Scars of War by Hazel B. West: Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

It’s here! Today kicks off the blog tour for Scars of War, Hazel B. West’s latest Modern Tales of Na Fianna novel! 🙂 There’s all sorts of fun going on, as well as a giveaway, so be sure to visit the Tour Home post on Hazel’s website, where you can see the schedule, giveaway, and other links!

I’m sharing a review for this awesome book — and there’s giveaway information at the end so don’t miss out. 😀

First Two Books: Free and Discount

You can get Blood Ties (book one) for FREE, for the duration of the tour, on Smashword! Simply go to the book’s page on Smashwords HERE and at checkout enter the following code to download it for free in your preferred format. 🙂 Code: EJ57R

And book two, An Earthly King, will be marked down to 99 cents on Amazon Kindle during the tour as well. 🙂

bloodtiescoverfront copy earthlykingcoverpic2-copy

(Click the covers for my reviews)

Ask Eamon and Killian

Also! There’s a fun thing the author is running on her blog: there’s going to be an Askbox live during the whole tour where you can ask Eamon (High King in the book) and Killian (his Captain of the Guard) questions, so check it out! 😀 (They’re such fun characters. XD)

Book Info And Review

About Scars of War

After the events on Samhain Eve things have calmed down for High King Eamon and his Fianna. The Unseelie Court is under new rule, and Eamon is happily married—and with an heir on the way! But just when it seems like things couldn’t be better, reports of changelings keep coming into BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk). With the risk of children being changed out in their cribs, especially when a royal heir is weeks from being born, Eamon enlists the help of Aeden Mac Cool, Commander of Na Fianna, and Cassandra Whalen, Director of BPAFF, to deal with the threat before it escalates. Riots, Faerie rebels, and road trips with the King of the Unseelie—it’s just a typical day, right?

Purchase Links

Smashwords • Amazon KindlePaperback

About the Author

Hazel West lives in Purgatory, er, Florida, with her books and her hedgehog Horatio. When she’s not writing, she’s reading other people’s books, studying folklore, or binge-watching something on Netflix—drinking coffee is also a given.

Find the Author Online

Blog • Twitter: @artfulscribblerPinterest • Goodreads

Other Links

Add Scars of War on Goodreads • Blood Ties Book Trailer • Book 1: Blood Ties on AmazonBook 2: An Earthly King on Amazon


Title: Scars of War (Modern Tales of Na Fianna, Book Three)

Author: Hazel B. West

  • Date read: September 7, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mythology/Folklore
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 350 (ebook)
  • Series: Modern Tales of Na Fianna, #3
  • Fave character: Aeden and Oberon
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author (thank you!). These opinions are entirely my own.

What a rollick of a book! We’ve got a nefarious changeling plot, cute Faerie children, awesome warriors, snark and humor, and of course an epic and amusing road trip. 😀 MY FAVORITE. I had a splendid amount of fun reading this book. 😀 As with any third-book-in-a-series, some things are hard to discuss without spoilers, but I shall do my best to be careful…

I love how each of these books has been so different so far. I mean, they’re all in the same world and have similar stuff going on in a way, with the snarky characters and the fun and the danger and all, but they’re all unique and surprise me! Blood Ties features lots of questing in the Fae Lands, while An Earthly King is primarily centered around Tara Hall. In Scars of War, we get to explore the southern parts of Ireland, which was neat, mixing the modern and old feels and Faeries into the mix. I love it!

There are two main parts to the story: stuff going on at Tara Hall with High King Eamon, and Ciran and his company—not as much with them; I might have liked more, but I suppose this is Cass’s story—and various troubles there on top of getting ready for Eamon’s heir to be born. Which factors into the changeling plot… leading to the second, and main, part of the story: Cass, Director of BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) is setting out to stop the outbreak of changeling incidents in order to keep the future heir safe. Joining her is Aeden, Commander of the Na Fianna (yay!) and, inviting himself along, Oberon, King of the Unseelie—and these three head out on a road trip of all road trips. Let the fun ensue!

I was so excited when I found out this would be about Cass and Aeden! The first book is all in Ciran’s POV, while the second is a delightful mix of several POVs, so for some reason I guess I wasn’t expecting nearly the whole book to be in Cass’s head? I wasn’t as much of a fan of that since I didn’t need to spend an ENTIRE book with her and might have wanted more Aeden; BUT I do like Cass and once I got used to it, it was fine. What we did get of Aeden was fantastic, even if that didn’t get going as soon as I might have liked. XD He’s awesome and precious. ❤ Both he and Cass are great, and I loved getting more of them and their stories. ^_^ (We got some of Eamon’s POV to see what was going on over there as well.)

AND THEN THERE’S OBERON. I may like Aeden more, but Oberon is absolutely hilarious and one of my favorites. He’s the fabulous King of the Unseelie and he makes sure you know it, and is vain and purposefully rather petty at times, and loves to annoy them and gripe about things, but he has many unexpected hidden talents too, and a heart of gold underneath, even if he doesn’t let on. His dialog is my favorite. XD He’s the annoying third-wheel and it’s glorious. 😀

The changeling plot was fascinating. There’s also mystery-type elements, and danger and peril, and it’s very exciting. The character arcs as they deal with various things were well done too. I guess I’m trying to say that while the fun elements are what stand out to me when I review, there’s plenty of epicness, action, and depth to go with that. 🙂

The roadtrip was one of my favorite things! I mean, you have the no-nonsense Director of BPAFF (essentially like a cool FBI for dealing with magical-creatures or Faerie problems), the Commander of the elite super warriors Na Fianna, and the King of the Unseelie Fae, who is… erm… high-maintenance and snarky. Put them together in a Land Rover and have them driving around Ireland chasing a mystery, running into Faeries, having fights or car chases or peril, bantering, stopping for coffee at gas stations, and all the while Oberon is snarking away, complaining about being hungry, or that his suit is getting ruined, or they have the wrong music on, or not wanting to eat the Meat Stix (a running joke which was awesome), annoying Cass and Aeden so much… XD I JUST LOVE IT. Those three + roadtrip = best. ever. ❤

There also mayyy or may not be a bit of a romance on the side WHICH I ABSOLUTELY LOVED AND THE CUTENESS KNOWS NO BOUNDS. Ahem. I love it and approve and ship them very much. 😀 Most of the other characters are kind of shipping them too, which makes more hilarity. XD *zips lips* I WILL SAY NO MORE.

There may have been a couple things I wasn’t sure if I liked, and I did see through what the bad characters were planning near the end and thought that the heroes should have SEEN THROUGH IT ALL TOO, buuut then I suppose there might not be a story… *cough* So other than a few minor issues like that and some typos/errors, I overall enjoyed it a ton! 😀

The characters, humorous snarky dialog, and details, totally made this book. The little details though! I LOVED the presence of a Claddagh ring! ❤ The food references were hilarious. XD (I now want to eat Meat Stix and find some Elf Eaties—whatever they are—and go eat a sundae at Dippity Aye. XD The Dippity Aye subplot was HILARIOUS and I will not spoil it. Just read the book. Also, I now want there to be Oberon’s King of the Unseelie Foodie Blog, please. XD) And I just love this WORLD, with all the mix of old/new/Ireland/folklore/Fae things/modern technology. It makes me happy and I want to live there. ❤

Also, please note that the image of Cass, Aedan, and a Faerie king all sitting on the floor in a circle with little Faerie kids IS ADORABLE.

Point of interest: there’s an awesome mini-short-story included at the end which tells the saga of what a few of the characters were doing at one point off screen that I’d wondered at, and it’s fabulous. XD

Overall, it was a fun and exciting adventure, and my only question is WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK? Because I could read these things forever! ^_^ If you haven’t, I highly suggest checking out Blood Ties (and then An Earthly King… and then Scars of War…) because you need these modern Irish warrior books in your life. ❤

Some Favorite Quotes

(I say some; all of them and we’d be here all day. I know most of these are Oberon—sorry, he’s just hilarious, is all. XD)

***

“You have got to be joking,” Oberon complained. “Meat Stix—with an X? How do I know this is even real meat? Never trust products where they purposefully misspell a word.”

***

“Hope you don’t mind more pub grub, your majesty.”

Oberon sighed like a martyr. “At least I will be able to rate and review every pub and inn in the south of Ireland by the time we’re done with this little road trip. I should start my own foodie blog.”

***

“Just do what you Fianna do best,” I added unbuckling as I turned around in the seat to face Oberon and grab my crossbow. “Drive fast.”

“Yes, Director,” Aeden said with a grin.

***

“Oberon, your things are in the barn.”

He looked at me indignantly. “I do have to question the benefits of a peace treaty with your people if all you do is shove me in the back of your car and then house me with the cows.”

***

Imagine the surprise when we came in and I saw Oberon in the kitchen, standing at the stove and making sausage and eggs and pancakes, flipping them happily and whistling to himself as he wore a “Kiss Me I’m Fae” apron that might have been glamoured, or might just be something he carried in his copious bags. It was hard to tell.

***

“Fae magic does cell service no favors.”

Giveaway

Don’t forget that there’s a giveaway! Hazel is giving away a paperback of Scars of War and a BPAFF shamrock necklace! 😀 Rafflecopter hates WordPress, so I shall direct you to Hazel’s post where you can enter! ^_^

What do you think, my Roadlings? Have you read any of these? Does the series intrigue you? Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

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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! ^_^

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! ^_^

Book Review: King’s Blood by Jill Williamson

Title: King’s Blood
Author: Jill Williamson
Date read: April 26, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Genre: Fantasy (Christian)
Age: Adult
Year pub: 2017 (Bethany House)
Pages: 601 (paperback)
Series: The Kinsman Chronicles, #2 (Book 1: King’s Folly. Book 3: King’s War, coming soon)
Fave character: *classified, for reasons which shall be revealed*
Source: Received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from author—many thanks! 🙂
Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor WebsiteMy review of book 1: King’s Folly

My Review

2 stars

Regarding my rating: I’m sorry! I just don’t do well with dark, sad books. So for me personally, I did not end up enjoying this book in the end; but keep in mind that this is only my opinion!

Short version

This book was too dark, gritty, and depressing for me, plus my favorite character got killed off, which is Not Okay.

Longer version

This book was generally well-written, suspenseful, and I enjoyed some parts of it, particularly the occasional humor and three characters who were my favorites and therefore classified.

But when one-third of the people you actually like in a book DIE (after spending 1000+ pages with this character), it’s not a pleasant prospect. -_- This book left me a furious, devastated, sobbing wreck at the end, which rarely happens; and unlike the majority of the reading population (it seems), this did not actually please me and make it an automatic 5-star read. I don’t actually like having my heart torn to shreds and left feeling desolate and without hope. What can I say? I’m weird like that.

The incident of the Not Okay character death wasn’t the only thing; overall, the book is a very heavy read. I know it’s supposed to be an Adult Fantasy book, so I suppose it can get away with grittiness and darkness and other, more mature content, but it was just a little much for me, personally. I’m not a teen anymore, but that doesn’t mean I like reading things like this. (I don’t recommend it to teen readers.) It’s much like King’s Folly in that way, though maybe a bit darker.

If you liked the first book and didn’t mind the darkness and more adult slant of the story, then you’ll probably like this one, so I will not stop you reading it. 🙂 Just be aware that it seemed (to me) like nothing good happens in this for any of the good guys, really; the bad guys triumph a lot, and the idea that Arman (the allegorical God) is in charge and loves them is kind of a laugh, given how awful everything is. It seems like nobody’s in charge except the author making everyone miserable. I’m sure it’ll get better in the last book, and this is just the mid-trilogy hour of darkness? But at the moment it seems like there’s basically no hope and it’s super depressing, honestly. At least, that’s how I see it. Again, just my personal opinion! In general, I think Christian fiction is supposed to lift you up and encourage you, but this one did exactly the opposite for me (even though others might think differently). It’s not just that it’s depressing (yes, there will be dark times for characters in any book) it’s that it’s so long to spend going through 600 pages of darkness like this.

It’s also possible that we’re supposed to feel this way at this point in the saga; perhaps this hopeless feeling is exactly what is intended, so that it can set up for a contrast with some wonderful turn of redemption and eucatastrophe in the final book. Maybe it has to be this dark to show the light that is coming. We shall see. 🙂 (But it’s going to have to be pretty big of a turn-around, is all I’m saying.)

Anyways, don’t let me stop you from reading this if you liked the first one! (Or if you’re interested in reading the first one.) Very likely the rest of the world will like it, and it’s just me, myself, personally, who couldn’t really enjoy it in the end. But this review is meant to be my personal, honest opinion, so there it is. By all means read the series if you wish. 🙂 Just be aware it’s dark, and start with the first book, not this one, because when I started this one, even I had trouble remembering all the characters and stuff going on at first (since it had been a year since I read book 1), though I picked up on things fairly quickly.

Things I Liked

Don’t get me wrong—there were definitely parts of this that I enjoyed!

  1. I liked the first book, and started out really excited for this book and enjoyed it a lot at first. 🙂
  2. I was so happy to be back reading about these characters, who I didn’t realized I’d missed until I was reading about them again.
  3. Sometimes it was funny and made me laugh. 🙂 (A lot of the dialog was great in that respect. :D)
  4. As mentioned, three certain characters were my absolute favorites, and I loved reading about them. ❤
  5. Most of it takes place on ships at sea, which was really interesting (if eventually a bit monotonous because they’re super tired of being stuck at sea. XD).
  6. The writing was good.
  7. I’m almost tempted to slap another star on my rating just for that gorgeous cover. I mean, look at it! I love it. 😀
  8. I was super proud of myself for reading all 600 pages of this thing. XD Nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you make it through a huge book. 😉
  9. It was super neat to start getting more hints at things moving toward how they are in the Blood of Kings Trilogy. Names, things, places, people… Very cool! Some of those parts were highlights for me. 🙂
  10. Not to give spoilers, but overall, I really liked the stuff near the end there that made it a lot more like the Blood of King’s Trilogy—makes me want to read By Darkness Hid and the rest again! ❤

Conclusion

In closing, this is likely a very good book, by many readers’ standards, and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it, exactly. If you like dark epic fantasy, it may be for you. This is simply my personal feelings on the book. 🙂 It was just too dark for me and ripped my heart out, which I did not appreciate.

I’m still curious to find out what happens, and I look forward to reading King’s War whenever it releases; and after that, re-reading the absolutely awesome Blood of Kings Trilogy. ^_^

(I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. These opinions are my own.)

So how about you, readers? Have you read any of Jill’s books? (She’s an excellent writer, even if this one didn’t quite make it for me.) Has a beloved character’s death ever tipped the scale in your view of a book? And have you read any good books lately? Let’s chat in the comments! 🙂

(And if you’d like to chat specific spoiler-y aspects of this book, you can do so in the comments of my review on Goodreads, which is the same review as this, but in the comments spoiler tags rule. ;))