Why hadn’t I heard much about this book? It is such a hidden gem! Centring on themes of identity, this tells the story of a theatre nerd teen trying to find answers about her adoption. It is an old-school coming-of-age story in the best way; it is the kind of story that wraps you up in its arms and gives you a great big hug! Listening to this audiobook absolutely made my heart sing!
Not that this gives you a glossy-version of reality. No, this is the kind of contemporary that doesn’t hold back. This is not some fairy tale- it’s about realising the value of real life and coping with the hand you are dealt. Dreams don’t magically come true and that’s okay. Sometimes it hurts and that’s okay. Everyone, as it turns out, has skeletons in their cupboards (and their family trees). Personally (and I know this won’t be the case for everyone) I loved that this wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows the whole time- I think it’s a good thing to have a counterweight to the Hollywood narrative we’re often spun. Because life isn’t easy- but it sure as hell is beautiful.
And that’s what this book really shows. Hand’s book dances into the spotlight and announces to the world the importance of friends and family- with *jazz hands*. It is cute and sweet and full of forgiveness. It hits all the right notes emotionally. I just loved the little touches and the big finale… Which admittedly left me longing for more (/to go back to the beginning and start again!)
Overall, there was a lot more to this than I thought there would be. I’m grateful that this came into my life at precisely the right moment- it’s almost as if the entire world conspired to help me find it and the universe unfolds as it should…
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
So, have you read this book? Do you plan to now? Let me know in the comments?
What a fun, YA retelling of the Christmas Carol! I became completely swept up in it! I listened to the audiobook (which unfortunately wasn’t so easy to get hold of in the UK) and just loved it. Erin Spencer really brought the story to life!
It was a particularly voicey story, giving Holly so much character and making her feel like a real-life teen. She very much feels like a modern spin on the Scrooge character. Yes, she has similar weaknesses, but she’s very much her own person.
Keeping it light, funny and also surprisingly heartrending, this becomes more than a straight-up retelling. It has similar notes, but strikes a different chord. It weaves in some complex family relationships and a delightful romance. I appreciated the way it intertwined the original and multiple Scrooge stories. I also particularly liked how each individual backstory made me sympathise with the Scrooge characters. And because I’m me, some of those stories made me sob.
And by the end, I felt like I was squeezed into a great big hug. No, it’s not the perfect happily ever after, yet the twist was exactly what was needed… which, again, made me all emotional. But then I do get all sappy about a good redemption story. And by golly, this is a good redemption story!
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So, have you read this book? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! And *Merry Christmas* everyone!!
Dear My Plain Jane,
I must confess I feel like I am cheating on My Lady Jane with this letter- but I cannot hold it in any longer- I cannot keep my feelings stashed away in the attic like a dirty secret! After My Lady Jane, I was bereft of witty fantasy company and there you were: dressing and talking and acting the same way. You lured me in with your wicked wiles, you made me pick you up. I could not resist peeking between your pages.
And I must say, your charms increased the more I got to know you. While you didn’t make me fall for you quite as fast as my first love, you did hook me with your premise. You weren’t quite the same as your predecessor; you had your own unique personality. I liked the new take though! The concept of a retelling of Jane Eyre where titular character was literally haunted was a great deal of fun. I was not prepared, however, for the little surprises along the way.
Initially, I thought the original characters were getting the rough end of the stick (yes, Mr Rochester is a jerk, but I still love him) yet in the end this was a kinder retelling than I expected. More than that, you went above and beyond to give the characters the story they deserved. Jane’s narrative was sweeter, more focused on friendship and focused more on how we deal with hardships. Even better was the meta take on Charlotte Bronte- giving a never-before-seen glimpse into her life (well, a fantastical, joyful take anyway). I did like the relationships and cute romances throughout. I especially liked how this all led to an aww-inspiring happy ending.
Your humour was breath-taking as well! I enjoyed every refence to pop culture- from LOTR to the Princess Bride to Scooby Doo! Each one made me throw my head back laughing. You were a riot! I think I guffawed the loudest when you mentioned My Lady Jane.
Anyway, I have to say as much as I am a fan of Jane Eyre, I was able to take this unique reimaging in the spirit it was intended and didn’t mind the changes it made (I know, I surprised myself again). Reader, this book was a lot of fun. Please find enclosed:
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
Sincerely, Orangutan Librarian
Dear My Lady Jane,
I fell in love with you right from the start. You charmed me in your prologue with your wit and humour- interjecting an authorial voice to tell us we were headed for an unconventional love story. I rarely laugh out loud at books, but you had me eating out the palm of your hand, devouring page after page of your alternative history.
I must say, the thought of a retelling of Lady Jane Grey filled me with some trepidation at first. Especially since I am somewhat well-versed in Tudor England (I blame the British school system that teaches it to us over and over). And yet you captured the spirit of the period, whilst turning it on its head and creating something totally different. The asides about what is real and not- for instance the mention of there being no such thing as a honeymoon at this point in time- makes it evident that your writers are aware this is a construct. I really appreciated you for your honesty there.
I also loved your magical element. I was enchanted by the cleverness of the world building and it made me hold you in even higher regard. It was quirky and hilarious to make Henry VIII a lion, but even more ingenious to make his mother Elizabeth a skunk, hinting at the Woodville ties with witchcraft.
I adored all your plot twists and the story itself kept me on the edge of my seat. I was virtually squealing (and whinnying) with delight the entire time. In particular, your midlogue, with the narrators interrupting the story, was hilarious.
All your characters were brilliant and distinct- I could happily tell the difference between all the different perspectives. Above all, you defied all the things I normally question and dislike. Highlight for spoilers: I could tell that Gifford was going to be Shakespeare and though I normally hate the whole “so and so was secretly Shakespeare” theories, this one was too funny for words! So you could say you are not my normal type, but I think it is a testament to how *awesome* you are that I adore you anyway. All I can do is appreciate how wonderful you are.
What’s brilliant about you is that you worked perfectly as a standalone- but there’s going to be sequel companion novels in a similar vein. I can’t wait to see what more you have to offer!
And finally you held a message I think we can all get behind: “We’ll fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read.” Amen to that. You’ve made me one satisfied monkey after all…
All my bananas…
Sincerely, Orangutan Librarian