Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.


Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things Book Review

If one were to poll Jane Austen fans to determine which of the six completed novels is their favorite, Mansfield Park is likely to be found at the bottom of the list. Similarly, the book’s heroine, Fanny Price is also likely to be found in the same position in a comparable list of Austen’s leading ladies.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, written by Jacqueline Firkins, was published last year. Edith “Edie” Price has been in the foster care system since her mother’s recent passing. Her father left when she was a baby. Just a few months shy of her eighteenth birthday, Edie is temporarily taken in by her wealthy aunt and uncle.

Though she has two cousins, Maria and Julia who are close to her in age, Edie has nothing in common with them. They are determined to give her a makeover and find her a boyfriend. But Edie is more concerned with making sure that she can stand on her own two feet after high school.

As she tries to stay afloat until graduation, two boys enter the picture. The first is Sebastian, Edie’s first and love and childhood bestie. He is everything she could want in a boyfriend. But Sebastian is taken. The second is Henry, the bad boy who Edie swears to stay away from. That is easier said than done.

Edie knows that she has to choose one of them. The question is, will her heart be broken in the process?

I loved this book. Edie has the soul of her 19th century predecessor, while being a normal teenage girl in the 21st century. Among the JAFF (Jane Austen fanfiction) books that I have read, this is one of the better ones.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

What Might Have Happened

*-The only characters that are mine are Lucy Crawford and John, Frances and Maria Bertram. The rest, brilliantly belong to Jane Austen.

 What Might Have Happened

“Your tea, dear” Henry’s thoughts were broken by his wife, Lucy with the maid behind her with the tea.

 “Thank you”.

 Scanning over the news, Lucy found something that she thought might attract her husband’s attention.

 “You spend some time in _____shire with the family of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram before we met did you not?” Lucy asked.

 “Yes” Henry replied sipping his tea.

 Memories of his short time at MansfieldPark led him to one person in particular.

 She saw through his pretensions immediately, he knew that. But he had hoped that she would also see his heart, he had never met a woman like Fanny Price. She challenged him, made him earn her love. He thought he had her love, but it wasn’t enough, she still rejected him. In the end, she married her cousin, Edmund Bertram.  

 He had met his wife, Lucy two years later. She was the niece of an acquaintance whom he had met through his sister. They married within a year of their first meeting. She was adequate and their children were well behaved and intelligent. But part of him always wondered what might have happened if the woman on the other side of him was the woman he still thought of.

 “Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram of MansfieldPark announce the birth of an heir. John Thomas Bertram was born last Monday to the Reverend and Mrs. Edmund Bertram, the younger son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. The boy already joins his sisters, Frances, age 4 and Maria age 2”.

 “Didn’t Mary say they had an elder son?” Lucy asked.

 “Yes, but I don’t believe he has yet to marry”.

 Letting his memories fade back in the recesses of his mind, Henry returned to the present. Fanny Price was married to another man; there was nothing he could do about it now.  The only thing he could was concentrate on the present and perhaps one day, he might be able to find salvation from his memories.


As usual I do not own any of these characters.


“There is a man floating in the water” the news spread like wildfire thought the small coastal town of Portsmith.

Inside the Price home no one knew, as the members of the household were still rising for day.

Then there was a knock on the door.

“Mrs. Price?” the man asked.

“I am sorry to say your husband was found in the bay this morning, there was nothing we could do to save him”.

With that, Mrs. Frances Price learned of her husband’s death.

The Price home had been visited the day before by some of Lieutenant Price’s companions from his days serving in his Majesty’s Navy. They had gone to the local tavern to celebrate their reunion. The Lieutenant was the only one who did not return home.

As her husband’s body was interred into the cold ground, it was not just the realization of the loss of her husband that occurred to Mrs. Price, it was the loss of his income, as meager as it had been. She had been assured that his pension and any remaining wages would be hers, but it was not enough to cover their debts. Her eldest son, William, had also assured his mother that he would sent home as much of his own wages as he could, but even then, she had nine children to care for. She could have written to her brother in law, Sir Thomas Bertram for assistance, but he already so much for them, including taking in her eldest daughter, Fanny, who had only recently returned to them.

Then Mr. Crawford came calling.

“My name is Henry Crawford, madam; I became acquainted with William and Fanny while my sister and I rented the parsonage at Mansfield Park. I heard about your husband’s death, I am sorry for your loss”.

“Thank you, Mr. Crawford”.

“If I may, where is Fanny?”.

“She is on the roof”.

Fanny sat on the roof; she had climbed up to the roof to find peace from the noise down below.  Her father was dead, she was banished from Mansfield, it was as if the world she knew was collapsing around her. If Edmund were here, he would know what to say, but he was not.

“Miss Price” Henry’s voice broke through.

“If you have come, Mr. Crawford, in hopes that I have reconsidered your proposal…”.

“I have come, Miss Price to pay my respects to your family, however, I would still hope, that in time you will reconsider what I have proposed, I bid you good day”.

He returned the next day and everyday for next two weeks bringing sweets and gifts for the youngest children and books for the elder children.

“You are too generous Mr. Crawford” Mrs. Price was in awe of the attention and gifts bestowed on her children.

“It is my pleasure, considering they have lost their father recently, I thought some cheering up might be in order”.

“They are greatly appreciated” Fanny’s footsteps were heard on the stairs “Fanny, look who has returned”.

“Good morning, Mr. Crawford” came the reply.

“If I may, Mrs. Price, I would like to speak to your eldest daughter alone”.

“Of course, Mr. Crawford”.

“You have fooled my family, Mr. Crawford, but I am not fooled”.

“I am aware, Fanny of my faults, the greatest of which is a specialty of pretense, which you have seen through since our first introduction. I have come, dropped of all pretense in hopes that you might forgive my past indiscretions and allow me to court you properly”.

“Mr. Crawford…”.

“An engagement between your cousin, Mr. Bertram and my sister is expected to be announced.  I could, if you allow me to erase your father’s debts and give your family the opportunities to excel in society.  I would treat you as a queen, you would want for nothing. I love you, Fanny Price, it is for you alone, I have come. Please say you will marry me”.

Fanny bit her lip. Knowing that her family was provided for, that they would not be relying on charity from others would be a great relief. But to marry a man she did not love and knew of his dishonorable character would be a great disservice to her own heart.

But for her family, she would sacrifice.

“I will marry you”.

He saw the tears in her eyes.

“I do not wish to make you unhappy Fanny, nor do I want force you into marriage. If you do not wish to marry me, say so and I will go on as if this moment had never happened”.

“Henry, I will marry you” she reaffirmed her statement.

He kissed her and she returned his kiss, but in her heart, she mourned.

Her family rejoiced at the upcoming nuptials, Sir Thomas offered her a dowry of £5000 in addition to paying for her wedding trousseau. She returned to MansfieldPark, spending the next two months preparing for her wedding.

The day of her wedding was a bright, glorious day, the wedding dress the most beautiful she had ever seen. Her aunt, Lady Bertram had proclaimed the dress to be even more beautiful than her own daughter’s wedding dresses.

The doors to the chapel opened and Fanny walked to alter on the arm of her uncle.

She passed by her mother, how proud she looked. Her brothers and sisters shared the same look of pride in their new clothes, purchased by Sir Thomas specifically for today. Even William came, wearing his military uniform, the buttons shined like the sun. Edmund was there as well, standing next to Mary. It was as predicted; the news of an engagement between them had only come about the week before and it seemed that Mary was content to become a country clergyman’s wife.

Finally she met Henry at the alter. Looking in his eyes, she repeated her vows and then kissed her new husband, but inside she still mourned.

She would mourn for the rest of her days.

The End

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