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Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds

Source: the author
ebook, 293 pgs.
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Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds is a wildly imaginative variation that takes place during the Sheffield food riot of 1812 when the Luddites begin to rail against those aristocrats in power, as their food sources and funds grew scarcer as machines began to show up in mills across the northern parts of Britain. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet become swept up in the chaos even as they struggle with their own feelings for one another and the multiple misunderstandings that happen between them.

“He crumpled up his first attempt and tossed it in the fireplace. He never had to rewrite letters; it was something he prided himself upon. But Elizabeth would hold this note, her elegant fingers touching the same paper he touched now, and she would think of him. It must be perfect.”

Unlike many other variations, the Fitzwilliam clan (Lord and Lady Matlock and their children) take center stage, and Colonel Fitzwilliam has a surprise in store for his parents that could rock the family to the core. His sister Frederica needs Darcy’s shielding as the ton has begun to shun her after being jilted, while Elizabeth tends to her sister at Gracechurch street following Bingley’s abandonment. These parallel story lines reinforce one another, showcasing how little recourse women had during that time should a man choose to abandon a lady without explanation, even if they are wealthy. In line with that, the cause for the Rights of Man taken up by Darcy’s friend from Cambridge, Sir Anthony Duxbury, who somehow knows Elizabeth — his Elizabeth.

Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds provides an excellent glimpse into the politics of the time, and it also exposes Darcy to concerns beyond Pemberley and how those concerns can impact the nation. While the journey North is dangerous, Elizabeth and Darcy prove to be strong enough to withstand the riots, but can they withstand the machinations of the Fitzwilliam clan and overcome their own prejudices to find their way into each other’s arms? Reynolds has taken on a lot in this variation, and readers may wish it had been longer.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

Source: Purchased
Kindle, 288 pgs.
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Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, which was our July book club pick, is a retelling of a fairy tale.  In this rendition, the tale is set in England, and the characters are a bit modified.  Wrede says in the afterword that the original fairy tale had gaps and characters appeared and disappeared, leaving their motivations out of sight for the most part.  Here, Wrede contrives to make motivations fit the story, which mirrors the original very closely.

The language used here to mimic Elizabethan times but, in so doing, the dialogue was very stilted and hard to engage with for a good portion of the book.  While the language may have been to authenticate the time period, some of it was off in terms of usage and slowed the pace of the tale considerably.  However, her use of John Dee and Edward Kelly as the wizards in the town of Mortlak, who cause harm to the world of Faerie, was inspired, though even just Kelly would have been enough here.

Rosamund (Rose Red) and Blanche (Snow White) are the daughters of the Widow Arden (forest) who live on the outskirts of town near the land of Faerie, and while they tend to stay outside the forest and only use the herbs found within its borders for good, they have skills that other townsfolk only speculate about.  It is there in the woods that they find all manner of plants, including elecampane, which is native to central Asia.  Is this the work of the fay?  Or a miscalculation on Wrede’s part?  It’s unclear.

Wrede also relies on the continuation of “work” over several dayson more than one occasion without going into depth about the failed experiments, etc. This also slows the pace of the fairy tale down.  Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede is a satisfactory retelling of a well-known fairy tale, but what is unclear still is the motivations of one set of evildoers — the fay.  While the mortals clearly seek fame and fortune in their magic renderings, the fay involved in the spell-casting seem to have muddy reasoning for their part in it.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Patricia C. Wrede was born in Chicago, Ill., and is the eldest of five children. She started writing in seventh grade. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in Biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses at all. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic, just after graduating from college in 1974. Patricia received her M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1977.  Patricia finished her first novel in late 1978, and she has since published 12 books.

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe

Source: Author Jane Odiwe
ebook, 275 pgs.
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Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe requires readers to suspend disbelief, and those fans of Jane Austen who wish she had written more than her 6 novels will surely have no problem doing that.  Her death is averted by her physician, who has discovered the secret to immortal life with the help of the Turritopsis dohrnii in 1817.  When Austen awakens she is in 1925, just after The Great War.  Many families, including rich families, have fallen on hard times and experienced great loss as many lost sons, brothers, and husbands in the war.  Times have changed for women, and Austen is able to get work outside the home to support herself, and although her family has passed on and she’s effectively alone in the world, she pulls up her hem and gets to work as a governess to five girls at Manberley Castle near the sea in Stoke Pomeroy.

“Having lived cautiously, and under strict rules and regulations for so long, Miss Austen felt the winds of change blowing across the Devon landscape.”

Cora, Emily, Alice, Mae, and Beth are a bit more to handle than Austen expects, especially as she is a little younger than she had been before the procedure.  Upon her arrival, Austen is faced with staff who are eager to gossip, which rubs her the wrong way because she prefers to make up her own mind about people.  The heir to the castle, William Milton, is one person who keeps her on her toes, and as Austen gets caught up in the drama of others, she begins to realize that her life would be empty without the Miltons in it.

Odiwe is one of the best writers of Jane Austen-related fiction, and it shows as she weaves in Austen’s own novels into her own novel.  Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and more are illustrated in a variety of situations here, and Austen is at the center of them all.  However, readers should be warned that Odiwe is not rehashing these plots point for point.  Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe is her best novel yet, and if there were something to complain about, it would be that it could have been longer.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.  Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

Other Reviews:

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Source: Purchased
ebook, 296 pgs.
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A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest is a short novella in which Sophia Claremont is kidnapped by vampires and brought to The Shade to become a slave. She’s given to Prince Derek Novak as a gift from his siblings, though his brother Lucas has already claimed her in his mind. Sophia has had a rough time growing up and was finally settled with a neighboring family and her best friend Ben, whom she’s had a crush on for some time. But she also has debilitating anxiety in crowded spaces, almost like she’s on sensory overload.  However, when she finally awakes on this vampire island, very little is seen of her disorders, until she’s attacked one evening.

“She was beautiful because, at a time when she had every right to be terrified, she managed to show comfort to another person who needed it.”

Derek, who has awakened from a 400 year long sleep, cannot stay away from Sophia and he keeps her like a caged bird in his treetop penthouse.  Her humanity has captured his attention, and even though her blood calls to him, he makes every effort to battle his desires.  As she teaches him about technology and he begins to show her respect, their bond intensifies.  Sophia is a naive character who is led by her emotions easily, and in many ways, she falls for the guy who acts like her protector — whether its teenage Ben at home or Derek the powerful vampire on The Shade.

“I know an excuse when I hear one.  Don’t you dare deceive yourself into believing that you’re the victim.”

A mantra that Ben has used many times to snap her out of her anxiety trances, Sophia finds it can be useful in more ways than one, but even as she tames Derek’s inner beast, she fails to see how she is a victim and needs to take action.  One failed escape attempt is all it takes for her to become complacent, which does little for the tension in the book.  While the characters, setting, and world are intriguing, there is little back story, which can leaving the feud between Derek and Lucas seem empty and can leave the lore of this vampire series feel incomplete.

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest provides an engaging way to spend the afternoon, but unless there is more back story in the subsequent novels less telling, rather than showing, it would be hard to sustain interested beyond two more books.  There are 18 books in this series.  It boils down to wanting more from the setting and lore beyond the main characters who are dynamic and troubled.

About the Author:

Bella Forrest is the million-bestselling author of the “A Shade of Vampire” series.

Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe

Source: Jane Odiwe
ebook, 148 pgs
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Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe is part of the the Jane Austen Jewel Box series and it is a quaint novella to pass the holidays with, especially as all of Pemberley prepares for the Christmas Ball.  Set shortly after Elizabeth and Darcy get married, Elizabeth is just getting to know what her role is as mistress of Pemberley and the staff seem to admire her, even if Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine does not.  In addition to Lady Catherine and the Bennets, Darcy’s French cousins Antoine de Valois and his sister Louise are also to attend on the invitation of Lady Catherine.  These distant cousins are barely known to the Darcy family, but Georgiana is quite taken with them and their exotic culture.

“Lady Catherine, now purple about the gills, opened and closed her mouth like the trout he fished in the Pemberley streams”

Odiwe has created a full novella in that it doesn’t feel too short, and it will satisfy readers looking for more Jane Austen fiction.  She has a firm grasp on characterization, particularly how Lizzy and Darcy would act with one another behind closed doors (though nothing too graphic) and in front of family, the servants, and society.  All of these faces of the Darcys provide a round picture of their societal obligations as well as how different they are from many other aristocrats.  Lizzy’s mother is the same as always, looking for suitors for her last daughters, Kitty and Mary, and still trying Mr. Bennet’s nerves.

“The Longbourn servants were already running hither and thither whilst Mrs. Bennet emerged from the breakfast parlour flapping her arms like a demented bird, barking instructions, scolding her daughters and generally not being very useful to anyone.”

Odiwe’s Austen fiction is among the best every time, and readers will always find that they are engaged from the onset in the plight of the moment.  In this case, one of the Darcy Diamonds goes missing, and with the ball coming up and the guests arriving, it is imperative that the new mistress of Pemberley find it.  But beyond the missing diamond, the Darcy name could be scandalized as a mysterious man is set about dragging their name through the mud.  Will Darcy find the mysterious man before its too late? Will the diamond be found?  Readers will want to spend part of the day reading to find out!

Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds by Jane Odiwe is a lovely novella that will have readers rejoining Darcy and Lizzy in their happiest moments, while they still navigate the early days of a new marriage and plan a societal ball.  Readers will thoroughly enjoy the company in this novel and revisiting old friends.

About the Author:

Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen. She lives with her husband and three children in North London.  Check out Jane Odiwe’s blog here.

Other reviews of this author’s work:

Countdown by Mira Grant

Source: Amazon Kindle
ebook, 82 pgs
On Amazon and on Kobo

Countdown (A Newsflesh Novella) by Mira Grant is a great addition to the trilogy, chronicling the emergence of Kellis-Amberlee from its aucpicious beginnings as separate cures for the common cold and cancer.  There is the saying that there can be too much of a good thing, and in this case, these good things combined to create one of the most destructive things imaginable for the human race.  Dr. Alexander Kellis is working on a way to cure the common cold, but his testing is still in animal trials, while Dr. Daniel Wells is working on the Marburg Amberlee cure for cancer and is testing on humans with some success.

“‘This guy thinks he can eat textbooks and shit miracles,’ was the pitch.”

“Freed from its secure lab environment, Alpha-RC007 floated serene and unaware on the air currents of the stratosphere.  It did not enjoy freedom; it did not abhor freedom; it did not feel anything, not even the cool breezes holding it aloft.  In the absence of a living host, the hybrid virus was inert, waiting for something to come along and shock it into a semblance of life.”

“There is nothing so patient, in this world or any other, as a virus searching for a host.”

While these scientists are working on separate cures, there are forces outside of their labs that threaten their progress.  The Mayday Army, once a pot-head group of kids, is bent on “sticking it to The Man.”  They see an opportunity and take it.  Meanwhile, the unsuspecting people throughout the country, including the Masons from the trilogy itself, are left to deal with the wide-ranging consequences.  Through a series of blog entries, these tales unfold in rapid succession, ramping up the tension toward the ultimate conclusion before the start of the official trilogy.

Countdown (A Newsflesh Novella) by Mira Grant is not a necessary addition to the series, but certainly one that will be appreciated by those that love the novels and want more about how the outbreak that ended modern civilization occurred.  Readers will enjoy how Grant mixes scientific jargon into a thriller.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Northern California, Mira Grant has made a lifelong study of horror movies, horrible viruses, and the inevitable threat of the living dead. In college, she was voted Most Likely to Summon Something Horrible in the Cornfield, and was a founding member of the Horror Movie Sleep-Away Survival Camp, where her record for time survived in the Swamp Cannibals scenario remains unchallenged.

Mira lives in a crumbling farmhouse with an assortment of cats, horror movies, comics, and books about horrible diseases. When not writing, she splits her time between travel, auditing college virology courses, and watching more horror movies than is strictly good for you. Favorite vacation spots include Seattle, London, and a large haunted corn maze just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.

Mira sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests that you do the same.

Extractions by Melissa M. Firman

Source: Purchased
E-short story
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Extractions by Melissa M. Firman is an e-short story in which something is not quite right with Kari and her family.  While they have that suburban home, there are some financial issues lurking in the background, but that could just be the tip of the iceberg.  This family is racking up the debt with no end in sight and her impending dental work is only going to exacerbate that situation.  Firman has packed a lot of detail into the first couple of pages of this short story, which according to the Kindle estimate is just seven pages in total.

Whether Kari’s drinking has to do with their financial problems or the fact that she’s cyber-stalking an ex-boyfriend on Facebook, it doesn’t matter.  Something has got to change for this family.  They are in a very precarious situation and something is going to push them over the brink.  Kari is dissatisfied, and she’s searching for something outside herself to make herself content.  An unexpected act of vandalism, however, will have her questioning her own actions.   Extractions by Melissa M. Firman is well done, but will likely leaving readers wanting more.

About the Author:

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pa., Melissa Firman was convinced she would be a world-famous author before she was 18. When that didn’t quite happen, she earned a B.A. in English/Communications from Cabrini College and worked with various nonprofits. Melissa currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband of 20 years and their two children.

“Extractions” is Melissa’s first short story published on Amazon. She recently edited young adult author Melissa Luznicky Garrett’s much-anticipated novels “The Prophecy” and “Blood Draw.”

Melissa Firman is currently in the process of writing her first novel and is a freelance book reviewer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Connect with Melissa on her website and blog at MelissaFirman.com or on Facebook at Melissa Firman, writer – www.facebook.com/TheFirmanGroup.

80th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #297

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Extractions by Melissa M. Firman, downloaded from Kindle.

In this short story, a slight moment of deception is all it takes for Kari to realize how quickly and suddenly her carefully-crafted life could be destroyed.

 

2. Countdown by Mira Grant, which I downloaded to Kindle after reading the three books in the NewsFlesh series.

The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died.  This is the story of how we rose.

When will you rise?

 

What did you receive?

Love, Accidentally by Sarah Pekkanen

Source: Kindle Freebie
e-short story, 40 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

Love, Accidentally by Sarah Pekkanen follows her short-e-story All Is Bright (my review), telling the other side of the story from Ilsa Brown‘s point of view, rather than that of Elise Andrews.  Between these two short stories, the love triangle between these characters is real, but not as fleshed out as they would be in a full-length novel.

Ilsa Brown is a veterinarian and she meets Grif by chance in a park where his foster-dog, Fabio, has been injured.  They grow fond of each other, but Ilsa is cautious when her sister’s solid marriage loses its footing.  It makes her wonder how much Grif regrets his past break-up with Elise.  Pekkanen is adept at navigating the fragile balance of male-female relationships, especially when a break-up has recently occurred and one of the pair is still healing.  Ilsa is a strong woman, but she also realizes that the past must be embraced in order for the future to be clear.

“To hide her confusion, she did what came naturally: She reached out with her strong, thin fingers–the two crescent-shaped scars on the back of her right hand gleaming pale and smooth–and began to examine the little mixed-breed dog.”

Both new to Los Angeles, Grif and Ilsa hit it off over their love of animals and pizza, and their relationship moves at a fast pace.  But Ilsa is never more aware of taking things one step at a time as when she talks with her sister, Corrine, about him or when her sister talks about her marriage.  Pekkanen’s prose is simple and captivating in building up the romance in a short amount of time, but it’s her characters that will keep readers engaged because they are not two-dimensional.  Love, Accidentally by Sarah Pekkanen is about how love can hit at the most unexpected times and how it needs to be nurtured and understood in order to flourish.  Readers may want more from these characters, and perhaps the author will weave them into a full-length novel.

About the Author:

Sarah is the mother of three boys, which explains why she wrote part of her novel at Chuck E. Cheese. Seriously. Sarah penned her first book, Miscellaneous Tales and Poems, at the age of 10. When publishers failed to jump upon this literary masterpiece (hey, all the poems rhymed!) Sarah followed up by sending them a sternly-worded letter on Raggedy Ann stationery. Sarah still has that letter, and carries it to New York every time she has meetings with her publisher, as a reminder that dreams do come true. At least some dreams – Brad Pitt has yet to show up on her doorstep wearing nothing but a toolbelt and asking if she needs anything fixed. So maybe it’s only G-rated dreams that come true. Please visit her Website.

Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart

Source: Purchased for Kindle
eBook, about 34 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart illustrates how the death of the person we’re closest to — oftentimes our mother — sends us out into the world, looking for answers or at least some hope.  Letting go is never about forgetting, while our loved ones may not physically be present any more and all we have is memory — a tricky thing indeed — we have the ability to seek out meaning and hope in the miracles around us.  Anyone who has read Kephart’s books before knows that she loves birds and what they can mean and represent in all their incarnations, but this obsession with birds clearly began with the loss of her mother.

“I work in a square room, watch the world (a garden like an archipelago, a museum of flowering trees) through two wide windows.  I work early in the day, a bare bulb turned on, and I work alone.  But in the months after my mother passed away, much too early, the finches came.  They were still wearing their winter coats.  They favored the crack of dawn.  They held themselves up with the acrobatics of their wings, touched their beaks to my wide windows, and hammered.”

Kephart ties together the memories of her mother’s accident and misdiagnosed and re-diagnosed illness — without naming it because it is unnecessary to do so — with the passionate love of birds held by Genevieve Estelle Jones and Katrina van Grouw.  Like these early scientists, Kephart is exploring the enigma of birds — not so much how they continue to fly and what their eggs and nests look like — but how those former dinosaurs continue to capture the imagination and offer solace to those not too busy to pause.

Readers could imagine glorious photos or illustrations of birds sweeping across the pages, along with Kephart’s words as she remembers the best parts of her mother and the best parts of herself.  Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart strives to give all those who grieve the hope that there is peace, a peace that we can live with and thrive with, as long as we remember to breathe and be alive.

***This ebook memoir was published by the new venture SheBooks, which published short ebooks for women, by women.  Check out what Beth Kephart had to say.

About the Author:

Beth Kephart is the author of 10 books, including the National Book Award finalist A Slant of Sun; the Book Sense pick Ghosts in the Garden; the autobiography of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, Flow; the acclaimed business fable Zenobia; and the critically acclaimed novels for young adults, Undercover and House of Dance. A third YA novel, Nothing but Ghosts, is due out in June 2009. And a fourth young adult novel, The Heart Is Not a Size, will be released in March 2010. “The Longest Distance,” a short story, appears in the May 2009 HarperTeen anthology, No Such Thing as the Real World.

Kephart is a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized, she has judged numerous competitions, and she has taught workshops at many institutions, to all ages. In the fall of 2009, Kephart will teach the advanced nonfiction workshop at the University of Pennsylvania.  Check out her blog.

Christmas at the Beach by Wendy Wax

Source: Purchased for Amazon Kindle
E-Novella, 92 pages
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Christmas at the Beach by Wendy Wax is an e-novella that follows the talented women of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach (click for my reviews) — Madeline, Nicole, and Avery — told from the point of view of Madeline’s daughter, Kyra.  Kyra and her now one-year-old son Dustin are arriving at Ten Beach Road and Bella Flora under the close scrutiny of paparazzi.  She has little choice but to don a disguise to keep the photographers on their toes and protect her son as much as she can from Daniel Deranian’s fame and infidelity.

“The celebrity bar has dropped so low that if it were being set for a game of Limbo, that bar would be ankle-height.”

“A couple of weeks ago a crazed Daniel Deranian fan stole one of Dustin’s dirty diapers out of the trash and tried to sell it on eBay.”

Her time at Bella Flora was healing for her and her mother, as well as their new found friends who all found out they owned a piece of the rundown historic site.  Kyra is still struggling with her quasi-fame as the mother of an illegitimate Deranian child, but she still wants her own family to remain the same.  It’s unfortunate that her life plans have a way of changing on her, but she’s clearly poised to learn and grow from those changes.  Wax has created a cast of lovable characters with their own flaws, but these women are tough and ready to take on anything thrown in their way.

“What I really want is something built like a tank and with darkened windows, so that if I mow down a few photographers no one will see the satisfaction on my face,…”

Christmas at the Beach by Wendy Wax is a great novella to catch up with these women and a great set up for the next novel in the series, The House on Mermaid Point.  Kyra’s definitely got her plate full already, but when she learns what’s going on with her own family, she’s bound to feel overwhelmed.  Wax has set up readers for an eventful new novel that comes out in July 2014.

About the Author:

Award-winning author Wendy Wax has written eight novels, including Ocean Beach, Ten Beach Road, Magnolia Wednesdays, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist The Accidental Bestseller, Leave It to Cleavage, Single in Suburbia and 7 Days and 7 Nights, which was honored with the Virginia Romance Writers Holt Medallion Award. Her work has sold to publishers in ten countries and to the Rhapsody Book Club, and her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.

A St. Pete Beach, Florida native, Wendy has lived in Atlanta for fifteen years. A voracious reader, her enjoyment of language and storytelling led her to study journalism at the University of Georgia. She also studied in Italy through Florida State University, is a graduate of the University of South Florida, and worked at WEDU-TV and WDAE-Radio in Tampa.

The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski

Source: Author Janel Gradowski
Kindle eBook, 43 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski is a “cupcake” novellette, volume 2 in the Bartonville series.  Daisy is the protagonist in this prequel, which takes place before Must Love Sandwiches (volume 1 in the Bartonville series).  She’s just realized that her relationship with Gary is not and will never be what she expects it to be, especially when she’s paying half the rent, for all the food, and he stays out drinking all night.  Although her life is less than perfect, she still loves her bookstore job and her life is not as pathetic as her drunk brother’s.  Moving — even temporarily — back in with her parents, she realizes that her life is not as bad compared to some others.  But it takes a swift kick in the pants for her to change her own life.

“All of the useless utensils were in the kitchen drawer when she moved in with Gary.  Everything needed to be replaced.”

“She hadn’t just lowered her standards when she started dating Gary, she sucker punched her morals and left them to wallow in the mud.”

Daisy is an insecure young woman, still looking for her place and looking for the right man.  While her mother is supportive, her father is more of a go-getter — meaning get the kids out of the house ASAP.  Her boss, meanwhile, has kept her mouth shut, but once the floodgates open, there’s no stopping her helpful advice from flowing.  Gradowski creates characters that are three-dimensional, and her dialogue is always punchy and comical, without a single wasted word.  The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski is a short satisfying treat, and the only complaint from readers could be that they want more.  In case of Gradowski’s series, there will be more in store.

This series also includes bonus stories and recipes.

Check out my other reviews:

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski grew up, and still lives, in the mitten of Michigan. She is a wife and mother whose writing companion is a crazy Golden Retriever named Cooper. In the past she has worked many jobs. Renting apartments, scorekeeping for a stock car racetrack and selling newspaper classified advertisements are some of the experiences that continue to provide inspiration for her stories. Now she writes fiction and is also a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking and is fueled by copious amounts of coffee.

Her work has appeared in many publications, both online and in print. She is the author of two series. Her first women’s fiction series is The Bartonville Series. Each volume contains stories ranging from flash to novella length. All of the stories are set in Michigan every volume contains accompanying recipes. The 6:1 Series features themed collections of her stories that are based on the title’s theme.  Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Check out another part in the series, Ready or Not, published in serial format at JukePop.