Monday, June 29, 2020

The Jane Austen Society Blog Tour ~ My Review

Hello, friend! I was thrilled to have a chance to read The Jane Austen Society and to be part of the Blog Tour! 

I loved the setting and the idea of a group of people brought together by their love of Jane Austen.

The Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner

Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 320
Received: I received a paperback from the publisher for my honest review.
Rating: 3.5 stars.

Book Description:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable. 

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

My Review

The Jane Austen Society is a charming yet bittersweet story about a group of people who come together to preserve Jane Austen’s legacy.

This group of unlikely people are all suffering through their own personal tragedies and loneliness. Coming together, they form wonderful bonds of friendship and romance. Secrets are revealed, and hearts are healed.

Some of my favorite parts of the story are when the characters would discuss Austen’s work. They would also spend time thinking about, say Darcy or Elizabeth, and comparing themselves to those amazing characters. There is always something to learn from Jane’s work. And I loved all the quotes throughout the book!

There was so much to like about the characters in The Jane Austen Society. I always pictured Spencer Tracy as Dr. Gray. I loved Adam. He was a quiet man and a deep thinker. When he spoke, they realized there was much more to Adam than they knew. Evie was also a favorite of mine! And there were many times I wanted to shake Frances Knight. Lol. I’ve only named a few, but really, they are all dear characters.

I have to admit I had a hard time getting into the story. Maybe it was because I have been in a major reading slump. There was also a lot of sadness at the beginning of the story, and I just wasn’t in the mood for that. The second half was much better as they all came together to save as much of Jane's legacy as possible. 

I think The Jane Austen Society would make a fabulous movie as well! 

FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC of the story from the publisher for my honest review.

Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

About the Author

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

Connect with Natalie Jenner

Join the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England. 


May 26 Frolic Media 
June 01 AustenBlog 
June 04 Laura's Reviews 
June 05 Bookish Rantings 
June 07 Rachel Dodge 
June 10 Drunk Austen 
June 12 Nurse Bookie
June 13 Calico Critic
June 15 Stuck in a Book 
June 22 Reading the Past 
June 25 Bookfoolery
June 26 Lit and Life 
June 26 Vesper's Place 
June 30 BookNAround

Many, many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress for organizing and including me on this tour, and to St. Martin's Press for the advanced copy of the book!  

So, friends, what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Don Jacobson's In Plain Sight Blog Tour ~ Guest Post & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to have Don Jacobson on the blog today! His new book In Plain Sight looks amazing! I hope you enjoy his guest post, and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an e-copy of the book! 

Thank you, Candy, for hosting me today on your wonderful blog!

     Something inside always held me back from writing a Darcy/Elizabeth novel. T’was not fear, dear friends, although the eternal binary is a daunting couple for any writer. Seriously, how can one improve on the original? There was something else holding me back from tackling what is the mainstream in JAFF—Jane Austen Fan Fiction.
Perhaps the point was that I could not write a JAFF story. My natural inclinations had, in the years since I began writing fiction, pulled me away from the familiar memes and tropes that dominated the early years of the genre. As some of my friends may recall, in my post of February 18, 2018, I broke with the whole JAFF moniker and staked out a new direction which now is being shared by more-and-more authors—evolving the genre to be less of a tribute band and more of an emerging literary stream. I was no longer in the JAFF world, but rather in the #Austenesque realm.
     That shift in perspective was liberating. Now, my Bennet Wardrobe novels made sense. Mary Bennet, who had seven lines in the Canonical original now could become The Great Keeper and use her faith to benefit monumental causes. Kitty would step from the shadow of Lydia to grow into the Eleventh Countess of Matlock while her younger sister would become the Eighth. Time travel is amusing, no?
     Other releases followed. While I had been exploring the themes of subaltern history (that of sergeants and servants and not that of generals and duchesses), the activity had often seemed to be a struggle against the current of prevailing best-sellers in the arena. I felt lonely trying to build layers of characters in the face of reactions that had the only characters that mattered being Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. #Austenesque thinking allowed me to bring life to those who carried platters of food, opened doors, and fetched smelling salts. While the paired novellas Of Fortune’s Reversal and The Maid and the Footman had been written in 2016, I did not bring them together under the same cover in Lessers and Betters to be read back-to-back until after my epiphany.
     As soon as I freed myself of the inherent classism found in JAFF and other Regency offerings, I transformed my work. The three most recent books in the Bennet Wardrobe—Countess, Avenger, and Pilgrim—were the first beneficiaries of my new mindset. Then I stepped, like several of my friends, outside of the Pride and Prejudice variation sandbox. I wrote a North and South novelette. What was most attractive about the source material was that Elizabeth Gaskell put many of her class-separated characters on the same emotional footing. That was refreshing…and helped me even more.
     Thus, I arrived at In Plain Sight.
     With In Plain Sight, I wanted to create something different...but the desire to do that was not the reason the action flows as it does. I am an organic writer (building as I go). The plot, the characters, the book itself told me where to go. There were times when I engaged in automatic writing, allowing my inner guide (see the Bennet Wardrobe) to write the truth that the book was seeking to tell.
     The supporting characters helped build the story because the main characters have so much work to do building their relationship. Mary Bennet offered Elizabeth to reflect on how she ignored her sister. Henry Wilson and Charlie Tomkins show Darcy/Smith the inner goodness that can be found in either a lord or a laborer. I see the supporting cast as the third leg of a stool—Darcy being one and Elizabeth being the second—which supports the plot (the seat). 
     With fully developed supporting characters, the story can be allowed to flow through channels of its own making. For instance, although Richard Fitzwilliam had been forced to retire from the Army in 1806, he none-the-less retained his military sensibilities. Those allowed him to plan the retreat from Meryton. Another example: we understand the nature of the baronet, Sir Thaddeus Soames, better because we know his background and he will, therefore, act in a manner consonant with his history.
     At its heart, In Plain Sight is a romance. However, the #Austenesque manner of approaching this allowed me to gently stoke expectations while also burying those hopes beneath uncomfortable and informative realities. There are cords, fibers of invisible energy flowing throughout the Universe. The ley lines that are the life forces of Elizabeth and Darcy are so consonant, so attuned to one another, that they resonate when in close proximity. That remains true whether in Canon, JAFF or #Austenesque stories.
     I write stories that I find compelling. I ask if this is something I would wish to read, and I know that most, if not all, authors do the same. In the end, though, authors write their truth. The authenticity shines through the work becomes the greater truth as it is the author's voice speaking to the reader through characters and plot. I hope that you can see the deeper truth that rests at the heart of In Plain Sight.

In Plain Sight
by Don Jacobson

Book Blurb:

“At the end of the day when we are each of us lyin’ flat on our backs, lookin’ at the ceiling, and the vicar is whisperin’ in our ear, the greatest comfort we shall ’ave is to know that we loved well and were well loved in return.” 

 When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding. 

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves. 

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and break through their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.
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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

* * * * *

Don Jacobson has created a moving tale that reimagines one of the most beloved romances ever! He carries the themes of pride, prejudice, and forgiveness through the text beautifully. An original tale laced with historical details. You'll love it!
        ~ Elaine Owen, author of Duty Demands

About the Author

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His
output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television, and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, released in 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016). Lessers and Betters (2018) offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories. 
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

Connect with Don Jacobson

IPS Blog Tour Schedule

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson. Enter through the Rafflecopter below!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Don Jacobson on the release of In Plain Sight! And a big thanks for visiting here today!

Many thanks to Janet at More Agreeably Engaged for organizing this tour and for including me! And to Meryton Press for the wonderful giveaway! 

So, friends, any thoughts? Please leave any comments or questions below. We would love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What Are You Reading? ~ June 24th, 2020

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finished reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Oh, my! I have been in a major reading slump. I don't think I've been in one this bad since I started this blog. I'm like 3 books behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge when I was 6 books ahead about 2 months ago. 🤦‍♀️

Ok, let's see where I am. Its been a few weeks since I've posted. 

Current Read

I'm currently reading One Perfect Summer* by Brenda Novak. I pick this one up the other night when I couldn't sleep, and I needed something to read in bed. So, far it's good! Although I'm only about 6% into it.

Recently Finished

I recently finished The Jane Austen Society* by Natalie Jenner. I should have my review up on Monday the 29th. It was hard for me to get into, but I did enjoy the last half!

I also finished reading What's Left of My World* by C.A. Rudolph. It was good, and someday I would like to read the next in the series.  

What's next? 

I want to read Shannon Winslow's Murder at Northanger Abbey*! It sounds like a fun sequel to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. 

*Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

As far as my reading slump, I think my interests have been elsewhere. I have been sewing more lately. First, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and some BluPrint classes to inspire me and to brush up on my rusty sewing skills. Plus, I never seem to buy the right fabric, so I concentrated on learning more about the different fabric types. I ordered a few cotton lawn prints for some tops, and I'm ready to get to work. 

I think I should start listening to audiobooks while I sew! :)

So, tell me, what are you reading?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

What Unbreakable Looks Like Blog Tour ~ My Review

Hello, my friends! Today as part of the What Unbreakable Looks Like Blog Tour, I have my review for you to read! 

My Review

What Unbreakable Looks Like is a raw, heartbreaking, and hopeful story. It shows what a person can go through and come out on the other side, maybe not whole, but strong and courageous.

The story begins the night Lex and Ivy are rescued from the motel where they were sold for sex. At the hospital, Ivy runs away, back to her pimp. Lex stays, and her long road to recovery begins. It’s not easy, and there are many times she wants to go back. You may ask why someone would want to go back to a life of abuse. Often the girls are brainwashed by their pimps, and many are addicted to drugs. 

Lex is lucky. She has a fantastic support system and the will to go on. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, but I think that’s what makes the story feel so real.

I would give What Unbreakable Looks Like a mature rating for language and some sexual scenes. Although not detailed, it was enough to make me uncomfortable.

FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC of the story from the publisher for my honest review.

What Unbreakable Looks Like
by Kate McLaughlin

Expected Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 336
Received: I received an e-copy from the publisher for my honest review. 
Rating: 4 stars

Book Description: 

Lex was taken–trafficked–and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again.

After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn't trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that's what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.

But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.

Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.
Buy: *Amazon (paid link) • Publisher's Buy Links
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*FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

About the Author

KATE McLAUGHLIN likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken - people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she's not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she'll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats. She's the author of What Unbreakable Looks Like.

Connect with Kate McLaughlin on Twitter.

Early Praise:

"With unflinching honesty, What Unbreakable Looks Like exposes the injuries and scars we wear on our skins or in our souls. Hidden damage is tragically common, but helpful others who dared embrace hope invite Alexa to step onto the healing path. This novel may offer a springboard for a reader's own healing or foster empathy for life's walking wounded." - Liz Coley, author of international bestseller Pretty Girl-13

"Raw, unflinching, and authentic, Kate McLaughlin's thoughtful What Unbreakable Looks Like carefully crafts a story exposing the vulnerability of underage trafficked girls and what it takes to begin the process of healing from sexual trauma." - Christa Desir, author, advocate, and founding member of The Voices and Faces Project

“This is a powerful book about a sobering topic that I found myself thinking about for days after I completed it. It is wonderfully poignant, painfully real, and even laugh out loud funny at times. Not everyone can truly wrap their minds around the trauma these victims endure and yet somehow, despite all of it, are still just regular kids. But Kate McLaughlin gets it. ‘Lex’ is truly what unbreakable looks like and you’ll fall in love with her spirit.” - Tanya Compagnone, Trooper First Class

“Sex trafficking continues to seep into all our communities. In this novel, Kate McLaughlin brings to life the trauma that transpires in youth who forced into the life of sex trafficking. Her novel is a reminder that each of us can make a difference in someone’s life.” - Dina R. St. George, MSW, Juvenile Re-Entry Unit OCPD

Many thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read What Unbreakable Looks Like!

Any thoughts, my friends? I would love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What Are You Reading? ~ June 3, 2020

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

I hope you are well and keeping safe! Oh, I have been on a reading slump lately! I finally finished a book. Lol! So, here's what I've been reading for the last couple of weeks.

Current Read

I'm currently still reading What's Left Of My World* by C.A. Rudolph. I'm almost finished! Yay! It's a good story, but I'm not sure if I was really in the mood to read a post-apocalyptic story at the moment. With all the unrest in the country.


Recently Finished

I finished reading Secondborn (Bk 1)* by Amy A. Bartol. This is the first of three books in the Secondborn Series. It was very good. Lots of world-building and it leaves off unfinished so you'll need to read the whole series. Secondborns are born to serve firstborns and to replace them if they die. They are second class citizens and have no rights. Of course, a rebellion is coming! :) ~ 4 stars.

What next?

I'm going to start The Jane Austen Society* by Natalie Jenner. I'm so looking forward to this! Hopefully, it will get me out of this slump! 

Disclaimer: Links to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

So, tell me, what are you reading? 
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