2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge

Darcy Sails After Her: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Laraba Kendic

I liked this book more than I expected. Usually I read the Kindle Unlimited P&P variations super fast and they all kind of blend together. However, I do actually remember this one standing out.

The story line follows Mr. Bennett dying and leaving the family penniless (I know, common enough). However, in this variation, a very wealthy and titled man shows a marked interest in Elizabeth (not surprisingly he is led to Elizabeth by Lady Catherine). The man is quite vile and dangerous by reputation alone and even more un-nerving in person, so the family helps Elizabeth flee to the Caribbean. Darcy (having no idea about this because ya know rejected proposal and all) finds out and sails off after her.

I loved the incorporation of the time spent on ships in this book. I’m a fan of nautical stories and this tied both of the genre types together for me. The author even included a link to a playlist of sea shanties she used in the book (Highly recommend by the way – I love sea shanties). There was also a very real portrayal of colonial Caribbean colonies, slavery included, and how a strong and smart gentlewoman from England responds to the culture there.

The emotional development between the main characters is interesting as they decided to have a short courtship in the Caribbean. I also really liked how they incorporated the characters from the Caribbean into the epilogue. 

My rating:

2021 52 Book Challenge · Book Reviews

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn is advertised as the book that shows the servants’ view, the behind the scenes activities, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I am a big Jane Austen fan and have been reading a lot of Pride and Prejudice variations lately, so my husband got it for me for Christmas.

The main character is Sarah, the housemaid at Longbourn. The book opens at almost the same time as the Austen novel, a day or two before the village assembly. It follows Sarah on her daily chores, wash day activities, gaining new servants, losing servants, and the impact of visitors and the influx of social activities of the family have on the servants. You learn about Mr. and Mrs. Hill (the butler and housekeeper) and the little scullery maid, Polly. Their current situations and backstories are woven in with the storyline. There are two love interests for Sarah and you get a pretty good idea of what the relationship development and requirements looked like for the serving class at the time. You learn a lot about customs and habits of the time, particularly for the servants – types of food, common facilities and duties, expected behaviors, work loads and schedules, and what interactions with their masters and families are like.

The story developed well. There was enough change in what was going on and the relationships between the characters to keep things interesting. At first I found Sarah to be a little stuck and whiny but after a while that fades. The only thing that disappointed me about it was how little the actual characters from Pride and Prejudice were included and the way they were portrayed. Granted, the book was intended to focus on the serving class, but if you had not read Pride and Prejudice, you’d have no idea who the characters were or what was going on with the family. The book assumes you have knowledge of Pride and Prejudice and gives the impression that the servants know all the players and who is matching with whom, what everyone is doing and how the relationships are developing without actually stating what is going on. Also, the Bennett girls, particularly Elizabeth, are portrayed as being somewhat affectionate to the servants – until they need something or get distracted. This is one of the only variations where Elizabeth and Darcy are not very conscientious about their servants and their servants well-being, particularly Darcy.

Overall, it is a good book. I may even read it again. However, if you are looking for a heavy Pride and Prejudice influence/cross-over, this is not the book for you. If you’re interested in historical fiction/slight romance, the lives of servants in the early 1900s, or just an interesting read, then you’d like this book.

My rating:

Book Reviews

The Subsequent Proposal: A Tale of Pride, Prejudice, and Persuasion by Joana Starnes


I was actually really looking forward to read this variation. Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice are my favorite of Jane Austen’s works. I actually went back and re-read both books before reading this variation. The premise is that after Darcy’s rejected proposal to Elizabeth Bennett, the characters of Pride and Prejudice encounter the love-lorn characters from Persuasion. Darcy meets Anne Elliot on a trip to Bath to avoid going back to Pemberley and Elizabeth meets Captain Wentworth with the militia being in Hertfordshire.

I actually liked the way the stories were woven together. They included a lot of key characters and circumstances that occurred in both books. However the one thing I didn’t like was that it was told exclusively from Darcy’s point of view. The book could have been strongly and deeply fleshed out with included POV’s from Captain Wentworth (that would have been really interesting and given allowance for more descriptive occurrences within the events that were kept), Elizabeth, and Anne Elliot (you really only heard/saw her for a few scenes in the book).

Overall, the book was well-written and didn’t have any major grammar issues that I noticed. I liked the way the author found ways to incorporate not just the characters, but also their personalities (doing things the characters would actually do) and the two story lines. I was impressed with how the different events that were kept from the two books were able to be intertwined. I would have liked a few more key scenes, but overall just more from the other characters’ points of view would have been sufficient to really elevate the book.

Version: Kindle Unlimited

My rating:

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Book Reviews

Ethan (The K9 Files, #1) by Dale Mayer


I found this book through Freebooksy a few days ago. I was actually surprised by it. It is a very clean romance (right up to the end and even that isn’t super racy). It’s more of a suspense story than anything else.

Ethan is a disabled war veteran trying to find his place in the world. He is handed a request to find a missing retired war dog named Sentry. Sentry was adopted out after his retirement from the military but the military department charged with keeping an eye on retired war dogs has run out of funding and Sentry fell through the cracks. No one knows where he is. As these dogs deserve the best homes possible after their retirement, particularly with their training, Ethan decides to take on the assignment. He runs into Cinnamon, an animal rescue volunteer, when he brings in an injured shepherd to a local veterinary clinic. In looking for who injured the shepherd, Ethan stumbles across a suspicious compound with extremely well trained dogs working it with the guards. Soon local retired veterans, the police, and Cinnamon are all involved with the compound.

Like I said the romance was very clean and interesting to watch develop between Cinnamon and the reclusive Ethan. I loved reading about the highly trained dogs. I am always interested in dog training and was hoping for more on how they are trained. Unfortunately, this book focused on what the dogs can do at the end of their training, not the actual training itself. Oh well. The dogs are highly involved in the book which is nice. I thought the book could have been made a little longer and not felt as if it drug on. Actually, some of the book felt a little rushed. Some of the events could have been spaced out more with some relationship development, background character highlighting, or discussion and background information. I absolutely loved reading it but since I finished it I feel like it’s missing substance, you know the deep background and little events that help build the depth of the book and relationships between the big events that make it really easy to remember the book. That being said the book was extremely well developed, moved along well, kept reader interest, and was well edited. The main characters were also fleshed out quite well.

My rating:

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Book Reviews

Dose Vidanya (Silver Hills #1) by Sam Cheever


Flo and Agnes live a the Silver Hills Seniors and Singles Residence. Agnes is a retired weightlifter with a death-predicting cat and Flo is an inquisitive middle aged woman with an attack dachshund. Trouble starts when one of the kitchen staff is found dead in the basement. The police believe it to be natural causes, but Flo thinks otherwise. She begins her own investigation with the help of Agnes, the Activities Director called T.C., and her friend (and crush) Roger. Between a ransacked apartment, a set of night managers who are content to let the residents think they’re vampires, a policeman with a crush, and various residence characters, Flo and her buddies get into several uncomfortable places – all leading up to a final confrontation with the killer!

I think if I was a fan of the genre (cozy, retirement age, mysteries) this would be a fabulous book. I found myself laughing out loud several times and the characters were well-developed and relate-able. The story line moved well, the setting unique and interesting, and the plot not unbelievable. I’ve read enough mystery books that I was able to predict a few things which was both nice and annoying because I was like – Why aren’t the other characters noticing this? Also, the policeman was made to look somewhat inept, which is addressed but still somewhat annoying. I did like how the story built and that you got to see an investigation from an amateur sleuth point of view that made you feel like you could attempt the same thing. However, the stuff these women did would probably have gotten them arrested or several pieces of evidence thrown out at trial.

I did enjoy it. I can’t say I was fully pulled into the story, but it kept my interest. There was plenty of humor to balance out the murder story line. There was also a decent shot at predicting the killer which can be fun if it’s something you’re into. It did set up for a decent series with memorable characters and enough leeway to include variety in later story lines.

My Rating:

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2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson


I first fell in love with this book when I was around 14, which honestly was probably too a little too young to be reading this book…LOL. It probably held the title of favorite book for many years and is still in my top five. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for several years and finally managed to work it in to my schedule. I was determined not to skip ahead or to just read the parts I knew I felt like reading – I was going to re-read the book in its entirety this time.

It was somewhat different than I remember. The last time I read it had to be probably over ten years ago and I know I skipped through a lot of it. The premise for the story is the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young girl captured by the Comanche and raised among them, eventually marrying a great chief and raising several children before being recaptured by her family. As a historical fiction, there is some creative license taken and her life among the Comanche pieced together by old passed down stories, history, research and imagination. The author builds a very real and believable life for the young girl and what it may have been like for her among the Comanche. I doubt it is how it actually happened, but that is not the point of historical fiction. What I had forgotten about, was how many secondary and even tertiary story lines are wound throughout the book. There are sections that follow the girl’s family, a US Marshall, a squad of rangers, other members of her tribe, and even from the perspective of an Indian chief of an enemy tribe.  It sounds hard to follow, but the author wove it so seamlessly together it is not a problem. You get a whole variety of views, beliefs, events, and interactions from the time frame and what life was really like. Some of it is particularly brutal, some heart-breakingly sad, some joyful, and others just brutally honest everyday life.

You learn a lot about the time frame, Comanche life, Comanche politics, the fighting against the Indians, political moves and promise breaking in Indian politics, and the views and beliefs of several different types of people at the time. I find it a difficult, but rewarding read, even though it ends sadly. All the characters are relateable, reminding you of someone. The story line is easy to follow and makes sense. The events make you emotionally invested in the book and the characters. With getting to see both sides of the time frame, it can be difficult to hate the various characters in the book.

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Native American life, western history, classical fiction, or a historical story with a small romance in it. The romance is not explicit at all and is only alluded to once. Mostly it is just a heavily emotional book with characters who are extremely well-developed, a story line that builds strongly, and a book that will make you remember what was in it.

My rating:

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2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, #4) by Janet Evanovich


This is actually only the second Stephanie Plum novel I’ve read. My husband has read the whole series but I always end up finding something else to read before I get to them. I don’t know why I always leave them behind because they are really funny.

This story focuses on the apprehension of  Maxine, who failed to show for a court appearance for stealing her boyfriend’s car. As Stephanie begins her investigation, the people she starts talking to end up with fingers missing…or worse. Maxine decides she wants to lead her ex-boyfriend on a wild goose chase to collect some ‘love letters’. Trying to break the codes in Maxine’s clue letters to her ex-boyfriend, Stephanie meets Sally Sweet, the nephew of one of the elderly ladies in Stephanie’s apartment building. Sally is transvestite singer who has some local popularity and is hilarious to read about in the book. Coupled with Lula, the retired prostitute turned bounty-hunter helper and file clerk, Ranger, Joe Morelli, and Grandma Mazur, the book is one hilarious calamity after the other. Blown up cars, fire bombs, dead old ladies who aren’t really dead, and bodies in the cellar are a few of the funny situations Stephanie gets herself into in this book.

The characters are well developed throughout the entire series. Most of the characters you know from previous books, but the author does a good job of giving/refreshing some background on each character you run into. The new characters like Sally, Maxine, and Eddie (Maxine’s ex-boyfriend) feel like full fledged characters you’ve known for a while and are easy to think of someone they relate to. The story line moves quickly, there is very little drag, and comedy is around every turn, even the sad turns.

If you’re looking for a good laugh, I’d recommend the book. It’s light-hearted and entertaining, most of the books in this series are. This is one is pretty much about a jealous lover and a crazy ex-girlfriend with crime thrown in. There are others that focus on different comedic topics, but that is the focus of this particular book. I gave it a three because it was mostly just for laughs. The story is thought out and well-developed but I can’t say it’s something I’ll pick up again.

My rating:

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2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Random Thoughts

New Year and Another Reading Challenge

So as many of you noticed, my blog began to get stagnate around September. I started back to work and, though I was still reading, I didn’t review my books or log the books I read for my reading challenge. Since the beginning of the year, my household has been through a couple changes and I’ve been settling in to that as well. Now that I have finished (finally!) my first book of the year, I’m hoping to settle in and renew my reading challenge for this year and to restart my reviews.

I am again doing the POPSUGAR challenge. I’ve uploaded the information to my 2018 Reading Challenge page and hope to finish a few challenges by the end of the month. I was able to finish over half last year, which was more than my 2016 year, but still not as good as my 2015 year. However, with life comes distractions, so any improvement is a great step.  I’m going to be marking books for multiple challenges if they fit, instead of just one. However, I plan not to have repeat books by the end of the year if I can manage it. This may be a pipe dream though since I found out that I’m pregnant (yes, planned and yes, good news 🙂 ). With a new baby arriving, my time will definitely be limited on how much I’ll be able to read.

Also, since I changed my theme back in September, I haven’t had a chance to ask you guys if you like the new image of the page. What do you all think?

Well here’s to a hopeful year! Feel free to let me know if you all are doing any reading challenges and, if you are, which ones. Talk to you soon!

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Pretty-Shield, Medicine Woman of the Crows by Frank B. Linderman


I love reading about American Indian history, particularly historical fiction or memoir told by or about women. I’m surprised that I have not come across this book earlier.

The story is basically a series of interviews that the author had with Pretty-shield. He even tells you right there in the book and he goes on to describe each interview in detail to recount what she has told him. This is not a biography, but rather an outsider-lead memoir. During each interview Frank prompts a topic or Pretty-shield comes in with a story she remembered and wants to share with him. You get the feel for the reservation school house they are using and snippets about life for Pretty-shield at the reservation. However, the bulk of the information comes from the various stories Pretty-shield conveys to Frank through sign talk and an interpreter. The topics vary greatly and don’t follow any particular order. You learn about women’s jobs in the Crow nation, various ceremonies, cultural fears and beliefs, daily routines, buffalo hunts, marriage ceremonies, the importance of war between the tribes, mourning, family relationships, traditions, and even about the the Crows joining with General Custer and fighting with him at the Little Bighorn. There is a wealth of information in this relatively short book, conveyed by a very enthusiastic and likable woman. I wasn’t a big fan of the interview format or the disjointed story telling, but you did learn a lot. I think if he would have taken her stories and put them in chronological order it would have been a little better. However, he was staying true to his craft and intended to portray his information and source in the most authentic way possible.  You really got a feeling for the type of woman Pretty-shield was and got a strong sense of her personality and sense of humor. She is a fascinating woman and really brings to life the Crow nation and its lost lifestyle. I’m surprised there aren’t any historical fiction books based around her life and stories.

If you are at all interested in American Indian history, way of life, or an interesting woman, I would highly recommend this book for you. Like I said, you have to expect to read it as an interview and not really a story. She tells different tales within each chapter and varies between present day and when she was younger. You learn a mass amount of information about the Crows and their lifestyle and get a deeper understanding of their culture and belief system. I can’t say I’ll probably read it again, but I am definitely glad I read it now.

My rating:

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2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake


This is one of those times where I watched the movie before reading the book. I absolutely loved the Dances with Wolves movie. I never actually knew it was based on a book until a few weeks ago. when I found that out I ordered it and started to read it the day after it came (I didn’t have time in the actual day it came to start LOL). I was not disappointed by the book at all. I actually have to remark that I was impressed with how well the movie followed the book. There was very little left out and the few things they added in the movie helped to add to the story rather than distance itself from the book.

The story follows Lieutenant John Dunbar as he is assigned to a fort in the middle of the Indian frontier. seven he arrives, the fort is abandoned and he is the only soldier. He begins to complete tasks and waits for more soldiers to arrive, all while finding a peace living alone in the frontier and making friends with the animals he shares space with. You learn about his past in the civil war and his attitude toward the world and its inhabitants. He inevitably encounters Indians, Comanche, and talked the first steps in learning their culture. Little by little he is drawn deeper and deeper into their culture, particularly with the help of a white woman who was adopted by the tribe as a child. You learn her story as well over time. The story comes to climactic ending after the arrival of new soldier at the fort.

I was greatly impressed with the depth of the main character. You get pieces of thoughts from other characters scattered throughout but you primarily focus on the thoughts and actions of the lieutenant. Through his eyes your learn of a new culture and way of living. You learn about personal peace and evaluate how you see the world. You gain a respect for living of the land and see beauty in nature. But must of all it opens your eyes to the destruction one race can have on the world, how one person can set of a chair reaction of catastrophic or wonderful events and how each individual action crates ripples that shape our lives. The story isn’t action packed, but it moves steadily on with new ideas and events and revelations within the characters that keep you engrossed in the story and lets you continue to think about the story after you’ve put it down for the night or when you had to go to work. If I could have I would have read the book in one sitting. However, I was not able to but am thankful I had the in-between time to think about what I read and how I can relate to it or what it means to the world.

I’m surprised this book is not recommended reading in high school or college. It paints a beautiful picture of Comanche life and the impact white civilization had early on in their movement west. It also gives insights into sitting others, self evaluation, and how to view the world. I recommend this book to everyone. I’m very interested in reading the sequel to this book as well, The Holy Road.

My rating:

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