Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

As soon as I saw this book referred to as “Jane Eyre in space” I knew that I had to read it. While it wasn’t quite all I hoped for, I think overall it was a fun re-telling and it made me want to go re-read Jane Eyre.

It took me awhile to get into Brightly Burning. I thought it was a little slow to start, but once Stella got to the Rochester and the Jane Eyre comparisons became apparent I really began to enjoy it. While there were obviously some adjustments made to some of the twists, I thought they were incorporated really well for both YA and space. I thought it dragged a bit when it focused on the non-Jane Eyre plotlines, though. So while the beginning and the end were not great for me, I really enjoyed the middle.  I also thought it was a little weird that they were in the future and had all this technology, but high society followed Regency era clothing and social statuses.

I liked the characters. Though I think Stella’s character was a little inconsistent at times, she was likeable and I enjoyed getting the story through her 1st person POV. I also liked Hugo and shipped him with Stella. I also really liked Stella’s weird-admirer-turned-closest-friend Jon. There were a wide array of secondary characters that I thought were pretty well developed, as well.

Overall, I enjoyed Brightly Burning. I thought it worked really well as a Jane Eyre re-telling and I really enjoyed all those parts of the book and the new spin of it happening in space. It did drag a little at the beginning and end for me, though, so I can’t quite give it 4 stars. I do definitely recommend this to anyone who’s read and enjoyed Jane Eyre, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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Review: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

By the Book will be available February 6, 2018.

Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and I am always ready to jump on board a re-telling. Unfortunately, By the Book did not really live up to my expectations.

One thing that I thought was really odd for a re-telling is that the main character, Anne, is a college lit professor and teaches on authors such as Jane Austen. Also, Anne’s favorite book is Persuasion. I have never seen the actual source material referenced in a re-telling. At first I thought maybe it was just going to be really meta or something, but Anne never references how her life is paralleling her favorite novel. To be fair, though, there were very few instances that really resembled it.

The Anne of this book was not nearly as likable as Anne from Persuasion. She was short tempered and kind of whiney. I did not like her best friend, Larry, at all. He was very over-dramatic and he was also having an affair with a closeted married man. Anne was friends with that man’s wife and she didn’t seem to find anything wrong with what Larry was doing and the whole storyline very greatly frustrated me. Anne dates an author and fellow visiting professor, Rick, for most of the book and he was another awful person. The only character I really liked was Adam (our Captain Wentworth). He never really did anything wrong the whole book and in my opinion was way too good for Anne.

Overall, I found By the Book really disappointing. I didn’t think there were enough recognizable parts from Persuasion that I like to see in re-tellings and just couldn’t get over how odd it was that Jane Austen and the actual book were referenced so often. I’m adding an extra half-star to my rating, though, because the writing itself wasn’t that bad and it did include a version of my favorite part of Persuasion– the letter.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ’s next adult novel will be a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will be available October 17, 2017.

I love a good holiday romance and I love Pride and Prejudice re-tellings, so Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looked like it would be perfect for me. While it was a fun read, it ended up falling short of my (pretty high) expectations.

I loved the idea of a gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice. I can’t think of any other re-tellings I’ve read that took that angle. I also like the idea of getting Darcy’s POV instead of Elizabeth’s (or Luke’s, in this case). Unfortunately I felt like this was more of an “inspired by” then a true re-telling. If it wasn’t for the names of the characters (Darcy Fitzwilliam, Bingley Charles, Luke Bennett) and the title of the book I’m not really sure if I would’ve even noticed that it was supposed to be a re-telling. That said, the story wasn’t bad. It was a very quick and easy read and had many cute or funny moments.

Darcy was pretty unlikable, which was ok in the beginning because she was kind of supposed to be. However, I don’t think she ever became more likable. Even though she was supposed to be this brilliant, successful woman, she was super immature and self-centered and kind of oblivious. There’s several scenes where she explains how she’s just super confident and driven, and not snobby or selfish, but honestly I just didn’t buy it. I was rooting for her, though, and she did make some strides when it came to her family. Luke was more likable, but we actually don’t get a lot of him. There is not very much time spent with Luke and Darcy together before they are officially together, so I had a hard time really shipping them as a couple. We do get more of them together in the end, which I liked.

One thing that does kind of bug me, which is not the book’s fault, is that the synopsis sounds pretty different than the actual story. Darcy doesn’t really date the type of guys mentioned, I don’t recall a mention of multiple cell phones, and she comes home to see her mom, despite her estranged father and three brothers she’s never really liked. Luke is described as less ambitious than Darcy, but I don’t think he was ever referred to as a slacker. The “fall into bed” statement is also misleading. There were also some continuity issues within the story that bothered me. I’m hoping that those are just ARC issues, though, and will be ironed out in the finished copy.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a cute, quick, and easy read. I loved the concept for the book even though it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. I think hard core Pride and Prejudice fans will find it a little lacking, but if you’re looking for a nice holiday romance I would recommend checking this out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Definitely, Maybe in Love (Definitely Maybe #1) by Ophelia London

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Her theory of attraction is about to get a new angle…

Spring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

“Whatever it takes,” however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.

Henry is Spring’s only hope at publication, but he’s also the über-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite. Too bad she can’t help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. As they work on her thesis, Spring finds there’s more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.

I have very recently written a post where I stated I was breaking up with the New Adult genre. And then I saw Definitely, Maybe in Love which is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice! Obviously I couldn’t pass that up. I told myself that I’d start it and if it started going down the semi-erotica trail that most New Adult does, and make Jane Austen roll in her grave, I would DNF it. I’m happy to report that this is a New Adult book that I can support!

This book was very cute. It had a few eye-rolling moments, but overall, just cute. As I said, this a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice and for the most part I think it was really well done. College junior, Spring, is our Elizabeth Bennett. She’s very into the environment and is a little on the hippie/feminist side (I was totally picturing Cosima from Orphan Black).

Cosima

When her thesis advisor tells her she needs more research from an opposing viewpoint, her new neighbor Henry Knightly (our Mr. Darcy), who is the son of a wealthy land developer, volunteers to help, despite their disastrous first impressions. I was a little afraid the book was going to veer into really political topics, but this aspect of the story was pretty downplayed, thankfully, other than helping provide a cause of conflict between Spring and Henry.

In addition to our Elizabeth and Darcy inspired characters, there’s Henry’s best friend and roommate Dart (Mr. Bingley), who has an awful sister (Caroline Bingley), Spring’s roommate, Julia, who falls for Dart and then gets herself into some trouble (a combination of both Jane and Lydia Bennett), and Alex, Henry’s old high school rival who tells some suspicious stories of the past (Wickham).

There were also some twists on some of the iconic Pride & Prejudice scenes. There’s a party where Spring overhears Henry say unflattering things about her and Julia and Dart instantly hit it off. There’s the letter Henry writes to explain to Spring the real story between him and Alex. There’s Spring showing up at Henry’s childhood home, unaware that he was there. And there was Henry rushing to Julia’s rescue when she’s in a compromising situation with Alex. I loved all of these, but it also made things pretty predictable. There were some parts  that I think would have been predictable even if  I wasn’t familiar with the original source material.

Overall, I really enjoyed Definitely, Maybe in Love. It was very cute and was a well done re-telling of one of my favorite books. I also very much appreciated that it’s an NA book that isn’t borderline erotica. It still dealt with growing up, future careers, first loves (and all that goes with it), but without going into the crude or graphic. Some NA fans might think it reads more YA than NA, but I’m ok with that. I would definitely recommend it to fans of re-tellings, Jane Austen, and non-graphic NA. The next book in the series, Someday Maybe, is a take on Persuasion, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Overall Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)