Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: January 31, 2012
Hardcover, 277 pages
Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
 ISBN: 978-1608196258

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
My Review:
I fell in love with Shannon Hale not long after I started this blog when I read The Actor and the Housewife.  Ms. Hale just has a way with taking the life of ordinary women and making great stories with them.  I can appreciate that, being a woman with a husband and kids and living a pretty ordinary life.  I then read Austenland and fell even more in love so when I saw there was a sequel, I  had to read it.  While they call it a sequel, I would say it works fine as a stand-alone.  It's been quite awhile since I read Austenland so those details are fuzzy and this book involves a new main character so it works great on it's own.

Charlotte has been divorced for awhile.  Her husband is remarried and her children are leading their lives.  Charlotte is also a very successful woman.  She seems to succeed at everything she does and doesn't understand where her marriage went wrong.  She doesn't want her husband back, and she's tired of blind dates, but she wants to do something for herself so she finds some goals she made for herself when she was younger and one was to read Jane Austen.  She does this and falls in love.  Then she finds out about the immersion vacation offered and she decides she wants to go and she does.  What happens after that provides humor, romance, insight into Charlotte's life and even mystery for the reader.

Charlotte is a great character.  While she is successful, she has been through the divorce and she is kind of in need of finding herself but in a way she doesn't realize it.  She really isn't looking for a man so that is refreshing.  She is just looking for something and she's not sure what that is.  Her sense of humor is great.  Her confidence is a little down especially around the stunning men, but as time passes she builds her confidence.  I loved watching her grow and bloom while staying at Pembrook Park.  I also loved the cast of characters there.  The friends she makes and the mystery that is there, the one created by the characters and the one that evolves as well.

Ms. Hale does a magnificent job plotting Midnight in Austenland out.  I was never bored.  She kept me guessing as to what would happen next and I cared about each character (or at least about the ones I was supposed to).  I wanted to see what would happen and I was pulling for Charlotte to find herself and come out on top the entire time.  I was also pulling for things to work out for Pembrook Park in hopes of seeing another novel set there in the future.

If you love works set around Jane Austen books then this is a book for you.  If you have read anything by Shannon Hale and love her, then you must read this.  If you haven't tried Shannon Hale, what are you waiting for?  This book has it all, romance, mystery, a great female lead character, fun supporting characters, humor, bonnets, old estates, dead people, strange tales of nuns and so much more.  You just simply must read it.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

About the Author (from 
Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including the upcoming Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig.


Buy the book by clicking on any of these links (they will take you to Alibris and B&N)


FTC Information: I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.  I do make money from purchases made at The Book Depository, Alibris and B&, but all money is used to fund giveaways and shipping for giveaways from the blog.

Author Interview: Griffin Hayes (Malice)

Today I welcome Griffin Hayes, author of Malice to My Reading Room for an author interview.

  1. Describe the area you write in.
 I grew up loving shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, so I’ve always been drawn to stories that bend the mind and leave a disturbing taste in your mouth.

  1. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’d love to sail around the world in a tall ship. The idea of it has always fascinated me. I’m just not sure I’m a big fan of climbing up into the rigging.

  1. What made you choose to write in the young adult horror genre (if you don't feel it's the horror genre, feel free to change the genre in the question)?
I didn’t really aim for YA, when I sat down to write Malice, that’s just the way the story tumbled out of me. My latest novel, due out in mid-March is an adult horror novel and I’m gearing up to write a series of thrillers shortly, so you can see genre-wise, I have varied interests.

  1. Which character really spoke to you when you were writing Malice?
Emotionally definitely Lysander Shore. On the inside he’s a good person who means well, but people assume the worst because he’s goth. If I were to put it in a word, it would be alienation.

  1. What kind of research did you have to do when you were writing Malice?
Lots. Out of body experiences, past life regression, witchcraft trials. I’m sure there’s more, but each of these played a key role in the story and I wanted to portray them as accurately as I could.