Sunday, October 31, 2010

Enchanting Review: I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend

Historical YA
ISBN# 978-0385739405
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

I WAS JANE AUSTEN'S BEST FRIEND is a fun historical read for any Jane Austen fan. Actually based in part on fact: Jane's cousin did send a letter letting the family know of Jane's illness and both girls were brought back home with the Austen family, the tale veers off mainly into fiction from then on.

I very much enjoyed I WAS JANE AUSTEN'S BEST FRIEND. Ms. Harrison does a terrific job transporting the reader back in time to 1791 and the Austen family home, making them feel like they are right there watching the story unfold. Cousin Jenny is a great character. Having lost her mother and spent the last few years at boarding school, she's delighted to find herself rescued alongside Jane, and at home with her Aunt Austen and family. The fact that she had to sneak out to get the letter sent however weighs heavily on her mind, as the scandal could ruin her reputation if found out, as it is especially important that the girls make good matches, since there aren't much funds for either of them. Only Jane knows the truth of how the letter was truly sent. When the young Captain that helped Jenny that night arrives in the area, Jenny is panicked, what if he tells the truth?

Ms. Harrison creates a fun and enthusiastic young Jane Austen in her novel. Jane is full of life, loves hanging around her brothers, writing down her stories and sharing them with Jenny and her family. Her relationship with her mother is a strained one, the reason behind which comes to light later in the book when she takes Jenny to meet George, her other older brother who lives in town. I especially enjoyed the scenes with Jenny, Jane and George where the girls are trying to teach his alphabet in the hopes that he'll be able to one day put words together.

Filled with memorable characters, I WAS JANE AUSTEN'S BEST FRIEND has definitely earned a spot on my keeper shelf. Visit Ms. Harrison online at

Enchanting Reviews
October 2010

Enchanting Review: Jump

Contemporary YA
Tricycle Press
ISBN# 978-0385739405
224 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Spoiled. Egotistical. Popular. All can describe Brinkley Harper, the undisputable Queen of Story High. She's currently being forced to see a shrink, the peculiar Irirangi, so she can stay at Story High after an 'incident' with one of the other students, not to mention she's personally responsible for four girls leaving the school. When Irirangi ends the first session by telling Brinkley she has some very special therapy planned for her, Brinkley could never imagine what's in store. Within days of their first meeting, strange things start happening. First, she finds herself inhabiting the body of that freak Miranda of all people. But a funny thing happens, Brinkley begins to see just what her and her friends behaviour looks like when she's on the receiving end of it. And twenty-four hours as Miranda, gives her a glimpse of a life she'd never imagined. Unfortunately, Miranda isn't the last jump she makes.

So for the first few chapters, I really didn't like Brinkley much at all. Selfish, stuck-up, a bully, all are adjectives that barely scratch the surface of Brinkley. But as the story moves on, not only does Brinkley start to see a new side of herself that she isn't all that proud of, the reader sees what Brinkley isn't showing the world. Her boyfriend is more arm candy than anything else, her parents could be the definition of absentee and her housekeeper is the closest thing to family she has. Her growing friendship with Miranda was one of my favourite parts of the book, especially when she confided in her what was really going on and Miranda didn't quite believe her. As Brinkley matures, and starts to discover who she really wants to be, she becomes a far more likeable person. One of the best scenes is when Brinkley decides to get back at the guy Carly likes, after a jump into the other girl's body, where she was ignored and overheard the guy's remarks about 'her'. Definitely one of my favourites in the book.

All in all, I found JUMP to be an enjoyable read.

Ginger Rue was the advice columnist for Sweet 16magazine and has written for Girls’ Life, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen magazines, among others. Visit her online at to learn more.

Enchanting Reviews
October 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Enchanting Review: Enchanted Ivy

YA fantasy
McElderry Books
ISBN# 978-1416986454
310 pages
Hardback Available Now

4 Enchantments

Lily Carter’s dream college is Princeton University. When she finally gets to visit the campus, her grandfather tells her that she’s been selected to take a secret Legacy Test. If she passes, she’ll get an automatic acceptance to Princeton.

But Lily finds out the Legacy Test has some secrets which includes her family. Along the way she meets Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who claims he’s a guard. Also talking gargoyles who tell her there is a gate between our world and a magical one. Lily needs to gather all her strength and courage to unite both worlds and unlock her own family secrets.

I loved Sarah Beth Durst’s first fantasy INTO THE WILD. In that story she has creatures from children’s fairy tales exist right along our world. Durst is an expert on weaving such a world. ENCHANTED IVY is no exception. I loved Lily’s persistence and determination to get into the college of her dreams. Even when she finds out both her grandfather and mother hid some secrets from her, Lily refuses to give up. One of my favorite scenes has to be when she climbs up to one of the gargoyles, unfazed by how strange it all is, and listens to him. Or when she continues to watch out for Tye, even if he isn’t all he seems to be.

Durst casts a spell on the reader with her fantasy world filled with talking gargoyles, cute shape shifter boys, and heroic knights. Let’s just say I’ll never think of Princeton in the same way again! I especially like Tye, the mysterious tiger boy with an impish sense of humor. His loyalty to Lily makes him very likeable too. This fun, colorful world is sure to become a favorite of fantasy lovers.

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of INTO THE WILD and its sequel OUT OF THE WILD. She is a graduate of Princeton University. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and children. Visit her at

Kim Baccellia
September 2010