For Darkness Shows the Stars

by Diana Peterfreund

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: A loose interpretation of Jane Austen's novel entitled Persuasion. It follows the story of a young girl named Elliot North and her struggles to keep her family's estate afloat amidst hardships in production. This is set in a post-apocalyptic reality of the world where human's needs to progress and alter genetics have led to something called the Reduction. Aka, the offspring of the genetically enhanced humans came out mentally challenged. Elliot's story takes place a few generations into this new reality where her family kept the human's alive and flourishing because they rejected technology (we can only assume they were Amish or something back when societies flourished). And of course the love story... her friend Kai from childhood asked her run away with him to escape her overbearing father and the strict rules of their society. She didn't, choosing to remain home and look after her people, and four years later Kai returns, a wealthy explorer with a big secret.

My reaction: Do you hear that? That contented sigh of relief? That would be me, happy to have found a book that re-establishes my faith in the YA genre as a whole. Being on my Austen adaptations kick of late, I really wasn't expecting much from this. But I was incredibly surprised and excited to get a book that knocked my socks off. The writing was fresh and honestly captivating and the author managed to retain the essence of the original Austen story! How lovely! The book had some very pretty writing, with lots of imagery, but she did so without overpowering it with poetic dribble. Although I enjoy poetic dribble every once in a while, it wouldn't have seemed right with these characters.

Kai, as a hero, is fabulous. I'm a sucker for the wounded silent types, and Captain Wentworth has always been one of my favorite Austen men. I feel like the author did an excellent job transferring him over to a teen hero, all without compromising the way he changes and grows as a human (genetic enhancements aside). So many authors these days think they can just name the characters the same and arrange them similarly to the original book and that creates a justifiable modern adaptation. I'm sorry, but no. They should take a page out of Peterfreund's book... it's the change in the characters that the readers fall in love with. It's their journey that we want to read!

I would argue that the original Miss Elliot in Austen's Persuasion was a bit more helpless at times and almost self-pitying. But it was a slight change to make Elliot more of a go-getter... it was a fabulous way to modernize her and make us fall in love with the character herself. I completely identified with her and loved her interactions with her childhood sweetheart! She had such gumption that it was falling right out of my kindle (definitely will be buying this one in paperback for my library thought).

So overall, I HIGHLY recommend you go out and pick this one up. You won't be disappointed... I promise. Seriously, the only think I can say bad about it is that it was a YA novel with not enough of the smooching I like. I would LOVE to have read this in an adult romance format... I feel like Elliot and Kai didn't get enough loving on each other when they worked everything out! But oddly enough, that's how I always feel at the end of Persuasion, anyways.

Excuse me while I go re-watch my movie versions and squeal in joy over one of the most adorable love stories ever created. And then maybe I'll move on to another of Mrs. Peterfreund's fabulous books.

read more »»»

Epic Fail

the title of this book pretty much is a self definition

Cover Beauty Score: 3 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 1 out of 5

Plot Blurb: A modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Follows the story of Elise Benton and her family as they move to L.A. and she attends a new prep school (where her mom happens to get a job as the principal). Enter Derek Edwards, the son of a super high profile actress and a total douche (standing in as the resident Darcy). Following the typical Austen plot, the book re-imagines the situations to fit a high school environment in today's time.

My reaction: This book makes me worry about kids these days. Perhaps this is a pitfall of YA books... the fact that many of them are written so poorly. I swear that the books I fell in love with in my day were written better. Why did I read this book? I don't often go for a simple YA romance, but I had just been to see Austenland in the theatre last week and was in the mood for a P&P remake. I really didn't think this did the original story much justice. I feel like the author should have paralleled the events more closely, because it really did take away from the impact of the characters.

Was Derek as douchey? Not really, and this is where I think the book was really lacking. In P&P he really is a dick. I mean seriously. He sets out to destroy Bingley and Jane's relationship, but in this book that whole situation was reduced to a simple misunderstanding. In fact, it's passed off on another character entirely! Derek never did anything really wrong and therefore never had to atone for anything... therefore his character never saw any true development from the beginning to the ending of the story.

And did Coke have a plug in this book? How many times can the characters drink it. I think there's even one scene where they like seriously worship it. It was strange, to say the least.

So overall, I gave this book a poor rating. As a standalone story for love obsessed teenage girls that never get into trouble or do anything bad? Sure, I guess it can work. Although I would hope their literary taste develops as they get older. But if we're evaluating this based on an Austen adaptation? That's where it gets crappy for me. And it never got better.

And wishing on an airplane? Really? I think I just vomited a little in my mouth. Probably at the same time that Jane Austen rolled over in her grave.

read more »»»

Across the Universe

Wow. Get ready for a painful review. This one's a doozy.

Cover Beauty Score: 8 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 1 out of 5

Plot Blurb: This girl named Amy joins up with her parents on some intergalactic mission to colonize a perfect world, starting the book off as she is frozen in a frozen sleep (obviously typical nowadays of any future long distance travel). She doesn't really want to go, but has to anyways to be with her family. Elder is the other main character, a boy that is born on the ship to keep order and become the "elder" or leader of the population that keeps the ship running throughout the years that the frozen people are sleeping. Suddenly someone starts killing off the frozens and/or waking them up. Amy is woken up way too early and she and Elder have to band together to figure out who is killing everybody.

My reaction: How does some of this dribble get published? I mean seriously. I read this book because of the gorgeous cover- let's face it, I'm a sucker for beautiful purples and pretty stars. I was also going through my dystopian faze and was excited for a unique space themed romance YA. This writing was passable, at best, and I felt like I was reading something written by a middleschooler. That being said, it got a 3.8 out of 5 on goodreads overall, so somebody has to have a taste for this writing, I suppose. Let's ignore the fact that it bounces back and forth between Amy and Elder's povs, but I just couldn't get into the voice, if it was something the author was going for on purpose.

Both of the characters were whiny and underdeveloped from the start, and I have to say that I found the romance lacking in every department. The whole flower thing? I mean, come on! I gave this one a chance, I really did. I tried to get past the predictability of the thing, but I just couldn't soldier through it enough for it to redeem itself (if it ever manages to do so). Therefore, I have to admit that I stopped reading at the halfway mark.

Overall, if you find yourself siding with my opinions on the majority of books then I certainly warn you away from this one. Go spend your money on something with more talent. You certainly won't find it with this one.

read more »»»

Oh dear...

I haven't blogged in a while, but that's because I've been out in the real world trying to find a job. What? I don't write for a living? Why yes, my lovelies, I would love to write for a living, but until I can find an agent and subsequent publisher for my fabulous novels, I'm afraid I must defect to the real working world.

And so that brings me to the veterinary field. Just out of college my job was as a veterinary receptionist and my husband's job just forced us to relocate to Florida a few months ago. I'm just now getting around to finding my way about and looking for a good job to supplement our income. One would assume that a good veterinary receptionist would be an easy job to find, but alas. It is not to be. My search continues and I can only hope that somebody will snap me up soon! I mean, what is an English Literature major to do but clerical work? Seriously. Somebody tell me what an English degree is worth unless you become a famous author?

Diddly squat, that's what.

But I did love my major and I refuse to be sorry for it. I will never give up on writing, and somebody perhaps I will become an agent or work for a publishing house if I cannot survive on my writing alone.

However, everyone knows that perseverance is the name of the game in the publishing world. I firmly believe that my new book is quite good! I did a great job with it, and I'm very proud of it. It just stinks that we have to wait so long to get a reply from agents. I have full manuscripts out with two? Maybe three right now? And you know what? That's better than nothing at all!

So have patience with me, if anyone out there is reading me. We can't all be superstar bloggers, now can we. I will keep you posted with books I read, for certain, but it seems that my writing career is on a slow note at the moment.

read more »»»

It Happened One Autumn

So today I'm reviewing the romance book entitled It Happened One Autumn by the fabulous Lisa Kleypas.

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Good Reads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Lillian is an American heiress who is in England with her sister and parents looking for a lovely titled husband to land, as many American heiresses were keen to do in the day. She has a group of friends, the wallflowers, who have all committed to one another to help each other find husbands. They all attend a country party at the house of Marcus, Lord Westcliff, who absolutely hates Lillian for all she represents. They keep getting thrown into one another's paths and when Lillian buys a magic perfume, she is amazed that it seems to work on the stuffy Westcliff. Romance and hilarities ensue.

My reaction: To start, Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite romance authors of today. It's hard to find someone who is newer on the scene and offers a fresh voice to the historical romance genre, but this woman can pull it off. The Wallflower Series, especially, is incredibly funny and heartfelt, and I would recommend it to everyone! Although they can each stand alone, it's such a fun experience to read them all together.

Lillian is a bit difficult to get to like at first, as she's a bit of a ball buster. She does what she wants and flaunts her craziness, forcing her sister into the situations with her. But that is where Marcus comes in. He has a stick up his ass at the beginning, and you almost don't like him for it, but he respects others at least, which is where Lillian falters. However, their story is so charming and Kleypas writes beautifully enough to carry you through it. And ultimately, Lillian is able to grow throughout the book with Marcus' help. By the end, you see how she becomes a woman and realizes that she can be herself and live her own life without disrespecting others and the different lifestyle of British nobility. In the process, there are some pretty funny situations that you'll laugh at and enjoy!

All in all, if you want a funny, engaging, and romantic story, this one is for you. Marcus is one of the most attractive heroes I've read in a while, which is refreshing. He's a good hero. A good man. See? The bad boys don't always have to be the sexiest ones! As Colin Firth so eloquently stated in Bridget Jones when Rene says "nice boys don't kiss like that," "OH YES THEY FUCKING DO!"
read more »»»

The silence

I think one of the most difficult things about submitting your work is the interminable silence that follows when you have your standard number of queries out there and you are waiting to hear back. Thankfully, I at least have my full manuscript with about three agents right now. But the silence stinks. A lot. What do agents do when you give them your work? Do they sit there and just look at it for months? Does it sit at the bottom of a large pile of all the other work they requested fulls for? I'm pretty sure little goblins come and take the printed out version and turn it into mulch for their caves. And then faeries go and steal the mulch back and weave it back into a functioning work and redeposit it on the agent's desk. Then in six months, which is of course how long this process takes, the agent can finally take a look at it and give you a reply. Which will, of course, be a nicely formed rejection.

No, no, no... I cannot be negative! But if you are positive you run the risk of jinxing yourself, so it is all a big game of fates. Which side of the coin will it land?

Or is it?

Writing is not for the feint of heart. It takes dedication and self control and persistence... but most of all it takes faith. Faith in yourself and the quality work of the novel you've slaved over for weeks and months and in some cases, years. Never lose that faith in you. You are a writer. A writer. Be proud of that.

And so I must remind myself that silence is a good thing. If they aren't offering to represent you yet, at least they're not rejecting you! Keep that chin up and keep on typing...

read more »»»


I thought I'd devote a little time to write about my new novel that I've been outlining. How do I outline such a thing? Well, I'm glad you asked. I generally work very diligently on forming my characters. Characters are what drive the novel. They make it real for the reader. If you have a character that doesn't seem believable, then your book will be absolute crap. They are real people! They have to have wants and needs and fabulous emotions. They have to not understand what it is they really want and your book is the way they learn this about themselves. Your character must grow in a way that reveals their legitimate wants in life. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes a great book.

So what have I been working on lately? It's a stand alone novel that takes a character from my previous book. I'm actually quite excited about this one. I feel like the third shot is going to be amazing. With book one I had no idea what I was getting into, book two I had a plan of attack and it worked! and book three makes me feel like a pro veteran.

The past week I've been devoting my time to research. Since I love the historical romances, I definitely want to stick with those for a while. But that requires quite a bit of accuracy, as you can imagine. My life is filled with the Victorian era 24/7 it seems. I like the late 19th century, so full of change and progress for Britain. I've learned quite a bit about the government and Parliament. I'm excited to have a novel that steeped in such richness!

So here I go, off into the wild blue yonder to write my little heart out. Things really are coming together, I feel. I've been getting great feedback on my second book that's been going out, so obviously I'm quite excited and motivated to start this one. Allonsy!

read more »»»