OwlCrate July 2018 Book Review: “My Plain Jane”

OwlCrate July 2018 Book Review:

“My Plain Jane”

The Lady Janies Book 2

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

NIKKI’S RATING: 8 OUT OF 10

Summary: Wanting nothing more than to become a governess, Jane Eyre leaves the miserable Lowood school to pursue her dream. But then her secret gets out, Jane Eyre can see ghosts. As she is caught up in the Royal Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits, Jane finds herself falling for the wrong man, while her best friend Charlotte Brontë finds inspiration for the novel she always wanted to write.

8 Playful Things about Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows’s “My Plain Jane”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Jane Eyre

“Jane Eyre” is a beloved novel with a Romantic love-story and “My Plain Jane” is a rather hysterical and fantastical retelling of this classic. As Hand et al. states in their dedication:

“And for England (again). We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your literature.”

2. Charlotte Brontë

Being the author of “Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Brontë is actually a main character in “My Plain Jane” and in the novel, it is the events that take place in “My Plain Jane” that inspire Charlotte Brontë to write “Jane Eyre.” It is a nice touch done by Hand et al. and they also include some facts of Charlotte Brontë’s real life throughout “My Plain Jane.”

3. Hysterical

Probably the best thing about “My Plain Jane” is the humor. The authors’ main goal appears to be providing the reader with a comical story and they truly deliver. One of my favorite quotes that had me laughing:

“There was only one conclusion Jane could draw from the style and design of the dress and it was this: it had to be thought up by men. Then women could in no way outrun them, and with the lack of oxygen to the brain due to a rib cage the size of a fist, they could not outthink them. And with the bright colors, they couldn’t hide. No running, no thinking, no hiding.”

(Hand et al. 373)
4. Pop Culture

Throughout “My Plain Jane” are little pop culture references to other stories such as “Harry Potter” and “The Princess Bride” which just adds to the fun!

5. Collaboration

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows are all successful writers and it is amazing to see such talented writers come together to collaborate on one project.

6. Explanations

Thankfully the authors explain terms and customs that readers may be unfamiliar with due to the novel taking place in the 1800s.

7. Fun

Overall “My Plain Jane” is a fun novel. The novel is fast-paced, writing is good, and while the novel is inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”, “My Plain Jane” is drastically different and offers a fresh spin on a timeless classic.

8. My Calamity Jane

The Lady Janies book 3 “My Calamity Jane” is set to be published in 2020 and it looks to be another fun read!

What were your favorite things about “My Plain Jane”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Growing up together, Heathcliff and Catherine fall deeply in love, believing that one could not survive without the other. But Heathcliff has no title, no land, no occupation and Catherine must be provided for. After losing Catherine forever, Heathcliff torments the next generation as he is haunted by Catherine and what could have been.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Romanticism

“Wuthering Heights” like “Jane Eyre” is a prime example of Romanticism. With its Gothic themes of ghosts and elements of the Byronic hero seen in Heathcliff, “Wuthering Heights” is truly inspired by the Romantic era.

2. Perspective

The perspective of “Wuthering Heights” is not told through one of the main characters of the story but rather an outsider who is not an intimate of the family and who seems to be unreliable as well. This leaves the reader in an interesting predicament of being further removed from the actual main characters and knowing that we are not seeing the whole story.

3. Speech

Emily Brontë kept her characters authentic by writing phonetically for those of the lower class who had a very different pattern of speech.

4. Love Story

While Heathcliff’s obsession is a bit stalkerish/creepy and Catherine is truly a spoiled brat, their love is still romantic on many levels. One cannot help but wish that they had ended up together and feel how tragic it is that they didn’t.

5. Heathcliff

Healthcliff is a dynamic character. While he appears to be quite a brute with questionable morals, there is an element of softness about him. A tortured soul who only wants to be with his true love. A Bryonic hero indeed!

6. Parallels

There are many parallels in “Wuthering Heights” between the first and second generations. One such parallel is that between Heathcliff and Hareton. Being the son of his bitter enemy, Heathcliff treats Hareton accordingly. Heathcliff actually raises Hareton similar to how he was raised, treating Hareton like a servant and denying him an education. And yet we see this goodness in Heathcliff through him saving Hareton’s life as a baby and treating him better than Hareton’s real father ever does.

7. Hareton and catherine

The love that eventually develops between Catherine and Hareton is quite beautiful and provides an ending to “Wuthering Heights” that is positive and hopeful especially after the heartbreak of Heathcliff and Catherine.

8. Beautifully Written

Written eloquently with beautiful descriptives, interesting characters, and a tragic, heartbreaking love-story, “Wuthering Heights” is an enchanting novel that will remain a timeless classic for years to come.

What are your favorite things about “Wuthering Heights”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: The wife of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Eliza Hamilton suffered greatly due to her husband’s ambition. But she was more than the jilted wife of a public sex-scandal. Eliza, being the daughter of a great revolutionary helped shape and influence America’s independence and the shaping of the Union. This is the tale Eliza’s great love, loss, and legacy.

5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

Other than knowing that Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, I knew nothing else of the man or his life. “My Dear Hamilton” provides a glimpse into his personal and political life, as well as his many careers.

2. Politics

Another educational piece shown in “My Dear Hamilton” is that of the political environment of early America. It was interesting to get a feeling of the overall political climate and to see how the Founding Fathers interacted and influenced each other, whether good or bad.

3. Collaboration

“My Dear Hamilton” was written as a collaboration between Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, both respectable writers in their own right. Always nice to see authors working together to create a well thought out and researched novel.

4. Female Perspective

While Kamoie and Dray could have easily written this novel through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton, they instead did it from the perspective of his wife, Eliza. This is extremely powerful as women of history have been consistently ignored and excluded from most history books and novels, which is rather ridiculous because as this book shows, women play a huge role throughout history whether up front or behind the scenes.

5. Research

Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did meticulous research of letters and other original sources to create the basis of “My Dear Hamilton” and it shows. This novel is full of rich history and is a wonderful example of historical fiction.

What are your favorite things about “My Dear Hamilton”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

“Between Shades of Gray”

by Ruta Sepetys

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: June 14, 1941, Stalin begins his deportation of people in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia who are deemed anti-Soviet. 15-year-old Lina is taken in the middle of the night with her family. Forced into labor camps with hundreds of others, her family must stay together to survive the harsh conditions of the Arctic circle and the brutalities of the NKVD officers.


10 Beloved Things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Real Experiences

While the characters are fictional in “Between Shades of Gray” all the experiences were inspired by true events and situations that survivors experienced. Absolutely horrifying and touching!

2. Educational

Up until reading this book, I was totally ignorant on Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. “Between Shades of Gray” was an eye-opener for me about what happened and also how it was kept secret for so long.

3. Realistic

Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of capturing the experiences of the survivors she interviewed to write “Between Shades of Gray.” Lina seemed so real, it felt like I was reading a diary.

4. Different Reactions

We all react to stress, terror, and death differently. Septeys captured these differences effortlessly. Some characters became complacent or even worked with the NKVD officers. Others became angry and would take out their frustration on other victims. Most did what they had to for survival while still trying to help their fellow prisoners.

5. Emotional

“Between Shades of Gray” is a powerful novel and so emotional. You will cry, you will smile, your heart will break and then be lifted up. This novel is absolutely beautiful!

6. The Writing

Ruta Sepetys kept the writing elegant and simple, there are no unnecessary words or sentences. Easy to read but effectively well-written.

7. Disturbing

While reading “Between Shades of Gray” was difficult due to the subject matter, Ruta Sepetys does an amazing job of allowing the reader to comprehend the trauma that the victims went through without actually traumatizing the reader. Yes, the novel is disturbing and unpleasant to read at times, but there are no detailed, bloody torture scenes.

8. Strength in Humanity

One of the strongest things about this novel, is not the stories of what the victims survived, but how they survived together. The victims coming together, stealing food and other items needed for each other. Carrying one another when one was too weak or injured. The NKVD soldiers who took risks trying to help, regardless of the consequences.

9. Capacity for Cruelty

Humans are capable of such cruelty and during Stalin’s reign, the NKVD soldiers committed some serious atrocities. Sepetys includes many examples of the needless death, suffering, humiliation, and pain the victims endured.

10. Love

Lina’s letter in the end, “My husband, Andrius…” made me sob. Love found even in the worst of times.

What are your favorite things about Ruta Sepetys’s “Between Shades of Gray”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

3 Delectable things about Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber”

Dragonfly in AmberOutlander Book 2

by Diana Gabaldon

Nikki’s Rating: 3 out of 10

Summary: Brianna Randall travels to Scotland with her mother Claire Randall and gets the news that her father, is not who he thinks he is. It is 1968 and yet, she is told her father is none other than James Fraser, a Scottish warrior from 1744. Claire unfolds the secrets she has been keeping for twenty years and tells her daughter of the love her and Jamie shared in Scotland and then France in 1744 and how she plans to return to him.


3 Delectable things about Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Writing

Diana Gabaldon is an excellent writer, her descriptions are beautiful and really paint a picture in the mind.

2. 1700s France

As a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed that most of the book took place in France during 1744. It was also interesting to learn about the Scottish rebellion of ‘45 as I’m completely ignorant of this event in history.

3. Romance

While Claire and Jamie are not my favorite couple ever, I am always a sucker for romance and will admit that there are many heartwarming moments between Claire and Jamie that were thoroughly enjoyable.

What are your favorite things about Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

May 2018 Book Reviews

Books Reviewed in May 2018

51tB9MCtnzL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

I am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Court of Thorns & Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

 

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.