Tag: Jane Austen

Book Review: The Code for Love and Heartbreak, by Jillian Cantor

  

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title: The Code for Love and Heartbreak
Author: Jillian Cantor
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)

Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

This was an excellent and unique re-telling of Emma! Emma is beyond clueless about people—to the point it’s actually funny to see what she’ll fail to understand next, but she’s so likable and relatable. I felt sorry for her while wanting her to succeed and learn from her mistakes. And George is just so lovable!

The prose flows smoothly here, not getting in the way of the story. Any awkwardness is due to Emma—and maybe Jane—not author intrusion or clunky writing. This was a fun read that did not disgrace Jane Austen.

Jillian Cantor lives in Arizona. The Code for Love and Heartbreak is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in May (2020)

In May, I read 33 books, bringing my total for the year up to 132 books. Some of those books were good, some were okay, some were just “meh.” But three of them were really exceptional!

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Yes, this a re-read. I’m actually not sure how many times I’ve read it, but this time was was just as wonderful. I wish I could re-read this again for the first time! So many laughs at Lizzie’s wit, and so much sympathy for poor Mr. Darcy.

what unbreakable looks like
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

What Unbreakable Looks Like, by Kate McLaughlin. (My review will be up on the 16th as part of the blog tour.) I don’t even know what to say about this book! It opens with the cops rescuing Lex from human trafficking, and tells the story of her life in the aftermath. This book doesn’t pull any punches with what she deals with and how she handles it, and it made me so sad that women and girls experience things like this—and also inspired me with her strength.

juniper jones
Image belongs to Wattpad Books.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, by Daven McQueen. (My review is up on the 11th.) Set in small-town Alabama in 1955, this is the story of Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, who goes to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer. There he meets prejudice, persecution, and Juniper Jones. Parts of this were awful to read because I know there is truth in this tale. But the friendship between Ethan and Juniper is wonderful and full of hope. (And I love this cover!)

Book Review: The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner

the jane austen society
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Jane Austen Society
Author:   Natalie Jenner
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

This was such a lovely read! I enjoyed reading each of the characters and their thoughts, and I think Ms. Jenner did her love for Jane Austen credit with this novel. Honestly, this felt almost like an Austen novel, with its village charm and intriguing characters. It’s wonderful to see such a diverse cast of characters—a farmer, a doctor, a movie star, a domestic worker—all brought together by their love of Austen.

Go read this as soon as possible!

Natalie Jenner has been a lawyer, a career coach, and founded an independent bookstore. The Jane Austen Society is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Miss Austen, by Gill Hornby

miss austen
Image belongs to Flatiron Books.

Title:  Miss Austen
AuthorGill Hornby
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?

England, 1840. Two decades after the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury and the home of her family friends, the Fowles. In a dusty corner of the vicarage, there is a cache of Jane’s letters that Cassandra is desperate to find. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames?

I love Jane Austen’s works, so this was a natural choice for me to read. It started off a bit slow—and, honestly, was never what I’d call fast-paced—but that’s fitting for this particular story. The reader is immersed in the lives of Cassandra and Jane as young ladies, but also experiences life with Jane via flashbacks and letters, and also Cassandra’s life as an older, single woman on her own.

This novel is rich in historical detail and will appeal to readers who are Austen fans and want to learn more about their literary heroine’s life. I found Cassandra’s life to be deeply sad—but she’s happy, and that’s what really matters.

Gill Hornby lives in England. Miss Austen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Austen Escape, by Katherine Reay

TEA
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Mary Davies is an industrial engineer in Austin, Texas. She’s happy with her job and her life, although she wishes there was a bit more going on with cute, funny consultant Nathan. Then Mary’s childhood friend, Isabel, offers her a trip to England, for a two-week immersive stay in a Regency-style manor house, where everyone will be living as Jane Austen characters. Mary wants distance between her and her beautiful, manipulative, vindictive friend, but finds herself agreeing.

At first, the experience is fun, as Mary meets a group of people all pretending to be her favorite characters, but then Isabel wakes up one morning really thinking she is her chosen character, and with no memory of reality. Mary finds herself dependent on strangers as she waits for Isabel to regain her memory. Then Mary realizes she and Isabel’s lives are more entwined than she thought, and must decide if she’ll let her pain go and move on with her life, or hold it against Isabel forever.

I loved this book! This is my first (but not last) Katherine Reay book, and I loved the voice, the characters, and the setting. An immersive Jane Austen vacation? Yes, please! (I do love Austen.). Mary is such a complex character, given to spur-of-the-moment impulses and jumping to conclusions (That’s my own personal form of exercise, too.) Her friendship with Isabel is fraught with tension bordering on anger, and the relationship is vividly portrayed on the pages of this novel.

Katherine Reay has lived in Texas, England, Ireland, Washington, and now Chicago. The Austen Escape is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)