Tagged: Jane Austen

When a comfort read is discomforting: Mary Green by Melanie Kerr

My latest review for Vue Weekly is up, and I need to write a different kind of disclaimer:

This review is not sponsored and I paid full retail for the book. The author did, however, make me sourdough waffles with homemade preserves. I swear it didn’t affect this review, even though they were the best damn waffles I’ve ever had.

With that in mind, here follows my director’s cut review. Or, click here for the shorter version that appears in Vue.

It’s worth noting the unintentionally hilarious typo in the print headline. Not sure whose fans are rejoicing; Stone Cold Steve Austin’s?


Photo by Melanie Kerr

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Follies Past by Melanie Kerr: Review and Author Q&A



My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Taking its facts from Austen’s own words, Follies Past opens almost a year before the opening of Pride and Prejudice itself, at Pemberley, at Christmas. Fourteen-year-old Georgiana has just been taken from school and is preparing to transfer to London in the spring. It follows Georgiana to London, to Ramsgate and into the arms of the charming and infamous Mr. Wickham.

Remember last year when I did Austen in August and decided that even though Austen is Awesome, she kind of wasn’t for me (with the exception of Persuasion because let’s face it, Captain Wentworth is for everybody?) It’s a credit to Ms. Kerr’s persuasiveness (sorry) that I decided to read Follies Past. I didn’t want to set myself up for a disappointing read, or deal with the awkwardness of a writing a bad review of a local, self-published book. But over the course of a few weeks’ email correspondence, she wore me down. I picked up the ebook and girded myself.

It wasn’t just Kerr’s salesmanship (thought it was impressive) that convinced me. She created a series of wonderfully overwrought book trailers that are far more entertaining than those of best selling authors. And she blogs. Her blog is neither in your face promotion nor dubious writing tips; rather, it’s an interesting and educational look at what goes into writing a historical novel and publishing it yourself. Kerr’s expertise in the Regency era comes through in her fiction, but her blog really drives it home. My favourite posts are those about about peculiarities of Regency language, but she also rants about misuse of “beg the question,” one of my pet peeves.

What about the book?
Right! The best thing about Follies Past is that the writing style comes oh-so-close to Austen, it feels completely natural and not at all like that “put a Zombie on it” brand of adaptation. Kerr’s wit isn’t quite as razor sharp, but that’s like saying you are slightly worse at playing piano that Mozart. I don’t know about you, but I read Austen for the sick burns more than the romance, and there are plenty here. Speaking of romance, here’s our hero contemplating marriage with Caroline: Continue reading

First (Wrong) Impressions by Krista D. Ball

First (Wrong) ImpressionsMy rating: 2.5/5 stars

Published: May 28th, 2013

Source: Review copy from the author


Lizzy Bennet’s fundraising mission is to keep her homeless centre’s clients well-fed through a cold prairie winter. She meets the snobby and pompous William Darcy of Fitz & William Enterprises. While she’d never dare ask him for help, she can’t stop bumping into him — sometimes, quite literally. But when Lizzy’s campaign is cut short by the disappearance of her sixteen year old sister, William and his younger sister step in to help the woman they want to make part of their family. Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, First (Wrong) Impressions is Lizzy’s quest for happiness, security, and love in the 21st century.

An important caveat to this review: this isn’t the type of book I would pick up on my own, so I was a little dubious from the get go. My long-term readers know I have certain… snobbish tendencies when it comes to literature, and the term “fan fiction” makes my skin crawl. Jane Austen fan fiction is an industry in it’s own right, moving out of the online shadows in recent years, with the success of mash ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and more literary rewrites like Death Comes to Pemberly. I thought I would give this a whirl as part of Austen in August, and after chatting on Twitter, author Krista D. Ball kindly gave me a review copy.

First (Wrong) Impressions gave me a case of just that; it didn’t end up being exactly what I thought it would at the start, and that’s a good thing, because my first impression was a paint-by-number retread of the source material, plopping 18th century characters into 21st century settings. As I pushed forward, my defenses were broken down by Ball’s humourous one-liners and, eventually, by her creativity in using very modern scenarios to show us a new side of Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennett. Continue reading

Austen in August: Introduction and Northanger Abbey Review


August is almost over and I haven’t posted once about Roofbeam Reader’s Austen in August event. I have been reading, though. Here are my picks, and a review of my first read, Northanger Abbey.

My Austen in August Reads:

1. First (Wrong) Impressions by Krista D. Ball Continue reading