For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Summary: It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Review: I feel like I have to do this in two parts: Not Compared to Persuasion, and Compared to Persuasion.

Part I: Not Compared to Persuasion

So wow. I have to say, I'm a fan of her post-apocalyptic premise. The class system that is created is... interesting. And the concept of the protocols is a logical one, given the history of their world. Of course, I feel like the history as told by the survivors of this story has to be filtered through a big fat reminder that the kind of people who eschewed technology and hid in caves for several generations are probably rather like the crazy uncles of the world who have bomb shelters on their property out in the sticks and are ready for the zombie apocalypse any day now. Survivalist types, ya know? They exist on the fringes of society now, so it can't be a big surprise that even though they start the new society in the future, their way of thinking becomes a little extreme then, too.

I found the resolution a little convenient. Big moral dilemmas that occupy Elliot's mind for most of the book are suddenly swept under the rug because Kai bats his eyelashes at her? Seriously? Oh, the guy who turns out to be a huge villain (surprising no one) all of a sudden gets retribution? Although now that I think about it, that one came about because of deus ex machina, so I'm actually gonna overlook it, because how often do I get the chance to talk about deus ex machina?

I do like the letters they exchange. It's a cute method of establishing their earlier relationship, as well as slipping in some (SUPER useful) exposition for the readers.

Part II: Compared to Persuasion

Full disclosure: Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I have a tumblr called Then He Looked at Me Twice, and there is literally a plot point in Persuasion that centers on the fact that a guy looks at Anne twice. I am not kidding. So yeah, I'm kind of in love with it.

So that being said, let's compare. Let's start with Elliot. One of the things I love about Anne is that she plays it cool. Like, super cool. Pretty much the entire book, she's in constant agony whenever she so much as thinks about Wentworth, but nobody can tell that they even knew each other before. She's that composed. Elliot, on the other hand, is more of a typical teenager: doesn't mind yelling and glaring at Kai a little. While I like that she's got the "in over her head" thing going on a little, I do wish she were a little more reserved, like Anne. Plus, Elliot kind of whines about how alone she is and how she has to do everything by herself, despite the fact that TONS of the Posts who work for her are fiercely loyal to her and constantly go to the mat for her. Anne actually IS alone, because the class distinctions of Austen's novel are much more rigidly adhered to than this one, AND she doesn't whine about it all the time.

And Kai. So in Persuasion, Wentworth doesn't really actively hate Anne. I mean, he does, but he's in denial about it. So his tactic, instead of being super mean to her, is just to ignore her out of existence. He talks to her as little as possible, looks at her as little as possible, and pretty much just pretends she's not there, all the while watching her out of the corner of his eye to make sure she's noticing how COMPLETELY OVER IT he is. And when he does talk to her, he's SUPER polite, hiding his true feelings behind formality. Kai, on the other hand, is a big fat jerk. He's willing to have one-on-one conversations with Elliot, pretty much for the sake of making her feel like crap. He puts her down in front of other people, and he actively encourages other people to dislike her. It makes his reversal later less believable, even accepting the premise that hate is sometimes an expression of love (an unhealthy one, but still). It also makes me respect Elliot less, when she's willing to forgive everything pretty much at the drop of a hat.

Also, Anne knows Wentworth isn't in love with the Louisa Musgrove. She knows what's going on there. I mean, she thinks he's gonna marry her, but she totally knows he's not in love with her. She also realizes that Wentworth being so flirty towards the Musgroves partly for her benefit, to highlight how cold and distant he is towards her. Elliot, on the other hand, believes that Kai IS in love with Olivia. She doesn't know how Kai really feels until the end of the book, whereas Anne has a pretty good handle on Wentworth throughout (except for his still being in love with her early on, but he was fooling everyone at that time, including himself).

So in conclusion, I'm sorry but it looks like the biggest effect this book had on me was to make me want to read Persuasion again.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, nook-ya



Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Summary: "Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time."

Review: So... this one was DIFFERENT. I mean, I had expectations from this book. Plot-wise. And this was... unexpected.

The distinction I keep seeing in reviews of this book is that this book is a love story, not a romance. Which is true. But I feel like it's also a book that just happens to have a love story in it. It's more of a meditation on life and death, and on what makes a life worth living.

I really liked how gradually the love story played out. I've been reading a lot of shorter books lately, and short books don't have a lot of time to develop a relationship. So people meet and pretty much fall in love right away. But because this book is longer, it was able to take its time with that and be subtle, so I as the reader was able to catch on to how Lou and Will felt about each other before they did.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, be-proactive, bechdel-test, funny, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking



Super Six Sunday: Six Authors on my Auto-Buy List

So this is my first week participating in Super Six Sunday, and I actually can't come up with six items for my list! I'm pretty picky with authors, and there aren't many whose books I'll buy before reading them (especially not at full price...!). But here are four that I'll pretty much pick up whatever they're selling.

1. Lois McMaster Bujold

Although I wouldn't describe my reading taste as heavily sci-fi, my favorite author is a scifi/fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold. I have read everything she's ever written, and I will continue to do so. Until my dying day.

2. Cassandra Clare

I'm not entirely sure where this comes from, I'm not gonna lie. I don't read Cassandra Clare's stuff and think, "Wow, this is the best written book ever!" But I can always count on her stuff to get me out of a reading slump, and I LOVE her wit. So I'll go with that. I'm a sucker for witty repartee.

3. Jill Mansell

Speaking of getting out of a reading slump, Jill Mansell is my go-to for that. Normally I would criticize someone severely for this, but I LOVE that her books are pretty much all the same. Always a spunky main character, hunky main man, supportive best friend who has a side romance of her own, and a parent-age couple who finds love late in life, one of whom is usually famous. I LOVE THEM. I actively try not to read too many all at once, because I want to savor them. True story.

4. Sheila A. Nielson

I know her!! Back when I used to work at a library, I was friends with a children's librarian who kept getting asked about mermaid books. She found that there just weren't enough, so she wrote one! Sheila, when is your next book coming out?? I WILL buy it.

Just to make it to six, I'll throw out a couple of bonus authors:

Bonus 1: Jane Austen

I've read them all. (Well, all six that are "cannon," as it were. I'm not a true fanatic until I've read the lesser-known works, such as Lady Susan and Sanditon. I know this. Let's move on.) You can get me to read or watch pretty much anything if you throw in that it's based on Jane Austen novel

Bonus 2: Stephenie Meyer

I enjoy hating her books. I enjoy it a lot. So much so that I ALMOST even enjoy the books themselves. Almost. Anyway, if she's written it, I'll probably give it a shot.

Edited to add:

Oh, I just thought of two more!! I don't buy all their books, but I HAVE read them all.

5. Michelle Jaffe

Have you read Bad Kitty? Why not? It's HILARIOUS. It's the funniest book I can think of. I don't usually laugh out loud when I'm reading books, but I laughed out loud at this one. Many, many times.

6. E. Lockhart

Frankie Landau-Banks is my hero, and if I thought my husband would let me get away with it, I would name my next daughter Ruby after Ruby Oliver.


Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

Summary: "Lori Shepherd thought Aunt Dimity was just a character in a bedtime story...Until the Dickensian law firm of Willis & Willis summons her to a reading of the woman's will. Down-on-her-luck Lori learns she's about to inherit a sizable estate--if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters in Dimity's English country cottage. What begins as a fairy tale becomes a mystery--and a ghost story--in an improbably cozy setting, as Aunt Dimity's indomitable spirit leads Lori on an otherworldly quest to discover how, in this life, true love can conquer all."

Review: So I finally got around to giving these a try. I've gotta say, I liked it. I like Lori and how she's not afraid to be prickly with people. She's going through a big loss, and she needs time to recover from it.

I like that the mystery isn't a murder mystery; my friend who likes these books likes them for that reason. Even though it's a mystery that you're trying to solve, it's not terribly scary or nightmare-inducing.

I think I'm gonna try to keep reading this series.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman



Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

Summary: "Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined."

Review: So I had written a review that I got really really worked up over, and it was a little more… passionate, as it were… than I wanted to be. So here’s a summary of the problems I had with the book, and just know that I feel fairly strongly about them.

-I think Daniel needs a little more self-respect. Being willing to be with a girl even though she keeps telling you she doesn’t love you is kinda pathetic.

-I think the benefits of therapy get downplayed in books like these. Yes, God can heal you, but He also created things like therapists and depression medications, and those heal you, too. And sometimes the notion that God will heal you “if you just have more faith” can make emotional distress worse, because when you don’t get better, you assume you are the problem and get even worse.

In a nutshell, those were my big issues.

That being said, the book was cute enough.  I liked the big family Jade is part of, and how supportive everyone is of her pregnancy. I liked that the religious aspects of the book are subtle; it's not preachy or anything. If anything, it could have used a little bit more; Jade's loss of spirituality is mentioned, but it's not a big plot point or anything. This book is more about the healing power of love than the healing power of God, for the most part. I like Jade and Daniel, as people. And in general, I like their relationship; it's really natural and sweet, and the sort of relationship I would want for them.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book


**I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Dancing with Fireflies comes out on March 11.**
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