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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer - review of book, audio and film

115 years ago today Georgette Heyer was born. Ms Heyer is one of my favourite authors, and I’ve reread most of her books more times than I can count. I have a sizeable paperback collection of her works, but recently I’ve started listening to her books on audio (if you’d like to do the same, but don’t have an audible subscription, you can get most of the audios at a reduced price if you buy the kindle version). I had heard good things about the audio of this book, so I treated myself to it :)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Devotion by Meg Kerr - Guest Post, Excerpt and UK/Canada Giveaway

Book Cover: Experience by Meg Kerr
Today I am happy to welcome an author who I had heard of, but not yet read, Meg Kerr. Meg has written a pair of sequels to Pride & Prejudice. The first of these, Experience, picks up directly after the end of P&P and follows the fortunes of Mary, Kitty, Lydia and Caroline Bingley over the course of the next three years. The second book, Devotion, follows on from this, but can be read as a stand-alone book.

Devotion takes a look at Georgiana. I think she's an interesting character because she's a bit of a closed book. We know that she nearly eloped with Wickham at the tender age of 15. What type of girl would do that? One option is that she is quite naive and trusting... but she may have been a bit of a Lydia under her shy exterior! She might have been as fond of her brother as he is of her, but on the other hand, perhaps she was resentful of the attention he gave to his estates and social obligations and wanted to do something she knew would hurt him or just as a cry for attention. It's open to speculation.

I'll share the book blurb and then hand over to Meg for a guest post and excerpt. Meg is also kindly offering a giveaway to UK / Canada readers.

Book Cover: Devotion by Meg Kerr
Book Description:

In this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy, now twenty years old and completely lovely, is ripe for marriage. Her brother has carefully selected her future husband, but the arrival of a long-delayed letter, and a secret journey, bring Georgiana into the arms of an utterly wicked and charming young man whose attentions promise her ruin. At the same time, events in Meryton are creating much-needed occupation for Mrs. Bennet and a quandary for Lydia Bennet’s girlhood companion Pen Harrington; and the former Caroline Bingley is given — perhaps — an opportunity to remake some of her disastrous choices. Meg Kerr, writing effortlessly and wittily in the style of Jane Austen, sweeps the reader back to the year 1816 for a reunion with many beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and an introduction to some intriguing characters.

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Hello readers of Babblings of a Bookworm! My name is Meg Kerr, and I’m thrilled to be here with you. First, I’d like to thank Ceri for allowing me to contribute this guest post and which contains an excerpt from my new Austen-inspired book, Devotion. I am also happy to offer a giveaway of three (3) signed copies of the book! The giveaway is open to readers from UK and Canada.

As Ceri mentioned at the beginning of August, Devotion explores events after Pride and Prejudice ends through fan-favourite characters including Georgiana Darcy and Mrs. Bennet, and I think you’ll find it an interesting read as I’ve added several twists. As Georgiana Darcy is one of the main focal points of the book, I wanted to choose a book excerpt where she’s featured. But first, a bit of context:

John Amaury, the illegitimate son of a lord, is handsome, charming, penniless, ruthless, and determined to marry Georgiana Darcy for her fortune. And if lawful marriage can be faster attained through seduction, so be it!

So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy this short excerpt! If you’re interested in reading the full book, it’s available via Amazon. I’d love to hear your thoughts (and your own ideas!) via a review soon.

Affectionately yours,
Meg Kerr

Excerpt (from Chapter 13 of Devotion)

Amaury came to her as soon as she was in the room. “Georgiana, I am in love with you,” he said. She was very willing to hear him, and suddenly he was making violent love to her, proclaiming his passion and declaring that he would die if she refused him. Georgiana could not respond; but Amaury did not want her to talk. Departing so far from every honourable feeling, even from the common decorum of a gentleman, he took hold of her, clasped her around the waist and began to kiss her eagerly, until he was stopping her very breath and she could hardly remain upright. Indeed she would have fallen had she not been locked in his arms, pressed to his ribs. Still on fire with his first assault, her astonishment and perplexity decreased as he took these barbarously insolent freedoms with her, and her struggles against him were brief, if indeed they existed at all. Even then she had not sense enough to try to avoid her fate. Instead of acting as virtue and honour required, instead of striving to avoid destruction, she began to return him kiss for kiss, the friendly darkness emboldening her. He then took the liberty of thrusting his hand in her bosom, an affront at which Georgiana demonstrated her resentment by re-doubling the fervour of her kisses. She seemed to have not the least hesitation to assist in her own undoing. No longer in doubt about the capabilities of her—heart, or that she was completely under his ascendancy, he knew that the business could be accomplished within five minutes.

A wolf has no aspiration to heroism, or to the satisfaction of carrying out a difficult task. He would not rather attack a lion than a lamb, and if the lamb meekly offers her throat for the sacrifice he does not spare her in the conviction that he ought to work harder for his dinner.

That Amaury intended to do what is called the worst is entirely certain and that Georgiana would have granted what is called the last favour is little less so. What a strange revolution of mind therefore that Amaury should have drawn back! But he was overcome by a feeling of tenderness unlike anything he had known before. What a miracle it was to be loved by such a pure and modest girl, to excite her virginal ardours! Five minutes were not enough to initiate her into the pleasures of love. She must be allowed to savour at length her weakness in his embrace, and at last admit the ecstasy of defeat. They must marry, and he must find another method to persuade her than that of robbing her of her precious innocence. With some difficulty therefore he put Georgiana from him, holding her at arm’s length while both endeavoured to regain breath; and with yet greater difficulty he persuaded her to withdraw from him and go to her room, promising that they would meet early on the morrow.

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Surprising, no?! When I received the excerpt I was expecting a battle-scarred Georgiana, who would be shy of men, having learned her lesson at her near-escape from Wickham, despite this book being set some years later (5 years after the aborted elopement, I think). But clearly Meg has gone another way with this character.

If you're interested in reading more, Meg has also visited some other blogs lately, including a post on seduction over at Madame Gilflurt's, a review at More Agreeably Engaged, and an author interview and video from Meg at My Jane Austen Book Club.

* * *

Author Meg Kerr
About the Author:

What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.

Connect with the author:

Email via Prism PublishersPublisher's WebsiteAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: Devotion by Meg Kerr
Meg is kindly offering three commenters here the chance to win a signed paperback of Devotion. This giveaway is open to readers in the UK/Canada for postal reasons. To enter, just leave a comment on this post by the end of the day on Friday 18 August. Please leave a way for me to contact you, so that I'll be able to get in touch if you are one of the lucky winners.

Thank you so much to Meg and her publishers for the guest post and giveaway, and all the best with Devotion, which I look forward to reading.

Friday, 4 August 2017

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams - Winner

Book cover: When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams
Recently I took part in the mini blog tour for Caitlin Williams' latest book, When We Are Married, which takes an interesting variation on Pride & Prejudice, seeing more than one Bennet sister decide that Mr Darcy would be a good match for her, unbeknownst to the other. Here's my review of the book.

Caitlin was giving away an ebook of the story to one commenter. The winner, chosen at random, is:

Baurna!

Congratulations to you. I will be in touch.

Thank you so much to Caitlin Williams for the review copy and giveaway, and to Claudine from JustJane1813, who arranged the blog tour.

If you missed out this time, then maybe you should treat yourself to a copy of the book. You deserve it!

Buy Links
This book is available to buy now, on Amazon USAmazon UK and elsewhere. It's available on Kindle Unlimited and you can also add it on Goodreads.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Journey Home by Karen M. Cox - Review

Book Cover: The Journey Home, a 1932 Sidequel by Karen M. Cox
Karen M. Cox has a new novella out which I was really excited about, as it’s connected to one of the first JAFF books I ever read, and one that I often have a sneaky re-read of! Read on to see what I thought of it.

The Journey Home’ is a ‘sidequel’ for Karen M. Cox’s ‘1932’. I’ve posted about that book previously, and you can read the review here, but in a nutshell, ‘1932’ is a ‘Pride & Prejudice’-inspired story, which transports Meryton into small-town, depression-era USA. The Bennet family are down on their luck, William Darcy is a well-to-do local farmer who takes a fancy to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. It broadly follows the story of P&P although there is one major variation from canon.

Another thing which is different is Georgiana, William’s sister. In P&P she is a 16 year old girl who has suffered a narrow escape from eloping with George Wickham, a man who was after her fortune and to avenge himself on his former friend. In ‘1932’, Georgina is at first a bit of a mystery; although going by the name of Miss Darcy, she has two young daughters. She lives with her brother and there is no husband in the picture. She is 23, rather than 16 but her soul is older than the average 23 year old. Georgiana here made some bad decisions and paid for them. She has endured physically, mentally, and her own image of herself has been humbled and brought low.
‘I could almost feel the disgrace lingering on my skin.’
She almost feels like she doesn’t deserve anything good because of the bad decisions she has made. An event happens that gives Georgiana the impetus to overcome what little pride she has and go back to her brother to recover both physically and mentally and to provide a safe haven to help her girls recover, particularly the elder, as the baby is small enough to have been unaffected.

By the time we first meet Georgiana in ‘1932’ she has recovered bodily, and is starting to come to the point where the love and support of her brother has given her the mental strength to start again. Georgiana wants to have her own life and to be a good role model for her two little girls. In the background of William and Elizabeth’s story in ‘1932’, Georgiana starts to forge her own path. This ‘sidequel’ focuses on things from Georgiana’s perspective, starting with the aftermath of the event that caused her to leave, so it begins at an earlier point than the other book. I enjoyed having a bit more of an insight into Georgiana’s mind. When I read ‘1932’ I deeply sympathised with her, as well as admiring her as a person who had hit rock bottom and managed to climb back out.

Maggie is Georgina’s elder daughter and one of the highlights of the previous book. She was an absolute sweetie and I was very glad to meet her again. I knew that when Maggie had gone to live with her ‘Unca’ she at first had been traumatised and refused to speak, and it was very touching to see the point when she first began to talk again.

William Darcy is a sweet man under his handsome yet unwelcoming shell and of course his sister gets to see under the hard shell to the sweet man that we know from ‘1932’. He is charmingly unaware that his niece has a lot in common with him:
‘He shook his head. “I wish she’d quit staring at me like that. It’s unnerving.” 
I laughed through my tears, softly, so as not to frighten the toddler in my lap. “I don’t know why it bothers you. She looks just like you do half the time.” Maggie’s dark-eyed stare was the little-girl version of William’s curmudgeonly scowl.’ 
Sheriff Richard Fitzwilliam is Darcy’s closest friend, there for him during his lonely time during Georgiana’s absence. He is such a lovely character and surprisingly wise. I liked him a lot in ‘1932’ for his kindness so it was good to see more of him.
‘Richard looked at me with kindness but not with pity. He addressed me, rather than my brother, and I could see how William would be able to tell him private information without a second thought. His expression was open and accepting, without a hint of disapproval.’
There is a hint of Christianity in this book. Georgiana’s faith in God is something that didn’t falter even at her lowest point and it helped form her decision to come home. As I said, though, this is a hint rather than a theme, it’s a very small part of the story. Although there is some sex in the story there are no overt sex scenes.

I very much enjoyed reading this book but I felt that I would have liked to have had a bit more exploration of some things, such as Georgiana’s time away from home, or the visits she received after moving to her cottage in a little more depth. There are some instances where things happen off the page which sometimes made the pace feel a little rushed to me. However, this book adds a further dimension to ‘1932’ which I really enjoyed. I would certainly recommend reading ‘1932’ first to get the full benefit, as you will get to know Lizzy and William better that way and fill in the gaps with ‘The Journey Home’. I’d rate this as a 4 star read.

4 star read

*I received a copy of this novella from the author for my honest review.

Author Karen M. Cox
Connect with the author:

WebsiteFacebook • Twitter • Pinterest • Instagram • Tumblr • GoodreadsAmazon Author Page

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Planned Reading for August 2017

It’s school holiday time here in the UK which means that I will be taking some time off work to spend some time shouting at with my children. I always hope for more reading time during the school holidays and usually it doesn’t happen. As ever, it will be one of my aims, along with losing an unrealistic amount of weight and achieving a completely organised home. Never say I am unambitious!

Book Cover: The Journey Home by Karen M. CoxI have a fairly quiet month planned on the blog. Firstly, Karen M. Cox has a ‘sidequel’ out – a companion book to ‘1932’ which is a P&P variation set in the US depression. ‘The Journey Home’ focuses on Georgiana’s story during the same time period. I’ll be bringing you my review of this novella.

Author Karen M. Cox
Karen has an ‘Emma’-inspired book coming out in September, and in the run up to the blog tour I’ll have the pleasure of hosting her for a post here. I was very excited to hear about this book, because not only is it an ‘Emma’ book, which I’ve read very few of, but it’s neither modern nor Regency, which is another unusual touch.

Book cover: Devotion by Meg Kerr
I will also be welcoming author Meg Kerr. Meg has written a new ‘Pride & Prejudice’ sequel, ‘Devotion’, which focuses on Georgiana. She really is a mystery isn’t she? On the one hand she’s shy, very quiet, seemingly lacking in confidence and on the other she was nearly bold enough to elope with somebody that she must have known to be unsuitable. She is certainly an enigma.

As for my reading plans, I just hope to catch up a bit! I have so much that I’ve planned to read in previous months and didn’t get round to. I might struggle as we are planning some home improvements which takes up time. Wish me luck :) What do you plan to read? Let me know in the comments!


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Winner of J Dawn King Giveaway

Author J Dawn King
Recently I was joined by the lovely J Dawn King for a game of twenty questions, related to your view of Darcy and Elizabeth. We shared what we thought and settled whether we thought Mr Darcy had a unibrow / monobrow! Answers can be found on the original post. Joy was very generously giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to a commenter on the post. Joy chose a winner at random and that person is...

Elizabeth Hossenlopp

Congratulations to you, Elizabeth! Joy will be in touch via the email address you left.

Thank you so much to everybody who posted their views, and huge thanks to Joy for the wonderful giveaway!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer - Giveaway Winner

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer
Apologies for my lateness in posting this. Recently Eliza Shearer visited the blog with a guest post and excerpt of her debut novel, 'Miss Darcy's Beaux'. Eliza was also giving away an ebook of the book. I assigned each of the comments a number and used the random number generator on Google to pick a winner, who was....

Deborah Ann

Congratulations to you, Debbie! I will be in touch.

Huge thanks to Eliza for the guest post, and to everybody who commented. For those of you who missed out, there is a Goodreads giveway for a print version of the book which is open to many countries.

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams Blog Tour and Giveaway

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams - Blog Tour
Today the blog tour for Caitlin Williams' new book, the 'Pride & Prejudice' variation, 'When We Are Married' stops by. I get to share my review with you, and there is a giveaway of an ebook of the story for a commenter on this post. Read on for more details!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Joy Dawn King - Guest Post and Giveaway

Author J. Dawn King
Today I am welcoming one of my favourite blog visitors, author J Dawn King. Joy has brought a conversation piece and giveaway, so channel your inner Lady Catherine de Bourgh; you must have your share of the conversation!

Usually when an author stops by, they are here to share their latest release, however Joy asked if we could play a game. Without further ado, I will pass over to Joy.

* * *

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

200th Anniversary of Jane Austen's Death - What Jane Means to Me

Jane Austen
Today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and I wanted to mark the day with a little tribute to her and share with you what Austen and her work means to me. Her sister Cassandra said,
“I have lost a treasure, such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed. She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow; I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.” 
This is a wonderful tribute from her closest friend. Cassandra had lost a personal treasure and the wider world had also lost a treasure. Austen was only 41 when she died; who knows what else she might have written if she had lived longer. I suppose we will have to be philosophical about it, and instead focus on the positives. Her works – the six major novels, plus the lesser works and juvenilia have given me and hundreds of thousands of others worldwide many hours of enjoyment and enriched our lives. In fact, Austen’s works were actually prescribed reading for former WWI soldiers to soothe them. There is comfort in reading her novels, in a world where everybody knows their place, but there is more to their popularity than just that.

Austen didn’t write about the wider world in which her novels were set, the world news, and she lived in a tumultuous time, with Napoleon marauding across the continent. But that wasn’t what Jane was about, and she was perfectly well aware of that:
‘What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited sketches, full of variety and glow? How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?’ – Jane Austen, letter to her brother, 1816
This is one of the things I love about her work – the details are exquisite, the embroidery of the details and humour makes it come alive.

She was criticised by Charlotte Bronte for the lack of passion in her work:
‘She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy Sisterhood’
I love Charlotte Bronte’s work, but I really think she was unfair to Jane here. Not only was Jane forging a path that Charlotte could benefit from in the departure from the norm in the new style of work that she was writing but I find Jane’s books so much more real to me, as they don't have the dark streak and melodrama that are so often found in the works I've read by the Brontes and are things which are thankfully absent from my life.

I was lucky in that I ‘found’ Austen fairly early on in life. Teenage Ceri, in the pre-internet era, was mooching about the house on a rainy day and feeling pretty bored. So I thought I’d read a book. This in itself wasn’t unusual because I read books A LOT.

So, I was perusing my mother’s bookshelves and found a book called ‘Sense and Sensibility’. I was vaguely aware that this was a famous book, and if it was that old and still famous then I reasoned that it was probably quite good, so I read it. Since I always enjoyed quite old books (the Secret Garden, Heidi etc.) the vocabulary wasn’t an obstacle to me, and I found, to my surprise, that not only was it quite good, it was also quite funny. So I embarked upon ‘Pride & Prejudice’. From the first line, my attention was caught and within no time at all I had fallen in love with the book. I found Elizabeth so relatable; she was just like me but with a tall, handsome admirer. What was not to love?! It amazed me then and still amazes me now that Austen was able to write a character that was so timeless, despite the time gap and societal change, Elizabeth was easily accessible to a young person reading the story nearly 200 years later.

I went on to read Austen’s other main works, and her letters, and I found that, as funny and as biting as her humour was in her published works, she was reining it in. The woman had a truly wicked sense of humour. She would without doubt have a place on any fantasy dinner table of mine!

Austen wrote some very quotable quotes. I would just like to share some of my favourites with you. This first one sums up one of the reasons she is my favourite authors. I read for escapism - other people may like gritty realism; they are welcome to it! I want happy endings.
‘Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.’ – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
And this one, which tells me that we have the same idea of how to have a good time!
‘By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many douceurs in being a sort of chaperon, for I am put on the sofa near the fire and can drink as much wine as I like.’ – Jane Austen – Letter, 1813.
And this one, which is so true.
‘It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.’ –  Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Austen is not only the writer of my favourite novel, ‘Pride & Prejudice’, but the writer of the most exquisite page of any book I’ve ever read. Captain Wentworth’s letter in ‘Persuasion’ is just perfection. I would like to quote the entire letter in all its glory, but instead, as it is spoilery, I will content myself with:
'You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.' - Jane Austen, Persuasion
So today I’ll spare a thought for Jane Austen, and be thankful for the wonderful works she brought into the world. What is it about Jane’s work that speaks to you? Do you have any favourite quotes that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments and have your share of the conversation.