Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Forgotten Treasure

Thank goodness for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Work is kicking my butt this week and I am behind in reviews, but I can at least do a post on the daily topics. Today’s is Forgotten Treasure:

Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

I’ve been reading the posts on this topic with particular interest. I always love to see the hidden gems highlighted. I’ve been pondering what book to highlight myself all day. There are a lot of books that I consider oldies but goodies but which I see people still pimping (and rightly so), like Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, and Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. What book should I choose?

I chose..

Pride,  Prejudice and Jasmin Field

This was one of my top five reads of 2008 I think. And I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on the blog. Let me repeat myself. This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a journalist named Jasmin Field as the Elizabeth character and a Hollywood star named Harry Noble as the Darcy character. They meet when Harry is in London directing and starring in a theatrical version of P&P, and casts Jasmin in the lead role, even though he manages to insult her by calling her the “Ugly sister”. It’s very British and there’s lots of friends and socializing and some swearing. And I loved it. It probably falls under “chick lit” but it’s not fluffy by any means. It has one of my favorite modern-day interpretation of the first Darcy proposal scene. I’ve read most of Nathan’s backlist (one book away from reading them all), and this was my first, and thus has a special place in my heart. I wish more people had read it.

By the way, I didn’t sign up for the interview swap on Tuesday (because I meant to and then forgot about it), but I did do an impromptu one at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader!

Best of 2008 and New Year’s Resolution for 2009

A lot of people are posting a year end post for 2008. It's nice to see people looking back at the books they read for the year and picking out their favorite reads, and it's interesting to see what they picked. I thought it would be a good thing to try myself because with it recorded, I can look back in later years and see what my tastes were like.

Out of a total of 77 books read this year, very few got into my best list, but book ratings are highly subjective.  I just went with my gut and rated them according to how I felt about the book as soon as I finished reading them. These lists are compiled from ratings I put down in my private notes.

All the links to my reviews here are to my Livejournal.

The Books that Blew Me Away  – These books are those I gave top marks to when I first read them. It's a very hard list to get onto because I have to feel like I'm falling in love and cannot be parted from the book for it to get on this list. Only three got on it this year.

Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away – These came very close to getting top marks from me. This is a personal thing, but the books above I would put down and then obssessively think about when I could pick them up again. The books below, I didn't feel as consumed by the book, but still felt really impressed by them.

  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready (my review)
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I need to review this when I have the book in my hands)
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (review coming soon)

Books I Really Liked/ Keepers. These each had several moments where I loved the book and overall I think these are books that deserve to be loved and read by others, but for some reason or other these didn't get into the top 7. I still consider these keepers, and all these authors are pretty much autobuys/ must read backlist authors. There are 19 of these books this year (Linnea Sinclair's name comes up a lot here, I was reading her backlist in 2008):

  • The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong (my review)
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (my review)
  • Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (my review)
  • Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Bk 1) by Patricia Briggs (my review)
  • Easy Freedom by Liz Berry (my review)
  • Jinx by Jennifer Estep (my review)
  • Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (my review pt 1, pt 2)
  • The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (my review)
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan (my review)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my review)
  • Burndive by Karin Lowachee (my review)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly, Bk 3) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • The Decoy Princess and Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook (my review)


And for my New Year's Resolution – it's the same resolution as last year , to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 - 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – let's get it back up to 100!!

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Persuading Annie by Melissa Nathan

Persuading Annie
Melissa Nathan

Persuading Annie is the second Melissa Nathan book based on a Jane Austen novel. I reviewed Pride, Prejudice and Jasmine Field here. This time it's Persuasion which is getting a modern-day retelling.

This book starts off with Annie Markham, an heiress to the Markham fortune, going through a pregnancy scare in college with her boyfriend Jake Mead. Because of some well-meaning but overbearing relatives (her godmother Susannah and Susannah's daughter Cass), Annie is persuaded that Jake isn't the right guy for her, and they break up.

Seven years later, Annie's father, George Markham, CEO of Markham PR is in trouble, and the whole family is on the brink of financial ruin. With Susannah's advice, they hire an expensive consulting firm to save the company – a firm run by Jake Mead, the very same Jake that left Annie years ago. Annie's sisters Katherine and Victoria fawn over their expected savior, but Annie cringes at having to see Jake again. On top of that, she'll be seeing a lot of him, not only in board meetings, because in an effort to cut costs, Jake's people are staying on the first floor of the Markham mansion.

Overall: It's pretty easy to see the parallels between the original Jane Austen novel and this book, but I think this one didn't work as well for me as Nathan's other retelling. The problem I had was I never really fully bought into Annie and Jake, because at the beginning of the novel, when we see them as young and scared, I guess I didn't see much chemistry between them or reasons why they were together. Later when the two reconnected, I was haunted by the earlier impression.  On top of that, Annie's personality was a quiet one. Despite being the main heroine, and having her own life apart from her family (with art and the Samaritians), and some quiet backbone, I thought that she mostly looked good standing next to her obnoxious relatives, especially her selfish sisters. This didn't make me really dislike the book, more like bought down the book from being a really good read. As usual the writing is well done - I had no trouble feeling bored or wanting to put the book down, and the ensemble of other characters also helped the story a lot. I liked the side story of Victoria and Charles – they went from annoying to human over the course of the book. There were a few sweet scenes with Annie and Jake, but as I mentioned – didn't completely work for me. Anyway, I have no trouble imagining this book as a romantic comedy, complete with the typical ending that comes with those movies, and I'm not sure if it's just me that didn't fully believe the romance (it may be). It's a good book to read now, at the start of the holiday season – the timeline for this book ends in Christmas and the New Year.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

The Nanny by Melissa Nathan

The Nanny
Melissa Nathan

Like Linnea Sinclair, I think I'm just going to HAVE to read everything this author has ever written. After I read Pride, Prejudice and Jasmine Field, I went online and got a copy of Persuading Annie, the second one of her modern retellings of Jane Austen. Persuading Annie is a retelling of Persuasion. Meanwhile I also hopped to the library and borrowed The Nanny. Unfortunately, this is the only Melissa Nathan novel my library has, so I have to get her other two books The Waitress and The Learning Curve elsewhere.

This is I think Nathan's third novel and is her own story, not based on an Austen novel. I liked it probably a smidge less than Pride, Prejudice and Jasmine Field, but more than Persuading Annie.

The Nanny is about a twenty three year old nanny, Jo Green, who feels stuck in a rut with her life in Niblet-upon-Avon. Her boyfriend Shaun has proposed a few times, and each time she has turned him down, while her parents think he has never asked and keep wondering aloud what could be wrong and what he's waiting for. When Jo sees an ad for a nanny in London, she decides to apply for the job and just have a change of pace. She gets hired by Dick and Vanessa Fitzgerald, who have three children – eight year old Cassandra, six year old Zak and the youngest, Tallulah and gets sucked into their busy family life. To complicate matters Dick's sons from his first marriage arrive – his teen-aged son Toby and his grownup son Josh. Josh even moves in and sleeps in Jo's living room, and tensions mount.

Overall: This book started off a bit slowly as we got introduced to all the people in Jo's life, but everyone had their own personality and story within the book which made it enjoyable. We not only see Jo's struggle with her relationships but we also see complications in the marriage of Dick and Vanessa, Jo's parents and even the relationships among the kids. This ended up being a feel good story so things ended well for everyone involved, maybe in a too pat way, but it was just the type of book to cheer you up after a bad week. It did not feel short and fluffy, it felt like it had more depth than that, and it was a satisfying read. There are some comments here about being a working mother in need of a nanny, and family dynamics – the woman's role versus the man's, which made it a well thought out book for me. I also enjoyed the humor throughout the book – although sometimes the sarcasm was surprising, it was refreshing to read a book about the trials of parenting that come along with the joys, and to see a parent who loved their kids but may not be cut out for staying at home with them. The romance in this book was sweet as well.

P.S. This was written in third person (FYI for those who hate reading in first person)!

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field

This book is one of those modern day retellings of Pride and Prejudice. Jasmin Field (Jazz) is a reporter at a woman’s magazine who signed up for an audition for a one day “Pride and Prejudice” play, with director Harry Nobel. She finds Harry really arrogant and her contempt is cemented when she overhears him calling her “the Ugly Sister” compared to her actress sister George. What follows is a parallel of the Pride and Prejudice, which is very obvious considering the play and the title of the book, but there are several things I thought made things more interesting – the author focusses on the characters of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, Mr. Bingley and Darcy more than others in the Jane Austen Novel and there are some twists to the Wickham scandal, the Bennet family and Mr. Collins.


  • Well I saw reviews complaining about the main character being called “Jazz” and her best friend and sister were “Mo” and “George” – like there are too many cool names here. This didn’t bother me, but maybe avoid it if it’s a peeve.
  • There’s apparently a lot of swearing. I barely noticed though, I thought this was all part of Jazz’s lifestyle as a young woman with snarky female friends. They are all very blunt with each other.
  • This was my only really complaint: it was so obvious that the story paralleled the Jane Austen book, but the characters who were doing a play were rather oblivious except to kind of laugh when their words paralleled lines in the play maybe a couple of times. You have to suspend some disbelief here.


Good things:
OK, the rest of the book – I really liked it and enjoyed myself. I found it hard to put down. Even though I knew what was likely going to happen because I know the Pride and Prejudice story, I thought that Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field was originally done and was humorous. It was very different from the original because of the modern setting, with Jazz/Lizzy having a job as a reporter and her work issues, while Harry’s actor background is very different from the Darcy in Jane Austen’s book. It was fun to see Nathan’s creativity in translating the Austen book to this setting. I thought the romance was very sweet too. Jazz is often really angry at Harry and he’s a bit intimidated, but she doesn’t realize this, so when they get together at the end, it was nicely done, and showed his insecurity. I also thought Nathan’s version of the scene where Lizzy first sees Darcy’s house was very different – you wouldn’t easily guess it until you see it. So discovering what scenes translated to what was fun. I read this book in just a few hours and quickly googled the author as soon as I was done. I was really sad to find that Nathan died of cancer only a couple of years ago, but she has another Jane Austen based novel which I plan to read (Persuading Annie), as well as other books. I think I’m likely to go and devour her backlist, I think I found a new author I love. Judging from amazon though, it was definitely either loved it or hated it regarding this book. Don’t read it if you want something serious and similar to Austen, it’s more like irreverant, chick-lit Austen.


Read and post comments | Send to a friend