Book Review

January Book Reviews

I’m going to do something a little different this year in regards to book reviews. I’ve decided that I’ll do a monthly post with a mini book review for each book I completed within that month. On my book list tracker (2015), I’m breaking them down into months and the month will be linked to the review post, instead of the individual books.

So, without further ado, I give you the January book posts (imagine flourishing arm waving as a curtain parts on the stage…just kidding)

#1. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
This is only the 3rd Jane Austen book I’ve read (the other 2 are Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice).

It was a lot harder to get into than the others. I felt like the writing was harder to follow (though maybe the others were easier for me to read because I also knew the stories fairly well having seen the movies too). As I was reading some of it, it sounded vaguely familiar… I think I may have watched some of the movie before…

Anyway, the story started out so slowly (I think that’s probably why I struggled to stick with it). But the characters were probably what bugged me the most in this story. I had a lot more written about specific characters when I started my draft review (before I decided to do my reviews per month instead of by book), so to condense that I’ll pull out some comments:

  • Fanny – so timid/meek and naïve. She rarely seems to have energy. So much different than Austen’s other leading ladies that I’ve read. I got frustrated when she wouldn’t speak up or stand up for herself (especially in the scene with her uncle where she wouldn’t actually say why she couldn’t/wouldn’t marry Henry). I understand that this is probably more due to the people who “raised” her (including the abuse from her Aunt Norris and the way her cousins – except Edmund – looked down on her), but still. It was hard to think of her as a leading character when she never stood up for herself and took everything they dished out.
  • Lady Bertram – boy, what was the purpose of her at all? Such a lazy woman who can’t think for herself and needs her husband (or her sister) to make her decisions.
  • Aunt Norris – ugh, what a horrid woman. So obnoxious and self-serving. She’s one I would have liked to slap multiple times.

The plot is decent, but it was difficult for me to really get into the story. I actually first started reading this book back in June (2014) and after a couple of days put it down. I didn’t pick it up again until December 27/28ish, and then finished it on January 3.

If this had been my first Austen experience, I’m not sure I would have continued with her other books, so I’m happy that I had read some others first, and I will still read her others. (I read a website that said that Mansfield Park is rather different from the rest of her novels, especially where the leading female character is concerned. I was happy to hear that there is hope for the remaining novels I have yet to read, because I will read them!)

#2. The 39 Clues #4: Beyond the Grave, Jude Watson
The fourth installment in a race for clues around the world. It is a collaborative effort among a number of authors (each book is written by a different author). The story is a little out there, as I highly doubt an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old, and their au pair would be able to do most of the things they do around the world, but I guess that’s the adventure of it all.

I originally read the first one to see if it would be something my niece would enjoy and didn’t really have the intention of continuing on, but then saw that the next books were available through my library ebook catalog, so just kept reading them.

The books tend to focus on one country, person, theme, etc. per book. For example, one book was focused on music, Mozart, and his history. So it’s still educational for kids, which I think is great.

And now I kind of have to admit that I’m curious to get to the end of the series and see what awaits the kids…

#3.  The Girl with the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles #4), Kady Cross
Since this is the last in the series, I don’t want to get into the details and will rather talk generally about the series as a whole. I hadn’t really read much steampunk before this series, and for the most part I enjoy it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to fathom that young characters (mid-teens to 20/21) do what they do, but like mentioned for the series above, it’s part of the story’s adventure. But the ideas, machines, and inventions, are pretty cool. It’d be pretty amazing to see what our world would look like today if some of the things described in these books existed back in the 1800s…we’d certainly be more advanced!

The series is typical in that, at the highest level, it’s a story of good vs. evil. However, it’s not just the good guys vs. the bad guys (though there is definitely plenty of that). Some characters have the internal struggle, too (some are more apparent than others).

I liked the cast of characters, it was rather a motley bunch which made it fun.

#4. The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crimes #1), Jasper Fforde
Oh Jasper Fforde. I really enjoy his books. The Thursday Next series was my introduction to Jasper Fforde when I was in college. And though I enjoyed the earlier books in the series more than the last, I still enjoyed. So a high bar was set for this series, and it was met.

Fforde crafts such quick-witted and funny characters. The dialog between characters has me chuckle out loud from time to time. To take kids’ stories, like nursery rhymes, and turn them into adult crime stories cracks me up (no pun intended with this book, where Humpty Dumpty has his great fall…).

I would love to see this series (and the Thursday Next series) as TV shows or something; I think it would be quite funny to watch.

He is a very clever author and I look forward to reading more of the series (in fact, I’m currently reading book 2).


So this was a rather lengthy post. I’ll definitely be mindful of that in future months!


2 thoughts on “January Book Reviews

  1. Haahaa – So long! But well written. Mansfield Park is definitely divisive, but she’s a fascinating character and the whole idea of nature/nurture plays a big role. I also think it’s one of Austen’s most caustic observational novels on families and their connections. If you think Fanny is naive wait until you read Northanger Abbey!


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