The Austen Escape: Book Review

Rating: 3 Stars


Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.  While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them. 

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts. 


I always pick up books by Katherine Reay. I have loved her novels from the beginning. I love how she has figured out how to incorporate Austen/Regency-era novels with the present. Even if I had not received an early copy of The Austen Escape to review from NetGalley, I would absolutely have picked this up.

However, this novel seems a little bit rough. Perhaps I didn’t receive the finished version. The novel starts in chaos, which didn’t seem intentional. I had to reread it several times to figure out what was going on. It seemed very odd to start a book in the middle of a conversation at a tech company work place. I felt like I had landed in Oz and was trying to get my bearings.

And that isn’t the only part of the novel that feels like confusing. The middle part of the novel also includes a house-party type situation, which readers who love cozy-mysteries will be very familiar with. However, there is no mystery.

Again, as a reader, I was confused because there are so many characters that it is hard to keep them straight, which is also sort of a joke among the characters because they are all also using fake names derived from Austen novels, which makes it only more confusing. However, only a few of them are well developed enough for a reader to keep them straight.

Also, the book involves a trip to something like Austenland, so I was a little bit concerned that it would mimic a book that I liked a lot. However, Reay did a great job making her book different from that book, even though it involved play acting Austen characters during a very expensive vacation.

Overall, the novel was interesting enough for me to read the entire book in three days, which is no small feat. I really take a long time to read Kindle books, but this was great.

This is a book for:

  • Austen lovers
  • people who love a complex romance
  • fans of Katherine Reay

It’s definitely not a book for everyone, but don’t let that dissuade you, if it is up you aisle.

If you do want to pick it up, look for it on November 7, 2017!


***I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

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The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine Review

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine title

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine

Verdict: I read it in a day!

If I read it in a day, you can read this review knowing that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! I found the scenario imaginative, fascinating, and in some cases hilarious, and in other parts heartbreaking. Overall, the novel covered a range of emotions in a compelling manner.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine actually follows a journalist named Thomas Cleary, who covers the entertainment section of a newspaper in Los Angeles. I was a bit surprised when the main character was a man, considering the title. The story begins when Tom gets a big break by writing the obituary of powerful and famous man in Hollywood. His middle-aged daughter invites him to a dinner where he meets the closest friends of the dead man, and then Thomas’s whirlwind journey into the lives of the rich and famous begin – eventually leading him to Matilda Duplaine.

I loved the slightly fantastical, but plausible scenario of the story. The romance, intrigue, and evolution of the characters were all so compelling that I honestly couldn’t put the novel down. I had to keep reading until… fill in the blank. Things kept happening, so I wouldn’t put it down.

The crown jewel of the novel, though, without spoiling it, is the evolution of Matilda Duplaine’s character. It is heartbreakingly true to reality, so it is not just a fairy tale romance. It’s possibly one forged from rougher stuff than some grittier novels, even though it originates in a world of seemingly limitless money and luxury.

Overall, I would never hesitate to recommend this novel. I read it almost a month ago, but it sticks with me. I would love a sequel, even! Put this on your TBR list, and push it to the top. I’m stingy with my Goodreads 5s, but this novel got one.

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to review the novel.

Have you read it? Did you like it? Is it going to go on your reading list?

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Pretending to Dance Review

pretending to dance review title
pretending to dance review

Verdict: An average fiction book aimed at women.

Per the publisher:
Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can’t have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly’s past and her family—the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison’s Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father’s death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?

Pretending to Dance Review:

Pretending to Dance follows Molly during the summer when she is 14, during the 1980’s, as well as her late 30’s, during our contemporary time. As the adult Molly and her husband attempt to adopt a baby, we learn about the summer of Molly’s life that changed her world forever. As you can imagine, there are obvious parallels between adult Molly’s situation and child Molly’s situation, and there are some clever parallels that the reader doesn’t find out until later into the novel. On the whole, it’s a fiction novel. No more and no less. It’s not really a coming of age story; it’s not a thriller; and finally, it’s certainly not a mystery.

I really enjoy novels that have narratives that go back and forth between time. I liked this one a lot because most novels that I read that employ the technique, like Kate Morton novels, jump 50 to 100 years. This novel, however, had a shorter jump, and followed the same woman. I found myself wishing that story would follow the older Molly more, though. The summer that Molly was 14 made her who she was, essentially, but I still liked the chapters about her life in San Diego and the adoption process.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend that you run out and put this novel at the top of your To Be Read list, but it’s not a bad book. And, if you happen to be a Diane Chamberlain fan, then definitely read it. It caught my attention enough that I will definitely be reading more novels by her soon.

You can add Pretending to Dance to your TBR list here on Goodreads. Don’t forget to add me as a Goodreads friend, if you love books, too!

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to review this novel.


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Girl Waits With Gun

Girl Waits With Gun: Book Review
Girl Waits With Gun

Verdict: I wanted to like this book more than I did.

Girl Waits With Gun is supposed to be about the first female sheriff; however, it tells the story of her life leading up to that event, so I felt that the publisher’s synopsis was misleading. I probably wouldn’t have picked up the novel if I had known the true plot.

The novel about a family of first generation Americans who live in a rural area outside of New York City and find themselves, specifically the two older sisters and the much younger sister, alone and without male protection, which was odd for their time period. The women had the misfortune of having their horse and buggy hit by a mobster/generally bad guy’s car. The main character then sets out to seek payment for repairs, but instead incurs his wrath. The novel follows that storyline, among others.

While I didn’t hate the book, it wasn’t one that I just had to pick up or couldn’t put down. I dutifully read 30 minutes every day until I finished the novel, so it took me almost 2 weeks, which I thought was sad because I anticipated devouring the novel. Contrast that with the next novel that I picked up, which was similar in length and style, but I finished that in 3 days.

In hindsight, I can’t put my finger on anything particularly wrong with the novel, other than maybe I just didn’t like the characters. They were supposed to be quirky, but they felt forced and just weird. I didn’t feel any particular empathy for them. I wished that there was a romantic component to the novel because that would have probably kept me reading, but the repetitiveness of the plot was tedious. There are only so many times that I can read about the main characters not listening to the sheriff. It might be true to history, but it doesn’t make it interesting.

My honest assessment of the book is don’t bother reading it. If yo don’t u do want to read it, I wouldn’t push it up high on your reading list or pay for it. The library would be the way to go. I honestly couldn’t stand to read it, so I ended up using an audible credit to listen to it, even though I am reviewing it for Netgalley. It was a waste of a credit, but I wasn’t going to be able to force myself through it, otherwise.

So, history buffs may find it extremely interesting since it was a good look at life at the time, but for someone who is looking for a compelling fictional story, this isn’t it.

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to review this novel.

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The Sisters of Versailles: Book Review

the sisters book review
The Sisters of Versailles

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot – and women – forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

My Thoughts:

This novel was interesting because I do like historical fiction, plus this was a time period with which I wasn’t familiar. It was definitely on the racy side, but I had never read about this king or the court lifestyle. Otherwise, I didn’t find the book that interesting.

While the book wasn’t poorly written and the characters were well imagined, it felt like a lot of other historical novels. There was a ton of backstabbing and bickering among the sisters. I guess it was probably true to the time period and kings with ambitious mistresses, but a person can only read so many of those novels.

So, overall, the only thing that made this stand out was the fact that it took place in the French court with a king that I hadn’t read about before. So, if you are looking for something new this could be the novel for you. The novel, which was told from the view points of several narrators, covered the girls’ lifespans, so I am interested to see what the rest of the trilogy could possibly cover.

I wasn’t impressed with the novel, as a whole, but I did finish it. I am not looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy… in fact, I will probably only read the synopsis to see how the author even makes it a trilogy.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of the novel to review.

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Categories: Book Review, Reading Tags: ,
We Never Asked for Wings: A Beautiful Novel

we never asked for wings book review we never asked for wings book review

Verdict: Must Read for Everyone!

We Never Asked for Wings is the highly anticipated novel by the New York Times Best Selling author of The Language of Flowers. The story, We Never Asked for Wings, takes place around San Francisco, where the single mother of two children had been sharing her childhood apartment with her parents for her entire life. Unfortunately, her parents, who were undocumented when they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States go back to Mexico, to visit a dying relative, when the story begins.

This story touched my heart in so many ways. I loved how Diffenbaugh covered so many topics in one novel and brought them together beautifully. The story is told by two different narrators, the mother and the son. In a way, it’s a coming of age story for each of them, even though they are 18 years apart. The story doesn’t just pull on the readers heart strings. It examines love, loss, politics, and why people treat people the way they do.

This story has something for everyone. I would recommend it to high school students through adults. It’s about first love. It’s about family. It’s about finding love. It’s about life. While the book is fiction, I could picture the novel being based on a true story. It’s probably the true story of too many families. Since it was fiction, it was “white washed,” in a way, so there was always money to borrow in a pinch or those sorts of things. However, it was a book that I couldn’t put down. As a mostly mystery book reader, I was highly impressed with how much I loved this book.

Do yourself a favor and pick it up today!

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to review this novel.

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You can purchase the novel wherever books are sold or add it to your TBR list on Goodreads here. Don’t forget to check out Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s website, if you’re interested in more information.

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A Window Opens: What Matters in Life

A Window Opens
Book Review
A Window Opens

I find a star system too subjective, so bottom line: I would recommend this novel!

A Window Opens follows the main character, Alice, who is a mother of three small children. At first, she juggles the a part time career and trying to be the best PTA mom, while her husband works full time in New York City as a lawyer. Unfortunately, not long after the novel starts, her husband realizes that he won’t have a future at his law firm, so he decides to strike out on his own.

As the title implies, the novel is about doors closing and windows opening instead. Honestly, I shed a few tears because I read the book at a rough time in my own life, like the main character. The novel is about struggling families and choosing to be right rather than happy before even more family disasters strike.

I really loved Alice, the main character. She is full of passion. She isn’t perfect, but she’s trying. The beginning of the novel captured my attention, yet it did take me a few tries to get going.

Along with the Alice’s adventure in venturing into full time employment and trying to be a good mom, plus take care of her dying father, and strained relationship with her husband, there are lots of sweet and funny moments with her children. Overall, the story really hit home how important family (both biological and friends – the family that you pick) are.

You’ll also love this book if you’re a book-lover because Alice is a book reviewer for a magazine at the beginning of the novel, makes wonderful allusions to all sorts of literary things throughout the story, oh, and her best friend owns a small book store. If you read about their concept of the “No Guilt Book Club,” you’ll be dying for someone you know to start one. I would go!

I’ll leave you with this short line that left me with a few tears and made me go run and hug my husband: And if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that life is short. You need to be happy.

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You can pick up A Window Opens on Tuesday, August 25, 2015!

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to honestly review this novel.

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The Murderer’s Daughter: An Interesting Novel

The Muderer’s Daughter
Book Review

The Murderer’s Daughter follows the life of a woman who is the daughter of a murderer, as the title implies. However, I think the title is a bit misleading. [If you read it, leave a comment and let me know if you agree!] I don’t want to spoil anything, but the murdering part of her parentage isn’t really what shaped her life. It’s the part that comes before and after it.

The main character, Grace, though, is a tremendously gifted child, who is fortunate enough to land in a situation where her talents are fostered. Her interest in psychology and eventual career allows her to help other victims of trauma, but also creates an interesting twist when her past and present collide.

I did like the narrative style of weaving the story of her past with her present, so it is like the unwrapping of many presents. It is almost two stories in one. It is the story of how she became the woman she is, which is highly guarded, private, and solitary, while also the story of how she is seeking to find out the identity of who is trying to kill her because she doesn’t want to take her story to the police.

I love the main character, although the story borders on far-fetched. There are just too many convenient circumstances to make the book “tidy” and wrap-up nicely for my taste. While there were unexpected twists and turns, I just kept thinking “this is all too convenient” as I read the novel. It was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end, so I could read the conclusion, which was well done, in my opinion. However, in my opinion, I just just kept coming back to the fact that everything wrapped up too well. I don’t know if that was to keep the book a readable length or to keep it simple. But, for a psychological thriller, there was a ton of psychology and not as much thrilling!

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to give an honest review of this book!


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“You fundamentally misunderstand the concept.”

Days of Awe Review
days of awe book review: back to carolina

Days of Awe is about Isabel Moore, a teacher, mother, and wife. The novel begins with the death of her best friend and fellow teacher, Josie. The novel vacillates between the past and the present. When Iz, as her friends call her, was a child, and her dissolving marriage.

The novel explores how Iz juggles so many life changes at once, how her past shaped her present, and most of all how to cope with grief as she feels like she may be responsible for Josie’s death. Iz sees how easy it is to second guess everything and go back years and trace events that lead to Josie’s death.

As a reader, I was engrossed in the story. I was emotionally invested in the characters, who were well developed. My heart broke when Iz’s heart broke. I got mad at the other teachers when Iz got mad at the other teachers. I was rooting for her. However, the ending left me disappointed.

There was no ending. Not really. Endings to novels definitely don’t need to be neat and clean. I don’t need them wrapped up in a box with a bow. However, when I think about ambiguous endings that are done correctly – an ending where I don’t know what happens to the characters, really – I still feel satisfied. Satisfying ambiguous endings are satisfying because the main character or characters have not only learned something, but they’ve applied it to their life. Even if they learn not to care about what other people think about them, and they exhibit a glimmer of hope in their eyes or they kick their crappy boyfriend to the curb, but now they have to move back home with their batty family. I don’t learn how they rebuild their lives, but I know that they’ve come out better people and something good is going to come out of the bad situations in the the novel.

Days of Awe leaves the reader hanging. I don’t know if Iz’s empowerment is implied, which if it is, it isn’t done well, but honestly when I finished the novel, I wanted to hand it back to the editor and the author with a big fat F in red at the top and write “try again.” Or, maybe to borrow a phrase from my least favorite professor on a literary criticism test that I failed as a baby sophomore, who didn’t belong in the class, I could write at the top “You fundamentally misunderstand the concept.” Ms. Fox and her editors need to try again because they fundamentally misunderstand how to end a story.

It’s really a shame because I couldn’t put down the novel. When I got to the last page, I was stunned that it was the ending.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


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Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont: Review

Among the Ten Thousand Things Among Ten Thousand Things

This is a beautiful novel about love, life that ruins love, family, and what’s leftover when life is done. This new release is definitely worth your time, even though there aren’t a whole lot of reviews on it yet. I got an early copy from NetGalley – but early by about two days. So, in my typical fashion, I used my accumulating Audible credits to pick it up because I was loving it, but my new medications have my sleep messed up. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the book – even when I shed a tear or two. The book, broken into four parts, tells the story in an interesting way. The first part sets up the falling apart of the family. The short, second part, gives the reader a fast glimpse into the end of the family’s lives. How people die. How the kids grow up. Things you don’t expect in the middle of the novel. The third part of the novel, finishes telling how the wife, husband, and two kids get to part two. Mostly told from the point of view of the wife, it’s an beautiful, heart-wrenching look at the thoughts of a woman who has been betrayed and how she decides what she is going to do with that betrayal. While Among the Ten Thousand Things is not a light summer read, it is a beautiful, poignant novel. I don’t know if other readers will appreciate this part like I did, but Simon, the 15 year old son, is a wonderful representation of a teenage boy. He reminded me so much of my moody, angry, teenage brother with a bad attitude! It made me laugh a lot. The novel reminded me of the humanity in all of us. Parents are people. Kids see more than we know. And kids turn into adults who will perpetuate the cycle. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. All opinions are my own.

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