• Book Reviews,  Bookish

    The Lost Books Of Jane Austen: a review

    About The Lost Books of Jane Austen

    • Hardcover: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (October 8, 2019)

    In the nineteenth century, inexpensive editions of Jane Austen’s novels targeted to Britain’s working classes were sold at railway stations, traded for soap wrappers, and awarded as school prizes. At just pennies a copy, these reprints were some of the earliest mass-market paperbacks, with Austen’s beloved stories squeezed into tight columns on thin, cheap paper. Few of these hard-lived bargain books survive, yet they made a substantial difference to Austen’s early readership. These were the books bought and read by ordinary people.

    Packed with nearly 100 full-color photographs of dazzling, sometimes gaudy, sometimes tasteless covers, The Lost Books of Jane Austen is a unique history of these rare and forgotten Austen volumes. Such shoddy editions, Janine Barchas argues, were instrumental in bringing Austen’s work and reputation before the general public. Only by examining them can we grasp the chaotic range of Austen’s popular reach among working-class readers.

    Informed by the author’s years of unconventional book hunting, The Lost Books of Jane Austen will surprise even the most ardent Janeite with glimpses of scruffy survivors that challenge the prevailing story of the author’s steady and genteel rise. Thoroughly innovative and occasionally irreverent, this book will appeal in equal measure to book historians, Austen fans, and scholars of literary celebrity.

    Review

    Cheap books make authors canonical. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, cheap and shoddy versions of Jane Austen’s novels performed the heavy lifting of bringing her work and reputation before the general public.

    From the sanitized, Victorian-era Jane Austen to a modern day cover of Pride and Prejudice that had schoolgirls convinced that Mr. Darcy was a vampire, this has by far been one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year.

    If book covers captivate you like they do me, this book will grab your attention as you take a historic walk through the book covers of Jane Austen’s works – many considered “lost” today.

    The reader is also given a look into the publishing industry, trends, and perhaps the biggest reason we are obsessed with book covers – marketing.

    And it’s not a new strategy. 

    I thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched book, full of Austen covers I never thought I would see. My favorites were the cheap paperbacks rather than the first and collectible editions – which illustrates a large part of the author’s argument that it’s the inexpensive books that make an author live on forever.

    If you love Jane Austen, if you collect her books, and if you adore books in general, you will find this book to be an absolute gem.

    About Janine Barchas

    Janine Barchas is the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity and Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel. She is also the creator behind What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org).

    Purchase Links

    Johns Hopkins University Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours, Johns Hopkins University Press, and Janine Barchas for providing me a copy of this beautiful book to read, review, and promote.

  • Book Reviews

    Meet Me On Love Lane: a review

    From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.

    Synopsis:

    Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

    She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

    With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

    A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

    Review:

    This was such a fun evening of reading! I’m a sucker for small town romances – probably because I didn’t grow up in a small town but did go to the same private school K-12. That basically meant that your school mates were more like siblings instead of dates.

    I read the first book of this series, On The Corner of Love and Hate, and was so excited to start this second book. I am admittedly not a big series reader and I believe one of the reasons is because there seems to be at least one book that drags while setting up the next part of the story.

    That was not the case here and Meet Me On Love Lane could easily be read as either a stand alone novel or as a well done sequel. Kudos to the author here because keeping a story moving through multiple books isn’t always easy to do.

    Henry, one of my favorites from the first book, was back and as the high school English teacher. There was something so endearing about him and I really enjoyed getting to know him better in this book – as did Charlotte who had significant memory issues as a result of leaving home during the tumultuous and traumatic time of her parent’s divorce.

    The book flirts with a love triangle which is my least favorite romance trope. Fortunately it was brief and actually helped to move the plot along as Charlotte began to reconnect with her family and friends.

    I absolutely loved her grandmother, Gigi. She was the sassy and fun grandma we all wish we had if we did not have that growing up. Gigi added the perfect amount of humor to the book along with a few of the other characters.

    For me, this book was light on the romance and more about a woman finding herself after leaving one life behind as a child and then leaving another life behind to find herself as an adult. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and I’m definitely looking forward to more books by this author.

    If you would like to enter to win a copy of this book, head over to my Instagram to enter!

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Gallery Books, and Nina Bocci for a free copy of this book in exchange for my promotion and review of this book.

    Connect with Nina

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

  • Book Reviews

    Good Girls Lie: excerpt tour

    I am so excited about this book and if the excerpt is any indication, it’s going to be a fantastic book. I have always had a fondness for books set in boarding schools so I was immediately drawn to Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison. Set to release on 12/31/2019 – here’s your first thriller of the new year! Or just skip the parties and binge read this one on NYE.

    Summary:

    Goode girls don’t lie…

    Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

    In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

    But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

    J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

    Excerpt:

    The drive up the hill makes me slightly queasy, all the switchbacks, the steep drop-offs, but soon enough we are on even ground again. The little town of Marchburg, its streets forming an X, surrounds the school which sits in the middle, at the crossroads. I ignore the stores and restaurants and their quaint, New World names, focusing on the behemoth ahead. A castle, for that is what it looks like, an overly large country house, like those of my homeland, spreading across the glossy green acreage like a stone gargoyle, but with red brick instead of gray stone. 

    The original building was damaged by fire in 1890, and the phoenix rebuilt in the traditional Jacobean style using the famous Virginia bricks known as Chilhowie, the name stamped across the face. “Chilhowies have been found as far away as Paris, France,” says the literature. A bell tower rises above the entrance, perfectly centered on the main building, which is five stories high. Similar Jacobean-style buildings wing each side of the main hall—their signs denote they’re creatively named Old East and Old West—but these were added later, and aren’t the same exact color as their mother. They are three stories each, with white wooden balconies that jut out from their top floors. 

    Taken in one shot, the school is monstrous in its austere beauty. 

    The massive black wrought iron gates to the school stand open in greeting for orientation day. Term starts tomorrow, Wednesday, so Monday and Tuesday are set aside for students to get settled in the dorms, buy their books, sign up for activities and sports teams, hand over their phones, and otherwise run amok on campus, reuniting with their friends and making new. 

    What must be freshmen stand in bewildered clumps under the oak trees bordering the wall. Parents stumble around with furniture and boxes in hand. It is a bright, sunny late-summer day, the sky so blue it is hard to look away. 

    When the town car slides to the curb in front of the huge redbrick building with Main Hall carved into the gray stone lintel above the door, all heads turn. Hiding in the back, I feel unaccountably shy, embarrassed to be the center of attention, even for a moment. But the driver pops out of the town car and comes round to the door, flinging it open as if I am the Queen herself. He practically bows.

    “Here you are, miss. Your very own Sandringham, tucked into the Virginia mountains,” Ruly, or Rudy, or whatever his name is, says, and I shiver. He knows more than he lets on. The school does look quite a bit like Sandringham. How very eerie. I must be more careful going forward. 

    With him standing there, holding the door, the smile turning quizzical, I have no choice but to get out, unfolding my long body from the back seat. I have a cramp in my thigh, but I smile winningly. 

    “Thank you for the ride.” 

    When the students realize I’m just another one of them, they go back to their conversations. Ignored, I feel better. I’d truly like to stay anonymous, do my work, study hard, get into Harvard, and leave my wretched old life behind. Strangely, I’ve never felt so alone as I do at this moment, watching the joyful faces of my soon-to-be classmates as they run and shout and hug tearful parents goodbye. My watch twitches with a reminder—I have a meeting with the dean of the school in fifteen minutes. 

    Ruly Rudy, who has wrestled my massive suitcase out of the car, is standing nearby with a hopeful grin on his face. I hand him five precious dollars, heart in my throat at the thought of letting go any of my hoard. But it is expected. “Thank you again for the ride.”

    I shoulder my backpack and drag my suitcase up the stairs, entering Main Hall. 

    It is cool and dark inside, a welcome respite to the late-summer heat. Oddly empty, too, and quiet to the point of austerity. White columns, marble floors. There is a great sense of space, two massive staircases curving into the second-story balcony like a theater. On either side, unmanned tables are set up with engraved metal signs: A-E, F-K, L-P, Q-Z. 

    Why am I the only one here? Have I already done something wrong?

    A middle-aged woman with gray hair in a chic bob, black glasses, and bright red lipstick that makes her look like an aging Parisian model, steps out of the office and hurries over, beckoning, and I make my way to the first table. 

    “Here’s a new face! Welcome to Goode. I’m Dr. Asolo, English department. You’ve missed the masses, lucky girl—most have already registered. We were getting ready to break things down, just waiting on the stragglers.” She looks over my shoulder. “Where are your parents?” 

    The lie comes easily, smoothly, without thought. “They dropped me.” 

    Dr. Asolo’s lips purse in disapproval but she puts a hand on the metal sign, tapping it with her thick gold wedding band. “We usually like to meet the new students’ parents, but if they’re already gone…” 

    “They are. So sorry.” 

    “You didn’t know,” she says absently, waiting. Her hands are captivating, capable, nails short and buffed, with clear polish— another Goode regulation. No hair dyes. No colored polish. Au naturel. The ladies of Goode will not be fake. 

    Dr. Asolo clears her throat. “Name, dear?” 

    “Erm, Ash. Ash Carlisle. With a C.” 

    “I am a professor of English, dear. Your accent isn’t so heavy that I need subtitles.” She chortles at her joke, and I smile, a blinding, perfect smile that nearly makes my cheeks crack. I’ve almost forgotten. Charming Ash. 

    Connect with J. T.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing me this excerpt of this highly anticipated book!

  • Book Reviews

    The Glittering Hour: Blog Tour

    Welcome to my stop on The Glittering Hour blog tour!

    This book spans one of my favorite periods in time, especially for novels featuring women.

    Synopsis:

    Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

    Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

    Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

    An unforgettable historical novel about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from award winning author, Iona Grey.

    Review:

    This was a one night read – one sign of a great book for me.

    Told from multiple points of view, I was almost immediately sucked into the story. This is one of my favorite formats because you get to know each character so well.

    There was also a shifting timeline but it felt natural and necessary to tell the story. It also made me more invested – a.k.a. I couldn’t put the book down.

    I knew I would enjoy this book because of the time period but the character development was so well done that I found myself hurting for Alice, the homesick little girl left behind with her grandparents while my heart broke into a million pieces over the reason for Selina’s absence and her attempts to keep her daughter close to her through letters.

    I didn’t expect to become so emotional and my descriptions here won’t do any character any justice. All I will say is that I hope they found peace and happiness in the end.

    This book borders on a 5 star read for me – completely unexpected which is almost even better. My only negative was that the plot slowed a few times more than I would have liked but that’s a personal preference and probably just me dying to know what happened next.

    If you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Rules of Civility, you will most likely love this book. It would make a wonderful gift for the historical fiction lover in your life!

    About the Author:

    IONA GREY is the author of the award winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

    Amazon

    Barnes & Noble

    Books-a-Million

    Indie Bound

    Powell’s

    Thank you to Thomas Dunn Books for gifting me this copy to read and review. All opinions in my review are my own.

    If you would like to enter to win a copy, head over to my Instagram to enter!

     

  • Book Reviews

    An Alaskan Christmas: review & excerpt

    In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

    If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

    Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

    Review: I read this book in an evening after a long and trying day. It was fun and the multiple plot lines kept the pages turning. Having grown up skiing, I loved the skiing scenes and they were very accurate. The search & rescue adventures that Erika went on with Reed were exciting and never presented her in a light other than a capable doctor – this was not a damsel in distress story which is one of my biggest annoyances when it comes to romance novels.

    Cassie and Reed’s father disappeared years before, around the same time Erika lost her mother which added the perfect amount of mystery to the plot.

    Somewhat predictably, Reed and Erika begin a relationship when Cassie is away leading a winter camping trip – another capable female in the story – yay!

    Slowly Erika finds her old self the further she is away from her overbearing physician father/boss. Add to the mix her romance with Reed and now we have our conflict when Erika is summoned home early by her father to begin the clinical trials that have been so important to her.

    Ok, and Diva – Cassie’s dog – the dog is narcoleptic. I found this detail so amusing and it made even the dog endearing in this story.

    I found all the characters realistic with no one being irritating, or in great need of saving. That was refreshing for a romance.

    My one issue: where was Christmas? 

    Other than taking place in December and a few mentions of people working in the hospital on Christmas Eve, there really wasn’t a Christmas plot line. Not that it needed it, but if it’s in the title a Christmas romance would be nice.

    I mean, someone could have at least tied a bow around themselves or posed in front of the Christmas tree… so many options here but I’ll leave that to your imagination. My opinion of course, and thankfully the book stood on it’s own two feet without Christmas.

    If you enjoyed Things You Save in a Fire, you will most likely love this book! They were different settings but reminiscent of each other with the strong, capable female characters.

    Excerpt from An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow:

    He tossed the blanket over her quickly and stood. “Okay, so you’re all good?”

    She nodded, but her gaze was on his midsection. And her unblinking stare was full of unconcealed attraction. The same way she’d checked out his biceps in the bar.

    He glanced down to see that his T-shirt had risen slightly on the right side, exposing his stomach.

    Obviously his abs were to her liking.

    “Erika.”

    “Huh?” Still staring.

    “It’s been a while, huh?”

    She frowned, finally pulling her gaze back to his. “For what?

    “Since you’ve had sex.”

    Her mouth gaped.

    “I mean, that’s why you’re staring at my stomach like I’m a piece of chocolate.”

    “I was not,” she said, but her cheeks flushed. “And I’ll have you know, I have plenty of sex…all the time. Men beating down my door for it…” she mumbled.

    That he wouldn’t doubt, except he knew from Cassie that she was a reclusive workaholic and he was willing to bet the only penises she saw were her naked patients.

    “And anyway, even if that was the case, you’d be the last guy I’d want to break my dry spell.”

    Okay, now he was intrigued. Especially since he’d made no motion to fix his shirt and her eyes were glued on his abs again, betraying her words. He crossed his arms, making sure to flex his biceps for her viewing pleasure, as well. She wasn’t going to get him, but all of a sudden, he wanted her to want him. “Oh yeah, why’s that?”

    “Because I don’t think you’d be any good.”

    What?

    “Hot guys are rarely good in bed. They don’t think they need to be. They are selfish and rarely leave a woman satisfied.”

    She’d obviously been with the wrong dudes. “In your expert opinion?”

    She nodded. “As a doctor and woman. Yes.”

    Damn, he’d like to kiss that smug expression right off her face, but the voice in his head told him to leave her drunk ass alone. “Okay, then. Good night.”

    “What? Not even going to try to prove me wrong?”

    In two strides, he’d reached her. Pulling back the blanket, he lifted her and, seating himself on the couch, he set her down on his lap. A leg on either side, she straddled him. “You sure you want to eat your words?”

    Instead of answering, she gripped his face and kissed him. Hard. His surprise faded fast as his mouth suddenly craved hers. The taste of tequila mingled with her cherry lip gloss and he forgot he was the one teaching her a lesson. Her legs gripped his and she pressed her chest against him, the feel of her breasts beneath the soft cashmere making his heart pound against them.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Romance for including me in their 12 Days of Christmas tour!

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and promotion.

     

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