Books

Book 553: Dear Mr. Knightley – Katherine Reay

"Dear Mr. Knightley" book cover artThis book is what I was worried of when I found out these were categorized under clean romance and Christian fiction. It could’ve been A LOT worse, but it was just enough to start to put me off toward the end of the novel. That being said, I know there’s a HUGE market for both clean romance AND Christina fiction, so I can’t really fault it too much because it was just a little too preachy for me at some points. I’ll talk more about this later.

I’m still not sure where to categorize this for my own references. I think they’d be more accurately described as inspired by Austen rather than the traditional fan-fiction/fanfiction. Reay does a great job weaving in the stories and characters from Austen’s works but doesn’t necessarily use them as frameworks or even plot outlines. I’ll read the other’s books in her oeuvre that are Austen/Brontë connected because they’re such quick reads, but I’m not sure I’ll follow her into the future.

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Books

Book 551: The Austen Escape – Katherine Reay

I picked this up at the library after reading about it on Jane’s blog greenish bookshelf, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I do occasionally like a clean romance, but let’s face it I also enjoy some pretty trashy and raunchy novels/works. I also wasn’t 100% sure where this would rank on the romance scale with it often being categorized as Christina Fiction, but I did ultimately enjoy the book. I have also complained multiple times about the books where characters jump right in to sex and living together and the whole book happens in two months. So basically, I don’t know what I want in a romance novel. But seriously though, coat it in Austen or Brontë, no matter how tenuous, and I’ll be happy!

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Books

Book 540: The Library at the Edge of the World (Finfarran #1) – Felicity Hayes-McCoy

It has libraries, it has Europe and it has a protagonist crotchety before their allotted time, of course I was going to love it.

I have no idea where I came across this, I’m sure it was on a blog at some point, but I requested it from my local library for my Kindle (oh hey, Overdrive), and promptly forgot I requested it. So when I got the email notification that it was ready I at first panicked (I received two others at the same time) and then got excited because, well, see the first sentence of this response.

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Books

Book 539: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1) – Mackenzie Lee

After seeing this over and over being the darling of the book blogosphere and reading the rave reviews of it I figured I should check it out. I read a lot of LGBT literature, a lot of young adult literature, and quite a bit of adventure literature so I thought why not. And although I wasn’t completely disappointed, I was genuinely underwhelmed and for once it wasn’t the mood I was in. I’ll start with the not-so-great and finish with what I enjoyed.

I’m a finicky reader at best and have curated a pretty good system of choosing the books I read, including taking into account books that fellow bloggers who have similar tastes to me read, but this one just didn’t click for me quite like others have. I kept to my usual style of not reading anything about the author or the book after I decided I want to read it. [Generally I get excited about a book/author and purchase/reserve something by them and then I let it sit for a while so that I can clear my palate.]

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Books

Book 528: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Of course after I saw the trailer for Love, Simon (embedded at the end of this post) I HAD to read the book they adapted it from. Who doesn’t love an awkward teen romance, especially an LGBT one? Seriously, just go watch the trailer so adorkable!

I’m not sure if I’m in love with Simon or in love with Simon’s hopelessness. I’m sad that books like this weren’t around when I was a teenager, but also so incredibly happy that books like this exist for teens! Was this a literary wonder? No. Was this a beautiful coming of age/first love story that anyone could identify with regardless of their sexuality? Yes.

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Books

Book 500: Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings – Jane Austen

You read that right, Book 500.

I purposefully held off reading this edition for over a year because I knew I wanted something special for my 500th book on The Oddness of Moving Things. Tim got me the whole boxed collection of Austen’s works in December of 2015. I didn’t think it would take quite this long to get to, but with my whirlwind year at my previous job I’m not really surprised at this point. I’m reading again and I’m glad I saved this one for my 500th book!

I know others in the book blogosphere have reviewed this collection of Austen’s juvenilia and they’ve probably done it better. I’m a bit blinded by Austen because I’m such a fan boy (read this or just click here if you don’t believe me – or if you haven’t been around a while). I’m going to talk a bit about this work and the collection and then I’m going to have a brief bitch session about the physical book itself so fair warning.

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Books

Book 498: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? – Gillian Linden

I’m not sure why I picked this up back in January 2014, but I did. It was either the sadness in the title or the open envelopes on the front. I had no recollection of it being short stories as I rarely read them. And yet even when I went to read this, because I wanted a quick read before vacation, I was surprised they were short stories and it says STORIES on the front!

Honestly, this book disappointed me. There were two beautiful quotes, but overall I found the stories to be lacking and somewhat stunted. Many of the stories loosely tied together and I felt it distracted from what could’ve been a wonderful collection of (somewhat depressing) coming of age stories.

“Homesick is how Karen feels, though she doesn’t miss home, more like an earlier version of herself, a person who, in her memory is hardworking, starightforward, pure.” (Common Rooms, 12)

“Lewis and I decided this last night and it was a relief. Not everything has to do with me. Even the things that have something to do with me, like this contract, don’t have much to do with me.” (Sam, 87)

I would rather have not wondered if everyone was connected (and I could be wrong).

All of this being said, I think what bothered me the most about the short stories was that really good short stories to me, leave you curious about everything before and after, but simultaneously leave you feeling fulfilled. These did not, partially because there were characters that were either the same character or one with the same name and it was like wait what, is this a continuation? And partially because they just didn’t feel complete with the exception of Common Rooms, it was by far the strongest and it was the lead of the book.

Recommendation: Pass unless you are really interested in college coming of age stories or really interested in short stories.