Book 375: The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #3)I loved this series and it’s kind of obvious in that I read it in less than five days. I would’ve read it faster, but pesky work and being somewhat sociable got in the way. I’m glad I read the series, as it gave me three squares on my BOTNS Bingo card so I at least feel like I made an effort! Plus having read the first few paragraphs of this and learning the publishing history behind this series, I’m glad I gave it a chance because of my women with weapons are awesome mindset.

Picking up where The Blight of Muirwood left off there is no downtime in this novel; here is no year of discovery or growth off the pages. It may as well be part two of book two and that works really well for this series, and that could answer what it is about the middle book of this trilogy being so good.

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Book 374: The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #2)This is just one of those series I’m going to BLAZE through. It’s good because it gets my Goodreads “challenge goal” count up, but it’s even better because it’s so enthralling that I can’t put it down!

I’ll start with what’s great about this novel. Wheeler wrote at the end of the novel that he loves middle novels in trilogies and that he thinks they are often times the strongest. For me, I generally do NOT like the middle novel and dread reading them as I feel they’re often the weakest. I’m still trying to figure this out, but Wheeler was able to keep the crescendo building from The Wretched of Muirwood and I cannot wait to see where he takes it in the last book of the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, The Scourge of Muirwood.

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Book 373: The Wretched of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood #1) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Wretched of Mirwood (Legends of Mirwood #1)I don’t know why I bought this book in December of 2013, but I am SO glad that Books on the Nightstand Bingo encouraged me to read it! (It’s the square with an author who shares my name – I’ve already re-read Chaucer and most everyone spells my name Jeff anyway.)

I’d been making my way through Not Gay on my iPad and didn’t want to take it to the beach, so I pulled this up on my Kindle and was absorbed within minutes. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly that pulled me into the book so quickly. Wheeler writes incredibly smoothly (and apparently this is a young adult novel), but he also write characters that pull you into the story. Where I think he really excels is in the world building.

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Book 371: Pride & Prejudice (Marvel Illustrated) – Nancy Butler & Hugo Petrus

Butler, Nancy, Jane Austen and Hugo Petrus - Pride & PrejudiceI had a vague idea these adaptations existed, but I’d never encountered one in the wild until I read Jane Austen: Cover to Cover and went out of my way to visit a comic book store to look for one. I got lucky on my second try with Comicazi in Somerville, but they only had the one. (Hub Comics in Somerville was also great, but didn’t have any in stock.)

What truly strikes me, having finished this in one commute to and from work, is that doing a bit of research I’m not surprised I didn’t know these existed. Butler in the introduction talks about how these titles came about for Marvel Illustrated (full list of titles available under the imprint) and mentions that she said they needed to do some for young women and girls. When I did a bit of research I found that the imprint was only active from 2007-2011 and they didn’t finish Jane Austen’s novels :-( However, I did find out there’s another imprint, Classical Comments, has WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Let me repeat this one more time, there is a are multiple graphic novel versions of WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

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Book 365: The Brontë Project – Jennifer Vandever

Vandever, Jennifer - The Brontë ProjectI’m not sure what it is about Brontë fan-fiction, but they’re just not as whimsical as the Austen fan-fiction. Looking at the subject matters and general ambiance of the works and the author’s lives it is fairly obvious, but when you think about it the options for fan-fiction are limitless. I picked this book (Amazon link) up in late 2012 and have finally gotten around to reading it.

The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read include Solsbury Hill and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and they were both a bit ho-hum. I did enjoy the vilification of Charlotte in Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax trilogy (here, here and here), but that could be the problem. Emily and Anne died so early and Charlotte had so much time to cultivate/purge their images in society that it’s all about Charlotte and not the rest of the family. (“What’s more, she [Charlotte] has become adept at spinning her own legend and constructing her image before the public.” (59) – and I would even argue spinning Emily and Anne’s images, obviously). Even this novel, whose main character, Sara, is in love with Wuthering Heights ends up being predominantly about Charlotte.

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Book 362: Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

Mansfield Park - Jane AustenLucky for you I’ve re-read this for our Jane Austen Book Club, so you get to hear about it again, almost exactly three years after I last read it.

Following Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813) this was Austen’s third published novel in 1814 and it is a clear shift away from the whimsy and light previous novels. I talk about this in my last response, but I wonder if this has to do with feedback from the first two novels or if it’s her own personal experience and maturation as an adult. We already know that when Austen published Emma, her fourth work, in 1815 that she was comfortable with sassing her critics. She openly says at the start of Emma that she’s writing a character NO ONE can dislike, because so many people disliked Fanny, or Fanny’s decisions.

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Book 360: #First Impressions #Second Chances – Heidi Belleau

Belleau, Heidi - First Impressions, Second ChancesI grabbed a copy of this book for free from the Riptide Publishing website. I did this before I had an interaction with Riptide that left an incredibly sour taste in my mouth and has pretty much guaranteed I won’t read any of their books again, but I’ll save that for the end of this post (after the recommendation).

This novella’s synopsis (Amazon link) was just too cute to pass up. You get a second chance with your first crush and they happen to be gay too? Add in the techno-crazy insta-celebrity age and of course it’s going to be adorable. This rings especially true if you’re main character is a somewhat neurotic shy guy who has gone out of his way to avoid social-interactions in person, but has a large online following. I mean come on librarians and bookstores, let’s just go ahead and create the sub-sub-genre “Socially Awkward Romances.” I’d be all over that.

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