First Impressions : A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen – What Is Your Expectation If An Author Mentions Austen?

Book Review : First Impressions
A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

By Charlie Lovett

Spoiler Alert!



A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield.  Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and so anytime she is featured in a novel, or her literary work is being drawn out from her novels, I am always on pins and needles. I loved the narrative Lovett fabricated involving Jane Austen. He included many what if’s, and could it be possible, and perhaps this is why she didn’t write at this time, and wouldn’t it be fun if…

The scenes felt in keeping with the time period and rolled along gently. They feel pastoral, which is used literarily to show the goodness of God and nature compared to the wickedness of the city. (I believe this was unintentional on the author’s part – but I could be mistaken.)

Sophie Collingwood is the modern day protagonist. Her ancestral home is under immense financial strain, her uncle’s flat in London was in the middle of the hustle of the city and she has recently come from University – another place full of angst and pressure. Sophie’s life is a far cry from the quiet timber of Austen’s pastoral world. Her uncle’s death and the loss of his library is a blow that starts her on a new path. I questioned if a book lover like Sophie would stoop to larceny; by the end of the book I felt like that query was satisfied. I felt like she should be angrier at her father for his behavior instead of giving him something of a pass. I liked how she and her sister were very close and supportive.

The contrasting love interests, Winston Godfrey and Eric Hall, became more interesting because Sophie finds out they knew each other at University. My bias ran immediately to voting for Eric Hall. He might be brash, but at least I figured I’d always know what he was thinking. Would you prefer sexy and mysterious or genuine and unforgettable?

As I read First Impressions, I created an inner dialogue about the nature of a cad – historically and in a modern context. If I were to define a cad I would say he is charming, a narcissist and in a position to use women for his own benefit and interests. Historically, a cad may be excused for his behavior because of money or position and society would wink at his indiscretions. Ultimately, women suffered because of a cad’s behavior, while he received little inconvenience. Is there a modern equivalent to a cad? Depressingly no, because caddish behavior is expected and is the norm for both sexes. (Other than conveniences like, indoor plumbing, food and ease of travel I could have fit in well in proper Regency society.)

Sophie expects Eric to be a cad, but he isn’t. In turn, Winston is expected to be a cad and lives up to expectations. Sophie could also be termed a cad because she is certainly using Winston and enjoying a tawdry affair with him. I certainly questioned Sophie’s reasons for trusting Winston after she caught him in his first indiscretion. Sophie’s sister also expects caddish behavior. The morals of today stand in stark contrast to the code of ethics women lived by in the Regency Era.

Overall, I liked First Impressions, but I didn’t love it as much as I hoped. I loved the quotes from Austen’s books!

Definitely read The Lost Book of the Grail, also written by Lovett. I’m working backwards on his books and will definitely read more and look forward to a new novel he’s working on taking place in New York with a Nancy Drew feel.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle

For a Darcy spin on Pride and Prejudice I  remember liking An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden. (It’s been years since I read it, so I hope it’s as good as I remember.)

Another historical novel I really enjoyed was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. If you haven’t ever picked it up today is the day to give it a try.

Also try Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.


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The Raven Boys – Do You Like Subtle Changes in POV?

Book Review : The Raven Boys

By Maggie Stiefvater

Spoiler Alert!



“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I found myself intrigued by The Raven Boys from the beginning. The opening hook of the story is that Blue has been told a specific tale from her clairvoyant family – the first boy she kisses will die. Her true love will die and so she has decided to never fall in love.

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” (p. 1 – first line)

How could I not want to read what comes next?

“Her family traded in predictions. These predictions tended, however, to run toward the nonspecific.” (p. 1 continued)

Blue has never had to rebel because her mom is already too weird and accepting to have had such a common problem with her daughter. They are both caught off guard when Blue defies her mother, and continues to see the Raven Boys. She had always despised the boys who attended the private school, but she becomes intrigued with this set of boys – they all orbit around Gansey like he is their sun. Gansey is described as condescending, pristine. He is at odds with his money and he is driven to solve a mystery.

“But Gansey and Adam sought Glendower for different reasons. Gansey longed for him like Arthur longed for the grail, drawn by a desperate but nebulous need to be useful to the world, to make sure his life meant something beyond champagne parties and white collars, by some complicated longing to settle an argument that waged deep inside himself.
Adam, on the other hand, needed that royal favor.” (p. 51)

Ronan’s father has died, he fights constantly with his older brother, is full of angst and born into an affluent family. He is prickly, harsh and self-destructive and he’s keeping a secret.

“Ronan wasn’t sorry for his behavior; he was only sorry that Gansey had been there to see him. What lived between the Lynch brothers was dark enough to hide anyone else’s feelings.” (p. 50)

Adam works harder than all his friends to be able to attend Aglionby – a private school, has an abusive father and passive mother. It’s interesting that he isn’t jealous of the wealth surrounding him, it just produces an intense wanting, a drive to get out of his family’s state of poverty.

“Adam felt the familiar pang. Not jealousy, just wanting. One day, he’d have enough money to have a place like this. A place that looked on the outside like Adam looked on the inside.
A small voice within Adam asked whether he would ever look this grand on the inside, or if it was something you had to be born into.” (p. 41)

Noah is fairly non-descript, at one point he actually makes a suggestion and everyone goes along with it because he’s usually so passive. He is described as the smudgy boy by Blue, and he always looked a little grubby –  though his room is kept in a pristine state. He is also very truthful.

“In the deep, shadowed entrance of the church, Noah stood silently. For a second, all that seemed to be visible was his pale face; his dark clothing invisible and his eyes chasms into someplace unknowable. Then he stepped into the light and he was rumpled and familiar as always.” (p. 96)


I’ve included several quotes so you can get a feel for the writing style, which relies on inference and instinct. Some reviewers said they were confused whose point of view it was at any given moment. I think it’s fairly simple – instead of being strictly broken into chapters relying heavily on an inner dialogue – comments are slipped in when that character is front and center – for that moment. I felt like I knew each character a little better because I saw into their thoughts.

“Adam’s heart was still a flighty thing. He had to confess to himself that until how he probably had never really believed Gansey’s supernatural explanation for the ley line, not in a way that he’d really internalized.” (p. 241)

“Gansey turned to the others….He became aware that he was shivering, but he didn’t know if it was from the newly winter cold or anticipation.” (p. 247)

See how easy that is to follow? I’m a fan of these subtle changes in POV. I find them un-intrusive and fill in the narrative. I love knowing what’s going on inside the characters.

The Raven Boys is a YA book written for teens in high school. There is coarse language and cursing, murder and whispers of occult witchcraft. Nothing is overly sexual, though Blue is shocked to hear of how her mother was swept away by her father – who disappeared without an explanation.

I recommend this book, but with a caveat, because of the language. I consider it to be a modern gothic romance.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you like this one try:

The Gray Wolf Throne – Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

And for an adult fantasy recommendation:

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


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The Traitor’s Game – Who Decides If You’re a Traitor or a Hero?

Book Review : The Curious Affair of The Witch At Wayside Cross

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

Spoiler Alert!



Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well – and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what – and who – it is they’re fighting for. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Who is the traitor? Kestra fights against betraying her country. But what constitutes betrayal? The current government usurped the throne from the Dallisor’s reign. The Dallisors now support Endrick and his ruthless rule. Who has the right to rule? The Halderians previously ruled Antora, but they kidnapped Kestra and seem too willing to forfeit her life. The Coracks violently oppose Endrick, but their leader also places no value on life over his ambitions. What is a girl to do? Accept an offer of marriage?

“Was that a flirtation, a way of teasing him into another visit? Or was she politely avoiding any further connection to him? I couldn’t tell, which frustrated me to no end, but I hoped it was the latter. She was already being forced to commit treason against Antora. Her schedule was full.” (p.139)

The Traitor’s Game pulled me in two different directions, at times I was laughing and then I was biting my nails the rest of the time.  Nielsen is a master at balancing every scene with banter and moving the action forward at a clipping pace. I love how the secrets are slowly revealed and each one adds a new poignancy to the plot.

The Traitor’s Game is written from two POV’s – Kestra and Simon. The danger of multiple view points is getting confused or adoring one character while hating the other. Thankfully neither of those circumstances prevailed here. The characters are the driving force in a novel, that make it interesting. In this case, we have a cast of note worthy characters. Here are a few of the characters:

Kestra Dallisor– She has never been in favor with her father, and even though she is a privileged Dallisor, she has always been an outsider. Her position is further emphasized by her relationship with Trina, who thinks Kestra has had a beautiful life of luxury. While it’s true that Kestra was wealthy and didn’t know the plight of the common man she is more hated than any other woman in Antora. I liked Kestra because she didn’t back down, even when she appeared to acquiesce, she was only biding her time for a better attack. She also has a knack for acquiring knives.

“Gabe called for me to wait, but he had to secure his horse first, giving me a good lead. At some point, he would realize I also had his knife.” (p. 312)

Simon Hatch – He has a history with Kestra, which gives him a good reason to hate her. She nearly had him killed all to gain favor with her father, well, that and a simple misunderstanding. Simon is loyal, trying to live up to the expectations of his adoptive father and navigate the turnings of his own heart. He knows Kestra can’t be trusted, and yet he sees a side of her that no one else does and he can’t help falling for her – even though he was warned to safeguard his heart. Conflicted over Kestra, he struggles because he doesn’t want to be at odds with her while still holding to his values.

Trina – She is a waif who conceals multiple secrets. In ways, she is more prideful than Kestra and is certainly even more hot tempered. Her main motivation is to be accepted rather than be an outsider. She has tried to buy Tenger’s trust with revealing her father’s secrets and is complicit in the plot to discover the Olden Blade. Even Kestra gains some compassion for Trina, she knows better than to trust her – she is too broken to have pure motives.

Sir Henry Dallisor – He is a secondary character, but as Kestra’s father he has played an important role in her growth. As one of the privileged Dallisors he is intent on keeping his position and wealth, even at the expense of his daughter. We learn he only had one weakness, and that was the love he had for his wife. He reminds me of a mob boss, but one who wants others to do the dirty work for him.

Tenger – He is the leader of the Corack rebellion, and is also willing to use people for his end purposes – making him not that much different than Henry Dallisor. The primary difference in their character some from the fact that Tenger believes he fights for a righteous cause while Henry Dallisor doesn’t care about the right side, only being right.

If you like strong female characters, adventure, plot twists and danger – with a dash of magic this is the right book for you. And, don’t forget the right amount of romance! This novel is a clean fantasy and appropriate for teens and adults. Because of the complexity I believe high school students will enjoy it more than middle school readers. I highly recommend The Traitor’s Game! I can tell you who decides if you’re a traitor or a hero – the winner. But, who will be the winner in this exciting series by Nielsen?

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you like this one try:

The Gray Wolf Throne – Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

The Alloy of Law of Brandon Sanderson

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

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The Philosopher’s Flight – Can Man Really Fly?

Book Review : The Philosopher’s Flight

By Tom Miller

Spoiler Alert!



A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art.

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Tom Miller has woven a fantastic tale with a world at war with the use of magic. Robert is a country rube, who has lived his life in the shadow of his mother and sisters with their undeniable talent. Lines have been drawn in the fight between the sexes, escalating because women naturally have more talent in philosophy – the science of magic. When philosophy entered the wars horrible acts were committed bringing resulting in the common man fearing the abuse of women’s philosophical powers. Robert is the outsider having to prove himself in a woman’s world, rife with the prejudice, slander and prosaic attitudes. He learns self-control and discovers he can believe in himself, even against the odds.

I felt connected to Robert, and his struggle to fit into the world with his big dreams. I also liked how his mother was pragmatic and no-nonsense. The women attending the school became a blur. I knew Jake came from a privileged background, was very talented and beautiful. I didn’t feel like I understood her motivation in accepting Robert into their tight-knit group. Danielle was another character I wish I knew a little better. She also came from a wealthy background, but still faced racial slurs.  Even though she suffered with post traumatic syndrome from the war as a demon for her character motivation, I still wanted to see more out of her and why she chose Robert.

I frequently read old literature, and Miller employs some of the characteristics of antiquated novels. He includes descriptions of the place and time, which increased my understanding of the world where his characters reside. Some readers may dislike the amount of exposition. He also used antiquated terms for lesbians, who are found more frequently among the empirical philosophers. There are a few chapters with heterosexual sex scenes, which would nix it as a “clean fantasy”.

Overall, I liked Miller’s novel, the fun and thoughtful world he developed and particularly liked his character Robert Weekes. I would recommend this book for adults.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle


If you enjoy historical fiction with a magic twist I recommend Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede as one of my favorites set in Regency England.

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Interview with Charlie Lovett – The Lost Book of the Grail

Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale.

The Bookman's Tale

Today’s interview features a discussion on The Lost Book of the Grail and contains spoilers! I highly recommend Lovett as an author for anyone who loves history, books and a well-told tale.




Hello Charlie,

I’m delighted you’re available for an interview today. The Lost Book of the Grail became an immediate favorite because of your multi-level writing style.

When you first started writing The Grail, did you think it  would neatly fit in a genre or that it would sweep the board covering murder mystery, romance, fantasy and historical fiction?


I don’t really think in terms of genre—I just tell the story I want to tell about the characters I have created. I’m always surprised when I see my books shelved in the mystery section because I don’t think of myself as a mystery writer. But then, I think every good book is a mystery in that we want to turn the page and see what happens next. One bookseller listed The Bookman’s Tale as “Historical Romance,” and until I saw that list I hadn’t even heard of that genre. I’m perfectly happy for people to put my work in whatever category they like, but when I’m working on it I just try to tell a good story.


I’m glad you approach writing from creating a good story as your top priority.

I love how you employ the centuries of history behind the lost book – the many people who touch, revered, protected and then stole the book. It feels like the lost book is an over-arching character. In the writing process, how did you develop this approach for the reader to learn about the lost book? Do you see the book as a silent character?


I absolutely see the book as a character, and that is something I have done in my previous novels as well, especially The Bookman’s Tale. Characters become interesting when they have to overcome obstacles, and the lost book has about 1500 years of British history to lay down those obstacles. By following a book through history in short scenes I could provide an outline of the history of the cathedral in addition to following the adventures of the book itself. As far as process is concerned, I wrote the historical sections one at a time, for the most part, and not in any particular order. I would just get interested in a certain period and start in on the research, always thinking about how what happened in the past could connect to the preset story.


I’m amazed over the amount of research you put into your writing. I loved the religious and historical references established in the cathedral portions of the novel.

Arthur Prescott is a delightful, fusty man – more in tune with the written word than social interaction. Even so, he has key people he works with who reveal his character. Before the reader meets Bethany Davis, Arthur walks with Gwyn . Did you intend their relationship to be a contrast to how Arthur ends up working with Bethany? He certainly expected to have nothing more than a platonic relationship with women.


I think fusty is a great word for Arthur. He is not great at making friends, which is why he places such value on those that he has. Even though his book collecting group, the BBs, is an all-boys club, I think Arthur is one of those people who has convinced himself that he doesn’t really see gender. To him Oscar is a friend, David is a friend, and Gwen is a friend and even though he sees them in different contexts, he doesn’t really see those three relationships as fundamentally different in any way.


I can see how he has convinced himself he is okay with just having friends. Arthur is loyal to David and Oscar, but still hesitates to enter their lives deeply.

The secondary characters fulfill important roles. While reading The Lost Book of the Grail, I could feel their stories bursting through the lines in single sentences. Each character has a wealth of experiences that could add to the story. How do you decide how much of their background to include? What to forego?


It’s tricky sometimes to decide how much to include. The reader wants to feel that she knows those characters and they need to seem real and not like cardboard cutouts; but at the same time, I don’t want the story to get bogged down with unnecessary exposition. I think the best thing is to show those characters primarily in their interactions with Arthur, just dropping hints of their lives away from him into conversation. In some ways, I wanted the reader to know more about these characters than Arthur does, because of his cocoon existence. For instance, the reader, I hope, understands Oscar’s relationship with his mother much better than Arthur does.


Arthur is definitely cocooned. I felt like I got to know Arthur through one layer at a time. On the surface he is a curmudgeon, but he has a romantic side because of his belief in the Holy Grail. What point in the story do you feel he tips over from being the scholar to the adventurer?


I think it’s Bethany who tips him past that point. She is not willing to let him just sit there and be complacent, rather she pulls him into the adventure. I think the scene where she accesses information about the 1941 bombing on her phone almost instantly just after he has told her he can find that information in the local archives in a few days may be the moment when he begins to understand just what Bethany and her digital technology bring to the table.


I agree, her accessing information he couldn’t have obtained so easily was the point when he saw the value in looking beyond himself. The adventurer inherently must be able to move out of their comfort zone.

Bethany Davis is a contrast to Arthur. She is brash, technologically savvy, and emotive. She seems very familiar, like a friend I had in college. How do you picture her loving Arthur over the course of the next twenty years? I believe their love of books will keep them together.


Love is a funny thing, and it often, if not always, leads us to places we never expected to go. This is certainly true for both Arthur and Bethany. At the beginning of the novel, Arthur views the world almost as a museum—full of old books, old paintings, old music, architecture, liturgy, and so on. Bethany teaches Arthur that the world is a living place, and by doing so helps Arthur find his voice and dive into the world. Though Bethany leads the relationship through most of the book, I think the confidence Arthur gains during their adventures will help make them more equal partners as they move forward.


I’m sure you have new books you are in the process of writing. Do you have any tidbits you can share? I’m hoping you have at least a dozen in the works!


I just finished the manuscript of a new novel and am currently waiting to hear what my editor thinks of it. The book is set in New York City in 2010 and 1906 and is centered on the world of early twentieth-century children’s series books—like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and so on. It’s been great fun to work on and I did loads of research about 1906 New York City. The book includes many real historical events, places, and people.


I’m signing up to read it! I don’t know anything about New York in 1906 and can hardly wait to find out what you’ve discovered.

So many readers secretly, or not so secretly, hope to become an author. What advice would you give to yourself before you were published, after becoming a New York Times Bestselling author?


My biggest piece of advice would be—don’t give up. This is a tough business and it’s full of rejection. My story is not unusual. I collected a couple of decade’s worth of rejection slips before I had my big break. At any point I could have decided to stop writing, but I didn’t. I tell young writers to see each rejection as a necessary step on the road to acceptance—that way a rejection becomes something positive rather than negative. I would also tell writers to read as much as they can. If publishers are not buying your work, find out what they are buying. It’s important to remember that writing is an art form, but publishing is a business. No matter how good your book is, no one will buy it if they don’t think there is a market for it.


Thank you for spending the time sharing insights into your writing. The Lost Book of the Grail is now available in paperback. I highly recommend you get it today!

I will look forward to the release of your next novel. Michelle

Best Wishes,
Charlie Lovett

New York Times Best Selling Author of The Bookman’s TaleFirst ImpressionsThe Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scroogeand The Lost Book of the Grail. Podcast Inside the Writer’s Studio.


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By The Book – Will You Be Persuaded To Love The Story Again?

Book Review : By The Book
By Julia Sonneborn

Spoiler Alert!



An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.  (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I received a copy of By The Book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I loved the cover of By The Book because it looks quaint like a small out of the way town. I also love Jane Austen’s books and was interested to see how Sonneborn handled a retelling of Persuasion.


Though it wasn’t really part of the retelling, I liked the relationships of Anne with her father, who is ill and dying, and her disconnected sister. Anne showed the greatest depth of character working through her guilt when her father passed away. She was filled with self-doubt while realizing how much her father adored her. He wasn’t one to talk through his feelings, and so it wasn’t until his passing that she learned some essential truths of his life.

Initially I liked Anne’s relationship with her friend, Larry. Once Larry became involved with a married man, he became whinny and a train wreck. Anne didn’t blink once over Larry being involved with a married man, when she was even loosely friends with the lover’s wife. This story line turned my stomach because they had no moral compass of right and wrong. I also never understood why Anne didn’t see that Rick was slimy from the beginning. The characters were generally one-dimensional. It was a fast read and had a couple of fun moments, like when Anne walks into a swanky event in a new red dress. She had eaten french fries on the way covering herself with napkins.

The quality of writing was decent and I’ve placed the stars about in the middle. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. All sex scenes are off page. There is a little cursing, including some F-bombs, an unfortunate thing common in modern writing when there isn’t a need.

3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • Michelle

Other books I recommend for a period romance include An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden (Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view) and Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede (a Regency romance with magic thrown in the mix).

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