Category Archives: Reviews

Unravel Me, Shatter Me series, Book 2

Robin’s Reviews

I have enjoyed reading the Shatter Me books, but reading to review is a different animal altogether than is reading for enjoyment. I’ve already told you that I don’t really notice little bad words. Only the big, bad ones make an impression on me. However, since I’m recommending the books to you, I am looking at it in a new way.


In other words, these books have language that I consider to be level 2: I don’t use the words myself, and if they were spoken in my presence, I would definitely notice. The worst profanity in our language is not used in this series. With that said, it is realistic language for soldiers and others in a post-apocalyptic world. In fact, the language would be much worse.

The physical aspect of a relationship goes a bit farther in this book than it did in the first, but there is less of it. Again, body parts are not named. There is not the constant internal dialog of Juliette emoting about being touched, and there is no indication of a completion of any sexual act.

Oddly enough, the abundant violence doesn’t bother me. I expect it in this type of novel. To be truthful, even in movies, violence doesn’t offend me in the same way as explicit sex does. That’s not to say that I like violence. I can handle people being shot, but I can’t watch them being mutilated.

Warner is more fully developed in Unravel Me, and I began to understand why he does the things he does. When I realized the why, I began to like him. The author does a very good job of changing the reader’s mind, of making a despicable character more human.

I am enjoying the second reading of the series much more than I did the first time through.

5 stars




Robin’s Reviews

Shatter Me Series, Book 1

shatter-me-new-eye-co1a459Having told JSI readers last week that I was reading the Shatter Me series by author Tahereh Mafi, I felt compelled to review the books for you. I may even make reviewing a regular part of my blogging. With that in mind, my reviews will reflect the way I like to be reviewed myself, knowing what the reviewer liked and what she could have done without. In addition, I will avoid reviewing books in the JAFF genre unless I can comfortably give the author 5 stars.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I began reading the series, but this wasn’t it. Consequently, my first thoughts of Shatter Me, Book 1, were rather negative. The writing is sometimes difficult to read, because it’s nearly all stream of consciousness from the heroine’s point of view, and she’s a mess. But she’s a really hot mess, according to every man who looks at her. She wouldn’t know since she hasn’t looked in a mirror in three years.

Our protagonists, Juliette and Adam, are not normal. I expected that, knowing that the books were Dystopian Young Adult.


Tris, Peeta, and Gail (The Hunger Games)  are the most pedestrian of all the DYA heroes I’ve read. Their abnormalities lie in their strength of character, physical abilities, and compassion. In short, they are very believable. I read the books around four times.

Edward and Bella are both supernatural. Edward is a vampire. (I hope I didn’t spoil The Twilight Saga for you. Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard that Edward is a vampire?) He can read minds. Bella is a shield. I read the series at least ten times. (The books are YA, but not Dystopian.)


Divergent features Tris, who is divergent – a mixture of all the factions, and Four, who appears to be the same, but really isn’t. I never quite grasped why, for he embodied all of them, but for the plot to work, Tris had to be the only true divergent one on the planet. Hence, poor Four, who has already suffered enough, loses his divergent status. I read the books three or four times. Are you sensing a trend? divergent-series

Shatter Me opens with Juliette in an asylum.  She has a supernatural gift (think Rogue in X Men), and she is traumatized beyond endurance. Adam (Bella in The Twilight Saga) is placed in the cell with her. She has had no human contact in more than three years. She can’t touch anyone without killing them, so she’s reverted to a nearly feral state. The books are all from her point of view. Once I understood her difficulties, I was more impressed with the author’s writing. It works for Juliette, though it grated on my English teacher’s nerves. Another thing I didn’t care for, Juliette whined constantly. I began to lose all sympathy for her.

Also, I need to say that there is a good bit of touching and sensuality in Shatter Me, though body parts aren’t named, and they are constantly interrupted before they can do very much physically. They never get past touching, much to Juliette’s frustration. Her inner dialog is quite loud about what she’s experiencing, but not specific. To me, that isn’t erotica, and it didn’t offend me, but it might offend you. I can understand how a person who could never touch anyone in her entire seventeen years without killing them could be carried away if she finally finds an unusually handsome, well-built, kind young man (eighteen years old) who can touch her and not die. Juliette is starving for physical contact.

All of the main good guy characters have supernatural gifts, and I could identify nearly all of them from X Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers.


The first book in the series, Shatter Me, deals with Juliette’s discovery of more ways to use her gift and revelations about the other supernatural characters. Mafi sets up the next two books, setting the stage for us to hate the antagonist, Warner (another aspect of Rogue in X Men), and The Reestablishment. Every good DYA features an evil government which must be battled. The Reestablishment serves quite nicely.

If you think I didn’t like Shatter Me, think again. I’m rereading the series. If I weren’t caught up in the story, I wouldn’t reread it. Now that I’m reading it with a better understanding of the characters, I’m enjoying it more.

Any book that gets a reread from me deserves 5 stars.

Come back next week for a review of Unravel Me, the second book in the series.


Tell Me What You Really Think

Sincerely Yours  Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours
Robin Helm

Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews posted her thoughtful four-star review of Sincerely Yours yesterday. Her review was a good one, in that she presented her likes and dislikes in a very fair manner. It’s wonderful to me that she likes more than she dislikes about the book. Thank you, Meredith!

I don’t expect everyone to like everything about my books. In fact, I would be surprised if they did. I know that my books can be controversial. All of them have a religious component and a paranormal element. The Yours by Design series (Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours) features a time-switch between Regency Darcy and modern Darcy.

I was particularly interested in the comments. More people were concerned about the religious aspect than about the time switch. Accidentally Yours (the first book) is much more “Christian” than are the other two books (Sincerely Yours and Forever Yours) in the series. I established modern Will’s Christianity in the the first book, so I felt no need to beat it to death in the other two books. Modern Will’s grandmother was dying. Losing his last family member caused him to lean heavily upon his faith. He was in despair. People of faith respond to such gut-wrenching agony in one of two ways: they will either draw closer to God or they’ll turn from Him entirely. Will reacted in the first way – he sought God. When he switched places in time with Regency Darcy, Will was in a place where everything was unfamiliar to him. Again, he sought the comfort of the only thing in his life that was stable and real at that point – his faith.

It amuses me that so many readers prefer the jerk Darcy (who grows into a good guy) to the spiritual Darcy, but it shouldn’t. After all, I see that in real life on a daily basis.

I’m thinking of two high-profile men I know who have the same job. One is a criminal, though he has never been convicted of anything since charges against him are always dropped. He has raped, stolen, cheated, been obscene in public, and destroyed private property, but people idolize him because he gives them what they want. He has received national, prestigious awards. The other man is a Christian. He works hard, goes to church, does good works, stays humble, and pleases God rather than all men. Guess which one is more popular? Michel Jackson meme

I’m not at all upset by the controversy my books create. People are talking about them, and to me, that’s a good thing. At least I’m not being ignored.

I think I’ll make my next Darcy a Christian politician. Hand me that popcorn.

Review of Accidentally Yours

Accidentally Yours by Robin Helm.

Thank you to Wendi Sotis (author of Promises, Dreams & Expectations, The Gypsy Blessing, and All Hallows Eve) for this wonderful review!

Excellent Emmas, Robin’s Recommendations

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

I own four different film versions of Jane Austen’s Emma: the 1972 six-part BBC miniseries with Doran Godwin and John Carson; the 1996 Hollywood film with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Toni Collette, and Ewan McGregor; the 1996 ITV TV film starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, and Raymond Coulthard; and the 2009 four-part BBC miniseries featuring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Louise Dylan, and Rupert Evans.
Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong

Everyone in my family has read the book, so we have had lively debates concerning our favorite film adaptations. None of us like the 1972 miniseries; everyone seems too old for their parts and the film quality is poor. We like different characters in the 1996 Hollywood and ITV versions, though we all prefer Kate Beckinsale to Gwyneth Paltrow (too nasal and too old for the part). Because the handsomest guys win with me, I like Jeremy Northam best of all the Mr. Knightleys and Raymond Coulthard for Frank Churchill. My husband thinks that Mark Strong does a better job with the Mr. Knightley part, and I do see his point. I will also agree that Strong is quite handsome when he wears his hat. My husband, influenced mainly by her pretty face, gives Kate Beckinsale the nod for the part of Emma. My daughter prefers Beckinsale as well. For the part of Harriet, Toni Collette is a wonderful actress, but she doesn’t look the part. We all agree that Samantha Morton deserves the nod there.

Beckinsale and Strong See what I mean about the hat?

Beckinsale and Strong
See what I mean about the hat?

We also are unanimous that the 1996 Kate Beckinsale version deserves kudos for beginning and ending with the chicken thieves, and we like the inclusion of the harvest ball during which Emma lets go of her pride and extends her hand to Robert Martin. That’s all true to the book.

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Romola Garia and
Jonny Lee Miller

The 2009 BBC miniseries stands alone. At first, I thought it was too much of a departure from the real character of Emma Woodhouse, but when I watched it a second time, I became a fan – so much so that my husband bought me the DVD set for our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. I like all the characters, though Louise Dylan should never be filmed lying down. That angle does dreadful things to her neck and face. Jonny Lee Miller is not devastatingly handsome, but he nails the part, though no one else will ever match Mark Strong’s rant after everyone learns of the engagement between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. What we particularly liked was the fresh angle on the story.
Romola Garai

Romola Garai

It opens with Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill being sent away from Highbury as children, contrasting their lives with Emma’s sheltered childhood at Hartfield. All three of them lost their mothers, but Emma’s father was the only one who kept his children with him. That explains why he is so loath to let Emma go, and it gives a plausible excuse for the actions of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. They were, in Anne Shirley’s words, “kindred spirits,” having shared similar backgrounds.

In other words, I have no clear favorite. I watch my three favorites, choosing according to my mood. Whom do you prefer?

“None but You” / “For you Alone” de Susan Kaye

I hope this is a good review of None But You. There are quotes from the book and everything. Of course, the author may be using the quotes as punchlines and to prove I am a hack of the highest order. 😉

UPDATE: See the first comment, added by moi (Laura Hile), giving the English translation of the entire article. Susan Kaye is too modest, so I will act on her behalf in this.

My thanks to SDL FREE TRANSLATION, as my French is extremely rusty!

La Bouteille à la Mer

“God, Anne, what have I done to us ?” (Susan Kaye, None but You)

En tant que Janéite, je n’ai lu que très peu d’austeneries, c’est-à-dire des romans dérivés de l’oeuvre de Jane Austen mis à part Moi et Jane Austen d’Emma Campbell-Wester où, selon un système de points ludiques, le lecteur devient une héroïne de Jane Austen et, à la fin, l’un ou l’autre des héros lui est attribué comme potentiel mari. Bien sûr, il a fallu que je tombe sur Mr Wickham au lieu du Capitaine Wentworth, d’où peut-être la déception qu’a été pour moi cette austenierie en tant que première approche.

Fort heureusement, ma deuxième expérience a été un vrai plaisir de lecture grâce à la mise en valeur par Susan Kaye dans Frederick Wentworth, Captain du dernier roman de Jane Austen, Persuasion, L’idée de départ m’a séduite : raconter l’intrigue de Persuasion

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Giveaways and Double Darcys

Legacy Review

Jakki Leatherberry’s review of Legacy is on Leatherbound Reviews today. Be sure to stop by and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Don’t forget that Laura and I are still hosting giveaways on this site as well. Comment on Rhyme Time with Jane or Interview with the Angels to enter. Let us know if you are in the US or international.

I have also put up the second half of the first chapter of Accidentally Yours on Beyond Austen today. The first Regency chapter is complete. Next week, I will introduce you to Will, the Darcy you will love.

Two Darcys . . . two time periods . . . two worlds . . . Which one will Elizabeth choose?