Monday, November 24, 2014

Jane Austen's First Love: A Novel by Syrie James

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

In the summer of 1791, fifteen-year-old Miss Jane Austen is determined to accomplish three things: to do something useful, write something worthy, and fall madly in love. While visiting at Goodnestone Park in Kent for a month of festivities in honor of her brother's engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets the boy-next-door—the wealthy, worldly, and devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park, and hopefully her heart! Like many of Jane’s future heroes and heroines, she soon realizes that there are obstacles—social, financial, and otherwise—blocking her path to love and marriage, one of them personified by her beautiful and sweet tempered rival, Charlotte Payler.

Unsure of her own budding romance, but confident in her powers of observation, Jane distracts herself by attempting to maneuver the affections of three other young couples. But when her well-intentioned matchmaking efforts turn into blundering misalliance, Jane must choose between following her own happily-ever-after, or repairing those relationships which, based on erroneous first impressions, she has misaligned.
my thoughts:

As a fan of Jane Austen, I've always been interested in books that depict her life and share a part of the history in which she lived and even created.  I especially enjoy fictitious versions of Austen as they tend to portray her in such a delightful and fun manner - smart, spunky, and resourceful (all of the things I'm sure she was, but magnified).  So, when I was offered the chance to read Syrie James' novel, Jane Austen's First Love, I eagerly accepted. Especially, since I had just finished Charlie Lovett's book, First Impressions, and was in the mood for more Austen inspired stories - the James book fell into my lap at the perfect time!

Syrie James' novel, Jane Austen's First Love, is the epitome of a mash-up between historical fiction and romance.
It has first love, matchmaking schemes, and courtship to make the romantics swoon over; along with the Georgian era as the time frame and backdrop to build the story lines around for the history buffs.   Plus, the creation of Jane Austen's first love at fifteen is the fiction that propels the story forward in a terrifically spellbinding manner.  I absolutely loved getting to know Austen through Jame's writing - she was as passionate about her writing as I would have expected her to be.  And reading about Jane struggling to stay true to her self, her heart, and her family was exciting.  James has written a refreshing and imaginative Austen-inspired story that truly seems to capture the essence of the Georgian era and Jane Austen herself.  I found the story to be a fun and delightful read.  The writing was engaging and showed what a creative mind James possesses.  And the characters were lively and very relatable - making it easy to befriend them.  I really enjoyed reading Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James and would happily recommend it to fans of Syrie James and fans of Jane Austen - you will LOVE this book!!

Check out the link to Syrie Jame's website, along with the book tour schedule for: Jane Austen's First Love
And check out the GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY being held by Syrie James over at her website: Syrie James

Thanks so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas At Tiffany's: A Novel by Karen Swan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .
Ten years ago, a young and na├»ve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

my thoughts:

Christmas at Tiffany's is the funnest and most lighthearted chick lit novel I've read in ages. Its a little on the long side (nearly 600 pages!!), but the story moves at a rapid pace and soon you are so caught up in all the drama that you don't even realize its three in the morning and you are halfway through the novel.  I really loved it! And as you all know, chick lit is one of my favorite genres, so I was super excited to sink my teeth into this one.  I just love stories about starting over and rediscovering one's self.  So, I knew that Karen Swan's novel, Christmas at Tiffany's was going to be a delight to read.  After all, it had a group of best friends, NYC, London, and Paris, along with makeovers, glam lifestyles, and romance.  What more could I want in a chick lit book?!

Cassie has just found out that the love of her life has cheated on her with her new BFF.  And they have a kid together.  Ack!! Talk about a nightmare come to life!  Her best friends rush to her side and resolve to help Cassie get through this devastating time.  For four months she will live with each best friend in their respective homes and cities (NYC, London, and Paris).  She will get one year to try on their lives and see what she's been missing and just what exactly it is she wants from life.  Cassie will get to know her friends better than ever and discover things about them, their friendship, and her own life that will change her dramatically.  There will be makeovers, romance, and friendships that will prove beyond a measure of a doubt that friends do have your back.  With a cast of quirky characters, fantastic cities, and lots of drama - Swan has written a terrifically entertaining read that you will find unputdownable.  I absolutely loved Christmas at Tiffany's!!  And, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of chick lit - you will LOVE it!!

Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Christmas At Tiffany's
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bookisn and Non-Bookish Thoughts...

You guys, its already mid-November! That means that Thanksgiving is nearly round the corner - Cripes! All of this holiday rush has made me fast forward a bit - like, I've been listening to Christmas tunes in my car and baking up a storm (pumpkin muffins!).  I'm loving it!  As for my reading, I've been knocking out one book after the other.  Right now I'm in the middle of Stephen King's latest, REVIVAL.  Its about religion, special electricity, and good v. evil.  So far I am hooked, but admittedly a bit confused as to where King is going with this story.  I'm eager to find out what truth Jamie will find out about Jacobs - I'm pretty sure its not going to be good.  As for the other books I've recently read:

Not a bad mix, eh?  I'm also reading Sebastian Faulks' homage to Wodehouse, JEEVES AND THE WEDDING BELLS.  Its really good so far.  I'm even thinking of beginning a Wodehouse novel once I'm done with King.  I just love the high-jinks that Bertie always finds himself in.  Of course, I did just finish reading this great article about Hilary Mantel in my copy of Elle magazine, so I'm tempted to read her book of short stories, THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER.  I just got a copy in the post and am pretty excited to dive into it, so that may trump the Wodehouse.  Then again, I have just downloaded the new VERONICA MARS book.  Blimey! There are just so many great books to read, I'm not sure where to start. Hmm....

Aside from reading, I've been watching Scandal, The Mindy Project, Gracepoint, and The Walking Dead.  I might start watching the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - I can't help but love these shows (they are crazy addictive!)  Oh, I did manage to see Death Comes to Pemberley on PBS and absolutely loved it.  I found myself captivated by the country, the estate, the clothing, the story, the drama, and the characters.  I just knew that Wickham hadn't killed his friend, but wasn't surprised one bit by his role in Bidwell's life.  Such a good show!  Makes me excited for Downton Abbey's new season in January - from what I've read its been quite the year for everyone in Downton!

I've also been writing a bit more, which has been great.  Not all of it is good, but at least its something.  I'm trying to keep up with my journal as well.  I've been neglecting it and its time to change that.  So, I bought the Oprah book, WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE, and have been highlighting and noting things down from it in my journal.  Its been a really interesting read - very positive and encouraging, which is exactly what I need at the moment.

And that's what I've been up to lately. How about you? Any good reads or TV shows to recommend?  Hope you all have a great weekend!! Happy reading!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Man V. Nature: Stories by Diane Cook

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories that illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, and the veneer of civilization over our darkest urges.
Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long-fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. Below the quotidian surface of Diane Cook’s worlds lurks an unexpected surreality that reveals our most curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.
Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of “not-needed” boys takes refuge in a murky forest where they compete against one another for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched from their suburban yards by a man who stalks them. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?
As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.

my thoughts:

Diane Cook's book of short stories, Man V. Nature, is one of the BEST book of short stories I've read this year.  The writing is fantastically sharp, witty, and imaginative.  The theme of 'man versus nature' is explored in diverse and disturbing ways that are thought-provoking and completely unforgettable.  I mean it - these stories will haunt you!  And by setting these stories in a dystopian world, Cook is able to blend society's meanings of bizarre and normal together perfectly.  She really knows how to create some truly amusing and twisted shorts with some pretty unexpected endings.  Her writing even reminded me of Vonnegut and Atwood's short stories - which I LOVE.  That's just how terrific Cook's work truly is. 

I'm still thinking about the following three stories: Moving On, Somebody's Baby, and The Mast Year.  The first one is about a woman who has just lost her husband and is packing up to leave.  Apparently society dictates that widows be immediately moved to a shelter housing other widows.  In this new home they will learn to move on from their last marriage and find a new spouse.   Isn't that just crazy?!  Talk about speeding up grief!  The next story is about a woman who has a baby.  She's so happy, but gets unnerved when she notices a man staring at her house ALL THE TIME.  Her baby gets taken by this man and she learns that he takes everyone's children.  When she has a second child and he gets taken, she decides that "enough is enough" and is determined to do something about this man.  I must admit that I wasn't so sure where this story was going at first, but found myself riveted by it.  As for the last one, this woman is having THE best luck of all - promotion at work and newly engaged.  Suddenly she finds her yard filled with people trying to mooch off her good luck and things suddenly get too overwhelming for her.  Talk about luck turned bad.  

Writing about these stories has made me think of the last one in the book, The Not-Needed Forest.  In this story a group of boys that were taken from their families are sent down a chute to die.  Fortunately for them they find a way out and wind up living in a forest.  Let's just say that it turns into Terminus (think The Walking Dead) rather quickly and winds up leaving you chilled to the bone by the end.  

Man V. Nature by Diane Cook is an amazing read that I recommend to all fans of short stories.  You are going to fall in deep with this book and love every minute of it! And to find out what other bloggers have to say, here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Man V. Nature
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shopaholic To The Stars: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella

Becky Brandon is back and this time round she's moved to Hollywood!  The land of celebrities, stylists, sunshine, and wheatgrass shots.  Talk about EXCITING!!!  Becky is beyond thrilled that Luke's business has taken him to La La Land, because it means that she will get the opportunity to style celebrities, befriend celebrities, and possibly become a celebrity - yeah, FAME is where its at in Becky's mind. Of course, being famous has its price and in this latest tome by Kinsella we learn all about the ups and downs of celebrity life via shopaholic, Becky.

Luke, Minnie, and Becky settle into their new digs and begin to adjust to life in Los Angeles.  Minnie's attending the top school in town.  Luke's working like mad to fulfill his contract.  And Becky is shopping, daydreaming, and scheming to become THE stylist to the stars.  All she wants is the chance to show everyone what she can do - which is create an unforgettable red carpet look.  However, things are going that well and Becky finds herself homesick and rather lonely.  Luckily, her BFF, Suze, has decided that her family needs a trip to the States in order to check on their businesses in California.  Soon enough Becky is surrounded by familiar faces and begins to enjoy her new life in L.A..  Except everything falls apart when Tarkie gets involved with a cult, Becky's father suddenly appears in L.A. to finish some unfinished business, Luke finds out that Becky lied to him (again); and Becky realizes just how false the celebrity life is in Hollywood.  Yeah, FAME is not where its at, but it just might be too late for Becky when she finally accepts this fact.  Or is it?

Yep, Kinsella has left this story with a cliffhanger - can you believe it?!  I was so engrossed in the novel that it took me a minute to realize that I had reached the end and that I wouldn't be able to find out what Becky's father's secret was. ACK!!  Talk about disappointment!  Of course, I'm still excited to find out where Kinsella will take this story next.   I can't wait for the next installment in the Shopaholic series -it is going to be FANTASTIC!!

And now, I'm off to read more about Bertie and Jeeves.  Happy Reading!!