Category Archives: reviews

Review: I Survived the Titanic by Lawrence Beesley

I’ve been fascinated with the Titanic quite a while and have many books on the subject, but this one is the most enjoyable I’ve ever read. Lawrence Beesley was a second-class passenger on the Titanic and survived the sinking.

In I Survived the Titanic, he gives readers a play-by-play of the crash, from impact to rescue in a way only a true account can. A few of my favorite parts are:

1. When the iceberg first hits and no one is really worried about it. After all, it was an unsinkable ship, right? He walked through the smoking room where gentlemen were playing cards. One of the gentlemen jokes about his glass of whiskey and says,

“Just run along the deck and see if any ice has come aboard: I would like some for this.”

To which all in the room laughed. It’s amazing to me that the ice would be joked about when not two hours later, the ship was under the deep dark sea, probably accompanied by the joking gentlemen himself.

2. One of the biggest things this account speaks of are the misconceptions we hold about the crew, passengers, and the mood of that bitterly cold night. He mentions several times that they never thought the ship would sink. There was no panic. No rush. No indication of anything being wrong.

“…after we had embarked in the lifeboats and rowed away from the Titanic, it would not have surprised us to hear that all passengers would be saved: the cries of drowning people after the Titanic gave the final plunge were a thunderbolt to us.”

3. His mention of details I had not heard yet. Like there was a stoker on his boat so cold because he wore only pants and shirt because below decks was so hot working with the coal. Or the woman with so many furs she started handing them out to those who were shivering on the lifeboat. Or the Chinese passengers who saved themselves by hiding under the seats in rowboats, only discovered when they started unloading at the Carpathia.

For anyone interested in the Titanic this is a must-read.

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Review: A Peculiar Engagement by Kara Louise

A Peculiar Engagement by Kara Louise is an interesting take on the life of one of Pride and Prejudice‘s lesser loved characters. Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne de Bourgh.

I have to say I have never once wondered how Anne felt, what her child was like, or what happened to her after Darcy and Lizzy got together, but for those of you who have wondered, this is your answer. This book not only explains Anne’s view of the whole Lady Catherine-planned engagement of her daughter to Mr. Darcy, but it flashes back to their childhoods. Part adulthood and part childhood, this story flips back and forth, explaining their relationship as cousins. Their first meeting, as they both lost their parents at the same time and wrote letters to each other of encouragement, and how as they grew older the pressure of engagement infected their otherwise pleasant relationship.

While this book may not wow Darcy fanatics, it does give a nice glimpse of his possible childhood. It also connects another of Kara Louise’s variations, Mr. Darcy’s Rival.

My favorite bits of information gleaned from this book are:

  • Getting a glimpse of Anne’s father before he passed. Hard to imagine what kind of man would put up with Lady Catherine.
  • Richard (Col. Fitzwilliam) I’ve always liked him but he really comes alive in this book. I like the way Kara portrayed him here.
  • Seeing the “Georgianna goes to Ramsgate” situation arise while Darcy is at Rosings and Anne encourages him to investigate.
  • The fact that Anne is a writer and publishes books behind Lady Catherine’s back. Take that!
  • The connection this book has to Kara Louise’s Mr. Darcy’s Rival book.
  • Anne’s love interest is rather interesting and I love how the elopement is conducted.

A line from this book I find especially inspirational is what Anne’s love tells her when she mourns not being able to do things because of her asthma.

“Do not regret what you cannot do. You must allow yourself to fully enjoy those things you can do and be thankful for those blessings.”

This is a quote I will be putting up in my office to remind myself everyday. After being in a wheelchair for seven months last year, I could have used this little insight during recovery! But it’s a good thing to remember at all times.

While I’m not a fan of Anne de Bourgh in general and probably would not have read a book centered on her except for Kara Louise writing it, I am glad I did read this book for the pieces it filled in for me.

Now, if she’d only write a Colonel Fitzwilliam book! 🙂

Review: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I absolutely adore this book. I read the first couple pages of Edenbrooke over a few days, but when Marianne’s personality started showing, I was caught and could not put it down. I read chapters three-to the end and in captured anticipation.

Marianne is a country mouse who’s staying with her grumpy grandmother in Bath and being stalked by a creepy wet-mouth dude who writes bad poetry about her. Her twin, Cecily, is a city mouse so she’s off in London enjoying her season with aims to capture a rich, titled husband. Marianne is happy not to be in the society crush, but when Cecily writes to invite her to a country estate named Edenbrooke, she can’t resist.

Adventure and excitement thrill Marianne as she sets off for Edenbrooke, but when a highwayman shoots her carriage driver on the way, stealing her mother’s locket and leaving her and her maid stranded in the wilderness, it seems she may never reach the estate. Somehow Marianne finds the strength to get to an inn and even saves the carriage driver’s life.

Although she supposed to be an elegant young lady, she’s funny and adventurous and clumsy which makes her highly entertaining to read.

The gentleman in this story is unexpected and charming as well, although you aren’t quite sure who she’ll end up with in the end. The journey getting there is fun and satisfying.

There are so many gem scenes in this book, I found myself unable to take a break as I had to find out what happened next! Delightful side characters also made the tale fun and I found the family she stayed with to be refreshingly kind. Too many of the Regency upper class in books tend to be ugly self-serving jerks. The Wyndham family is completely the opposite. They are kind, compassionate, and really seem to care about their guests. There’s no talk about high society and how she doesn’t fit in, which I would assume was more the case when people came to stay with you in those days.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will look for more from this writer.

Review: The Most to Lose by Laura Landon

mostoloseThe Most to Lose by Laura Landon is a beautiful tale of longing.

Cecelia has loved Jonah since she was just a young girl running along behind her brother’s best friend, but when Jonah and her brother get into a fight over another woman, she thinks she’ll never see him again. Cece’s brother hopes he never does. He misunderstands a situation that might cause him to lose his friend forever.

My favorite scene is one that Laura does the best…the entrance of the male love interest. The way she crafts the scene, describing his entrance, his manly stance, his fierce expression, and how the room takes him in – it’s magic.

The men in this tale are so contradictory, yet so much alike it’s easy to see how they were friends once upon a time. And the villain in this book, who only appears in one scene, is someone you will love to hate. It is interesting to note that she writes villains that are selfish, spoiled women and dastardly, evil men, who lived long ago, but I’ll bet they resemble people you know today.

Laura has a way of presenting a most dire situation, setting up believable characters, and then mixing them all together into a tale that can keep you captivated from beginning to end. Her heroines are strong, smart, opinionated gals who fight for what they believe in, even if it goes against society’s acceptable behavior. I also really enjoy how she is able to create male characters that, although they may be misunderstood by some, truly try to do the right thing.

I have been a fan of Laura’s work fro some time now. Laura seems to have a diverse talent that makes each one of her books different, each one a sparkling gem on her charm bracelet of work. Romances are so often formulaic, but Laura’s characters and settings make you forget the formula and just read.

Bravo Laura! I loved this book. Now on to the next! 🙂

Review: Mr. Darcy’s Christmas by Elizabeth Aston

darcyxmasIf there is one character I’d love to see matched up and taken care from the original Pride and Prejudice book, it is Georgiana. Such a sweet and tortured girl deserves someone to love and to love her. Even after all the Wickham nonsense, it’s miraculous that she still believes in love at all.

In Mr. Darcy’s Christmas, Georgiana is at Pemberley, preparing for the festive holiday and knowing it will be the last one with her in household. She’s got herself engaged and in the New Year, will become someone’s wife with a house of her own.

Her fiancé is a good man named Mr. Moresby, whose only fault is having a passing fancy for Caroline Bingley before meeting Georgiana. Although Darcy and Elizabeth have their doubts Mr. Moresby will make her happy, Georgiana knows he will take care of her and keep her safe as Mr. Wickham never could. However, when conniving Miss Bingley arrives for Christmas celebrations, all bets are off. She had Mr. Moresby first and is determined to win him back at all costs.

Will Georgianna survive a cutting attack on her own turf and what part does her childhood friend, Sir Giles Hawkins play in the game?

I absolutely adore this tale. Not only did it star my favorite supporting character, Georgiana, it gave me insight on how she adores the holidays and shows she will stick up for herself if need be. I was also interested to find out what she would do when faced with the whole nasty Wickham affair. I was cheering for Georgiana the entire book.

I have and will always be an Elizabeth Aston fan and finding these little novellas after her death was like a present reserved just for me.

What is your favorite Elizabeth Aston work?

Review: The Painted Fan by Elizabeth Aston

fanThe Painted Fan is another great Pride and Prejudice-inspired short story by Elizabeth Aston.

Anna is a young miss in her first season and she instantly falls for the charming and handsome Mr. Standish. He seems to be really interested in her until one day when the switch is turned off. What did she do? What was he told and why is he suddenly interested in another girl? Maybe his colleague Mr. Vere has something to do with it?

When she over hears a piece of juicy espionage, will Anna be able to use her natural quick wit to not only solve the case, but catch one of the slipperiest traitors to the crown?

I enjoyed the inquisitiveness of Anna and how even though everyone around her dismissed her as a brainless noob to high society and world affairs, she managed to prove she had brains. I was also surprised at a few twists in this book. People weren’t who or what I thought they were and that was fun in a genre flooded with predictable plots.

I have and will always be an Elizabeth Aston fan and finding these little shorts after her death was like a present reserved just for me.

What is your favorite Elizabeth Aston work?

Review: Mr. Darcy’s Drama by Elizabeth Aston

mrddA cute romance set in the home of now married Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s Drama is a novella that takes the best parts of Mansfield Park and mixes it with a new romance between a governess and a charming stranger. The author even manages to add a dash of Northanger Abbey into this one.

When a trunk full of costumes is discovered in the attic of Pemberley, the guests who are trapped indoors by the rain, decide to put on a theatrical. Miss Beckford, their lovely new governess is called to produce a play she wrote years ago for fun family amusement. One of the guests, Mr. Aconbury, is much sought after by the single ladies in the house when it is discovered he’s made a sizable fortune overseas. Even Lady Catherine tolerates the theatrical to get her precious Anne in the mix. But Mr. Aconbury doesn’t want some young maid with eyes only on fortune. He wants a smart woman who likes him for himself. Miss Beckford may be just the one, because she felt for him before she knew about his wealth. Now he is the catch of the county, will he think she is only seeking the freedom he can grant her?

I found this a pleasant, amusing, love story with a smart heroin and not too much conflict sent in to torment us “happily ever after” romance lovers. I have and will always be an Elizabeth Aston fan and finding these little novellas after her death was like a present reserved just for me. They can all be found on Kindle now.

What is your favorite Elizabeth Aston work?