The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Noble Servant

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Date read: June 6, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance / Fairytale Retelling (The Goose Girl)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 312 (hardcover)
Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3 (or Thornbeck Forest, #3)
Fave character: Steffan
Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Notes: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

My Review

Melanie Dickerson does it again! Another extremely enjoyable novel from a talented author. 🙂

I always enjoy Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale novels, and this one was especially enjoyable for some reason! 🙂 It’s the final book in the trilogy which began with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Beautiful Pretender, and it tells the story of Magdalen, the friend of the heroine in The Beautiful Pretender, which I was very excited about. However, each of the books stands alone (aside from a few references/characters who reappear, which isn’t so important), so if you haven’t read the first two, you can definitely jump in on this one! 🙂

The Noble Servant is a retelling of The Goose Girl (with nods to The Prince and the Pauper as well), which is not a fairytale I’m as familiar with as some, although I know the general idea of the servant taking the place of her lady and forcing the heroine to become a servant tending to geese. I enjoyed the retelling aspect but likely didn’t pick up on as much of it as I might have if it was a different fairytale. But far from making it less enjoyable because of that, I actually enjoyed it immensely because I had no idea what was going to happen!

I really liked our heroine, Lady Magdalen of Mallin, who was very sweet but capable; and I especially liked the hero, Steffan, Duke of Wolfburg, who was kind but heroic and noble, and had some great lines. They are both nobles who find themselves in servant roles outside Steffan’s castle, and there is a plot by Steffan’s uncle and all sorts of intriguing things. I loved how they both ended up servants for awhile, which was interesting to read about. My favorite thing about the story was probably Magdalen and Steffan. They were super cute together, too. 😉 I loved their dialog! Some of their discussions and times with the sheep and geese were my favorite parts of the novel. ^_^

I especially loved how Steffan really disliked the geese. XD You have a Goose Girl retelling, and the hero doesn’t like the geese the heroine is around because he’s scared of them. It. was. the. best. XD Steffan’s comments about the birds were my favorite. 😀

As always, I enjoyed the medieval German setting (Steffan had even been away studying in Prague! I loved that!), with the smattering of German words, and the castle and the woods and fields, and even a sight of the sea. It was overall lovely and a great setting and time-period. Also, I want to eat those stuffed rolls with bacon, potato, and sauerkraut in them—they made me so hungry. XD

It was exciting at times, and absorbing all throughout, and had a few surprise twists which I did not see coming! Especially with a few of the side characters surprising me. So that was neat. 🙂 Something about it felt a little different than Melanie Dickerson’s previous books, I felt, but not in a bad way. It was just… kind of new. 🙂 While still being slightly similar in a good and familiar way.

Like I said, I wasn’t ever sure what would happen next, and the writing was extremely well done, and kept me turning pages all throughout the book, eager to find out how our sweet heroine and dashing hero would get out of their predicaments, with God’s help, and maybe find a little love along the way. 😉 I couldn’t stop reading and was captivated until the final page.

I can’t think of anything specific that I disliked. Occasionally it gets very slightly exasperating how long it takes the hero and heroine to actually let on that they like each other and get over their worries about not being worthy etc., but that seems to be a classic romance theme, so oh well. 😛 And it didn’t annoy me as much as sometimes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, which I quite liked. ^_^ I’d say that young adults and adults alike would enjoy this charming, sweet romance in medieval Germany, with a dash of retellings and Christianity, mistaken identities, lovable characters, and fun dialog about geese. 😀

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Favorite Quote

“Evil birds. What are they doing among my sheep?” He raised his arms. “Shoo, you cruel little beasties.”

About The Noble Servant

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . .

if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines The Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, May 9, 2017

Links

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Vintage Jane Austen: Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Review)

The third novel in the Vintage Jane Austen series is now up for pre-order and is releasing this weekend, on June 17! 😀

This one is a retelling of Mansfield Park, and it’s called Bellevere House, by a talented author friend of mine, Sarah Scheele. I’m super excited. ^_^

In case you haven’t heard, the Vintage Jane Austen series is a collection of novels by different authors, retelling Jane Austen’s classic works in a new setting, a.k.a. the 1930s in America.

They are great fun so far and I hope you’ll give them a try! If you’re at all interested in historical fiction, Jane Austen, retellings, the ’30s, Christian fiction, well-written stories, etc. then you’re sure to enjoy them. 🙂

The books out so far in the series are:

And now on to my review! 🙂

My Review of Bellevere House

  • Title: Bellevere House
  • Author: Sarah Scheele
  • Date read: June 10, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
  • Age: YA (ish? I think the characters are more in their twenties so not exactly teens, but I’d say YA and up would enjoy this novel. :))
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 262
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen, #3 (Each book is a standalone, by different authors.)
  • Fave character: Ed
  • Source: From the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own.

I quite enjoyed this book! 😀 I loved the humorous style and the banter. The characters were far from the unpleasantness level their counterparts achieved in the original book by Jane Austen, which means that Bellevere House wasn’t as depressing to read as Mansfield Park was, for me. XD

Comparing the two, Bellevere House is definitely more of a re-working/re-imagining than a straight-up retelling of Mansfield Park, but I actually really enjoyed that, and it was fun to pick out the changes and the way things were sometimes tipped on their heads, but all masterfully done. (One random but handy thing: the hero and heroine aren’t blood relatives, since Ed is the son of a previous marriage of Faye’s uncle; I know cousins married all the time back in Austen’s day, but it would’ve been slightly more problematic in a book about the ’30s. XD)

When I read Mansfield Park, I felt like it was something of a chore to get through (which I don’t usually feel about Austen’s works), exhausting and depressing. The light, skillful writing in this retelling made Bellevere House a pleasure to read; I zipped right through it and had a blast. 😀 They’re overall quite different books. Jane Austen’s original novel was an excellent book with many intriguing things to say, so I’m not saying either of these is better than the other (they’re so different it’s hard to compare), but due to the original’s depressing nature, I couldn’t enjoy Mansfield Park, the way I ended up enjoying this retelling of it. 🙂

Faye was a good main character, more strong-willed than her counterpart Fanny, and I liked Uncle Warren, and especially Ed and Jane Watson (more on them later). I didn’t care for Helene Carter (but I never cared for her counterpart in the original book) and I didn’t like Horace Carter either, and wasn’t sure what anyone saw in him, but… oh well. I didn’t loathe either of them the way I loathed the Crawfords, so that was less stressful, fortunately! 😛 There were a few times when Faye would think of a character a certain way and I disagreed with her and just didn’t SEE them that way. But overall the cast was quite an amusing bunch. XD

The setting was very well done, and even though there weren’t a lot of long descriptions, I felt entirely immersed in the 1930s in Illinois, Florida, and New York in turns. The description of New York City was particularly fantastic. I loved that bit! It was so vivid. (Although Faye did seem a little naive to act like nothing about the city could be dangerous.)

I find it fascinating how the Vintage Jane Austen books I’ve read so far have all been so different from each other, yet all equally delightful in different ways, and somehow fitting together as a series despite that, with their 1930s setting, Christian thread, and of course, connection to Jane Austen. 🙂 They’re so DIFFERENT but I still like them all!

One of my favorite things about this book is the style it’s written in—particularly the opening chapter, which just draws you in with this… how can I describe the style? It’s witty and humorous and kind of… I don’t know… chatty? I adore funny stories, and the writing in this is SO FUN. I can’t get over it! 😀 It just flows really easily and quickly and seemingly-effortlessly, and was a pleasure to read. 🙂

OTHER FAVORITE THINGS INCLUDE:

The mess that Grover made with his money-making scheme and how it ended. XD That entire part was such delightful (horrible) chaos and silliness, and the characters knew it, and it had me constantly on the verge of laughter. 😀 So funny!

Ed. (And Ed and Faye.) So, in a sense, there wasn’t as much of him as there could have been, and he’s actually rather different than the Edmund of the original (in a way), but I loved his character all the same. 😀 He was kind of egotistical at times (which was super amusing) but deep down a great guy, and he was just so fun to read, especially his parts with Faye. I loved them together, and they were a fun/adorable almost-romance even when they didn’t know they were a thing. 😀 He’s a little complicated and hard to analyze, which I’ve found my favorite characters are, so. There you are. 🙂

Favorite quotes about Ed:

He cracked his crooked smile that made all women swoon except the ones who wanted to slap him. Faye was a fence-sitter on the subject.

***

Ed frowned. “Well, it’s a terrible picture of me! Here, give me that. I’m going to tear it up. There ought to be legal action against publishing a bad picture like that without my permission . . . .”

A wild scuffle ensued as they tried to keep Ed from destroying the article before they could read it.

(Can you see why I like this funny book and this character? XD)

Jane Watson’s parts at the end were FABULOUS. Like… so so so fabulous. 😀 I absolutely loved those bits! When I first read it, I didn’t really like her, but she grew on me and now she’s one of my favorite things about the book. XD A very strong-minded journalist, she just makes such a striking appearance in the story. Many of her lines (as well as her article at the end) were simply gold. 😀

When she’s expounding on her time as a nurse in the Great War, recounting the horrors of the time and all she went through, and finishes with:

“And I’d have you know, through all of it, I still had perfect nails! Because I am completely swell.”

I JUST LOST IT. XD THE. BEST. (Can you tell she has a strong personality? XD)

And this fantastic quote from the news article by her, which was my favorite:

“We delude ourselves if we think that decency is not rewarded in other people simply because we refuse to practice it ourselves.”

CONCLUSION:

Sometimes it seemed sort of like a light-hearted romantic comedy, at times slipping in slightly deeper/darker topics or bits of Christianity, and the characters were all individual, many of them lovable, and well-written, and it was quite an enjoyable book! 🙂 Some of the story ended up rather differently than its original counterpart, particularly one character’s ending! I’m on the fence about how a couple of things turned out, but on the whole I’m happy with most of the ending. ^_^ (Definitely a happier book than the original. XD) I don’t read this genre much, so it’s not like my favorite book, but I’m giving it 5 stars anyway, just because I enjoyed it. 🙂

Overall, I had so. much. fun. reading this! 😀

Now I shall sigh that it’s over, and anxiously await the next Vintage Jane Austen book, because I’m quite addicted to these. XD

About Bellevere House

It’s March, 1937 . . .

And Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children—including Ed. The one she will never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when her cousin BeBe suddenly trusts Faye with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye’s in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to untangle Faye and Ed’s hearts.

Find the Book

Amazon • Goodreads

Author Bio

Sarah Scheele scribbled incessantly as soon as she could read and write. A heavy background—some might say an overdose—of literature during her childhood set writing into a loop she has yet to escape. That education in classics gave birth to several of her stories, including a rewrite of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park for this collection. She used to wonder why Edmund and Fanny couldn’t have a better resolution?—and so she decided to give them one. Today she does many things with her time. But then she writes, which is the most important thing to mention in an author’s biography. Sarah lives on a farm in Texas with a ladylike cat and a tomboyish Pomeranian.

You can connect with her online here:

Website • Blog • Facebook

 Thanks for reading! ^_^

Spring Ishness! {2017}

[Note: Apologies if you got this twice and/or if the link didn’t work! I accidentally posted it wrong and therefore deleted it… so it might have been wonky. >.> SO SORRY. Let this be a lesson to look at things more carefully before posting…]

Half-March, April, May (2017)

Time for my second Ishness of the year! (Yes, these have been less than regular, of late. XD)

Last time, I talked about the first two and a half months of 2017, so this time I’m talking about what I’ve been doing since then, in April and May and part of March. How time flies! *still in shock that it’s JUNE*

This… may be a little long. >.> I hope you’ll forgive me. XD (But really, I usually take nearly this long to talk about just one month, so doing two and a half all at once might even be more efficient. XD)

WRITING ISH

As you probably know, I did Camp NaNo in April! ‘Twas super fun! 😀

I wrote a total of 12,085 words for Camp, which is not bad, considering my original goal was 5K.

I worked on a few short stories for that, including A Tale of Two Boxes.

I’m calling Camp NaNo April 2017 a great success. 🙂

I slacked a bit on the writing front in May after all the Camp NaNo writing; I only wrote six-or-seven-hundread words, but I have been doing some plotting for my Kedran’s Wood series, Starrellian series, and The Siren and the Skyship. I also did #WIPjoy (on Twitter) in April for the 5-year anniversary of The Owl of Kedran’s Wood. I had so much fun playing around in that world for that and my anniversary post! ^_^

These days, I’m scribbling snatches of KW2, The Other Half of Everything, and a short story I’m writing that started as a dare, continued through Camp, and which I hope to finish sometime soon; it’s a fairytale-esque short story called Invisible Beauty.

So it’s slow, but I’m still poking along in my writerly pursuits! I currently am having a hard time pinning myself down to focus on one thing at a time. I’m a slitherer-outer like Howl, and not proud of it. *cough* If I would just tackle one project, I might actually get stuff done! *sigh* But I also need to work on making sitting-down-to-write into a habit, because I’ve slacked on that in the last couple of years.

In other news, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SCRIVENER! ❤ Ahem. I guess you probably knew that, but it needed repeating. *cough*

SNIPPETS ISH

With semi-amusing commentaries about them from moi.

[I’m not posting snippets of A Tale of Two Boxes, since you can read the whole thing HERE. :P]

The sun sank relentlessly toward the horizon, staining the path and sky and grey stone castle with urgent shades of red.

Invisible Beauty

[Time-limits are fun. The sun setting is a bad thing here, in case you can’t tell…]

***

In a last desperate rush, she pounded down a long winding staircase into the depths of the castle dungeon, and there at last she found the sorrowful prince—chained in his own keep.

Invisible Beauty

[I’m currently stuck there. Great place to stop, no? ;)]

***

But, I reasoned, it wasn’t the end of the world. It could be worse. Teague could have been an axe-murderer instead of just a writer. I’d live with it. I’d have to.

The Other Half of Everything

[Because only Meridian would compare writers to axe-murderers. -_-]

***

“I’m through playing games,” Tare growled. “What do you want?”

“Well, being able to talk with you is a start. You’re a hard one to find, Tare.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

[Because if there’s one thing Tare doesn’t like, it’s being found. Because that normally entails someone looking for him. Which is almost never good…]

READING ISH

I think I read about 16 books since my last Ishness, before June hit?

Notable books read:

  • Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones, which is my favorite book so far this year.
  • Well, The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead might tie for that spot, actually. O_O (NEW FAVORITE SERIES. ❤ Seriously, just read them, people. Book one is The Skin Map. Go. I can wait…)
  • Other masterpieces include Sentinel by Jamie Foley (SO MUCH FUN) and The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Schultz (SO FUNNY, and Beauty and the Beast retelling and just hilarious).

But really, they’re nearly all “notable”. I’ve enjoyed almost all of these, SO MUCH. ^_^ Much good reading of late!

I should do a reading roundup for this year… Maybe I’ll do a half-way-point post on my book blog in early July, rounding up my reading so far with brief thoughts? Sound like a good idea? If anyone’s interested…

WATCHING ISH

I actually haven’t been watching many new-to-me movies of note, lately. Who has time for movies when there are SO MANY EPIC BOOKS TO READ?? But I did see a couple of interest…

  • Shipwrecked — One of my earliest childhood memories of movies; I think it’s been living subconsciously in my mind and kind of defined epic when I was little. It was amazing to see it again and see how similar and how different it was than I remembered! (Like how the characters are SO YOUNG but when I was little I assumed they were practically grown-up, like… like… old TEENAGERS or something. XD …And now even teenagers, of which I was one not so long ago, seem young. Time is strange.)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Pirates 5) — More nauticalness! Yes, I went and saw this at the theater. Some of it was a mess, but as long as one ignored that, overall it was better than I thought it would be, and I basically had a blast. XD (Not the after-credits scene though. NO. JUST NO. O____O) But much funny, and it was fun to be back with some old character friends. 🙂 And and and I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS AND JUST YES. It’s about Will and Elizabeth’s son and he’s trying to break Will’s curse and just alskdjlfkj all the adorbz oh my word. ❤ Not a perfect movie, but overall fun and I’m glad I did get to see it. 🙂
  • Man of Steel — Yep, I FINALLY saw this. I know it came out ages ago, but… *shrug* It’s actually my first Superman movie? Somehow I just haven’t ever watched one. (Too busy with Batman and Marvel movies, I suppose?) Not my favorite, but overall it was pretty fun and I… guess I really enjoyed it. 🙂 (And of COURSE Superman’s dad was the Gladiator…)
  • Studio C — Mainly, if I have time to watch something and am not reading instead, I’ve been watching Studio C. Because yes, I finally got addicted to them. XD I’d heard them mentioned by many friends before, but didn’t really know much about them and hadn’t ever watched any, but I recently got absolutely hooked and from time to time disappear in the black hole of hilarity that is Sudio C and their addictingness. XD

LISTENING ISH

  • Lindsey Sterling. Because all the gorgeous.
  • Also Cara Dillon because pretty voice.
  • And my 2016 NaNo playlist somehow resurfaced so I’ve been listening to The News Boys and Skillet etc., which is making me think of my story The Library and the Stars and… yeah.

BLOGGING ISH

Blogging has been somewhat tricky sometimes, due to less-than-stable internet. >.>

I recently (and currently) have extremely unreliable internet, which loves to go out for days at a time seemingly for a lark. -_-

But I do what I can!

Here are my latest posts, in case you missed them; and/or just for my own personal reference of what I’ve posted lately. XD (Feel free to skip this bit!)

Posts on The Page Dreamer in the last two and a half months (in reverse order):

Posts around here in the last 2 and a half months (also in reverse order):

LIFE ISH

I don’t even know why I put this category here because I really don’t do anything interesting that can’t fall under most of the other categories. XD

I started a bullet-journal around when I posted my last Ishness (I know I had mentioned it) and it’s… almost full already? O_O Ahem. So I’ll probably have to find a new one come July. The past couple of months have been an interesting experiment in streamlining my to-do list processes. It’s very similar to what I used to do, just slightly tweaked. BUT I LOVE IT AND IT’S GREAT. I mean, it makes me realize how behind I am and how I always bite off more than I can chew, but at least it’s all tidily listed. 😀 Hee. It’s been my constant companion and SO helpful. And I’m so glad I decided not to try to make it fancy because who even has time for that. IT’S JUST LISTS, PRETTY MUCH. Which makes me happy. 😛

I’ve also been to a couple of writer workshops, which were interesting; got to see a visiting dear friend which absolutely made my year; went to a library sale; went kayaking and got an atrocious sunburn but had so much fun. That’s mostly it in the excitement category.

And just… life, ya know? 🙂

SUMMER PLANS ISH

Somehow, June has begun (WHAT?? Help me out here. Time is insane and definitely up to something mischeivous) and so begins the long double-month of June-and-July. We should just call it Junely and be done with it. 61 days of a long, hot, summer month that starts with Ju and I therefore mix up.

As for my plans during Junely and August-ish perhaps… well. Let’s see.

  • Reading/Reviewing: I have much reading and much reviewing to do… Kind of behind on that. *eyes stack of books I need to review soonish and twitches* I review slower than I read, and therefore I must do some catching up. XD
  • Blogging: Posts you might see around here and my other blog are mostly… erm… reviews? *surprise* (Sorry, I’ve just been reading SO MANY good books that need reviewing. XD) I might throw a couple of other ideas in there as well. And I’m going to be part of something very exciting, blog-wise, come July, so stay tuned! 😀 I think y’all are going to be pretty excited about it. 😉 Haven’t thought ahead to August blogging yet (good grief, let’s keep it down to a sane two-month plan of blogging. *cough*).
  • Writing: Just for the record, I currently do not intend to do JuNo (June NaNo) or Camp NaNo in July. Just… I probably won’t. (Don’t quote me on it though, in case the lure of cabins and stats-graphs is too much for me.) I do, however, hope to work on writing, regardless. We’ll see if anything happens. I have tentative plans. Fingers crossed that I can do something about them. I DO WANT TO WRITE AGAIN.

So yes, the usual things are up for the summer. Reading, writing, etc. I don’t have plans (at the moment) for anything exciting or vacationy. (I’m not going to Realm Makers, for instance. *sobbing like an octopus trying to find matching shoes*)

Basically, I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY PLANS ARE BECAUSE I’M AN INDECISIVE OTTER WHO JUST WANTS TO PLAY WITH THE LATEST SHINY THING AND THEN FLIT ON TO THE NEXT ONE. I don’t do decisions or plans. Ahem.

(Why did I call it summer plans, then? Shush, do not ask me this.)

FIN (ISH)

SO. There you have an update on what this writer has been doing of late!

I’m kind of in shock at how far into the year we are, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been very busy, so. I guess that’s good?

I can’t imagine why people would like hearing about what’s up with me, but sometimes I hear ’tis so, hence I hope this was at least a little interesting!

What do you think? What’s been up with you, my dearest Roadlings? Any summer plans? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Lightporter Cover Reveal!

It is with GREAT delight that I’m here to announce: the long-awaited sequel to Twinepathy by C.B. Cook has not only a title (Lightporter!) and a first-draft written (!!!), but also has a COVER, which I am here to help reveal today!

I’M SO EXCITED! 😀

You may remember my flaily review for Twinepathy… and I’ve been waiting for the sequel ever since!

(Also, if you HAVEN’T read Twinepathy and want to (and of COURSE you want to, because it’s awesome) it’s on sale today for $0.99 on Amazon Kindle, so grab you a copy HERE, or, if you’ve already read it, maybe leave a review. ^_^)

I absolutely NEED to read more about the epic adventures of Blaze and Anvil and Albany and Brooklyn and aaaall the superpower peoples that I love. ❤

So having a cover is one step closer to me being able to read it, and of course makes it more real, so I’m SO HAPPY.

(I’m actually doing two awesome cover reveals today — one here and one on my other blog. ‘Tis a day of cover excitement. :D)

…Yes, I’m stalling.

*cough*

FINE.

Here is the cover! 😀

Isn’t it epic? 😀 I love the Arctic look! I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IIIIT AAAHH! *flailing*

Links

Lightporter on Goodreads • Twinepathy on Goodreads • Twinepathy on Amazon • C.B. Cook’s Blog • C.B. Cook on Pinterest • C.B. Cook on Goodreads • IDIA Group Board on Pinterest

So what do you think? Isn’t the cover cool (in more ways than one? ;))? Did you read Twinepathy and what did you think? ARE YOU AS EXCITED FOR LIGHTPORTER AS I AM?? (And what are you most looking forward to in it? For me, it’s definitely Blaze — and Anvil. :D) Tell me aaaall in the comments! 🙂 Thanks for reading! ^_^

I Return + Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant

Hey, everyone! I return! 🙂

(And if you didn’t notice I was gone, well… that’s either excellent news or… not. I leave you to decide. XD)

There was no post last week due to a long series of conspiratorial circumstances such as being busy, having shoddy/unreliable internet (still the case, actually; thank goodness for cupcake shops with wifi! Yes, that is a picture from today of my yummy cupcake), and a villainous wasp stinging my hand and thereby rendering me unable to type for a few days — the horror! #writersworstfears

BUT I’m back now, at least for the moment. 🙂 So blogging shall happen! Hurray!

I have bookish thoughts for you today, and next week (June 1st) I’ll be sharing an exciting cover reveal here. So excited for both! ^_^ After that I will endeavor to return to a more regular blogging schedule for June… Hopefully.

Meanwhile, I have exciting news to share in the bookish world: there are now THREE Vintage Jane Austen books out! *trumpets and confetti*

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma retelling) which I reviewed, Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility retelling), and a collection of short stories by various authors, edited by Hannah Scheele, Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen.

I’ve read the two novels that are out so far and LOVED them, and I’m looking forward to reading the short stories! 😀 (You can learn more about the series HERE, or add these to your Goodreads TBR list HERE.)

Meanwhile, I’m here today to talk about Suit and Suitability by my dear author friend, Kelsey, and tell you why you should read it! ;D

Title: Suit and Suitability
Author: Kelsey Bryant
Date read: February 16, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction (1930s) / Christian / Romance
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Series: Vintage Jane Austen, #2 (Standalone. Each book by a different author.)
Fave character: Everett
Source: From the author
Notes: I beta-read this before it was published

My Review

Firstly, I enjoyed this book SO MUCH! 😀 A retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, this version is set in 1930s America during the Great Depression (mostly in Ohio, and parts in New York City), with a dash of mystery added to it, and it was an absolute delight to read. 🙂 It drew me in from the first chapter and kept me totally absorbed, despite historical fiction of this sort not being my usual reading fare—I loved it! ^_^

It was so fun getting to meet the characters (slightly familiar but also oh-so-new!), soak up the absolutely GORGEOUS description and brilliantly well-painted time period, connect parallels and suspect upcoming things with the retelling parts, be surprised by little twists, and enjoy the humor, dialog, spiritual bits, character interactions, and generally just bask in the excellent writing! 🙂

Retelling-wise, it’s definitely recognizable as a take on Sense and Sensibility (at times a little more like the movie, perhaps?), but also its own story. So much of the original story was woven in so interestingly in clever little ways, that I had great fun comparing the two, seeing the similar things and changes and tweaks, especially fitting so well into the new time period! I enjoyed the parallels and predicting things, but there were also enough surprises that it kept me on my toes and left me with some lovely “aha!” discovery moments, like an entirely new book… which in many ways it is. I was VERY pleased with this as a retelling and as a book in general. ^_^

The setting and writing, which I somehow think of together, were both AMAZING. I was in awe at how well the time-period and setting were painted! I don’t know a lot about the 1930s, but it was just set SO. WELL. The way people talked, the clothes, the houses, details, even their names… just all of it was so evocative of the ’30s. The attention to detail was phenomenal and absolutely stunned me. I avoid writing historical fiction largely because I would never be able to do the research well enough to plunge the reader so completely into the world like this book did for me. It helped that the writing was gorgeous (and sometimes amusing!), completely sucked me in, and held me spellbound. It’s quite a long book (largely to accommodate the stories of both sisters) but it didn’t feel that way at all. 🙂 (Also, references to Captain Blood, Agatha Christie, etc., was the best. :D)

Characters! One of my favorite things… and these absolutely did not disappoint. I LOVED THEM! 😀 (I mean, except for a few, but we’ll get to that. *cough*) I loved their dialog and interactions and they had me laughing and quoting them a few times. So much fun! ^_^

  • Everett Shepherd is my favorite. 😀 The character he’s based on (Edward Ferrars, of course) wasn’t very present in the original book, so it was fantastic that he got a more “screen-time” in this retelling! I loved that. 😀 Everett was really well-written and I loved him. 😀 He was so awkward and sweet and quiet and nice and just… basically the best! ^_^
  • Ellen Dashiell, the main heroine of the story, was also so well-written and I really liked her. 🙂 She felt so REAL to me. I felt bad for a lot of her struggles and cheered her on, and she was just a great heroine—rather inspiring, actually!
  • Calvin Bradley is AWESOME. I do wish he could have been in it more, but I suppose part of the point is that he’s in the background being steady and faithful and kind and solid and grave and dependable, so… I guess that’s all right. 🙂 But he was fantastic! ^_^
  • I loved Frances! :O A very opinionated secretary who was not (I think?) based on anyone particular, she was such an unexpected character to steal my heart, and really claimed her own as a memorable person. She’s so blunt and fiery and just… the best. XD I was really surprised at how much I ended up liking her. 🙂
  • In contrast, I really disliked Leona. UGH. -_- I mean, we’re supposed to dislike her, so that means she was written well too. XD And one of the things about Jane Austen books seems to be that there’s always THAT character we love to hate. 😛
  • I’m not saying who, but I was taken off-guard by how CHARMING and likeable a certain character was (anyone who knows the Sense and Sensibility story will pick out who I’m talking about). He was well-written enough that I found myself liking him at first even though I knew who he would turn out to be! I did really dislike him as time progressed and as his situation dictated, but the fact that I liked him at all to start with… I was impressed with that.
  • On that note: yes, I will finally talk about the other heroine of the story, namely Marion Dashiell. It’s tricky here, because at times I liked her, and other times… I really, really didn’t. But I feel like that’s appropriate, because that’s exactly how I felt about Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. A lot of people seem to like her but, really, I just DID. NOT. LIKE. MARIANNE. Ugh. So Marion in this version was very similar, which means I think she was written right. XD I did like her more than the original Marianne, I think, but they’re both so flighty and dramatic/passionate/un-reined-in, and while at times I connected with Marion Dashiell over loving books or thinking Ellen might be a little to nice or something (simply because I’m likely not as patient and kind as Ellen, so that’s one thing Marion and I have in common, unfortunately) I just on the whole didn’t like her, and I also didn’t understand her theater passion/obsession because I’m not an actor. 😛 (I’m a writer and an introvert, and the idea of acting on a stage terrifies and appalls me, which means I simply don’t understand her acting passion.) Much of the story is about Marion, and I just didn’t enjoy her parts as much, BUT they were still very interesting, and I suspect others would really enjoy reading those parts; I think it’s just a personality thing where I don’t really (personally!) like Marianne/Marion in either the original or this retelling. So that was just me. Hence, the fact that I loved this book so much despite that, shows how awesome it is. 😀

Also, I think it’s neat how, while Marion and Wilkie’s story was definitely very much there, it wasn’t the only thing that Marion was doing, since her focus is largely about acting too. Even if I didn’t care for her goals so much, it made it interesting that she had something going besides just a romance—and the same with Ellen. I liked how the plot had a lot more to it than just the romances—even though I loved those too. 🙂

There are many things I loved that I can’t directly address due to spoilers, but suffice it to say that the romances (not telling whose! ;)) were at times painful (as expected) but ultimately SO SWEET and rewarding and lovable. ^_^ Sooo many mixed emotions on the ride and I enjoyed it all so much! ^_^ My favorite pair of all, especially. They are the sweetest thing, poor darlings, and they go through so much but it’s all so worth it and their patience and quiet goodness is rewarded and it’s so SWEEEEET! ❤ I’m just really really happy with the entire plot related to them. 😀 JUST YES. Their parts were so fun and I just… I so enjoyed reading about them! I’m ever so pleased that they got more focus than their original counterparts, because they totally deserve some more focus and this time they get it! ^_^ But but but much cuteness of two sweet love stories. ^_^ BASICALLY THEY WERE PERFECT.

I was also very very pleased with how a lot of the plot turned out at the end! EEP. There was even a little sleuthing involved off-screen which made me think of the Hardy Boys and that time period, and it made me happy. 😀 Plus a couple of quite surprising twists, different than the original, which I absolutely LOVED in this! 😀 (Like how the stories of a couple of side-characters turned out, and the plot about Mr. Dashiell.)

Intriguingly, I felt like not only was this a good retelling of one of Austen’s books, but it seemed (to me) to hold true to the general worldview of what I feel like Jane Austen might have been trying to get across in some of her novels, about Christianity and morality, and perhaps about a peaceful rural life of contentment versus the rush and callousness of the city, etc. It all worked really well with this specifically Christian retelling. I quite liked the spiritual aspects of this book and thought they were well-done and inspiring. 🙂 I only recently picked up on those kinds of aspects Austen seemed to put in her books; it might have been reading Mansfield Park recently that helped me piece together this parallel connection. But somehow, some of the things in Suit and Suitability point to a deeper alignment with the (perhaps at times overlooked or forgotten) subtle hints in the original books, and just seemed to FIT with Jane Austen’s works. 🙂

Overall, I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS AND THIS STORY! ^_____^ *hugs it for always* Despite not reading much historical fiction or being particularly a fan of the ’30s, and almost not even liking (sometimes) one of the main characters (a.k.a. Marion) I just so enjoyed this! It’s definitely an excellent book (I kept being blown away by the writing—sooo good) and, what’s more, a fantastic retelling of Jane Austen’s original book! I just so enjoyed it! ^_^

I definitely recommend this book, to anyone who likes Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, the 1930s, well-researched Christian Historical Fiction, sweet YA romances, all of the above, or even just an excellently-written tale of charming (and sometimes funny) characters and their journeys in love and faith! 🙂

(Thanks to the author for the chance to beta-read this book before it was published. 🙂 I was not required to write a review and these are my honest opinions.)

About the Book

The mystery surrounding their father’s criminal accusations is almost as hard to solve as the many puzzles springing on their hearts.

Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

Find the Book

Amazon • Goodreads

Author Bio

Since becoming an Austenite as a teenager, Kelsey has dreamed of writing a book in ode to Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility is one of Kelsey’s favorite novels and Elinor Dashwood is her favorite book character, so it’s easy to imagine her ecstasy as she was writing Suit and Suitability. This is her first published historical fiction work; she has also published two YA contemporary novels.

Kelsey lives in Central Texas with her family, where she’s also a copy editor, a martial arts instructor, and an avid student of the Bible.

You can connect with her online here:

Blog • Website • Goodreads • Facebook

So what do you think? Have you read or watched Sense and Sensibility? Does Suit and Suitability intrigue you? And have you read any Jane Austen retellings you can recommend to me? Tell me aaaall in the comments! 🙂 Thanks for reading! ^_^