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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

Title: Persuading Austen
Author: Brigid Coady
Publisher: 18 July  2017 by HQ Digital
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: women’s fiction, contemporary, romance
My Rating: 3.5 crowns

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…
Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.
Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.
Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.
With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?
My Thoughts

‘Who are you living for, Anne? You or them?’ She could still hear Austen saying it. And she knew that he meant it because he called her Anne. And she still couldn’t answer that question eight years later.’

Anything ‘Austen’ captures my attention, so this book came on my radar and what a bit of fun it proved to be - a great and much needed weekend escape. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ with a touch of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ thrown in for good measure.

One aspect I particularly enjoyed was how the author kept most of the key scenes from the original but put a contemporary twist on them. The storyline was most definitely recognisable, yet Coady did not let it dominate. I loved the ending and how everything was nicely bought together - yes the romance - but with the two leads only trading a few lines in real time (there are flashbacks), it was more about the lead character and her journey. Her success in life was her decisions - not a knight in shining armour - so you witnessed her grow and discover her own voice.

‘Over eight years what had she learned? Nothing. Not one single thing except how to keep on allowing her family to squeeze and mould her into the gaps in their lives. She hadn’t been living; she had been merely existing.’

Being ‘chick lit’ you have to make some concessions. For example, the family will grate on your nerves (‘Sometimes she felt like David Attenborough hiding in the undergrowth, and trying to work out what made them tick’), Annie’s inner dialogue will make you want to shake her at times and some parts are just way out of the ball park - three words for you who will read it - My Little Pony! Wow! At times a bit repetitive - I would love to know on how many occasions the author wrote ‘eight years ago’ - GAH! However, you have to take the good with the bad and it being so light and entertaining compensated for these drawbacks.

This was a fun read. I appreciated the Austen references eg. ‘Northanger Agency’ and there are some funny moments with enough romance but not overbearingly so. I found it to be fast-paced, whizzing through it over a weekend - pure fun and escapism.

‘ You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever…’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin

Title: The Dream Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Emily Colin
Publisher: 25 July 2017 by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pages: 482 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: fiction, romance, time travel
My Rating: 2.5 crowns


An archaeologist discovers her presumed-missing boyfriend is trapped more than a hundred years in the past—a love story that transcends time and place, from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Memory Thief.

Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.

My Thoughts

‘He let me tell him about the tombs and the dust, the exhilaration I’d felt when I touched a shard of pottery no one had seen for thousands of years, brushed the dirt from it, and lifted it from the earth.’

Reading the blurb for this book, I considered it right up my alley - all the elements I enjoy in a book. There was time travel, bringing in a historical aspect; the mystery of people going missing and family secrets, with the plight of a young woman trying to raise her child. Sounds promising.

Sadly, it did not live up to expectation. There are aspects of the book that are okay, the historical scenes obviously being the most compelling - fascinating to learn more about the slave rebellion in Barbados in the 1800s. The discovery of a broken piece of jewellry at an archaeological dig site in Barbados was clever. But it was about this stage that it all went downhill for me, which was sad, as the research was there:

‘This farce of a bill—put forth by that abolitionist arse Wilberforce in Parliament—requires West Indian planters to register all of our slaves by name to prevent illegal trading in the wake of the Abolition Act.’

It’s hard to really put my finger on it, being there are so many different aspects that I had trouble with, starting with, who exactly is ‘the dream keeper’? Overall it would appear that this book has an identity crisis: the whole supernatural aspect of time travel was never really explained (the dates of Julia and Max never really added up), neither were Finn’s abilities. I don’t wish to be derogatory, so let’s leave it as there were just too many aspects, none of which were resolved in a satisfactory manner, and some in fact, took focus away from the story.  For example, the dialogue was at times juvenile and immature, not fitting the character eg. whether they had ‘concealer’ (really!) and a male lead worried about ‘snobbish human beings’. Me thinks not.

I really wanted to like this book but it just seemed all over the place. Big issues never addressed and never really making sense, combined with some amateurish dialogue attempt at humour.

“Please listen to me. Don’t do to your daughter what I did to mine. Don’t let the obsession devour you—because believe me, honey, it will if you let it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release