Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’m so excited to get back into blogging and reviewing again! Here’s a review on the classic of all classics–I hope to review some more familiar and unfamiliar books soon!

Around this time last year I wrote a review for Jane Austen’s gothic satire novel, Northanger Abbey. This year, I’m writing a review for Jane Austen’s most popular and beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice. The theme for the 2019 JASP (Jane Austen Summer Program) that I just attended last week was Pride and Prejudice & Its Afterlives. Throughout the conference, we deeply discussed how Pride and Prejudice has affected our culture and why it remains as popular today as it was back in the early 1800s.

In preparation for this JASP, I read Pride and Prejudice for the second time. I read it for the first time back in high school when I first started reading Austen’s works. To be honest, although I loved the 1995 BBC miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, the book itself wasn’t one of my favorites. Nothing really stood out to me the first time I read it and I hadn’t thought about it deeply since.

I was excited to reread Pride and Prejudice (or P&P), but I wasn’t necessarily expecting to get anything new out of it. I’m not really sure what I was thinking because this is JANE AUSTEN we’re talking about. Of COURSE I’m going to see something I’d never seen before. That’s how brilliant her works are.

I say all this in order to establish that the purpose of this review isn’t to let you know how great P&P is or how amazing Austen is. Thousands of people have done that before me. In this review, I just wanted to share what I got from a second reading of P&P and how there’s always more layers to peel back in an Austen novel.

Click here to read the rest of my review!

Contributor Reviewer

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Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Sleeping with the Blackbirds by Alex Pearl

I was scrolling through my most recent blog posts today and was embarrassed to see I haven’t posted anything since March! I have so many book review and just general blog post ideas constantly going round in my head that I feel like I’m consistent with actually writing and posting blog posts…but apparently not!

Today I’m breaking this hiatus to share another unique book with you! A middle-grade novella told partly through blackbirds’ perspectives, Sleeping with the Blackbirds by Alex Pearl is funny, witty and touching. Read below to see how I felt about it:

I was first intrigued by Sleeping with the Blackbirds by Alex Pearl when I read the description. I love books that delve into the psychology of children’s emotions, especially since they oftentimes struggle to understand what they’re feeling at all. And then add the element of birds’ perspectives? Talk about interesting!

I was not disappointed. I was pulled in by the writing style (most likely because the author is British—that alone gives you enough reason to pick this book up) and I was fascinated with the characters. On the one hand, there’s something caricature-like about them, but on the other hand they feel so real. Every character from Roy’s parents, the school bully or the school’s superintendent had a quirk. No character was two-dimensional. I would say ultimately, each character had simple, single goal they were working towards. The problems arose when something (or someone…often Roy) stood in their way. All poor, sweet Roy wanted was to be left alone with the birds. But it would take a lot of change to make that happen.

Click this link to read my full review!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

Behind the Books We Love – Everlasting

Good afternoon!

Last week I had the privilege to write a post for Literature Approved about the inspiration behind my novel, Everlasting. I had so much fun walking down memory lane and recalling how I came up with Azalea and Malachi’s story. And honestly, it was fun remembering what Everlasting is about. I’ve written a few novels and a short story since self-publishing Everlasting in 2015, so there was something sweet about reminiscing Memiana and Orutia and its crazy crew of characters.

I was young when I wrote and published Everlasting. I like to think I’ve grown as a writer (and editor! 😉 ) since, but I think I still did something right with Everlasting. It was a very simple story with a clear goal and message. I often get tempted to make my stories as complex as possible so as to give my readers a sort of roller coaster ride, but more complexity doesn’t always equal better. Most of my favorite books are very simple.

Sometimes it’s not about how many characters, side plots or backstories you have. Sometimes all you need is a good story.

 

I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I was young. Maybe eleven or twelve. But I have this vivid memory of following Mom through the aisles at an arts and crafts store and this question sort of popping in my head:

What if a girl of sixteen was cursed so that she grew really old—to the age of ninety!—within a few weeks or months?

This was quickly followed by another question:

What if a boy was in love with her and would stop at nothing to prevent her death?

As we continued roaming the store and reached the toy aisle, I saw this row of figurines: wizards, fairies, kings, elves, and so on. They were very colorful and their facial expressions varied, sparking my imagination. My sisters and I, while Mom shopped, liked to play with these figurines whenever we went to this store. Eventually, a new thought occurred to me: what if this girl and boy lived in a fantasy world? Better yet, what if the girl was actually a fairy?

Before I give too much away, let’s just say I went home and wrote what I imagined to be the prologue of this story. Later on, I wrote the first two or three chapters. This story, or the start of one, sat in my documents for a long time before I looked at it again, as more ideas came to me and I got distracted. When I was in tenth grade, I joined a writer’s club with other homeschoolers and, having finished writing another book, I considered which novel to write next. I came across Everlasting—as its title has been since the beginning—in my documents and decided it was time to finish writing it. I was sixteen when, in January of 2014—soon after self-publishing my first novel—I finished writing the first draft of Everlasting.

To finish reading, check out the full post on Literature Approved!

Contributor Reviewer

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: Murder Among the Tombstones by Kim Carter

Long time, no see!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review, so I’m excited to share another unique one with you guys today! I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review–mainly because her sequel is being released soon.

Mysteries used to be all I read as a kid, but I honestly haven’t read many since high school. So I really enjoyed watching Clara and Iris, two hilarious old ladies, try to solve a murder mystery in Murder Among the Tombstones.

From the beginning, I loved the idea of two old ladies starting their own detective agency. So you could say I was hooked before I even opened the novel. And, for the most part, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I loved all the main characters: polite and reserved Clara, spicy and naïve Iris, responsible Quita, hot-tempered Detective Nettles and dedicated Detective Pitts. Even the side characters (and there were many of them) each had distinct traits so that I was almost immediately intrigued after each introduction.

One element about Murder Among the Tombstones I loved was Carter’s writing style. I learned several new words thanks to her unique vocabulary. And there’s something about the setting and flow of the story that feels so warm and inviting and hard to put down. The dialogue felt very realistic and I found myself laughing out loud several times over Iris’s antics.

As for the mystery, I was immediately pulled in. The main murder case was horrifying and it soon became clear it was a serial killer. About halfway through the book, we entered the heads of the murderer and his latest victim. I was disgusted by the murderer’s thoughts and dying to know who he was. It was clear to me that he was a psychopath based on the way he handled his victims. And, of course, I’m hoping beyond hope that his latest victim will escape unscathed.

Click this link to finish reading my review!

Contributor Reviewer

Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine

And the 12 Days of Christmas Books tour continues! We are halfway through this fun Literature Approved event and I’m so, so excited to share my second (and last) review for the tour. The Christmas book I chose to review this time is When Christmas Comes Again, one of my favorite books from one of my favorite middle grade series–Dear America.

I love this book for many reasons…but before I start ranting and get ahead of myself, you can find out for yourself below!

This book is part of the Dear America series, a middle grade historical fiction series near and dear to my heart. I hope to review many Dear Americas in the future, but I’m excited that my first one happens to be one of my all-time favorites!

When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine is one of the few (if not the only) Dear America about a seventeen-year-old girl. Most of the Dear America heroines are between twelve and fourteen years old, so you can imagine my excitement when I was finally the exact same age as the main character. Therefore, Simone’s questions about her future and her meaning in life are very relatable as I asked myself similar questions at that age. Also, Simone’s family is French and as I am French-Canadian, I loved the bits of French language and references throughout the diary.

Click here to finish reading my review! And when you’re finished, check out the other Christmas books Rayleigh has reviewed this week of various genres. These posts are a fun ride you want to be on!

Contributor Reviewer