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! ^_^

Unpopular Opinions Tag

So, you know how I said I had one tag left? Well back up, I have an amendment to that statement. Why, you ask?

Because Cait @ Paper Fury just tagged me with the bookish Unpopular Opinions Tag! Which kind of makes my day/week. Thanks Cait!!

So, I am going to do that! (Which will nicely carry my final [?] tag-post to my normal posting day of Monday. I like tidiness, I do.)

At first I was thinking of not doing it, because I’m not naturally a negative person. But I decided to give myself license to rant a liiittle bit today. For therapeutic reasons, you understand. 😉 I hope I won’t offend/annoy anyone. o.o But… well… these are kinda my opinions and as Cait so wisely said, we can all have differing opinions on small bookish things and still be friends! (Mostly. Hopefully. I have learned such things the hard way. :P)

So. Let’s do this thing!

(Pictures from Pinterest and Goodreads. Yes I did just raid my entire store of gifs on Pinterest why do you ask… Gifs make everything better and are stupendous at lightening moods. *nod nod*)

The Unpopular Opinions Tag of a Bookish Variety

1. A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES YOU DIDN’T LIKE.

Um… I’m not sure if they count as popular, but I’m going to pick two books for this.

knightlyunfortunate

The End, the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket — which I just hated how it ended and it didn’t explain ANYTHING and just gaahh. I kept reading the whole series, partly because they were amusing (in a dark way) and partly to find out what happened. BUT IT DIDN’T TELL US.

And Knightly Academy by Violet Haberdasher, because it had such potential to be awesome (I mean, a boy goes to school to become a knight in an alternate Victorian England? Sounds awesome, right?) but just UGH it let me down. I guess it’s just how all schools are with the bullies and the pointlessness and stuff. But I couldn’t see WHY the hero wanted to go to that school and he was so trod upon and it was sad and so annoying.

(Or… more like angry. But the gun shooting is accurate so…)

2. A POPULAR BOOK/SERIES EVERYONE HATES BUT YOU LOVE.

Again, don’t know if they count as popular, but…

houndillusionarium

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison. I just loved it but nobody else seems to! What? PRINCE GEORGE, OKAY. He’s the best. And the story did enough twists and turns to make me rearrange my brain and just it was kind of amazing.

Also maybe Illusionarium by Heather Dixon, which might not count because it just came out but people seem to complain about it and I’m just sitting here going EXCUSE ME?? Aside from it being too creepy for me, it was SPECTACULAR. How can people complain that it’s… um… boring??

3. A LOVE TRIANGLE WHERE THE PROTAGONIST ENDED UP WITH THE PERSON YOU DIDN’T WANT THEM TO BE WITH.

(Is it bad the first thing in my mind at this question was a confused notion of Hawkeye? But he’s not a book character and I think I’m okay with it but I don’t know…)

halflings

I don’t know if I can think of one… I guess I don’t read much love-triangle stuff? But how about Halflings by Heather Burch — that has a love triangle and I kind of like both of the guys but Raven is kind of awesomer than Mace, so. And then I’ve HEARD suspicious things about Maria and Quinn and someone else later in the Destiny trilogy by Sarah Holman… so I’ll have to see. Ahem. I’ve only read the first in each series (I actually really liked The Destiny of One) so actually have no idea and am totally unqualified! But still.

destinyBut yeah. Love triangles in general… A mess.

4. POPULAR GENRE YOU HARDLY READ.

dystopian

Dystopian! Just… no. -_- I DO NOT LIKE IT. I’ve read, like… three? The genre makes me shrivel inside and is thoroughly unpleasant and just it gives me this awful feeling and depresses me. No thank you. THEY ARE JUST SO… HOPELESS OKAY. Like, the evil people have everything and are rich and the good people live in the dirt literally and are oppressed and everybody’s grumpy and everyone dies and sure mayyybe eventually the good guys will win (maybe?) but who even cares by now? Life just doesn’t sound worth living. Blech. I don’t have anything much specifically against the ones I have read, I mean, they’re fairly good and all (Captives by Jill Williamson, and Swipe and Sneak by Evan Angler… and yes I will read the Swipe sequels because PECK. PECK PECK. Though I just remembered some others I’ve read and no). On the whole I’m just not a fan of dystopian and will only read them when forced. NO THANK YOU.

5. A POPULAR/BELOVED CHARACTER YOU DISLIKE.

Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I’m sorry, people, but I cannot abide characters who pine away and make themselves ill for love, especially for love of someone who’s a complete jerk, especially when there’s a really nice guy in plain sight, especially when all she’s doing is being a burden to her sister and mom and basically being worthless and it’s just stupid stupid stupid. I’M SORRY OKAY but I just can’t understand why anyone likes Marianne Dashwood. To me, she was just extremely unlikeable. I’m sure everyone else is seeing something I can’t and I’m just sitting here trying to figure it out…

mdashwood

6. A POPULAR AUTHOR YOU CAN’T SEEM TO GET INTO.

Suzanne Collins? I haven’t read the HG books yet but I read Gregor the Overlander years ago before HG was even a THING and I just… couldn’t get into it. Or Orson Scott Card with anything other than Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow.

7. A POPULAR TROPE YOU’RE TIRED OF READING.

The tough girls. Maybe this is extreme, but I’m very very sick of the so called tough heroines who think they’re so awesome (but are in reality even whinier than their more timid counterparts) and are all “I can be one of the guys and awesomer than they are and yeah I’m so tough.” I’m sooo tired of those. Ladies, you can use weapons and stuff — that is awesome, I have no problem with it, go you — and fine you can wear trousers if it’s more practical (though usually it’s more to make a statement) but can we please have enough of this attitude and making a big deal of everything? SERIOUSLY. -_-

shoojack

8. A POPULAR SERIES YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING.

Um… Twilight? Though I almost want to read it just to see what everyone’s deal is with hating it so bad. 😛 Almost. Recently I would also have answered this with Harry Potter and the Hunger Games trilogy. I guess they would fit under the question actually because “no interest in reading” which is rather true of me, but maybe someday I might end up reading them anyway just to see what on earth is up with them, peoples. Y’know, some decade when I actually have time and if they ever actually take priority over books that I’m excited about and WANT to read… Ha.

(Yeah, that’s funny…)

9. A SHOW/MOVIE ADAPTION YOU LIKED BETTER THAN THE BOOK.

The Princess Bride, and the 1990 Treasure Island with Christian Bale and Charlton Heston. OKAY I SAID IT. There are a couple movies I like more than the books. But this is really extreme. 😛 I do love both the books too though! But the movies were just… aaahh, so awesome! Of course the screenplay of The Princess Bride was done by the author, which is cool. I as-you-wish The Princess Bride. ❤

And Treasure Island, especially with its epic music by The Chieftains and just I loved all the casting and whatever changes they made I mostly liked and it was just awesome. And Charlton Heston as Long John Silver was awesome and Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins was perfection, and I kind of really loved Captain Smollet for some reason. It may have been his hair, or accent…? Anyways nobody really knows about it because I think it was a TV movie, and maybe it’s a bit violent but I kind of just loved it.

10. A POPULAR STYLE OF COVER YOU CAN’T STAND. (Cait’s addition to the tag)

I’m… not much of a cover connoisseur I’m afraid, other than unashamedly loving gorgeous dresses on covers… But it kind of annoys me when part of a face is missing… And mostly I think minimalistic sort of covers, popularized by The Hunger Games methinks, are super annoying. Like… a black background with some words and maybe some sort of icon thing. *shrug* It’s kind of boring I’m afraid. I wouldn’t say I “can’t stand” it but yeah. LET’S HAVE PEOPLE ON THE COVERS. DRESSES. WEAPONS. I DON’T KNOW — SOMETHING INTERESTING. Oh, and also, in general, covers that looked like they were made by a three-year-old. They make me sad.

***

There are no specific “rules” for this tag, so again I’m not tagging anyone — those who like stating their unpopular opinions are likely to take it anyway, and those who are more timid about it (like me…) might be torn about doing it.

So! Once again, if you would like to do this, play snag-the-tag! It’s a fun game, I assure you.

There is my post. I have now gotten my bookish negativity checked off my list for the next… hopefully year. 😛

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
Have I done an unsafe thing by stating unpopular opinions?
WILL I BE SAFE AT NIGHT? O_O

(I guess we’ll find out… I keep a dragon under my bed as a burglar alarm. I do. His name is Flame the Frabjous and he’s very well trained against bilboes and other less harmless things that go bump in the night like frumious bookworms out armed with weapons of revenge that cause paper-cuts.)