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THE AUSTEN ESCAPE: A Novel Novel ~Katherine Reay

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Falling into their past will change their futures forever

Do you love reading Jane Austen?   Then I cannot encourage you enough to read THE AUSTEN ESCAPE.  A wonderful book and a most enjoyable read.   I have now read it 2 times and I am taking it on a small vacation with me.   Reay has captured Austen’s conversation style and the format of the book deals with conventions, economics, and circumstance that are abundant in our current times. The story builds and flows as though Austen is writing it herself.  Wonderful read.

About the author:
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com.

Mary Davis is a design engineer working at her “perfect” job although she has a new supervisor who is critical and negative about her work.  She likes control and her set patterns in life while doing everything herself.  It is proving hard to go into work and her love interest is a consultant who is moving onward and does not seem to know that she is interested.

Isobel, Mary’s best friend since second grade, is working on her Doctorate on Jane Austen and her books.  Isobel’s mother left when she was young and her father never had time for her so Isobel adopted Mary’s family as her own.  Isobel is going to a two week retreat to Bath, England to live out a complete experience of being in Austen’s time period and she is insisting that Mary take some time off from her work frustrations and come to the retreat with her.  The trip is all paid for and Mary’s father insists that it is a good idea; she has not taken a break since her mother’s death.  Mary decides to attend and starts re-reading the Austen books.

The English Manor House where the retreat is held is stunning and the other guests on the retreat very interesting indeed.  The reproduced clothing is elegant and refined and they all pick an Austen character to enact for their stay.  Isobel’s father chooses this moment to overwhelm her with awful news and causes Isobel a small mental breakdown and truly believes she is in Bath and that she has become Emma.  Mary is left to guide her back to herself and in the process makes some terrible discoveries about their relationship, which entails some major working through – including working out her “perfect” job problems and making changes.

The book is most interesting and carries through the story line well and with great Austen-like aplomb.  I am sure my daughters would enjoy this book to the max.   I can highly recommend it and I am so happy that THE AUSTEN EXPERIENCE was sent to me for review.

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Related:
The Forbidden Garden
The Fifth Petal

THE DEAD KEY: A Mystery & Thriller Award Winner ~D.M. Pulley

Monday, March 30th, 2015

“ ‘The board of the bank is made up of every old money man in town.  No project gets built in Cleveland without someone from the bank being involved.  Every project that lost money had a board member of First Bank of Cleveland at the helm, but the feds can’t put a case together.  City council won’t provide corroborating witnesses.  Judges won’t grant search warrants.”  He shook his head, exasperated.” (Loc 4599 of 6682)

2014 WINNER – Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner.

The DEAD KEY was not a high-speed page-turner, rather the story built upon the measuring tape and efforts of a very young recent engineering graduate and her new job, documenting a very old bank, which had been locked and abandoned in 1978 – December 1978.  The 15 story huge building had captured the interest of some developer and they needed architectural plans for the new designs and expectations.  Iris the recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University is hired to complete the survey and get the plans processed, and then translated to the computer as fast as she is able in the summer of 1998.

I went to High School in Cleveland, moving there from a State of 3 million people to a City of 3 million people when I was 16.  I found the city grey and ugly and so dirty.  My Father was constantly explaining it was Industrial and depressed; the flowers and trees seemed to be depressed and the snow grey and dirty.  I loved sitting in on lectures at Case Western Reserve University and on Saturdays spent the day in the Hough Area working in the Homework club with new readers and later in the day with seniors that needed housekeeping or shopping completed for them.  I learned that the vegetables in the Hough area were not fresh nor- the same price as out in the suburbs. I won a Microwave oven from the Cleveland Illuminating Company with a whole package of new innovations for the kitchen after taking their class.  I gave the package to the Hough Area schools because my high school thought it was demeaning to want to know about these kinds of products.

Why does my story make any difference, because Iris, our main gal in the story is sullen, and bored and trapped in her situation and feels the same as I found people in the late 60s.  Iris is definitely depressed until she starts to use her mind and is scared by the strange things and sounds going on in that old and dark, dank, hidden bank.  Iris feels she is being followed and talked too though the duct work and as though messages are being left for her from Beatrice Baker, a very young secretary in the Audit division of the Bank.  The story begins to build on Beatrice in 1978 and Iris in 1998.  The tension builds with flies and spiders and tunnels and noises and strange and cryptic writing.  I don’t want to leave out the dirty old men and their born to wealth children, the snobbery and the power / control issues all experienced from the secretarial pool and the people working on survival mode.  Lots of womanizing and Mad mannish drinking and roughing /threatening folks who are doing the work.

Cleveland crashed because of the dirty old wealthy men in 1978

I was excited that there was a bit of discussion about Mayor Dennis Kucinich and Nixon’s laws for the white and wealthy, but very little and that made me sad.  Iris and the author keep those discussions small and focus on how they might be reflected on the building and the outcomes for the future.

As Ohio is on the royalty list for voter suppression and economic inequality – especially for women and ethnic groups there is quite an exciting opportunity for more books from this State of Being and such a depressed environment.

About the Author (from the cover)

“D.M. Pulley’s first novel, THE DEAD KEY, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio.  During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe-deposit boxes.  The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing.  THE DEAD KEY as the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize Winner.  Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations.  She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband and two children and is currently at work on her second novel.  Visit her website at www.dmpulley.com

TLC Book Tours  sent me an un-proofed/uncorrected digital copy for review.  Digital copies are being offered for free on Amazon on the first few days of the book tour.

Related:
In Doubt 
Accidents of Marriage
The Fixer
Duke City Hit 

US: A Novel ~David Nicholls

Monday, October 20th, 2014

“I had always been led to believe that getting older was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier.  Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.”  (I am advised not to use a quote from this copy because it is not a final copy – I did anyway- there were so many good quotes it was difficult to pick one.)


US is all about what a man is thinking; not just any man but a proper English Gentlemen who is very smart and has worked as a chemical engineer for a very long time.  US is also a love story of Douglas and Connie’s 24 years marriage and just what Douglas is contemplating about how he arrived at who he is presently and who he is becoming.  Douglas is contemplating so much about his love and life that he knocks down a row of “bikers” bikes, books a room in a boutique bordello for his family, and swims with stinging jellyfish.  There is that delightful British humor which just delights this reader and Douglas’s vast ability for a good pun.

Connie is an artist and painter and works at an art Museum in London.  When Douglas and Connie were married Connie stopped painting.  Together they lost baby Jane a few hours after giving birth and shared life for seventeen years with son Albie who is about to move on to University.   The family is making a Grand Tour of Art to give Albie an adventure and knowledge about the great works in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.   Connie several days before the Great Tour sits up in bed and says, “I think our marriage has run its course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you.”  Douglas and Connie decide to think about this course of action after the tour.  Douglas wants to strengthen their bonds of love with his wife and son on the tour.   Change is very difficult for Douglas and he has the same hopes and dreams he has been protecting and holding on to for twenty four years.  US is a wonderful read and I am sure I am going to read this book again.

tlc logo TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book to review through a new e-book source for me – Edelweiss.   It is an unproofed, uncorrected copy of the book, which will disappear off my Kindle before this review is posted on PW.  I was so pleased to read this book, loved the humor and the story and thinking  happening, and even the trip and discussions of paintings that I am going to purchase this book so I can read it again in the future.  I was so reassured that an engineer could figure out his emotions, talk outside the rules, love, and could change, I found laugh out loud hope in this story.  I believe many of PW’s readers will enjoy this book and this story about change and love.

My best recommendation about this book if you are middle age and thinking about the future – Read US

David Nicholls in the Guardian, “I didn’t want to write a dodgy disappointment”
From Nicholls thought about ONE DAY:

“I worry sometimes that I’m a bit moralistic; always writing about men who are learning to grow up, not be so self-absorbed, selfish or badly behaved. I wonder if that’s dull and liberal and wimpy? I should probably write something that celebrates wickedness. Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_nicholls.html#BLKTLPofKmGZqHZv.99

Related:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business
Freedom