Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler: A Review + GIVEAWAY

Sass and Serendipity

 By Jennifer Ziegler

ISBN: 978-0-385-73898-9

Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House

Published: July 2011

Source: Book supplied by Author’s Publicist

I’m twenty-six and have to admit it has been a long time since I have read anything in the Young Adult (YA) genre, but if everything in YA is as wonderful as Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler then I am really missing out.

Sass and Serendipity (Sass) was inspired by Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (S&S) and published during the 200th anniversary.

The story explores the relationship between sisters Gabby, as Elinor, and Daphne as Marianne. Both are dealing with their parents divorce in different ways. Gabby is the responsible one who is there to support her Mom when their dad leaves. She gets good grades and a lot if expected of her. Daphne on the other hand believes that her Dad can do no wrong, wants to live life, is impetuous and isn’t responsible at all.

Even though I do not have a sister, I have a younger brother, I could relate to the trials of Gabby and Daphne as they struggled with the bonds of sisterhood. I identified with Gabby completely. I also understood where Daphne was coming from and despite the emotional trials the sisters go though, just like in Austen’s S&S, the bonds of sisterhood are strengthened by these challenges.

Luke, as Willoughby, is the new boy in school and Daphne is head over heels. He’s the true, fairy tale romance she’s been waiting for. Or is he? Sam Randolph, who goes by Mule (as Colonel Brandon), is Gabby’s best friend, but he really rises to the occasion when Daphne goes through a horrible ordeal with Luke. In high school kids can be so cruel.

As Gabby’s best friend, Mule is steady and counters her cynical attitude. However, it is rich boy Prentiss (I love this name) R. Applewhite, as Edward Ferras, who manages to capture Gabby’s attention. Prentiss has way more substance to him than Edward Ferras (sorry Jane Austen) and he is consistently amused by Gabby’s antics. The perfect counterpart for Gabby. I especially loved Gabby and Prentiss, but most important I loved the story about two sisters and their relationship.

Ziegler is a wonderful writer. The romance in this book took turns I did not expect, but I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the journey. Ziegler was able to covey the difficulties between siblings and even the emotions that arise in children from broken homes. Sometimes I felt like I was back in high school because I as I mentioned earlier I identified with some of Daphne’s struggles, but I identified with Gabby a lot as well. Ziegler has a beautiful Austen inspired hit on her hands.

Also, even though I match the characters of Sass with their original S&S counterparts I have say that if Austen purists are looking for an exact replica of the characters in S&S that they may be disappointed. Ziegler puts a fresh, contemporary approach on the themes of S&S. The basic plot of the original is there but Sass can stand on its own. A delightful page turning novel. I’m ready to read it again.

Perhaps, we can hope for a sequel.

Final Recommendation: If you want a little Sass with your Sense and Sensibility.

JENNIFER ZIEGLER is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not to be Popular. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.


The book that inspired Sass and Serendipity
Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

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Giveaway ENDS August 31st

Giveaway is open to U.S. and International residents

Monday, July 18, 2011

Winner of the Jane Eyre Giveaway

Thank you to all who entered the Jane Eyre Giveaway. Without further ado the winner is:


If you didn't win there will be other giveaways. Look for my August 2nd post for Austenesque Extravaganza and I will have a surprise giveaway not listed on the giveaway page. I'm sneaky like that.

Also, In honor of the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility I will be giving away a wonderful edition of the book which can be found on the giveaway page. More details soon.

See more chance to win. Who doesn't love to win!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Austen News and around the blogosphere

I’m a busy lady in-between writing my first Austenesque novel and working a 9-5 job. I wanted to let you know some news and what is coming up on this blog.

In August I am participating in two blog events.

August 2 I will be participating in Austenesque Extravaganza hosted by Austenesque Reviews. Still debating what my fun post should be. Should I debut a short story or some other fun post? I guess you will have to wait and see what I decide.

I will also be participating in the Georgette Heyer blog event hosted by Stiletto Storytime. August 14th I will be giving a book review of Heyer’s The Convenient Marriage and on August 20th I will be comparing and contrasting the work of Austen and Heyer.

In progress right now is a reading of Why Jane Austen? by Rachel M Brownstein. I will be posting a review soon. Also, Laura (@opheliacat) will be a guest reviewer on the blog. She will also be reviewing Why Jane Austen? I am excited about this as there will be two different perspectives.

I will also be reading a reviewing The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by Debra Brown.

Lots of great things happening. There will also be some giveaways coming up.

Lastly, the launch of Indie Jane is today. My friends Jessica and Nancy have taken a lot of time and Austen love into creating and launching this fabulous community. A community for self-published authors of Austenesque novels. Go check it out. I’m listed at the Reference Desk. Yippie!

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Absolute Liability A Southern Fraud Thriller by Jennifer Becton: A Book Review

Absolute Liability: A Southern Fraud Thriller

By Jennifer Becton

Publisher: Whiteley Press

Source: ARC ebook provided by author

I love a good mystery. I was spoiled on Agatha Christie and Anne Perry on account of my mother when I was growing up. I was introduced to author Jennifer Becton when I read her debut novel Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Pride and Prejudice so it was with mild surprise that her next published book was a thriller, but hey if Georgette Heyer can write Regencies and then mysteries then so can Jennifer Becton.

Absolute Liability: A Southern Fraud Thriller is the first in what will be a six part series from author Jennifer Becton. I loved every minute of this book. It is a great weekend or beach read and I didn’t have a clue who the killer was until practically the end. I found this book to be in the vein of Gemma Halliday another mystery writer who I adore.

The heroine, if you will, of Absolute Liability is Julia Jackson and she investigates insurance fraud. Julia is extremely likable. She can handle herself and yet she still has her vulnerabilities. In the course of her investigations she is abducted---or rather someone abducted what they thought was Julia----which brings out a sense of responsibility and justice in her. So the hunt to unfold the mystery begins. Who really wants Julia Jackson gone?

Throw in Tripp, an ex-high school sweetheart who is just a friend and a cop and a hunky and extremely mysterious Special Agent, named Mark Vincent, sent down especially from Atlanta to partner with Julia and the south just got a bit hotter. I really just want to talk about Mark Vincent. I think I drooled just a little when he was introduced. Mark Vincent was intriguing because he’s so mysterious and we don’t know much about him. I do hope he turns up again. Yum!

The mystery of the abduction is solved by the end, but there are some unanswered questions in the book in regards to an incident with which happened in the past. There are also some more opportunities to explore Julia’s family dysfunctions. This is to set up the rest of the series. Miss Becton has a great series on her hands. She wove a fantastic mystery/thriller and I look forward to book two in the series.

Final Recommendation: If you love a mystery where you are guessing till the end who did it.

Can be purchased at Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble

Visit Jennifer Becton online or at the Absolute Liability webpage

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Stacks: Books to Read

My stack of books has dwindled somewhat, but only because some are library books and I want them back on the proper due date---no late fees, please. Let’s get to it:

Currently Reading:

I have two books up for review. One I just finished and one is on its way in the mail.
Review coming Monday

In the mail

The rest of my stacks are tame. A mystery for my book club at the local library and an Austen related novel.

Also, don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Charlottle Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Charlotte and Emily by Jude Morgan: A Review + GIVEAWAY

Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of The Brontës

By Jude Morgan

ISBN: 0312642733

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Source: Library

The historical facts about the lives of the Brontës to tell a fictional story were great. The story of the Brontës is an extremely sad one. First, their Mother dies leaving behind five daughters and a son with a staunchly religious Father. The two eldest daughters, Elizabeth and Maria die of consumption after being away at what was supposed to be a school of opportunities for poorer children. They were sixteen or seventeen upon their deaths.

Later on Branwell, the only son, dies of a combination of alcoholism, laudanum addiction and consumption.

Then Emily dies followed later by Anne, both of consumption.

The deaths of Branwell, Emily and Anne all happened within months of each other.

Charlotte is the only one left beside her father Mr. Brontë. Charlotte marries Arthur Nicholls, her father’s curate, but less than a year into marriage she dies of what is speculated to have been complications from pregnancy.

In this book we are given a glimpse into how Charlotte, Emily and Anne write their novels. The end result was timeless tales such as Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Jane Eyre, The Professor, Shirley and Villette. The Brontë’s were all prolific writers in their own right, but they also where staunchly shaped by their experiences as reflected in their works. Morgan shows this very well.

In fact reading this and remembering the Brontë works I have read I could see the shades of their experiences in their writing. The incidents in Agnes Grey are real events that happened to Anne while she was a governess. Jane Eyre’s terrible time at school are shadows of Charlotte’s time at the school which ultimately killed her sisters Elizabeth and Maria. The Yorkshire moors of Emily’s Wuthering Heights are a reflection of the environment she lived in. One has a greater appreciation for their work when one understands the life they lived.

Jude Morgan does an excellent job of weaving the facts with a good story and while I already knew much of the Brontë’s I learned some more about them through this work. This is a good way for people who may not like biographies to learn about the lives of people they want to know more about. I cannot fault the author with his ability to tell a story because he does it so well.

I had some issues with this book however!

First, it is difficult to read. Morgan’s writing style is blunt, awkward and hard to get through. In a way it almost took away from the story and it wasn’t till I was almost finished with the book that I sort of adjusted to the writing. I don’t know if the way Morgan wrote this book was typical of his usual style, but in my opinion it was doing no favors to the book, but then in a way it was just like the sad, dismal lives of the Brontë’s and perhaps that was Morgan’s point.

Finally, the original title of the book was The Taste of Sorrow, but for the US publication the title was changed to Charlotte and Emily, which makes me upset. Just liked when Anne Brontë was alive she if overshadowed and pushed to the corner. This is a book about the Brontës which means Anne is a member too. It is unfortunate that Anne did not seem to warrant the same recognition as her sisters Charlotte and Emily. The published should have retained the original title as it was aptly reflective of the novel itself, but I digress.

Final Recommendation: Despite my major gripes with this book I would suggest reading it as the storytelling prose which Jude Morgan exhibits is really masterful…if you can get through Morgan’s writing style that is.


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