Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vlog: Three's A Crowd by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Author Mary Lydon Simonsen has decided to try her hand at writing a mystery series. While she has four Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings published by Sourcebooks Landmark and several other self-published works, her latest release, Three’s A Crowd, is Simonsen’s first published mystery.

There are so many features about Simonsen’s writing that I enjoy, the historical facts she carefully weaves in, the banter her characters have, the array of emotions I feel when reading one of her stories, and her humor. Even though Three’s A Crowd is a British police procedural mystery and not an Austenesque piece, Simonsen’s humor is on full display. Even though she might be writing in two different genres, all of the characteristics I love about Simonsen’s writing are exhibited in her new novel.

Listen in on a conversation between Patrick Shea and his partner and get a glimpse of the subtle humor.

Do you have an author who writes in different genres you enjoy reading? What are some of your favorite mysteries? 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Winner of Charlotte by Karen Aminadra Giveaway!!!


Congratulations, Katrin! And a very special thanks to Karen Aminadra for her very generous giveaway with making this paperback copy giveaway an international one! Thanks to everyone who left comments and took time to read my brave interview with Lady Catherine, my review, and who watched the vlog.
If you didn't win, and want to read Charlotte's story, you can purchase a copy of Charlotte on Amazon!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Three's A Crowd by Mary Simonsen + Giveaway!

From the Publisher:
In Three’s A Crowd, we are introduced to Patrick Shea, a young detective sergeant with the Hampden Criminal Investigation Department, whose career is being fast-tracked by the Metropolitan Police in London. With an eye to an appointment with a murder investigation team at New Scotland Yard, Shea is doing everything by the book. Unfortunately, his love life is a bit of a mess and gets messier when he learns his former lover, Annie Jameson, has been assaulted on someone else’s patch. Will Shea’s involvement in the under-the-radar investigation of his ex-girlfriend put his career in jeopardy and possibly her life as well?

Celebrated Austenesque author, Mary Lydon Simonsen released a new book, yet it is not a Pride and Prejudice re-imagining. Simonsen hits the ground running in her debut mystery, Three’s A Crowd.

Detective Patrick Shea is the quintessential good guy who is on the fast track to becoming the newest detective on Scotland Yard’s Murder Investigation team. But when his ex-girlfriend becomes the victim of an assault, things get complicated. After learning of Annie’s assault, Patrick Shea makes finding her assailant his mission. However, being back in Annie’s presence might not be as easy as Patrick thinks.  While Annie regrets losing Patrick, he is assaulted by memories of their time together. I could feel the sparks between the two still, however, are they going to be able to overcome their broken past and start anew? Will he lose his chance at promotion for interfering with a case from a different patch?

Those who enjoy Simonsen’s humor will be pleased to know it is not lacking here! From the one-liners and humorous banter to factual tidbits tied in, Three’s A Crowd is classic Simonsen writing. Where Simonsen usually exhibits her historical prowess, here she displays her command of British lingo and police operations. The subtle facts interlaced into the plot make the story and characters appear real. It’s through the British dialogue and descriptions that I felt as if I was right there in London with the characters. The language used is so raw and real, making me further believe the characters are real. Even though there were a few terms I didn’t know, readers are provided a glossary of British police terms at the end of the book.

Once the assailant’s interrogation began, I was drawn in even more. As I approached the climax, I was getting antsy, as I usually do at a suspenseful part. The only thing I didn’t like was how easily the assailant surrendered; I wish that person would have put of more of a fight, and the climax would have lasted for a few more pages. Still, this was an enjoyable mystery and set readers up for more of Detective Patrick Shea.

Be on the look out as another Patrick Shea mystery will be released in fall 2012.

Connect with Mary Simonsen
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Mary Simonsen has graciously offered to give away ONE E-BOOK copy of Three's A Crowd to a random commenter. 

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*Come back Tuesday to watch my vlog for Three's A Crowd*

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vlog: Find Wonder in All Things by Karen M. Cox

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Laurel Elliot's Decision.

Similar to Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, in Find Wonder in All ThingsLaurel Elliot and James Marshall form an easy friendship and an immediate relationship. Yet, is their love strong enough to brave uncertainties and fears?

Listen in on James and Laurel’s conversation about the future.

What are your thoughts? Does Laurel sound convinced that James will make something of himself? What do you think her parents' response will be to Laurel wanting to move to Nashville? What are some other Persuasion variations/adaptations that you have enjoyed reading?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Find Wonder in All Things by Karen M. Cox

Today I am guest reviewing at Indie Jane. I had the privilege of reviewing Karen M. Cox’s IPPY Award-winning novel, Find Wonder in All Things, a modern romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Be sure to head over to Indie Jane and read my review, then come back here tomorrow to watch my vlog, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Laurel Elliot’s Decision.”     

Giveaway: Karen M. Cox is graciously giving away one paperback copy of Find Wonder in All Things on Indie Jane.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lady Catherine vs Charlotte Collins Vlog + Giveaway

Charlotte~ Pride and Prejudice Continues
We all know Lady Catherine desires to have her own way and will brook no opposition. Karen Aminadra’s Lady Cat, as I’m going to call her (see my interview with the fearsome lady), is devious, ruthless, and mean-spirited. I have yet to see a portrayal to match this one.
Listen in on the conversation between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charlotte Collins just after Christmas. 

As you can see, not only is Lady Cat calculating, but our dear Charlotte is onto her schemes.

What renderings of Lady Catherine do you find memorable? Have you read some mean or kind depictions of the lady?

I like the spunky and slightly changed Lady Catherine in Remembrance of the Past.

Karen Aminadra has been so kind as to provide a PAPERBACK copy of Charlotte to one lucky winner!! Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter, as that is how the winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 24!! Good Luck!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: Charlotte by Karen Aminadra

In Pride and Prejudice, Austen leaves writers with a surplus of avenues for variations and continuations. Debut author Karen Aminadra explores one of the roads less travelled in Charlotte~ Pride and Prejudice Continues in which we discover what married life was really like for Mr. & Mrs. Collins.

Austen’s odious and obsequious Mr. Collins is on full display, his self-importance often irritating me. About halfway through the book though, Mr. Collins slowly begins to change, noticing Charlotte’s worth, and the fact that Lady Catherine might not always know best.

With proper encouragement from her new friends, the Abbots and the Misses Thomas, Charlotte is able to stand her ground against not only her husband, but also Lady Catherine. I welcomedCharlotte’s newfound fortitude. However, this causes much tension in their marriage and is one of the major obstacles the couple needs to overcome in order to find true happiness, and possibly love. But will the demanding Lady Catherine stand for this?

We know Charlotte didn’t marry for love, but what happens if she begins having feelings for another man, Colonel Fitzwilliam?  Though there are behaviors on both parts I didn’t care for, and this portrayal of Colonel Fitzwilliam was far from my favorite, I did appreciate the author’s realistic depiction of the thoughts, actions, and internal struggles of a confused and unhappy couple.

Towards the end, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy make an appearance. It is here where the greatest change takes place in the Collinses’ lives. Even though Mr. Collins irritated me for a good portion of the book, I found his and Charlotte’s interactions towards the end delightful, fun, and awe-inspiring.

Despite a tiresome beginning, the book ends on a positive note, and ties up any loose ends. By the time I got to the epilogue, I was enjoying the changes in both Mr. Collins and Charlotte.

For those desiring to see a changed Mr. Collins, or learn how a couple who didn’t marry for love manages to fall in love, grab a copy of Charlotte.

Want to read another review of Charlotte? Candy at So Little Time... actually liked Mr. Collins! 

Connect with Karen Aminadra
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*On Friday I will be posting my vlog for Charlotte. Come back and witness Lady Catherine's manipulations firsthand and for another opportunity to enter the GIVEAWAY!!*

Karen Aminadra has been so kind as to provide a PAPERBACK copy of Charlotte to one lucky winner!! Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter, as that is how the winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 24!! Good Luck!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Interview with Lady Catherine de Bourgh + GIVEAWAY!!

In celebration of Karen Aminadra’s debut novel, Charlotte~ Pride and Prejudice Continues, I have decided to take on the formidable task of interviewing Lady Catherine. While Aminadra’s Lady Cat is one of the most villainous I have seen, I managed to hold my own during the interview and walk away with only a few minor scrapes.  :) 

Good afternoon, Lady Cat. May I call you that, as I find it fits so well since you always have your claws drawn.

No, you may not! Impertinent child!  A person of my standing ought to be addressed correctly, and if you cannot find manners enough to address me correctly, then consider this interview at an end.  You may refer to me as Your Ladyship.

Moreover, what do you mean, claws drawn?  I am known up and down the land as most generous, kind and caring.  Indeed, yes I am.

My sincerest apologies, Your Ladyship. May I offer you some tea?

Yes, you may.  No sugar, just a drop of milk. 
I must say this is a very small room you have here.  How inconvenient!  Why, you could only get six or seven people in here.  Most incommodious!

I find it serves my purposes quite adequately, but thank you. Now then, I know you are a very busy woman, carefully instructing those in your employ and tenants in all matters, so I will attempt making this quick. I will ask you a few questions, and if you would be so kind as to answer them with the first answer that pops into your head, I would be eternally grateful!

Yes, of course you would.  Most people are grateful you know, and I am never remiss in my attention to those whose rank is beneath my own.  It is the least I could do.

You are too kind. If you could have been truly proficient in ONE thing, what would it have been?

Oh, if I could have been truly proficient my dear, it would have been in all things.  Just like my Anne. 
However, if you must press me for an answer by staring at me so, I choose playing the pianoforte.  Yes, that would have pleased me greatly.  It pains me that I never learnt, but my time was much more usefully spent.  Yes, indeed, take a look around you.  I did not acquire Rosings Park, a title and my fortune by idling my time away frivolously playing the pianoforte my dear.

You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. Is the reason you do not wish others to marry for love because you are jealous you didn’t?

I beg your pardon?  You are decidedly impertinent for so young a person.  I am not used to such behavior!
But now that you mention it, I did not indeed marry for love.  Neither would I expect anyone to be so foolish.  Love indeed! Pray tell me, what love has to do with matrimony?

Let’s just agree to disagree on that point, shall we? Now that your nephew, Mr. Darcy, is married to the bewitching Elizabeth, to whom do you have your cap set now for Anne? By the way, rumors have it that you are planning a house party!

Yes, my dear Anne.  Who could resist such charm, such elegance and beauty?  I was considered a beauty in my day too, you know.
I digress.  I have a few young men in mind.  Colonel Fitzwilliam would be perfect.  Alas, he has no property but he has fortune enough.  Then, there is the sixth Duke of Devonshire, now he is most eligible.  He owns Chatsworth, you know.  Yes, he would suit if he were not such a close friend of the Regent.

Sounds promising! What were your real intentions in detaining Mr. Collins on Christmas? It is rumored you detained the parson so Mrs. Collins’s Christmas dinner would spoil.

Detain? Detain, Mr Collins? What a notion! My dear, I do not know who fills your head with such nonsense!
I cannot imagine that Mrs Collins had set as handsome a table for him as I offered him, mind you. Mr Collins visited me on Christmas day, and of course he stayed longer than he intended.  However, they always do.  Once a guest is here, they seldom want to leave again. Such is the attraction of Rosings to all.

*Snort* I’m sure that is why. With Mrs. Collins’s help, Mr. Collins changes, (in a whisper) and some would even say for the better, what are your true thoughts on the matter?

Change? I never saw it.  Nonsense child.
Although that woman, my nephew’s wife, and Mr Collins’ own wayward wife I am sure have worked their arts on him.  That woman is such a manipulator of men!  Just look at the way she ensnared my nephew!  Yes, you mark my words, my dear; if Mr Collins has indeed changed, they are to blame.  Poor man!

In closing, if you could impart readers with one last piece of sage advice, you would tell them…

Always respect your betters, defer to their judgment.  They know better than you.  

Thank you…

Do not interrupt!  I am not finished, never speak until spoken to.
Most importantly, never seek to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up, keep to your own rank and station.  It is the way things have always been, and the way they should always remain.

Well, thank you for honoring me with your presence today, Your Ladyship. This was truly an... enlightening experience.

Yes, I am sure it was.  I wish I could repay the compliment.

Whew! Now that you have gotten to know Lady Cat a little better, I hope she has not scared you off. If our dear Charlotte can find the courage to stand up to the Gand Damme, hopefully you will find your own and pick up a copy of Charlotte~ Pride and Prejudice Continues

*On Wednesday I will be posting my review of Charlotte. Come back to read it and for another opportunity to enter the GIVEAWAY!!*

Karen Aminadra has been so kind as to provide a PAPERBACK copy of Charlotte to one lucky winner!! Contest is open internationally! Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter, as that is how the winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 24!! Good Luck! 

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From the Publisher:
When Charlotte Lucas married Mr Collins, she did not love him but had at least secured her future. 
However, what price must she pay for that future? She once said she was not romantic, but how true is that now after almost one year of marriage? 
Mr Collins is submissive in the extreme to his patroness, and his constant simpering, fawning and deference to the overbearing and manipulative Lady Catherine de Bourgh is sure to try the patience of a saint, or at least of Charlotte. 
As Charlotte becomes part of Hunsford society, she discovers she is not the only one who has been forced to submit to the controlling and often hurtful hand of Lady Catherine. 
She feels trapped and realises her need for love and affection. She is not as content as she once thought she would be. The easiest thing to do would be to maintain the peace and do as she is told. But as Charlotte witnesses the misery around her due to her inimitable neighbour, she must decide to remain as she is or to begin a chain of events that will change not only her life but also the lives of those around her in the village of Hunsford forever. 
But...after all, doesn't every girl deserve a happy ending?

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Summer in Europe Giveaway Winner!!

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CONGRATULATIONS,  DEBBIE!! I hope you enjoy your new copy of A Summer in Europe! I will send you an email so I can get your mailing address!

WOW! THANK YOU everyone who left comments and joined our European discussions! It was truly fun discovering which European destinations you would like to visit or have visited, as well as your plans for this summer! 
My BIGGEST thanks goes to the lovely Marilyn Brant who not only provided a copy of A Summer in Europe for the giveaway, but also took the time to join our discussion and reply to all of our lovely comments. 

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Are YOU Reading This Summer?

It is official. Summer is here! =) With Memorial Day past, it is time to break out those white shoes (though I am told in the South it is okay to wear them after Easter.- Something I still can’t bring myself to do), tank tops, sunscreen and summer reading!

I am always looking for a great summer book to read while the children and I are outside. For me, the perfect summer reads are books that are light, fluffy, and require little to no thinking. Books that are just fun and relaxing- where I can just open the book, be transported and live in the story.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: Salt Bride by Lucinda Brant

From the Publisher
When the Earl of Salt Hendon marries squire's daughter Jane Despard, Society is aghast. But Jane and Lord Salt share a secret past of mistrust, heartache and misery. Four years on, they are forced into a marriage neither wants; the Earl to honor a dying man's wish; Jane to save her stepbrother from financial ruin. Beautiful inside and out, the patient and ever optimistic Jane believes love conquers all; the Earl will take some convincing. Enter Diana St. John, who has been living in a fool's paradise believing she would be the next Countess of Salt Hendon. She will go to extreme lengths, even murder, to hold the Earl's attention. Can the newlyweds overcome past prejudices and sinister opposition to fall in love all over again?

After becoming pregnant at eighteen, Jane Despard is cast out of her father’s house. Refusing to let a bastard child soil the family name, Sir Felix Despard sends Jane to live with merchant Jacob Allenby to endure a life of repentance. But who is the baby’s father?

After living in a virtual prison for four years, Jane is free when Jacob Allenby dies. Yet, in order to save her brother from financial destitution, Jane must marry. Honoring Sir Felix’s dying wish, the Earl of Salt offers for Jane. Now the two former lovers must come face to face with their past and the walls of mistrust.

Overcoming their past is not the newlyweds’ only obstacle. In Caroline Bingley fashion, Diane St. John has always dreamed of becoming the next Countess of Salt. An unstable Diane will go to any extreme, gossip, manipulation, deception, and even poison to stop the Earl from siring an heir who will take away the earldom from her son and current heir to Salt.

The array of emotions Brant’s characters felt made them real. The pain, resentment, anger, and even joy they felt were natural responses under the circumstances. Towards the beginning of the book, Salt’s righteous anger and resentment had me unsure whether I would like him; he was so harsh and mean. Yet, true to the Georgian hero role, Salt changes thanks to Jane.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jane and Salt’s relationship. Watching the two work through their past secrets and heartache was engrossing and entertaining. Jane’s frank questions and cheeky responses had me smiling and at the same time, each slowly chiseled away the walls Salt built.

Not only were the characters’ emotions traveling the spectrum, but so were mine. It was the emotions I felt mixed with just the right amount of angst that kept the plot going and had me turning page after page, reading the book in two sittings.

While Brant’s historical facts, characterization and pacing are well developed and delivered, at times the wording and sentence structures confused to me and I needed to reread certain passages to understand them. Even though I found that Diane St. John fit the evil villain role well, towards the end of the book I was tiring of her antics and wanted a resolution. Even though these areas were unclear or tiresome, they did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book.

With bold characters, the evilest of villains, and a spectrum of emotions, I found Lucinda Brant’s Salt Bride to be an enthralling book I did not want to put down.

Connect with Lucinda Brant
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Friday, June 1, 2012

A Summer in Europe Vlog

In A Summer in Europe, Gwendolyn Reese is gifted a five-week tour of Europe with her aunt’s Sudoku & Mahjongg club. This sixty and older group reminds me of the golden-agers in Betty White's new television show, Off Their Rockers. Aunt Bea and friends really know how to have a good time and how to get the most out of life.

Here’s just a glimpse of what Gwen is in store for this summer, and of the liveliness of the S&M Club:

As you can see, Aunt Bea and her S&M club are a hoot! I found myself cracking up at their antics. They truly added to the enjoyment of A Summer in Europe.

Are you planning any trips this summer? If so, are you going to be in the company of your own Aunt Bea and company?
How do you want to be perceived or behave when you reach your golden years?

We do not do much during the summer as this is the demanding time for my husband’s job. However, we are going to try to get to the beach with our cousins for a few days, and the kids and I will be heading to Huntsville, AL to visit my husband’s aunt. Other than that, it will be a low key summer: pool, park, zoo, fountains, and any other free event!
I truly hope that as I age, I continue to enjoy life and make the most of it, just like Aunt Bea and her friends.

Marilyn Brant is graciously giving away ONE Hardcover book-club copy of A Summer in Europe!! (US & Canada residence)
To enter, simply leave a comment about the interview or tell us if you can travel anywhere in Europe, where would it be?
After you comment, tweet, etc. make sure you fill out the Rafflecopter form as that is how the winner will be selected!
Winner will be announced Friday, June 8! Check back to see if you won! Good Luck!!

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