“Jo’s ambition was to do something very splendid; what it was she had no idea, but left it for time to tell her; and meanwhile, found her greatest affliction in the fact that she couldn’t read, run, and ride as much as she liked” (Little Women, 58).

When we read books, most of us tend to associate ourselves with one of the main characters. It’s just human nature to look for similar qualities in characters we like. When I was younger, I always related most to Jo in Little Women. I hadn’t read Little Women in a long time so I was curious if she would still be my main girl. Well, based off this quote, I’m gonna say yes. I think it’s safe to say a lot of young women want to do something splendid in their lifetime and it’s heartening when there are fictional characters to relate to in regards to that.  It’s also heartening to know that Louisa May Alcott based Jo on herself and Ms. Alcott ended up as one of America’s most beloved authors ‚̧

*Artwork by Norman Rockwell!

I think I may have found a new Austen favorite! Persuasion, where have you been all my life? I think I’m in love with this book ūüėć  This is one of Austen’s later works and it shows! Everything from the tone to the relationships to the heroine, Miss  Anne Elliot,  is more mature.

Yes, I love the romance aspect– Captain Wentworth is certainly swoonworthy– but what I love most about this book is the family relationships and friendships. This particular set of characters is the most relatable I’ve come across in all of Austen’s stories. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that Austen’s stories are set during a real time period because her writing and characters are so different from what I’m used to, and this makes it difficult to immerse myself in the setting. But this was not a problem with Persuasion!This lovely illustration by C.E. Brock is my favorite so far because it depicts a scene that could very well happen today! Anne’s young nephew is jumping on her while she’s attending to her other nephew and Captain Wentworth pulls him off her. It’s such a normal situation that Austen doesn’t often write about.
I adore Anne and most of the secondary characters and I highly recommend this book for anyone simply looking for a nice, light read or anyone looking for a book to write a paper on!

I finished Sense and Sensibility and am very content with the ending. As I mentioned in my previous post,  I wasn’t sure how Austen was going to pull off a happy ending with less than 100 pages to go but, per usual, she managed! I started the book favoring Marianne, but Elinor deserves so much respect. I think I relate more with Marianne which is why I liked her more at first, but Elinor is so calm and reasonable when Marianne is freaking out and you can only admire her good sense. The sisters are a wonderful duo and even when they’re down and hurting, they treat each other well. I think Marianne had the most growing to do and she certainly accomplished it in the end. And Elinor so deserved a happy ending, which she got ūüôā
I’m not a fan of some secondary characters, mainly Fanny and John Dashwood who are incredibly rude to the Mrs. Dashwood and the Dashwood sisters. John is their brother yet he is so easily influenced by his wife, Fanny, to ignore their father’s dying wish to leave the Dashwood women some money to live on. John improved a little as the story progressed but he’s still a bit of a prat by the end. Other secondary characters I really liked and felt them to be more genuine than other Austen characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sense and Sensibility. It’s more satirical than Mansfield Park, which I currently feel to be the most sedate of Austen’s works, but also takes a more thoughtful stance on certain aspects of love and human nature.

Why I think every young girl should read the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer

Why I think every young girl should read the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer

The Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer is one of my all-time favorite book series.¬†The twelve books follow Miss Jacky ‘Bloody Jack’ Faber, a young London orphan who masquerades as a boy to become¬†a crew member aboard a British navy ship, the HMS Dolphin. Jacky starts her adventures on¬†the Dolphin but soon finds herself in various exciting and terrifying situations around the world. L.A. Meyer was an incredible story teller who wasn’t afraid to get creative, and though he has passed away since the last book was published, he continues to amass loyal readers who will carry on Jacky’s tales and adventures.

There are a few reasons I love this series so much but let’s start with our wonderfully unconventional heroine, Miss Mary “Jacky” Faber (also known as Bloody Jack as well as several other complimentary and not-so-complimentary names), London orphan, ship’s boy, temptress, and actress extraordinaire. We first meet Jacky as a young girl (around eleven¬†years-old), as part of a London street gang. When she discovers that her gang’s leader has been murdered, Jacky decides to try her luck out at sea, as a boy, and gains work as a ship’s boy aboard the HMS Dolphin. Jacky has A TON of spunk, a big brain, and an even bigger heart. It’s clear from the beginning that she’s been living in survival mode for a long time and you can’t help but root for the young girl just trying to stay alive and make some friends.

Jacky is certainly not your typical heroine. Sure, she’s down on her luck and needs some saving but she takes matters into her own hands, which is especially impressive considering she’s only eleven¬†years-old. Jacky’s antics impersonating a boy are hysterical and you can’t help but laugh as she learns the ropes aboard the ship, among young and fully grown men. Her language is coarse, her actions unlearned, and there are times you’ll want to cringe at her antics, but you can’t help but fall in love with this boisterous hoyden! Jacky grows throughout the twelve books and through her various guises; from ship’s boy to young lady to pirate queen, Jacky does it all and then some. But what would this girl be without the incredible L.A. Meyer?

L.A. Meyer was a gifted storyteller with a flair for theatrics. I started this series as a young girl, probably when I was twelve, and I was shocked when I found out the author was a man. Though Jacky starts her story solely among men, and as a young boy herself, she is an incredibly relate-able female character, so major kudos to Meyer for capturing a young girl¬†so well! And kudos for taking a small bit of history and turning it into a twelve book series. That’s right, Jacky is based off an actual historical figure! I don’t want to give away too much, because you should really read the books yourself, but Meyer found several pieces of evidence that point to a historical figure who lived an unconventional, yet incredible, life back in the early nineteenth¬†century. The way he was able to take small pieces of history and turn them¬†into such intricate¬†adventures is the sign of true genius and dedication. It’s sad that we will no longer be gifted with his writing, but the stories Meyer was able to impart will stay with me forever.

Part of Meyer’s gift was his ability to forge realistic, entertaining, and heart-warming relationships among his characters. Jacky can be dramatic, selfish, and ¬†difficult, but she’s also brave, loyal, and a fierce friend. She¬†cultivates a diverse group of friends and enemies around the world who love and hate her for very similar reasons, but the people she befriends stay with her to the very end. Jacky’s friends are just as important to the story as Jacky herself and it’s truly impressive how Meyer is able to forge such complex feelings in his characters. Some of the relationships (especially between Jacky and her male friends) are dramatic, but the drama is well contained and entertaining. The colorful array of secondary characters add laughs and dimension, and it’s fun¬†when Mayer pulls an older character into a newer adventure. It’s easy to become attached to Jacky and Co. and you definitely feel as if you’re on the high seas or in the streets of Boston with them!

Jacky and her adventures are fun but they also teach valuable lessons about life, love, and friendship. And best of all, these lessons are appropriate for young readers. The books do reference mature content such as sex (IT never actually occurs) but it’s realistic, relevant to Jacky’s coming of age, and not at all inappropriate. As a young girl, I enjoyed the romance part of the books, but¬†as I got older, I came to appreciate the friendships Jacky makes¬†even more than the romance. Jacky learns a lot about bravery, friendship, hardship, and forgiveness and readers certainly learn right along with her.

The books I read as a young girl helped mold me into the young woman I am today, and the Bloody Jack Series was certainly a contributor to this development. Jacky is smart, confident, authentic, and courageous, and while she also has faults, she a pretty kickass book heroine for young girls to look up to. Whether you’re a parent looking for an appropriate series for your young reader, or a young reader yourself, you can be sure that Bloody Jack won’t disappoint. You get adventure, romance, friendship and life lessons all rolled into one amazing series!¬†Signature

Review: Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams

Review: Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams

Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams: 3/5 stars!

Battles on the high seas aren’t always with the enemy…

When the War for Independence leaves them fatherless, Amanda Blakely must protect her adopted brother, Neil, no matter what it takes – even if that means following the impetuous lad onto an American privateer. She disguises herself as an adolescent boy and convinces the crew master she is Neil’s older brother.

How long can she fool Captain William Stoakes, the man they call The Sea Wolf? A rebel with a bloodthirsty reputation, Captain Stoakes has but one hard and fast rule – no women on his ship. Staying safe means staying away from him, but that’s hard to do when the wolf calls to the woman within.

Once her disguise is revealed, Amanda is a constant reminder to the captain that his cardinal rule has been disobeyed, his command usurped. To make matters worse, she thinks she’s a damned sailor and has his entire crew wrapped around her little finger. If only he can keep her out of trouble long enough to return her to Baltimore. If only he can keep his hands off her.

Caution to the Wind is my second Mary Jean Adams book, the first being Le Chevalier. I really enjoy historical romance in the revolutionary America time period and Caution to the Wind is an OK example of the genre. The premise is great; a young women disguises herself as a boy in order to join the crew of a privateer ship, the Amanda, and watch out for her younger brother. As a fan of the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, this plot really appealed to me. Throw in a romance with the captain and you should be golden. I say should be because something about this book threw me off and I could only give it three stars.

The things I like:

  • Ms. Adams’s writing is strong and clear and the dialogue is realistic.
  • Our heroine, Amanda/Adam, is likeable. She’s strong-willed and cares for her brother enough to follow him out to sea. She isn’t physically strong but she still tries her best on the ship despite the rough and sometimes terrifying conditions. Amanda’s character development isn’t super dramatic but it’s there and well done.
  • The secondary characters are likeable and realistic and add character to the story.
  • Amanda isn’t a convincing boy. I’ve read a few books where a girl disguises herself as a boy and I’ve never really understood the logistics or reality of the situation. I get that it can be done if the girl is younger and hasn’t fully grown into her body but for a developed young woman, it just isn’t plausible. Except for a few people, most of the men on the ship quickly figure out that Amanda isn’t actually a boy, WHICH IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE!

Things that could have been stronger:

  • Ms. Adam’s isn’t a very descriptive writer. I knew this going into the book but it was still a disappointment. Historical novels naturally deserve a lot of description because you need to transport the reader to a completely different time period.¬†Writing about life in a different time period and aboard a privateer ship is even more difficult. Having read the Bloody Jack series, which follows the adventures of a young girl aboard several different ships, I’m very familiar with literary nautical description. It’s imperative to do research when writing about these types of things and it’s clear that Ms. Adams didn’t put in that effort. To be fair, the ship’s description isn’t crucial to the story, but it still would have been nice.
  • Our hero, Captain Stoakes, aka Will. I’m just not into him. While he does develop throughout the story, he lacks depth and you never really get to know him. He’s rather two dimensional and his character and personality are never clearly defined.
  • Amanda and Will’s relationship just doesn’t do it for me. We don’t know Will enough to understand why he’s attracted to Amanda, while Amanda’s attraction is understandable, mostly because we get to know her.

Overall, Caution to the Wind is good, not great. The writing is strong and I like the heroine, but the hero and romance just didn’t cut it. If the book were a bit longer, there would be plenty of time for description and plot development. I want to place this book in the historical novel category but it’s more of a romance with some historical decoration. It’s worth reading if you’re looking for a light romance!

 

Review: Le Chevalier by Mary Jeans Adams

Review: Le Chevalier by Mary Jeans Adams

Le Chevalier by Mary Jean Adams: 4/5 stars!!

Alexandra Turner lives in a world turned upside down. The British are preparing to invade Philadelphia. Her parents are dead from smallpox. Her twin brother, Reid, is more interested in the revolution than he is in his sister.

When the Chevalier de Mont Trignon enters her life, she has no reason to trust the mysterious foreigner. She is drawn to him even as she realizes how little she knows about the elegant yet enigmatic man. Can she trust him with her life? Can she trust him with her heart?

The Chevalier de Mont Trignon, in the service of the King of France, has sailed to America to gauge the Americans’ chance for freedom for himself — and to escape the boredom of the Parisian Court. Enthusiasm for the American cause reignites his passions, as does Alex Turner, a beautiful tavern owner determined to discover his true identity. Keeping her near him and keeping her safe while keeping her curiosity at bay is the truest test of his skills as a chevalier.
In the dangerous world of revolutionary America, where people aren’t always who they seem.

What an underrated hidden gem! Le Chevalier by Mary Jean Adams receives a solid, well-earned 4 stars! Lately, I’ve been in the mood for historical romance, specifically Revolutionary America period romance. Maybe because I’m from Boston and grew up surrounded by history, but I love that time period and everything it represents; it was a time of rebellion but also of discovery and growth. Being from Massachusetts, I grew up visiting historical sites such as Plimoth Plantation and Sturbridge Village, which has given me an appreciation not only for historical accuracy but also for the ability ¬†to truly feel what life would have been like back then. For¬†me to give more than 3 stars to a historical novel, it needs to be convincing; I should be able to taste the smoke from the hearth, feel the pewter in my hand, and see the rough cobblestone streets. Of course, a beautiful romance is a plus!

Le Chavelier is a near perfect example of my ideal historical romance for these reasons:

  • Several famous historical figures are mentioned or have their own scenes.
  • While Boston is my favorite city, Philadelphia is a good second choice for the stage.
  • Alex is a strong heroine with progressive ideals for women.
  • There are French! Most novels set during Revolutionary America fail to include the very important Frenchmen who helped us win the war. It’s even better that the romance is between an American and a Frenchman rather than a Brit, which usually happens.
  • Ms. Adams’s writing is strong and the story flowed well

Now for the reasons it lost 1 star from me:

  • The description could have been better. While the writing is great and relatively believable, it doesn’t produce quite the strength of imagery I want out of a historical novel.
  • The ending felt rushed. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was really looking forward to the ending and what became of our hero and heroine. Maybe I just loved them so much that I didn’t want the story to end

Le Chevalier is a well written, highly underrated historical romance. The writing and romance are on point and I will definitely be checking out her other novels!