Friday, November 17, 2017

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

November 7th, 2017, 320 Pages, Thomas Nelson
Print, ebook, and audio
Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

I don't tend to read contemporary fiction, unless its timeshift or crossover. I just don't really get on with it, and I think, in part that was the case with this book. I just don't much care for contemporary American settings.

Even the connections with Jane Austen's work did not always grab me, and the central plotline was well done but there was something about Isabel's character. She just never rang true with me: seemed more like a stereotype or a stock character, and never really fully developed. She seemed to spend the entire book just being really unpleasant and bossy, or apologetic.
Even the whole memory loss thing didn't always seem plausible: did Isabel really lose her memory or was she faking, and I mean how could she really think she was living in the nineteenth century when surrounded by modern technology. I don't know if this was the impression that the author was intending to give, but its the one I got.

The details about Jane Austen's Bath were interesting and authentic, but I think you have to have visited some of the sites, and be very familiar with her books to really understand some parts of this book. It's no bad thing, it's just that I'm not that familiar with them. Finally, there were a few mistakes, with the British characters using Americanisms like 'vacation' and 'fall', which usually jar me out of the story.

This was not a bad book by any means, or uninteresting, it just wasn't totally my cup of tea. I know many people love books by this author, and they should like this one as well.

I requested this title from Thomas Nelson via Booklook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, November 10, 2017

First Line Fridays #14: A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and A Great War

So I was planning to do another book, but then I saw the note about Veterans Day (or Remembrance day, as its called in the UK), which is of course tomorrow. Finding a book is a struggle, as I don't read a lot of stuff set during the World Wars. A couple of novels this year, and I have been approved for one releasing in January. 

I just don't fancy doing one of them: something set during another war in the far distant past? In the end, I've chosen to use a non-fiction title I listened to on Audiobook a few months back about the experiences of the famous authors J.R.R Tolkien and C.S.Lewis in the First World War, and its impact on their lives and writings.

Although I disagree with the subtitle of the book and some of the claims made in it .C.S.Lewis if anything, I supposed to have lost his faith during the War, far from having it strengthened, and the two men did not even meet until 1928. 
 Yet, Joseph Loconte does a good job making the subject matter interesting: and bringing to light some interesting passages in the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings which reflect the experiences of the authors in that terrible conflict.  Its even believed that Tolkien penned some of his early work set in Middle Earth during the conflict. 

My passage today does not come from the actual first line, but from part of the introduction to the book.
"Both authors have been accused of escapism. Their choice of literary genre, the romantic myth, was by some estimations "essentially an attempt to liberate themselves from the ugliness and moral impasse of the modern world". Yet neither Tolkien nor Lewis took their cues from works extolling escapist fantasies or the glorification of war".

Readers, I hope will also forgive me for including a meme with another quote, appropriate to the commemorations, spoken by the character of Faramir, Captain of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings; The Two Towers. 

Join me again next week, and click the meme below to see what books other members are including this week.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Two Short Review from Goodreads: Turn of the Century NY and Regency Smuggling

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden
Empire State #1
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't usually read much fiction set in America, so I have not read anything written by Elizabeth Camden before. I chose this story mostly because it had a British hero.

Her writing style is lovely, the historical details were well-used, and the characters ones that the reader could care about (even if their actions seem a little inconsistent at times), and there was plenty of suspense.
So why did I not give a higher rating: I can't quite put my finger on it exactly, something just didn't click. Perhaps it was just that  I don't really identify with the setting, as I've never been to New York.
Also, I did not really care for the ending: or rather, I did not like the way that it was brought about.

I requested a copy of this title from NetGalley and listened to the Audible version of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. 


True As Fate by Laurie Alice Eakes
Ashford Chronicles #2 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fair story, if a little over the top. It was exciting, and the characters not quite as annoying as in the last book. 
Still a lot of mistakes: British characters using American terms like 'gotten, someplace and 'whomever', and the general assumption that the Brits and wrong and Americans right over the War of 1812. Oh, and of course, American privateering is fine: but for Brits its bad and done because they want to take over everything. Naturally.

Worth a read, despite the stereotypes though. I don't think that the parallels between Ross Trennery a certain rakish Cornish nobleman named Ross are accidental. Not a typical Regency and an interesting sequel. Book borrowed through Amazon Kindle Unlimited, so I was not required to write a review.

View all my reviews
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