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Weekly Reads: Week 17

Post readathon I was on a reading craze…..and then I finished two very high-paced novels followed by the audio version of Longbourn, but it’s such a slow story compared to the others, I just couldn’t really get into it….or anything really. I’m still too hyped up from the wild twists and turns of Pretty Girls and Jane Steele – I need to find something just as thrilling! I just got a library copy of Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, hopefully it’ll be just what I’m looking for!

I’ll be linking up with Book Date for her Monday, What are YOU reading? link-up! If your TBR list is a little on the short side, be sure to head over there for more recommendations. 🙂

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

The story began a little over twenty years ago when a 19 year-old college student vanished without a trace. Now, plagued by her disappearance and the questionable tactics of the investigators, her family has tried their best to move on, but the weight of the tragedy has never let up. Her two sisters carry her memory in similar fashions, always checking up on the missing reports and making self-defense a priority, but their lives could not be more different. Without a support system, Lydia found herself in an endless cycle of addiction, until the birth of her daughter. Now, she’s a regular mom, going to volleyball games and making ends meet, but with a little extra spunk. On the other hand, Claire has the life you only dream about: big house, fancy car, a successful husband….and yet she still finds a way to punk out, resulting in a couple years of probation. But when Claire’s husband is killed during a mugging, her world will crash down around her, and the only person she can trust is the sister she’s estranged. Together they’ll uncover the mystery behind a string of missing girls, as well as the truth behind their sister’s disappearance.

“Your mother and I had always been secretly pleased that you were so headstrong and passionate about your causes. Once you were gone, we understood that these were the qualities that painted young men as smart and ambitious and young women as trouble.”

For fans of Gone Girl and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl, Slaughter’s new novel is just the psychological thriller you’ve been waiting for. Though a little long, the story is a wild ride of twists and turns that will keep you guessing ’til the end, and even then, there will be plenty of loose ends to tie up. Besides the mystery, I really enjoyed seeing the two sisters reunite. They’re both fiery and stubborn, the type that’ll forgive but they’ll never let it go. Even when Lydia finally decides to accept Claire’s apology and forgives her sister, it feels hesitant and very relatable. Although, the most surprising characters in the novel are their parents – the whole way through there are several interludes of their dad reading his journal entries, letters written to their lost sister that are sure to draw a few tears, while their mother turns out to be quite the Robin to their Batman.

 Rating: 4 Stars

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Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

 Jane Steele is as every bit of the passionate, rebellious, and fierce tongue as her predecessor Jane Eyre, but, nonetheless, she is a murderess. Our heroine has grown up reading Bronte’s beloved classic and can’t help but relate to her story: they’re both hated by their aunts, the only family they have left, they both attend a school for girls that staunchly over-disciplines and under-feeds, and they both accept a role as governess to a child of equal peculiarity and charm. However, as I mentioned, our Jane Steele is a murderess…but only in defense of her virtue and those she loves, and as she takes her place in Mr. Thornfield’s household, she’ll need those very skills to protect her love as well as her charge. Full of mystery and intrigue, I feel the less I say, the better. Her story is completely captivating begin to end, and a worthy contemporary of our dearest Jane Eyre.

 “…He was acerbic and peculiar in equal measure, and he could raise an eyebrow as f raising a middle finger.”

“Oh, I knew who I was – a scarlet-toothed tigress, one forever burdened by the iron weight of her own black stripes.”

Jane Steele brings on all the feels of Jane Eyre. From her inner turmoil and self loathing as a murderess to the impertinent manner at which Mr. Thornfield conducts himself around her, I was completely lost to emotion and swept away at every turn in the story, for there are plenty of twists you won’t always see coming. I loved that while her story mirrors that of Jane Eyre, it isn’t a copy – her story is different and uniquely her own, even Mr. Rochester has been rewritten, and dare I say, even more shocking of a character than Jane Steele? I’m still torn by his character, for while his personality is teasingly romantic, he too has a secret past that compels self-punishment , but for reasons that are little too outlandish for the role. He might be a crazy fool, but he’s a handsome one at that. The question has been asked many times lately upon the 200th celebration of Charlotte Bronte’s birth, how would a character like Jane Eyre be received if the novel came out today? Would she be different? Would she still be beloved? The answer to these questions is obviously yes, she’s a smart and capable woman who wants to be loved as she is and not for who she should be, and this will always be her strength. But if she were to be changed for the sake of modern readers, Jane Steele most assuredly fills those shoes, and with an extra dose of moxie.

Rating: 5 Stars

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Longbourn by Jo Baker

In Longbourn, the housemaids take center stage, exposing the secret world behind Austen’s beloved novel. Sarah, orphaned at a young age, was taken in by the main house servants to assist with the laundry and other household chores demanded by a large, and still growing, family. With the plot of Pride & Prejudice as its backdrop, the action behind scenes is equally riveting, filled with romance and intrigue in equal measure….as well as drama surrounding Mr. Wickham, of course. It all begins with the arrival of the Bingley’s and their peculiar, mixed-race servant, Ptolemy, who from their very first meeting is captivated by young Sarah. Then a mysterious new footman arrives to the Bennets’ household, creating the usual love triangle in Austen’s novels, but more in the loyal to a fault way (think Colonel Brandon of Sense & Sensibility) rather than the brash coquettish games of Mr. Darcy.

“Words had become overnight just little coins, insignificant and unfreighted, to be exchanged for ribbons, buttons, for an apple or an egg.”

“Things could change so entirely, in a heartbeat; the world could be made entirely anew, because someone was kind.”

Even though my timing with Longbourn could have been better, I still very much enjoyed listening to the new take on Pride & Prejudice. Austen’s beloved cast of characters are brought back to life in this retelling, but it’s more like a reintroduction to them, for here, we see a completely different side to them, particularly of Mr. Bennet. I never could have imagined their married life so strained or he so abrasive. Even Elizabeth takes on new light as she moves from her humble home to the grand estate – I’m not sure if she would truly worry so much over her appearance to Mr. Darcy or so insensitive toward their maidservants, not that she’s rude but I just expected more from her.  Overall, the story is compelling, but comes off a little too forced, or perhaps it brings too large a dose of reality to the romanticism of the original.

Rating: 3 Stars

What have you been reading lately?

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5 thoughts on “Weekly Reads: Week 17

  1. rhoffnagle says:

    Jane Steele seems to be popping up on a bunch of different blogs I follow! I was hesitant at first, but you make it sound so intriguing!

    Like

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