I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Feature & Follow (4)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet  people and gain more  followers in the book blogging community.

Q: Best cover?  What is the best cover of a book that you've read and didn't like?

On Parajunkee this is the question, so I'll do both and have all bases covered! This is a really hard one for me! I suppose most of the books I didn't like, also didn't really have great covers.  But for now I'll say Jane by Marielena Zuniga.  It's a really pretty, aesthetically pleasing cover - and the desolate landscape evokes the moors for the Jane Eyre reference.  The book itself included too many verbatim passages from Jane Eyre to really make it standout as it's own book and so I was disappointed by that.

Q: Best cover?  What is the best cover of a book that you've read and loved?

On Alison Can Read this is the question - so I pick Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson (I'm mainly sticking to recent reads for this)  Lovely Regency read, so a girl in a period dress, and a stately manor is perfect!  And I love the font for Edenbrooke as well!

Guest Post: Author, Michael Diack on Marketing Tips for Writers

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Please enjoy this guest post by new author, Michael Diack.  His novel "The Super Spud Trilogy" is about potato chips.  No really!  Here's the synopsis:

Genetic engineering has accomplished many things, one of which has been to create the Super Spud! The humble potato elevated to new heights, creating the most flavoursome crisps ever known to humankind! But that's not all - A magical transformation occurs to all Super Spud crisps not eaten before their use-by date. They take on a life of their own. And so long as they remain undetected by humans, they enjoy life in their own Super Spud cities, take part in major Super Spud sporting events and even start the odd Super Spud war or two. Join Colin, Cougar, Hannibal Vector, Generals Rock, Jock and Strap and all the others in their rollicking adventures. You'll never look at a packet of crisps in the same way again! Fun, quirky and totally original.

And now on to the guest post:

Hi everyone and thanks to Charlene for allowing me to guest post on her blog.  My name is Michael Diack and I recently published The Super Spud Trilogy in paperback and on Kindle.  I thought I’d write a post helping to give advice to all budding writers out there based on the feedback from my editor and my own marketing experiences.

The most important thing when writing your book is to know your audience.  Investigate writers’ websites and blogs, as well as looking on Amazon at the kinds of reviews similar books receive. What seems to appeal the most? What kinds of things provoke strong negative criticism etc? Look at the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook website too.  The best research of all is to look at other published authors – the successful ones who most closely match your own style/approach and type of book – and work out what it is that makes their books winners. Look at the how they have structured their work, how they’ve used plot devices, how they have thought through their characterisation.  Any reader – adult, teen or child – likes to feel certain that the book they are about to read is geared to them, or is likely to be a book that appeals.    There are crossover exceptions, of course, such as the Harry Potter and His Dark Materials books, which while ostensibly are older children’s books, they appealed to both adults and children equally – but they are in the minority and really only did so because the plots are incredibly multi-layered and are extremely well developed.

 Regarding marketing, I found Goodreads and a website called BookBlogs to be two excellent website for networking and building up a fan base.  Goodreads is very good for connecting with readers, advertising and posting giveaways.  Book Blogs is good for building up a following on Facebook, Twitter and to read advice from fellow writers and readers – there are tonnes of new forums and discussions every day.  Other than that, a lot of hard work and patience is required to market your book.  I send out dozens of emails every week and contact hundreds of bloggers, but it’s important to check their review policy first.  Many bloggers, depending on their workload, are very busy to review books but I found that as long as you are polite and respectful to their policy they will still be very helpful and strive to promote your book some way through interview or guest post.  I try to update Twitter every day, a mix of quotes from my book but also funny, non-book related tweets so not to bombard my followers too much.

Finally, here are some tips concerning the use of numerals in your novel (mine were all over the place initially until my editor told me the house rules).  Generally, the style is to spell all numbers from 1-10 (inclusive), after which the numerals apply.   Also sums of money - £10 note (not ten pound note) and £10,000 (not ten thousand pounds) – except for very large amounts e.g.  a million dollars or £1 million. Measurements and distances are always numerals e.g. 40 miles, 1,000 feet.   O’clock times of day are written e.g. eight o’clock, as are centuries – so twentieth century (not 20th century). Other times e.g. 8 a.m., 10 p.m. are numerals and ages only need to be hyphenated when preceding a noun e.g. ‘40-year-old man’. If you are saying ‘he was 40 years old’, it should be unhyphenated. Hope this helped a little bit, I think the most important thing to do is to truly believe in your work and never give up on your dream.  You can find me on Goodreads or my blog, will be more than happy to interact and help where I can.

Author Links:

Links for The Super Spud Trilogy:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Highlight Poetry (7)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

The Fly
William Blake

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

This is such a short, simple seeming poem, but so thought-provoking.  I first came across this poem in an Agatha Christie novel (Endless Night, which featured another poem I love - that will come later) and it works perfectly with that novel which is also thought-provoking and quite different from the usual Agatha Christie fare.

The idea that we can be just as insignificant as a fly for a higher being is quite humbling; that we have life should be a great gift. Life can be fleeting and the end unpredictable.  And also I think equating our lives to even the most seemingly insignificant life forms on Earth helps one to remember that having life and dying will be the same for every living thing.  In a very broad, metaphysical sense. Unfortunately, this poem doesn't make me like flies. :)
Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: So L.A.

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
So L.A.
by Bridget Hoida

Plot Summary:

Beautiful Magdalena de la Cruz breezed through Berkeley and built an empire selling designer water. She'd never felt awkward or unattractive... until she moved to Los Angeles. In L.A. where everything smells like acetone and Errol Flynn, Magdalena attempts to reinvent herself as a geographically appropriate bombshell with rhinestones, silicone and gin as she seeks an escape from her unraveling marriage and the traumatic death of her younger brother, Junah. Magdalena's Los Angeles is glitzy and glamorous but also a landscape of the absurd. Her languidly lyrical voice provides a travel guide for a city of make-believe, where even Hollywood insiders feel left out.


I was looking forward to reading a novel where Los Angeles plays such an important part as I live in the area, though in not nearly as glamourous an area as are Magdalena's haunts.


A very contemporary novel with a witty, jaded and volatile narrator in Magdalena who must cope with her feeling of guilt over the death of her brother Junah, and her growing estrangement with her husband Ricky.  Magdalena wins you over with her fast-paced narrative voice, even as you shake your head over her self-destructive behavior.  Magdalena participates in the unique pageantry of the Angeleno elite (cosmetic surgery, disposable cars, alcohol on tap at all times) and yet her commentary can be derisive and self-mocking, and all this is juxtaposed by well-placed flashbacks of Magdalena's more wholesome family life, and her life with her husband before they started a successful business.  The poignancy of Magdalena's grief and her struggle to understand the direction of her life provide the main drama in this book.

I was drawn into the story by the writing style of the author which is brilliant and vivid - the author has great ability in fleshing out her characters in words.  The sometimes outrageously decadent behavior of the characters can be tiresome, as I think may be the point, and Magdalena's neurosis can also be grating as the novel goes on, but the resolution of all the plot threads is marvelously well done.  I am perhaps not the best target audience for this story, people who are interested in flawed characters and how they work through their problems, as well as contemporary reads will find much to enjoy in this novel.

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with TLC Book Tours.  Please click on the image below to visit this book's other stops on the tour.

Review: Chocolate Roses

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Chocolate Roses
by Joan Sowards

Plot Summary:

She’s in love . . .
He’s out of reach . . .
Is there any hope?

Janie Rose Whitaker’s world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie’s. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the “perfect” guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she resists getting involved in Roger’s complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.

You will laugh, cry, and crave chocolate as you read this LDS parody of the classic novel 'Jane Eyre.'


Jane Eyre parody?  Chocolate?  Sounds good to me!  And seems like it'll be a sweet romance.  *obligatory groan*


Janie Whitaker is in looovveee.  With a man she sees for a few minutes every week, when he comes in to buy some chocolate to be delivered to a mysterious person at a mental institution.  He barely acknowledges her, barely knows that she is there, yet she has an instant infatuation with him because he’s extremely handsome and has very sad eyes.  Not really the stuff of inspiring romance - I could have used a little more character development with Roger Wentworth.  He is a good man of course, but since Janie hardly knows him, I hardly know him.  The book has an LDS slant, and most of the main characters are Mormons, with one character converting in the book.  Not being of that faith myself, I was a little confused at some of the things Mormons do as part of their religion, but it is not a major part of the book.

There is some intrigue with the secret Mr. and Mrs. Wentworth are keeping, but Janie does know fairly early on that Mr. Wentworth is married and she does her best to fight her feelings for him.  That conflict then is pretty straightforward, and I had a hard time feeling much sympathy with Janie since she knew what she was getting into.  This novel is a modern update of Jane Eyre, (there are also quotes from the original novel, heading each chapter) but the whole thing felt very sanitized, and Mr. Wentworth seemed more like a cardboard cutout of a character for Janie to project her feelings on to.  And I suppose because she was Mormon, Janie was far too concerned with obtaining a husband sometimes and that made me admire her character less. The supporting characters - mainly the ones who work in the shop with Janie - were more entertaining and the more oblique nods to characters in Jane Eyre (like John, the Baptist, Trevor, and Janie’s dog, Flo) made me smile because I appreciated their inclusion in the story. Overall, this story was quite passion-less for me; I didn’t feel particularly moved by the characters, or their predicament, the main interest it held for me was in how aspects of Jane Eyre were worked into the story.

Fourth book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge
Sunday, August 26, 2012

Suspense Sundays (9)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.

Hey! It was Gene Kelly's birthday this week, so I picked an appropriate Suspense story:

"To Find Help"
Air date: January 6, 1949
Starring Gene Kelly and Ethel Barrymore

Gene Kelly plays a young man by the name of Howard who is hired by kindly Mrs. Gillis to do some handy work around her house for the day.  Good help is so hard to find during the war.  Unfortunately nice looking Howard (well he is played by Gene Kelly!) has "something wrong with his mind", which is why he wasn't drafted into the war.  And he also seems to think Mrs.Gillis blames him for that.  This episode is mostly a slow building of tension as Mrs. Gillis realizes Howard isn't very nice at all, and Howard just wants to do his job without Mrs. Gillis always watching him.  So he locks her up.  And makes sure her dog stops bothering him.  And cuts the telephone line...

Gene is very against type in this radio series - menacing, unpredictable, his tone of voice slightly unemotional as he vacillates between anger and confusion and his insistence to finish the job he was given.  It's like he doesn't even realize that what he is doing is scaring Mrs.Gillis sometimes.  Ethel Barrymore does a fantastic job as well trying to hold herself together as she tries to find a way out of this nightmare.  This is such a great episode!

Note: This radio play was first performed by Frank Sinatra a couple years earlier - basically the same script, but Frank and Gene had a slightly different approach to the material.  Very interesting to listen to both and compare!  You can probably guess which one I liked best. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: The Seven Gifts

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Seven Gifts
by John Mellor

Plot Summary:

In The Seven Gifts a reclusive outcast rock star heads a band of lonely misfits trapped in the pages of seven mysterious books locked away at the top of a remote seaside tower. Each cryptic book contains clues to a hidden gift that was bestowed on the Earth by its guardian. A young boy is commanded by an Angel to read and decipher the seven stories.

The stories transcend all worldly notions of normal, yet remain strangely matter-of-fact; and they challenge even this boy's view of reality as he struggles to unveil the gifts, and also the enigma of the Angel, and the secret of himself. When the boy finally closes the books the gifts are no longer hidden, and the characters no longer trapped; and he is no longer a boy.


By the plot summary and other comments I read about this books, I was expecting a unique, layered story with a strong message or moral.


The seven short stories in this book were very interesting and came off as fairy tales in a way.  They were set in a different place and time and had a variety of unique and colorful characters, and each story had a message that highlighted a "gift" that was given by God to humankind.  There is a strong religious message throughout the book, which makes sense when the ending is revealed.

The author has credibly created thought-provoking moral fables, where the "gift" illustrated is not always obvious.  I enjoyed the stories more than the summing up by the Angel and the boy at times, and I felt like if there was a way to tie up the stories without the extra chapters with these recurring characters, this book would have flowed better.  As it is, it is an interesting, short read, and I think it would especially appeal to people with strong religious beliefs.

review copy kindly provided by the author

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Highlight Poetry (6)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry 
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

Oh my Luve's like a red, red rose
 That's newly sprung in June;
 Oh my Luve's like the melodie
 That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
 So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
 Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
 And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
 I will luve thee still, my dear,
 While the sands of o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
 And fare thee well, a while!
 And I will come again, my Luve,
 Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Well this is technically a song, but is often published as a poem so... I'll allow it. :D  It gives me an excuse to add some singing John Barrowman to this post.  I fell in love with this poem because of the Barrowman song and how beautifully soft and romantic it is.  It reminds me of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a wonderful time travel romance (the Scottish influence of course helps).  There is such a timelessness in the way the author of the poem describes his love, and poignancy in the end that he has to say farewell.
Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Wake of the Bloody Angel

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Wake of the Bloody Angel
by Alex Bledsoe

Plot Summary:

Twenty years ago, a barmaid in a harbor town fell for a young sailor who turned pirate to make his fortune. But what truly became of Black Edward Tew remains a mystery—one that has just fallen into the lap of freelance sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse.

For years, Eddie has kept his office above Angelina’s tavern, so when Angelina herself asks him to find out what happened to the dashing pirate who stole her heart, he can hardly say no—even though the trail is two decades old. Some say Black Edward and his ship, The Bloody Angel, went to bottom of the sea, taking with it a king’s fortune in treasure. Others say he rules a wealthy, secret pirate kingdom. And a few believe he still sails under a ghostly flag with a crew of the damned.

To find the truth, and earn his twenty-five gold pieces a day, Eddie must take to sea in the company of a former pirate queen in search of the infamous Black Edward Tew…and his even more legendary treasure.


Pirates and mystery!  I was expecting a good swashbuckling adventure!


Adventure, mystery, ghosts, sea monsters, and pirates!  There is a lot to love about this book!  It’s an excellent plot-driven story, with strongly realized characters and packed with action and suspense.  The main character, wry and sarcastic Eddie LaCrosse, takes us on his investigative journey to find a man who has been missing, dead or hidden for twenty years, and with such a cold trail, it's a wonder he manages to sniff out clues.  The details in his logical approach to investigating was very interesting to a mystery-lover like me.  His fellow sword jockey, Jane Argo, is a great character - a perfect foil to Eddie LaCrosse’s thoughtful, dispassionate approach to his work, and her antics which are sometimes funny, sometimes fierce and decisive, was always entertaining.

There are several tense scenes in this book that really drew me in and were perfectly captured in words by the author.  The danger and mystery was in equal measure throughout and made it very difficult to put this book down.  I highly recommend this book to all mystery and adventure fans!

review copy kindly provided by the publisher in connection with TLC Book Tours.  Click on the link below to visit this book on it's other tour stops.  You can enter a giveaway contest for this book by visiting Unabridged Chick.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Suspense Sundays! (8)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.

"The ABC Murders"
Air date: May 18, 1943
Starring Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester

This is a radio adaptation of the well known Agatha Christie mystery and is hugely unsuccessful.  I'm a big Christie fan and this is one of her best mysteries, so I know it is hard to adapt this novel into half an hour, but I think it could have been done better.  Basically, a serial killer is loose in England who appears to be killing people according to the alphabet; killing a person with an A name in an A town, etc.  And it seems like we know who is doing the killing, because this story is from the point of view of a man who has black outs, is a traveling salesman, and who is always in town when the murderer strikes.

Agatha Christie, and this story is of course unpredictable as always, but the radio program had to change around much of the plot to fit such a short time.  For me, it doesn't really work, suspense-wise and character-wise, and the twist in the end is not nearly so shocking as reading the original novel.  And my biggest peeve is they cut Poirot.  You know, the detective who solves the whole thing! You are better off listening to an audiobook of the Christie novel, than listening to this.  Perhaps though, if I didn't know the twist in the end, I might have enjoyed this episode more.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Boatman (psychological test)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
I was talking to my Mom earlier today and for some reason she remembered this story.  Apparently I read a book called The Pigman by Paul Zindel when I was in elementary school, and the following story was in it.  I really have almost no recollection of this story.  But when you read this story, you are asked a question at the end and what you answer reveals something about yourself.  This is just silly and I had fun debating with my family this morning on what answers make the most sense.

The Boatman
"There is a river with a bridge over it and a wife and her husband live in a house on one side. The wife has a lover who lives on the other side of the river, and the only way to get from one side of the river to the other is to walk across the bridge or to ask the boatman to take you. One day the husband tells his wife that he has to be gone all night to handle some business in a faraway town. The wife pleads with him to take her with him because she knows if he doesn’t she will be unfaithful to him. The husband absolutely refuses to take her because she will only be in the way of his important business."

"So the husband goes alone. When he is gone, the wife goes over the bridge and stays with her lover. The night passes, and the sun is almost up when the wife leaves because she must get back to her own house before her husband gets home. She starts to cross the bridge, but she sees an assassin waiting for her on the other side, and she knows if she tries to cross, he will murder her. In terror, she runs up the side of the river and asks the boatman to take her across, but he wants fifty cents. She has no money, so he refuses to take her. The wife runs back to the lover’s house, and explains to him what her predicament is. She asks him for fifty cents to pay the boatman. The lover refuses, telling her it’s her own fault for getting into the situation. As dawn comes up, the wife is nearly out of her mind and decided to dash across the bridge. When she comes face to face with the assassin. He takes out a large knife and stabs her to death."

Who is most responsible for the wife's murder?  List wife, husband, lover, assassin, and boatman in the order you think they are most guilty.  I am very curious to read other people's answers!
Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: The Bewitching of Alison Allbright

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Bewitching of Alison Allbright
by Alan Davidson

Plot Summary:

Alison's dreams of living a life of elegance and luxury start coming true when affluent, sophisticated Mrs. Considine takes her under her wing, but only too late does Alison realize the power of Mrs. Considine's spell.


Having loved Marina in a Green Dress by Alan Davidson, I decided to read some more of his work, and this one seemed the most well known.  I felt like there are similar themes between both works, as both Alison and Jessica from Marina in a Green Dress become "bewitched" by someone and are looking for something more in their lives.


The author's characterization of Alison is beautifully done.  Her unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her family and her school-life - only vaguely hinted that it might be all due to a skewed sense of values, and her selfishness - sets the scene very well for a young girl open to a new life no matter the consequences.  And as the author gradually reveals the sinister aspect of her relationship with Mrs. Considine, I always hoped it would work out well for Alison as the changes it was bringing about in her confidence and outlook on life were so positive.  

The suspense is what keeps you riveted, and as always Alan Davidson incrementally increases the tension masterfully.  Alison's transformation from there and back serves as an interesting moral tale about the importance of family and friendship and confidence in one self.  The only slight qualm I had with the story was the way it ended, as I felt it was a little too easy and left Mrs. Considine's true nature somewhat ambiguous.  But for all that, it's an intensely satisfying little story, with a great character-driven plot.
Thursday, August 16, 2012

Highlight Poetry (5)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry 
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

by Lord Byron

Farewell! if ever fondest prayer
For other’s weal availed on high,
Mine will not all be lost in air,
But waft thy name beyond the sky.
’Twere vain to speak, to weep, to sigh:
Oh! more than tears of blood can tell,
When wrung from guilt’s expiring eye,
Are in that word—Farewell!—Farewell!

These lips are mute, these eyes are dry;
But in my breast and in my brain,
Awake the pangs that pass not by,
The thought that ne’er shall sleep again.
My soul nor deigns nor dares complain,
Though grief and passion there rebel;
I only know we loved in vain—
I only feel—Farewell!—Farewell!

I looked up this poem because it was used as the song Blanche Ingram sings in the 2011 Jane Eyre film.  There are reasons why this was a fantastic choice for that scene in the film, as a nod to the scene in the book (by Lord Byron from The Corsair) but I love this poem as a precursor to what happens in the book/film.  Jane has to leave Mr. Rochester and though her "grief and passion there rebel" she will leave, and I feel like the whole poem shows how Jane feels perfectly.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Guest Post & Jane Eyre Retellings

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
My "3 Books" guest post on Alison Can Read for books that re-imagine Jane Eyre, has inspired me to blog more on books that are retellings of Jane Eyre.  It's kind of my obsession...  It's okay, I can stop whenever I want though.  But not today.  There are more "contemporary" (modern) retellings than there are historical or science fiction type so I thought I would pick a past, future, and space time novel for this post.  So here are three more books with the theme of Jane Eyre.

In the past
Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg places the story at the end of the twenties, and around the time of the end of the silent movie era.  This novel is also the first and only one (I believe) to switch genders between the main characters, so that "Jane" is now lowly chauffeur John Doyle to "Mr. Rochester"- film star Pauline Sloane.  With this change, the dynamic of the story is considerably different.  I found both John and Pauline much less sympathetic and weaker than their original counterparts.  Libby Sternberg does a fantastic job of transposing scenes and plot points from Jane Eyre into the (well researched) golden era of Hollywood.  Pauline Sloane's "secret" was a disappointment to me (as in not enough to break up true love) but it was definitely a surprise.  It was fun to read how familiar scenes can become so different in Libby's book, but I wasn't as impressed with John and Pauline's romance.

In the future
I believe Jane_E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole-Cupp takes place future Earth (I would double check, but I bought this as an ebook from B&N, but now I use kindle and can't convert, Ugh.  I would definitely buy a print copy of this book because it's my favorite retelling, but the price is currently pretty ridiculous. $25 for paperback!?)  This novel is characterized by really inventive futuristic changes (like Mrs. Fairfax is a hologram!), and a spiky, literally kick-ass heroine in Jane_E.  Jane's "Lowood" is a school where they train girls to deliver secret, sensitive information for clients who pay well so Jane is also well trained in martial arts.  Resulting in a fun scene where when Thorne (Rochester) appears for the first time and is trying to get into his house.  Jane mistakes him for a robber however, and incapacitates him.  This novel is most amazing though for the chemistry between Jane_E and Thorne; it's fun and spirited and so romantic.  And the farewell scene is heartbreaking!

The final frontier
Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn might be the first actual retelling of Jane Eyre - one that closely follows the plot of the original novel - and features interplanetary travel, and the main action centers on a planet called Fieldstone which does not have it's own oxygen and must rely on air bubbles around all the towns and houses, including Thorrastone Park.  (Don't worry, there still manages to be a storm on the night of the proposal).  The author condenses Jenna's childhood as an artificially gestated baby who is unwanted by the woman who commissioned her, and so Jenna learns nuclear technology as a way to gain a place in a society where her birth means she is of a lower class.  This novel sets up a very rigid class hierarchy which makes the love story between Jenna and Everett Ravenbeck that much more romantic.  And you know that year Jane spends with her cousins in the original novel?  Well Jenna just takes a year-long trip to a far-away planet and is held in cryo-stasis for the duration.  A great way to quickly advance the time Jenna must be apart from Everett.  There are many intriguing and unique touches to this novel, and an interesting look at why class prejudices still persist in modern society.
Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Insurgent

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
by Veronica Roth

Plot Summary

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


Having really enjoyed the first installment - Divergent - I was looking forward to more action, answers and healing after those devastating final chapters of Divergent.


Well, there were parts that I really loved, but also parts that really frustrated me.  I don't think I quite realized how the people in this world are different from us before - it seemed like it was dystopian future (just us in the future), but there is a lot more to why this society came to be.  And those answers only came towards the end of this book, making me wonder why certain characters can act so illogically sometimes.  Tris and Tobias are the main protagonists, but I was getting fed up with their actions many times, and wished we could follow someone else.  But as the story progressed, I found it interesting how the author shows that characters who are allied with certain factions, don't have or use the attributes that are normally associated with a faction they are not a part of.  So while it seemed odd and annoying that characters can't think through a problem and come up with, what seemed to me, the obvious solution, it works for the story and especially when the revelations are made in the end.  I just had to get through characters I liked in the first book, become a little annoying in this one.

This book delves much more into the politics of the factions and has Tris and Tobias navigating through many of them, and the main problem of this book is how to combat the power of the Erudite.  There is a lot of action and suspense in this story, and further character development, so as the middle book of a trilogy, I think it is a great set-up for the last book.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Suspense Sundays! (7)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.

"Moment of Darkness"
Air date: April 20, 1943
Starring Peter Lorre and Wendy Barrie

A group of people converge on good old Aunt Hester, who's husband has passed away and she has come under the power of a medium by the name of George Ravel.  Aunt Hester's niece Marjorie, the family solicitor Stephens, and his American friend Blake, are all on a train to Aunt Hester's residence on the French Riviera.  Stephens knows George Ravel is a fake, and is sure he can prove it.  If they tie him up like the medium, and have a seance, he'll show everyone that he can perform the same tricks.  So that's what they do.  In that moment of darkness though, someone screams, and when the light is turned back on Stephens has a knife in his chest. Obviously someone in the room killed Stephens.  And it must have been suspicious Ravel right?

Well, that's not right, as I'm sure everyone would guess.  I liked this story, though I thought the resolution was very quick (and surprising of course!) but, it was too hard to try and guess who might have done it because they didn't give enough hints.  But the twist on who George Ravel really was, was excellent.  Poor Peter Lorre, always the suspicious character.  Also, I got a kick out of the name of the solicitor - Toby Stephens! (you know, that English actor who played Mr. Rochester... anybody?  Nobody.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Feature and Follow (3)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet  people and gain more  followers in the book blogging community.

Q: What would you do over if you were to start your blog again from scratch?

I think find a good way to organize and index all my reviews.   I would like to go over my tagging system again, maybe include genres and the like, but I'm not quite sure what or how I want to do it, so I procrastinate still more as I think it over!  

Review: Humanless

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
by Teodora Kostova

Plot Summary:

The Gods are trying to kill her.
The Gods are trying to protect her.
The Gods will fall at her feet.

When Ava - a 18-year-old student from a wealthy family - meets Blake, she is stunned by his extraordinary beautiful appearance and unexpected rudeness. Little did she know, that he is Ares – the God of War himself, sent down to Earth to kill her. Something else she doesn’t know – he’s human and he has no intention of fulfilling his mission.

"This book is a real gem, a Greek odyssey in the heart of London!" Steven Waters

Humanless is a Young Adult novel, first part of a three-book series.


I was looking forward to seeing why this human was causing so much trouble for the Greek gods, and also looking forward to how their interactions with modern society would work.


This novel is a quick read, with lots of action.  It starts with the gods in Olympus and the reason why the gods would be interested in an ordinary human.  It starts with jealous Hera and ongoing attempts to keep her husband, Zeus faithful to her.  She doesn't mind his infidelities so much though, as long as he always loves her.  But a vision reveals to Hera that Zeus would fall in love with a human many centuries into the future so that Hera tries everything she can to prevent it.  Including cleverly causing the human race to forget about the Greek Gods, and making it so that Zeus forbids his fellow immortals from ever dealing with humans again.  But when the human girl is born, Hera can't help but feel jealous and uneasy and is determined that the girl should die.  So she sends her son Ares to make sure of it.  But that doesn't happen.  

There are a couple of other gods that gravitate towards Ava and her cousin Posy, but their role in the unfolding events is kept under wraps until near the end.  This novel is simple, and cute with little in the way of character depth and development to the romance.  Ares, or Blake as he is known, and Ava are quickly completely in love, and though I wished there had been more to cement their bond in the way of dialogue  and common interests, I enjoyed what there was in the building of their relationship.  Ava and Posy's friendship was great to read about, I really enjoyed their easy companionship and repartee.  I would have liked to see more development overall with this story as it moves very quickly, but it is an enjoyable read and shows an interesting side to the Greek gods we are familiar with.  

review copy kindly provided by the author

Enter a giveaway for an e-book of Humanless and other swag by visiting the author's website!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Highlight Poetry (4)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away, 
And whisper to their souls, to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say, 
'The breath goes now,' and some say, 'No:' 

So let us melt, and make no noise, 
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move; 
'Twere profanation of our joys 
To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears; 
Men reckon what it did, and meant; 
But trepidation of the spheres, 
Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love 
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit 
Absence, because it doth remove 
Those things which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refin'd, 
That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assured of the mind, 
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. 

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
Like gold to airy thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so 
As stiff twin compasses are two; 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
To move, but doth, if the' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
Yet when the other far doth roam, 
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must 
Like th' other foot, obliquely run; 
Thy firmness makes my circle just, 
And makes me end, where I begun.

 I studied this poem in my Senior AP English class, and at first read through, you get the gist - two lovers who must part for a time, and the man wants their parting to be quiet and intimate and only for themselves to know.  But then you really read all the imagery and metaphor in this poem - all the ways John Donne compares their love and/or quiet parting to: the death of an old man/earthquakes/molding gold/ and (my favorite) a math compass, and wow, this poem is so rich and detailed and perfection! 

Love described by a math compass - so unexpected, but it works so well!
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Giveaway winner!!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Congrats to Alisa S from Picture Me Reading for winning the copy of Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan!  Thank you every one for participating, and keep an eye out for Alisa's blog as there is sure to be an awesome comic-style review of Death of a Schoolgirl  in the future!

Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles) is available today to buy!

And join the author later today at 7-9pm EST for an online chat (here). She will also be hosting more great Jane Eyre related giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, August 6, 2012

Q&A with Joanna Campbell Slan, author of DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL (The Jane Eyre Chronicles)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
I am so happy to present this interview with Joanna Campbell Slan, author of Death of a Schoolgirl (which releases tomorrow, August 7th!) on her novel and on Jane Eyre which inspired it.  It's a wonderful book that I have reviewed here, and I hope fans of the original novel, of mysteries, and of good stories will check it out!  The Giveaway for this book is still on-going - but is due to end very soon! (Check the entry form below) Enter now to win your own copy!

Thank you so much Joanna for your time and for your wonderful, thoughtful answers!

--- Q&A ---

1. What is your "Jane Eyre" origin story?  When/Why did you first read the novel and what were your first impressions?

A tattered copy of the book sat on the bookshelf at my childhood home. I think it must have been assigned to my mother when she was in college, but I doubt that she read it. Every book in our house was fair game to me, a challenge to tackle. Since my family life was so chaotic—my parents were alcoholics—I read to escape. I loved Jane Eyre. The story gave me hope that I could transcend my environment. I thought, “Aha! Here’s a game plan for having a better life.” Remember, the subtitle is “An Autobiography.” I didn’t know it was fiction!

2. What inspired the idea to turn Jane into a detective?

I love writing the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery series, but I wanted to stretch and grow as a writer. While casting around for a new idea, I answered questions for an upcoming panel. One was, “What’s your favorite mystery?” Immediately I thought of Jane Eyre because there are so many elements of a mystery within that classic book: the secret room, the tortured hero, the innocent but curious young woman, the conspiracy of silence, and so on. Upon reflection, Jane was the perfect person to become an amateur sleuth. In fact, I was surprised no one had thought of “using” her before!

3. How did you approach capturing the voice of Jane and the tone of Charlotte Brontë’s writing?  Did you find it difficult?

My first attempt, I totally “channeled” Charlotte Brontë. I showed it to my husband and he said, “I can’t believe that you wrote this!” Here’s a sample:

My Husband! How my heart trills to the sound of those two words.
            Dear Reader, they might seem unremarkable to you, but to me they are the most agreeable sounds in the whole of my vocabulary. Two words I turn over and over as I raise my fingers to my lips as though this is where the words originate, yet I know—I know!—they spring from my very soul. For we are joined together, Edward and I, after we had been split asunder by circumstances no lovers ever surmounted, I am sure. I can tell you, I can say with all surety, there is indeed a God and He is beneficent because He answered our prayers.

Then he looked at me sadly and added. “I don’t think anyone will read this. It’s too daunting for a modern audience.”


My next draft went too far the other way. I spent a whole summer gnashing my teeth and hating what I wrote.

Finally, I found a middle ground where I felt that I captured the tone of the original, without sounding too much like a mimic, and yet modernizing the writing so it was more accessible to a new audience. I did not allow myself to read Jane Eyre while I was writing these drafts. There were two reasons. First of all, Brontë is a genius. To try to walk in her footsteps was far too intimidating. I would literally freeze up at the keyboard. Secondly, I needed to find my own version of Jane and my own story to tell. So after I wrote my third or fourth version of the book, my wonderful editor Shannon Jamieson Vazquez and I went over and over Jane’s character, getting her right.

4. Miss Miller turns up and becomes an important character in the story.  Why did you pick Miss Miller to return instead of Jane’s other Lowood teachers?

Thank Shannon for that. Originally I had chosen Maria Temple, but Maria was too good to do bad! So Shannon pointed out other likely “suspects,” and Miss Miller seemed the most ambiguous. However, I may return to Maria Temple in the future because we really don’t know what happened to her, do we? I mean after she and her husband rode off into the drizzle.

5. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that "Jane Eyre" has the greatest love story of all time! What elements of their relationship do you feel were important to carry into their married life?  How do you feel marriage has changed Jane and Rochester individually or as a couple?

If you are out on a limb, you have a lot of company on that bark-covered bough!

What sets Jane Eyre apart from so many “love” stories is Edward’s reason for loving Jane. It’s not that she smells good and he wants to eat her! Or that her beauty intrigues him. Or that her feminine wiles ensnare him. It’s that her mind and spirit call to his. He has met his match in her, intellectually and emotionally. She completes him. Furthermore, while their relationship is lopsided at the start—he has money, power and the advantage of experience—after the fire, he is “brought down,” and she is “raised up” by her inheritance, and her knowledge that she can make her way in the world without him. She comes back to him as his equal, and therefore, they can have a marriage of true equals.

I guess that’s a long way of saying something I whole-heartedly believe: A good marriage happens when both people think they got the better end of the bargain.

Correspondingly, marriage should improve both partners, because one spouse is strong where the other is weak. There is a need that each satisfies, and I’m not talking about sex. It’s that acknowledgment that someone is your better half. To me, that understanding is what truly turns two discrete individuals into one beating heart.

6. One of the things I was most impressed with in "Death of a Schoolgirl" is the overarching theme of the need to protect innocent and helpless children, just as Jane Eyre the novel can be seen as an early feminist novel, I loved that your novel works in some important social commentary.Was this deliberate and is there anything you would like to say about how children are treated today?

It was absolutely, totally deliberate, and good on you for noticing! I wrote this in advance of the Penn State debacle, so I think it’s even more relevant today than when I was plunking down the words. All of my books have a theme of social relevance, but as a child who grew up in an abusive home, I know exactly how it feels to have the adults around you turn their heads the other way when you need help. After I grew up, one of my aunts told me that she was appalled by how my father abused me as a child, but when she mentioned it to her husband—my father’s brother—he said, “Don’t stick your nose in their business. You don’t want Bob mad at you!” It not only takes a village to raise a child; it takes a village to save a child who is in danger!

Furthermore, isn’t this the point of the first Jane Eyre? Jane as an orphan is ignored. She’s sent to a charity school where the children die because pompous adults pay no attention to their basic needs. She comes to care for Adéle, who has been abandoned by her mother. She comes to love Edward, whose father “abandoned” him to marry him off to a flawed woman so that he, Mr. Rochester Senior, wouldn’t have to “worry’ about Edward having money. Over and over, a child is abandoned with tragic results. (Sorry about the rant!)

7. What was your favorite scene to write in "Death of a Schoolgirl"?

There were two that caused me great glee. One was where Jane sees the stretcher and the dead girl. The second was when Jane falls out of the tree into you-know-who’s arms. Oh, and when she learns the Scotland Yard man can speak French. Honestly, the best part of writing a book is how the work surprises YOU, the author. I loved writing this!

8. Were there any plot threads or scenes you had to cut from the final version of "Death of a Schoolgirl"? Any outtakes to share?

Nope. I was lucky. It all fit. Whew!

And a quick Question-eyre!

1. Favorite adaptation of "Jane Eyre"?
The 2006 BBC one. By far!

2. The first adaptation you watched.
Probably the one with George C. Scott.

3. Kiss, Marry, Kill - Literary Men Edition!  Mr. Rochester, Mr. Darcy, and Heathcliff
Marry Edward, meh, meh to the other men. Maybe kill Heathcliff because he’s rather a mad dog.

4. Favorite quote from "Jane Eyre".
You are too cruel to ask me to pick one, but here goes: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” To which I add, “Boo-yah!”


Check out the links below for more information, and join the author tomorrow for an online chat (here) from 7-9pm EST.  There will also be more great Jane Eyre related giveaways!

Amazon  Goodreads ◊ Author's Website ◊ Twitter ◊ Facebook

Giveaway for "Death of a Schoolgirl"

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to U.S. residents only. The winner will be notified by email on August 7, 2012.  If there is no reply to the email within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to host this giveaway!

Review: Amateur Angel

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,

Amateur Angel
by Karri Thompson

Plot Summary:
Only 18-years-old, Ashley is no ordinary teenager. Not only is she dead, but upon her death, she mistakenly enters the wrong line in the afterlife, a line meant for trained, guardian angels. With a pair of wings on her back, Ashley is sent to Los Angeles to replace another angel whose "assignment" was none-other-than Cannon Michaels, a current member of the band Sendher, the sexiest man alive, and Ashley's celebrity crush in life.

While exposed to Cannon's selfish, judgmental behavior and his reckless, rock-and-roll lifestyle, Ashley is far from meeting the requirements of a true guardian angel. She misses her family and friends. Will she ever be able to accept her own death? What will she do when she jeopardizes her position as an angel and Cannon's physical safety by falling in love with him?

Expectations: An angel falling in love with a human? I'm thinking a lovely bittersweet romance here.  And I love that the celebrity is a rock star - I want to see how a rock star lives!

This book was charming and disappointing at different times.  Ashley as an amateur and immature angel is flawed, and her attempt to reconcile to her death and to her new responsibilities as an angel parallel Cannon's need to reconcile to his life and the responsibilities that have been put on him.  Both Ashley and Cannon worked through their issues by the end of the story (Ashley may have room for improvement though) and in that way the ending was satisfying.  I think Cannon's journey though is more touching, as he has these two sides to his character and his unpleasant side comes out more often than not.  And when he realizes his mistakes you really feel that his character can finally turn his life around and enjoy all the good things he has been blessed with.  The ending however left me emotionally unsatisfied, and I hope that there is another book coming in this series because I do love my happy endings!  There are some plot points that I question and I felt was not resolved in this book, and the dialogue sometimes flowed a little unnaturally, but overall it was an interesting and bittersweet story.

review copy provided by the author in connection with Young Adult Novel Reader Book Tours

Links: Amazon  ◊ GoodReads  ◊ Author Website ◊  Author's Twitter
Sunday, August 5, 2012

Leap Frog meme

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
I was tagged by Picture Me Reading for this meme!

The rules are as follows:
  • Post the rules.
  • Answer the questions set for you in the tagger’s post.
  • Choose 10[ish] people to “tag” and notify them.
  • Create 10[ish] questions for them to answer or use the same ones set for you.

1.  What is the meaning of life?

42!!  And living a life that you can be proud of and pursue happiness and treat people with respect... something like that.

2.  What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

African or European?

3. What  made you start blogging? What keeps you blogging?

I think I was taken by the idea of having my little corner of the 'net to talk books and having a place to have all my reviews gathered together.  I have tried keeping a book journal, but I was terrible at it.  I think writing longhand is too slow for me, therefore I became too lazy to keep at it.  I keep blogging because of all the wonderful people I have met and great books I've become aware of through blogging.

4.  If you could travel back in time in the Tardis, where would you go and who would you see?

Oh my goodness, the places I could go!! I might have a hard time just leaving, trying to decide where to go.  So it's a good thing I can think about it now... I need to be prepared!  I think, since Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time, it would be interesting to go and see the very first theater production of the story.  I think from Charlotte Brontë's thoughts in a letter she wrote, it would be very bad, but it would be really cool to see the first adaptation and also be in the audience of a Victorian theater!  

5. What is your favorite book and why?

Jane Eyre!!!  I think it just suits my taste in books- romance, mystery and suspense all wrapped up in one.  But also it has complex characters, an inspiring message and depth and beautiful prose.  

6.Contact a couple or more close friends and family ask them, How would you describe me? Post their answers for this question.

Hmm, people are sleeping, so I'll just use my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) so traditional, faithful, logical, organized sensible - some of the descriptive words used on wikipedia for that personality type.

7.What surprised you most about the responses you got in Question 5? Do you agree with their assessment of you?

Actually I think it fits rather well!

8.When you wake up in the morning, what is the thing you are most looking forward to doing that day?

Reading!  Though for various days, I look forward to certain TV shows.  At the moment I'm obsessed with Gordon Ramsay anything- Hell's Kitchen, Masterchef, probably that new hotel show that is debuting soon.  And True Blood!

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you travel and what book would you bring with you?

Well I'm hoping I can travel in first class for this- but I would like to visit Australia.  I just am not looking forward to the long flight! And of course I would bring my favorite book (refer above).

10. If you actually were in the Hunger Games what skill do you have that would allow you to survive?

Well, sadly I don't have any skills that would help me!  I think the best thing to do would be to avoid the others while they kill each other off.  So I would really have to work at being stealthy and quiet.

Well, now I am supposed to tag 10 more people, but I have such a hard time with these things,  I don't want to tag anyone who has already done it.  So if you would like to do this feel free, and I think Picture Me Reading has some awesome questions, they should be re-used!