Friday, 13 May 2022

Born to be a Heroine by Christine Combe - Except

Book cover: Born to be a Heroine by Christine Combe
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Christine Combe to the blog with her new book, Born to be a Heroine. You may recognise this as a Northanger Abbey reference, but this is a Pride & Prejudice variation. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll pass over to Christine for an excerpt from Born to be a Heroine. 

Book Description

When Elizabeth Bennet meets the new residents of Netherfield at Meryton’s monthly assembly, she does not expect to make a fast friend in the perpetually cheerful Catherine Morland -- nor does she expect the surprise of being asked to dance by the proud and haughty Mr. Darcy.

Fitzwilliam Darcy doesn’t care to dance unless he is particularly acquainted with his partner, so no one is more surprised than he when not only does he accept the challenge presented to him by Miss Morland, but he also asks the playful Miss Bennet for a dance as well.

Catherine Morland joined Mrs. Allen in accepting the invitation of Mr. Bingley, great nephew of Mr. Allen, to visit Netherfield for the simple pleasure of making new acquaintances and seeing a new place. She is most delighted to have found in Elizabeth Bennet and her elder sister Jane the kind of dependable friendship she found in Eleanor Tilney.

When an old nemesis of Darcy’s comes to town, trouble quickly brews in which both Elizabeth and Catherine become entangled. While one young lady battles the workings of her heart, the other is caught in a compromise which could damage her respectability in society. Each is forced to look deep inside herself to discover the strength that proves she was born to be a heroine.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The Barrister’s Bride by Suzan Lauder - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Barrister's Bride by Suzan Lauder
I’m happy to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Suzan Lauder’s new Pride & Prejudice variation, The Barrister’s Bride. Suzan has joined us with an excerpt of the book and has brought a giveaway opportunity. Let’s look at the book description and then I’ll hand over to Suzan to introduce the excerpt.

Book cover: The Barrister's Bride by Suzan Lauder
Book Description 

A pact that will change their lives forever…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a successful young barrister with a bright future. His late uncle has guided his career, made him his heir, and even selected a bride for him—sight unseen—whom he’ll meet and marry upon her majority. Who could have predicted that making the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet in Meryton would throw those careful plans into disarray?

Elizabeth Bennet doesn’t know what to make of “Fitz” Darcy, who intrigues and draws her notice like no other. Despite Fitzwilliam’s warnings, she allows Mr. George Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s older brother and master of Pemberley, to charm her. Little does she know that she, too, has been promised in marriage by her late father—to an unknown barrister, no less. What is she to do when her hopes to marry for love disappear in the blink of an eye?

Is George Darcy’s suit in earnest? Can this mysterious bridegroom of her father’s choosing become the husband of her dreams? With the danger of duels and deceit, what will come of the initial attraction between her and Fitzwilliam? Will she become the barrister’s bride?

Note: contains scenes with adult content.

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Friday, 6 May 2022

The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray - Review

Blog tour graphic: The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray
One of my favourite genres to read aside from Austenesque is cosy mysteries.  So when the chance came to read a book that was the two combined I obviously jumped at it. The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray has an enticing title for any Austenesque reader, and when you read the blurb and find out that there are characters from a number of Austen’s novels then it draws you in all the more. I’ll share the book description with you and then move on to my review of the book.

Book cover: The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray
Book Description

A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen's Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang. 

Friday, 22 April 2022

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - Review

Earlier this week I posted about a fund raising appeal that author Jennifer Duke is running in order to have her Pride & Prejudice-inspired time travel book Back to the Bonnet converted to audio format. 

Back to the Bonnet is written from Mary Bennet’s point of view because she is the time traveller (most of the time). Mary uses a bonnet with mysterious powers to go back in time and is therefore able to undo some unfortunate events. You can read the previous post here and I’d recommend that you do, as it has an alternate take on the Netherfield ball which Mary has to undo.

I’ve been meaning to read the book since it came out and Jennifer’s fund raising appeal gave me a nudge to read it. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll share my review with you. 

Book cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - picture shows a clock dial
Book Description

Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.

With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon . . . a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.

In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - Fund Raising for Audio Book Appeal

Book Cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke
Some time ago I featured a time travel book about Mary Bennet called Back to the Bonnet, written by Jennifer Duke. It’s a book where Mary can time travel. 

Jennifer is currently fund raising to create an audio version of Back to the Bonnet which I wanted to post about, and I thought it’d be a good time to read the book. I’ll bring you my review of that later in the week.

Now I’ll hand over to Jennifer for her to tell you about her fund raising.

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Calling all Janeites! Can you help make this author’s audiobook dream a reality?

Back in 2020, author Jennifer Duke self-published her first novel, Back to the Bonnet, a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice in which Mary Bennet orchestrates events with the help of a time-travelling bonnet. Now she’s hoping to turn her novel into an audiobook read by Lucy Briers who played Mary Bennet in the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

Author Jennifer Duke
Jennifer: Back to the Bonnet had been some time in the making and, as most writers have to do when starting out, I invested a lot of time and money into creating the final book and I did this whilst working in childcare and housekeeping jobs, as well as navigating lockdown like most of the rest of the world. Being new to the publishing and marketing side of things, about which I still have much to learn, and being self-published rather than having the backing of a traditional publisher, sales have been on the slow side, though I’m grateful for some lovely reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Actress Lucy Briars
I felt particularly encouraged after actress Lucy Briers got in touch with me via Twitter, having enjoyed Back to the Bonnet, to say that if it were to be made into an audiobook some day, she’d love to narrate it. This was so lovely to hear, though it wasn’t until more recently that I seriously thought I could make this happen. Now I have a team of women who are enthusiastic about creating the audiobook - Lucy Briers as narrator (which is so fitting as the novel is written in first person, it’s Mary Bennet’s narrative), Tamsin Collison as audiobook director (she directed a fairly recent version of Mansfield Park for Audible) and talented sound editor Tshari King.

All I have to do now is raise the funds for the production costs including the fees for these amazingly talented women, then it will get the green light. To do this, I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page in hopes of gaining financial help from people who wish to support the project. If you’re reading this and thinking that you like the idea behind this audiobook and that you might be able to make a donation, however small, to contribute to its manifestation, please know that I would be so grateful for your help. I’m not in a position to do this on my own and so I would be hugely appreciative of having my fellow Austen fans in my corner! 

If I happen to raise more than the required amount for this project, I will be donating additional funds to TreeSisters, a UK registered charity that plants trees in the tropics. I’m hoping to fund the planing of 1000 trees. Together I believe we can create beautiful things.

You can find out more about donating to this crowdfunding project here:

• Go Fund Me page • Jennifer Duke’s website • Email: contact@jennifer-duke.com

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Lucy Briars as Mary Bennet in the BBC Adaptation of Pride & Prejudice from 1995
How exciting that Lucy Briars might narrate this book if it makes the move to audio! As the book is written from Mary's point of view it would really bring the book to life to have it in a voice we can connect to Mary. I wish Jennifer all the best with her fund raising. 

Please come back later this week to find out what I thought of Back to the Bonnet.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Maria Bertram’s Daughter by Lucy Knight - Blog Tour, Character Interview and Ebook Giveaway

Blog Tour Graphic for Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight - picture shows a historical painting depicting two children by a river
Today I am happy to be welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm, Lucy Knight. Lucy has written a book called Maria Bertram’s Daughter, which you will probably realise from the title is Mansfield Park sequel. In Mansfield Park’s Bicentennial year I read quite a few MP-inspired books and found that there were relatively few to choose from, so I am really pleased to bring you news of this new one.

Lucy has joined us with a guest post, and publishers Meryton Press are offering an ebook giveaway to accompany the blog tour. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Lucy for her guest post, which is an interview with the title character, Maria Bertram’s Daughter, Dorothea Rose.

Book cover: Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight - picture shows a young woman in period costume looking off to the side
Book Description

She could be mistress of Mansfield Park. But is that what she wants?

An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park.

Dorothea hopes for a happier life when sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England.

She meets the Crawfords—Henry and Mary (now Lady Drumroth)—and inevitably does the one thing she must not do: unwillingly makes herself known to the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.

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Monday, 4 April 2022

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll - Excerpt and US Giveaway

Book cover: An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Heather Moll back to the blog with her latest book, An Affectionate Heart. The premise of this book is something I’m really excited about, as this book is based on Pride & Prejudice with flavours of one of my favourite books by another author, The Blue Castle by L M Montgomery.

If you are not familiar with that charming book, by the author of the Anne of Green Gables books, I’d definitely recommend reading it. It’s about a young woman, Valancy, who gets a diagnosis of a heart complaint and is told that she probably only has a short time to live. Valancy is nearing 30 and has never actually lived. She has always been well-behaved, always did what her family wanted rather than what she wanted and still never managed to please them. Now she is dying and, spurred on by compassion for an ailing former friend, Valancy decides the time to worry about what her family will think is gone. Valancy may not have much time left, but she is going to live while she can. It’s really a lovely story.

Now, how this meshes in with Pride & Prejudice in An Affectionate Heart, I am not quite sure, but I am assuming from the blurb that Elizabeth has a similar health worry and makes a similar decision to Valancy, to seize the day while she still can. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Heather for an excerpt. There’s also an amazing giveaway, open to US readers.

Book Description - An Affectionate Heart

ARE LOVE AND AFFECTION ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THE PAIN OF GRIEF AND ANGER?

In the spring of 1812, Elizabeth and Lydia are the only Bennet daughters still unmarried after the death of their father. Elizabeth’s health and spirits worsen as she moves among relations as an unwanted, dependent sister. She returns to Mary and Mr Collins at Longbourn to learn that the neighbourhood gossip centres on the reclusive Mr Darcy.

Darcy and his sister live an isolated life in a small rented lodge near Netherfield after the events at Ramsgate. As Georgiana’s health is failing, Darcy has his own regrets to bear. He tries to keep them secluded, but a young woman arrives who is determined to befriend his lonely, ill sister.

When Elizabeth receives disastrous news, she makes a daring plan to find happiness for herself while she still can. Misunderstandings and secrets abound for them both but in the end, Darcy and Elizabeth will find greater strength together than they ever had apart.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog for a guest post, a chance to enjoy an exerpt of her new book, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery, and a chance to win an ebook of it too!

This is the latest in the Miss Mary Investigates series, which sees Pride & Prejudice’s Mary Bennet solving mysteries. Let’s look at the blurb, and then I’ll hand over to Riana for her guest post, excerpt from Death of a Dandy and giveaway.

Book Cover: Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly
Book Description

The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons.

The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests.

When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul?

Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary.

Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?

Friday, 18 March 2022

What Happened on Box Hill - Austen University Mysteries - Guest Post & Giveaway from Author Elizabeth Gilliland

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Elizabeth Gilliland to the blog. She has brought out a modern Austen-inspired murder mystery and she’s come here to talk to us about the book. What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. Read on to learn more, and have the opportunity to win an ebook of What Happened on Box Hill.

Book cover: What Happened on Box Hill by Elizabeth Gilliland
Book Description

What would happen if you combined all of Austen's characters into one modern-day novel?

Murder, of course.

When Caty Morland's roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation Night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn't fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella—and to try to keep the killer from striking again.

What Happened on Box Hill is Book 1 of the Austen University Mysteries series. It can be read as a standalone novel but will be best enjoyed as part of the series.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life: On Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be by Haley Stewart - Review

Book cover: Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart
So when you have a to be read list as long as your arm you shouldn’t be looking on Netgalley, but I was, and this title caught my eye. Let’s take a look at the (very long) blurb, and then I’ll let you know what I thought of Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life: On Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be by Haley Stewart 

Book Description

Popular Catholic podcaster Haley Stewart insists that there's no better life coach than nineteenth-century British novelist Jane Austen.

In this uniquely Catholic take, Stewart reveals Austen's thoughtful, deeply personal exploration of human relationships--including with God--through her six novels. Stewart's insights take you on a journey that is both literary and spiritual, revealing how Austen's characters and themes can lead to you to discover and become the person God has called you to be.

Stewart draws fascinating connections between Austen's novels and real life and introduces Austen as a capable life coach by how she guides her readers to understand virtue and vice through friendship, love, community, and God's grace. Austen's characters reveal how virtuous habits transform us and help us become who we were meant to be. Each chapter focuses on characters and virtues from a single novel:

·        Do you find yourself swayed by superficial charm and yearn to see others more clearly? Let Elizabeth Bennet teach you how to recognize substance in others and address the pride in your own heart through the cultivation of humility (Pride and Prejudice).

·        Are you stuck in selfishness that wounds others (and yourself)? Let Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley help you develop the compassion to see the world more clearly with the eyes of Christ (Emma).

·        Do you get swept away into poor choices due to a lack of self-control? Let the Dashwood sisters show you the virtue of temperance and guide you to embrace your God-given personality and temperament (Sense and Sensibility.

·        Do you have treasured ideals but struggle to live them out? Follow along with Edmund Bertram's journey toward constancy through the example of Fanny Price (Mansfield Park).

·        Have the disappointments of life grown resentment or bitterness in your heart? Be inspired by Anne Elliot's vulnerable fortitude in the storms of life (Persuasion).

·        Do you struggle to know what to do or who to believe in tricky situations? Join Catherine Morland in learning prudence to know and act on the truth (Northanger Abbey).

Whether you are already an Austen fan or are discovering her works for the first time, Stewart's infectious enthusiasm and captivating spiritual insights will have you digging in to experience firsthand the characters and stories that have captured imaginations in book and film for more than two centuries.

Discussion questions and recommended film adaptations make this book suitable for individual or group use or as a high school classroom or homeschool resource. A free, downloadable leader's guide is available at avemariapress.com.