Final Reading Challenge Update

I’d planned on this being my 3rd of 4 total reading challenge updates for the year, but…I’M FINISHED. That’s right, friends. I have completed my reading challenge for 2016. This year, I was motivated to complete the challenge, but to BE challenged. This list didn’t encourage me to look for certain types of books, but rather to read what I wanted and see how I could fit it into the challenge.

I’m wanting to do something different for 2017. I don’t think I want to do a list of challenges like this for the third year in a row. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, check out the list of 50 books below! For books that I wrote full reviews on, I’ve included the link to that page!

Challenges completed: 50/50

  1. A winner from the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (read my full review HERE)
  2. A book about books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (read my full review HERE)
  3. A book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (who/what/when/where/why) – What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  5. A book set more than 100 years ago – An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  6. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (read my full review HERE)
  7. A book by an author who writes under more than one name – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling  (read my full review HERE)
  8. A fairytale from a culture other than your own – The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (I Googled “fairytale” and according to the world wide web, “myth” is a synonym for “fairytale”. So it’s a stretch, but I’m running with it.) (read my full review HERE)
  9. A historical fiction book – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (read my full review HERE)
  10. An award winning book (ex: Newberry Medal, National Book Award, etc.) – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (read my full review HERE)
  11. A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (read my full review HERE)
  12. A book published in 2016 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  13. A book with a blue spine or cover – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  14. A book with a horrible/ugly cover – Nothing But the Truth by Avi
  15. A book picked for you by someone else – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read my full review HERE)
  16. A favorite book you read for a second time – A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  17. A book you feel that everyone has read but you – Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin (read my full review HERE)
  18. A book recommended by a famous person – For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (read my full review HERE)
  19. A book you know nothing about – Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  20. A book set in the country of your ancestors – An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus (read my full review HERE)
  21. A book with a child as the main character – Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  22. A book with an unreliable narrator – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (read my full review HERE)
  23. A book whose main character shares your name (first, middle, or last) – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  24. A book set during a war (historical or fictional war) – Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  25. A chick-lit book – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  26. A book written before you were born – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (read my full review HERE)
  27. A collection of poems – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (While it may not be a “collection” of poems, there were poems throughout it. So I’m counting it. Ha!) (read my full review HERE)
  28. A book outside your comfort zone (genre, topic, number of pages, etc.) –The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (read my full review HERE)
  29. A book about second chances – Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (read my full review HERE)
  30. A prequel to a book series – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my full review HERE)
  31. A book that has more than one author – Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  32. A book by an author who is from a different country – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  33. A book that’s an author’s debut novel – That Summer by Sarah Dessen
  34. A book that you got for free – Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  35. A book that was made into a movie, TV series, or mini-series – Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen [Movie version = How to Deal] (read my full review HERE)
  36. A play that was adapted into a musical or a movie – Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
  37. A book that’s on the bestseller list – Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  38. A book spun off from another book – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis
  39. A book that made you laugh out loud – Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)
  40. An audiobook –Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (read my full review HERE)
  41. A book your grandma (or other family member) loves – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  42. A book with a nonhuman protagonist – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (read my full review HERE)
  43. A book that takes place at a university – The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (read my full review HERE)
  44. A mystery or thriller – I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  45. A book recommended by a blog or Booktube video – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson (read my full review HERE)
  46. A book that takes place during a holiday – Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (read my full review HERE)
  47. A book you own, but haven’t read – The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  48. A book that you’ve “been meaning to read” – Ms. Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  49. A book you read with a friend or a book club – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  50. A book you saw someone reading – Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)

 Are you working towards completing a reading challenge? Do you have any recommendations for a 2017 Reading Challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”

sense and sensi

Synopsis from GoodreadsMarianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behavior leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Feelings: I love Jane Austen. I think Pride & Prejudice is wonderful and deserves all the praise that it gets, but people tend to forget about Sense and Sensibility. Honestly, to me, it’s just as good. They have very different stories, despite the titles and the two sisters at the helm. This is a story of when to hold your tongue and see reason, as well as a story about times where it pays to be impulsive and feeling. We get to see both sides of that coin through a couple of different situations. Elinor and Marianne both go through some pretty serious character development. They read like real people, from any time period. Their struggles, revelations, transitions…all of it is timeless.

Issues: The storyline was a little slow roundabouts the middle. Also, I feel like Elinor and Marianne’s storylines were butting heads sometimes, like they weren’t working together to make the story flow. We kind of jerked between the two arcs at times, to the point where I’d have to go back and remind myself who we were talking about. We spent a lot of time on Marianne’s drama, but maybe that’s just because it caused a bigger show.

Characters: I love Elinor and Marianne. I love them independent of each other and I adore them together. These are sisters who truly understand each other. They know when to move in closer and when to back away. Marianne has a harder time with this, as sometimes she can’t see past her own dramatics, but in the end, I do believe she sees Elinor.

When I read about Colonel Brandon, I can’t help but picture Alan Rickman from the movie adaptation. He perfectly captured Brandon’s spirit and calm, quiet demeanor. Colonel Brandon isn’t a Mr. Darcy. He just isn’t that swoon-catch-me-my-knees-are-weak kind of love interest. He’s the sensible choice, but not the kind you settle for, the kind you’re blessed by. He’s patient – Lord is he patient – and gentle.

Willoughby, Willoughby, Willoughby. So much hope. So much possibility. What I think is so great about this story is that it isn’t just Marianne being dramatic (although she is) or being silly in her affections for Willoughby. He felt the same for her! He held her as the standard of beauty, even after they were separated. We find out that he was troubled by how things played out. He didn’t just ride off into the sunset with his money bags and raise his fists in triumph. He suffered love lost, too.

Comparisons: I think most people are quick to compare this book to Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. While the titles are both dripping in alliteration, these books are very different. This story has a bit of a more serious tone to it, fewer swoony hunks coming out of fountains (cue Colin Firth), and very different protagonist sisters. With P&P, there are always debates about which character is “pride” and which is “prejudice”, while in S&S, those two characters are very clear. It’s less about overcoming themselves and more about overcoming situations, acceptance, and reality.

Final thoughts: If you like Pride & Prejudice, then I’d highly recommend this book. Don’t expect it to be a copycat, because it isn’t. Also, please please please watch the movie adaptation. Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and stars in it, alongside Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. It’s so, so good. It’s one of my favorite movies. Emma Thompson perfectly captured the tone of the novel and the actors really nailed their roles.

Pick this up if you liked:

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen

Goodreads rating: 4.05/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Great Book to Movie Adaptations

A couple weeks ago, I listed out what 5 book to movie adaptations that I consider to be terrible. These were purely based on how the book was adapted for the screen. THIS list, on the flip side, is about what I think are the best book to movie adaptations. (How many times can I say “adaptations” in one paragraph?)

pride and prejudice movie

Pride and Prejudice (both film and BBC series)

I know a lot of people prefer the BBC series (starring Colin Firth HELLO) over the movie (starring Keira Knightley) but I don’t know, friends. I find myself leaning towards the movie version! The cast is perfect from Mr. Bennet to Jane to Mr. Collins – perfectly casted. I wasn’t a huge Keira Knightley fan until I saw this movie. It’s like she completely understood Elizabeth Bennet. The music, the cinematography, the costumes, the pacing, I really think the movie captures the heart of the story.

narnia movie

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Now, there are some differences between the book and the movie here. Lucy finds the wardrobe in a different way, the whole frozen river scene wasn’t in the book at all, and a few other small details. But none of these changes affected the integrity of the story or really altered the plot direction at all. I thought the characters matched their descriptions really well, so casting gets an A+ from me. I also have to say that I applaud the way they handled the animal characters. I hate when movies have real animals but their mouths move in a creepy way so that they can “talk”. This wasn’t like that at all. Since they weren’t like…animal actors…but they were still realistic looking. Aslan…my king forever! Dude can control a room. Overall, I thought this was a great film!

sense and sensibility movie

Sense and Sensibility film

Emma Thompson is one of my favorite humans of all time. You know that list everyone has of who they’d have dinner with if they could choose anyone, dead or alive? She’s at the top of mine. She adapted this screenplay and starred in the film as Elinor Dashwood. Alongside Kate Winslet as Marianne, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars, and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon…this is the greatest cast ever for this storyline. The dialogue (a lot of which comes directly from the book) is delivered brilliantly, the costumes are beautifully done, and the film as a whole just captures the tone of the book. I love this movie so much and after recently re-reading the novel, I can honestly say it’s a brilliant adaptation.

hunger games movies

The Hunger Games movies (all of them)

I was one of those people who liked this series, but it’s not one of my all time favorites. The movie adaptations, however, made me like the series MORE. I thought the casting was done really well, from the top to the bottom. The writing stayed true to the heart of the story. Overall, I think they complemented the book series well – taking small liberties here and there that enhanced the storyline in the end, in my opinion.

earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest film

This is one of my favorite plays ever. (And as a play, it’s doesn’t exactly fit with my list of novel-to-film adaptations, but whatever. Roll with me, friends.) If you’ve never read it before, I highly recommend it. This film is so much fun! Great cast, great dialogue…it made me laugh just like the play did, in ways that only Oscar Wilde can accomplish. It’s so ridiculous that it just works. Colin Firth and Rupert Everett are so great together, you guys.

What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading (and watching)! – Caitlyn

Booktubeathon TBR – UPDATE

So…I’ve had a pretty busy week. I started binge-watching a couple of shows that dominated my spare time, did some traveling, and just generally did some random things. I didn’t do so well with my Booktubeathon TBR. This just wasn’t the best week for me. 

The Booktubeathon 2016 challenges were:

  1. Read a book with yellow on the cover.
  2. Read a book only after sunset.
  3. Read a book you discovered through booktube.
    1. I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. In my notes for this book, there’s just the word WHAT written down like 100 times. I was expecting this book to be a little creepy or something, but it was straight up trippy. Full review soon. 4.5 stars, probably. (Sometimes when I write reviews, my ratings change some…)
  4. Read a book by one of your favorite authors.
  5. Read a book that is older than you.
  6. Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation.
    1. I read (and listened to the audiobook of) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. It’s been YEARS since I last read this, but I love the movie and watch it every once in a while. (The one with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Severus Snape.) There’s a part of me that wants to say I love this book more than Pride and Prejudice. I love the story and the characters and just the general tone of the book. So, so good. 5 stars.
  7. Read seven books.

 So…yep. I read 2 books. But hey…that’s still pretty good for one week! Maybe I’ll try another 1 week challenge before school starts back up again in August. We’ll see!

Did you participate? Let me know what you read in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Reading Challenge Update #2

How are we halfway through the year?? I can’t answer that, but I CAN say that I’m more than halfway through my reading challenge! This is the part where it gets tricky. I can’t really just read whatever I want and know that I’ll be able to work it into my challenge after the fact. Now I actually have to plan out how to achieve the challenges I have left. I have some ideas, but give me some suggestions in the comments below!

Challenges completed: 38/50

  1. A winner from the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards
  2. A book about books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (read my full review HERE)
  3. A book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge
  4. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (who/what/when/where/why)
  5. A book set more than 100 years ago – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (read my full review HERE)
  6. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
  7. A book by an author who writes under more than one name – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (audiobook) by JK Rowling 
  8. A fairytale from a culture other than your own – The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (I Googled “fairytale” and according to the world wide web, “myth” is a synonym for “fairytale”. So it’s a stretch, but I’m running with it.)
  9. A historical fiction book – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  10. An award winning book (ex: Newberry Medal, National Book Award, etc.) – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (read my full review HERE)
  11. A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis
  12. A book published in 2016 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  13. A book with a blue spine or cover – The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  14. A book with a horrible/ugly cover – Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen [What do the butterflies have to do with anything?] (read my full review HERE)
  15. A book picked for you by someone else – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay
  16. A favorite book you read for a second time – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  17. A book you feel that everyone has read but you
  18. A book recommended by a famous person
  19. A book you know nothing about – Just Listen by Sarah Dessen 
  20. A book set in the country of your ancestors
  21. A book with a child as the main character – Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  22. A book with an unreliable narrator
  23. A book whose main character shares your name (first, middle, or last) – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
  24. A book set during a war (historical or fictional war) – The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  25. A chick-lit book – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  26. A book written before you were born – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (only a few days before I was born!) (read my full review HERE)
  27. A collection of poems – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (While it may not be a “collection” of poems, there were poems throughout it. So I’m counting it. Ha!)
  28. A book outside your comfort zone (genre, topic, number of pages, etc.) – Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (read my full review HERE)
  29. A book about second chances – Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (read my full review HERE)
  30. A prequel to a book series – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my full review HERE)
  31. A book that has more than one author – Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  32. A book by an author who is from a different country – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read my full review HERE)
  33. A book that’s an author’s debut novel – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  34. A book that you got for free
  35. A book that was made into a movie, TV series, or mini-series – That Summer by Sarah Dessen [How to Deal – movie]
  36. A play that was adapted into a musical or a movie – Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
  37. A book that’s on the bestseller list – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (read my full review HERE)
  38. A book spun off from another book – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson (read my full review HERE)
  39. A book that made you laugh out loud – For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (read my full review HERE)
  40. An audiobook – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  41. A book your grandma (or other family member) loves
  42. A book with a nonhuman protagonist – Ms. Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  43. A book that takes place at a university – The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
  44. A mystery or thriller
  45. A book recommended by a blog or Booktube video – The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  46. A book that takes place during a holiday – The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  47. A book you own, but haven’t read – Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  48. A book that you’ve “been meaning to read” – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  49. A book you read with a friend or a book club – The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (read my full review HERE)
  50. A book you saw someone reading

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Favorite Fictional Couples – Valentine’s Day

It’s almost here, people. It’s almost time for flowers, boxed chocolates, and romantic movies…or for some of us, it’s time for the single woman’s spirit animal: Bridget Jones. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve come up with my top 5 favorite fictional couples that give me that lovey-dovey feeling.

scarlet

Scarlet and Wolf from The Lunar Chronicles

When I first met Scarlet and Wolf, my thoughts were along the lines of meh. As the series went on, however, I fell more and more in love. They are such a perfect pair – both strong and courageous, vulnerable and only trusting towards each other. They balance each other out so seamlessly, you can’t help but love them, together and apart. Out of all the couples in this series (and there are a lot of them), these two were my favorite. Especially when Wolf was nervously eating tinned tomatoes because he missed Scarlet. *swoon* (Doesn’t sound swoon-worthy, unless you understand the importance of tomatoes for Wolf.) If you’re in the mood for slow burning love that turns into a forest fire – read about these two!

anne of green

Anne and Gilbert from the Anne of Green Gables series

Anne and Gilbert don’t have a quick burning, passionate love story. Theirs is more patient, kind, and based on a strong friendship. I quickly read the first 3 books in this series because I was desperate to see how their relationship would progress. Their story is sweet and old-fashioned, which I’m all about. Plus, because this is a long-term series, you get to see what happens with them at multiples stages of their lives.

fangirl

Cath and Levi from Fangirl

Cath and Levi are quirky, sarcastic, and perfection. If you want to read about a relationship full of laughs and “aww, that’s so precious” moments, then this is the book for you. I feel like there’s something about these two that everybody longs for – the camaraderie and level of understanding seems so ideal, when you read about how it plays out for this couple. They both learn more about themselves and each other as their love story develops and I want more. I need a sequel, Rowell!

smoke and bone

Karou and Akiva from Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

If you’re looking for passionate, sexy kind of a read…look no further. This is a blush-worthy series. The setting is in Prague and Taylor’s writing is beautiful and captivating. You’ll become completely immersed in this series and the relationship of Karou and Akiva. It’d be great if they were just two regular Joe’s that met at an art gallery, but no…it gets kicked up a supernatural notch because Akiva is an angel and Karous is…not exactly human. I read this trilogy super quickly because I was completely immersed in their love story.

redeeming love

Angel and Michael from Redeeming Love

I love Francine Rivers. She is easily one of my auto-buy authors, meaning I’ll purchase whatever she gets published. This love story between Angel and Michael is full of struggle, grit, and honesty. If you want to read about two people who have an obstacle course to defeat before they can truly be together, then this is the one for you. The ending is full of so much triumph and hope for yourself…it’s one of the best ever, ever, ever.

Honorable Mention:

p and p

Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride & Prejudice

I mean, no list of great loves is complete without a little Elizabeth and Darcy action! If you’re one of those rare specimen that haven’t read this book…I highly recommend it. If only because you’ll finally understand about a thousand references in dignified conversations, there’s something about Austen’s ability to capture the human spirit, flaws and all.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

“It’s a universal truth that nothing spoils a postlunch game of croquet like suspecting the other players of murder.”

midnight in austenland

Synopsis from GoodreadsWhen Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies. Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love?

Feelings: I read somewhere that the way to read this book is like how you watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. You think, That would never really happen, but you enjoy it anyway. You decide not to take it too seriously, and that works. That’s how you should approach this book. Imagine it’s playing out like a Hallmark movie and you’ll be just fine.

At first, when Charlotte asked about taking a Jane Austen tour in the UK, I thought…you just read her books and now you’re wanting to spend thousands of dollars to follow her footsteps around England? After she arrived in Kent, however, I understood. She was a woman marked by her husband’s affair, then became another statistic, a divorcee. Going to Pembrook Park allowed her to be somewhere else for 2 weeks: a different place, a different time, a different world. There, she wouldn’t be looked down upon or judged, she could just be. I’m sure the genteel world would be very appealing to me if I were in Charlotte’s shoes.

It’s a truth well acknowledged that I am a fan of Shannon Hale’s writing. Now, is this particular book a stroke of literary genius? Not exactly. But, I loved Charlotte’s voice and her humor. She was a little over the top sometimes and got a wee bit carried away, but I can skim those antics and be fine…like how I fold laundry while watching Hallmark movies, only paying attention 84% of the time.

I thought the pacing of this book was unique and I liked it. The reader is taken back and forth between Charlotte’s life before arriving at Pembrook Park, then we catch up with her whilst on her trip. I especially liked the sections from her “before” life that helped me to get to know Charlotte and to really see where she was coming from. They were almost anecdotal snapshots into the past, then the story moved on.

Issues: First of all, the prologue was really long. The purpose of a prologue is to open the story, give some info on the setting and maybe set up the main event. I can’t help but wonder how much of this prologue was actually necessary? Did she need to stalk her daughter’s boyfriend? No. It really did nothing for the story…it actually slowed it down.

I love a good foreshadowing, but not so much when it’s blatantly obvious. Murders happen in houses like this is basically what Charlotte said when she arrived at the manor. The colors were all white and yellow and “summery blue” but all she could think about was death and other morbid things? How? It’s like Charlotte needed someone’s life to end so that hers could begin again. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Characters: I was a little confused by Charlotte, at first. She got divorced, then went on all these dates like she needed a man…but then she reads Austen and says she feels like, “a girl who’d been wadded up and tossed aside.” I SO get that feeling, I just didn’t see that she was feeling that way until she said it. Maybe that’s because this was all packed into the prologue (see previous issue.) I couldn’t tell if she was actually lonely or just bored. I slowly began to realize that she was really just desperate – desperate to feel something. Austen’s writing had caused her to feel a teeny bit of hope for the first time in who knows how long, so she decided to chase that feeling…all the way to Europe…and backwards about 200 years. By the end, she was a changed woman. Maybe making some rash decisions, but still…very much changed. I liked how she seemed to find some strength in the Regency period, which was also somewhat ironic.

I liked that we had some returning characters. Mrs. Wattlesbrook, for starters, but then when she said Elizabeth Charming was still at the park I died a little. All I could picture was Jennifer Coolidge from the movie adaptation…hilarious. Then, Colonel Andrews showed up and I knew we were in for a ride.

The men in this book…the MEN. It was hard to figure them out! Now, I knew that someone would end up being in love by the time I reached the last page…but come one…falling in love over the course of 2 weeks while playing roles. How can you fall in love with someone before you actually know who they really are? Is that a thing? (Again…Hallmark movie, people!)

Comparisons: I really enjoyed the first Austenland book and thought the movie was a good time. While I liked the mystery element of this sequel, Charlotte isn’t my favorite character.

Final thoughts: This book was an easy read; I read it in a day. It was a nice change of pace from the books I’ve read lately and I’m glad that I read it. I think these two books are great for Austen fans because they fill your head with images of Regency living, etiquette, and a certain way of doing things. It’s not a stroke of masterful writing or any kind of literary masterpiece, but that’s ok by me sometimes. It was enjoyable!

Pick this up if you liked:

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

Goodreads rating: 3.49/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.1/5

My rating: 3.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn