Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery

Kilmeny

When twenty-four-year-old Eric Marshall arrives on Prince Edward Island to become a substitute schoolmaster, he has a bright future in his wealthy family’s business. Eric has taken the two-month teaching post only as a favor to a friend — but fate throws in his path a beautiful, mysterious girl named Kilmeny Gordon. With jet black hair and sea blue eyes, Kilmeny immediately captures Eric’s heart. But Kilmeny cannot speak, and Eric is concerned for and bewitched by this shy, sensitive mute girl. For the first time in his life Eric must work hard for something he wants badly. And there is nothing he wants more than for Kilmeny to retum his love.

Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
Published 1910 by L.C. Page & Company
Format: Hardcover, 134 pages; Audiobook, 4 hours
Classics/Romance
Also By This Author: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the IslandEmily of New Moon series, The Blue Castle
Goodreads | Amazon

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

I am a strong believer in judging a book by its cover, especially when the cover is gorgeous like Kilmeny of the Orchard. I have been scouring every local bookstore and thrift store in town trying to find any copies of the Bantam editions of L.M. Montgomery’s novels because the covers are beautiful enough to frame. (Side note: if anyone finds Bantam editions of Kilmeny or The Blue Castle that are in good condition, please let me know! I’ve never been a book collector before, but it’s almost become a hobby of mine to own all of Bantam editions of L.M. Montgomery’s novels)

The story of Kilmeny isn’t the most endearing of Montgomery’s novels, but the writing is captivating. The first orchard scene, when Eric happens upon Kilmeny as she’s playing her violin, is probably my favorite scene in the novel. Montgomery’s descriptions are so poetic and vibrant that I feel as if I’m walking through the orchard myself.

It was an elusive, haunting melody, strangely suited to the time and place; it had in it the sigh of the wind in the woods, the eerie whispering of the grasses at dewfall, the white thoughts of the June lilies, the rejoicing of the apple blossoms; all the soul of all the old laughter and song and tears and gladness and sobs the orchard had ever known in the lost years; and besides all this, there was in it a pitiful, plaintive cry as of some imprisoned thing calling for freedom and utterance.

I admire L.M. Montgomery’s ability to be wistful and hopeful at the same time. Whenever I read any of her books I always simultaneously feel nostalgic and desirous of enjoying every beautiful little moment.

Read This Book If…

…you need a happy novel that will touch you deep in your heart.
…you’re ready for it to be Spring!
…you love Romantic characters and poetic language.

Final Musings

I’ve read three L.M. Montgomery novels since the New Year, and I’m currently on my fourth (Chronicles of Avonlea). I would love to buddy read some more of her novels this year, or participate in any L.M. Montgomery blogging events, so please drop me a line in the comments if you know of any or if you’d like to buddy read with me!

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades.jpg

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Published November 7, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Format: Netgalley* e-book; 556 pages
Young Adult/Fantasy
Also By This Author: The Lunar Chronicles Series (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Stars Above), Heartless
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

When a book makes me cry during the prologue, I know I’m in for a fantastic read! I tend to rate books based on the emotional impact they have on me, and I have given books an extra star rating before just because they’ve managed to make me cry. The prologue to Renegades connected me instantly with the antihero, Nova, and I can honestly say she is one of the most interesting characters I’ve encountered in a book before. She is fierce, intelligent, and confident, and even though she’s intimidating to her enemies, I would love to be friends with her in real life.

Nova is an Anarchist, a group of exiled rebels who have been living in abandoned subway tunnels ever since the Renegades defeated them ten years before the novel takes place. The Renegades are Gatlon City’s beloved superheroes, leaders, politicians…basically they do everything and are loved by everyone, except the Anarchists. Nova hates The Renegades, and would like nothing more than to shatter their perfect image that the city idolizes. Adrian is a Renegade legacy, and he is good (honestly, he’s such a pure character, like a perfectly compassionate All-American brainiac with glasses–too many adjectives?). It’s no surprise that Nova feels conflicted about her mission the more time she spends with Adrian.

When I finished Renegades, I had SO MANY QUESTIONS. It’s one of those books that stays on your mind for a few days afterwards while you unpack and analyze everything. This book ends on a major cliffhanger that seriously had me questioning one character’s entire point of view (not really a spoiler, but I felt like one character was revealed to be an unreliable narrator, which of course had me as a reader feeling betrayed!). The sequel (and conclusion) to Renegades had already been announced before I started reading this book, so a cliffhanger wasn’t a huge surprise for me, but the actual cliffhanger was shocking and I did not see it coming. I’m definitely excited to read the finale later this year!

Read This Book If…

…you are a fan of The Hunger Gamesor other dystopian novels that feature a fierce female main character (seriously, Nova is awesome).
…you love superhero movies!
…you enjoy reading books from the POV of a villain or antihero.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own!

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
Published November 7, 2017 by Thomas Nelson
Format: Netgalley e-book; 320 pages
Fiction/Romance
Also By This Author: Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & JaneThe Brontë Plot
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

When I first heard about this novel I knew I had to read it. Jane Austen is my favorite author, and there are so many times I wish I could just escape into one of her novels. I’ve told my husband several times that it would be so fun to dress up in 19th century clothing and go to a Regency era ball (it will happen one day!). This is essentially what happens to Mary in The Austen Escape, although she is not as thrilled with the idea since she has barely even read any Austen novels (*gasp*). Her best friend, Isabel, however (and if you’ve ever read Northanger Abbey, red flags should be going up now), is an Austen scholar, and persuades Mary to come on the the Austen vacation with her.

The Austen Escape combines characters and plot lines from each of Jane Austen’s novels, which makes reading it a fun scavenger hunt for any Austenite. However, if you’re not as well versed in Austen as Mary’s frenemy Isabel is, there is a handy character guide included at the beginning of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed The Austen Escape, but not as much as I had anticipated. I wanted to like this novel more, but I felt that the characters were a bit flat, which made it hard for them to feel real. Although they each possessed believable motives and desires, they didn’t react to one another in realistic ways, which took away from the tension and suspense that would have made the novel more enjoyable. To make up for this, the author added drama between Mary and her love interest, which did feel a little forced and unnecessary; however, it was a sweet romance.

The Austen Escape is for readers looking for a lighthearted, clean romance, especially one that revolves around the world of Jane Austen.

You May Also Enjoy:

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Amelia Elkins Elkins by A.M.Blair
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Artemis by Andy Weir
Published November 14, 2017 by Crown Publishing Group
Format: Netgalley e-book; 384 pages
Science Fiction/Mystery
Also By This Author: The Martian
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

Very rarely do I get excited about new release books. Normally I wait at least a year to see if the book can live up to its hype, but there are a few authors I make an exception for. Andy Weir is one of them. I read The Martian in 2015 after the movie was already in production, because I had heard so many good things about it and it sounded like the type of book both my husband and I would love. It ended up being my favorite book of the year.

So when I found out Andy Weir was publishing a new book this year about a female smuggler on the moon, I was stoked! For the moment I only have an e-book copy courtesy of Netgalley, but you can bet I’m going to get a hardcover copy because the cover is gorgeous, and it will sit nicely next to my lovingly worn paperback copy of The Martian.

About Artemis! The first half of this novel felt different from The Martian. Our main character and narrator, Jazz, is a 26-year old citizen of Artemis, the only city on the moon. She is also a genius, but she chooses to live the life of a smuggler, despite everyone else’s opinion that she could be doing something extraordinary with her talents. Andy Weir takes a while to describe the city of Artemis, the way it works (it’s run more like a corporation than a government), and the people in it, and it’s easy to get used to Jazz’s smart-alec personality.

The second half of the novel brought me back to the summer I read The Martian, when every chapter it felt like my own life was hanging in the balance. Jazz is a master problem solver, and sometimes she’s a trial and error learner, which creates a lot of anxiety for the reader! Toward the end of the novel, every chapter had at least one everything is screwed and everyone is gonna die moment, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Artemis was both a technical science fiction novel and a murder mystery story. The characters Andy Weir created were amazing and very realistic. Jazz has some great friends; my only qualm was that I wish we got to actually meet Kelvin.

You May Also Enjoy:

The Martianarmada

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Martian by Andy Weir

Armada by Ernest Cline

The Delphi Resistance (The Delphi Trilogy #2) by Rysa Walker

Delphi Resistance

Struggling with evolving psychic abilities, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan and her equally exceptional friends are on the run from the ruthless Graham Cregg, leader of a covert operation known as the Delphi Project. Cregg has already killed repeatedly to test Anna’s ability. Now, he and his father, a presidential contender, will stop at nothing to recapture the Delphi adepts, whom they see as weapons to be controlled—or destroyed.

Navigating an increasingly hostile landscape, Anna and her friends form a resistance to rescue those still in the Creggs’ fatal grip. As more gifted kids vanish and public awareness of the Delphi Project grows, so does the opinion that getting rid of the adepts may be a necessary evil.

Yet even as they face off against cold-blooded killers, government operatives, and a public intensely afraid of their psychic powers, the greatest threat to Anna and the resistance may come from within themselves—and their own mysterious abilities could spell their ultimate downfall.

The Delphi Resistance (The Delphi Trilogy #2) by Rysa Walker
Published October 24, 2017 by Skyscape
Format: Netgalley e-book; 456 pages
Young Adult/Paranormal/Fantasy
Also By This Author: The Delphi EffectTimebound
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

First off, I love this cover. The splotches of blue and purple look so well together (also, they’re my two favorite colors!), and the sphere in the middle reminds me of a black hole, even though this book series has nothing to do with black holes or space travel.

My favorite thing about this series so far has been the characters, especially the ones with special abilities. In The Delphi Effect, we mostly see Anna with one “hitcher”, as she calls them. Towards the end of the book, however, as the plot and conspiracies grow deeper, Anna takes on multiple hitchers and her self-control and focus are pushed to the limit as she tries not to be pushed to the backseat of her consciousness. In The Delphi Resistance, Anna consistently has multiple hitchers, but she has learned how to keep control, even during stressful situation (these hitchers are more friendly than some of the ones we met at the end of Delphi Effect.

Similarly to its prequel, The Delphi Resistance has more exposition scenes and fewer high-intensity action scenes, although there are two really suspenseful ones in this novel. The characters spend weeks researching, investigating, and, in Taylor’s case, tracking down key people in the Delphi Project. I believe this reflects Rysa Walker’s own writing habits, as I know she is a history buff who loves researching real events for her novels. It’s one of the biggest things I admire about her as an author :)

The ending to The Delphi Resistance came suddenly, and I’m anxious to read the final installment of the series next year. I’m really excited to find out what’s going on with some of the “gifted” characters, like Daniel, and the boy Anna first encounters at The Warren.

You May Also Enjoy:

mara dyerdivergentMarvel’s X-Men

The Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Delphi Resistance in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts are my own!

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

One pitch-black London morning, a ghoulish little man tramples a young girl and continues heedlessly on his way. Caught by a passerby and returned to the scene of the crime, the man is forced to pay £100 in restitution. He produces ten pounds in gold and a check for the remainder. Curiously, the check bears the signature of the well-regarded Dr. Henry Jekyll. Even stranger, Dr. Jekyll’s will names this same awful and mysterious little man, Mr. Hyde, as the sole beneficiary. Troubled by the coincidence, Dr. Jekyll’s attorney visits his client. What he uncovers is a tale so strange and terrifying it has seeped into the very fabric of our consciousness.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published January 5, 1886 by Longmans, Green & Co.
Format: e-book/audiobook; 64 pages/3 hours 3 minutes
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: Treasure IslandKidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I was really looking forward to reading this spooky gothic classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, especially during the Halloween season. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. While the novel’s plot and characters were intriguing, I found the writing style incredibly boring. It took me at least two weeks to finish a three hour audiobook, mainly because I kept zoning out and losing interest as the story went on.

Everyone knows the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a curious scientist drinks a potion that turns him into a murderous lunatic, and overtime Dr. Jekyll becomes consumed by this psychotic half of his split-personality. It’s a fascinating plot for a story, which is why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains so popular over a century later. While I did enjoy the beginning and the end of this novel, I felt that the middle dragged on without very many exciting things happening, aside from some very lengthy passages of dialogue that could have used a sentence or two of description.

I would recommend this book to fans of gothic lit and classic sci-fi (namely H.G. Wells’s novels), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an audiobook version unless the narrator is extremely entertaining. I believe the version I listened to was from Librivox.

You May Also Enjoy:

img_1269FrankensteinThe Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Warleggan (The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham – Audiobook Review

Warleggan

When Ross Poldark plunges into a highly speculative mining venture, he risks not only his family’s financial security but also his already turbulent marriage. When his old flame, Elizabeth, reenters his life, Ross is tested like never before. But soon his wife, Demelza, retaliates, becoming dangerously involved with a handsome Scottish cavalry officer of her own.

With the looming threat of bankruptcy and scandal, the Poldarks now face the possibility of disaster on all fronts. Will they be able to keep it together before everything falls apart?

A tale of romance, revenge, and risk, Warleggan brings you characters and rivalries you won’t soon forget.

Warlegga(The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham
Published 1953
Format: audiobook; 14 hours 19 minutes
Classics/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1)Demelza (The Poldark Saga #3), Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3), Cordelia
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Honestly, I was dreading reading this volume of the Poldark Saga. If you watch the BBC/Masterpiece show, you’ll understand why. Without giving away too many spoilers, Ross does something unforgivable, and it threatens to destroy his entire family. Fortunately, I watched Season 2 before reading Jeremy Poldark and Waleggan (the two books Season 2 is based on), so I was prepared, and although it was a really difficult section of the book to read, the ending was very sweet and made up for it (mostly).

Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying Warleggan more than its predecessor. It felt like so much more happened in this novel than in Jeremy Poldark, and near the end I was more into the book than I originally anticipated.

Season 2 of Poldark is still rather fresh in my mind since I recently rewatched the last few episodes before Season 3 premiered, so I was doing a lot of comparing and contrasting between the novel and it’s on-screen adaptation. In my opinion, the tv show handles Ross’s infidelity and the other characters’ reactions to it in a much more realistic and forgiving light. In the book, it feels like Ross pretty much has his way and the female characters involved simply submit to his will and desires. I was very disappointed with how almost passive Demelza was in the book. She’s one of the fiercest literary characters I know of, and I felt that her reaction in the tv show was more realistic. I think this may be the part of the series where TV Demelza branches off from Book Demelza. I think this can probably be attributed to the fact that the show’s writer is a woman ;)

Audiobook Review

For the most part, I really enjoyed this narration of Warleggan. The narrator, Oliver Hembrough, has an entertaining voice that is easy to listen to. The only letdown for me was that his voice for most of the ladies, Demelza especially, was pitiful. Demelza is fierce, yet the narrator depicted her in a moping way that I was not a fan of. I can understand Elizabeth sounding that way, but not passionate Demelza.

Final Musings

The ending of Warleggan was very touching, and there are several reconciliations that will pull at your heartstrings. I’m very tempted to pick up the next book before this season is even over, but at the same time I don’t want to spoil anything! I enjoy watching the show and then reading the books afterwards.

Just for fun, and because it doesn’t actually happen in the novel, here’s my favorite scene from Season 2 of Poldark: