Archive for 'Reviews'

The Hunger Games – Catching Fire – Book Review


by Suzanne Collins

The 2nd book in the Hunger Games Triology.

Katniss survived the Hunger Games but in a way that did not satisfy the Capital.  Now the Capital wants revenge.  Instead of the blessed life that should be owed to a winner of the games, Katniss is dealt another blow.

Instead of guaranteeing her and her family’s future, winning the games has only guaranteed them misery.  Katniss has another fight on her hands, but is there anyway to win?  One young girl against a corrupt society.  A society happy to sacrafice anyone of lesser birth for their own pleasure.  Not sure who her real friends are Katniss has to fight to survive for the sake of her family.

Another great story by Suzanne Collins and now you are only left to ask… are you team Peeta or team Gale.  Don’t keep us waiting too long for the third book Suzanne Collins.

Posted on 27 December '09 by , under Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy, Young Adult. 3 Comments.

Sense and Sensibility – Book Review


by Jane Austen

Written in 1790′s and published 1811 Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane’s novels to published.

This insightful study of human nature focusses on Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  The Dashwood women, Mary (mother), Elinor, Marianne and Margaret are wrenched from their privilaged life after the death of their husband and father.  The estate is passed to his son by his first marriage and John Dashwood does nothing to aid his father’s 2nd family.  The Dashwood women are left with very little to live on.  Their sudden demotion in society complicates the sisters’ chances of marrying well.

Mrs Dashwood’s cousin, Sir John Middleton, comes to the rescue with the offer of a cottage on his estate Barton Park for a cheap rent.  Settling at Barton Cottage finds the family included in a good-hearted but eccentric social circle.  The sisters have to suffer match-making and teasing from Sir John and his mother-in-law,  Mrs Jennings.     The interferrence of the well-meaning Mrs Jenning is made more unbearable when both girls lose their hearts to men beyond their reach.  They learn painful lessons about love and the loss of it.

Sense and Sensibility highlights the precarious position of women of that era.  They weren’t able to earn their fortune and if they lost it, as the Dashwoods did, then their attractiveness is significantly reduced. Jane gives us a clear view of her opinion of the situation of women, being dependent on men, undervalued and censured for being independent.  She creates wonderful characters who masterfully make what they can of their oppressed  lives.

Reading Jane Austen is such a pleasure.  Her characters are rich and sure and I never feel happy to finish a book.  She has such an indepth understanding of human behaviour and the human heart.  Jane made a point of only writing what she had knowledge of, so let us hope that she did experience some of the love she so generously gifts to her heronines.

Essential reading for all young women.  It is humbling to know that even at that time someone was working to highlight the challenges of women.

Posted on 17 December '09 by , under Classic Lit, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 8 Comments.

The Hunger Games – Book Review


by Suzanne Collins

Panem is a country ruled by an unsympathetic Capital, motivated only by excess and entertainment.  The surrounding Districts provide the Capital with that excess and once a year they provide the pinnacle of entertainment – The Hunger Games.  In a cruel display of power the Capital conducts the reaping.  From each of the twelve districts, two participants are chosen, a boy and a girl between ages 12-18.  These participants are taken to the Capital where they participate in a televised life and death game of an epic scale. With the reaping weighted toward the poorest residents it also acts to divide the districts into classes.

16yo Katniss Everdeen is the main provider for her little family.  She hunts illegally to bring food and other essentials to her mother and young sister Prim.  She is an efficient hunter and a survivor. This year her name is entered 20 times in the reaping, 5 times due to her age and 15 times due to trading for grain and oil.  Her little sister Prim is entered once, for her first reaping.

Against unbelieveable odds 12yo Prim’s name emerges from the reaping, a guaranteed death sentence.  Katniss has only one choice, she exercises her right to enter herself in her sister’s place.  Her entry is likely to kill her but if she can win then their family will never go hungry again.        When Peeta Mallark emerges as the boy entry, Katniss can’t believe her bad luck.  Peeta possesses a power over her although they’ve never spoken, she owes him a debt.  So Katniss and Peeta Mallark leave for the Capital as District 12 contestants.  A contest where 24 enter the arena but only 1 comes out.

The Hunger Games combines a nail-biting fight for life and a heart-wrenching love triangle. Suzanne Collins has written a griping, fast paced book that I couldn’t put down.  I loved The Hunger Games.  The characters are strong and allow you to love and hate them just as you should.  You will find yourself wanting to insight a rebellion on their behalf.  As this is the first in a triology, I’m thrilled to be guaranteed two more to read.

Posted on 14 December '09 by , under Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy, Young Adult. 6 Comments.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman – An Assembly Such As This – Book Review


by Pamela Aidan

Book 1 of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Series.

An Assembly Such As This is a wonderful look into the mind and heart of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, the much loved leading man in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  The series re-tells Pride and Prejudice but from Mr Darcy’s point of view.

This first book takes us through Mr Darcy’s arrival in Hertfordshire and his relationship with Charles Bingley.  When Mr Bingley falls for the eldest Miss Bennet, Darcy is concerned about his friend making an undesirable match.  The Bennets are below Bingley’s station in society.  His study of Miss Bennet makes him doubt her affection for his friend and after inappropriate comments and behaviour of other members of her family, he suspects their occupation is fortune hunting.

During his stay with Bingley he is also thrown into the society of Miss Bennet’s younger sister Elizabeth.  Confounded by his fascination with the raven haired Hertford beauty with the quick wit and sparkling eyes, he endeavours to heed his own advice and avoid the undesirable connection.

Mr Darcy has been written beautifully by Pamela Aidan.  I recognised instantly, the man, whose depths we only glimpsed in Pride and Prejudice.  The other characters represented are equally recognisable.  Like slipping on comfy slippers, you feel like you’ve slipped straight into Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – all be it from another’s point of view.

Pamela Aidan has done a lovely job and I think you will enjoy a closer look at Jane Austen’s wonderful man, Mr Darcy.

Posted on 6 December '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

Emma and Knightley – Book Review


by Rachel Billington

What happened to Emma and her Mr Knightley after Jane Austen put down her pen?  Rachel Billington has written a lovely sequel to the much adored Austen classic Emma.

After only one year, Emma and Mr Knightley’s marriage isn’t as carefree as they each would have liked.  Tragic news reaches Hartfield that the lovely Jane Churchill (nee Fairfax) has died after giving birth to a boy and her distraught husband Frank is missing.  Frank’s father, Mr Westen, cannot leave his wife who is about to give birth herself and askes Mr Knightley to travel to London to try to find the broken Frank Churchil and bring him home to Highbury.

Mr Knightley lodges with his brother John and his wife Isabelle, Emma’s sister, whilst in London.  He isn’t able to find Frank but writes to Emma saying that business holds him town for a little longer.  Emma and Mr Knightley had not been apart since their wedding and Emma finds the separation difficult.  She is made more uncomfortable by the feeling that her husband isn’t telling her everything.  She senses that something is wrong but he will not confide in his wife.

Over the past year Emma has felt more and more unsteady about the way her husband treats her like a child.  She wishes he would trust her and consult with her on more serious matters than the dinner menu.

Jane Austen once discribed Emma as the heroine that you would despise and then come to love.  Rachel Billington has kept with Jane’s vision of Emma.  She is full of her own self-importance and position in the community and blinded from seeing the value of the people around her.  Emma’s foibles are frustrating but as promised by Jane, she has capacity for goodness and is shamed into correcting herself.

Rachel Billington has been faithful to our Jane and I enjoyed Emma and Knightley very much.

Posted on 22 November '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

Lady Catherine’s Necklace – Book Revew


by Joan Aiken

A blizzard delivers to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s door, a gentile couple, Mr Delaval and his sister Miss Delaval.  Uncharacteristically, she offers them lodging while Miss Delaval recovers from a sprained ankle and their carriage is repaired.   The pair are soon firmly entrenched at Rosings much to the discomfort of other members of the house. The addition to Rosings Park sparks a series of changes and dramas that will alter the household forever.

Colonel Fitzwilliam has arrived, escorting Lady Catherine’s brother Lord Luke, who has pressing family business to discuss.  Lord Luke’s eccentric manner brings entertainment to Anne, Lady Catherine’s long suffering daughter but sorely tests the latter’s patience.  When Lady Catherine is compelled to visit her sister-in-law, Anne finds opportunity to escape her oppressive life and find her own feet.

The Parsonage is also experiencing change.  Charlotte Collins is confined with their 3rd child and her sister Maria Lucus has arrived to aid her.  Mr Collins is called away after the death of Mr Bennet of Longbourn, to finalise affairs regarding his inheriting the estate.  Maria has had much to ponder since her last visit and wonders if she will have the strength to face the man she shouldn’t love.

This was a fun book to read with the familiar characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It was fun to get to know better some characters that we were not able to study closely in P & P.

I especially liked getting to know Maria Lucus and Anne de Bourgh better.

Posted on 7 November '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.

Killer Bunny Hill – Book Review


by Denise Robbins

Samantha Spenser has been shot.  Her dad summoned her home urgently but isn’t there to greet her, she is shot while snowboarding; temporarily loses some of her memory; is kidnapped; escapes and doesn’t know who to trust.    She is a capable woman but as she can’t even remember her name, she may have to accept help from the amber-eyed angel-man who patched up her wounds.

Maximilian Stone has enough to worry about.  He is trying to find his missing FBI agent brother, Kevin, when he is delivered with a shot up snow bunny.  The snow bunny claims to have lost her memory but is it just a coincidence that this gorgeous, green-eyed woman arrives, shot, at his door, when his brother went missing investigating a case in the area?

Sam and Max manage to join forces to find her father and his brother, despite being distracted  - a lot – by their mutual sexual attraction.

Killer Bunny Hill is a fun and easy read.  I hope and pray that if ever I am in need of rescuing, that the rescuers aren’t so easily distracted from the job by their ‘need’ for each other!  However, their numerous distracted moments make great entertainment for a reader of novels!

It is deliciously sexy, so have fun with Killer Bunny Hill.

Posted on 31 October '09 by , under Reviews, Romance, Thriller. 1 Comment.

Netherfield Park Revisited – Book Review


by Rebecca Ann Collins

Book 3 of the Pemberley Chronicles

Jonathon Bingley, son of Charles and Jane Bingley, manages Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s estate, was a respected member of parliament and beloved by his family.  All his family, with the exception of his wife.  His busy life has resulted in his marriage becoming fractured.  He is geniuinely saddened by their condition and has tried to make his wife happy.  Amelia-Jane Bingley, daughter to Charlotte and Reverend Collins, will not be made happy by her husband though.  She has chosen to accept the bad advice and interference of Caroline Bingley and leave her husband.  Her behaviour will harm the family’s reputation and will damage Jonathon’s career.

With the support of his children, parents, aunts and uncles he struggles to keep his family free from the scandal.

This is a beautiful series and I’m anxious to read more Rebecca Ann Collins’ Pemberley Chronicles.

Posted on 28 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

The Ladies of Longbourn – Book Review


by Rebecca Ann Collins

Book 4 of the Pemberley Chronicles

Anne-Marie Bradshaw has just been widowed.  Beautiful, in her early twenties and with no children, you could assume that she would find happiness again with another man.  Her family is very concerned about her though.  She doesn’t grieve like you would expect and they are confused by her behaviour.  Unbeknownst to them, she is wracked by guilt over accepting a man whom she didn’t love.  Feelings of relief for the freedom her husband’s early death has given, is eclipsed by the sense of guilt for feeling that relief.  Anne-Marie is in a dark place and her family feels helpless.

Her salvation comes from the worthy endeavour to form a children’s hospital in the area.  With her energy directed to thatcause she begins to reclaim herself.  The children’s hospital saves Anne-Marie and Anne-Marie unwittingly saves more than the local children.  The new member of parliament for Netherfield is a passionate supporter of the hospital and of Anne-Marie.  Will she be able to get past her fear of entering into another loveless marriage though?

Rebecca Ann Collins has superbly captured the era and the integrity of Jane Austen’s England.  This series is beautiful and I thoroughly recommend it to Austen fans.

Posted on 22 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

The Darcys Give a Ball – Book Review


by Elizabeth Newark

“The romantic attachments of one’s children are a constant distraction.” says Elizabeth Darcy (nee Bennet) to her sister Jane Bingley.  Jane and Elizabeth plan a ball to honour Mrs Darcy’s daughter Juliet’s 19th birthday.  The invitation list is extensive and includes, the Collins, Ferrars, Wentworths, Knightleys, Elliotts, Bingleys, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Brandons, Churchills, Bertrams, and Musgroves.  The evening is truly eventful and for Eliza and Jonathon Collins, their first visit to Pemberley will change their lives forever.

I love that this book focusses so much on Charlotte Collins and her family.  They are often dismissed as obsurd in other Austen inspired works.  Charlotte is one of my favourite Austen women and am glad to see her so respectfully represented by Elizabeth Newark.

Posted on 18 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. No Comments.