Flawed – Becky Bird

An okay reimagining of Pride and Prejudice with teens in high school

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I love Jane Austen and have read all her books. I’ve enjoyed all the miniseries and movies. I’m not a purist and have enjoyed sequel regency romance novels. I’ve also loved Austen storylines reimagined movies. My favorites are “Bride and Prejudice” and “Clueless” (Emma). So when I read this book was “Pride and Prejudice” reimagined with teens in the modern world, I was fully prepared to love it. Unfortunately, I had some major problems with it.

It’s cute and sometimes amusing. I had no problem finishing it. I wasn’t bored, and it didn’t drag on. The writing was okay. I kinda liked it. But you can tell I’m not really excited by it.

These were my major problems with it:

1. Dialogue straight from Austen, some of the most memorable quotes, did not sound realistic coming from modern teenagers. It felt forced and fake.

2. Overused clichés – mean girls, the destruction of a dress right before a fashion show, a prom-like climax, and others. It felt too “Gossip Girl”.

3. The “Bingham” character was far too shallow and narcissistic. He also punched out his windshield, twice, which indicated anger control issues. It made me worry Jade (Jane) would be abused later.

4. The entire book takes place within the time “Pride and Prejudice” is being discussed and quizzed on in Mia’s class (Elizabeth Bennet). The timing wasn’t clear. I don’t know how many weeks passed between the start and the end. But it felt way too long to be discussing one book. At least my English teachers never would have taken that long on a single book.

5. Along with the last point, the action unfolds so the class talks about the plot points in P&P as they correspond to what’s going on in Mia’s life. This forced the comparison, as if I wouldn’t get it otherwise, when it was blatantly obvious all along. It also made me doubt Mia’s intelligence as she doesn’t see the similarities between the book and her life.

1st person present tense with alternating chapters from the two main characters. I did like getting into the mind of Finn (Darcy).

Clean romance appropriate for young readers. Nothing beyond kissing. No foul language. Little violence – mainly the punching windshields thing. No OM/OW drama.

HFN, which felt more appropriate than a HEA.

Grammar:

Dialogue is very often separated from the action sequence that identifies the speaker. Sometimes one character speaks twice, in two separate paragraphs. This made knowing who was speaking difficult to figure out in places. There weren’t any unnecessary dialogue tags, but there were places where necessary tags were missing.

Commas weren’t routinely missing, so not using them wasn’t a choice. There were 9 missing commas.

Other error count:  15 (misspelled, wrong, extra, and missing words, and missing punctuation marks)

So it was readable but not a good job.

My favorite quote comes from the school principal as she is about to announce the king and queen of the winter formal dance: “Pipe down, you pompous—” Potter lets out a loud whistle. There’s dead silence as she finishes her sentence with “…little turdfaces!” More awkward silence follows, and Principal Potter gives a wry smile. “Firstly, I want to say I’m drunk.”

Beyond the Night (The Heroes of New Vegas Book 1) – Gleason, Colleen

SciFi Mystery Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mystery, action, and romance. Elliot and his friends woke up in a cave they had been exploring to find 50 years had passed and the world as they knew it was gone. This is more SciFi than post-apocalyptic as significant time has passed since the upheaval. It’s not so much about survival as the mystery of what happened to the world and these men. We don’t get the answer in this first novel, just clues. But it’s not a cliffhanger. Subsequent novels in the series take up the mystery with other couples as the main characters.

The beginning drew me in with a sense of mystery, making me want to understand what was going on. It’s not an action start but a teaser start – a creepy feeling. We aren’t given a load of backstory at the beginning. The setting and action slowly revealed the state of the world. Great writing with quick pacing kept me reading. Little things like new slang words and names not matching the genders they are currently most often assigned to helped add realism to the future setting.

There were good action scenes, very good descriptions of the environment, good world building, and some humor to relieve the tension. The women are strong and don’t wait for the men to save them. I don’t want to give too much away, so suffice to say I adored Jade’s action during the climactic action scenes.

3rd close, past tense. Chapters from different characters, most from the mains, but a few from secondary characters. We also get some journal entries written by a secondary character at the beginning of the upheaval. I liked the glimpses of the beginning.

Occasional foul language. Significant violence. There are some graphic sex scenes. A lot of it is described with scatterings of verbs or adjectives in a poetic way.

No cheating, OW/OM drama, or nonconsent.  HFN

Error count: 11 – Pretty good. These were missing, extra, or misspelled words and missing punctuation marks. Commas are not routinely missing, so I marked where they were for a total of 38 missing commas. Head-hopping occurs in only one chapter.

Overall, I really liked this. I don’t see myself wanting to re-read it, so 4 stars. I am going to read the next in the series.

Crossing the Line – Joy Slaughter

Great EMS Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crossing the Line grabbed me and held on. It’s a story about building trust, not only with others but with yourself. With trust, comes love. It’s a romance between a man and a woman, but it’s also about both of them rebuilding themselves to be capable of giving and receiving love after life has broken them down.

The setting for this is the Emergency Medical Services, and it’s compelling. EMS is a completely new world for me, and I loved it. So you won’t need to know anything going in to enjoy it. It’s certainly not just for EMS workers or those who know them. My curiosity compelled me to Google several things, but it wasn’t necessary. It felt like reading science fiction or watching a medical drama, where I trust the characters know what they’re talking about or doing when I don’t. I found several things shocking, like the work hours. I found all of the little details interesting.

Both Megan and Nathan are complex, interesting characters. They have their strong and weak moments. They do good, bad, wise, and stupid things, and I liked them. I hated Todd and wanted to torture him slowly, so he’s a very good bad guy. The supporting characters provided flavor and were memorable, even a radiologist who only appears for a page (See? I remember her!)

The writing is very good, fast paced and entertaining throughout. We are shown instead of told. We don’t get a load of backstory at the start. Many things are slowly revealed with hints, like light slaps to the face, telling us something is not okay.

I liked the occupational slang and that it wasn’t dumbed down or explained to the reader, even if I didn’t understand it. It gave me that fly on the wall feeling of realism.

A staccato rhythm of thoughts and feelings, leaving sentence structure behind, is used to convey indescribable terror and pain in a very credible way. This is how the mind works, or doesn’t work, when we can’t deal.

I also laughed out loud many times. The humor is great at relieving tension, just as it is in life, and keeps this from being a depressing read. It made me sad, angry, hopeful, shocked, proud, amused – It made me feel!

Favorite quotes:

Past tense. 3rd person close to both Megan and Nathan but no head-hopping.

Sections are separated with time and place headings. I find this format difficult to follow at times, needing to flip back to see how much time passed.

Almost clean romance – no graphic sex scenes. What is shown is camera obscura or high-level lens.

No cheating or OW/OM drama.

Triggers: Verbal and physical abuse and rape, not graphically described. Some other violence and medical gore. Suicidal ideation.

Occasional foul language.

Grammar was great for most of this. I was reading an ARC and sent what I did find to the author. Fellow grammar curmudgeon’s need not beware.

Sort of HEA but definitely a satisfying ending. No cliffhanger.

Loved it. Would I want to read it again? Yes! So 5 stars. I highly recommend this!