Books

Book 587: Longbourn – Jo Baker

I can’t believe I’ve had this on my shelf for as long as I have. It’s been almost TWO YEARS since I bought it. TWO YEARS! I’m not sure I would go so far as to say this is THE pinnacle of Jane Austen fan-fiction, but it’s pretty close.

I say this for a couple of reasons the primary being that Baker didn’t deviate too far from Austen’s characters, she stayed true to them and only played with the background characters (they’re less than minor) and filled in their back stories. The secondary reason I say this is because it received reviews in the major publications and was fairly mainstream for Austen fan-fiction/inspired fiction. I mean sure you’ve got the major adaptations like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Clueless, but those are both modern adaptations.

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Books

Book 581: The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler

The last time I read this a good friend loaned it to me and we were still living in the dorms in undergrad! (So a really long time ago.) I don’t even know where this copy came from that I picked up, but it was a pleasure to revisit. I can’t believe it’s been FOUR YEARS basically since my friends and I did our own JABC.

Re-reading this was like visiting an old friend. They made a pretty true-to-the-book film adaptation in 2007 (IMDb link) that makes it feel like it hasn’t been almost a decade-and-a-half since I last read this.

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Books

Book 578: Bad Idea – Damon Suede

As I’m slogging my way through the absolute TOME that is Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World (which is fascinating), I needed something a little lighter to break up the finance/business talk.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. Suede is a great romance writer, but sometimes it’s a little crass for me. This one definitely rode that line and sometimes went over, but not enough so for me to abandon the book (as if I’d ever do that). Ultimately, Suede pulled me in though I mean a neurotic comic book illustrator (Trip) and a southern comic/pop culture nerd (Silas) getting together in the big city (NYC), hello custom-made dream for me 😀

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Books

Book 558: Autoboyography – Christina Lauren

I can’t believe I binged this. I started it around 4 PM on my way home from work and was done by midnight. I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did, but it just hit all the right notes for me.

Books like this and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda make me sad that these weren’t around when I was a teenager, but also incredibly happy at how far we’ve (allegedly) come as a society and for the future LGBTQ+ teens out there. I have two more Freak Show and Geography Club that I picked up a few months ago and am excited to read in the next few weeks. Books like these and the more recent comics I read in No Straight Lines make me feel like those old LGBTQ+ individuals on YouTube who are in awe of the freedom we have today.

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Books

Book 557: The Brontë Plot – Katherine Reay

The Brontë Plot cover artThe downside with reading so many romance novels by the same author back-to-back is you quickly discover their strengths and weaknesses. As I read each of Reay’s works, they became less and less memorable even as I was reading them.

If I have to tie it down to the most basic its character development closely followed by pacing. I’m not one to need a “two months later” directional at every instance, but in Reay’s case it would’ve helped a lot. Toward the beginning of the novel the meet cute and the timing was so off I found myself having to re-read multiple sections to see if I’d missed the introduction or some major indicator of time having passed. (I hadn’t.)

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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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