Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: Jane Austen

When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies. Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And—perhaps of the most lasting importance—could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love? (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: I will admit right off the bat that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Shannon Hale’s books. The Princess Academy books? Love them. Books of Bayern? Not so much. Austenland, the companion book to Midnight in Austenland seems to fall between these two categories for me. I really wanted to love it. I did love parts of it. Overall, though, I found myself a bit dissatisfied. But then I saw the movie. And it was rollicking good fun. So I decided to give Midnight in Austenland a try. At worst, it would still be an enjoyable, clean, decent read. But it was so much more than that. It was hilariously funny in bits and deeply romantic in other bits and I so connected with Charlotte.

Sissy: Well, I do not have a love/hate relationship with Shannon Hale’s books. I have loved all of them (with the exception of The Actor and The Housewife which did not fully satisfy me). When I saw the movie Austenland, I had only read the first book and so I thought that they changed a lot. But I see that Midnight in Austenland, which was written before the movie came out, is a lot more like the movie. Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that I loved the movie Austenland so much that I went back 4 times and dragged every female friend I owned to it. So you can guess how I feel about Midnight in Austenland. Shannon Hale is to writing as Bill Murray is to comedy.

Bubby: Bill Murray? Really? How old are you, anyway? Maybe Tina Fey? Or Jimmy Fallon? Welcome to 2014, Sissy.

Sissy: Well I may be older than dirt and Shannon Hale but she actually refers to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day as “delightful” and can “make her laugh” in the very book we are reviewing right now. I am sorry that your short-term memory is so poor. So much poorer than mine that you didn’t recall that.

Bubby: I recalled fine. I was just trying to make your image more hip and current.

Sissy: It’s hip to be square. I think Shannon Hale is delightful and she makes me laugh. I laughed out loud when Charlotte follows her daughter’s boyfriend and is caught hiding in the bushes outside his cousin’s house and again when she explains to her Austenland hostess Mrs. Wattlesbrook how her husband has died in a “gruesome and exceedingly painful demise” (her husband is now her ex, after she caught him cheating with some young thing).

Bubby: I laughed out loud at those bits too. It’s rare that my favorite character in a story is the main character – I usually enjoy the quirky side characters more – but in this case, Charlotte felt like an old friend with whom I was reconnecting. She tends to let her imagination run away with her – when things take a decidedly scary turn, she lays in bed, searching the shadows and jumping at every noise. I do that when my husband is out-of-town or working late – often mistaking the shadowy outline of the vacuum for a rapist or murderer intent on ravaging my household while we sleep. Mayhap both Charlotte and I are just a touch overdramatic!

Sissy: There are two other things that I really liked. One, how in between scenes at Austenland, Hale inserts little paragraphs from Charlotte’s past giving us insight into what makes Charlotte the way she is now. Two, how Charlotte has conversations with her “inner thoughts” …

Bubby: I almost wrote “inner thighs” there. I don’t know why because that would have been awkward. I think I need medical assistance…

Sissy: Imagine having a conversation with one’s inner thighs. Hmmm. Anyway, that is the kind of borderline irreverence that makes Shannon Hale a lovely author and Midnight in Austenland a thoroughly entertaining read.

Bubby: One of my favorite of those conversations is this: “This scarcely qualified as a secret room-more of a secret hole, or nook, or niche even, perhaps a cavity or alcove… Come up with synonyms all you want, said her Inner Thoughts. It’s not distracting me from the fact that you’re stupid.” Just a sampling of the deliciousness you’ll find in Midnight in Austenland. 4.5 bubbles.

Sissy: Delightfully clever. Delectably romantic. Wonderfully witty. 4.5 quaint and corseted bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Midnight in Austenland at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph. It’s obvious that Dante thinks he’s way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pressing her buttons. But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie’s quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets… Secrets Lizzie can’t seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries. The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it’s about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…(From Netgalley.com)

Sissy:  There were things I liked and disliked about this book.  I liked that it was a quick, enjoyable, YA romance read.  I didn’t like it as a Pride and Prejudice retelling, because I thought the parallels were too vaguely drawn.  I liked that the main character Lizzie is a smart, hard-working student who likes a good journalistic challenge and does not back down in the face of pressure from the nasty headmistress.  I don’t like that Lizzy is negative and judgemental, and somewhat disloyal to her best friend Emily.

Bubby: Ah, but Lizzy gets over herself and fixes her relationship with Emily by the end. I agree that it was quite difficult to find traces of Pride and Prejudice in this story, so I’ve decided to ignore that bit and just review it as a regular young adult story. The best part of Fall For You is that everything works out. Cecilia Gray really wraps up the story nicely and ties it with a pretty bow. There are 4 Jane Austen Academy books currently available with 2 more forthcoming. Some of the characters might appear in more than one book but they can all definitely be read as stand-alone novels.

Sissy:  The fact that many of the characters we are introduced to will live on in their own novel is a draw for me.  I actually liked this book better than Bubby did, and despite my pride I will admit her prejudice did rub off on me. Ba dum bum!

Bubby: Nicely done there, Sissy!

Sissy:  Anywho, Fall For You has all the requisite emotions of YA high schoolishness and is well-written enough to make it a pleasant  Friday afternoon reading distraction.  I give it 3.5 bubbles.

Bubby: I agree. Perfect for curling up on the couch with a slice of pizza in hand, whether you are a teenager yourself or old enough to reminisce about high school days gone by. 3.5 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Fall For You at Amazon.com

©  Bubble Bath Books 2014

We received a copy of Fall For You by Cecilia Gray from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.