Thursday, January 10, 2019

BLOG TOUR: A Very Austen Valentine by Various Authors ~ Review + Excerpt

I am excited to bring to the blog today six very talented ladies with another Austen Anthology this time for Valentine's Day!

Book Blurb: Six beloved authors deliver romantic Valentine novellas set in Jane Austen's Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite, together with Susan Kaye and Mandy Cook, share variations of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, featuring your favorite characters in sequels, adaptations, and spinoffs of Austen's adored novels.

Experience uplifting romance, laugh-out-loud humor, and poignant regret as these authors deftly tug on your heartstrings this Valentine's Day.

My Review: As there are six different stories in this anthology I will be reviewing each one individually.

I Dream of You by Robin Helm ~ I don't even know how I feel about this story as it was just basically how Mr. Darcy was neglecting Elizabeth by building up the Dower house (why was he fixing up the dower house? I really have no clue) and she starts having dreams about their courtship and the fantasies that came with it. Granted Lizzy does manage to get Darcy to stop neglecting her and take care of his health. It was sort of cute but it left me with one question. Why was he already fixing up the Dower house when they had only been married for such a short time? I need to know.

Sir Walter Takes A Wife by Laura Hile ~ I was all hyped to read this story and it did not disappoint. This story was hilarious and I did not see that pairing coming but it works very well. This is the second story I've read by Laura Hile and I have loved them both.

My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis ~ I have to say I really enjoyed this story. I loved the fact that Anne found someone who was not Darcy or Colonel Fitzwilliam. Also, I really liked how Darcy gave Jane a chance after she married Bingley. This is a very sweet Valentine's day story.

Pretence and Prejudice by Barbara Cornthwaite ~ I loved how in this story both Darcy and Lizzy both think the other is a spy. It was hilarious. also, the romance was very sweet.

My Valentine by Mandy Cook ~ Well I like the fact the author tried to incorporate Sense and Sensibility into Pride and Prejudice but I just didn't care about Henry and Charlotte. Sorry. Other than that it was nicely written.

The Lover's Ruse by Susan Kaye ~ I loved this what if story about how if Anne didn't break off her and Frederick's engagement. I enjoyed the letter exchange between our dear lovers. I would have enjoyed this story more if it had been more fleshed out. As it was it felt very rushed but still a sweet story.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I have a double feature on the excerpts today. I have one from My Forever Valentine by Wendi Sotis and one from I Dream of You by Robin Helm.

My Forever Valentine
“So, tell us…” Richard, still standing near the door, cleared his throat. “You are interested in Miss Bennet?”

Darcy stumbled, but caught himself. He turned to face Richard. “Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Anne and I know you too well not to recognize a particular fondness in your behaviour.”

Darcy straightened his spine. “Miss Bennet and I were previously acquainted. It is a familiarity you have noticed. That is all.”

Anne said, “You expect us to believe there is nothing more between you? On your side, at the very least?”

Darcy whirled around to say to Anne, “Yes. I do.”

Richard came closer. “Then why is it that every time we visit at Hunsford, you sit there like a lump of coal and do nothing but stare at the lady?”

“What do you mean, stare at her? I do not stare at her!”

Anne nodded forcefully. “Yes, you do, Darcy. If someone stared at me the way you do at her, it would be… well, it is not appealing at all. In truth, it would be rather disturbing. Unsettling.”

“It is fearsome, if you ask me,” Richard added.

Darcy walked over to the window to look out.

Could he keep lying to his cousins? A sense of guilt weighed heavily on his shoulders. Disguise of every sort was his abhorrence. See what this obsession has caused me to do!

If he told them, they were sure to understand his position. Perhaps they could be of some use.

Darcy heard whispering behind his back. He did not turn around.

“You are correct,” he muttered. If they happened to hear him, it was meant to be.

I Dream of You
“You promised me!” he calls. “I shall claim my winnings! I won fairly, and you must give me what was agreed upon.”

I scurry up the hill, hiding behind first one tree and then another, darting between them to hide. My yellow gown flutters as I run, ribbons streaming behind me, and his laughter floats on the breeze, as if he knows some delicious secret he will not share.

His eyes twinkle as he plans his strategy. After all, he won the chess game by holding back, waiting until the perfect moment to execute his plan. The gentleman is accustomed to being patient while I am spontaneous, mercurial. He is completely other, quite different from me, and he fascinates me endlessly. I know no one else like him.

He leaves his coat and hat on a tree stump and begins to track me, moving very quietly through the underbrush. He tilts his head, listening to hear me, just ahead of him, breathing quickly, and he stoops to hide in the bushes, holding a few leaves to the side so that he can see up the hill.

He sees my skirt move in the wind as I lean against a tree with my back to him, catching my breath. My slight frame is obscured by the width of the tree. I do not realize that my dress cannot be still in the breeze.

He creeps closer and closer, taking a circuitous route to approach the tree from the side, knowing I do not expect him to come from the brush there. I peek around the tree, my eyes scanning the trees and bushes. Suddenly, I hear a deep chuckle behind me, and I whirl to face the hunter.

“Sir!” I exclaim. “It is not gentlemanly to sneak about in such a fashion!”

I turned to run again, but he catches me about my waist from behind and holds me fast, pulling me backwards into his embrace, pinning my back against his chest with his muscular arms.

“Elizabeth,” he says softly into my ear.

I shiver with delight, anticipating his actions.

“I will have my prize. You must honour your promise to me.”

He lowers his head, nuzzling me behind my ear, and I tremble at the sensation of his warm breath caressing my neck as his strong arms cage me, drawing me tightly against him. After a moment, he relaxes his hold. I see my chance.

Quickly I spin in his arms, reach up, and pull his head down toward mine, stopping just before our lips touch.

“You think you won by your superior strategy, my love,” I say. “I think I am the victor here. I tricked you into finding me so I could claim what I wanted.”

He allows me to finish drawing his face to mine, kissing me gently at first, and then with an urgency born of his love for me.

After he lifts his face from mine, I lay my cheek on his broad chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, breathing in the scent of him, holding to him as tightly as I can while he caresses my back.

He does not argue with me, saying, “What does it matter which of us claims victory so long as we both win?”

Author Bios:
Robin Helm
Robin Helm's books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.

Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy (a guardian angel protects a supernaturally gifted girl), the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours (Fitzwilliam Darcy switches places in time with his descendant, Will Darcy), and Understanding Elizabeth (Regency romance).

She contributed to A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, an anthology featuring like-minded authors, in 2017. A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 2 was released on December 29, 2018. A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 is planned for December 2019.

She lives in sunny South Carolina and adores her one husband, two married daughters, and three grandchildren.

Laura Hile 
Readers are loving Laura Hile's joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.

The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There's never a dull moment with teen students!

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks.
Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.

Wendi Sotis 
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.

The Marriage Pact and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.

Barbara Cornthwaite 
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before "retiring" to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Susan Kaye 
Susan Kaye discovered Jane Austen and writing at about the same time. She leads a quiet life with her husband and dog, Harley. "I don't know a lot, but I do know I've probably spent more time with Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot than just about anybody else."

Mandy Helm Cook 
Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages four and younger.

She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?

Buy Link:

A Very Austen Valentine Blog Tour Schedule
01/06 Just the Write Escape; Guest Post, Giveaway
01/07 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Giveaway
01/08 So Little Time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
01/09 Babblings of a Bookworm; Author Interview/Character Interview, Giveaway
01/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
01/11 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
01/12 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
01/13 open
01/14 From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Review or Vignette, Giveaway
01/15 My life journey; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
01/16 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post or Vignette. Excerpt, Giveaway
01/17 open
01/18 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
01/19 open
01/20 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway

01/21 Austenprose; Author Interview

Sunday, January 06, 2019

REVIEW: East by Edith Pattou

Book Blurb: Rose has always felt out of place in her family, a wanderer in a bunch of homebodies. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him--in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family--she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she loses her heart, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun.

As familiar and moving as "Beauty and the Beast" and yet as fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," a sweeping romantic epic in the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine.

My Review: This book has been out since 2003 but I only heard about it earlier last year and I had been on the fence about reading. The deciding factor was buying a beautiful hardcover copy and I also bought the kindle version. So this book is a retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon which I have never read. The closest I describe the story is Beauty and the Beast meets the tale of Eros and Psyche. Because I saw elements of both in the book. I could have done without all the different viewpoints that switched between each other but I guess it works to tell the story. I really hated the troll queen and Urda but I loved all of the other characters.

I really liked this book and I'm excited to read it's sequel, West.

Rating: 4½ stars out of 5

Thursday, January 03, 2019

REVIEW: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Book Blurb: This lush, one-of-a-kind edition of the book that started a worldwide phenomenon tells the sweeping saga of Celaena Sardothien who lives in a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand. Celaena is summoned to the castle-not to assassinate the king but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the king's champion. The Crown Prince will befriend her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

My Review: I have been hearing a lot of mixed reviews about this book since I first heard about it about three years ago. But I recently bought the collector's edition (isn't it so pretty?) and decided to finally read this book. I have to say though I have some mixed feelings about it. So we hear within the first chapter about how Celaena is this badass assassin but we never really get to see it. Even during the last duel with Cain, we don't get to see her prowess because she's been poisoned by a jealous court lady named Kaltain. I hated how she had to restrain herself because she couldn't risk the other competitor's viewing her as a threat. I also hate how she even has to prove herself, to begin with. Plus that whole thing where she was constantly locked in her room when the other champions got to roam around freely was bullshit.

Okay now to the things I actually liked about this book. I liked the world building in this book. After reading the Court of Thorns and Roses series (which I love) I knew that Sarah J. Maas would build a lush and fantastic world with loveable and hateable characters. I loved the love triangle between Chaol, Dorian, and Celaena. I know that Chaol likes her, you can really tell by the end of the book. I can't wait to see how it's gonna fold out. You know I have heard that most people hate Chaol but I really like him and I don't understand the hate.

So my final synopsis for this book is that I like it and I will be continuing the series in the future.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sunday, December 30, 2018

REVIEW: Darcy and Deception by Victoria Kincaid

Book Blurb: Returning home from Kent, Elizabeth Bennet is still distressed over Mr. Darcy’s insulting marriage proposal. However, her attention is diverted by the local militia commander who asks her to observe Wickham, now suspected of being a French spy. Pretending to be besotted with Wickham, Elizabeth accompanies the regiment when they relocate to Brighton.

Darcy arrives at Longbourn with the intention of making amends to Elizabeth, only to discover that she is now at Brighton with Wickham. Desperate to save her from the scoundrel, Darcy follows her to the seaside, where he hopes to woo her away from the other man.

Deception piles on top of deception as Elizabeth attempts to carry out her mission without betraying confidences—or breaking Darcy’s heart. However, the French plot runs deeper than she knows; soon she and Darcy are plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of international espionage. Can Darcy and Elizabeth escape with their lives and their love intact?

My Review: I went into this book not knowing a thing about it but it didn't disappoint. Can I say I love stories where Darcy and Lizzy are put into situations where they have to act as a spy, it makes the story much more exciting. I really enjoyed the agony Darcy went through with trying to discover if Elizabeth loved Wickham or not. I also didn't see that plot twist coming at the end of the book. This book was a fast read for me and I recommend reading it especially if you love a dash of spies mixed in with your Pride and Prejudice.

Rating: ★★★★★

*I received a copy of the book from the author. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

REVIEW: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Book Blurb: Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

My Review: I have so many thoughts about this book and the trilogy in general that I don't even know where to begin. To begin with, before I even got approved to read this book I had been intrigued to read the first two books in the trilogy. When I got the notification that I got approved I started on The Bear and the Nightingale and I loved it. Then I read The Girl in the Tower and I loved it more than the first book. But then I started reading this one and the one thing I've been waiting for in the first two books finally happened and my heart squealed in joy. I have been shipping Morozko and Vasya together since The Bear and the Nightingale and while I'm extremely happy they ended up together it took too long for it to happen.

The Girl in the Tower was my favorite book in the trilogy before I read this one. I loved how everything tied together and came to a satisfying conclusion. The decision to bring back the Bear from the first book as a villain/ally in this book was brilliant. The idea just worked so well and while I still hate Medved he is a necessary evil and I can tolerate him now. I hated that Solovey was killed but it's alright as his death was made right at the end. I loved this book so much and I loved the trilogy as a whole. It's now my favorite book series, even more so than the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. 

Rating: ★★★★★