Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.
I kind of debated on posting this, because Jane Austen doesn’t exactly need any publicity from me. Plus, what else is there to say that hasn’t already been said?
That being said, I decided to post a mini-review! Something short and simple to try to persuade (haha? see what I did there?) other people to read it.
Because I loved this book! It was the only Jane Austen book that I hadn’t finished reading yet. I had picked it up and put it back down several times, never getting past the first few chapters.
I am so glad that I finally did, though!
I got this as an audiobook from Audible as a way to slowly test out the audiobook waters. (And then immediately got another audiobook that was 17 hours long. Note to self, never do that again). The narration was engaging and I really enjoyed hearing some of the humor of Austen’s work read out loud instead of on the page!
As for the book itself, it felt so different from Austen’s other work but in a fantastic way. The heroine, Anne, is 27, so she’s basically a spinster by the time the story starts (could you imagine?). I loved the idea of her reigniting an old love instead of developing a new one, as so often happens in Austen stories. I’m no Austen scholar by any means, but this book felt a little more mature than some of her others, save maybe Emma. (P&P, don’t worry, you’re still my favorite!)
Of course, it was full of misunderstandings between Anne and Captain Wentworth, comical side characters, and other great Austen-tatious stuff. If you enjoy a good romance, definitely don’t miss out on this one! If you’re like me and couldn’t get past the beginning, it’s definitely worth persevering.
Would I recommend this as a first introduction to Austen? Not necessarily, I’d probably recommend Pride and Prejudice or Emma for the first-time Austen reader. But Persuasion has a more mature, subdued vibe that I really enjoyed.
Have you read Persuasion? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
As you can tell from the title, it has not been a great week of reading for me. Part of the reason that I haven’t posted a review in a while (has it really been a week already?) is that I’ve been really underwhelmed with the books I’ve been reading recently. (Who knows, maybe it’s just a hangover from Cemetery Boys, one of my favorite books I’ve read… ever!)
I know posting about DNF’ing books can be a little controversial in the book community, but I wanted to share a quick post about what I’ve been reading and why I’ve DNF’ed on these in lieu of individual reviews. In my opinion, DNF’ing is a good thing! You shouldn’t force yourself to finish a book that you’re just not into. Life is too short to not enjoy what you read.
That being said, here’s the three books I decided to not continue with, and the reasons why!
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
Why I DNF’ed:
This one was a hard decision for me! I likely would have finished this book if I hadn’t accidentally spoiled myself on the ending. I loved the main character- Louisa was charming and funny and I really enjoyed her perspective. I also liked the writing style, so I may check out other Moyes books in the future.
However, that ending. Hoo boy. I won’t spoil anything here, and I briefly discussed this in my last WWW Wednesday post, but it really struck a nerve with me. Just reading about the ending made me actively dislike this book, and that’s saying something. I can see why disability advocates have had issues with the book (and its subsequent movie). Again, no spoilers here, but I seem to be in the minority on this opinion, judging by the Goodreads ratings.
I might check out other Moyes books in the future, but learning the ending of this book just left a bad taste in my mouth and put me off from wanting to continue reading. Normally I don’t mind spoilers and will continue reading regardless of whether I know the ending or not, but this specific ending really just pushed me over the edge and led to me DNF’ing.
Seven girls tied by time. Five powers that bind. One curse to lock the horror away. One attic to keep the monsters at bay.
After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.
As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless… you’re immortal.
Why I DNF’ed:
I know! An urban fantasy with romance set in New Orleans! (I might as well be describing the book I’m currently writing, but I digress.) The blurb for this book is so far up my alley that it was the first book I got when I decided to try Audible.
However. I just couldn’t connect to the main character, Adele. Her reactions to some events were inexplicable to me at best. I love first-person narration, but only when I really enjoy the main character’s perspective, and I just didn’t enjoy Adele’s. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s YA and she’s a teenager? Or maybe it just wasn’t for me. Regardless, I was willing to push past this, if not for the pacing.
I read in several reviews that the first half of the book is incredibly slow. It definitely lived up to this assessment. Considering that the audiobook was 17 hours long, I was definitely not willing to sit through 8.5 hours of slow pacing just to get to the 8.5 hours where things pick up. I got through about 4 hours, or about 24%, before I gave up, so I made it a decent chunk of the way through the book. I really, really wanted to love this book but it just wasn’t for me.
Also, it felt like Adele was being set up for a romance with a character who, I’m pretty sure, was an adult? Can we just talk about that real quick? Not to mention, that girl is sixteen and mentions a fling with her mother’s assistant, who was twenty-three, if I’m not wrong. That grossed me out enough to want to put the (audio)book down right then and there.
Anyway, I might try and pick up a physical copy eventually (probably from the library, I don’t plan on buying one) and trying to read it again in the future.
Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America.
In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.
As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.
Why I DNF’ed:
Okay, this is another book that I really wanted to love. I remember reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in high school and really loving it, so I thought Shanghai Girls would strike the same chord for me.
Unfortunately, it did not. The pacing felt incredibly rushed. I made it about 50 pages before I quit (about 16% of the book). I really liked the main characters and enjoyed the sisterly relationship, but it felt like things just happened without much time to digest the events. It sort of felt like a list of things happening. This book probably could have comfortably been much longer with more description and time for reactions from the main character.
I read some reviews before I decided to DNF, and it sounds like there’s (TW!) a pretty graphic rape scene at one point, and that just solidified my decision to put it down.
What do y’all think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!
As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…
Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.
Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he begins a hunt to find her. With every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?
But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…
This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.
General information: Thanks to NetGalley and Aria Books for my copy! This book is set to come out February 11, 2021.
Just a heads up, there are no major spoilers in this review!! The book starts out with Olivia in a hospital bed so her cancer diagnosis isn’t a spoiler. Just wanted to clarify that before anyone reads further.
This book actually made me tear up at a couple of points! It was beautifully written and kept me reading. I love the little vignettes we get of Olivia and Daniel’s life, it felt very authentic. All the emotions and reactions of the family dealing with Olivia’s cancer felt realistic, as well. I also loved the complicated mother-daughter relationship we got with Olivia and teenage Flora.
The depiction of a character’s alcohol problem was very well done and really resonated with me. I also like how short most of the chapters were, it made the book very easy to read in chunks (which I did, over the span of about a week). I loved the writing style in general, too.
At first, Olivia felt a little too perfect as a character, but later on in the book she developed a bit more personality… this could be because we mostly got Daniel’s impression of her, as he learned more about her as a person, so I don’t really mind. At first I was worried she would end up being a manic pixie dream girl, but I feel like she was more fully fleshed out as Daniel learned more about her.
As for some things I didn’t love- Annabel felt a little one-note as a character, like she was there for the sake of the story having a minor ‘villain.’ The chapters going back and forth through time also gave me whiplash a little bit; it was well done, but kind of hard to follow, especially after I picked the book back up after not reading it for a couple of days. It does tell the story well, though, so I didn’t really mind.
I also kind of took issue with Olivia and Daniel’s burgeoning relationship- after they finally connect, it feels a bit like they fall in love instantly, without much provocation. I realize they’d been dancing around each other for years by the point they finally get together, but it all felt a bit too neat.
Other than that, I loved this book and plan on buying a copy when it comes out! I definitely recommend requesting a copy from NetGalley yourself if you enjoy romance.
Thanks for reading! Have you requested this from NetGalley/preordered this or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
General information: Thanks to the New Orleans Public Library for the ebook version of this that I read! This book was published in 2020 by Swoon Reads.
Y’all, I just can’t with this book. It made me cry and that’s probably the highest praise I can give a book.
I was a little skeptical going in because I usually have a hard time connecting to teen protagonists, but Yadriel, Maritza, and Julian were so vivid and well-written that they couldn’t help but suck me in!
I had a theory that turned out to be right (no spoilers) and I’ve never been more upset to be correct in my life. Even though I predicted the end twist, it still felt like a gut punch to actually read it.
And the romance! It was so adorable! Teen romances usually aren’t my thing, but like the characters, this one was written so well that it had me completely invested. I would read a whole other book by Aiden Thomas just about them hanging out. I’m imagining there’s probably fanfiction already.
This novel was really hyped up on Book Twitter and it completely lived up to the hype- even exceeded it! If you’re into young adult fiction at all (or even if you’re not, like me), please check this book out. Especially if you love well-written LGBTQ+ characters. I highly recommend it!
Now I’m gonna go cry some more and probably re-read the ending.
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
General information: This book was published in 2020 by Orbit Books.
This book was amazing! It was a love letter to the city of New York, and cities in general. Warning, this review may get long- I had a lot to say upon finishing this book!
What I loved: the characterization was amazing. All of the characters felt so alive, especially the boroughs. I have to admit, my favorite was probably Aislyn (or Staten Island)- she was just so complex and troubled in a way that felt very real. The cast of characters was also super diverse, much like the city itself. I also like all of the different POV’s, they each felt unique and important. All the different POV’s may be a detractor for some, but I enjoyed it.
The worldbuilding was also amazing- it felt Lovecraftian but in a less xenophobic and racist way. (Look it up if you don’t believe me, Lovecraft was kind of an a-hole). It was reminiscent of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, in some ways. Fans of Gaiman would probably enjoy this book. He even gave a blurb for the cover, so you know it’s Gaiman-approved.
This book also had some great commentary on current social issues such a gentrification, the Proud Boys, etc. It never felt too heavy-handed or browbeaten, I felt like it was worked into the story very well.
What I didn’t love: no spoilers, but the final battle scene fell flat for me a little bit. It felt very quick- there was a lot of buildup, and then boom, it was done. There wasn’t enough payoff to match the buildup, in my opinion.
Other than that, my only gripe is the repeated mentions of New Orleans. New Orleans is depicted as a failed city birth, which I take a little bit of umbrage with. Not that it’s wrong at all, in fact she’s probably right, I just really love New Orleans. It feels very alive to me, personally.
Overall, I really recommend this book! It simultaneously makes me want to visit New York and feel guilty for being a tourist (in the best possible way). This is a must-read for fans of contemporary/urban fantasy!
A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.
Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.
You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.
Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.
Until I met her.
Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.
But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.
Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—
I am the villain.
General information: This book is set to come out on April 13, 2021 from Random House Publishing Group.
I loved this book! The whole concept of an F/F fairytale retelling is amazing to me. I love fairytale retellings in general, and this one did not disappoint. I could barely put it down. I love the worldbuilding of Briar and the Graces specifically. This book had a really original take on Sleeping Beauty. I sped through the last 50 pages trying to find out what would happen and the ending was soul-crushingly good. It was angsty in all the best ways. Many of the characters really stood out in good ways; I even really felt for Rose by the end. Some more negative thoughts: there was a lot of exposition in the beginning of the book, some of it in chunks delivered to the reader. I understand the necessity of it, but there might be a better way to sprinkle it throughout the book. The appearance of Kal felt kind of random and very convenient. I had some issues with one of the reveals in the end, but I won’t go into spoiler territory on here.
Other than that, this was a great read! I highly recommend it, especially for fans of fairytale retellings. Definitely request a copy from NetGalley or pick one up when it comes out in 2021. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House publishing for my copy!
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams…
Renata Viraudax is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.
But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupt magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.
General information: This book will be published on January 19th 2021 by Orbit Books.
I really, really wanted to love this book. It started off strong and I loved the characters, but it just wasn’t for me. There was a lot of exposition in the first 100 pages or so, and it was hard to keep track of all the character names, places, and concepts mentioned. It felt like too much exposition but not enough actual information at the same time. I really enjoyed the basic concept, that a regular girl is trying to con her way into a noble house, but it got to a point where it felt so bogged down by sideplots about cleaning a river and other intrigues that I was having a hard time keeping track of what was what, and I just couldn’t finish it. Ultimately, the concept is great and the characterization was amazing! I love the main character and the side characters all really stand out. I wanted to finish this book for the main character’s sake but I was just getting confused and wasn’t excited to read it anymore. I just don’t think this was the book for me. Someone else may love it, but ultimately I just couldn’t get past the first 200 pages. This was a DNF for me but it may be a 5/5 stars for someone else!
Synopsis: via Goodreads– “The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.”
General information: It was published in 2019 by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House.
Favorite quote: “Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you embroider narratives, and the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in the myth. Yes, the things you name have power.”
Wow. Just, wow. I could barely put this book down! It read like a fairy tale in the best possible way.
As far as characters go, Casiopea is amazing. She’s such a strong main character with a very vivid personality. Vucub-Kame is an amazing antagonist. I even felt for Martin, Casiopea’s cruel cousin, by the end. I love how much agency Casiopea has- even though she’s a mortal caught up in a fight between gods, she still finds a way to leave her mark on the story.
The prose was beautiful, I love Moreno-Garcia’s style. I might even have to pick up a copy of Mexican Gothic, her newest book, next time I’m at the bookstore. I loved the inclusion of Mayan myth, something I’m not very familiar with, but it was worked into the story very well.
My only problem was the ending. I wanted more! I said that about The Starless Sea too, but at the end of this book, I felt both a little unsatisfied and emotional at the same time. In the best possible way, of course. Everything was resolved beautifully, though, so overall I can’t complain.
If you haven’t read this book already, please do! It’s well worth the read.
Okay, okay, I’ll get to the stuff you probably came here to read.
Synopsis: Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student studying video games who cheats on his games by reading on the side. He discovers a mysterious book in his campus library and is transported to a place where many stories are true- and others are true enough. He’s been brought to the world of the Starless Sea.
General Information: It was published in 2019 by Anchor Books, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.
Favorite quote: “A reading major, that’s what he wants. No response papers, no exams, no analysis, just the reading.” (Relatable, right? I think we’ve all been there. Or I can assume so, considering that you’re reading a book blog in your free time.)
Okay, again, I loved this book! First, the things I loved: I love how mysterious everything is until it’s tied up very neatly near the end. There were a couple of moments that made me go “Oh!” in a good way. I love the characters, especially a couple of the side characters (namely, Kat. She really stuck out to me). I love that it’s a meditation on the power of stories- something that will be relatable to most readers.
The prose is beautiful too, Morgenstern’s descriptions are excellent. I could really visualize the scenes. I also love that in the Acknowledgements, she mentions NaNoWriMo and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Can we be best friends already? (Yes, I read the Acknowledgements. Do you not?)
Overall, this book was a huge inspiration for me and was part of the reason I re-discovered writing.
So why did I give it 4 stars instead of 5?
Well, there were a few things that I didn’t love. Remember how I mentioned that it was very mysterious, until near the ending? This book almost lost me exactly because of the mystery. I had originally checked it out from the library before a vacation this summer, let it lapse without finishing it, then decided to buy a copy earlier this month and finally finish it.
So, it lost me for a solid couple of months. I kept thinking about it, which shows how powerful the story is, but there’s a lot of unanswered questions until near the ending, which I realize is a turn-off for a lot of people.
I also didn’t quite connect with the character of Zachary. Sure, he’s a video game nerd which is a huge plus in my book (dare I say it, I love mentions of video games in fiction). The only problem was that he felt very passive- things sort of happened to him, instead of him acting to change his circumstances. This is partly for reasons that are explained at the end, but again, I realize this can be a turn-off for many readers.
I enjoyed the romantic subplot, but it felt a little forced to me. I didn’t quite feel the chemistry between Zachary and (spoiler alert! 1… 2… 3… okay, continuing) Dorian. I appreciate the LGBTQIA+ inclusion in this book but the romance didn’t quite work for me.
My biggest problem with it, and highest compliment, was that I wanted there to be more! I flipped pages after the ending, expecting there to be more left to read. I would have gladly read until Morgenstern ran out of words.
This was such a powerful story! It was a love letter to anyone who enjoys reading. I might have to go read The Night Circus now to get another fix of her writing. This story was a huge inspiration to me and I hope it can serve the same purpose for more people in the future.