Prada And Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Title: Prada and Prejudice
Author: Mandy Hubbard (Blog)
Source: Library
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (June 11, 2009)
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:
Callie is a 17 year old average geek girl who has no friends. She convinces her mom to let her go to a London School trip hoping she could make new friends here. But things don’t change. To get noticed by the popular girls she goes shopping and buys a $400 Prada shoes. But the moment she is out of the Prada door, she slips, falls down and hits her head. When she wakes up it’s 1815 and she is alone in a forest.

She somehow manages to walk herself to something that looks like a castle and decides to ask for help. A girl called Emily, who is almost her age, mistakes Callie for her American friend Rebecca, who was to arrive a month later. Callie wanting someplace to stay and get help lies about being Rebecca. There she meets Alexander, Alex, who is a young and handsome guy about her age. But….he is the Duke of Harksbury. After some time Callie realizes that she really is in 1815. Emily is about to get into an arrange marriage with a guy old enough to be her father and Alex is an arrogant guy who seems more mean and arrogant every day.

Prada and Prejudice was such a fun book. I enjoyed seeing a 21st century girl thrown in 1815, in the world of balls, dances, carriages and corsets. It was fun when Callie showed off her knowledge from the 21st century, things which were not known in the 1815’s.

The Duke of Harksbury, Alex, is another Mr. Darcy. But I love how Mandy Hubbard has taken inspiration from a much-loved novel and come out with an original story. I loved all the characters but I wish I got to know a little more about Alex. Mandy Hubbard could convincingly switch from 21st century to 1815 in a split second without making it awkward or unbelievable. I was not a fan of the ending though. I wish it was different although I fail to come up with other endings on my own without turning it into a series which I’m glad she didn’t.

Read it if you want a fun, fluffy and light read or if you love YA.

Mandy Hubbard has written 2 other books, one of which is releasing in 2011. I am especially excited about Ripple, can’t wait to get my hands on both the books.

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Title: Once and Always
Author: Judith McNaught
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket (September 20, 1990)
Source: Personal Library
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I had heard a lot about this author but I never really remembered reading anything by her. There was a time when I used to devour one romance novel a day, so it might be possible that I have read one of her books. Anyway, this one sounded good. I have to say the summary at the back is kind of misleading.

Victoria and her sister Dorothy are orphaned at he age of 18 and 17 respectively when their parents die in an accident (Horse carriage). Having no one else to look after them their doctor finds out that their mother was royalty, daughter of a countess. So he sends them from America to England to their cousins.

The cousins turn out to be Charles who is an elderly Duke and Jason who is a young and troubled Marquess. Charles wants Victoria and Jason to get married but they both hate each other at sight. Jason does not want another women in his life after his ex wife deceived him and Victoria does not want an arrogant and rude man as her husband, besides

she already has a man called Andrew back home. She is sure he will be coming to get her as soon as he returns home and discovers she is gone.

The story basically revolves around these two. I loved her writing style and I do believe I have found another favorite Romance writer. The book could have been reduced in length at least by 100 pages though. Victoria was a lovely, vivacious, lively character and although I loved her she was almost too good to be true. Jason was a very nicely fleshed out character and I could very well understand why he behaved the way he did.

I have 2 things I would like to mention here though.

Firstly I was very sad that the author decided to make use of the stereotypical and ignorant descriptions of the Indians. She describes them as ragged beggars. I mean come on. As one reviewer on Amazon puts it perfectly

Throughout generations and even now the dominant religion in India has been Hinduism. So why were the “poverty stricken dirty Indians” dragged into the sadistic torture of a white British(who by the way unjustly occupied India during that era and tortured the rightful citizen and looted the country) Christian boy?

She also mentions that India is always hot. This is something I have read in so many novels and I thought I should really mention something this time. The author is writing about Delhi and yes, India is a tropical country and it is hot. But it is not always hot, in fact Delhi has very severe winters. I wish the authors could check the facts first.

Also, there is a tone in the novel that suggest that Americans are better than the British and although one can argue the fact by saying that the hero and her Uncle are British, they seem to be the exception. Overall I found it a little offending even though I am not British. I don’t know if I’m being too sensitive here, but if you’ve read this book ad you’re not an American, you could let me know.

In spite of my complaints, Once and Always was entertaining. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books. Which one do you suggest?

Admit One by Emmett James

Title: Admit One
Author: Emmett James
Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: FizzyPop (February 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0984258109
Source: Online publicist
Rating: 4 out of 5

My thoughts:
Admit One was an unusual book. It is a journey in film but it’s certainly unlike anything I expected. It starts with his childhood experiences while watching the movies with his family. The theater outings start with The Jungle Book, Grease, Sindbad and other movies. We learn about this family and the place where he lived. And although he has nothing but bad things to say about his mom and brother, I enjoyed this section. He has a funny and sarcastic way of saying things.

What I enjoyed most was the second half of the book. That’s when he leaves Britain for America to try his hand in Hollywood. The reason why he has to leave Britain is another story altogether. Seriously, I couldn’t believe some of the things this guy did.

At times I didn’t quite like the things he did but then again I have to applaud his honesty and guts to own up to his actions. His struggles to become a star and in the process landing in all the wrong jobs was hilarious. I could give you examples but it would kind of spoil the book.

It’s interesting to know what someone has to go through to make it big in Hollywood. I like the authors ability to find humor in the most embarrassing situations. Everyone who loves movies and has grown up with a healthy obsession with them can definitely relate to his experiences. There is this one paragraph at the end which I really liked (no spoilers).

Movies are pure illusion, the illusion beginning with the very word itself-movie. There really is in literal terms no such thing as a motion picture. A moving, talking piece of celluloid just doesn’t exist. What we really stare at are still photographs-twenty four brief flickers of images per second, inevitably summoning a multitude of thoughts, feelings and actions from within ourselves. A place in which each of us has a unique documentary taking shape, where one’s own personal life story begins to play out for the world.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to everybody.

P.S: I’m curious about the prologue to Steven Seagal though.

Mr. Seagal, I’m having a party, and you’re just not invited…

Why was that?

P.G.Wodehouse – A damsel in distress

DamselInDistressA damsel in distress was fun. P.G.Wodehouse is fun. But I guess you already know that. I don’t know many people who haven’t read and enjoyed this author. I was somehow reluctant to read any of his work. I picked this up from a bookstore after much deliberation and because I loved the title.

This novel has all the ingredients that make a book fun and happening and lively. George Bevan, an American composer, falls in love with Maud, the daughter of Earl Lord Marshmoreton. George had a lot of money and is a nice guy and Maud likes him too. But there is a problem. In fact, there are many problems. First is Lady Caroline, Lord Marshmoreton sister, who wants her step son Reggie to marry Maud. Then there is Maud’s brother Percy, who does not want Maud to marry an unknown American, a man without a title. Besides Percy had a row with George once in Piccadilly because of which he had to spend one night in jail, not to mention his family’s name being tarnished in the newspapers.

But the biggest problem is that Maud is in love with another American called Geoffrey Raymond. Everyone mistakes George with Geoffrey and then what ensues is a comedy of errors and misunderstandings.

All the characters were so lively and colorful, even Percy with his overweight body and his tendency to get into trouble while keeping watch over Maud. Although I didn’t laugh out loud at everything, I did have a smile on my face throughout.

I’ve heard that this is not the best Wodehouse book. But I cannot compare it to others as this is my first. For me, this was excellent. 5/5.

Have you read Wodehouse? Which book do you think is his best?

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Title: The Forgotten Garden
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria (April 7, 2009)
Hardcover: 560 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A brief synopsis
A lost child…
On the eve of the first world war, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her – but the Authoress has disappeared without a trace.
A terrible secret…
On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell O’Connor learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.
A mysterious inheritance…
On Nell’s death, her grand-daughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold – secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

My Thoughts:
It’s really difficult to tell you much about this book without spoilers. So while I was thinking about how to write the review I read the synopsis on Kate Morton’s site (given above). As you can see there are 3 layers to this novel. 3 layers that answer the same questions, ’Where did Nell come from?’, ‘Who were here parents?’ and ‘why was she put on a ship to Australia as a 4 year old?’

‘The forgotten garden’ is a journey to find these answers, a mystery that spans 2 continents and 2 centuries, a mystery that will lead 2 women, Nell and Cassandra, to Cornish coast, Blackhurst Manor and ultimately to a cottage on a cliff and a forgotten garden. A garden that lives and breathes, a garden where fairy tales were written and secrets kept safe.

When Nell was 4 she was left alone on a ship sailing from Europe to Australia. She was adopted by a man who found her all alone and couldn’t leave her to fend for herself. When Nell turns 21, her father tells her the truth. Nell is devastated by this. After some years, before her father dies, he arranges to return to Nell the suitcase with which she had arrived. Based on its contents and a book of Fairy Tales written by Eliza Makepiece, Nell decides to find out who she really is. After Nell dies, her granddaughter Cassandra follows her grandmother’s footsteps when she learns that Nell has left her a cottage in Europe as an inheritance.

Essentially there are 3 stories running in parallel, Nell’s search for her parents, Cassandra’s search for her grandmother’s past and finally the story of Eliza and Rose, where it all began.

This was my first Kate Morton book and I was blown away by her writing and her ability to spin 3 complicated plots together. Al though at times I was confused with what was happening; overall it was a fantastic book. I wanted more of this book and considering it’s almost 600 pages, that’s saying a lot. Her writing is so beautiful that I found myself getting lost in the small sea side town, in Eliza and Rose’s story and wondering how it all fit. I tried to guess the mystery a lot of times but was always wrong. The story I loved reading most of all was that of Eliza. She was so vivacious, rebellious and full of life.

Kate Morton’s writing is so evocative and her way of describing things is so beautiful that you cannot help but get lost in the story. Take for example,

He was a scribble of a man. Frail and fine and stooped from a knot in the center of his knobbled back. Beige slacks with grease spots clung to the marbles of his knees, twiglike ankles rose stoically from over-sized shoes, and tufts of white floss sprouted from various fertile spots on a otherwise smooth scalp. He looked like a character from a children’s story. A fairy story.

Some people might find the writing style very wordy but it worked for me. I suggest giving this book your full attention instead of clubbing it with a couple of other reads, because as I said, there are 3 plots running simultaneously and if you read it in gaps you might get confused by the jumps.

Highly Recommended.

P.S: If you like reading fairy tales, you might like this book even more.
P.P.S: My sister was mighty jealous when she saw me reading this book, because it means the more time she has to wait to get her hands on this one 🙂

Thank you so much Lisa (from Atria) for the book.

About the author:
kate_mortonKate Morton’s books are published in 31 countries. The House at Riverton was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2007 and a New York Times bestseller in 2008. The Shifting Fog won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards, and The House at Riverton was nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008. Her second book, The Forgotten Garden, was a #1 bestseller in Australia and a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2008. Read more here.

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Review: Dragon’s keep by Janet Lee Carey

Title: Dragon’s Keep
Author: Janet Lee Carey
Genre: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2007)
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

My thoughts:
I always wanted to read a fairy tale for adults. So I picked up Dragon’s keep with an eagerness you wont find me picking other books with. And I’ll tell you right away what a lovely fairy tale it is. Well, okay, it is for young adults though. I just wanted to clear that.

Dragon’s keep has everything a fairy tale should have. A princess, an island with a castle, a curse, a witch, a villain and dragons. Oh and yes, a handsome warrior too.

600 years ago Evaine, the younger sister of King Arther from England marries someone below her status and is banished from England forever. She comes to Wilde Island for refuge. According to Merlin’s prophecy, the 21st princess of the Wilde Island will restore the name of the Pendragon and end the war between humans and dragons with the wave of a hand.

But ending the war is difficult when the princess is a 14 year old girl and the dragon’s occasionally feeds on the people from the Island. The King trains many people over the years to fight the dragon. But these trained knights are no match to a huge flying dragon who spits fire.

Also Princess Rosalind has a secret. She has a dragon claw. Her overprotective mother hides Rosalind’s hands from the world by forcing her to wear golden gloves. Her mother does not want people to know that Rosalind has a claw that resembles the claws of their most dreaded enemy, the dragon. She has her mind set on getting Rosalind married to Price Henry of England and so finding a cure for the dragon claw is always the top priority.

One day a convoy from the Queen of England comes to the Wilde Island to judge Princess Rosalind as a future match for Prince Henry. oops…..I am going to spoil the story a bit here. Or maybe I won’t. Let me skip the spoiler, however minor it is.

After a certain turn of events, Princess Rosalind is abducted by the dragon and taken to his cave, the dragon’s keep. Here the princess cannot escape from the dragon’s clutches even if she could. Her entire life changes in the matter of a single moment. The time she spends with the dragon’s eventually helps her in ending the war between the dragon’s and the humans, literally with the wave of her hand.

Janet Lee Carey’s writing is beautiful and even poetic at times. The first half although interesting is a little slow, but the second half is amazing.

Dragons keep is a fairy tale with a fitting dramatic and happily ever after ending. Read this book if you like fairy tales, adventure, fantasy and a good story.

Review: Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

crossed_wires1Book Blurb from Amazon:
This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat.

Despite their obvious differences, they’ve got a lot in common – both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they’ve just found it?

CROSSED WIRES is an old-fashioned fairy tale. It is about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.
 
I picked it up thinking it was a romantic book. 2 single parents meet each other, fall in love and everything falls into place again.  I love romantic books, books with a lot of mush and the works, so I am actually surprised that I liked this book. I expected the guy and the girl to meet and fall in love or at least fall in love because of incessant online chatting. That didn’t happen and not once did I feel like abandoning the book because nothing was happening where their love life was concerned. They are busy with their own lives, they have friends and family to turn to during difficult times, but you can easily see why they are so perfect for each other even though they don’t meet for more than half of the book.
 
Peter, a college professor and Mina, a call center worker are the lead characters in this story. But more than that they are normal human beings, who make mistakes, who react the way you and I would. Peter has 9 year old twin girls Cassie and Kim and Mina has a 10 year old girl Sal. Not to forget the friends and family that comprise of Mina’s straight forward mother and Peters friends Jeremy and Trish. They are all interesting in their own way.
 
Mina’s character reminded me so much of myself. I like to skirt around situations that are difficult to handle, I avoid confrontation unless absolutely necessary and I too worked in a call center once. So I could, in a way, understand Mina really well, although I did feel like shaking her at times and asking her to do something. That’s exactly what my boyfriend does, shakes me up when required 🙂
 
This book has some of the best character descriptions I have read in a while. Very non-dramatic and real.
 
If you are looking for a typical, stereotype love story, this book is not for you. If you are looking for a plot driven story, again this book is not for you. Don’t be fooled by the pink cover, this book isn’t all mush. Read it with absolutely no prejudice or strict expectations and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you Rosy for the book.

rosyportraitAbout the author:
Rosy Thornton grew up in Ipswich and studied law at Cambridge University. She stayed on to do a Ph.D. and has been a lecturer there ever since. Rosy lives in a village near Cambridge with her husband, their two daughters and a Springer spaniel called Treacle.