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Posts Tagged ‘book recommendation’

Historical Fiction Review – Colonel Brandon’s Diary

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

I love Jane Austen’s novels.  I have read each one more than once and I wish there were more.  I am forced to go to Austen retellings and continuations by other authors.  Amanda Grange has a series of novels that provide retellings from the heroes’ points of view.   I recently picked up Colonel Brandon’s Diary from one of my (too many?) ‘To Read’ bookshelves.

What I enjoyed about this book is I think it made Colonel Brandon more relatable.  In Sense and Sensibility he seems so serious and hard to get to know at times. This novel sheds some light on his possible thoughts and reasons for his actions.  Grange presents a Brandon with a gentle, caring spirit, which I think we see in Austen’s novel but not to this extent.

Robbed of happiness in love at a young age, Brandon thinks he is destined to be alone until his path crosses with that of Marianne Dashwood.  Brandon continues to try to right the wrongs of the past and make up for things he think went wrong because of his decisions (or indecision).

While I don’t think Grange’s novel possesses the depth of Austen’s novels, I think Grange does pay good homage to the characters and the spirit of Austen’s novels.  I think this novel series of heroes’ diaries is a fun way to revisit some favorite Austen characters.  I have also read Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Mr. Knightley’s Diary from Grange’s diary series and I liked Colonel Brandon’s Diary the best of the three.  If you’re a fellow Austenite, you may want to give this series a try.

Historical Fiction Review – Ross Poldark

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall (1783-1787) by Winston Graham


Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


I am a huge fan of almost anything shown on Masterpiece Classic.  I get a lot of my reading suggestions through these television programs.  This year a new version of Poldark was added to the Masterpiece schedule and it was a huge success.  When I learned more and discovered it was based on a book series, I had to do some research.  Much to my joy, there are twelve books in the Poldark Saga!

In the first installment, Ross Poldark is just returning from fighting for the British in the Revolutionary War.  He is battered and tired and ready to settle back into a life in England.  Ross is looking forward to being reunited with his love Elizabeth but his return is not the happy one he envisioned.  Elizabeth is no longer his love, his father has passed away, and his homestead is in shambles.  Thus begins the battle to bring order and purpose back to his life under unexpected and dismal circumstances.  Ross must deal with family drama and ridicule from many in the district.  He doesn’t live up to the expectations many people have for him and is forced to forge his own path without their stamp of approval or assistance.  Graham gives Ross a rich voice with dialogue that is witty and direct, a style that was often avoided in those times because of tradition and social graces.

Ross has definite flaws and I found myself occasionally getting frustrated with him but he is also very mindful and, at a time when others are warped and controlled by greed, he remains a step above.  I absolutely love his cousin Verity and hope she is a prominent character in the future novels. Set in Cornwall, the landscape and descriptions of the mines and mining practices of the time were very interesting and not belabored (I’m thinking of the utterly painful pages and pages of descriptions of Russian farming practices in Anna Karenina).  I really enjoyed this first novel in the series and I look forward to learning more about the future of the Poldark family.  5 stars for Ross Poldark!


Audio Book Review – Agnes and the Hitman

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015


Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer


Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)


I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but what about making an initial judgment based on its cover combined with the title?  When I saw the title of this book I had to take a second look.  When I looked a little more closely, I saw the image of Agnes (the short-ish dark hair and glasses reminded me of yours truly!) with flamingos and bullet holes in the background and I had to give Agnes and the Hitman a chance.  What I got was a wild, somewhat neurotic, mob tale complete with hitmen, wedding planning, flamingos and attempted dognapping.

I decided to listen to this audiobook last week while traveling for work…it was going to be a somewhat long, tedious drive so I thought something fun and light would be just what I needed. I was right; I thought it was fun with just enough of a ‘serious’ family storyline woven throughout to keep it from being ridiculous.

Agnes has had some issues with previous fiancés…I’ll just say there was mistrust and frying pans involved.   Joey is her best friend…and an ex-mobster.  Or is he really an ex-mobster?  And who is this mysterious Shane who Joey sends to protect Agnes and her dog Rhett?  Bring on two controlling mothers trying to take over a wedding, mob tales, missing money, and a little love (and/or lust) and you have some laugh-out-loud entertainment.

Sandra Burr is the narrator, and overall, I think she does a great job keeping the story light and the variety of accents (from South Carolina to New Jersey) fun.  My only complaint on the narration is in the editing and production of the character’s thoughts…the vocalized thoughts sound like Burr is in an echo chamber and the volume decreases quite dramatically.  I had to listen to the entire audio book a little louder than I would have liked so I didn’t miss these vocalized thoughts.

Have about 12 hours on your hands and need some fun, lighthearted entertainment?  Give Agnes and the Hitman a try.