Published: June 26, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)
Or does she?
Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
I love the Jane series so so much! I read My Lady Jane last year and fell in love! It made me laugh so hard and made even me forget my historical nitpicking for a little while. So I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that they decided to write another book. (very, very excited!) We were on vacation at the Outer Banks and I bought My Plain Jane at the cute little indie bookstore in Buxton; shout out to Buxton Village Bookstore!
I read it in all of two days! I love the writing style; they basically talk to the reader every few paragraphs. I get that this story is a retelling of Jane Eyre, so the “dear Reader” fits in really well. And I love how they apologize to England in their dedication page for what they’ve done to a classic! My opinion of the classic Jane Eyre story is pretty weird. I love the book and I adore Mr. Rochester; I hate Jane. She’s whiny and stubborn and arrogant. Thank goodness, they fixed it in My Plain Jane. Jane isn’t my favorite character in this book, but I also don’t hate her. I love, love, love, Alexander! He’s one of those crush worthy characters. Charlotte is also pretty awesome. She’s smart and dissatisfied with her lot in life, so she actually changes it and does it with femininity and class.
Overall, the best way to describe this book is “a fun read.” It just made me giggle and smile and made me want to keep reading and never put it down. It’s not meant to be taken too seriously and it just wants to be enjoyed. I’d say that means it’s a great book, at least for me! I would recommend this for anyone looking to find the fun in reading. I doubt guy teens would like it, but it’s perfect for teen girls. I really love it!
Author: John Boyne
Published: October 1, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.
Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.
I enjoyed reading this book … but there’s something about it that’s keeping me from saying that I loved it. Pierrot starts out as a kid you have hope for, but then as he grows, he turns into a monster! He even had good influences growing up from the ladies who ran the orphanage. But then, under the influence of Hitler, that sweet little boy dies and a hardened Nazi emerges. I will admit that it’s a very realistic view of how Hitler was able to convince an entire nation to follow him. It just has an air of sugar coating about it.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was filled with emotion and condemnation and horror. This book almost seemed to excuse the evil actions of Pierrot in order to save some likeableness for him. Although he struggles with regrets, to me, it didn’t seem sincere. He simply wants to make himself feel better and bring some stability to his life. A guilty conscience is a good start, but this book is almost the equivalent of patting a criminal on the head saying, “oh don’t be so hard on yourself!” I wanted to like this so badly and I just didn’t.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. But I wouldn’t recommend this to teens, the message is a little too murky and I wouldn’t want to cause any confusion.
Author: Jessica Shattuck
Published: March 28, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war each with their own unique share of challenges.
Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.
It’s hard to criticize a book like this because of its subject matter and our need to condemn the past. I have rated it based on the fact that I enjoyed reading it, I liked the story and didn’t like the characters. I appreciate the way this book lays out life, not as black and white, but in many shades of gray.
I went into this story expecting to like the main character of Marianne because I agree with her on a moral level, and by the end, I did have some good feelings toward her. But for most of the book, I couldn’t stand her. She’s that annoying, overbearing, self-righteous, do-gooder who won’t leave you alone until you do exactly what she’s told you to do. I didn’t like Benita much either. She was far too self-centered for me. I expected to like either one or the other, because liking Marianne OR Benita seemed to be mutually exclusive. But nope, I actually disliked both of them. Ania, I liked. She seemed the most human and realistic of all of them. Yes, she did wrong, but then she stopped doing wrong to protect her children. And she admitted her wrong doing! That is what was so important to me about Ania. Although she had life excuses for why she did things, she admitted they were wrong and then tried to live her life the right way.
So, in the same way that you enjoy reading something you disagree with because you disagree with it and have fun pointing out why you’re right and the book is wrong, I enjoyed this book because I disagreed with and disliked some of the characters. I would recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction and those who enjoy moral dilemmas.