21 Following

I dwell in possibility.

An avid reader and wannabe writer; your regular bookworm and enthusiast for words.

A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park

A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park - Mary Lydon Simonsen This lovely novella puts Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in a new position. Elizabeth's sister Jane is engaged to Mr Bingley, Darcy's close friend; Charlotte Lucas is married to Mr Collins and Elizabeth is visiting with the couple. It seems there are no obstacles for Lizzie and Darcy, but such is definitely not the case. Elizabeth still remembers how Mr Darcy slighted everyone, including her, at the Meryton Assembly and although they like each other, there is also the question of rank that Lizzie cannot seem to overlook.I truly enjoyed this new spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice because it puts Darcy and Lizzie into an entirely emotional – and therefore more intimate – predicament. The character of Elizabeth Bennet is delightfully and accurately outlined. Her wit and humour, as well as seriousness and independence of thought, are well observed. While Darcy is just slightly too relaxed in public situations and acts mostly on impulse, his character is essentially still the Darcy we all know from the original. He shows that, when surrounded by friends and family, he is a kind and amiable gentleman and not the arrogant grouch he was at the Meryton Assembly. The whole situation is well written and offers great and witty dialogue that truly delighted me.This is a novella that reads smoothly and fast, and it should delight any Austen fan. You will finish the last page with a smile. It is a story that combines romance and witty humour very deftly, while staying true to the characters and the original plot.Any fan of Jane Austen should read it.

These Things Hidden

These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf RATING: 4.5These Things Hidden is a very appropriate title for this novel, as the story features a tangled web of mysteries that influence lives in a dramatic way. This book is an intense, emotional read, showing how keeping mysteries and harbouring guilt can lead to a dramatic and even tragic climax.Allison Glen used to be the perfect girl. Her parents loved her, her younger sister Brynn admired her, she was beautiful and her school life exactly was what one would hope for. It was as if this girl never had a flaw. But on one fateful night, everything changes for Allison. This perfect girl makes a mistake and a number of bad decisions lead her to getting tried for murder and locked up in prison for five years. During this time, her parents become strangers to her and her sister, Brynn, completely excludes her from her life. Because of the nature of her crime, the prisoners hate her and reject her, and once she is released and installed in a halfway house where she will learn to take care of herself, hatred and rejection follow her. All she wants is to have her normal life back and above all, for her sister to finally talk to her, but Brynn has her own issues to deal with.Brynn, only one year younger than Allison, used to adore her big sister. As the girls grew up, they slowly grew apart, but one terrible night connected them again. Brynn cannot forgive Allison for pulling her into her problems and although no one knows Brynn was there on that night Allison committed her crime, Brynn must carry the weight of guilt and live with the mystery every single day. She is a troubled girl who wants to escape the past, but cannot. She sees it in her mind, all the time.The novel follows the emotions of guilt and of trying to achieve redemption in a beautiful, touching and intense way. Both sides of the coin are presented, so to say, and it is shown that things are not simply black and white, but have many colours in between. It is especially important to know that things are not always how they appear to be.When Allison finds a job in a bookstore, owned by Claire, she takes one look at Claire’s five-year-old son Joshua and instantly knows who he is. This little boy is at the core of Allison’s mystery and with Allison’s discovery of his whereabouts, the drama begins to prepare for its climax. The past strikes back and reveals truly unexpected truths about the characters in the novel.The novel explores that an ex-convict is only a person with their own complexities and is not necessarily bad. As I’ve said, there are colours besides black and white. It also touches on the important subject of safe haven laws that were ‘enacted to prevent infant abandonment and infanticide.’ (SOURCE) These are all important subjects are truly well and believably presented in the novel.All in all, this is a truly enjoyable and emotionally gripping read that is perfect for fans of dramas and women’s fiction. Lovers of Jodi Picoult will surely appreciate this book.

The Perfect Bride for Mr Darcy

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy - Mary Lydon Simonsen RATING: 4.5The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy offers a delightfully detailed background to the story and the characters of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as well as interesting and accurate insight into the society of the time. That makes it a highly enjoyable read and a must-read for lovers of Austen’s characters.In this novel, Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy have more important roles. They come to the forefront as matchmakers, especially Anne, who first notices her cousin’s feelings for Miss Elizabeth and who first learns about Darcy’s failed proposal. This prompts her to act and bring the two lovers together as best as she can. I loved the expansion on the characters of Anne and Georgiana. In Austen’s original novel, they are minor characters who serve to more or less explain certain plot points. In this story, they become rounded, multi-dimensional characters with active roles and yearnings of their own. Although some significant changes were made to their characters, the changes are enjoyable and complement the two characters very well, giving them life.The story follows the plot of Austen’s original, but offers expanded backgrounds to the story, as well as the characters. I was so glad to read about Darcy’s thoughts and feelings that were very well delivered. In the original, the reader gets to see the events mostly through Elizabeth’s eyes, but in this story, all characters are given a chance to contribute in this respect – even the snotty Caroline Bingley and the charming, yet conniving Wickham. Their narrations are smooth, vivid and executed in the period lingo with great ease.There are some plot twists that are delightful and some that I needed some time getting used to, like the fact that Darcy had a mistress as a youth and the fact that Jane has a second suitor. However, this created some tension and uncertainty and I’m always happy when things become a little complicated. I was especially pleasantly surprised by Mary Bennett’s new fate and I hope that you will be, too, when you read the novel.I highly enjoyed period details. The workings of the society are explained, their rituals, the places they frequented, and the Napoleonic wars are mentioned on several occasions, giving the story a very firm historical frame and also reminding the reader that the militia was not there (only) to entertain ladies, but was at the ready for battle.This novel is a highly enjoyable and insightful story, and it is a fresh take on Austen’s beloved novel. I recommend it to all Austen enthusiasts – you shall not be disappointed.

The Arrow Chest

The Arrow Chest - Robert  Parry This novel is a fine example of Victorian Gothic literature and although it was written in the twenty-first century, it feels genuinely Victorian.The story begins in 1876 London. A set of bones has just been discovered at the Tower of London and Amos Roselli, a painter struggling to receive some acknowledgement, is called to sketch the bones. It is supposed that the bones belong to Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Catherine Howard, unfortunate ladies who were buried there and forgotten. While sketching the bones, Amos experiences something supernatural that he cannot quite explain. The Gothic setting is established at the start and the suspense flows until the end of the novel, which makes it a truly gripping read from the start.Not long after, Amos is commisioned by Oliver Ramsey to paint his portrait and Ramsey is none other that the wealthy, powerful man who married Daphne, Amos's life-long friend, muse and love. For Amos, this is a wonderful opportunity because the commision might help him as an artist and return him into the presence of Daphne. As soon as Amos and Daphne meet again, they renew their deep friendship, but pursue it within the confines of propriety, although it is clear that there is strong affection between them.Once Daphne is back in Amos's life, strange things begin to happen. He begins to see things, including a woman who looks just like Daphne and who disappears before his eyes. Daphne is very enthusiastic about spiritualism and during a séance, a true ghost appears and speaks directly to Amos, alluding to a promise he supposedly did not keep, which startles everyone present, Amos especially. On top of the strange and eerie supernatural occurrences, Daphne's life begins to fall apart and soon, she finds herself in danger and Amos must try to save her, which is far from easy.The suspense is amazing in the novel. It builds up gradually and experiences a proper climax, as well as a proper denoument. The setting is genuinely Victorian and quite Gothic. Attention is paid to details and to the language. I truly enjoyed the language of the novel. It was delightfully Victorian and added to the overall authenticity of the novel. It is also very lyrical and when Amos's ideas about paintings were describes, I could truly see what he saw.The novel is both an entertaining and an intellectual read, and the two are combined very naturally. I love novels that are both entertaining and intellectual. Actual historical characters appear in the novel, for example Lord Tennyson, whose wonderful poem, ''The Lady of Shalott'', plays a role in the novel. There is a strong link to Tudor England, in particular to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and Thomas Wyatt, who was rumoured to have an affair with Anne Boleyn. The novel is, in fact, a very fresh and original retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and Thomas Wyatt, rich with details about art (pre-Raphaelites), yet the reader can still not predict how the story will end. I truly enjoyed the ending. I could not predict it myself and I am always glad when an ending surprises me in a good way.The supernatural elements are not very obvious and by that I mean they are not obtrusive, but fit the story naturally. They are a bonus that serves the Gothic atmosphere very well. Séances are present in the novel, a form of entertainment very popular with Victorians, and I enjoyed reading about them. I am a skeptic myself, but a séance during which a ghost appeared made the hairs rise on my arms. Perhaps, in regard to this particular séance, the characters recovered from the shock rather quickly and forgot about the event that should have stayed in their minds too fast, but other than that, Amos Roselli was very aware of something strange going on.The characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional, and one character that I really liked was Amos's maid who was quite educated and was quite realistic. She was a great counterpart to Amos and I must confess that, although I loved the soulful, forbidden relationship between Daphne and Amos, I did lean towards Amos noticing the simple, yet clever girl in his household.All in all, this is a cleverly written, suspensful novel that will delight readers who love historical fiction and suspense. As I've said, this is both an entertaining and intellectual read and it will definitely give you something.Rating: 4.5 stars

You Killed Wesley Payne

You Killed Wesley Payne - It is honest to say that I have never read a book like You Killed Wesley Payne because it is the first pulp noir mystery I have ever read. A part of me was afraid that I wouldn't like it because it was all unfamiliar territory for me – luckily, I ended up liking the novel a lot.It all begins with Wesley Payne's murder. Dalton Rev, a seventeen-year-old Dick (private detective – and perhaps, sometimes, but just sometimes when he is too professional around a girl, a bit of a dick, too), transfers to Salt River High to solve the mystery of who murdered The Body, which is how Wesley Payne is referred to in the story. Dalton soon realises that Salt River High is a school where belonging to a clique is a must, the cliques clash constantly and violence and guns are no strangers to this school. The teachers do not really have any authority and one can hardly trust anyone at this school, which is something that Dalton can definitely confirm.While I found Dalton Rev being a private detective at seventeen a bit far-fetched for my taste, especially considering the fact that his parents never so much as suspected anything (my parents have lie detectors installed in them, I swear, so I am basing my judgement on them), I enjoyed everything else in earnest.This was a truly witty and intelligently written story, mixing both humour and drama. Dalton has a boy crush on a fictional detective, Lex Cole, and Lex is always on his mind when Dalton is on a case. It is something along the lines of ''What would Lex do?'' Dalton has all the books in the Lex Cole series, knows them by heart and abides by them. I found Dalton's fascination with Lex Cole funny and extremely entertaining, but Dalton does take his job seriously and he does what he does for a very good, selfless reason – although he loves his job, too, it seems. I really liked Dalton's character. Basically, he is an average teenage boy with teenages problems and dilemmas, but he is different because he works as a Dick and is exposed to danger a lot. Luckily, he's quite smart and knows what to do – most of the time, anyway. Other characters appearing in the novel were fun and interesting to read about, as well. Some of them are downright quirky, some arrogant, some backstabbing and some mysterious, but all of them fun to read about.I see this novel as a detective story and as a parody of detective stories, both at once. The mystery of The Body is cleverly constructed and there is just the right amount of necessary tension and mystery present. The plot twists are delightful and the ending quite surprising and even shocking. I truly enjoyed the plot and cracked one half of the mystery – the other half surprised me, which is always a plus, as good literary mysteries shouldn't be entirely solved by the reader, in my opinion.All of this is accompanied by humour and some parodying of classic detective stories. The typical plot twists and elements of detective stories are pointed out and Dalton usually does the opposite, yet the story still followes the usual frame of detective stories. High-school life is parodied, too, I think, because school cliques and school violence are really exaggerated in the story, but not so far from the truth. They deliver the point.The novel contains high-school drama, secrets, mysteries, a touch of romance and surprising revelations. It is a detective story written in the style of a pulp noir mystery, set in the world of teenagers. It is an entertaining page-turner and if you enjoy mysteries and detective stories tinged with humour, then I definitely recommend this novel to you.

The Second Date

The Second Date - Mary Lydon Simonsen While reading The Second Date, I had an amazing, heart-warming feeling in my chest. It's a beautiful, touching story not just about Sonia Amundsen, the protagonist, but it is also a story about her family and about her roots. Sonia and her family are completely ordinary people that you could meet around the corner on your way to the local shop, but Simonsen made their lives a little less ordinary, as every single person that appears in the novel is an individual, a special person. I like the way she focused on every person. Every character that appears has a personal story to tell, a history behind them, traditions,beliefs, traits, even if a character appears only in one chapter. They're not just named characters you need to get on with the story.They're living, breathing creatures that, after reading the novel, seem so familiar, as if you'd met them and talked to them before. I appreciate that a lot. It really makes the story seem real, like it's an actual family chronicle. Really, very, very well done! And Mary Simonsen is very talented, in my opinion, because I believe it takes some skill to create such vivid characters. There are no stock or shallow characters in this story, which is really amazing.The writer touched a theme that is, I think, a very important American subject (or at least I think it is, as I am not an American myself) - immigrants and their lives in America. I personally think that her take on the colourful Italian - American community is spot on. Knowing Italians, I think they'd approve of how they are portrayed. I kept thinking: "Wow, it would be so cool to be a part of such a big, but such a close family." Why? I think mostly because the Carellis/Amundsens are so open and genuine. It seems that lies are not an option in their world. I don't know if the author intended for her novel to have a message or not, but I found one: family and one's roots are really important. They define you very deeply and clearly and, in normal circumstances, your family is the one group of people you can always go to at the end of the day and they'll accept you with an embrace. Family's important. Heritage is important. This is one of the aspects that make this novel very inspiring and heart-warming.The story itself is really romantic (which I love) and fun, but realistic, too. Something like this can happen! I like that. It's very optimistic, and as an optimist and romantic myself, I was all smiles at the end. The idea of a woman who never goes on a second date is very intriguing, and the author executed the idea really well.This novel definitely is my cup of tea, but even if it wasn't, the story is truly well written. The Second Date is a wonderful piece of fiction, one that I will definitely return to in the future. I recommend it!

Searching for Pemberley

Searching For Pemberley - Mary Lydon Simonsen This novel will definitely please those readers who love to read about romance, history, family and Jane Austen. The foundations of this novel lie on Jane Austen's beloved novel Pride and Prejudice, as the protagonist, Maggie Joyce, a young American girl working in London after WW2, goes in search of the real-life characters that appear in Austen's novel. The story of Pride and Prejudice, as well as its characters, are cleverly and unobtrusively included into Simonsen'snovel. The author remained loyal to Austen's characters, but changed their stories in a way that will not bother a fervent Austen lover. If anything, this fresh take on the story of Pride and Prejudice will make you love them even more. Also, the idea is well presented and is actually completely plausible. Sometimes, I began to wonder how it would be like if Austen had actually based her Darcy and Lizzy on actual, real people that lived in the Regency England.Foremost, this is a story about Maggie trying to escape her dreary hometown Minooka and trying to find true love, as well as about family (mostly the Crowells, also Maggie's family, the Joyces). The importance of family is, in my opinion, an important aspect of the novel. Family consists of people who share your blood, but you can also discover your second family that becomes your family in spirit. I got the message that a person is naked and alone without a family, an aspect that I also loved in Simonsen's second novel, The Second Date.The connection made to the real Darcys (the Laceys in the novel) is really delightful and enjoyable to read about.I can say that the novel is a page-turner. I read it in a week, although I was sick at first and then busy, and there are a lot of small mysteries involved that you will just want to know about, the greatest one being how theCrowells are connected to the Laceys (Austen's Darcys). I also loved the little mysteries regarding the Crowells, especially Beth Crowell's youth and brothers. If you want to know what I'm talking about, you will just have to read this novel.Last, but no least: the novel is also a great tribute to post-World War II history of Europe (especially London) and partly America, and also to Regency England. There are a lot of delightful details included, and as far as details about certain battles and soldiers go, I think that even men could enjoy this novel. The story runs very, very smoothly, too.All in all, the novel features many interesting characters, their stories, and, of course, Jane Austen. I would truly like to recommend this novel to everyone who, as I've said, enjoys romance, history, family and Jane Austen. It is a very down-to-earth book, and a pleasure to read.

Anne Elliot, A New Beginning: A Persuasion Re-imagining

Anne Elliot, A New Beginning: A Persuasion Re-imagining - Mary Lydon Simonsen This is the third book by Mary Lydon Simonsen that I’ve read and I have to say, she never disappoints. I enjoyed reading this novel so much that I read it in one single day. Luckily for me, it was a Sunday, so I had the time to dedicate myself to reading the entire novel in one day.Anne Elliot is a new person and a strong, independent woman in this novel. On her 25th birthday, when she is declared to be a spinster, Anne decides to take life in her hands and free herself. I really wanted to hug Anne for her brave decision that brought such delightful changes to her character. I loved the original by Austen, Persuasion, but Anne’s resigned and quiet, sort of like a grey, quiet mouse, in the original. In Simonsen’s rewriting, she’s something else – strong, independent, with a sharp tongue and wit. I really loved it how she was able to talk back to her family. In the original novel, she swallows their humiliating remarks, but not this Anne. The main thing that strengthened Anne so much mentally, and also physically, is running. In this novel, Anne is a long-distance runner. I know, very anachronistic. But let me tell you, anachronisms really works so well in this novel. This story is meant to be a humorous take on Persuasion and a bit of a parody, and it has to be read as such. I found myself giggling several times.There are many wonderful and funny allusions to modern times. Puns, fun and funny references to modern times, humour and irony are wonderful ingredients of this novel. I don’t know why, but for some reason my favourite reference was the “Avon Calling!” one. That really got me. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, buy the novel, read it and you’ll know. Really, you won’t regret it if you like humour and Jane Austen.The novel also has serious and emotional moments. The serious moments refer primarily to William Elliot, the nasty heir to Kellynch, who is a bad man, indeed, and also to Anne and Frederick becoming forced to endure another separation due to Napoleon’s escaping from Elba. There is also romance, mostly between Frederick and Anne. It was really memorable to read about a jealous Frederick. Anne is not the only person who undergoes a great change for the better. Her sister Mary, the hypochondriac extraordinaire, also finds a new purpose in life that affects her marriage to Charles in a good way. Louisa and Captain Benwick also have their fair share of romance, but things are not easy for the melancholy Benwick. I loved it that the author concentrated on Benwick quite a bit, as well as on the family of Captain Harville. They’re sort of only by-standers in the original, but in this novel they have a clear voice. Even Elizabeth and Sir Walter change for the better. Essentially, they remain as vain as ever, but they do change for the better.I really, really loved the novel. It is so cleverly written and has many funny, as well as some less funny moments that are really enjoyable to read. As a reader, I am fond of sexual subtlety as far as Austen’s characters go because the main characters are proper ladies and gentlemen, so I had to get used to the fact that Anne and Frederick were so open with each other in private and even produced sexual innuendoes quite freely. I know, this is part of the humour as well, but what can you do, that’s just my thing, I guess. Still, I enjoyed the novel thoroughly and I wasn’t too bothered by the sexual innuendos. The novel as a whole is really well written, very clever and witty. As I’ve said, a perfect read for someone who loves humour and Jane Austen. The story, as well as the characters, are dealt with in a fresh, desirable way. This novel made me love Persuasion even more. It reminded me why Austen is such a great author. Simonsen really is an Austen connoisseur.If you ever get a chance to read this book, do read it. It’s a wonderful novel.