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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Winners of the Lucky 13 Giveaway

Book cover - Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner
I have chosen the winners of the Lucky 13 giveaway using random.org and the two lucky winners are:

KrisAnn

and 

Anji

Ladies, I have emailed you both from the details you left on your entries to check what format ebook you'd like. Please can you reply within 48 hours so I can pass on your details to Cat Gardiner. If you haven't received your email please can you email me instead, at babblingsofabookworm (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you to Cat Gardiner for the giveaway and thank you all so much for your comments and interest in Lucky 13, which is available to purchase from tomorrow, 31 October!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Boots & Backpacks by KC Kahler Blog Tour + Giveaway

Today I have the honour of being the first stop on the Boots & Backpacks Blog Tour with a guest post by the author, KC Kahler. Read on to find out more about the book and author, and there is a chance to win a paperback copy of the book, open internationally! So without further ado I will pass over to KC Kahler

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Book Cover - Boots & Backpacks by KC KahlerBook blurb:

Pride and Prejudice on the Appalachian Trail, roughly

William Darcy counts down the last few months to his 30th birthday with dread. Orphaned as a child, his parents’ will includes a bizarre clause: Darcy must get married by his 30th birthday in order to inherit the family fortune. To make matters worse, the press knows about this deadline, as do the hordes of women chasing him in the hopes of becoming Mrs. Darcy. His family legacy hangs in the balance, but Darcy has little faith in the fairer sex. Will he find a woman he wants to marry, and quickly?

Elizabeth Bennet is determined to pursue her education and career without letting a man get in the way. When her traveling companion drops out, her planned hike on the Appalachian Trail is jeopardized. She meets the spoiled, snobby William Darcy just when he is desperate to escape the spotlight. No one will suspect that the Prince of Manhattan has gone backpacking! Darcy and Elizabeth form a tenuous partnership and begin a 300-mile journey that will transform them both.

In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!

Romantic Comedy Tropes in Boots & Backpacks

KC Kahler - Author of Boots & Backpacks
Author KC Kahler
As a pop culture geek, I’m a sucker for tropes. What’s a trope? Well, according to the supreme time-sucking site TV Tropes:

“Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations.”

Tropes are universal across all media types - mythology, literature, TV, movies, comic books, video games, etc. As consumers of media, we recognize tropes, either consciously or subconsciously, and form expectations about the characters and the plot. In a genre as formulaic as that of the romantic comedy, certain tropes get used over and over again, but fans of that genre keep coming back for more.

Jane Austen used tropes masterfully in her novels. Pride and Prejudice is considered by many to be the grandmommy of the modern romantic comedy. It is certainly the grandmommy of my novel Boots & Backpacks! So what beloved tropes from P&P can you expect to see in B&B? Here are a few:
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky - Yes, my hero is named William Darcy and he is quite the eligible bachelor! But he does have a few issues to work through: he’s a spoiled snob, he’s obsessed with the family fortune, and he distrusts basically everyone he meets, especially women.
  • Spirited Young Lady - Elizabeth Bennet: as unimpressed with Mr. Darcy upon first introduction in 2014 as she was in 1813.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension - So much banter! The sexual tension in Boots & Backpacks starts out especially belligerent, but over the course of the story, our dear couple learns to get along.
  • Will They or Won’t They - The staple of all romantic comedies! Usually it’s a foregone conclusion that they will, but the fun is seeing how and when they do.
  • Inter-class Romance - Darcy’s a super-rich blue blood; Elizabeth is middle-class.
  • Arch Enemy - Darcy’s arch enemy in Pride and Prejudice is George Wickham, but in Boots & Backpacks, the gossip columnist Gwen Younge fills the role.
  • Grande Dame - Catherine De Bourgh, grand with or without a title.
  • Act of True Love - In P&P, we know Darcy really loves Elizabeth when he drops everything to search for Wickham and Lydia in the seedy parts of London, and then, when he finds them, foots the bill to make them marry. And he never takes the credit or even wants Elizabeth to know about it, lest she feel indebted to him. Sigh.
Obviously, I can’t reveal what the Act of True Love is in Boots & Backpacks! But trust me, there’s a good one.

Now, just because we form expectations based on the tropes we recognize doesn't mean those expectations are fulfilled. Sometimes an author may set up a trope only to subvert it. A bait and switch, if you will. Think of a banana peel that no one slips on, or a damsel in 
distress who saves herself. So don't think that you know everything you need to know about Boots & Backpacks. There are quite a few surprises!

If you, like me, can’t get enough tropes, see the full TV Tropes list for Pride and Prejudice, as well as the section on romantic comedies. But be careful! One click will lead to many!

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Ceri for hosting my ramblings.

* * * * *

Thank you to KC Kahler for such an entertaining guest post! To find out more about KC Kahler you can visit her blog: http://kckahler.merytonpress.com/ and follow her on twitter @KCKahler

Meryton Press are very kindly offering a giveaway of one paperback copy of Boots & Backpacks on this stop of the blog tour, open internationally. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post. Please leave a way for me to contact you should you win, twitter handle or email address (to prevent unwanted spam please leave your email address with an (at) instead of an @). Closing date is 10 November.

Please note that this giveaway has now closed and the winner will be chosen soon!

Since this a blog tour there will be other opportunities for you to learn more about the book and potentially win a copy. Here are the other scheduled stops:

28/10: Review at Songs and Stories
30/10: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
31/10: Review at Wings of Paper
01/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
02/11: Review at The Delighted Reader 
03/11: Excerpt at More Agreeably Engaged
04/11: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
05/11: Review at Warmisunqu’s Austen
06/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at The Darcy Obsession

Boots & Backpacks Blog Tour

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner + GIVEAWAY

Book cover - Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner
Lucky 13 is a contemporary romance by debut author Cat Gardiner influenced by Pride & Prejudice. 26 year old Liz Bennet, despite having a successful career in advertising, has always considered herself unlucky. Her mother has always told her so at any rate. She was born on Friday 13th, a girl instead of a boy and has been told her whole life how she never measures up to expectations. Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with her parents, 4 sisters and their respective significant others and her aunt and uncle Liz has a realisation:
“There I was sitting down for our annual, calorie-laden, typically traditional, turkey dinner when all of a sudden, it hit me – once again, I was the unlucky number 13. It was the story of my birth and now my life. I was the odd person out. The only single at the table.”
Liz doesn’t envy her sisters their boyfriends – supermodel Jane is due to marry sweet millionaire Charlie Bingley on New Year’s Eve, Mary has settled for the unfortunate Billy Collins, Kitty has just become engaged to penniless Ashton and Lydia’s boyfriend is the lecherous George Wickham, who gropes her sisters under the table when given half a chance. However, she is sick of being singled out by her mother for being the only single Bennet daughter:
“I decided I would no longer sit idly by waiting for a good man to find me. I would have to go out and find him myself.”
Liz isn’t looking for Mr Right, just somebody she can bring as her date to the next Bennet family gathering, Christmas dinner and perhaps to Jane’s wedding. She sets about finding a date, trying personal ads (with unexpectedly amusing results!), speed dating, considers a blind date and even pays for the service of a Jewish matchmaker, despite not being of the Jewish faith herself.

Liz’s search is hampered by a few things. Firstly she doesn’t really believe that a decent man exists, judging from her unlucky dating history, and she’s had a real number pulled on her in the past, being manipulated and having her heart broken by her best friend Charlotte’s brother, John Lucas. She is scared to let anybody close to her.
“Unfortunately, now she’s become this self-fulfilling prophecy – dating and continually faultfinding, pessimistic about every man, and looking for a reason not to find love. She hides it well, but she’s immobilized by the fear of rejection and hurt.”
So if she meets somebody she’s very attracted to she’s likely to find excuses to fight it...

Enter Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, President of Pem Tech, founder of the charitable FD Burns Foundation, part time fire-fighter and generally gorgeous hunky man. Darcy’s parents died a few years ago, not long before Christmas, in a house fire while he was out being a party boy and since then he’s been carrying a huge burden of guilt around with him that he wasn’t there. He assuages the guilt through his fire-fighting work but the period in the run-up to Christmas is very hard for him and he works too hard, drinks too much, and is generally a real grump.

Liz’s ad company has been hired to spearhead the FD Burns fundraising campaign by the Chairman of the foundation, Darcy’s cousin Richard Fitzwilliam. He wants Liz’s company to create a fundraising calendar featuring semi-clad firemen and he is determined that his cousin the Grinch will feature as Mr December. Between a grouch and a girl with a chip on her shoulder, what could possibly go wrong?! Luckily for Liz and Will there are plenty of potential matchmakers in each of their corners helping them direct the spark between them towards something more constructive than fighting, if only they will let it happen.

I really enjoyed this romance. The chemistry between Liz and Darcy was fantastic, and I loved the humour, there are a few laugh out loud moments, including a very amusing rendition of Caroline Bingley, as a pooch matchmaker with a very unfortunately misnamed designer dog. This isn’t a modern re-telling of Pride & Prejudice, but there were some nods back to the original, such as some of the wording:
“It’s important to emphasize that a single woman, living alone in Manhattan, who is somewhat in want of a man, need to protect herself.”
Though the central theme of the story is the same as Pride & Prejudice, first impressions can’t always be relied on, there were other themes that I liked, such as overcoming the labels that have been applied to you. Mrs Bennet had spent years putting Lizzy down and this lack of self-worth she felt was exploited by a manipulative ex-boyfriend, ‘John the Jerk’ who was there for Lizzy just enough to make her rely on him while simultaneously using her and holding her back. I’m sure we all know people who have settled for a partner who doesn’t treat them as they deserve because they don’t believe anybody else would want them. Seeing her overcome her hurdles and realise that her attitude and prejudices were causing some of her own bad luck was wonderful. Darcy grows too, from a man who is scared to commit to a relationship because of his fear of loss to somebody who is willing to take a chance on love.

Mrs Bennet in this story is a character you can simultaneously love and hate, which is an impressive achievement! On the one hand, the way she treats her daughter is deeply unkind, but on the other hand she has some wonderful, funny lines that I couldn’t help but giggle at. She is convinced, incorrectly, that Charlotte is a lesbian and is trying to make Lizzy gay! I also loved the characters of Charlotte and Rick, a.k.a. Punky and Preppy, who were wonderful friends to Liz and Darcy.

The story is told mostly in the third person, but Liz has set up a blog 'All I want for Christmas...' to document her progress in finding a date for Christmas which has extra information from her perspective, with guest posts from Charlotte. There are links at the end of most of the chapters to the blog posts. The blog adds not only differing perspectives on events but also progresses the story and I would strongly recommend reading the blog posts along with the story. I would have preferred the blog post text and comments within the book because they are such an integral part of the story that it would be a shame to miss them if you’re reading outside a wifi zone. My kindle also couldn’t cope with accessing the website but it’s worth the extra effort to access them on another device as you’re reading. The blog also has posts that give an insight into what happens to Liz and Darcy after the book finishes. I’d recommend this book in the run up to Christmas, it has a lovely slice of Christmas feel-good to it!

For those who seek/avoid such things there are no sex scenes in this book, though there are some flashbacks!
4 star read

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for my honest review

You can see the book trailer for Lucky 13 here, and there's a chance to win an ebook copy of the book below!

Author Bio
Cat Gardiner loves to take you around the world in her novels, places you may never have been with music you’ve never heard.  A member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter Tampa Area Romance Authors, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels.  From her debut novel - the comedic, chick-lit “Lucky 13” set to release on October 31st to bad boy, biker Darcy in the upcoming “Denial of Conscience,” contemporary genres will appeal to many of her readers.  Her greatest love, however, is penning 20th Century historical fiction – taking our dear couple to World War II in novels that will be forthcoming: “The Very Thought of You” and “My Dearest Darling.”  Where else can we find the greatest examples of both Pride and Prejudice?
“I love to take the reader on a multi-tiered adventure using the sights and sounds not only within the novel but with the use of Spotify playlist, information blogs, and image Pinterest.  Books should be an escape to a time, place, or world where you can become immersed.”
She found Pride and Prejudice by accident through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South and after reading and re-reading almost everything out there in the JAFF world, decided to try her own hand and imagination.  Now, she can stop.
Married 21 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world – their orange tabby, Ollie.  They live in Tampa Florida, but will always be native New Yorkers no matter how far away they are.

Giveaway time!


Lucky 13 is due out on 31 October and Cat has very kindly offered to give away TWO e-book copies in kindle, nook, ibook or pdf! To enter, just leave a comment below, including a way for me to contact you (twitter handle or email address – if you’re leaving an email address please write it with an (at) instead of an @ to prevent unwanted spam). The last day to enter is 29 October.

Please note that the giveaway has now closed and winners have been chosen!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Revisit Mansfield Park: When Fanny Married Henry by Sarah Ozcandarli

Book Cover: Revisit Mansfield Park: When Fanny Married Henry by Sarah Ozcandarli
It’s no spoiler to say what happens in this book, as it’s right there in the title! This is a variation based on Mansfield Park, exploring what could have happened if Fanny had given Henry Crawford more encouragement. This is a plot bunny for a variation that Austen herself set up within the text of Mansfield Park, Chapter 48:
‘Would he have persevered, and uprightly, Fanny must have been his reward, and a reward very voluntarily bestowed, within a reasonable period from Edmund’s marrying Mary.’
Revisit Mansfield Park's opening three chapters sum up the happenings of Mansfield Park as a reminder, or for those who haven’t read it, which is a bit dry, but we then get into the substance of this variation. If you’ve read Mansfield Park you may well remember that when Fanny Price goes to Portsmouth Henry Crawford visits her there. When he leaves he asks her to advise him as to whether he should return to his estate or go to London. Fanny declines to advise him and instead replies with one of the most famous quotes of the novel:
‘We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.’
Crawford goes to London, and Fanny doesn’t see him again. However, in this book, when Crawford asks for her advice Fanny decides to give him a chance. To test Crawford’s regard for her, she will give her opinion. If he follows her advice then it could be that what he says is true, his interest in her is genuine and she has judged him unfairly. She advises him to return to his estate to settle the matters of business he has outstanding there. Given this encouragement Crawford requests that he might be allowed to correspond with Fanny, and she agrees, subject to her uncle’s consent. Obviously Sir Thomas is happy to agree with this, as the reason he sent Fanny to Portsmouth was to try and change her mind about Crawford’s proposal.

In this book, Fanny is more introspective. She wonders whether she is too guarded, comparing herself against the warmer Miss Crawford, and reflecting that she has opened her heart to her sister Susan, and has been rewarded by a growing sisterly relationship with her. Perhaps she could be less guarded in relation to Mr Crawford too? She decides to try and get to know him and give him a chance to see if she could care for him. As they correspond Fanny and Henry get to know each other better and she comes to see his good qualities – he’s intelligent, successful at things when he applies himself, and he is able to talk sensibly and interestingly with people ranging from William Price, to Sir Thomas to his daughters. Henry is also taken to task on his flirting and writes to Fanny:
‘I assure you that henceforth I will flirt with no one unless I fully intend to make her my wife, or she is already my wife. Therefore, I may flirt with you, Miss Price, when or if you allow it, though it may be that your honest heart knows not how to play that game.’
Henry Crawford is a very charming man and I found myself charmed by him in this variation. He says such lovely things, and is very thoughtful towards Fanny. So much so, that she begins to be won over. You may wonder, what of Edmund? Well, Fanny is so much more introspective here that she questions whether she was mistaken in thinking that she loved Edmund romantically. In fact, when Fanny receives a long-awaited letter from Edmund, who is staying in London, she receives a letter from Henry the same day which eclipses Edmund’s epistle:
‘She had meant to write to Edmund that evening, but her thoughts were less of her cousin than of Mr. Crawford, and she deferred Edmund’s letter until the next morning.’
I was wondering at this point what effect this might have on other people in Fanny’s family, most notably her cousin Maria, when you consider what happened in Mansfield Park! We catch up with what happened in London while Henry was at his Norfolk estate, and some questions here were raised that I didn’t feel were resolved by the end of the novel in relation to Maria and also Edmund and Mary. Also, the fates given to some of the characters seemed unnecessarily harsh to me and not very Austenesque!

On the whole I enjoyed this novel, however, in parts I felt it fell a little flat. I enjoyed the general tone of the writing, which was quite witty in parts but sometimes it seemed to be lacking in sparkle, with a bit too much telling the reader things rather than showing.  This wasn’t helped by the three summary chapters at the beginning. I appreciate why they were in the book, but as they were summaries they were dry reading and sometimes I felt the other parts of the book reverted to this style. I thought the author brought Henry Crawford to life nicely but Fanny was a little too insipid for my liking and she was critical of her relations in some of her letters to Crawford, which seemed out of character to me. Also, when scandal affects Fanny’s family, it seemed unlikely that she wouldn’t worry that it might affect Henry’s plans towards her. However, I was very pleased to see a Mansfield Park variation as most books based on Mansfield Park seem either to be sequels or modern retellings. I also found it interesting to see a scenario exploring a possible variation proposed by Jane Austen herself! I’d rate this book at 3½ stars.

3.5 star read

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Winners of Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man Giveaway

Book Cover - Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man by Brenda Webb
The three winners of their choice of Brenda's books have been chosen using Random.org and are as follows:

Luthien84

Loren Dushku

Chiara Lanzi

I have emailed the winners from the contact details left on the entries, please respond within 48 hours with your choice of book so I can pass your details on to Brenda. If you don't receive your email please contact me at babblingsofabookworm (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you all for your comments and a big thank you to Brenda Webb for her very generous giveaway!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Planned Reading for October 2014

Well I didn't have a good reading month in September. I was really busy in work, and feeling pretty tired a lot of the time which led to a real slow down in my reading :( I have another busy month ahead so I don't have high hopes that this month will be much better. However, there were high spots to September such as my lovely birthday presents, particularly the clothbound classics range of Jane Austen books. I also had a trip to Bath where I took the waters at the Pump Room! If you are wondering what it was like, the water is warm and tastes like metal.

I am hoping to catch up on the things I planned last month and didn't get to, namely Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron, which is due out later this month, and a book based on Jane Austen's unfinished book The Watsons, Emma and Elizabeth by Ann Mychal. I also have been planning for a couple of months to read Northanger Abbey. How dare I neglect our beloved Jane!

Book Cover: The Beresfords by Christina Dudley
My Mansfield Park inspired read this month will finally be The Beresfords by Christina Dudley. I don't know much about this book, only that it is a modern(ish) version of MP, set in the mid 1980s, which I find pretty intriguing. This book comes highly recommended by the lovely Meredith over at Austenesque Reviews, which is recommendation enough for me!

Book Cover - An Obstinate, Headstrong Girl 'by a lady' (Abigail Bok)
I also plan to read An Obstinate, Headstrong Girl by 'A Lady'. From what I understand this is a modern version of Pride and Prejudice set in California. Lizzy is a landscape gardener, hence the cover. From what I've gleaned so far it has some fun updates and a male Jane! I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage to fit in some lovely reading time this month. Happy reading!