Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (Review)

Yes, I’m finally getting around to reviewing this, and I’m afraid it wasn’t my favorite. I’m sorry!

Title: Fawkes

Author: Nadine Brandes

  • Date read: December 29, 2018
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • Age: YA (darker side)
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 430 (hardcover)
  • Source: The publisher, through Booklook Bloggers

My Review

I finally read FAWKES and, awkwardly, I didn’t love it. *shifty eyes* *stows self away behind fortifications*

Firstly, taste in books varies, and this review is just my personal opinion! FAWKES wasn’t my cup of tea, but if it’s yours, that’s great! I feel like nearly everyone I know loved this, and I’m sad that I didn’t. I enjoy books in general, but this one unfortunately did not click for me.

Negative reviews are not my forte, but this was a review book, and a few people have asked for my opinion, so I’m going to attempt to share a review. I know it’s long overdue. *cough* (It’s also going to be terribly hard to do without spoilers but I will do my best.)

And at the end I’ll list the things I did like, since that’s only fair. 😉

But firstly, reasons why FAWKES and I did not get along, personally.

For one thing, it was rather dark and depressing. That in itself is enough for me to decide it wasn’t my thing. Despite the fantasy aspect, the setting was gritty and unpleasant and actually rather more dystopian than anything, and I just wouldn’t want to live there. The plot itself is pretty dark and violent, if only because of the historical incidents it’s dealing with — which, well, not to get into spoilers but I should have known better than to think things would turn out well, but apparently I didn’t think about that? My mistake! The stone plague was super creepy, too — though I’ll grant it was unique and interesting. XD

But talking of the historical aspect: for some reason I thought that since it was historical FANTASY, history wasn’t set in stone. (No pun intended. XD) I mean, it’s already an alternate history since there’s magic and different factions and stuff, so why can’t that mean that the characters can bring about different outcomes in history and it could be alternate history in THAT way too? Well, apparently it didn’t work that way. Which . . . yeah. It kind of made things seem pointless, to me. Especially when one character didn’t seem to care about this thing that *I* at least thought was awful. And it felt like it was a “well, since it’s history, regardless of the choices they make it’s going to turn out this way, so it doesn’t matter” sort of subtext. That might have worked with time-travel but apparently I just wasn’t suspending my disbelief enough there or something.

Apparently taking a historical time, not improving it, and mixing in magic and a few modern points of view is a thing that happens and that I don’t seem to enjoy much, myself, given that the last two such books I tried I didn’t like. (Maybe I’ll steer clear of historical fantasy in the future . . . That might help.)

Plus, hardly anybody was a nice person, which just sort of depressed me? A lot. If you can’t even LIKE hardly any of the characters in the book, it’s sort of a problem. For me, at any rate. 😛 (Flawed characters, yayyy.) I’ve discussed this about other fiction before, so it’s not this book’s fault, just a trend.

Another trend is what I call telliphobia, where the show-don’t-tell comes out so hard that I was terribly confused about the color powers and the whole magic system for about the first half of the book, since I was never straight-up informed of how the magic worked. Again, not just this book — it’s a trend in current publishing, but it gets a little tiring. All I want is to know what’s going on, you know? Is that too much to ask? (Disclaimer: I did eventually figure it out and do think the idea of the color powers is pretty cool. I just wanted it explained early on so I could get on with the story, instead of stumbling through tiny hints and getting distracted from the plot by trying to understand how things worked.)

But the last three things I complained about are general things I dislike and not the direct fault of this book, necessarily, so I suppose that’s not quite fair — sorry. (This reminds me of something C.S. Lewis said in On Stories. Something along the lines of how he didn’t like detective novels, so if he reviewed one it would be rubbish criticism, since he’d be reviewing/disliking the KIND of book it is, not the actual work, which isn’t totally fair. I’m paraphrasing, but anyway.)

Back to characters. Sometimes I liked Thomas, but other times he really frustrated me. Never knowing who he should be rooting for or who *I* should be rooting for was kind of exhausting. Plus I got pretty mad at him near the end when spoilers happened and he just didn’t seem to CARE at all. UGH. So Thomas and I didn’t get along all the time, for those reasons and also how he was sometimes sort of petulant/unmanly. I can’t really explain it. But I did sometimes really like him or at least feel bad for him and want him to succeed! It’s . . . confusing. I did like Emma most of the time and what little we saw of Norwood and maybe some other people occasionally. But it did seem like nobody else was likable at all. And I could never decide how I felt about Guy Fawkes himself — I felt like he had loads more potential. I also put the book down for several months after, well . . . a spoiler. I’m just saying, if basically the only nice character dies on me, I’m going to be a little put out. *cough* Also, taking such a long break probably didn’t help the book hang together in my mind. 😛

I never rooted for either side of the Keepers/Igniters. They were both being jerks and I didn’t really care. And the allegorical side of things sort of confused my brain. Especially the White Light, which could have been a funny character but felt totally way off, if it was supposed to be what I think it was supposed to be — I was just way too weirded out by its self-centered flippancy. (At one point [page 247] it was like “I could have done that, you know. You just never asked,” but actually, um, no, excuse me, THOMAS DID ASK EARLIER, on page 196, and the White Light conveniently wasn’t listening or didn’t care or SOMETHING. I just. I can’t.) I could be toootally off, but if it was supposed to be an allegory of God it totally missed the mark — for me at least. So that was sort of depressing and I felt like, personally, maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn’t feel like it was trying to do Christian allegory stuff in a weird way.

So yes. Dark, depressing. Felt let down by the historical fantasy element that I was looking forward to. Didn’t find the characters to be ones I could root for on the whole. And in general some of it just . . . didn’t work for me. I feel like there were a couple of other things I didn’t care for, and don’t want to get into now. But essentially I read for enjoyment and this one didn’t hit the mark for me. I simply couldn’t enjoy myself and it wasn’t fun and honestly it totally stressed me out. But I think that’s just me?

Things I did enjoy!

  • The cover is still one of my FAVORITES.
  • The writing was gorgeous and everything was vivid.
  • It was very unique and interesting and exciting.
  • I did like a couple of the characters! Norland and Emma and Thomas sometimes. 😛
  • Emma and Thomas together were precious and squishable.
  • And it was pretty awesome when they saved the day from . . . well . . . something. Near the end but not at the end. No spoilers.
  • The color magic system was really neat once I figured it out.
  • At least it wasn’t a TOTAL tragedy and (aside from all the awfulness) there were one or two good outcomes, so yay!

Overall, the things I did like weren’t enough to override the things I didn’t enjoy, so this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. Personally. I really wanted to like it! (Plus, the author is the SWEETEST HUMAN on her Instagram so it makes me sad I didn’t love this book, though naturally I still love her as a person! And I do have hopes for trying more books from this author.)

So that’s the story of how I accidentally didn’t love FAWKES. My apologies.


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


About Fawkes

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, June 26, 2018


Links

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


Thanks for reading! 🙂 (Please don’t hate me. XD)

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The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Orphan’s Wish

Author: Melanie Dickerson

  • Date read: September 15, 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Retelling / Christian Fiction / Romance
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 329 (hardcover)
  • Series: Hagenheim, #8 (stands alone)
  • Fave character: Aladdin
  • Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
  • Notes: Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy. These opinions are all mine.

My Review

So far I’ve always enjoyed Melanie Dickerson’s novels—sometimes you just want a fun, light read, you know?—and I loved this one too. 🙂

I liked that The Orphan’s Wish had a somewhat different feel than the other Hagenheim books, though still with ties to them that made it familiar at the same time that it was fresh. I enjoy a good knight-or-duke’s-son-with-the-fair-maiden-in-a-castle-or-the-woods adventure/romance as much as the next person (as most of these have been), but this one (though with elements of that) was a new setup. Aladdin, while having some action, was much more of a hardworking businessman, which was different and fun for a change, and the setting was largely in the city of Luneberg and it was such a colorful, medieval European city, which reminded me a little of reading about Prague. I enjoyed that! And, of course, I enjoyed visiting Hagenheim again as well. 😉

It’s a retelling of Aladdin, but I confess that story’s not terribly fresh in my memory (I may have read the original folktale once or twice, and saw a certain Disney version of it maybe once awhile back), so I don’t feel like I caught many references. Which was fine. I enjoyed it well enough as a story on its own merit! If you’re looking for a super-Aladdin-y retelling you might possibly be disappointed, though.

Aladdin himself was a wonderful character and I felt deeply pulled into his point of view. He’s not your usual main character—he’s brave and courageous and clever, but he also works really hard and is always trying to do the best he can, and be the best he can be. He has a talent for running businesses and he’s kind of out to make his fortune so that he feels that he, a lowly orphan boy, brought from the Holy Land as a child to live at Hagenheim, can hope to be worthy of marrying a duke’s daughter. But he has a lot to learn, too. 😉 I was kind of annoyed at him for not manning up and telling someone something he didn’t want to say (you caused more problems, man!), but I also loved how he tried to do better, and how he would be clever and heroic sometimes, just when you started to think all he usually did was run businesses and be in love. XD Anyway, he was great.

I liked Lady Kirstyn too. I appreciated that she was the quiet kind of heroine—poor thing felt somewhat overlooked in her family, even though they’re wonderful (because we’re talking about Duke Wilhelm’s family of the Hagenheim Castle series. :P). And she goes through a lot too. The mischievous orphan Abu and the kind old merchant Herr Kaufmann are other interesting characters. And a villain or two…

I also loved the cameos of Valten and Wilhelm and some of the others from this series! So awesome. Especially man-of-few-words Valten giving Aladdin relationship advice. XD (This can totally stand alone as its own book, though, and you don’t have to read any of the others in the series to appreciate it. In fact, it’s a fine place to start.)

I suppose it’s a fairly usual Christian romance, but I enjoyed both of those aspects—it was sweet, and there were some nice faith elements/messages. The plot was also interesting, and—like I mentioned—felt kind of new and fresh. There’s some danger and excitement and mystery thrown in, so it’s not just Aladdin and Kirstyn trying to figure out their relationships. XD I liked how we got to see them grow up together, briefly, at the beginning (childhood friends turned lovers, yay!), and how there were also a lot of memories mixed in, because it really felt like they’d known each other forever, and that was neat. Oh, and I also loved the letters and the storks!

Random note about the series: I exaggerate slightly, but I kind of feel bad for Duke Wilhelm always having to run around after his kids when they’re the hero or heroine of the book and are always getting kidnapped, or shot with crossbows, or running around falling in love with the wrong person… Like, seriously, poor Wilhelm and Rose every time their kids get a new book. XD I love it though.

Anyway, this was another fun novel from this prolific author, and I always look forward to more. 🙂

A favorite quote: “I suppose it is difficult to be good at both business and art.”

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


About The Orphan’s Wish

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes an inspired retelling of the beloved folk tale Aladdin.

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, June 26, 2018


Links

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


Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron (Book Review)

Good morning, my dear Roadlings!

I’ve been a teensy bit absent around here due to Camp NaNo, which has not left much time for reading or blogging… But I’m happy to announce that I hit my NaNo goal!

In honor of this fact, have a book review of a fascinating novel I read this week to celebrate completing Camp NaNo. 🙂

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

(I’m in love with the cover! ❤ )

Title: The Lost Castle
Author: Kristy Cambron

  • Date read: April 23, 2018
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Genre: Contemporary / Historical Fiction
  • Age: Adult but teens would love it too
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 385 (ebook)
  • Series: The Lost Castle, #1 (stands alone)
  • Source: The publisher (Thomas Nelson) through the Booklook Bloggers program
  • Notes: 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.

My Review

3.5 stars

Firstly, this book is GORGEOUS. The writing, the descriptions, the setting—I was drowning in beauty. The author’s voice and the poetic descriptions were really enjoyable to read. ^_^

This book is actually three stories in one, which was fascinating. Three stories set in three different time periods, but intertwined and connected by names, places, family… and intriguing items. An eighteenth century portrait, a fox brooch, a World War II photograph… and a castle in France. Almost the entire book is set in France in three different time periods (contemporary, WWII, and the late 1700s), with a dash of contemporary America and WWII England.

My favorite of the three storylines was actually the contemporary one: a young woman named Ellie trying to find a mysterious castle in France and coming up against unexpected roadblocks, like visiting a vineyard and meeting the Irish grandson of the old Frenchman who owns the vineyard. (Loved the grandfather!) Quinn Foley (said Irish fellow) was one of my favorite parts of the book. He had some fun lines and I loved giving him an Irish accent in my head. XD Ellie was spunky and I liked her. Together they make an interesting pair, especially when they’re at odds. 😛 But I loved when they worked together, too.

Another of the story threads deals with Revolution-era France, and a lady who was supposed to be marrying the lord of a certain castle… when a peasant uprising changes her life and the lives of the aristocracy in Paris and elsewhere. She adapts surprisingly well, and it was neat reading her story of working alongside Robert, the younger brother of her betrothed. I like Robert a lot too. 🙂 This was another era I enjoyed reading about.

Less-favorite (for me), but still super gripping, is the storyline in the World War II era. This one featured Vi, a plucky British gal behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied-France. I personally don’t really care for reading about this time period—it just depresses me for some reason—but these sections were certainly thrilling, and I did enjoy them sometimes. It was mostly interesting as Vi is Ellie’s grandmother, and so piecing together her past in these flashbacks/third narrative was intriguing. Plus, there was Julien, and I really liked him! And there were a couple of references, like to Sherlock Holmes, which I enjoyed. 🙂

I loved getting to follow three totally separate, yet somehow connected stories, and putting together pieces as they alternated.

It was also fun how the castle (the Sleeping Beauty, as it was called) was at the center of the three plots; it gave it a connected feeling.

Sometimes you’d hear bits of one of the stories in one of the other stories, which gave it a fascinating, layered feel.

The characters were quite lovable, the romance threads were adorable, and like I said, the writing and description was breathtaking.

What I didn’t like as much was mostly a certain THING that happened, which I saw coming and was fairly obvious, given the evidence, but still. I can’t STAND sad endings, and it was depressing, even if some readers might find it bittersweet and not mind. I won’t give away details, but the NUMBER ONE RULE of romance is you-know-what… and that one broke it. And my heart with it. *cough* If a book wants to make me dislike it, all it has to do is kill a favorite character or have a bad ending… It made me a sad otter. 😦

To be fair, there WERE three separate storylines and I was QUITE happy with how two of them turned out, so that’s not bad, statistically. 😛 Most of the book is a solid, gorgeous 4 star. I knocked off half a star for the sad thing.

Other than said disappointing ending of one of the threads, and simply not usually caring for WWII-era stories (which is totally a me-thing), I don’t really have anything to complain about. (I do still think if certain characters had been more Narnia-like and not been standing around talking about nylons and lipstick, a random side character wouldn’t have died. Air-raid shelters exist for a REASON, people, and you should totally get in them instead of standing around putting on makeup. PLEASE. Sorry, a pet-peeve of mine. XD)

Content: There’s a bit of violence (I mean, WWII…) and involved intensity, but otherwise it’s a clean read, and even though I think it was written for adults, it’s suitable for teens. It’s technically Christian Fiction, though there’s not a huge message or anything, just occasional mentions of faith (surprisingly few, actually) and the quiet touch of God’s presence even amid war-torn France. So even if you don’t technically care for this genre, you won’t find it preachy.

Overall, it was a gorgeously-written, enchanting read, skillfully weaving three storylines together, with memorable characters, and for the most part I really enjoyed it! 🙂

If you don’t mind a tiny smidgen of tragedy and some bittersweetness mixed in with your historical/contemporary romance-mystery-ish stories, you’ll absolutely love this. ^_^

I’m glad I gave it a read, and I’m now curious about this author’s other work!

Some Favorite Quotes

“A tourist like you, ya mean?” He tossed a glance down at the half-hidden map in her hand. “I didn’t think they still made maps that folded.”

“Yeah. They do, apparently. I found it in a bookstore at the airport. And good thing, because my GPS hasn’t once found a signal out here.”

***

“And you didn’t come all this way to France just to get arrested, now, did ya?”

***

“… even if it was only for a short time, that time forever changed her. And if it’s succeeded, isn’t that what a story should do? Change us in some way?”

***

“Maybe they’ll see the fairy tale in this place too.”

***

“I like the idea about buildin’ up the wall again. It’s grand. But I thought maybe we could start with the chapel? If you say yes, we’re goin’ to need it first.”

I review for BookLook BloggersI 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.

About the Book

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Links: Author • PublisherGoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

Let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks for reading. ^_^

Vintage Jane Austen Mini-Reviews + Sarah Scheele Interview + Giveaway!

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event is running this week (November 5 – 11) and features a giveaway, reviews, interviews, and more, for this lovely series of stand-alone retellings of Jane Austen’s classic works retold in a 1930s American setting. There is one yet to release, coming soon, but the other five are all available in ebook and paperback now!

For the tour today, I’m excited to have Sarah Scheele (author of the Mansfield Park retelling, Bellevere House) here for a quick interview!

I’m also spotlighting each of the Vintage Jane Austen books below with some mini reviews. 🙂

And when you finish reading, be sure to scroll down the whole way and enter the giveaway!

First, a little bit about the talented author I’m interviewing…

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.

Visit Sarah Scheele online at her Website, Blog, and Facebook Page

Interview with Author Sarah Scheele

1. What was your favorite part of writing Bellevere House?

Probably the adaptation of the Bertram’s theatricals into renting the house to various people while the Sir Thomas character (Uncle Warren) is away. I didn’t want to have the characters simply do a more recent play among themselves, so I tried to choose something that could get them into lots of trouble in the same kind of way. That area was written early and never changed much because it’s kind of a short story on its own, apart from the bulk of the remake.

2. That was a hilarious part! 🙂 Do you have a favorite book (and/or character) by Jane Austen, and why?

Hmmm…Northanger Abbey, maybe. The abbey is a fascinating set and as a little kid I actually wrote my own version of Mrs. Radcliffe’s Udolpho (since I hadn’t read the original) pulling names and scraps of detail from things mentioned in NA. And for second favorite, Emma’s a really fun character. It’s hard to show those flawed people so we aren’t soft on them but we also see their point of view. I like watching Emma movies more than reading the book, though—and the opposite for NA.

3. Can you tell us a little about your other available books and what you’re currently writing?

It’s funny because they’re mostly fantasy with literally no bearing on this VJA thing. Victoria: A Tale of Spain is historical, but it’s based on Snow White and started as a fantasy story. I also have a set of five short stories, called Facets of Fantasy, and a children’s sci-fi novel. Getting Bellevere finished was a pretty involving process, so I’m just brainstorming new things at this point. Currently I’m doing an urban fantasy–like a western, but with Elves and dragons.

4. Ooh, I’m intrigued! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Instinct, mostly. I’ll admit I’m not one of those all about the craft writers, though I would say I take it seriously. But I don’t have much of a method. I just find things everywhere and save them for later. Animals, pictures, a funny line from a TV show, anything I can imagine turning upside down and then taking it from there. It’s about possibilities. Like throwing on lots of different things and suddenly you’ve got an outfit.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

That’s a hard one because I tend to think in books, not authors. I might love one work by an author and never read—or like—another by that person again. But overall I’d say classics are always a good bet (currently I’m reading The Wind in the Willows) and for recent books I like almost anything about kids in our world who stumble on marvelous adventures. And comic stories with funny dragons in them. You just can’t beat a funny dragon if you want to get away from reality.

Yesss! I love dragons. Thanks so much for coming over to my blog for an interview! 🙂

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.


And now for my…

Mini Reviews

One of my favorite things about the Vintage Jane Austen series is how individual and unique they are, different from each other but with those unifying threads of the Great Depression era and Jane Austen retellings. They fit together as a series so well, while at the same time being vastly different, with different styles and fresh outlooks from each separate author. They’ve all outdone themselves, and through the whole varied series I have enjoyed all of the books immensely!

I usually read fantasy novels, but I enjoy a Jane Austen or a historical from time to time, and these books are definitely worthy additions to the world of literature. They’re wonderful retellings of Jane Austen’s beloved works, and also lovely novels in their own right. 🙂 Below are some mini thoughts on each. (Please note I received free e-copies of these books for the purpose of writing my honest reviews.)

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma)

Sarah Holman retells Emma in this novel which I believe to be her best work yet. 🙂 I loved how it was able to keep all the plot threads tightly written together in a shorter space than the original, translated into the 1930s perfectly, and all while being fun, too! Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley character) was my favorite thing about the novel (with a sort of Mr.-Knightley-crossed-with-Frank-Hardy-but-grown-up sort of vibe; yay for the ’30s), along with the so-fun banter and relationship between him and Emmeline. It was fantastic. 😀 There’s a strong Christian element as well.  I so enjoyed this book. ^_^ Emma fans, don’t miss this one!


Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility)

Kelsey Bryant writes an absolutely gorgeous YA retelling of Sense and Sensibility. The writing is beautiful, the research pristine — I was drawn completely into this story and 1930s Ohio/New York setting. It was captivating! Both sisters (Ellen and Marion Dashiell, the Dashwood sisters in this) were so well written, and all the characters were so vivid and likeable — except for the ones we weren’t supposed to like. 😉 Add some fabulous twists, an adorable romance or two ( ❤ ), some much-needed extra “screen” (page?) time for Everett (Edward’s character), and a thoughtful faith element, with a sprinkling of humor, and you have an utterly delightful retelling! ^_^ Definitely a favorite. 🙂


Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park)

You don’t really think of “fun” when you think of Mansfield Park, but this retelling by talented author Sarah Scheele flips that on its head. It’s written in such a witty, charming style, with many parts absolutely hilarious to read — and funny books are my favorite. 😀 A bit more of a re-imagining than a straight-up retelling, it runs away with the Mansfield Park story (which, though I liked the original book, I found Mansfield Park kind of depressing to read) and makes it a mostly-lighthearted romantic-comedy type story. It was so much fun! It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, with occasional more serious subjects. I liked the characters, the writing was awesome, and overall I just had a blast reading this one! 🙂


Perception by Emily Ann Benedict (Persuasion)

Emily Ann Benedict pens a sweet retelling of Persuasion, fitting the 1930s time-period like a glove. I loved how Abbey (Anne’s character) and Freddy (Wentworth’s character) and their roles fit so well with a post-WWI/Depression-era setting. Her once-wealthy family in decline due to the Depression, and him just out of the army after the war, as a journalist. I really liked the other characters too, and enjoyed “visiting” Boston and Cape Cod… The writing was of an elusive quality just right for the “feel”, and the book had one or two twists but was mostly a very faithful retelling of one of my favorite Austen novels. Yet another worthy addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, which I continue to enjoy so much! ^_^


Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice)

Coming soon… A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.

This one isn’t out yet, but I’m very excited to read it when it releases! P&P is my favorite of Austen’s original novels, and I think this retelling is going to be amazing. 🙂 I can’t wait! ^_^


Second Impressions

What an absolutely sweet (and varied!) collection of retellings! I absolutely loved these little tales — all so unique, and either funny, touching, or just plain enjoyable. ^_^ Some are modern, others historical, or with a dash of kingdoms/light fantasy, and even a sci-fi story! Lovely Jane-Austen-esque gems by talented authors, this collection of stories is a wonderful addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, and if you’re an Austen fan, you definitely need to give this sweet bundle of tales a try. Excuse me while I hug it. ❤

I’ll be sharing my full review of Second Impressions (including mini-reviews for each of the short stories in this collection) on my book blog tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂


More Links

You can find the VJA books on Goodreads HERE.

If you’d like to read my full reviews for these books, you can find them by clicking the covers below. 🙂

 


Tour Schedule

Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11


Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

And don’t forget to check out www.vintagejaneausten.com if you’re curious about the series.


Thoughts? Share ’em below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

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! 🙂