Book Review: Austenland

I recently did a review on Shannon Hale’s Midnight in Austenland, and in the review I mentioned I was planning on reading the book’s friend, Austenland.  Well, I have and I have to say I enjoyed it just as much.

Austenland was amazing on an entirely different level.  The mystery is of a different nature, and yet just as intriguing and page-turning.  The romance is a different quality, but is still very beautiful and heart-wrenching.

This book follows a middle-aged woman named Jane Hayes who is followed by a trail of very painful and disappointing relationships.  She fell in love with Pride and Prejudice when she was a teenager and she has been haunted by her idea of Mr. Darcy ever since.  When she arrives at Austenland, she has an entirely different view of it.  Jane goes into Austenland wanting to get swept up with the fantasy and hoping to leave it three weeks later with her Mr. Darcy obsession kicked and having become the strong, independent woman she believes she ought to be.  Those three weeks are just as swift and confusing and full of existential questioning as Charlotte of Midnight in Austenland‘s were.  Jane’s painful awareness of the actors and their two-sided (or more) nature confuses and blinds her to the reality of her own story and her own happy ending.

Different from her other book, Shannon Hale’s Austenland still succeeded in sucking me into her twisting plot and keeping me turning the pages and hoping ardently for a happy ending until the very last page.

I look forward to reading some of Shannon Hale’s other books and I encourage you to read this one.  Happy reading!!

~The Wise Girl

Book Review: North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful, written by Justina Chen Headley, is an incredibly poignant novel about a teenage girl with a port-wine stain birthmark and her journey in understanding what true beauty is.  Like any great book there is, of course, more to it than that.

Living under an oppressive and verbally abusive father, this book takes us along with Terra Cooper as she discovers beauty, love, life, travels, and freedom, and what everything means.  We follow Terra and her friends and family as they unearth their deepest fears, worries, and demons and find their own true beauty.  Filled with questions worthy of a philosopher, romance, pain and fear, and emotional diction, this novel had me intrigued until the very end and left me thinking- which is exactly how I like my books.

I recommend giving this book a read!  I look forward to seeing what other novels Justina Chen Headley has to offer us.

Happy reading!

~The Wise Girl

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland

I discovered this author through the recommendation from Jessica Day George (another author I adore) and I am very glad I did.  I keep saying that such-and-such author is my new favorite or such-and-such author is my NEW favorite, and perhaps I am just being presumptuous or I am simply too nice, but I do believe I will enjoy reading all of Shannon Hale’s books.

Midnight in Austenland was amazing.  It’s about a middle-aged woman who recently got divorced after the husband she loved with all her heart cheated on her.  She is so hurt that she numbs herself to emotion and turns her heart to stone.  After dozens of blind dates set up by well-meaning friends, Charlotte feels even worse than before and decides to take a vacation in hopes of finding… well she isn’t sure exactly what… while her kids are staying with the ex-husband.  That is how she ends up at Austenland, where people go to pretend you are in the same time era as Jane Austen’s novels.  Here, the characters spend two weeks in Pembrook Park dressing in corsets and long-skirted dresses, eating traditional meals, dancing, doing needlepoint, and letting themselves fall in pretend love with the handsome gentlemen actors.  Charlotte goes because she has recently fallen in love with every aspect of Jane Austen’s novels.  What happens in those few weeks no one expected, especially not Charlotte.

Filled with adventure, romance, friendship, mystery, and gasp-out-loud, fail-to-hide-your-excited-giggle moments, Midnight in Austenland had me hooked until the last page and wishing for more.  Perfect from cover to cover, I recommend this book whole-heartedly, and look forward to reading the first book that takes place in this Jane Austen worthy setting, Austenland.

If you enjoyed Jane Austen’s novels, romance, mystery, or wish you could be in a place such as Austenland, I really recommend you read these two books.  I loved them very much.

Happy reading!!!

~The Wise Girl

Book Review: Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight, and Dragon Spear

Jessica Day George (my goodness, her name is long, yet it has a lovely ring to it) has written another book that I adore.

Dragon Slippers is her very first novel for young readers, and I will admit that it is a fabulous first book.  I was a bit uncertain about it at first, for I was afraid it would be a bit too childish, but I stuck through to the end (I believe you should give a book a chance and read through to the end, or close to it) and was not disappointed.

The book touches on many of the things I so ardently love: magic, dragons, adventure, and a possibility of love.  This book also got me really interested in medieval clothing, in particular dresses.  I have come to realize, in the setting of this book especially, that dress-making (and clothes-making in general) is an art.

The main character of this book, Creel (I love her name, shortened and whole), is a poor girl from a poor family that is desperate for a bit of income.  They’re so desperate that her aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon in hopes that some brave (and rich!) knight will rescue her and beg her to marry him, thus benefiting her family.  Of course, it doesn’t go as her aunt expects it to and the book follows Creel on her amazing adventures with dragons, dress-making, royalty, and magic galore.

I loved this book so much that I didn’t hesitate to read the next two in the series.  Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear didn’t disappoint at all.  I always worry with books such as these that the sequels will disappoint and be much too similar with the same “problem” that characterized the first book.  That was not the case with this series, though.  The next two books continued to follow Creel and her friends, new and old, with the continued themes that I adore.  The “problems”, though, were entirely different and incredibly interesting.  Each book just got better and better.  In the second book I was surprised by the challenges Creel faced, and in the third book, I was even more surprised.

If you enjoy dragons, magic, romance, adventure, medieval settings, or any of Jessica Day George’s other books, I highly recommend you read this series!!  I enjoyed it very much.

Happy reading!

~The Wise Girl