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Review – Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict May 16, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Author: Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Plume

Publication Date: June 25, 2009

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

In this sequel to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict“, Miss Jane Mansfield finds herself in the body of Courtney Stone in the year 2009. This 19th century girl needs all the help she can get from such friends as Wes, the sexy website developer. As she grapples with the transition from 19th century life to 21st century life, she also finds herself wondering if Courtney made the right decision to break the engagement with Frank.

I really enjoyed what was essentially a parallel novel to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict“. Jane’s reactions to 21st century life appeared very realistic.  I delighted in Jane’s adventures while at the same time felt quite anxious for her adjustment to all the changes.

What was particularly wrenching was her realization of the sexual revolution. You can imagine her shock and horror over what she imagine was the ruination of her ‘reputation’ after she learned she had slept with her ex-fiancee. All the more chagrined was she when she learned that Wes knew about it, to put it mildly.

Seeing her evolve into an independent, modern woman was a joy. While we may romanticize the 19th century, life for them wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. It made me appreciate the freedoms I have. Maybe I won’t take for granted what is so common to women these days.

There were pockets of predictability and repetition that kept me from completely enjoying and immersing myself in Jane’s world. Her reactions became a broken record at times. It wasn’t often and it wasn’t always the same situation, but it was enough to give me pause.

There was also the matter of the mysterious fortune-teller with her sage advice and her magical tricks. I thought the matter of her reappearing in this book was a little too snug for my liking. I think Jane accepted her too much at face value. I’m not too sure a 19th century girl would just accept what is essentially a witch so sagaciously.

The end of this book makes the end of the other book much more clear. All my questions are answered and I’m satisfied in that respect, but the resolution felt rushed and hurried. It was also too neat and pat, but I suppose that could be typical of romances which I’m not all that used to reading.

Despite its speed bumps, I still enjoyed myself!

Review – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict May 15, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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TitleConfessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Author: Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Plume

Publication Date:  August 2, 2007

Available at: Amazon  – Barnes and Noble

Courtney Stone awakens to find herself not only in Regency-era England but also in the body of Miss Jane Mansfield. This 21st Century Jane Austen addict needs all her wits to try and maneuver herself around the ins and outs of the courtship of Mr. Edgeworth and the machinations of Mrs. Mansfield. Her adventures take her to picturesque Bath and the bustling London where she encounters her heroine Jane Austen herself.

This lighthearted book was exactly that, a lighthearted read. It wasn’t meant to be taken in a serious vein. Courtney’s humorous quips had me smiling as I imagined any 21st century girl in her situation doing the same. Although critics would retort that as a Jane Austen addict she should know have known better.

Case in point, when a woman remarked to her about  place that was Hargrove Court, Courtney replied with “the retirement home?”  I can’t help but think that Courtney was being sarcastic, but maybe I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

There were unanswered questions in the book. Such as how the real Jane Mansfield knew about certain events in the 21st century. That was never developed but maybe that will be developed in the subsequent book. Again, maybe I give Rigler the benefit of the doubt.

Another glaring question came at the end when you were left wondering how exactly the situation resolved itself. I was left with more questions then answers and that’s never satisfying.

I do think that although Courtney confessed to reading Austen over twenty times, she wasn’t an avid scholar of her works. She did confess to reading Austen for the familiarity of her words over anything else. I think that explains her gaps in knowledge when it came to certain aspects of Regency life.

I admit to growing tired of Courtney’s reiterations of getting back to her time and her non-acceptance of her situation. She also tended to harp overly much on her choice of men to the point of whining. Other then that I enjoyed her character. She showed spunk in an otherwise impossible situation.

As a fun and humorous read to be taken without a serious light, I did enjoy this book.

Review – Glamour in Glass May 10, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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TitleGlamour in Glass

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Genre: Fantasy/Regency/Romance

Publisher: Tor Books

Publish date: April 10, 2012 (1 edition)

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

If you have not read Book One then do not read the blurb of Book Two or the review below because it contains spoilers.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.

If anything, the second book in the series is better then the first. There’s more action. There’s more romance of a different kind. There’s more adventure.

Jane proves to be of very stern stuff when she attempts to rescue Vincent. She does bend but she does not break.  In the time before his arrest, their marriage undergoes some strain and again her strength comes to play.

What I really liked about this book was how glamour played a more interesting role. Vincent and Jane endeavor to record glamours in glass, thus the title. It’s never been done before so they’re pioneers in the field. Glamour also ends up having some practical usage in the end instead of being purely decorative.

Vincent is learning to treat Jane as an equal partner in all things. I really liked seeing that. Jane helps him with his glamurals which are constructs of glamours. She helps build them and she helps with the design. He’s still used to working on his own and he makes quite a few mistakes, but he values her as a partner and it shows. I don’t think you make the transition from being a bachelor and working alone to being married with a working partner without some gaffes.

I think what I liked most about this book was that it didn’t have a suger-coated ending. It ended in a very realistic way. My biggest disappointment was that there wasn’t another book waiting for me when I was finished.

Review – Shades of Milk and Honey May 9, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy.
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Title:  Shades of Milk and Honey

Author:  Mary Robinette Kowal

Genre: Fantasy/Regency/Romance

Publisher:  Tor Books

Publish Date:  August 3, 2010 (1st Edition)

Available at:  AmazonBarnes and Noble

In Kowal’s quasi-Regency fantasy debut, plain Miss Jane Ellsworth envies her sister’s looks, while flighty Melody envies Jane’s talent with magical glamour. Rude, mysterious Mr. Vincent, a brilliant glamour artist hired to create living murals in a nearby mansion, shows little interest in the niceties of society, and none (it seems) in Jane. As Jane shyly seeks Mr. Vincent’s tutelage and approval, Melody pursues a disastrous romance. A sprinkling of Jane Austen’s idiosyncratic spellings (shew, teaze, etc.) doesn’t hide the lack of her trenchant wit or distinctive characters, and period errors abound. Despite the tremendous potential in the magical manipulation of light and temperature, glamour is used solely for decoration and entertainment, with implausibly little effect on history or culture. The story plods at a wooden pace until the climax, which achieves a sprightly comedy-of-errors froth.

One satisfying part of the book was that I was left guessing who Jane was going to marry. Another satisfying part of the book was Jane’s wit and intelligence. She was no simpering maiden. Her distinctive personality was a delight for me.

The relationships she had between such people as her sister and her neighbor, Mr. Dunkirk’s sister Beth, showed a sensitivity that was admirable. To be sure she was only human and she had her moments of pettiness, but they were few and far between. Her good nature and the way she undervalued herself over others made me feel for her.

That’s not to say she was a wallflower. She had a forthright character with forceful opinions that she wasn’t afraid to put out. I applauded her when she put certain buffoons in their place.

Unlike certain Regency novels, this one wasn’t colorless and muted. This novel had a vibrancy that I appreciated. The glamour used by Jane and the other characters added to the appeal of the book. It was a novel way to further animate the book.

I was delighted to find out that book two was out and I immediately started in on it. The review of that book will soon follow.