Wednesday 30 December 2015

My Favourite Reads in 2015

So for me, 2015 was a bit of a tricky year. Between one thing and another my reading time was much reduced, which was a real shame. In 2015 I read just about half the number of books that I read the year before! However, that's not to say that I didn't manage to read some really excellent books. This is my pick of the year's reads:

Tuesday 29 December 2015

A Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Alex Goodwin and Tess Gammell - Review

Book cover: A Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Alex Goodwin and Tess Gammell
When I first saw that there was a version of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ illustrated with pictures of guinea pigs in costume I thought it looked a bit ridiculous! But I was also a little intrigued. Since Christmas is a traditional time to receive a novelty gift I was pleased to find this book under the Christmas tree with my name on it.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Winners of an Ebook of Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess of Sainte Toulours

Book Cover: Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess of Sainte Toulours by Stanley Michael Hurd
Recently I read and reviewed Stanley Michael Hurd's 'Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess of Sainte Toulours', which is a story based after the events of 'Pride & Prejudice'. We go on a spying mission with Colonel Fitzwilliam over to France. Stanley kindly offered to give away two ebooks of the story to commenters here and earlier today we randomly selected the winners...

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Happy Birthday Jane Austen

Jane Austen's birthday
Today is the 240th birthday of my favourite author, Jane Austen. She and I are old friends; I've considered her my favourite author these twenty years at least ;)

I've been trying to pin down the exact reasons why Austen is my favourite author and it's not an easy task. One of the things I like about her stories are that they are largely happy - I think there is enough misery, unfairness, and tragedy in real life without choosing to read about it during my leisure time. In that, Austen and I are a wonderful match, because she didn't want to write about such things either!
“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.”
Mansfield Park
I love Austen's ironic humour; for the reader who notices details there are gems on nearly every line. Take for example this famous quote, said by Caroline Bingley in 'Pride & Prejudice':
"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."
which is then followed with...
"No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest for some amusement;"
Austen makes it quite clear that Miss Bingley doesn't mean what she says, it's all flattery aimed at Darcy, but it's done in a subtle way. Austen is both unstinting and generous with her characters - she makes no effort to hide their flaws, but she is very tolerant of them. I think that tolerance would be something you'd have to cultivate in those times. If you lived in a society that was confined to a certain class, as all Austen's heroines did, and which was then further confined by being within a certain acquaintanceship, such as within the neighbourhood, like many of the heroines faced, you'd have to put up with some people who you would certainly find tested your patience. I always pitied poor Emma Woodhouse. Her day to day companions are all far beneath her intellectually (barring one notable exception) that although I cringe while reading her behaviour towards Miss Bates I can also recognise that she must've outrun her patience!

I imagine Austen as being similar in some ways to Mr Bennet, who is a real people-watcher - he delights in the absurdities of the people around him because you have to put up with them. Elizabeth takes this a philosophical step further:
"And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit, to have a dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot always be laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty."
Austen's books are so often categorised as 'just' romances, which really sells them short. They have been crafted with such expertise that there are layers in the story. We all know that there are books in that genre that don't especially do it justice and it doesn't seem fair to Austen to class her books as similar to those. Some people might criticise her for not taking on the wider issues of her day, but why should she? Austen's interest was more in the people of her stories than wider society. For me, this is one of the reasons that her stories are so compelling. Human emotions and journeys in understanding are completely recognisable 200 years on.
“And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.
Northanger Abbey
Although they are not 'just' romances, there is certainly some very satisfying romance. It wouldn't have been proper for Austen to write anything too demonstrative, as she was of course an unmarried lady, but there are some wonderful romantic lines here and there. My favourite page of Austen is the letter from Persuasion which contains these lines (let's all sigh together!):
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago."
When reading Austen's works I always feel a kinship with her, that we could have been friends. I am so grateful for her work, the works inspired by her genius and the hours of enjoyment that I have had due to her genius:
"I will only add, God bless you."
Let's all raise a virtual (or real!) glass to Jane Austen - Happy 240th birthday!

Saturday 12 December 2015

Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess de Sainte Toulours - Review and Giveaway

Book cover: Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess de Sainte Toulours by Stanley Michael Hurd
Today I have a review of Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess de Sainte Toulours and an international ebook giveaway.. read on for details!

* * * * *

I have been meaning to read Stanley Michael Hurd’s three volume ‘Darcy’s Tale’, which is ‘Pride & Prejudice’ from Darcy’s point of view, for some time as the reviews have been so good. I still haven’t got to those books yet, but when I was offered the chance to read his newest book, ‘Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess de Sainte Toulours’, I jumped at it.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Review - Then Comes Winter Anthology

Then Comes Winter book cover
In the summer, Meryton Press released a short story anthology, ‘Sunkissed; Effusions of Summer’. This was a mix of contemporary and historical short stories, many of which had a nod towards Austen, but the one thing they all had in common was they were romantic summertime stories. ‘Then Comes Winter’ is the same type of book, but a winter version. Here’s a brief rundown of each story in the collection:

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Planned Reading for December 2015

We're coming to the close of the year already! I don't quite know where this year has gone, I feel like it's gone by so fast. I had a mini-panic about a week and a half ago because all I'd bought for Christmas was advent calendars, but this has since been sorted. I may not be good at many things, but when I set my mind to Christmas shopping I get the job done!

Obviously though, with the coming of Christmas I generally have less reading time, because of all the extra preparations, and wrapping that I have to do (sob!) so I won't plan in much this month as I don't think I'll achieve it.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Blog Tour - Longbourn's Songbird by Beau North

Blog Tour - Longbourn's Songbird
Today, I am welcoming the blog tour for Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North. I was lucky enough to be provided with an e-book of this story for my honest review, which follows below. As this is a blog tour, there are stops at other blogs, some of which have the chance to win a copy of the book for yourself. A list of blog tour stops is at the bottom of the post, but meanwhile, why not read on to see what I thought of Beau North’s debut novel...

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Birthday Book Loot

It was my birthday back in September and I meant to share details of my bookish loot with you at the time, but I didn't find time to get to it until now. I thought I'd post a few pictures so you can appreciate what delights I have before me, though goodness knows when I'll have time to read them all!

Friday 6 November 2015

Winner - A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito

Book cover: A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito
Last week I posted a short excerpt from 'A Jane Austen Christmas' by Carlo DeVito. This book takes a look at Christmas as Austen may have celebrated it. The publisher, Cider Mill Press was kind enough to offer a hardcover copy of the book to a US/Canadian reader. Earlier today I got my daughter to choose a winner at random, and the winner is...

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Then Comes Winter - Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal
Earlier this year Meryton Press released 'Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer' which was an anthology of summer stories from some of Meryton's established authors and some who were new to the publisher. You may have heard that a winter version was in the works. Well, it's due out this month, and I am very pleased to share the cover of the new book with you today.

* * * * *

Sunday 1 November 2015

Planned Reading for November 2015

Hello everybody, and happy November! I hope you enjoyed Halloween (if you celebrate it). We don't celebrate it really. Sometimes we carve some pumpkins, but that's about it. However, I was celebrating yesterday, because I had a training course that I finally finished off. I had been working so hard on it during October, it took up nearly all of my free time. So what did I read last month? Diddly squat :( Well that's not entirely true, I did reread some short stories in the Holidays with Jane Christmas Cheer anthology, but I didn't have enough time to read anything new. A reread I can pick up and put down and just read bits of, unlike a new story.

So, what do I have planned for November? A huge amount of catching up! I am hopeful that I will get chance to read it all, but you know me, I am often overly optimistic! So instead of telling you about all of the infeasible amount that I have planned, I will just highlight a couple of things.

Book cover: Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess of Sainte Toulours by Stanley Michael Hurd
One of my reads for this month will be a book focusing on one of my favourite secondary characters, from 'Pride & Prejudice'.  'Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Countess of Sainte Toulours'. Here we will see the Colonel on-duty and abroad. I'm really looking forward to reading this book, which is by an author I've been meaning to read for a long time, Stanley Michael Hurd, the writer of the 3 book 'Darcy's Tale' series showing 'Pride & Prejudice' from Mr Darcy's point of view. Stanley is also kindly offering a giveaway of the book, so look out for that.

Book cover: Longbourn's Songbird by Beau North
I will be taking part in the blog tour for 'Longbourn's Songbird', written by Beau North. This book is 'Pride & Prejudice'-inspired and set in South Carolina, in the late 1940s. I enjoy reading versions set in different periods; often things will either be set in the same time as P&P or in the current day, so it'll be interesting to read one set in a period that I'm not as familiar with.

Book cover: Holidays with Jane Trick or Sweet by various authors
If I have time, I'd like to read the newest 'Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet'. If you don't know, this is an anthology. There are six different authors, (Jennifer Becton, Melissa Buell, Rebecca M Fleming, Cecilia Gray, Jessica Grey and Kimberley Truesdale) and each one has written a modern short story linked to a different one of Austen's main 6 novels. The 'Trick or Sweet' edition has stories themed around this time of year, Halloween, mainly I think, so it'd be good if I could fit in something seasonal. We'll see how it goes.

I hope you get some good reading in this month. What do you have planned?

Wednesday 28 October 2015

A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito - Excerpt and Giveaway

Last weekend, the clocks went back here in the UK, so it's getting dark earlier now, and once that happens, I can start to believe that we're in the run up to Christmas. Obviously Christmas these days is very different to what it was in Austen's time (says a person who does most of their present shopping online!). Many of the things we view as 'traditional' are actually Victorian in origin, though some traditions from earlier have made it through to the present day.

Today I have an excerpt from 'A Jane Austen Christmas' by Carlo DeVito, a book focusing on what Christmas could well have been like for the Austen family, with the spotlight on six Christmases in particular. Read on for an excerpt and a giveaway of a hardcover copy to a reader in the United States/Canada. Let's set the scene with a short excerpt showing a little of the preparation that would have been done for Christmas...

Thursday 22 October 2015

Winner - Angel of the Centerfold by Michaela Robertson

Blog Tour - Angel of the Centerfold by Michaela Robertson
Last week the blog tour for Meryton Press' newest release, 'Angel of the Centerfold' stopped by here with an excerpt of the book. Meryton Press were giving away a paperback copy to a commenter here.

The winner, drawn at random, is...

Saturday 17 October 2015

Winner - The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes

Book cover: The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes
Sorry I'm a bit late in posting this, I've had a crazy busy week. I was very happy to welcome the lovely and talented Joana Starnes to the blog last week when she shared an excerpt from 'The Unthinkable Triangle'. Joana was kindly offering an ebook giveaway of the book to a commenter here.

Today I chose the winner of the giveaway, using, for a change. And the winner is...

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Angel of the Centerfold - Excerpt and Giveaway

Banner: Blog Tour for Angel of the Centerfold from Meryton Press
Today the blog tour for Michaela Robertson's Angel of the Centerfold stops off here. Michaela has an excerpt for us, and Meryton Press are giving away a paperback copy of the book to a commenter here (more details below). So let's find out a bit more - just who is Lliam Dafydd V?

* * * * *

Monday 5 October 2015

The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book Cover: The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes
Today I have the great pleasure of welcoming a visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm, the lovely Joana Starnes, writer of some wonderful Austenesque books. Joana has previously written a sequel to 'Pride & Prejudice' (which I reviewed for Leatherbound Reviews), P&P variations that also featured characters from 'Persuasion' and 'Sense & Sensibility' and taken our dear couple to Cornwall. This time her muse has conjured up a potentially problematic scenario; What if Colonel Fitzwilliam decided to propose to Elizabeth in Hunsford, and was accepted? Eeeep! Joana has brought us an excerpt to enjoy and she's offering a giveaway of a kindle version of 'The Unthinkable Triangle' to an international commenter here. Read on for excerpt and giveaway details.

* * * * *

Sunday 4 October 2015

Winners of Sketching Mr Darcy by Lory Lilian

Book cover: Sketching Mr Darcy by Lory Lilian
It was lovely to have Lory Lilian drop by with her latest book 'Sketching Mr Darcy'. Lory kindly offered to give away e-book copies of the book to not one, but TWO winners, and they are:




Congratulations! Ladies, I will email you.

Many thanks to Lory for the giveaway, and to all the people who viewed and commented on the post.

If you missed out, the book is available to buy in both ebook and paperback. You can get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US, and many other places.

Book Blurb:
The morning after the Netherfield Ball, Fitzwilliam Darcy is ready to leave Hertfordshire, taking his friend Bingley away from the lady of his choice and distancing himself from her sister, who has disturbed his tranquility for weeks. The path, meant to lead him away, unexpectedly brings him close to the person he most wants to avoid, and saving Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s life becomes not only his immediate goal but also a decision that affects his future. A strong and powerful yet forgotten bond from their past—combined with startling events in the present—brings Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy into a marriage not planned but accepted by both, forcing them to break the barriers between them in order to build their future happiness. The book includes mature content.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Planned Reading for October 2015

Hello everybody. I am a bit sad that September has gone. It's my favourite month, partly because the weather is often just perfect; radiant Autumn days, but mostly because it's the month I have my birthday. I was 21 again ;) I had some nice book-y additions to my bookcase, including a very special volume, and if I have chance I will share some pics of them later this month.

Things were very busy in September. I am trying to finish off a training course and working full-time, so I am feeling the squeeze. October is likely to be the worst of it though, my course has to be completed by the beginning of November so I'm on a tight schedule.

However, I do have a nice line up for you this month....

Book cover: The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes
Firstly I will be welcoming the lovely Joana Starnes with her latest book, 'The Unthinkable Triangle' which has a potentially angsty premise. Here, Colonel Fitzwilliam is quicker than his cousin and proposes to Elizabeth at Hunsford (No, no, no, no, nooooo!). I have read other versions where Elizabeth has an alternative suitor, but the angst-factor could really be ramped up if she became the wife of Darcy's close friend and relative. I am feeling a little trepidation here, however, Joana had another unthinkable triangle in one of her previous books, 'The Subsequent Proposal' where Darcy gets engaged to my second favourite Austen heroine, Anne Elliot, and here everything was resolved to my delight and satisfaction. All the books I've read by Joana have been wonderful reads, hopefully this one will prove to be just as enjoyable.

Book Cover: A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo Devito
I will be reading 'A Jane Austen Christmas' by Carlo Devito, which is due out this month. This is a look at some of the Christmases Jane Austen celebrated, drawing on excerpts from her letters and some further information relating to Christmas games and traditions of the time.

Meryton Press Logo
We will have the blog tour of the new book from Meryton Press 'Angel of the Centerfold' by Michaela Robertson. You can see the cover reveal and blurb of this here. There will be a chance to win a copy of the book here so keep your eyes peeled for that.

And last, but certainly not least, I hope to feature a gentleman visitor towards the end of the month. I will keep an air of mystery around that for now in order to pique your interest!

Remember, there is still enough time to enter the giveaway for one of two ebooks of Lory Lilian's 'Sketching Mr Darcy' if you are quick. You have until the end of the day on Friday 2 October, simply comment on the review post to enter.

I hope you have a month ahead of you with more reading time than I am likely to manage! What books do you think you'll read this month?

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Cover Reveal - Angel of the Centerfold by Michaela Robertson

Today I have a cover to share with you. This is the cover of a new book which is due to be published by Meryton Press on 1 October, 'Angel of the Centerfold' by Michaela Robertson. Drumroll please....

Friday 25 September 2015

Sketching Mr Darcy by Lory Lilian - Review and Giveaway

Book Cover: Sketching Mr. Darcy by Lory Lilian
Today I am joined by author Lory Lilian who is offering to give away an ebook of her latest book ‘Sketching Mr Darcy’ to TWO lucky readers here.  I will hand you over to Lory, and then you can see what I thought of the book.

* * * * *

"Sketching Mr. Darcy" is different from my other books because it is the first one that takes a big step away from the original – it moves from the day after the Netherfield Ball into a forced marriage scenario.

For some reason, all the time as I wrote this story, I had in mind Elizabeth and Darcy’s dance at Netherfield: a battle of wills, with two powerful characters trying to stay strong in a situation which they could not control entirely, struggling to discover the person next door – literally next door, as they slept in separate rooms smile emoticon – and to deal with their own feelings. In a certain way, the entire story is a dance – whose steps none of the characters knew well enough - lasting two weeks and almost 400 pages!

Hope you will enjoy following it to see how the dance ends – and I am sure Ceri’s review will be an excellent guidance through it!

Thanks everyone and good luck with the giveaway!

* * * * *

Winner of 'Yours Forevermore, Darcy'

Book cover: Yours Forevermore, Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory
Hello everybody. I am so sorry for taking a while to post the winner of the giveaway of the ebook copy of 'Yours Forevermore, Darcy' by KaraLynne Mackrory. The winner was randomly selected a few days ago, and she is....

Dung Vu!

Congratulations, Dung Vu, I will be in touch.

Many thanks to KaraLynne for her guest post, to Meryton Press for providing me with an e-ARC of the book to review and sponsoring the giveaway, and to the lovely Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews who arranged the blog tour.

Though the blog tour has now finished some of the giveaways may still be open, and a full list of them is at the bottom of this post.

If you'd like buy a copy it's available to purchase now:

ISBN: 978-1-68131-000-8 

Buy links: • Amazon US • Amazon UK • 

Author KaraLynne Mackrory
Author Bio:
KaraLynne is an amazing mother who never makes mistakes, never gets upset with her children and never ever has a dirty house. Ever. She always has her dishes done and the floors spotless and dinner is always prepared and ready on time. Her kids are always clean, polite, respectful and loving, especially to each other. She never gets irritated with her husband when he doesn’t turn his socks right side out for the laundry and they always agree on everything. She delights in nothing else but to serve her family and never wants or needs time for herself. She takes great care to shower every day and put make up on so that she is always beautiful and presentable. She never wears her pajamas all day or for days in a row and she is the epitome of womanhood. Most of all, she has a great sense of humor and loves to write.
Okay, in all honesty –  KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world.  She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. Angsty and emotional – teenage-drama filled – they were unbelievable disasters.  Such contributions to the literary world were deemed so terrible that today they are kept behind lock and key to protect others from their awfulness.  As a young adult she steered clear of soap opera drama inspired works and achieved a degree in Social Work.  It was not until her late twenties that she returned to her roots in writing.  Since then she has published three Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a toothache and a grin and hopefully a few contented sighs.  She is thrilled to report that Falling For Mr. DarcyBluebells in the Mourning and Haunting Mr. Darcy: A Spirited Courtship are a mite better than the bad poetry.

Connect with the Author: • Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest • Goodreads •

Yours Forevermore, Darcy Blog Tour
Blog Tour Schedule:
7 Sep: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
8 Sep: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
9 Sep: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
10 Sep: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
11 Sep: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
13 Sep: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
14 Sep: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
15 Sep: Review at Wings of Paper
16 Sep: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
17 Sep: Guest Post & Giveaway at Songs and Stories
18 Sep: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
19 Sep: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
21 Sep: Review at Austenprose

Friday 11 September 2015

Blog Tour - Yours Forevermore Darcy - Guest Post and Giveaway

Yours Forevermore, Darcy Blog Tour
Today the 'Yours Forevermore, Darcy' stops by with a guest post from KaraLynne Mackrory. She has a guest post for us, and there's an opportunity for one of you to win an ebook copy of the book. I'll pass over to KaraLynne for some insight into how this book came into being

* * * * *

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Review of Yours Forevermore, Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory

Book cover: Yours Forevermore, Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory
Today the blog tour for 'Yours Forevermore, Darcy' stops here with my review of the book. Read on to see what I thought of KaraLynne Mackrory's latest release.

* * * * *

Having thoroughly enjoyed KaraLynne Mackrory’s last couple of books (‘Haunting Mr Darcy’ and ‘Bluebells in the Mourning’) I was all anticipation for her latest ‘Pride & Prejudice’ variation, ‘Yours Forevermore, Darcy’. The premise of this book is that Mr Darcy has taken to writing letters to Elizabeth Bennet, to clear his mind and get things off his chest. He began the day after the Assembly in Meryton, and continued for some months. Obviously, he writes them with the intention that not a single soul will ever read them. But what if somebody did?

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Planned Reading for September 2015

Bouquet of Newly Sharpened Pencils
Hello everybody, and happy September! How is it September already?! Where is the time going? I have to say though, I love September. I am not a big fan of summer usually, and if you've seen my colouring you will understand why, so most years the autumn comes as a bit of a relief, though this year the summer in the UK has been pretty non-existent. The autumn always makes me think of that line from 'You've Got Mail' because I, too, always feel the urge to buy stationery. Here is a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils for you :)

You may be wondering how my August catch-up went. Well I will tell you; not very well! I worked less days each week so I could spend time with my children during their school holidays but this didn't allow any more reading time. I hope to continue my catch up this month, or more accurately, begin it :) So what else do I have planned?

Thursday 27 August 2015

Winner of Mr Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid

Book cover: Mr Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid
Last week I welcomed Victoria Kincaid to the blog with an excerpt from her new book, 'Mr Darcy to the Rescue', where Elizabeth has become betrothed to Mr Collins to ensure the future of her family after Mr Bennet's health seems precarious (shudder!). Victoria kindly answered some of my questions too, and you can see the post here if you missed it.

So without further ado, let's announce the winner of an e-book of 'Mr Darcy to the Rescue'.

The winner is....

Monday 17 August 2015

Excerpt and Giveaway of Mr Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid

Book cover: Mr Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid
Today I am welcoming author Victoria Kincaid to the blog. Victoria has written three ‘Pride & Prejudice’ variations: ‘The Secrets of Darcy & Elizabeth’ which sees our couple first meet after their painful encounter in Hunsford Parsonage in Napoleonic France; ‘Pride & Proposals’, where Colonel Fitzwilliam is quicker than his cousin to propose, and gets accepted by Elizabeth; and Victoria’s new book, ‘Mr Darcy to the Rescue’ where Elizabeth accepts Mr Collins’ proposal (ewwwww!) in order to provide a home for her family, as Mr Bennet is ill and Mr Darcy has the dilemma of how to save somebody who doesn’t want to be saved.

Victoria has kindly offered to answer some of my nosey questions, and she’s offering an international giveaway of a paperback or an ebook of ‘Mr Darcy to the Rescue’ to a commenter here. So let’s get on with the questions!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Giveaway Winners - Jane by the Sea and Poldark Blog Tour

Book cover:Jane by the Sea by Carolyn V Murray
I am very happy to be announcing some giveaway winners. Recently author Carolyn V Murray was kind enough to offer two ebook copies of her novel 'Jane by the Sea'. This is an imagining of Austen's seaside romance around the year 1800. You can read more about it on the giveaway post, where Carolyn shared an excerpt with us, and you can see my review of it here.  So without further ado, the winners are...

Sunday 9 August 2015

Jane by the Sea by Carolyn V Murray

Book cover: Jane by the Sea by Carolyn V Murray
Jane Austen is possibly the world’s best known romantic novelist (not that I would call her a romantic novelist, but that label is often applied to her). We know that she didn’t marry but that she did have some brushes with romance herself. There was an attraction towards Tom Lefroy, who was the nephew of Jane’s close friend and neighbour, Madame Lefroy which came to nothing after his family intervened, wanting him to marry higher.  There was a seaside romance that again came to nothing. I have read such different accounts of this as to puzzle me exceedingly :) The gentleman in question is either said to be a sea captain, or a Reverend Blackall, and the reason for the romance not ending in marriage differs too.  A couple of years later there was a marriage proposal from a family friend that Austen accepted and then drew back from, presumably because she didn’t love the gentleman. Marrying only for love was a big theme of Austen’s novels, and so it seems safe to assume that it was something she personally believed.

Unfortunately, many of the letters and other documents that Jane Austen wrote were destroyed by her sister Cassandra. However, if you read what are remaining of Jane Austen’s letters you get a sense of her quick wit and mischievous, acerbic sense of humour (think Elizabeth Bennet’s humour, but with more of a bite to it!). This story is loosely based on the seaside romance that Jane Austen is said to have had around 1800, before she moved to Bath, where her writing ceased for some years. Some of the details are changed from what I had read previously of that seaside romance, which surprised me a little when I realised it, but the flip side of the changes was that I had less idea of where the story was going. I learned afterwards that there appears to be more than one interpretation of the truth of it and I am not sure whether the real truth of the episode has been established.

We first meet with Jane here in the heyday of her romance with Tom Lefroy. I always feel a little melancholy when reading books based on Austen’s life as we know where they are headed, so you know straight away that this romance is doomed and I just had to wait for the hammer to fall. I thought the author did a nice job of capturing her wit and cheekiness, though I wonder if Austen was ever as naive as she seems here. Although a romantic, I think Jane Austen was also a realist, and such a keen observer that she would have known very well how the world of marriage worked at the age of 21. So although she might have hoped for a different outcome I don’t think she would have been as surprised by it as is shown here. When themes like this are discussed in Austen’s novels the only character who seems surprised by the general customs around marriage appears to be the ├╝ber-romantic Marianne Dashwood, and I got the impression when I read that story that Austen wasn’t that sympathetic towards her, though of course that could have been just the bitterness of looking back. Once Jane has gone through this, and other, painful experiences, she resolves to learn from them, and not to be hurt again.
‘If only it had been explained to me from an early age... my lack of value in the marriage economy. Then I should be quite reconciled by now to a long, unending, solitary future.’
But then she goes to the seaside, where there is both a clergyman and a seaman, and she will find her resolve tested...

I very much enjoyed this book. I have my doubts whether Austen’s speech was so shocking in real life, though I am confident she was capable of thinking every one of the cheeky thoughts attributed to her here! One thing that I found particularly enjoyable in this book was spotting the inspiration for many of the characters and situations that found their way into her books (all of which were yet to be published at this time of her life). There is a clear Mr Collins, lines from her books, a situation reminiscent of Louisa Musgrove’s behaviour on the Cobb at Lyme and so on.
“And do these compliments spring from the moment?” I inquired. “Or are they the work of previous rehearsal?”
Jane is working on more than one book during this novel, and we see her passing on the lessons she has learned to her characters Elinor, Marianne, Elizabeth and Jane. The melodrama of the situations she puts them in are more in the line of her juvenilia than the finished articles, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they were a decade off being fully polished.

The language usage in this book was pretty good on the whole, although there were some American and modern words that I noticed, but I am particularly distractable by such things so other readers might not notice them too much.

As I said above I usually find books about Austen’s life melancholy as we know they are heading toward spinsterhood and a premature death but this book is saved from that by the amount of humour in it. There were some real laugh out loud moments, and the end particularly is pretty funny, which is quite an achievement! The below quote is Jane’s plan to get her dear friend Martha (potentially the model for Charlotte in ‘Pride & Prejudice’) invited to live with the Austens if Martha’s mother should die:
‘I laid out my plan. Mama was already fond of Martha, and with just a little exertion, Martha could make herself even more agreeable. During her visits, she could offer cheerful assistance with chores. Humour Mama’s medical complaints. Make herself indispensible. When Cassie was called away to play nursemaid to our expectant sister-in-laws, Martha would be there to fill the void. I should do my own part by becoming more and more useless, so that Martha’s assistance would grow to be essential.’
I’d certainly recommend this book to people who like books based on Jane Austen’s life. I felt it had a real flavour of the author’s wit and character, and managed not to be too sad a read. This is Carolyn V Murray’s debut book and I hope she writes more. I’d rate this as a 4 star read.

If my review has whetted your appetite to read this book, there is still time to enter the international giveaway for an ebook copy! Comment on the giveaway post to enter, and comment on this post for a bonus entry.

Monday 3 August 2015

Jane by the Sea by Carolyn V Murray - Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I am welcoming author Carolyn V Murray to the blog. Carolyn has written a book with Jane Austen as a character called 'Jane by the Sea'. Just feast your eyes on that gorgeous cover! It's based around a seaside romance that Jane Austen was said to have had, around 1800. Here's the blurb:

Jane Austen’s love stories have withstood an incredible test of time. They are widely read and loved two hundred years after they were written. We know that Jane Austen never married. Where did her expertise in love come from? There is some evidence that she developed a deep mutual attachment to a man she met during a seaside family holiday. But almost no details are known of this man. Only that her sister was later to say that he was a man who was truly worthy of Jane.

This is the story of that pivotal encounter. It is written in Jane’s own voice, as closely as it could be captured. Not the gentle wit of her novels, but the sharp, blunt tongue that she used so freely in her candid letters to her sister.

At the same time, we will watch how her writer's voice evolved; how she drew from the people and events in her life to create the masterpieces of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

Carolyn has an excerpt of a rude encounter here for us, and she's very kindly giving away an ebook of 'Jane at the Sea' to two commenters here. Read on for more details.

* * * * *

Saturday 1 August 2015

Planned Reading for August 2015

Hello everybody. How is it August already?! Things are still super busy in my life but I have made a conscious effort to read more, and I feel better for it. I have a few visits planned for August 2015, and they come with giveaways from the authors, too!

Thursday 30 July 2015

Demelza by Winston Graham - Poldark Blog Tour and Giveaway for US Readers

Ross Poldark Blog Tour banner

The Poldark blog tour stops by again for my review of the second book in the series, 'Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790'. Here's a link to my review of the first book, 'Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787'. There is also a US giveaway with some fantastic prizes. Read on for more information!

* * * * *

If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port, the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” —  

Captain Ross Poldark rides again in the new Sourcebooks Landmark tie-in editions of Ross Poldark and Demelza, the first two novels in the acclaimed Poldark Saga by Winston Graham, adapted into the inaugural season of the new Masterpiece Classic PBS’s series Poldark, airing June 21 – August 2 on PBS.

In celebration, July 6th through August 3rd, The Ross Poldark Blog Tour will visit thirty popular book blogs specializing in historical, romance and Austenesque fiction. Featuring spotlights, previews, excerpts and book reviews of these two acclaimed historical fiction novels, the tour will also offer readers a chance at a fabulous giveaway contest including copies of the books and a stunning Anglophile-themed prize package.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Winner - A Constant Love by Sophie Turner

Book Cover: A Constant Love by Sophie Turner
Recently I welcomed Sophie Turner with a guest post taking us on a walk through Regency London. Sophie has written a sequel to 'Pride & Prejudice' called 'A Constant Love' which picks up around the time of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy's wedding and follows Georgiana and Kitty's entrance to society. Sophie very kindly offered to give away an ebook copy of 'A Constant Love' to one of the commenters here. So without further ado, the winner is:

Sunday 26 July 2015

A Constant Love by Sophie Turner

Book Cover: A Constant Love by Sophie Turner
Today I'm bringing you my review of Sophie Turner's 'Pride & Prejudice' sequel, 'A Constant Love'. Sophie visited with a guest post last week, which you can see here. On that post there's an ebook giveaway of 'A Constant Love' and I'm going to extend the giveaway for a couple of days, until Tuesday 28 July, in case my review whets your appetite to read it. Also, if you comment on my review, you can have a bonus entry to the giveaway.

* * * * *

Thursday 23 July 2015

Winner of 'A Will of Iron' by Linda Beutler

Book cover: A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler
Last week Linda Beutler dropped by with a very informative guest post on the legalities of wills back in the 1800s as part of the blog tour for her new book 'A Will of Iron'. This book has particular focus on Anne de Bourgh, who manages to make some ripples from beyond the grave via her will and the observations of the people around her that she's recorded in her diary.

The kind people at Meryton Press offered to give away an e-book of 'A Will of Iron' to one of the commenters on the post. The winner, drawn at random, is....

A Will of Iron Blog Tour - Guest Post by Linda Beutler and Giveaway

Blog Tour - A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler
Today I have the great pleasure of hosting a stop on the 'A Will of Iron' blog tour. Author Linda Beutler has written us a guest post on the legalities of wills. I suggested the topic because I know the novel centres around the repercussions of Anne de Bourgh's will and the legal side of it is a bit of a grey area in my understanding. I am guessing that may well be the case for other people too. I hope you find Linda's post as informative and entertaining to read as I did!

There is also giveaway associated with this post, an ebook of 'A Will of Iron', courtesy of Meryton Press. Without further ado I'll pass over to Linda.

* * * * *

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Poldark Blog Tour, Review and US Giveaway

Ross Poldark Blog Tour banner

You may have seen other blogs taking part in the Poldark blog tour recently. Well today, it's stopping here for my review of the first book in the series, 'Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787'. There is also a US giveaway with some fantastic prizes. Read on for more information!

* * * * *

If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port, the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” —  

Captain Ross Poldark rides again in the new Sourcebooks Landmark tie-in editions of Ross Poldark and Demelza, the first two novels in the acclaimed Poldark Saga by Winston Graham, adapted into the inaugural season of the new Masterpiece Classic PBS’s series Poldark, airing June 21 – August 2 on PBS.

In celebration, July 6th through August 3rd, The Ross Poldark Blog Tour will visit thirty popular book blogs specializing in historical, romance and Austenesque fiction. Featuring spotlights, previews, excerpts and book reviews of these two acclaimed historical fiction novels, the tour will also offer readers a chance at a fabulous giveaway contest including copies of the books and a stunning Anglophile-themed prize package.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Guest post from Sophie Turner and Giveaway of A Constant Love

Book Cover: A Constant Love by Sophie Turner, Pride & Prejudice Continuation
Today I am welcoming Sophie Turner to the blog. Sophie has written a continuation of 'Pride & Prejudice' called 'A Constant Love' which was recently published. Follows the new marriage of Mr and Mrs Darcy and follows them in the months after they marry as they go to London, where Georgiana and Kitty meet some potential suitors. There are due to be follow up books to this one but I am assured that it doesn't end on a cliffhanger!

Sophie has come here today to set some atmosphere and take us on a walk through Regency London. And if you read on, you will see there is a chance to win an ebook of 'A Constant Love' too!

* * * * *

Saturday 11 July 2015

Winner - Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace

Thanks again to Maria Grace for visiting with a really interesting post about laudanum (which you can see here if you missed it). Maria was offering an e-book copy of her new book, 'Mistaking her Character' to a commenter on that post. Well, earlier today my daughter randomly selected a name (actually drawn from a hat this time!) and the winner is....

Friday 3 July 2015

Guest Post from Maria Grace and a Giveaway of Mistaking His Character

Blog Tour - Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace

Today I am welcoming author Maria Grace to the blog for a guest post. Maria has been doing a blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book, Mistaking Her Character, which is available to buy now.

One of the things you have probably seen mentioned in historical novels is laudanum. I know it was used for pain relief, but that's about the limit of my knowledge on this subject! Luckily, Maria knows more than me, and has written us a post about the drug, which I found very interesting and informative. Read on for more info, and a chance to win an e-book of Mistaking Her Character.

* * * * *

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Planned Reading for July 2015

Hello everybody! You may wonder whether I am still reading at all :( Well, I am, but I'm so busy! I went back to work last month and while it's wonderful that I am well enough to work, it really cuts into my reading time, particularly as I am working more hours per week than I did before my accident. The job I'm doing is only temporary too, so I'm job hunting, which is so, so tiresome! You spend so much time sifting through jobs trying to find something to apply for, and when you find something you like it takes hours to fill out all the details they want and fill in all the competency questions, grrr! I keep telling myself that this period won't last forever and I will have time again one day.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer by Various Authors

Book cover: Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer
A while ago, Meryton Press (who publish mainly Austen-inspired fiction) ran a short story competition. The story had to be romantic, and have a flavour of summer. The four stories judged best would be included in this anthology, along with four stories by some of Meryton Press’ established authors, J Marie Croft, KaraLynne Mackrory, Linda Beutler and Karen M Cox. This review is a little long, as I have done mini reviews of each story.

Friday 12 June 2015

Meryton Press Short Story Contest

Meryton Press Short Story Anthology Contest

As you might well be aware, a while ago Meryton Press ran a short story contest, with the four stories judged best being included in a summertime collection of stories. The resulting book is 'Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer', which is available to buy now, and is off on a blog tour very soon.

Meryton Press have announced that they are having another contest for inclusion in an anthology, this time with a theme of celebrations at the tail end of the year. Read on for more info!

* * * * *

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Winners - One Love, Two Hearts, Three Stories by J Dawn King

Book Cover - One Love Two Hearts Three Stories by J Dawn King
We had such fun on J Dawn King's guest post, I just checked my blog statistics and it's the most viewed post I've ever had! Although it's too late to enter the competition you are more than welcome to come over and have your share of the conversation, click here for the guest post.

Joy has chosen the winners for me. If you know Joy, you will know that she is a very generous lady, so we have ended up with some extra winners! I'll now pass over to Joy so she can give you details.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Winners - Pride & Proposals

Book cover: Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid
Last week I welcomed Victoria Kincaid to talk about what made her start writing Austenesque stories, and to share an excerpt of her new book, Pride & Proposals. You can see her post here. Victoria kindly offered a giveaway of one paperback and one ebook of the story. Today my children randomly selected the winners, and they are: