Thursday, June 29, 2017

Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks

Modern Persuasion
by Sara Marks

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Just released: May 29, 2017
Publisher: Illuminated Myth Publishing
Genre: Romance, Jane Austen
Paperback: 228
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
"Your father's art collection is quite… large," said the woman sitting before me.

Which would you pick: the person you love or your own dreams? What would you do if given a second chance at that decision? Eight years ago Emma Shaw picked her career and family over the man she loved, Fredrick Wentworth. Since then she has built a career in publishing and spends her free time making sure her father and sisters are taken care of. Fredrick has spent the same years building his career as a screenwriter under increasing public scrutiny as a celebrity. When the editor of Fredrick s first book is injured, Emma is forced to travel with Fredrick on his book tour. Tension builds for the two former lovers over the course of the tour. Emma and Fredrick must face their emotional baggage and their misunderstanding about how their break-up impacted the other. Will they be able to find their way back together for a second chance at love?

My two-bits:

Loved this retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. The characters are re-worked well into the modern day American culture.

The setting was especially fun as it is in the world of publishing with behind-the-scenes book tour and author event details as well as romance shenanigans thrown in.

It was amusing to read the description of experiences at the fictional publishing convention, PubCon. Anyone who has attended BEA can relate.

The romance pacing was similarly and properly drawn out.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of tour

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Happy release: The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sophia Rose
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Hello, all!

I’m Sophia and I dropped by to share with you, dear vvb32Reads readers, about the recent release for a collection of stories that I was privileged to be a contributing author. I am pretty certain that no matter how you like your Mr. Darcy; you will find him inside the exquisite covers of our book.

The Darcy Monologues
edited by Christina Boyd
-Short stories, Jane Austen theme, Romance
Just released: May 21, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

"You must allow me to tell you...”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein The Darcy Monologues, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.


Call Upon Us Anytime:
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Before I head out, I have a mouthwatering breakfast or brunch recipe to share with vvb32’s readers.

This is the French Toast I was envisioning when I wrote the scene between Darcy and Lizzy at Daily Bread in Darcy Strikes Out, my short story, when she orders the restaurant’s special French Toast.  The recipe is one from Grandmere’s Inn, a B&B our family frequented up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California when I was a kid. Easy, but oh so decadent.

GRANDMERE’S INN STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

1 loaf of Sourdough bread                            
8 oz cream cheese
2 ½ c milk                                                        
8 eggs
1 c pure maple syrup                                     
½ c butter, melted

Cube 1 loaf of sourdough bread.  Spray 9” casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer as follows:  bread, sliced 8 oz block of cream cheese in ¼” slices, bread.  Mix 2 ½ c milk, 8 eggs, and ½ c pure maple syrup (you can get away with regular maple syrup).  Pour over casserole, making sure that bread is saturated.  Bake for 2 hours at 350`.  Pour mixture of ½ c syrup and ½ c melted butter over all.  Optional:  Add cinnamon to the milk and egg mixture or sprinkle on afterward.

Thanks for hosting me, vvb32!  


Praise for THE DARCY MONOLOGUES:

... expressive prose, thoughtful renderings, and charm, this anthology gives readers an intimate look into the thoughts and feelings of the illustrious and proud Mr. Darcy. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time in Darcy’s head?!? —Austenesque Reviews

The Darcy Monologues is a collection of stories that I find myself returning to again and again, for who could resist spending more time with Mr. Darcy? The combined efforts of this talented dream team are evident within each story, spanning from the Regency era to Contemporary times, as readers explore new sides to the man who is considered the most popular book boyfriend of all time…romance and historical fiction readers alike will want this book on his/her bookshelves! —Just Jane 1813

...fantastic group of authors, each delivering their own delightful spin of Darcy from his point of view…This well written and endearing anthology does not disappoint! —More Agreeably Engaged

There’s nothing more addictive than a collection of fresh, heartwarming stories about one of the most beloved classic book boyfriends. Prepare to fall in love with Mr. Darcy over and over again. —Of Pens and Pages


About the authors:

—Formally trained as a fine artist and illustrator, Susan Adriani discovered her passion for storytelling over a decade after she graduated from a local art college near her childhood home in New England. Susan is the author of The Truth about Mr. Darcy and Darkness Falls upon Pemberley.

Sara Angelini is a lawyer living in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, three kids, two dogs, a frog, some fish, and a few hundred stick bugs. She never went to veterinary school but if she had, she would have been a true proficient. She enjoys writing from Darcy’s point of view in a way that shows his humor and vulnerability. Her first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, was published in 2008. She is the co-founder of austenunderground.com, where her other Pride and Prejudice-inspired works can be read.

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

J. Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery”. Bearing witness to her fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are Joanne’s light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight, a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014, her humorous short story, “Spyglasses and Sunburns”, in the Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology, and a playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities, Just Jane 1813’s Favorite JAFF Novella of 2016.

—Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of four Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, and A Peculiar Connection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” She is a member of Jane Austen Society of North America, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of gorgeous grandchildren.

Jenetta James is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers.

Lory Lilian fell in love with Pride and Prejudice thirty-three years ago and discovered the charm of Jane Austen fanfiction exactly twenty years later. She lives in Bucharest, Romania, is a proud mother of an amazing daughter, and addicted to anything Austen. After a career in business, she dedicates her time to reading and writing. Lory is the author of six bestselling books: Rainy Days, Remembrances of the Past, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, and A Man with Faults. The JAFF readers call her the “Queen of Hot Mush” and she loves it.

KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world. She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. As a young adult, she steered clear of bad prose and achieved a degree in social work. Years later, she has published four Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a swoon and hopefully a few laughs. Her books turned out better than her poetry and are: Falling for Mr. Darcy, Bluebells in the Mourning, the IPPY award-winning Haunting Mr. Darcy, and Yours Forevermore, Darcy.

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with literature. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen Onscreen.

—Mild-mannered business woman by day, hopeless romantic by night, Ruth Phillips Oakland was always a fan of the fictional gentleman from Derbyshire, but it was her discovery of Jane Austen fanfiction in 2006 that inspired Ruth to become a writer. Ruth has written dozens of short stories posted online and the published novel entitled, My BFF. Ruth lives in New England with her favorite husband of over thirty years and is thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many of her favorite authors and friends.

Natalie Richards is a writer, blogger, and singer. She started her book review blog, Songs & Stories, in late 2010 after falling in love with Jane Austen fanfiction. Her writing can also be found on Figment, the Darcy & Lizzy Forum, TeenInk Magazine, and in the Austenesque anthologies Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter. She resides with her family in the Oregon countryside and currently works as a waitress and babysitter.

Sophia Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter anthologies. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for creative writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside while Sophia pursued degrees and certificates in education, special education, family history, and social work leading. Health issues led to an opportunity to read, beta, review books, and writing humorous stories that always end with a happily ever after.

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives in Canada with her husband and four kids. She is the author of SWAY, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and the short story “Becoming Fanny” featured in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Her second novel, Collide, inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, is coming soon. You can find her at melaniestanfordbooks.com, on Twitter @MelMStanford, and on Facebook via MelanieStanfordauthor.

Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion, and Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website joanastarnes.co.uk and on Facebook via All Roads Lead to Pemberley.

Caitlin Williams is an award-winning author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both of which spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen's England was made possible by her book boyfriend and star crush Henry Cavill when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sophia Rose
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City:
Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson
narrated by Tony Goldwyn

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Published: 2003
Publisher: Crown
Genre: History, True Crime
Hardback: 447
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The date was April 14, 1912, a sinister day in maritime history, but of course the man in suite 63-65, shelter deck C, did not yet know it.

In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.


My two-bits:

What is special about this story are the rich details provided for both the makings of the Chicago's World Fair 1893 and of a serial killer during that time period.

~*~

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Diesel Book Club, Larkspur (here)

The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Promise
by Gena Showalter

Find out more about this book and author:
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Just released: June 13, 2017
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Hardback: 432
Rating: 3

Lords of the Underworld series:
The Darkest Fire (bonus story)
The Darkest Night-- Maddox (Violence)
The Darkest Kiss -- Lucien (Death)
The Darkest Pleasure -- Reyes (Pain)
*The Darkest Prison -- Atlas and Nike (bonus story)
The Darkest Whisper -- Sabin (Doubt)
The Darkest Angel found in the anthology Heart of Darkness -- Lysander and Bianka
Into the Dark-- a compendium of The Darkest Fire and The Darkest Prison printed inside, plus the original The Darkest Facts
The Darkest Passion -- Aeron (Wrath)
The Darkest Lie -- Gideon (Lies)
The Darkest Secret -- Amun (Secrets)
The Darkest Surrender -- Strider (Defeat)
The Darkest Seduction -- Paris (Promiscuity)
The Darkest Craving -- Kane (Disaster)
The Darkest Touch -- Torin (Disease)
The Darkest Torment -- Baden (Distrust)
The Darkest Promise -- Cameo (Misery)

First sentence(s):
Like Alice on her way to Wonderland, Cameo, host to the demon of Misery, tumbled end over end down a long, dark cavern.

Possessed by the demon of Misery, Cameo isn't allowed to experience joy. If she dares, her memory is wiped clean. With no other recourse, she sneaks into a land more fantastical than any fairy tale, determined to find the one man with the key to her redemption.

Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual rules his kingdom with a single unwavering focus: to build his army and annihilate his enemies. Nothing distracts him—until Cameo. He is relentless in his quest to make her smile…and seduce her into his bed.

As dark forces conspire against them, threatening to destroy the fragile bond they've forged, the once-calm Lazarus grows crazed. Every heart-stopping kiss and wicked touch causes Cameo to teeter on the brink of happiness. But if she falls, she risks forgetting him forever…


My two-bits:

The story takes you into the underworld with its own set of beings wielding various powers.

The romance moves slowly forward with lots of back and forth of "should i / should i not" vibes which kind of got frustrating.

Of course being otherworldly creatures, their individual set of problems aside from the usual stirrings of lust and love come into play for much conflict and difficulties for the couple.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of tour

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy release: Life Would Suck Without You by Jennifer Preuss

Life Would Suck Without You
A Girlfriend Memoir
by Jennifer Preuss
-Memoir, Humor
Just released: May 16, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

When life makes no sense, and the world is going straight to hell, a girl knows she can count on her best friends

There are all types of friends. Rich friends. Poor friends. Fair weather friends—and then there are Best Friends—your BFF’s. Meet Jennifer, a wannabe soap opera star, new to LA and waiting tables in Century City. She makes three new friends, and they turn out to be inseparable.

Together they go from one hilarious adventure to another; crashing concerts and movie star bars, lingerie shopping, and laughing about men’s shortcomings, all revealed through the razor-sharp, self-deprecating humor of the author. Life is good, even laugh-out-loud funny, and Jen discovers the real meaning of friendship. But when life throws them a cruel curve ball, which rocks them to their very core . . . is friendship enough?

Life Would Suck Without You is a feel-good story that will make you laugh and cry, Jennifer Preuss’s comical and heartwarming book tells the tale of an inseparable group of four women who navigate their 20s and 30s, dealing with life, death and all the things in between.


Excerpt:

Chapter One

Perhaps I should back up a little bit. I moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, by way of Miami for college, to be a soap opera star. Yes, that’s right. Most people who want to act dream of being a movie star or landing on a sitcom. Not me. I wanted to be on General Hospital. The year was 1999. My first job was waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant in the Century City Mall.

“Full hands out!” That’s what we shouted as we exited the kitchen at the Century City Houston’s Restaurant. That meant we didn’t have an empty hand to take anything out for anyone to his or her tables. There were so many rules you needed to know at this restaurant. It was unlike any other waiting tables job I had ever had. I worked at many restaurants as a hostess and server since I was sixteen. Very much a people person, I loved interacting with my customers. Only they weren’t customers at Houston’s. They were my guests. No. They were the restaurants’ guests and me, nothing but a humble servant. It was my first week without shadowing a trainer, and it was overwhelming, to say the least.

We only had a three-table section. This should be easy. In college, I had six, sometimes seven tables in my section and I prided myself on my excellent service. But Houston’s was unlike any other restaurant I had ever worked. It was run like the military. I will never forget ordering someone’s lunch on the computer and hyperventilating because I had to get drinks to table 33, a “guest request” to someone not in my section (still my responsibility, though), and ring in a long order with more modifications than ingredients. As I tried to run out of the kitchen to get the guest request to the table, the manager shoved two plates in my hand reminding me not to leave the kitchen without full hands. When I arrived at my table, they yelled at me for not having their drinks. I promised to check on them.

“This might sound silly, but I can get back here much faster if you give me your empty bread plates to carry to the kitchen,” I said. They looked at me like I was insane as I grabbed the untouched plates so I could have “full hands in” and made my way back to the kitchen. A manager stopped me and would not let me into the kitchen because I did not have FULL hands! Bread plates or “tip plates” as they were called, were small enough to grab other things. I scurried around the restaurant trying to find plates that needed clearing so I could get back to the drink area to make sure my drinks were going out to my table. I was so overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to wait tables in Los Angeles? I found a few more big plates to clear and got back to the kitchen. When I put the plates down, I started crying. Like “ugly girl” crying.
 
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