Book Review: Suddenly You by Cecilia Gray

Suddenly You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #4)

Title: Suddenly You (The Jane Austen Academy #4)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 145
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Fanny doesn’t want to be at The Jane Austen Academy. She intends to lay low until graduation when she can try out for the Olympic track team. She doesn’t need friends or love. She only needs her running.

But The Academy is in danger. In an effort to save it, Fanny joins forces with the friends she never knew she wanted. Suddenly, Fanny finds herself center stage in the middle of the Academy’s biggest love triangle as the lead in the school play…only this track star can’t afford to break a leg.

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

My Review:

Fanny Sato is very competitive – and she has to be if she wants to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. With the rumours of the Jane Austen Academy closing down, Fanny and the other girls try everything they can to keep their beloved school open. Even if it means focused Fanny trying out for the main role in the school play. With her once ordered life getting more complicated by the day, Fanny doesn’t need the extra pressure of being an actress. Gaining the attention of the leading man and having unplanned and somewhat perplexing feelings for a gorgeous boy who is more than willing to get up to mischief and mayhem at Fanny’s bequest is not something that happens to people like Fanny. Solitary by nature, Fanny’s starting to be overwhelmed with people and their problems – can she keep her mind on her own goals whilst still being there for her new friends?

With each book in this series, I like the idea more and more. Jane Austen’s heroines all existing in the same school and supporting each other. The characters are great and Suddenly You is my favourite book from the series so far. Fanny is determined and willing to whatever it takes to get where she wants to be. Her relations with her friends and family are somewhat strained as she keeps her secrets to herself so that nothing can get in the way of her dream. And then Tran happened. I loved Tran. He’s the somewhat dangerous bad boy who doesn’t blink an eye at the opportunity for a little break and entering. He brings out the best in Fanny and their journey in this book was a pleasure to read.

I’ve not read Mansfield Park (the Jane Austen novel which Suddenly You is a modern day retelling of) and I think in many ways I enjoyed it more having no idea what was going to happen. There’s a lot of characters popping up again from the previous books in the Jane Austen Academy series and I’m still impressed with just how wonderfully Cecilia Gray makes them fit (although I’m starting to wonder just how much longer she plans on torturing a certain misunderstood movie star!). This series is fun and the books are all quick and easy to read.

Emma’s book is next (Only With You coming out later this year) and I’m looking forward to see just how everything turns out for the fashionista.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: When I’m With You by Cecilia Gray

When I’m With You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #3)

Title: When I’m With You (The Jane Austen Academy #3)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: December 22nd, 2012
Pages: 147
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kat is destined to be a star and her big break has arrived at last! As the assistant to a celebrity classmate on the set of a feature film, she’s going to show everyone she has what it takes. That is, until she discovers pursuing her dreams may mean forfeiting her heart. Unless she can find a way to have both…

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph.

My Review:

Kat Morley was born to be a star. She’s been the lead in the Jane Austen Academy school plays every spring and fall since she joined and she knows that she has what it takes to be a famous actress. When she’s given the chance to be a personal assistant to a fellow student and get to spend her winter break on a real life film set, Kat jumps at the chance. This might be her opportunity to get her big break. Cute boys, diva starlets and the pesky paparazzi threaten to ruin Kat’s break and Kat is left to wonder if being an actor is all she imagines it to be.

When I’m With You is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I studied the original text at university as part of a gothic literature class and whilst I never imagined the story on the set of a Californian film, it works surprisingly well. Kat is curious and hard-working. Her single-minded focus towards her goal is admirable yet makes her somewhat unapproachable by the other students. I liked the cast of characters that she met on set. Josh Wickham makes another appearance in this series – and I think it’s terrific how Cecilia Gray has used him as yet another Austen character whilst still maintaining him as believable and consistent with what readers of the Jane Austen Academy series have come to expect from the previous books. Izzy Engel and Henry Trenton are great too, each for their own reasons.

One thing I didn’t particularly enjoy about this book was Kat’s naivety. I didn’t believe it nor did I find it in tune with who I believed her to be as a character. I understand that in the original Jane Austen story, Catherine Morley’s innocent view of the world was how a lot of the plot was driven but due to some of the other differences between these two characters I just didn’t believe Kat to be that trusting. I didn’t quite understand why certain things happened and I feel like those events were just so it would be in tandem with Northanger Abbey.

This book is cute and charming. I like that it can be read without having knowledge of the book it’s based on – and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been subconsciously comparing the two. The romance is adorable (I loved Henry’s hats!) and despite this book being mostly set away from the Academy, there is still the unspoken camaraderie between the girls – even if Kat doesn’t quite realize it yet. Despite my low rating of this book, I do enjoy the series and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Monthly Wrap Up: November 2013

Monthly Wrap Up

 

Books I reviewed in November:
(Links take you to my reviews)

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)

Favourite Book Read in November 2013: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry

Fall For You by Cecilia Grey (Rating: 3.5/5)
Unchosen by Michele Vail (Rating: 3/5)
Love and Relativity by Rachael Wade (Rating: 4/5)
The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop (Rating: 4/5)
So Into You by Cecilia Grey (Rating: 3.5/5)
Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend by Allison Rushby (Rating: 3.5/5)
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper (Rating: 2/5)
Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson (Rating: 4/5)
Break It Up by EM Tippets (Rating: 4/5)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (Rating: 4.5/5)
Sia by Josh Grayson (Rating: 3/5)
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Rating: 4.5/5)

 

Also in November:

 

What’s Coming Up on the Blog in December?

I’m pretty excited about some of the books I’m reviewing in December. Pawn by Aimee Carter is the first in a new dystopian society. It’s got a different social class system, interesting technology and some great characters. On the 10th I’m taking part in the Amberlin Kwaymullina blog tour – The Tribe series looks interesting. I’ve been excited about Amberlin’s books since Mandee from VeganYANerds gave The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf five stars. I’m also taking part in the Captivate by Vanessa Garden blog tour (Friday the 13th is my stop) which is exciting. I love books about mermaids and the fact that Vanessa Garden is an Australian only makes me more excited! I’ll also be reviewing All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill which is an amazing thriller involving time travel.

That’s just the first two weeks and it’s looking like December is going to be a fantastic month blog wise! I’m going to Tasmania at the end of the month – which I am so excited for. I’ve never been before and can’t wait to see all the Apple Isle has to offer! I bought a copy of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and plan on taking them with me on my holiday – I’m finally going to read these classic books that I’ve heard so much about.

 

 

Book Review: So Into You by Cecilia Gray

So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #2)

Title: So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy #2)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contempoary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 149
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sweet and sensible Ellie hasn’t met a problem her mom’s yoga mantras can’t fix. But when Ellie’s parents threaten to pull her from the Academy just as her flirtation with the cutest boy in school heats up, will Ellie be able to keep her cool?

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph.

My Review:

Ellie has always been her parents rock. When they’re travelling the world in search of spiritual enlightenment, Ellie is the one to make sure the bills get paid and that everything runs smoothly. But there are things Ellie can’t control. Her parents decide to move to another continent and open up a yoga studio and they want Ellie to come with them. With the Jane Austen Academy being the home Ellie always wanted, she’s not sure she can leave just yet. Especially not when her flirtation with the gorgeous Edward is starting to get interesting.

Ellie is one of those characters I couldn’t help but like. She’s a little out of her depth but she’s smart and sensible and doesn’t fall apart like other girls would. When faced with possible eviction from her beloved school, she finds a way around the limitations. That said, she’s still fairly timid and has many personal challenges that try to overwhelm her. I loved Emma in this book. She’s a mix of Emma (from Emma) and Marianne (from Sense & Sensibility) and Gray has done a great job combining the characters whilst still giving the readers someone new. The scenes with Lizzie and Dante were great to read and I loved that just because they had their happy ending doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect.

I enjoyed the romance in So Into You a lot more in this book than the first of the series. Ellie and Edward have had time to get to know each other and things didn’t feel quite as sudden and Lizzie and Dante’s relationship. I liked them for each other and was more than satisfied by the ending.

The concept for this series – having Jane Austen’s heroines all modernized and familiar with each other – is still one that I like. It’s developed a bit more here with us getting to know some more of the girls (like Fanny from Mansfield Park) within the confines of the Academy. I’m really impressed with how Gray is interweaving the stories and characters together. This book is quick and fun with characters true to Ms. Austen’s but still somewhat original. I will definitely be reading the third book in this series – When I’m With You  – which is Kat’s story, a retelling of Northanger Abbey.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: Fall For You by Cecilia Gray

Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #1)

Title: Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy #1)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contempoary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 144
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s obvious that Dante thinks he’s way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons. But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie’s quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets… Secrets Lizzie can’t seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries…

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

My Review:

I think the idea behind this series is fantastic. A modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s novels – with the characters from each novel being friends with each other! Fall For You, the first book in this new series, is Lizzie’s story. She loves the Jane Austen Academy and is horrified when the former-all girls school opens its doors up for male students. And that’s not the only change being made. Room mates and a headmistress who is more about the bottom dollar than the students is enough to drive Lizzie crazy. Not to mention Dante – a new student who has formed a less than impressive first impression on (and of) Lizzie.

Lizzie knows that she has to do all she can to save the Academy she loves before it’s too late – and Dante better not get in her way.

There’s a lot going on in this book and I think too much was attempted in such a small number of pages. We get introduced to the Academy, to the heroines, to the heroes and have a complete story all in less than a hundred and fifty pages. It didn’t completely work for me. I love the idea of Lizzie being friends with Ellie (Eleanor from Sense and Sensibility), rivals with Anne (from Persuasion) and not entirely sure of Emma (from Emma). It’s a fabulous idea. And the fact that they’re not all bosom buddies is even better! I strongly believe that not all of Austen’s original characters would be BFFs because of their fairly strong – or overly passive – personalities. I loved how well the story as a retelling worked considering it’s set in a boarding school and how well Gray substituted some of the original minor characters with what will be major characters in this series. I really thought it was clever.

Unfortunately I felt like Lizzie’s story wasn’t given enough room to really blossom. Her interactions with Dante were gorgeous. There’s one scene in particular where the tension between the two of them had me completely absorbed with their chemistry. But their relationship felt so sudden to me that I felt a little short-changed. Their scenes together were few and short. It needed to be bigger and more dramatic and just more. As Darcy and Elizabeth’s counterparts I knew they had to be together but I wanted to feel they’d earned their relationship as Dante and Lizzie within the bounds of this novel.

This is a fairly quick read and it was a fun one. I loved the cross overs with Austen’s original works and enjoyed seeing how Grey would integrate the stories. I was lucky enough to get review copies of the next two books in the series and I’m excited to see how Grey tackles Sense and Sensibility as well as Northhanger Abbey

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon