Thursday, December 31, 2015

Relentless Considerations: A Tale of Pride and PrejudiceRelentless Considerations: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Amy Cecil

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Relentless Considerations is a very oddly written book. So odd that I found it too irritating to read and had to place it on my abandoned shelf. I did not even get far enough into the book to identify how it varied from the original. I just could not read anymore, as it was giving me a headache.

Relentless Considerations reads like the back story an author prepares for him/herself in order to have a full understanding of how they wish to present the characters and situations. The first few chapters are an in depth review of everything each character is thinking and feeling. In most well written fiction, we determine how a character is thinking and feeling by how they act and what they say, as well as how others interact with them and the dialogue between them. Instead, Amy Cecil tells us. This is an incredibly stiff and boring method of getting across information, much less telling a story.

One other irritating factor in the author's writing style is her use of words that initially sound correct, but are just slightly off in their definition. Some examples: Darcy is said to have a "shy countenance". But, countenance reflects emotions appearing on the face. Shyness is a state of being, not an emotion. Usually shyness is reflected in a persons actions - she shyly said, she looked down shyly, he smiled shyly, etc. Jane says "thoughts of Mr. Bingley have evaded her". Evade means to avoid. Usually we avoid thoughts, rather than thoughts avoiding us. Mr. Collins says Elizabeth will meet Lady Catherine on the "ensuing Sunday". Yes, ensuing means following, but it is really following as a consequence of something else. The ensuing courtship follows after speaking to the girl's father, etc. Sunday is going to happen whether or not anything else occurs. All of these words, and many more like them, are close, but just enough off to be irritating and to make the writing feel very strange.

I just couldn't continue reading this book. The author may wish to learn the importance of "show them, don't tell them" in writing fiction. I hate writing negative reviews like this, but I cannot recommend Relentless Considerations.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blame the Mistletoe

Blame the Mistletoe by Sarah Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blame the Mistletoe is a sweet Christmas treat for JAFF fans. It is light, fluffy and romantic.

Darcy and Bingley are in London after not returning to Netherfield. Even Georgiana can tell both of them are down in the dumps. What can it be? Are they disappointed in love? In her wisdom, Georgiana convinces Darcy and Bingley to return to Hertfordshire and fight for their loves. And, she wants to go with them, without Bingley's siblings.

All of Meryton society is caught up in the planning, decorating and traditions of the season. Ever since Elizabeth was a little girl, she has been the one to climb up trees to obtain the all important mistletoe. However, this time she suffers an accident, luckily while Darcy is nearby to assist. She is well, but suffers a twisted ankle and must limit her movements.

Darcy discovers Elizabeth's dislike for him, but convinces her to give him a chance to improve her opinion. Another wise little sister, Lydia, recognizes the signs between Elizabeth and Darcy and determines she will assist. She seeks out opportunities to alert the couple they are standing under mistletoe, and tells them they must kiss. At first embarrassing, it becomes less and less so as it gets closer to Christmas.

Blame the Mistletoe leads us to our inevitable HEA, despite a bit of Wickham, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine, per usual. Traditions around the Christmas holiday play an important role in bringing ODC together often and in warm, loving environments. This is not the season for fussing and fighting, and this leads to a resolution much faster.

The themes of family, tradition and the warmth of the holidays emphasize how much Darcy and Elizabeth wish this for themselves. Even Mrs. Bennet looks like a loving mother to Darcy when bustling around the family as they get ready for Christmas. For the lonely Darcy orphans, this is just too tempting a life and they wish to have the laughter and love of family around them.

In the final chapters, all get their wishes fulfilled, except our resident baddies. Many of our traditional characters are a bit brighter, less annoying, and more loving. P&P JAFF fans will find this variation does not stray too far from Austen's version, but allows for a much earlier resolution set around the joys and romance of the Christmas season.

It just feels good....

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Darcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice VariationDarcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice Variation 

by Kate Bedlow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Darcy's Crush by Kate Bedlow was a disappointment. It is basically a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice with the author's own short story added at the end.

In this title, author Bedlow rewrites Pride and Prejudice (seriously?) in her own words, with a decent sprinkling of JA's own work. Then, at the ball at Netherfield, the story changes and then ends fairly quickly, too quickly for my taste.

Many author's are publishing novelettes or short stories in the JAFF world, and, as long as it is made clear it is not a full novel, they are selling. If Kate Bedlow had done so, she would have written a slightly silly, but still fun story and I would have given a higher star rating. However, I had to skip through the book always looking for where the variations take place and was very disappointed to not see much until late in the book.

Therefore, I do not recommend Darcy's Crush: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Kate Bedlow. There is too little here to make it worth paying either in money or in time. However, I would encourage the author to either write short story compilations or to vary the larger part of her books from the original. She has the writing ability and can certainly come up with original ideas.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Satisying P&P Variation with Lovely Christmas Message: Darcy's Christmas Wish

Darcy's Christmas Wish: A Pride and Prejudice VariationDarcy's Christmas Wish: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Penelope Swan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a twelve year old boy, Fitzwilliam Darcy falls into a frozen pond while at Rosings for the Christmas season. No one is in sight as he desperately tries to reach shore, but he is tired and soaking wet and feels himself greatly in danger of drowning. From nowhere comes a very young, but strong girl to help pull him from the water. She covers him with pine branches for some protection and runs for help. But, he is discovered by servants before she returns. In his feverish state his family almost convinces him she was just his imagination. But, he remembers her eyes. His Christmas Wish that year is to someday meet the little girl that saved his life. Years later, as an adult, Darcy is again at Rosings for Christmas, and wonders about the lovely Elizabeth Bennet whose eyes immediately caught his attention when they met in Meryton.

My initial thought in reading Darcy's Christmas Wish was that it was a story that could have been written about anyone, but the characters were given names from Pride and Prejudice. However, as time goes on, you begin to see how P&P takes hold in the characters personalities and actions. This is a tale of P&P with all personalities true to Jane Austen's characters.

The only serious variations, outside the initial premise, are in time of year and Colonel Fitzwilliam being a widowed father of a young boy named George. However, a potentially tragic incident involving George and his puppy, tied to the weather in winter, plays a very important role in unifying all of our usual characters during the Christmas season.

Darcy's Christmas Wish is a very sweet tale played around the tendency of the upper circles to judge too harshly and too quickly based on class and the importance of good breeding. Elizabeth is the character who helps to demonstrate how honesty and love are universal, and trust in appropriate blood lines is not always well placed.

As in P&P, we see Darcy change for the better due to Elizabeth's actions and harsh words. But, Darcy is not the only one at Rosings to undergo these changes. All are bettered due to Elizabeth's influence. And, the result is seen just as Christmas morning arrives.

This is a very satisfying P&P variation. Of course, our dear couple have their happily ever after, but the story has a lovely message for the Christmas season regarding love and kindness and the role they can have in overcoming pride and prejudice. I am not sure if I have read other Penelope Swan JAFF but I will certainly check them out.

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