to the story by having them act out the Pride and Prejudice play. There were some elements of the original story that I felt like were very creatively translated into the new story. But I also felt like there were some elements that were either forced or flat out uncomfortable. For me, one of the more disappointing areas were the characters’ view of marriage. I know in the original, Mr. Bennet has a great deal of disdain for his silly wife. But for me, to have Mr. Boswick have such open and unrepented disdain for his wife while claiming that the only reason he isn’t divorced is because he’s a Christian had me feeling like a Christian’s responsibility in marriage was misrepresented.
First Impressions was a solid retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It was a light, entertaining read whether you’ve read Austen’s famous novel or not.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving First Impressions 4 stars and recommend it to Contemporary Fiction fans or those who enjoy Austen retellings.

~ I received a copy from Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own. 

 

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Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Reviews: February’s Backlist: 2 in 1 Review

Alongside my usual new release reviews, I’m trying to squeeze in more books from my backlist. Here are the books I read this month. Have you read any of these books yet or are you planning?
*All links unless otherwise stated will take you to Goodreads

219A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn’t even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel’s business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend’s mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store–where she quickly proves she’s much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams–or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

My Review: I absolutely loved this one!!! The first one was good, but this one was my favorite of the series so far. I was surprised at the twists and turns the story took along the way.
Rating: 5 stars

222Pride and Prejudice in AUDIO

Pride and Prejudice is a beloved classic for a reason. You either love it, or you don’t, or you know you need to give it a try, so I’m not going to review the book. Suffice it to say that all things Austen rank highly with me. I enjoy the romance and the old-fashioned language. But I do want to share the audio version that I’m listening to and the great deal I had found.
If you’ve looked at the classics in audio, you would have found SEVERAL versions for a single book. Many reviews will point out that the more expensive versions are best. But I picked up this one dirt cheap and I’m loving every minute of it.
The original audible price is $14.95. But they had an option of buying the kindle version with it (which turned out to be free) THEN buying the audible version at a discount. My records show that I paid less than $2 for the audio. And I have I mentioned that I’m loving it?! I’d give this audio 5 stars but at this price, I’d give it 10 stars! 😉
Here are the two links I used when buying. Always, always, always preview the audio to make sure the narrator is pleasing to your ears. Be sure to double check prices before pushing any buttons because prices can change. And if you’re looking to pick up the audio at a discount, be sure to pick up the ebook version first and click on “add the audio.” Ebook and Audio

Posted in Book Reviews

Review: Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and Love and Friendship

301I had the pleasure of watching the latest Austen movie, Love and Friendship, in the same week that I read one of her earliest stories, Lady Susan. Since these are lesser known works, I thought it would benefit you to get a full review. For those who didn’t know, Love and Friendship is based on the story Lady Susan. Before I review the movie, the book, and the audiobook, let’s take a look at the story itself.

The Story: Lady Susan
I had always heard that Lady Susan was an unfinished work. I was under the impression that unfinished meant that she had not finished writing it and therefore the plot wouldn’t be complete. Who wants to read a story you’ll never have an ending to? Because of this, I had put off reading it for several years. But I’m happy to announce that this just isn’t so. Lady Susan is a finished story but is not as polished.
Lady Susan is different from the common Austen novel in two major ways. It’s an epistolary story therefore written completely through letters. And the main character, Lady Susan, is NOT the heroine Austen is known for. She’s not the sweet downtrodden female, although there is a sweet heroine to cheer for. But Lady Susan is manipulative, selfish, a liar, a flirt, and most likely an adulteress as well.
Now, this hardly sounds like something worth reading, but I beg you to think again. While the main character is…a total mess, we also have endearing characters to root for. Lady Susan’s conduct stands in clear contrast to the conduct of the more noble characters. And we’re treated to the classic wit of Austen all throughout the story.
Knowing that Lady Susan is an early work, you can easily see signs of her later, more famous works. The names of Churchhill and Martin will ring a bell with Austen fans. You’ll also see characters that remind you of some of your favorites. Lady Susan herself brings to mind several characters that I’ve loved to hate from her other works.

The Book:
As mentioned above, I found Lady Susan to be brilliantly written. You have to understand going in that with this being an early work, there may be areas of her writing that aren’t very strong. I’ve little doubt that someone has come along already and picked apart everything they felt was wrong with it. But for me, the thing I love the most about an Austen novel, or any other classic, is the language. I love the way they word their sentences. There’s a romantic, poetic tone to their speech that I just flat out enjoy. And all of that is present here which made it enjoyable to me.
I had picked up the story (we contemporaries would probably label it as a novella because it’s shorter than a novel) several months ago but didn’t finish it. There’s just a lot of information to pick up at once without the benefit of narration. Reading letters from person to person makes it harder to grasp who these people are and their connections to one another. But despite the rocky start, things mellow out with time.
*The link will take you to a free ebook version from Amazon.

The Audiobook: 
I had the opportunity to pick up the audiobook and decided to give this story another try since I never finished the written version. The link will send you the version I listened to.
They used different actors for each character. This was so much easier to listen to. Overall, I enjoyed it. However, there was one voice that got on my nerves. There was a whine to her speech, that while being very accurate for the character, grated on my nerves the more I listened to her. But it’s only three hours long, so it’s a quick audiobook just perfect for a day trip or in between longer audiobooks.

The Movie: 
If you’ve watched Austen movies over the years, you would have been shocked at some of the vulgar scenes we’ve witnessed. I’m happy to announce that this was a CLEAN movie. Granted, let’s remember that Lady Susan, while it never exactly says, is thought to be an adulteress. So there are adult and sinful themes. But Lady Susan’s sins are hinted toward and never fully exposed so younger viewers aren’t likely to pick up on the meaning of the conversation. And most importantly, we don’t SEE anything unpleasant or shocking…aside from the unfortunate low cut gown. Again, there are also honorable characters involved and Lady Susan’s conduct is always viewed as shameful. SHE never finds shame in her conduct, but the viewer is always encouraged to think the worst of her lifestyle, so I didn’t feel like her sin was encouraged or condoned.
Love and Friendship has a strong comedic tone to it. I laughed out loud a few times. Some of the characters are meant to be ridiculous and you can’t help but laugh at them because they don’t seem to notice their faults.
Again, the beginning tripped me up. I liked the way they opened the movie by introducing the characters. But even then, I found it to be a lot of info to try to soak up and I was still lost for the first thirty minutes or so. But I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you just need to watch a period drama more than once to fully understand it.
Watching the movie first had helped me to grasp the story when I listened to it later that week. And I must say that this was probably the closest adaptation I think I’ve ever seen. The characters were not altered from Austen’s vision in any way that I could tell. And I can’t think of any real plot point that was altered. The original story was told through letters and the movie was acted out without the use of letters so some of the characters conversed in the same room instead of reading correspondence. But the point and the purpose was always one and the same. In that regard, this was extremely well done.

Rating and Recommendation: 
I think my first impression of either the book or movie was to give it 4 stars. But it has that sort of endearing quality to it that grows on you with time and it has already been moved above a 4-star rating in my opinion. I plan to add the movie to my collection and I’ll reread Lady Susan again someday.
I recommend it all Austen fans. I think you’ll find something worth enjoying here, even if it never becomes your new favorite Austen movie/story.