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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marsha Altman Book Set Giveaway!

The Darcys & the Bingleys: A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted SistersThe Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys (Pride & Prejudice Continues)

Thanks to Sourcebooks, I am going to give away a set of Marsha Altman’s two wonderful books, The Darcys and the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers. This giveaway is available to US and Canada only. This is my first giveaway, so, I am a bit nervous.

The giveaway will run from July 31st till August 5th.

Main entry-Just comment on this post with your name and a valid email address.

For extra entries-

-Comment on Marsha’s Post and answer the bolded question at the end-name and email necessary.

- Subscribe to this blog by clicking on the Subscribe Now link in the Headline Animator in the sidebar.-Comment and let me know.

-Comment on the reviews of her two books-The Darcys and the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers.

-Stumble my blog or any post on it. –comment on any of the posts with your StumbleUpon username.

-Update-I forgot to add (because I am a spaz)  that if you blog about this giveaway I will give you another extra entry.

Please do all of this in one comment unless you are commenting in different entries.

I will email the winner. If the email is not responded to within two days, I will pick another winner.

And the Winner is.....Pam R. Congratulations Pam.

Guest Post: Marsha Altman

I’m Marsha Altman, and I’ve written The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, a sequel to The Darcys and the Bingleys, which is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. And it is a series; book 3 (Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape) is due out in February 2010. I’d  like to answer the following question for Grace and my readers:

In the book you revealed some skeletons in the Darcy family closet and I was wondering what skeletons you think are in Darcy's own personal closet? Also, what are you planning on writing next?

Since these two questions are tied together I’ll just answer them at once. First of all, let me just get out that there are no illegitimate children from Darcy’s past. In Plight of the Darcy Brothers the question comes up because he did tour the Continent after University and did so not under any oath of celibacy, but it turns out to be a matter of timing and his father’s problem, not his.

I received some criticism for not making Darcy a virgin in book 1. I was expecting this, as Regency Romance fans have some notion that the good characters are saints until their wedding night and the ones who aren’t end up as rogues, cads, rakes, and other euphemisms for people who ruin women’s reputations. In real life, which is what my writing aspires to be a bit closer to, your average Regency gentleman probably lost his virginity in high school (Harrow or Eton), or at the very least University (Cambridge or Oxford). Even the most upstanding gentleman could be seen coming in or out of a respectable house of prostitution, specifically the more famous ones if he’s rich enough to afford them. Children resulting in those couplings were for the most part aborted by the courtesans without the gentleman ever being the wiser or caring, necessarily.

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys (Pride & Prejudice Continues)Darcy, who is 28 or 29 when he marries depending on where his birthday falls (not mentioned in Austen’s book), would realistically not be inexperienced. The fact that Bingley, a flirty guy and 23 years old, is himself inexperienced at the start of The Darcys and the Bingleys is itself more unbelievable, but readers have their image of Darcy as sacrosanct and they don’t want that ruined. So, he’s been around, but nothing special, and since he took over Pemberley at 23, nothing much happened until he met Elizabeth. He’s about as pure as he’s going to realistically be. I like to err on the side of realism because it gives me more to do – in Plight of the Darcy Brothers we have illegitimate children, whores extorting people for money, and highway robbery involving an actual highway and an actual attempted robbery. In other words, it’s a bit beyond the scope of who is marrying whom.

As far Darcy’s personal closet, it’s more connected to his personality and the Darcy family tree, which is extended in book 2 but there are more revelations in book 3 (not involving bastard sons) about some things that were covered up before Darcy was even born, but had a lot to do, genetically, with shaping Darcy as a person. In the third book, due out in February 2010, Darcy spends a portion of the book in wrongful imprisonment in Transylvania, and the resulting stress on his physical and emotional person has fallout for the rest of the book and reveals a lot more about Darcy as I have interpreted him. His personality quirks which made him both frustrating and romantic in Pride and Prejudice (he’s quiet, possibly shy yet dignified, stubborn, and willing to repress his own feelings for the greater good of his family) come out with great flair after a traumatic period, and while he doesn’t fight or abandon Elizabeth, she’s the main person who now has to deal with them and help him deal with himself.
The Darcys & the Bingleys: A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters
Taking a 21st century lens to Darcy, uninhibited by romantic literary ideals, you might want to prescribe this person some Paxil. It would make him less interesting a literary figure, so fortunately nobody has Paxil around, or any SSRI. The spectrum of what we consider “normal” and what Regency people considered “normal” has always interested me, and in the second book I begin to explore it and in the third book I delve fully into it.

I’m being vague about this to not ruin plot revelations for the third book. A lot of characters in the books are colorful, and therefore considered (and called) “crazy” by their relatives, though they are fully mentally capable. Darcy, who’s the one usually calling people crazy for wanting to do things outside the norm, is at times socially inept, unable to express his feelings in Pride and Prejudice and oblivious to the feelings of others, as so delightfully and famously highlighted by his first proposal to Elizabeth at Hunsford. He admits to being unable to suppress his own natural feelings of love, then denigrates the person he loves before offering her marriage, and is temporarily rendered speechless when she fires back at him all the ammunition she has against his character – and she has a lot of it, despite his meticulous attempts to maintain himself as a gentleman. This is for me a key scene to opening the door of interpretations of Darcy – does he know how rude he’s being? Is he really that oblivious? Everyone who reads Pride and Prejudice has their own interpretation; that’s what happens when a master author like Austen writes such a multi-layered character. My interpretation is at times extreme, and heavy on the psychology (something the other characters are unable to put into words because psychology at this point, for all intent and purposes, does not exist), but I hope you, having read the second book, will try the third book, and follow me as I try to present my own Darcy as I see him.

Also, there are way more swordfights in book 3.

How do you interpret Darcy? Shy or arrogant? Possessive or gracious? Or something that is not one word or its opposite?

Please go here for my giveaway of Marsha’s two awesome books and here for a list of tour dates.

Friday Fill-Ins #135

1. It's time for my first giveaway.
2. Italy; it's not a bad place for family.
3. I must be insane
4. Good tea is the best thing I have ever known.
5. My new laptop is simply beautiful.
6. The last time I laughed really loudly was while watching the Gilmore Girls. I love their banter .
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping, tomorrow my plans include cleaning my room and Sunday, I want to do some research!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Netherfield Park Revisited by Rebecca Ann Collins

Netherfield Park Revisited: The acclaimed Pride and Prejudice sequel series (The Pemberley Chronicles)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402211554
Pages: 320 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen Sequel/Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

The third book in the bestselling Pride and Prejudice sequel series from Australia.

"A very readable and believable tale for readers who like their romance with a historical flavor."
Book News

Love, betrayal, and changing times for the Darcys and the Bingleys

Three generations of the Darcy and the Bingley families evolve against a backdrop of the political ideals and social reforms of the mid-Victorian era.

Jonathan Bingley, the handsome, distinguished son of Charles and Jane Bingley, takes center stage, returning to Hertfordshire as master of Netherfield Park. A deeply passionate and committed man, Jonathan is immersed in the joys and heartbreaks of his friends and family and his own challenging marriage. At the same time, he is swept up in the changes of the world around him.

Netherfield Park Revisited combines captivating details of life in mid-Victorian England with the ongoing saga of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice characters.

My Review:

I have to say that this one is my favorite of the three books in this series that I have read so far. It is the first book that focused on one couple, Jonathan Bingley and Anna Faulkner, and their story. I really appreciated that because I quite enjoy books that have a very singular character focus.

I loved the story of Jonathan and Anna’s friendship and later courtship. They were both intriguing and interesting characters and I loved them as a couple. They were perfect together. I liked both Anna and Jonathan. Anna was the type of character that you just like and you can’t exactly say why. She reminded me of  Anne Elliot. Jonathan was not my normal type of hero. He was more friendly and open than I normally am attracted to but he was so sweet and beat up by his obnoxious wife that I could not help but want to cuddle him. I could not wait for Collins to find some way to do away with Amelia Jane, Jonathan’s first wife. I could not stand her and I was hoping she would not be redeemed because she was just that much of a horrific and selfish character. It takes quite some talent to create a character that I want to strangle with my purse strap as much I want to strangle Amelia Jane. I think that alone is enough to recommend this novel.  I was also happy to see Caroline Bingley back to being a pain in the butt. She has been noticeably absent in the previous novels and I missed her antics. I felt sort of lost and bereft without them. Caroline is one of my favorite characters because she can really make a novel compelling.

This novel really represented a shift in the series to me. The individual characters are given their own spotlight and I find that really refreshing. I enjoyed reading about the generations of Pemberley relationships but I found that each couple was not given enough time to get to know them. In Netherfield Park Revisited this was completely changed and I really got to know and love Jonathan and Anna.

I can’t wait to go on with this series. I will continue to follow it as long as Rebecca Ann Collins writes them. I, however, would not recommend that new readers to this series start with this book. The cast of characters is large and the story very complex. Start from Book One and progress from there. You will not be disappointed.
*This book was bought by me by me. I am not making any profit from my review of this book other than my enjoyment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Author Article: Ten Trivia Facts You Probably Used to Know

Ten Trivia Facts You Probably Used to Know
By Caroline Taggart,
Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School
You know how it is -- the kids come home from school full of enthusiasm for a new subject, ask you to explain something, and you think, "Oh, yes, I used to know that." When I started to write a book on things you'd forgotten from your schooldays, I realised that I half-knew lots of stuff. I'd heard of phrases and clauses, but did I know the difference between them? I had a vague idea about photosynthesis -- it's to do with how plants grow, isn't it? But doesn't being green come into it somewhere? And then there was the War of 1812 -- what was that all about?
So there are three Top Trivia Questions to start with; I'll answer them and then I'll give you seven more. That way, even if you can't answer the kids' questions, you can quickly change the subject and throw in some knowledge of your own.

  1. Language: What's the difference between a clause and a phrase? These are the building blocks of a sentence. The difference is that a clause contains a subject and a verb. It often stands alone as a simple sentence (He loves dogs), but may also be part of a longer sentence (He loves dogs, but he doesn't own one). A phrase is a group of words in a sentence that does not contain a subject and a verb (In the afternoon, he took his mother's dog for a walk).

  2. Biology: What is photosynthesis? It is -- as we suspected -- to do with how plants grow. It's the process by which they convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, using the energy they absorb from light by means of a green pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is stored mainly in the leaves and is the reason most plants are green. Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere, enabling the rest of us to breathe.

  3. History: The war of 1812, between the U.S. and Britain, actually lasted nearly three years, from 1812 to 1815. Britain was already at war with France (under Napoleon) and the U.S. sided with the French. American ships, trying to break a blockade that would prevent supplies from reaching France, were being seized by the British, who then coerced American seamen into the Royal Navy. On top of that, the U.S. was disputing British control of territories in Canada; New England's support for Britain complicated the issue further. This war -- the last time the U.S. and Britain fought on opposing sides -- ended in stalemate when the British defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and subsequently lifted their blockade.

  4. Literature: Where does the expression 'It just growed' come from? It's a misquotation from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-96), a fiercely anti-slavery novel published in 1852, when this was the political hot potato in America. The most famous character is the slave girl Topsy, who didn't know where she came from (i.e. didn't realise that God had made her) and said, 'I s'pect I growed.'

  5. Math: who was that Pythagoras guy anyway? He was a Greek mathematician and philosopher who lived in the 6th century BC. His theorem (the word comes from the same root as "theory" but means something that can be proved) states that in a right-angled triangle "the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides." The hypotenuse is the longest side of the triangle, opposite the right angle. This theorem really really matters to mathematicians, because it is fundamental to calculations used in architecture, engineering, astronomy, navigation and the like.

  6. Geography: which were the original 13 states of the Union? In alphabetical order: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia. Delaware was the first to ratify the new constitution and is nicknamed "The First State" to this day.

  7. Chemistry: what's the Periodic Table of Elements? It's a way of setting out the names of all the known chemical elements so that the vertical columns contain groups or families with similar properties. It was devised in the 19th century by a Russian chemist called Mendeleev and has been in use ever since. An element, by the way, is a substance that cannot be decomposed into a simpler substance by a chemical process. Groups of elements come together to form compounds. So, for example, a combination of the element hydrogen (H) and the element oxygen (O) can form the compound water (H2O).

  8. Physics: what are conduction, convection and radiation? These are the ways in which heat is transferred from one "body" (that is, "thing") to another. Put simply, conduction means that a cool thing -- whether solid, liquid, or gas -- is warmed up by coming into contact with a hot thing. Convection occurs in liquids and gases and is the basis of the principle that hot air rises. A hot liquid or gas is generally less dense than a cool one; as the hot particles rise, cooler ones rush in underneath to take their place. The hot particles, having risen, cool and come down again, and so on. Radiation involves the energy that all objects emit. It is the only one of the three methods that works in a vacuum and is how the sun's rays manage to warm the Earth from so far away.

  9. Art: who was Jackson Pollock? He was what is called an Abstract Expressionist and he believed that the act of painting was more important than the finished product. His paintings are therefore highly colourful, often huge, and (like his life) chaotic to the point of frenzy. He died in a motor accident in 1956, aged only 44.

  10. Music: why should I care about Johann Sebastian Bach? He was incredibly important in the development of classical music: without him, some say, there might have been no Haydn, no Mozart, and no Beethoven. He wrote mostly organ music, church music, and orchestral music; his most famous works include the Brandenburg Concertos, the St. Matthew Passion, The Well-Tempered Clavier, and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. He had many children, including the composers Carl Philip Emmanuel and Johann Christian.
©2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Author Bio

Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School, has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Author Article: Why Remember?-Leslie Gilbert-Lurie

Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir 
I will be reviewing Leslie’s book within the coming weeks but, for now, I am so excited to post a great article written by Leslie called “Why Remember?”.
Why Remember?
By Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
Author of Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

September of this year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. There is no agreed upon moment, however, when the Holocaust began. Some date it to Hitler's coming to power in 1933. Others mark the onset to Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, in November of 1938. Since the Holocaust was undeniably a component of World War II, however, it seems fair to say that next month also marks the anniversary of its inception.
It is clear why we note the beginning of World War II. We won. The forces of good beat the axis of evil, and the "best generation" came home victorious. Less obvious is why it's important to mark the anniversary of the Holocaust. Why continue to look back at one of humankind's bleakest moments? There were no winners and far too few heroes. Isn't it enough that some of us have read Anne Frank's diary or seen Schindler's List? I think not. In the course of writing and teaching about the Holocaust, I have discovered that the Holocaust is rich in lessons to sustain our humanity.
The Holocaust is a cautionary tale about leaders and cowards, heroes and victims. In examining it, we delve into the darkest parts of ourselves and reflect upon how we might have acted, what we could have done, had we been present. Would we have taken a job in the Nazi Party if we were unemployed? Would we have followed orders at work in order to get promoted? Would we have risked our own lives, or those of family members, in order to hide or protect others? Would we have spoken up in the face of injustice? The Holocaust provides an opportunity for each of us to consider how we would or should act the next time we see others robbed of their fundamental rights.
The Holocaust is also an enlightening tale about political systems and a horror story about the abuses of power. Adolf Hitler took office in a democracy which, at its core, was similar to the one in which we feel so safe today. In the blink of an eye, he converted his government into a totalitarian regime, in which all oaths were pledged to him. Overnight, Hitler began eviscerating the rights of the communists, the homosexuals, the disabled, the gypsies, the Catholics, and of course, the Jews. What does this tell us about the ability of a democracy to protect the rights of vulnerable minorities? Lest we forget that our own democracy, not so long ago, tolerated slavery. It also endorsed euthanasia for the disabled and forbade women from voting. Those educated in the abuses of power that took place leading up to and during the Holocaust will be better equipped to vigilantly protect the democratic values we so treasure today in our own country.
In our country, education is cherished. It is viewed as a ticket to success and key to a civilized, informed society. Authors, politicians, and educators espouse the importance of American youth studying hard, in part to compete with industrious students around the world. Yet at the same time, we must keep in mind that the Hall of Shame from the Holocaust was filled with doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Without judgment and compassion, without an awareness of the dangers of following orders without reflection, we are just one election, evil leader, or disastrous economic cycle away from another Weimar Republic of the early 1930's. We must teach our children to be thoughtful, proactive citizens. In learning about the Holocaust, students can see where a past generation failed and what role they will play in the tragedies of their own generation.
Today, in Sudan's Darfur region, another ethnic cleansing is taking place. The Janjaweed militia, supported by the Sudanese government, is systematically murdering the region's black tribes. Outside Darfur, in other parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, strife and violence are rampant. Both World War I and World War II taught us that under the stresses of war, prejudices are often heightened.
In 1915, not long after the start of World War I, authorities in the Muslim Ottoman Empire turned against the Armenians, a Christian minority that had lived for generations within the region. The world politely turned away as a million or more Armenians were massacred over the next eight years. Our country, along with many others, again looked the other way, over and over again, as Hitler's campaign ramped up in the 1930's. In 1936, at the summer Olympics in Berlin, for example, not only did the United States agree to attend the games, but coaches from this country pulled two Jewish runners from the relay team at the eleventh hour, at least in part so as not to offend Hitler. In 1939, intellectuals in our country and throughout Europe passively looked on as Jewish professors were unceremoniously fired from the University of Frankfurt, the most liberal university in Germany. And again, that same year, over 900 Jewish men, women, and children aboard the ship the St. Louis, after desperately fleeing Nazi Europe and arriving on the shores of Cuba, were denied entry not only in that country but also in the United States, and forced to turn back. Each of these events emboldened Hitler. He had good reason to believe that the world's leaders would not object to his gross violation of human rights. Yes, some individuals spoke up. And sometimes, when they did, lives were spared. But mostly we were a world of bystanders, paving the way for many more bystanders over the six ensuing years of the Holocaust. Studying the Holocaust helps each of us to comprehend the downside of being a bystander, or of acting at the eleventh hour, rather than at the first opportunity. It makes us better prepared to be good, humane citizens in today's world.
The Holocaust occurred not so long ago and in a land not so far away. As the seventy-year anniversary approaches, we are in a race against time. When young people today hear a Holocaust survivor speak, they are bearing witness to that which their own children are never likely to experience the same way. And as the voices of the Holocaust survivors quiet, those of the ones who insist that the Holocaust never happened will grow louder and, perhaps, more persuasive. To continue to mark its existence, to study its implications, is to honor its victims and better protect humankind in the future. As we vow that such a tragedy will not occur again, we must remember that there is an awful lot of suffering taking place in the world this very moment.
©2009 Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, author of Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

Author Bio
Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
, author of Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir, is a writer, lawyer, teacher, child advocate, and a member and past President of the Los Angeles County Board of Education.
Gilbert-Lurie also is a founding board member and immediate past President of the Alliance for Children's Rights, a non-profit legal rights organization for indigent children, chair of the education committee for the Los Angeles Music Center, and a board member of several schools including Sierra Canyon and New Roads Foundation. Finally, she has just completed serving as a member of the mayor's task force charged with developing a new cultural plan for the City of Los Angeles.
Previously, Leslie spent close to a decade as an executive at NBC, where, at various times, she oversaw NBC Productions, Comedy, wrote television episodes, and co-founded a new NBC in-house production company, Lurie-Horwits productions. As a lawyer, Leslie worked briefly at the law firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg and Tunney and served as a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Law Clerk. She is a graduate of UCLA and UCLA School of Law.
Leslie lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, daughter and step-son.
For more information please visit

Friday, July 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday (July 24th)

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)
  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? –It really depends what mood I am in. I usually don’t like the frivolous. It takes a special mood for me to want to read something without substance.
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? –I’m ambivalent. As long as it is not an e-book, I’m fine.
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction? –Fiction. Most definitely. I like the occasional non-fiction but I still prefer fiction.
  • Poetry? Or Prose? Prose. I don’t like poetry very much…high school trauma.
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies? –Biographies if they are well researched. I sometimes find that there is too much of a bias in autobiographies.
  • History? Or Historical Fiction?-Historical Fiction. I had too much real history in university.
  • Series? Or Stand-alones? –Stand-alones. Only great series can attract me.
  • Classics? Or best-sellers? –Classics. I read best-sellers more often now but I prefer classics.
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? –It depends on my mood really. I have favorite books that have both. I can’t decide.
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? –Plot. I dislike most Stream-of-Consciousness. Books like Tropic of Cancer make me want to rip my hair out.
  • Long books? Or Short? –Long. The longer the better.
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? –Non-illustrated. Why do you need pictures when reading a book.
  • Borrowed? Or Owned? –Owned. I never borrow books because I would never give them back.
  • New? Or Used? –Used. They have a lived-in feel to them. They have a history before you ever meet them. I find that charming.

Marsha Altman Guest Blog and Giveaway-July 31st

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys (Pride & Prejudice Continues)

I am so excited to have Marsha Altman, author of The Darcy’s and the Bingleys and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers visit and talk about her wonderful books. I will also be hosting a giveaway (my first) of a set of both of her books. The giveaway will run from July 31st to August 10th. All you would have to do to enter will be to comment and Stumble and/or follow my blog for extra entries. Here are the dates for the tour:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adagio Tea: Cinnamon Tea

I decided to try the Cinnamon Tea last night. I want to save the most interesting and different flavors for last.  Cinnamon Tea is one of my staples. It has always been one of my favorite flavors and I was very excited to have my first cup of this tea.

I really enjoyed this tea. It smelled sweet and very much like Big Red gum in the canister. I was hoping it would not have that type of synthetic taste. It has a very nice flavor. It is very sweet but then get this bite to it that I really enjoyed. It is more of a natural cinnamon stick flavor instead of Big Red gum.

It also had a very nice tea flavor. It was not a strong as with the Ginger Tea but it was definitely there. It did have a more bitter feel than the Ginger Tea but not too much. I like my tea a little bitter.

This tea really lets the cinnamon taste shine and stand out on its own. I think this is my favorite cinnamon tea out of all of them that I have tried.

Grade-A-Click here to purchase this tea.
*This tea was bought by me for me. I am not making any profit from my review of this book other than my enjoyment.

The Women of Pemberley by Rebecca Ann Collins

The Women of Pemberley: A Companion Volume to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (The Pemberley Chronicles)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402211554
Pages: 320 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen Sequel/Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

The Women of Pemberley follows the lives of five women, some from the beloved works of Jane Austen, some new from the author's imagination, into a new era of post industrial revolution England, at the start of the Victorian Age. Vast changes are in motion, as they were throughout this dynamic century.

The women, like many of Jane Austen's heroines, are strong, intelligent individuals, and the depth and variety of the original characters develop into a series of episodes linked together by their relationship to each other and to Pemberley, which is the heart of their community.

The central themes of love, friendship, marriage, and a sense of social obligation remain as do the great political and social issues of the age.

My Review:

I really liked this one a lot even though Darcy and Elizabeth have faded to the background in this novel. The non-canon characters were great. The next generation of Pemberley was just as interesting as the previous one. Each couple’s story is broken up into it’s own chapter which creates a nice continuum in the story. I was particularly attached to the story of Julian and Josie. They were the cutest couple and they had the best chemistry (apart from Lizzy and Darcy of couse).

I love the continuing importance of history in this series. The Darcys and their friends and family were apart of the history happening around them and I find it comforting to see them a part of it. I commend the amount of research that must have gone into this series. You can tell that Collins really immersed herself in the history. The history in no way, however, overwhelms the story.

The only problem for me was the character jumping. Again, the characters were only prominent in the story long enough to find their perfect partner and faded out once that goal was met. It was not too big of a problem for me with this one because I felt that the quality of the story and the characters were enough to make this issue seem superfluous.
*This book was bought by me for me. I am not making any profit from my review of this book other than my enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Adagio Tea: Ginger Tea

I just bought my yearly (might be monthly from now on) tea shipment from Adagio Tea. I was totally and completely enthralled with this company. They sent me my shipment in less than two days with free shipping, packed beautifully and with a couple of free samples. They also have a point system where you can earn points towards a free gift certificate (if anyone wants me to send them a free gift certificate, just request it in the comments with your email).

This is the first time I am trying Adagio Teas. I have been buying from a variety of other companies but haven’t found the “right” tea flavor or quality until I tried Adagio Tea. No other company I have bought from has come close to the quality of tea, service and variety that can be found at Adagio Tea and trust me I am quite picky with my tea.

One of the biggest plusses is their packaging. The teas come in these adorable containers (first pic). The other company I bought from used bags and it was a pain. I had to transfer all of my teas to Tupperware containers and it drove my mother crazy. She says she still hasn’t gotten the tea smell out of her precious Tupperware and she really hates tea.

The first tea I tried was the Ginger Tea. I was really excited about the Ginger Tea. When I opened the container, I was expecting a very faint ginger smell but what I smelled was an intense yet not too spicey smell. It smelled exactly like real ginger. The other ginger teas I have tried have smelled and tasted like a ginger snap cookie and I hate ginger snap cookies.

When I brewed the tea I was expecting the smell and taste of the ginger in the tea to fade but it did not. If anything the smell of ginger got a little bit stronger. The taste of the tea was very balanced. The taste of the ginger, while quite prominent, does not overwhelm the taste of the tea. It is also one of the only teas I have found that smells and tastes almost exactly the same. Usually when I find a tea that has a really great smell to it, I find that the taste leaves quite a lot to be desired. Not true with this one.

This tea was perfect with two sprinkles of sugar and maybe a touch of milk, if you like milk in your tea. I steeped mine for four minutes because I like my tea a bit stronger. This is the perfect tea for curling up with a book. I really wanted a fireplace and wintertime when drinking this tea.

I think I am going to try their Chocolate Chai or Cinnamon tea tonight. I haven't decided.

Please visit Adagio Tea to peruse their wide selection.

Grade-A+-Click here to purchase 4oz of this tea

*This tea was bought by me for me. I am not making any profit from my review of this book other than my enjoyment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins

The Pemberley Chronicles: A Companion Volume to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402211538
Pages: 384 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen Sequel/Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

The weddings are over.

The guests (including millions of readers and viewers) wish the two happy couples health and happiness. As the music swells and the credits roll, two things are certain: Jane and Bingley will want for nothing, while Elizabeth and Darcy are to be the happiest couple in the world!

The couples' personal stories of love, marriage, money, and children are woven together with the threads of social and political history of nineteenth century England. As changes in industry and agriculture affect the people of Pemberley and the neighboring countryside, the Darcys strive to be progressive and forward-looking while upholding beloved traditions.

Rebecca Ann Collins follows them in imagination, observing and chronicling their passage through the landscape of their surroundings, noting how they cope with change, triumph, and tragedy in their lives.

My Review:

I am rereading this series because I have the new sixth book for review and I have this compulsion where I cannot not read the previous books in a series. It is a problem I have. I wanted to reread anyway. And this time through the series I get to review them all.

The characters (both canon and non-canon) were great. Lizzy and Darcy were completely in character and the chapters about the beginning of their marriage were wonderful. I especially loved the Gardiners and Mr. Bennet in this one. I loved that they had such a big role. The non-canon characters were great and fit well into the story. I usually prefer sequels focusing on Lizzy and Darcy themselves but the new characters worked well. I only wish there had been more of Lizzy and Darcy. I read Jane Austen sequels for Lizzy and Darcy and I think this one is not so much about them but the other people around them. The story jumps from one couple to the next and I just wish that, for the first book at least, the focus would have been solely on Lizzy and Darcy and their marriage. The characters also only stay in frame long enough for them to get married. I would have liked to get to know them a bit better. I was also disappointed in Collins' use of Kitty and Georgiana but especially Kitty. She became such a great character and reformed. I wanted to see more of her but as soon as she was married off, she disappeared.

The bright spot for me was the history. I love how Collins follows the history of the times. To some readers it might be a bit oppressive but to see these characters in relation to the society in which they live is a true gift. Collins takes us beyond Austen’s world and I absolutely love that. She also weaves the history into the story perfectly. I always wondered about Darcy’s political views. Would he have been conservative or more liberal? Who knows but I did love seeing him looking out for his tenants.

Overall, this is a great Austen sequel. I would have liked it more if the story had focused more on Darcy and Lizzy but it is still worth a read because it is a very rich and well-drawn sequel.

*This book was bought by me for me. I am not making any profit from my review of this book other than my enjoyment.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys (Pride & Prejudice Continues)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 140222429X
Pages: 368 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen Sequel/ Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

In this lively second installment, the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into married life and its many accompanying challenges presented by family and friends.

With Jane and Elizabeth away, Darcy and Bingley take on the daunting task of managing their two-year- old children. Mary Bennet returns from the Continent pregnant by an Italian student promised to the church; Darcy and Elizabeth travel to find the father, and discover previously unknown—and shocking—Darcy relations. By the time Darcy discovers that there's more than one sibling of questionable birth in the family, the ever-dastardly Wickham arrives on the scene to try to seize the Darcy fortune once and for all.

My Review:

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers was a great sequel to The Darcys and the Bingleys. It was humorous, dramatic, romantic and touching—all things I love in a Jane Austen sequel. I also love when sequels attempt to delve into the past of the very mysterious Darcy family and/or take the reader away from Pemberley. I was very happy to find that this novel does both.

I began reading with extremely high expectations. I loved The Darcys and the Bingleys and could not wait for more. I loved the humor and wit of the first book and was expecting the same of the second. The humor definitely lived up to expectations in the form of little Gregory, Darcy and Elizabeth’s son. He is such a little scamp and he runs Darcy ragged. My favorite escapade is when he dyes Georgie, Jane and Bingley’s daughter, and himself blue. I couldn’t stop chuckling. He is adorable. This sequel also adds more drama in the form of a foolish decision made by Mary Bennet. I know! Mary Bennet! Shocked me too. I love Mary and, trust me, I never anticipated her making a Lydia-style folly but Altman was convincing in Lydiafying my innocent Mary Bennet. I love how she didn’t make Mary look foolish even through her mistakes but simply unfortunate. I would have loved to see a more typical happy ending for Mary in this one. I have always wanted her to find someone to love her and I suppose she did, in a way. She, for some reason, is my favorite character apart from Lizzy and Darcy. I suppose I identify with her.

The canon and new non-canon characters were treated well by Altman. Gregoire was an amazing addition to the Jane Austen group of characters. I was quite unsure as to how a monk would work in relation to Darcy but he did have a great chemistry with Darcy and Elizabeth and I loved watching them travel together. I loved watching Darcy take care of and worry over Gregoire when he learned that he was fasting and flagellating himself. He also added a new dimension to Darcy that I didn’t expect. Maddox, one of my favorite character from The Darcys and the Bingleys, acts like the reader’s eye into the outside world of Regency England, that Austen would never have shown us. He takes us from whorehouses to the Prince Regent himself. He also shows us the realities of childbirth before advanced medicine made it safer. Even Wickham is treated well. He gains a bit of humanity. Not a lot but enough so I don’t want to strangle him till his eyes pop out.

This is an excellent sequel. I would read The Darcy’s and the Bingley’s first before picking this one up. I will read any Jane Austen sequels that Marsha Altman writes. This goes on the shelf with my favorites.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

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