Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free Clubhouse Magazine Trial


Try 3 issues of the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse® (ages 8-12) OR Clubhouse Jr.® (ages 3-7) magazine for free!

Created with kids in mind, Focus on the Family offers a world of fun and imagination through short stories, jokes, puzzles, and games as well as recipes and activities to do as a family. Plus, what child doesn’t like mail? Your child will enjoy getting this entertaining magazine each month in the mail.

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Grow Your Child's Faith This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams

The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.

But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.

The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one. She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart? 

For those of us in the adult population, we were all teenagers at one time.  For many, those were tumultuous years, full of self-discovery and the beginnings of independent thinking.  Much to our parents’ consternation, we may have presented more than a few challenges as we made our way through the process of maturing. Such is family life, and such is the situation that the Darcy family finds themselves in when a very young Elizabeth Bennet comes to live at Pemberley at the tender age of fifteen, in this Pride and Prejudice variation, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams.  In Jane Austen’s original story, Elizabeth meets the Darcy family (and specifically Fitzwilliam Darcy) at the age of 20, when she had reached a certain level of self-knowledge and maturity. In Williams’ work, young Lizzy has much to learn in that regard.

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet spans approximately six years, wherein we are treated to the development of Miss Bennet as she unexpectedly goes to live at Pemberley after the death of her father. Unlike in Pride and Prejudice, going to this grand home is not a happy occasion for her.  Not only is Lizzy enduring a great loss, but she must also say farewell to her home and the rest of her family as well.  These events were put in motion by her father’s last wishes, in an effort to see that she would be well taken care of by his old friend, George Darcy, father of Georgiana and Fitzwilliam.  She fights going to the Darcy home so forcefully, events are put into motion that will change her life and the lives of the Darcy’s forever.

Caitlin Williams has produced quite an epic tale in her latest work.  While Elizabeth may not travel far from Pemberley or London in this lengthy and enjoyable novel, as readers we are taken on quite a journey through time and Elizabeth’s development over the years.  At the outset of the story, Lizzie almost reminded me of author Winston Graham's Demelza Poldark, in her scrappy, unrefined behavior, determined to be a contrarian almost wherever she went.  Unlike Demelza in Poldark however, she is not as grateful for the opportunity to be living with her new family, and she certainly doesn’t entertain any romantic notions toward young Darcy, who is approximately 6 years her senior.  In truth, I found her somewhat exasperating and a bit of a brat, nothing like the composed, well-spoken Lizzy we’re used to seeing.  But this underdeveloped Lizzy is realistic.  She’s a teenager.  She’s grieving her father and loss of freedom.  In many ways, she’s quite a mess.  (Perhaps the rankling I felt came from my own feelings as the parent of a teenager…?)

One of the few things I didn’t enjoy was the amount of time that Fitzwilliam Darcy spent away from Pemberley.  He was frequently absent on business, often for more than a year.  He did have business to attend to, but he was avoiding Lizzy as well.  As such, she spends more time with the elder George Darcy, Georgiana, and cousin Richard “Colonel” Fitzwilliam. Each time young Darcy returns home, he finds her somewhat altered, more mature with each year gone by.  She resents him greatly for being a part of her new existence, for his judgmental attitude and his propensity to order her around.  For the majority of the novel, they simply do not get along.  While their animosity wasn’t a problem for me, I would have enjoyed seeing them spend more time together over the years.

That being said, Williams’ writing during Darcy’s years away was still very captivating.  She held my attention very well, and I never labored with the pages that didn’t include Darcy.  There was plenty of material for her to work with, not the least of which was the emergence of Mr. Wickham, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s nemesis.  While he doesn’t pull his usual antics with Georgiana as he does in the original Austen work, he wreaks plenty of havoc while present with us in the narrative.  And like in the source material, Elizabeth does get taken in by him to some extent.  Readers will have to discover how far he goes in his efforts to bring mayhem to the Darcy clan.

Of course romantic elements do come into play before long.  This wouldn’t be much of an Austenesque novel if they didn’t!  I enjoyed the romantic tension that was eventually brought into the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, so much so that I wish those chapters had gone on longer.  I was enjoying the book so thoroughly, I longed for the story to continue into Lizzy’s 22nd year and beyond.  Williams provided tantalizing romantic details without being overly steamy, and I truly appreciated that.  While I wouldn’t recommend this title to very very young readers, it’s one of the more family-friendly Austenesque novels I’ve read in recent years.  The marriage bed is honored, and we are still given a bit excitement as well.

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet was a delight to read and is a quality work.  This is my first foray into Caitlin William’s writing, and I look forward to reading more of her.  She honors the spirit of Austen’s characters very well, and provides an entertaining read for modern audiences.  This Janeite and parent of a teenager gives a hearty seal of approval!

About the Author

Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family. She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.

Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.

Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.

Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.

Connect with Caitlin Williams


Caitlin Williams, author of the highly-praised book, Ardently, tours the blogosphere from June 13- June 26, 2016 to share her newest release, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet. Fourteen book bloggers, specializing in Austenesque fiction and romance stories, will share excerpts, guest posts, an exclusive interview with the author and book reviews from this highly awaited Austen-inspired novel. Eight ebooks are also being included in our giveaways and entry is available to anyone who participates in this blog tour.

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Blog Tour Schedule

June 13/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway

June 14/ So Little Time... / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 15/ Just Jane 1813/An Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Williams

June 16/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

June 17/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 18/ The Calico Critic/Book Review & Giveaway

June 19/ Babblings of a Bookworm/“The Education of a Young Lady” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 20/ Half Agony, Half Hope/Book Review

June 21/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

June 22/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice /Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 23/ Liz's Reading Life / “A Nod and A Wink to Austen” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 24/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review

June 25/ Laughing With Lizzie/ “The Young Master” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 26/ A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/ “A Most Scandalous” Guest Post


Only $4.99 on Kindle! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Make Your Children World Explorers


Give your family summer vacation a makeover this year and turn it into a "staycation." Have your kids forget their summer boredom, turn off their screens, and instead circle the globe with Focus on the Family's "World Explorers" summer adventure kit!

Throughout the next two months, travel our colorful, diverse world, visiting 27 different countries on six continents. Part of the fun will be figuring out where the next stop is, using five clues that reveal interesting facts about the next country. Once you've determined where you're going, use the games, activities and faith lessons to give your kids a glimpse into that country's unique culture.


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Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway : Love & Friendship by Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman has taken Austen’s never-finished epistolary novella, Lady Susan, reimagined it as a straight narrative, and added the hilarious new character of Rufus, Susan’s apologist nephew, who aims to clear Susan’s good name come hell or high water (even if he is doing it from "the ignoble abode" of debtors’ prison ). Despite many indications to the contrary, Rufus insists that Susan is, “the kindest, most delightful woman anyone could know, a shining ornament to our Society and Nation.” Rufus then appends his earnest tale with a collection of his aunt’s letters, which he claims have been altered by Austen to cast the estimable Lady Susan in a bad light.

Impossibly beautiful, disarmingly witty, and completely self-absorbed, Lady Susan Vernon, is both the heart and the thorn of Love & Friendship. Recently widowed, with a daughter who’s coming of age as quickly as their funds are dwindling, Lady Susan makes it her mission to find them wealthy husbands——and fast.

But when her attempts to secure their futures result only in the wrath of a prominent conquest’s wife and the title of “most accomplished coquette in England,” Lady Susan must rethink her strategy.

Unannounced, she arrives at her brother-in-law’s country estate. Here she intends to take refuge——in no less than luxury, of course——from the colorful rumors trailing her, while finding another avenue to “I do.” Before the scandalizing gossip can run its course, though, romantic triangles ensue.

With a devoted Austenian sensibility and absurd theological commentary, filmmaker and writer Whit Stillman ingeniously reimagines and completes one of our greatest writers’ unfinished works. As much homage to its muse’s perennial influence as testament to its author’s brilliance, Love & Friendship is a sharp comedy of manners, and a fiendishly funny treat for Austen and Stillman fans alike.

Love & Friendship
brings a healthy helping of scandal, along with lots of laughs, to Georgian and Victorian London. Whit Stillman has also created a film version of Love & Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, opened in select theaters on May 13th.

Like many fans of Jane Austen, I’m happy to see most Austenesque films come to the cinema (with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being an exception).  When I learned of Whit Stillman’s cinematic and literary adaptations of Austen’s Lady Susan, I was thrilled!  Ashamedly, I’d never read the original epistolary novel and set about tending to that task straightaway.  As it was an unfinished work, I don’t know that Jane intended for this version to be the final edition, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when I was not overcome with enjoyment of this title.  I found it odd and sometimes hard to follow.  That being said, I’m glad to have read it, and especially glad to be somewhat familiar with the source material before taking in Stillman’s version, Love & Friendship.

In this new publication, the novel is a short piece of about 150 pages, followed by a reprint of Austen’s original work.   I actually began reading on page 155, wanting to read Lady Susan first, as mentioned. In addition to her text, Stillman has supplemented it with commentary from “Rufus”, a nephew who is bound and determined to rebut almost everything that “the spinster authoress” Austen has to say about Lady Susan Vernon.  Stillman’s character in a sense is “real”, and Austen has done a “libelous” work in besmirching the also “real” Lady Susan.  It’s an interesting literary device that is ripe for humor and amusement.

After reading Austen’s words with Stillman’s commentary from “Rufus”, I went on to read Love & Friendship.  How amusing this story is!  In a Facebook post I referred to Lady Susan as a “hot mess”, and that she is!  Gloriously beautiful despite her advanced age (!) of the mid-30’s, she is also hopelessly prolific in all of her manipulative ways.  She has had more than one man wrapped around her little finger in her time, and she knows how to handle them in such a way to get what she wants.  She has her enemies, but there are also many who fawn over her in admiration.  She claims to adore her daughter Frederica, but she seems more concerned about either having her away or marrying her off as soon (and as well as) possible. The widow Lady Susan’s main interests seem to lie in continuing to live in the luxury to which she had become accustomed prior to her husband’s death, and ensuring the security of her daughter as well.  At the same time, she loved to skirt the lines of propriety, having a reputation for being an outrageous flirt, to both bachelor and married men alike.  The dance that she seemed to be performing in society was occasionally dizzying, and I marveled at the characters as they spun around her, sometimes completely unaware of her maneuverings.

I found myself highlighting a number of passages in this amusing tale, and I just have to share some of them:

“Partial truth is Falsehood’s most potent bodyguard.”

“Perhaps we all have a spinster authoress in our lives, even if just that inner demon which mocks and denigrates all we do.”

“That’s the parent’s lot! We bring these delightful creatures into the world-- eagerly, happily-- and then before long they are spying upon and judging us, rarely favourably. Having children is our fondest wish but, in doing so, we breed our acutest critics. It is a preposterous situation-- but entirely of our own making...Of course when the little ones are very small there's a kind of sweetness which partially compensates for the dreadfulness which comes after..."

“Among the habitually malicious, kindness and gentility are often mistaken for simple-mindedness.”

“’Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ No, not at all, it is not the sincerest. That would be mocking contempt and physical battery—a lesson I learned, rather painfully, over a number of years.”  (I don’t agree with all of these quotes—I just find many of them incredibly amusing in some of their absurdities.

“Those who fall from virtue first cause injury, then cast blame.”

“This often happens: The individual who identifies a truth earlier than others is then bitterly mocked by those attached to erroneous convention.”

These are just a few moments of Whit Stillman’s wit that I enjoyed very much.  His writing is clear, yet seems very faithful to the tone of other 19th century authors like Austen.  He has taken her writing and turned it on its ear somewhat, but he has done a masterful work.  I encourage readers to follow my lead—read Lady Susan first, and then enjoy what Stillman has done with his retelling. While short and sweet, Love & Friendship was a delight, and I eagerly anticipate viewing the cinematic version as well.  Oh to see the lovely Kate Beckinsale in this delicious role—I can only imagine how fun this will be!

About the Author

Whit Stillman was born in Washington, D.C., and attended Harvard, where he was an editor of the Harvard Crimson before working in book and magazine publishing. He has written and directed five films, including the award-winning Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco, and Damsels in Distress, as well as the TV show The Cosmopolitans. His first novel, The Last Days of Disco, won the 2014 Prix Fitzgerald. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, The Guardian, Vogue, and other publications. Visit his unofficial website for updates on this latest Amazon series The Cosmopolitans, and follow him on Twitter as @WhitStillman and on Facebook.

Award winning writer-director-filmmaker Whit Stillman tours the blogosphere June 13 through June 24, 2016 to share his latest release, Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated. Thirteen popular book bloggers—card carrying Jane Austen fans one and all—will feature interviews, book excerpts and reviews of this highly acclaimed novel. A fabulous giveaway contest, including hardcopies of the book will be open to those who join the festivities.  


June 13        AustenBlog (Interview)
June 14        The Calico Critic (Review)              
June 15        Diary of Eccentric (Excerpt)  
June 16        Laura's Reviews (Review)
June 17        My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)
June 17        Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)          
June 20        Austenesque Reviews (Review)
June 20        Austenprose (Interview)          
June 21        So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
June 21        Luxury Reading (Review)          
June 22        Just Jane 1813 (Review)                  
June 23        Savvy Verse & Wit (Excerpt)          
June 24        Austenprose (Review)          


In celebration of the release of Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated, Mr. Stillman’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co has kindly offered a chance to win one of three hardcover copies of the book!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the The Love & Friendship Janeite Blog Tour starting June 13, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, June 30, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Austenprose on July 1, 2016. Winners have until July 07, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!

Hardcover Paperback Kindle Audible

Monday, June 6, 2016

Adventures in Odyssey Summer Challenge 2016

This summer, you can join Adventures in Odyssey’s Clubhouse Magazine and help children in the Middle East go to school and learn English. It’s Adventures in Odyssey's Clubhouse Magazine Exercise to Educate summer challenge!

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The Problem

Nearly 7,000 miles away from the United States, there's a war going on in the country of Syria. Many families have been forced from their homes. Parents have had to leave their jobs, and children have had to leave behind toys and friends.

Many of these families now live in refugee camps in nearby countries. They have tents instead of houses. Clean water is hard to come by. This war has put 2.6 million children out of school – some for more than four years already.

The Solution

Our friends at Focus on the Family Middle East know many families who don't have the money to buy a school uniform and pay for their children to go to school. They also know people who would love to teach children English in local churches.

You may not have a lot of money to help, but you probably have time, energy and excitement. Here's what you can do:

1. Go to to Whitsend.org/summer.
2. Print a sponsor sheet and exercise to earn points. You can do it for a week or the whole summer – just remember, the more you exercise, the more points you'll earn!
3. Ask your family and friends to sponsor your efforts.
4. Beginning in July, tell us how you did and receive a digital bundle from your friends at Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family. The deadline to submit your information is August 31, 2016. 

For participating and submitting your information, you will get a free Adventures in Odyssey episode from Album 51. You will also get 101 Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Child's Faith – eBook and the audio book of Imagination Station #1, “Voyage with the Vikings.” Make the most of your summer—exercise for your health and help other kids in need while you do!

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Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with over 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book Review: Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

Dawn at Emberwilde is second in the Treasures of Surrey series by Sarah E. Ladd.  In preparation for this review, I quickly read the first title, The Curiosity Keeper (at right).  I will not do a full review here of that novel, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed it very much.  I expected a similar experience with Dawn at Emberwilde.  Unfortunately, this was not to be. Yes, it’s a sweet tale of a young girl who finds love in a way she never expected.  Based on the family-friendliness of the content, I have no trouble recommending this clean romance to general audiences, but for some reason the story didn’t draw me in as the first one did.

I’m not sure why I didn’t find Dawn at Emberwilde as compelling as its sister novel.  Set in 19th century England, it certainly falls into the genre of reading to which I’m usually drawn. As mentioned, the content is clean, with even a few moments of faith sprinkled here and there. Lead character Isabel Creston is an admirable young woman, as she manages to weather several types of trials, all while remaining the loving caretaker of her young half sister. The male leads of the story provide interesting focal points for her, as she begins to consider the possibility of romance after starting a new life with her long-lost relatives.   There is a mysterious wooded area near her new home, and shady goings-on affect her life in various ways.

All of the elements of an enjoyable novel seem to be in place for Dawn at Emberwilde, but I just wasn’t overly fascinated throughout the story.  It was a quick read, but I kept waiting for something to engage me in a way that would interest me more.  In The Curiosity Keeper, there was a jewel that was worked into the story line in a very interesting way, and it makes sense that this previous title is a part of the Treasures of Surrey series.  With Dawn at Emberwilde, I kept waiting for a similar plot device to show up in the narrative—perhaps a mysterious diamond or emerald with ties to the story that would be exciting or puzzling.  To my disappointment, nothing like this really occurred.

While second in the series, Dawn at Emberwilde can very much stand on its own. There are a few crossover characters, but prior knowledge of them and their history is not essential to participation in the reading. Although my enthusiasm for this title isn’t overly exuberant, I wouldn’t say this review is a non-recommendation.  Perhaps the novel just caught me on the wrong week to read it—who knows? Despite my tepid response, I do hope that Sarah Ladd continues the series, and I would definitely like to read another volume. In that sense, the jury is not out on my overall opinion of the collection.

About the Author 

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky Golden Retriever. Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahladd.com.

Paperback copy of the novel provided by Litfuse Publicity for review purposes only.

Paperback Kindle Audio Book 1

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Melanie Dickerson’s The Beautiful Pretender Once Upon a Kindle Giveaway

For many, the search for one’s spouse can be a tricky endeavor, and this is no less true for the Reinhart Stolten, the Margrave of Thornbeck in Melanie Dickerson’s The Beautiful Pretender.  In him we find a 14th century nobleman in search of a bride, similar to many a plot in classic fairy tales. His method of choosing a wife is managed much like we see in today’s television show, “The Bachelor”, in that he invites ten women from around his Germanic realm as candidates.  At the end of their two week stay in his castle, he plans to ask one of them to marry him. Unbeknownst to Reinhart, one woman is an impostor, a mere servant girl named Avelina who is standing in for a lady who has run off with a knight.  For reasons revealed in the book, she must obey the Earl of Plimmwald or face dire consequences for her family and her community.  Not only must she attend this gathering of potential brides, but she must also remain inconspicuous and avoid being chosen.  To be selected would bring negative political consequences to Plimmwald.  Unfortunately, as time goes on, she and the Margrave find themselves drawn to each other. Complicating matters, Avelina stumbles upon a conspiracy that could not only threaten the balance of power, but her very life as well.

The Beautiful Pretender was a quick and light read which I enjoyed very much.  Many of the story themes were familiar, but I relished the way that Melanie Dickerson drew out her narrative.  There were several themes which I found interesting in particular. I liked the allusions to classic fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Pea. Like Princess and the Pea, Avelina’s nobility is questioned, as is her character.  As the other bridal candidates were, she was put through tests to judge her character and worthiness to be Stolten’s wife.  Despite her actual lack of noble-born blood, she is found to be one of the most upstanding of the women in the group.

The Beauty and the Beast allusion was a thought-provoking one, and for the first time I found myself questioning the values behind it.  Reinhart Stolten is a wounded warrior, one who is grieving the loss of loved ones and is also earnestly looking for a mate.  Like the “Beast”, he can be grumpy, has a bit of a temper, and has secrets within the west wing of his castle.  As Avelina is drawn to him, part of her wants to get close to him so that she can help heal his broken heart. 

“Avelina would be good for him. She could make him stop scowling, could make him believe in love and goodness. She could love him out of that dark thought pattern he seemed to be in, thinking about his lame ankle and about his poor dead brother and how he could not save him.” (p.162)

As I read this passage, I found my married self balking at this notion. After over twenty years of marriage, I’ve come to understand a few things about what makes a successful union. While I’m not a perfect wife, I’ve learned over the decades that we must not enter into a relationship with the idea that we are going to “fix” our loved one.  This is especially true when looking for a spouse. We need to do as James Dobson suggests, to “Keep our eyes wide open before marriage and halfway closed thereafter.” Our spouses can be our better halves in the sense that we can encourage one another on to love and good deeds, but starting a relationship with the idea that we would “fix” them can be very risky.  Yes, we should be very aware of our future mate’s flaws.  But are they flaws that we are willing to live with for the rest of our lives? Through God’s influence they might change, but they might not.  We need to love them regardless.  Fortunately, I don’t see Avelina as a stringent fixer-type.  She seems to care about Reinhart and just wants to love him in his pain.  He also seems to open to her opinions, which she was more than willing to share, and were not always in line with what he expected in a woman.  My guess is that given her temperament, she would be an encouragement to him, and not a pestering wife.

Another interesting theme dealt with the issue of self-respect.  In this I could see shadows of Cinderella, in that Avelina is a servant girl who dons fine, tailored clothing and is one of several choices for a noble bride.  And although she is a mere hireling, she learns along the way the value of respecting herself regardless of her position in life.  Even a servant can command and deserve respect, given how they carry themselves and expect to be treated. This life lesson was something I saw growing in this character as she spent time in Thornbeck Castle, and I respected Melanie Dickerson for including it.  Not all of us can be princesses or be noble-born, but we can all have dignity and treat ourselves accordingly.  This is not about haughty pride.  It’s about being a creation of God and worthy of care.

Given the main premise of the novel, Avelina’s true identity was sure to be revealed at some point. This is a bit of a spoiler, but any savvy reader would expect that the Margrave would discover the truth eventually.  While I expected this plot point, I was surprised at how soon this revelation occurred in the story.  It was approximately halfway through the book when the truth is revealed.  I wondered how Dickerson would keep the story going, with about half of the title left to go.  Fortunately, I was rewarded with an exciting tale of power struggles, chases, injuries, romance, and even a little bit of Christian faith thrown in.  The second half was more riveting than the first, and the conclusion was delightful.  

Melanie Dickerson is an author I have wanted to read for some time now, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to be a part of this book tour for The Beautiful Pretender.  In this novel I was entertained in a lighthearted and refreshing fashion.  Dickerson’s writing is very accessible and family friendly, while still bringing some passion to the love scenes. It might not have fairies and magical creatures, but the storytelling was quite magical and a delight to enjoy.  I look forward to reading more of Ms. Dickerson in the future.

About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.


Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll

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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. 
The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

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Paperback copy of the novel provided by Litfuse Publicity for review purposes only.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Guest Post and Giveaway - Victoria Kincaid, Author of Darcy vs. Bennet

Today we welcome author Victoria Kincaid, as she has a few thoughts and questions for us.  We'd love to have some comments from you, to see what you've been up to in your reading life as of late.  Following that, Victoria has offered a giveaway of her novel Darcy vs. Bennet, open to all readers!   Thanks for stopping by, Victoria, and good luck to all our contest entrants!

Recently I was lucky enough to have a chance to get together with four of my fellow Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) authors and a number of JAFF readers.  It was a very fun day!  One of the questions we discussed was what other kinds of books do JAFF readers read?  There are some readers whom I guess (based on the volume of JAFF they read) probably don’t have time to read much else (and good for you!), but then I would guess others read a wider variety of books.

 I went through a phase where I avidly consumed JAFF and read everything I could get my hands on.  But, now I spend a lot of my day thinking about how to get Elizabeth and Darcy together—as well as such questions as whether “stoop” is a word used by the British (it’s not) or if Jane Austen ever used the word “exemplar” (she didn’t).  It’s hard to work up enthusiasm for spending all of my precious little reading time revisiting Meryton and Pemberley yet again.

I do read JAFF, but not in nearly the quantities that I did before.  Now I vary my literary diet with a number of other genres, although mostly still romance, including, YA, M/M, contemporary, Regency, suspense, paranormal, and sometimes science fiction.   I do miss reading more JAFF.  Man, do I wish I had more time to read!  (Don’t we all?) But then I’d have less time to write.  :(

The nice thing is that reading in these other genres inspires and informs my JAFF writing.  Reading Regency romances obviously gives me a lot of background in the customs and society of the time period and sparks plot ideas. I do love some paranormal romance authors, and recently I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate paranormal elements (not zombies!) into a P&P variation.  I haven’t hit on the right plot yet, but there are some really fun paranormal Austenesque books out there.

Contemporary and YA authors have both inspired my JAFF writing as well.  I have a plot for a contemporary P&P all worked out in my head; I just haven’t had time to write it.  And I actually wrote a YA version of P&P – as a screenplay -- about ten years ago.   Someday I’d like to adapt it into a YA novel.

I would guess that my reading tastes are a little more varied than most JAFF readers, but I am very interested in knowing what my fellow JAFF fans read.  Is it mainly JAFF?  Or JAFF and Regency/historical romance?  Or if you go outside JAFF, do you mainly read romance or do you read other genres as well (mysteries, thrillers?).  Respond here or drop me an email sometime to let me know (I love to hear from readers!).


Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a copy of Darcy vs. Bennet by Victoria Kincaid.  The winner will receive their choice of edition, either eBook for paperback.  Contest is open internationally and will conclude at 12am EST on May 28, 2016.

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About the Author

The author of best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she is a freelance writer/editor who teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, two children who are learning how much fun Austen’s characters can be, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review - Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’m not one who enjoys writing scathing reviews.  I avoid them like the plague, as I know that authors pour their lives into their work, and my mere ramblings (in most cases) cannot hold a candle to what they have created. In truth, I feel I have no place to criticize anyone for what they have authored, as I myself have had very little work actually published.  On one occasion, I even took the time to contact an author to give them the option to have my negative review go unpublished.  I didn’t care for her work, but I didn’t feel she deserved the words I wanted to print, either.  I have no desire to rake anyone over the coals for decisions they’ve made as an author.

That said, I’ve decided not to hold back in my negative review of Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.  Ms. Sittenfeld, like the other authors in the Austen Project series, is renowned in her field and will certainly not suffer any harm from my meager opinion.  She most likely will not even read this, and ultimately will continue on in her successful career.

When I learned of the Austen Project, I was thrilled to know that established, respected authors would be taking on Jane Austen’s work, updating them with their own voices and styles.  Although other works such as Emma and Sense and Sensibility have already been published, I began reading this series with my favorite of Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice, which has been renamed Eligible for this volume.

I expected the modernization of the source material. I expected deviations from Austen’s characters and plot. This was not a problem.  What I didn’t enjoy was the sheer amount of trashy content that was sprinkled throughout the book.  WARNING:  I will not be shying away from spoilers.  If you’d rather go into this novel without my negative opinion or these glaringly ridiculous facts in your mind, I urge you to discontinue reading.

As expected, the younger Bennet sisters Lydia and Kitty are not only ridiculous, but embarrassing to the family.  However, in this Austenesque incarnation (and I hesitate to even call it that), they go beyond embarrassing to being downright crass and disgusting.  I may be called out for being a prude when it comes to their behavior and truly foul language, but that doesn’t concern me.  Lydia and Kitty are so repulsive; I didn’t find them amusing in the slightest.  Like the unseen Anne De Bourgh, I wish they’d been eliminated from the cast lineup entirely.

To continue in the ludicrous line of ideas I found within these pages, the title of this novel is taken from (of all things) a reality show called "Eligible", which seems to be a clone of the television show, “The Bachelor”.  The book as a whole eventually takes on a similar tone, in that it’s low-class, unrealistic and bawdy.  Yes, Liz and Darcy did have palpable chemistry and were at times interesting to watch as characters, but I couldn’t get beyond the amount of R-rated content that was included in their lives and in those around them.  When Mr. Collins goes to propose a romantic relationship with Liz, he initiates the discussion not with an awkward speech or phone call, but by jamming his tongue down her throat in an unwelcome kiss.  There is more than one mention of the use of dildos in the story, and Mrs. Bennet is more than just annoying—she’s downright racist.

I could go on and on about how much I disliked this novel, but I feel that my opinion (as singular as it may be) has been made clear.  There’s no need to go over my distaste repeatedly.  For those of you who enjoy reality shows like “The Bachelor”, this might be the book for you.  If the shredding of Austen’s decency doesn’t concern you, then by all means give this a try.  However, if ever I’m asked if I enjoyed Eligible, my response will be a decisive “No”.  My only hope is that the other titles in the Austen Project are not as deplorable.  The ones do I own will remain on my shelf as I look forward to giving them a try someday.  As for Eligible, it will be headed directly to my local used book store, in hopes that I can swap it for another title that will be worthy of my time and effort.  This one certainly was not.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Review and Giveaway: A Fine Stout Love by Renée Beyea

Discover what happens when Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet fancy and fantasy in this novella-length ensemble of Regency stories.
  • What if two inexplicable trails of words led to the Meryton churchyard on the same blustery morning?
  • What if Darcy stumbled across suggestive lines of verse following Elizabeth’s stay at Netherfield?
  • What if a rumored engagement so thoroughly shocked Lady Catherine that she could not interfere?
  • What if Elizabeth learned the last man she would ever marry was the only man she could marry?
  • What if every Bennet family member read the love poem Darcy intended only for his bride?

With all the intimacy and lyricism of a chamber concert, these five whimsical shorts will inspire the heart, prompt a smile, and entice readers to many happy returns.

Renée Beyea has crafted a sweet collection of short Austenesque stories in her title, A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories.  She offers one poem and five petite tales of love and discovery, all romantic, with some mysterious and others almost dreamlike in nature.  I offer my impressions of each of the submissions:

Conception – Beyea shares with us her contribution to the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, as suggested by the Derbyshire Writers’ Guild.  This charming line of verse bears many echoes of the beloved novel, and I found it to be an excellent opener to A Fine Stout Love’s collection.

Words in the Wind A trail of mysterious words tracks Elizabeth to the Meryton graveyard, where she has an unexpected encounter with Mr. Darcy.

This began the stories off very well.  I noted it to be mysterious and romantic without becoming overly Gothic. I loved the cryptically appearing slips of paper, which amazingly seem to emerge like magic along their paths. One particular question is never answered, given to the reader to discern, which left me wanting more.

Fine Stout Love or The Efficacy of PoetryWhen Darcy is assailed by an errant and rather evocative specimen of poetry lurking in Longbourn’s drive, Elizabeth’s verses are unexpectedly tested for their efficacy.

Once again we find a stray piece of paper in the wind, discovered and used as a plot device. I found this tale to be short, sweet and very enjoyable.  The level of intimacy between Darcy and Elizabeth, while not salacious, does seem a bit rushed given the status of their relationship at the beginning of the episode.  I suppose this is certainly a case of poetry being the “food of love”.

Neither Slumber Nor SleepToo weary to continue shopping for her sister’s wedding, Elizabeth seeks respite in a nearby church, but her rest is disrupted by an outrageous occurrence.

This story in three parts begins with a prelude that I found to be laugh-out-loud funny and surprising.  It felt a bit disjointed from the other two parts, but welcome nonetheless. Parts two and three were sometimes absurdly amusing, dreamy and of course very romantic.  I enjoyed this one very much and might deem it the favorite.

Gold, All GoldDarcy rescues Elizabeth in the Netherfield woods, but all is not as it seems.

Fantastical and almost supernatural, this tale I found to be a bit odd, but I applaud Renee for her adventuresome pen and vivid imagination.  I would probably say that this one was my least favorite, but it was interesting.

Eden Unashamed When Darcy’s attempt to surprise Elizabeth with a love poem goes terribly awry, no member of the Bennet family escapes its effects.

The longest of the episodes, “Eden Unashamed” is offered in three parts, plus a short epilogue.  The tale presents itself as a comedy of errors, and I could easily envision it produced as a play in the local community theater. Not only is it humorously exasperating, but it’s also a very romantic celebration of Christian love. We must never forget that God created romantic passion, and there’s nothing sinful about those feelings when expressed at the right time.

Overall I found Renee Beyea’s collection to be a light, enjoyable and whimsical collection of Austenesque fiction.  I understand that another collection, What Love May Come will be issued this winter, and I look forward to the release of that title as well.

About the Author

Renée Beyea holds an undergraduate writing degree from Taylor University and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. She serves as full-time wife, mother to two sons, and ministry partner with her husband, an Anglican priest and chaplain. Her free time is devoted to crafting stories and composing poetry that delight the senses and touch the soul.


Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win one of 8 copies of
A Fine Stout Love (including up to four paperback copies).
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5/2: Excerpt & Giveaway at From Milton to Pemberley
5/3: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
5/4: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
5/5: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
5/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
5/8: Review & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
5/9: Review & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
5/10: Interview & Giveaway at Savvy Verse and Wit
5/11: Review & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
5/12: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
5/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
5/13: Review & Giveaway at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
5/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
5/15: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
5/16: Review & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Julian Fellowes' Belgravia Review and Giveaway

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is people by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond's new legendary ball, one family's life will change forever.

The Victorian-era serialized novel meets the digital age; Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia is breaking new ground in publishing.

The era of Downton Abbey has come to an end, but thanks to the creativity of Julian Fellowes, we have more work from his imagination, that in the form of an episodic novel entitled Belgravia. Like Charles Dickens in his day, Julian is releasing portions of his book in segments, giving us morsels of story to enjoy for about a week at a time. Like our experience with Downton, we have to wait for short periods to take in the entire work. Thus far I’ve read the first four episodes, and I’m thrilled to report that this Downton fan is thoroughly entertained and yearning for more in the coming weeks.

For those of you who haven’t read any of Belgravia, I offer a brief summary of what has come thus far in the saga. If you’d rather not know a thing about the story, skip down to below the next dividing line so that you can enjoy Belgravia with a blank slate in your mind.

Episode 1 - Dancing Into Battle

The Duchess of Richmond
 “At the Duchesss of Richmond’s ball, on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, young Sophia Trenchard, daughter of a tradesman, was clearly in love with the handsome Edmund Bellasis, the Duchess’s nephew. But the following weeks brought terrible news…”

What a grand episode this was! It’s 1815, and we meet Sophia Trenchard, the beautiful and young daughter of James Trenchard, a tradesman who seems to value social climbing above all else. He’s an industrious man, and while his age and nationality isn’t always comparable, he reminded me of another PBS character, Mr. Harry Selfridge.  Sophia has procured a valuable invitation to a grand ball, much to his delight, and with his wife the three attend the glittering event, even as war looms upon the horizon.  We learn that Sophia is in love with Edmund Bellasis, the nephew of the hostess, the Duchess of Richmond.  While this would be an advantageous match for the Trenchard family, it would not be so for the Bellasis clan. This doesn’t seem to concern Edmund, and as he says goodbye to Sophia as he is suddenly ushered off to battle, they seem to be very much in love.  Alas, tragedy befalls the Bellasis family, and Edmund is later killed in action.  At the end of the episode, James Trenchard brings the devastating news to his daughter.

Episode 2 - A Chance Encounter

“1841. Anne and James Trenchard had risen in society, but a chance meeting at a tea party brought Anne face to face with Edmund Bellasis’s mother, Lady Brockenhurst. Anne knew the truth of what had happened between Sophia and Edmund, and she revealed the secret to the Countess, with disastrous results.”

I offer a shorter synopsis of this episode.  There are a couple of plot revelations that happen in this portion that were quite surprising, one in particular. And although I offered a spoiler warning earlier, I simply cannot divulge some important aspects here. Suffice it to say, I was riveted while reading these particular pages.  The interaction between Anne Trenchard and Lady Brockenhurst was pure Julian Fellowes, and I loved every moment. Things move quickly in this portion of the story, and I was eager to move on to Episode 3.

Episode 3 - Family Ties

“Lord and Lady Brockenhurst were approached by Stephen and John Bellasis, who were both in search of funds. John was now engaged to Lady Maria Grey and was already making a claim on his status as heir to the Brockenhurst fortune. Meanwhile Lady Brockenhurst had tracked down Charles Pope and had a surprise in store for the Trenchards.”

This third portion was not as compelling as the others, but it contained the necessary pieces to continue in the construction of the story as a whole. We come to meet more members of the Brockenhurst family, the Bellasis clan, which of course are related to Sophia’s love, Edmund. Estate issues are covered quite a bit, and the less-than-admirable characters of these individuals are sketched by Fellowes.  In addition to this story line, Lady Caroline Brockenhurst plans a soirée, one that includes the Trenchards and a particular fellow named Charles Pope.  He is a pivotal character in the lives of the Trenchards, and Caroline is not only eager to get to know this young man, but she also wants to invest in his business.  While grateful, Pope is surprised at her interest in his meager enterprise and at her invitation to join her for the At Home the following Thursday. Likewise, Anne Trenchard is surprised to receive such an invitation from the haughty Caroline Brockenhurst.  She has no desire to attend the event, but her social-butterfly husband would no doubt require their attendance. Shortly following the invitation, Anne also receives a note from Caroline that not only shocks her, but suddenly creates a strong desire to attend the post-dinner reception.

Episode 4 - At Home in Belgrave Square

 “At a soirée organized by Lady Brockenhurst, Anne and James Trenchard came face to face with Charles Pope. Everyone that evening was captivated by the young man— especially Maria Grey. But James feared that Anne had unwittingly sown the seeds of their destruction.”

This episode was quite delectable. The importance of Charles Pope continues to be revealed more and more. I loved the post-dinner reception scene, with Caroline ushering Charles about, introducing him to the glitterati, and everyone wondering who this young man was.  It was almost a Cinderella moment for him. In this Caroline and Anne share a life-changing secret, and while Lady Brockenhurst has promised not to reveal it, she skirts the line of truth so closely; it takes Anne’s breath away.  Should the mystery of his identity be divulged, there would be serious consequences, particularly for the Trenchard family. Anne is more than just a trifle anxious.

I loved the tension within the reception scene. Anne is absolutely struck at seeing Charles for the first time, and she’s terrified of what his presence may reveal.  Likewise, a related secret is exposed between Mr. and Mrs. Trenchard which sets them at odds in a way I found quite amusing.  A new character, the beautiful (and very much engaged) Maria Grey joins the story, as she meets Charles Pope while getting a bit of fresh air during the Brockenhurst event.  I highly enjoyed their conversation, as their chemistry was palpable, and she shows herself to be intelligent, not just a pretty face.  I look forward to more developments between them in upcoming episodes of Belgravia.

Thus far Belgravia has lived up to my lofty expectations. It holds the grandeur one would expect from Julian Fellowes, as well as the riveting narrative, colorful characters and enticing secrets.  The touch of romance is always welcome, and I also enjoyed the occasional “upstairs/downstairs” aspect of the novel, as Fellowes engages with the hired help on occasion, a la Downton Abbey.  The decision to release this novel in an episodic nature is such a delight, giving us a small taste once a week to enjoy.  In addition to reading the text, I’ve also downloaded a couple of the episodes from Audible.com, which are affordably priced.  Belgravia isn’t simply a novel that’s being released to us, it’s a literary event covering multiple platforms in a truly accessible way.  I hope my readers join me in this narrative journey as we once again enjoy the fruits of the imagination of Julian Fellowes.  He has delivered on a grand scale.

How about you?  Have you ever taken in a novel in this fashion? In the era of Netflix and “binge-watching”, it almost seems at odds with the culture, to have a book brought to us in this way.  While the novel will be released in its entirety this summer, in the meantime we are getting Belgravia in pieces. Do you think you might try diving in now, to enjoy the episodes as they come, or will you wait it out until July, to have the full novel in your hands?

Regardless of which way you choose, you’re in for a treat on many platforms.  Don’t miss out on the amazing website that’s been launched in association with the novel.  At JulianFellowesBelgravia.com, not only can you listen or read to Episode 1 for free, but you can access bonus features, see the family trees of the main characters, view a map of Belgravia and more. I’ve just begun to peruse this amazing website and plan to continue to visit it as the episodes (and therefore more bonus features) are released. In addition to that, the progressive blog tour continues beyond The Calico Critic to Luxury Reading on May 5th.  Be sure to visit all the stops on the tour.  There's even an app you can download to your smart phone! I'm amazed at how much content there is with the launch of Belgravia.  How much there is to take in! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

*          *          *


Educated at Ampleforth and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Julian Fellowes is a multi-award-winning actor, writer, director and producer. As creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series Downton Abbey, Fellowes has won three Emmy awards.

Fellowes received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park (2002). His work was also honored by the Writer's Guild of America, The New York Film Critics' Circle and the National Society of Film Critics for Best Screenplay. Other writing credits for film include Piccadilly Jim (2004), Vanity Fair (2004), Young Victoria (2009), The Tourist (2010), Romeo & Juliet (2013), and the upcoming three-part drama Doctor Thorne for ITV. Fellowes also directed the award-winning films Separate Lies and From Time To Time. Fellowes wrote the books for the Tony-nominated stage production of Mary Poppins and School Of Rock – The Musical which opened on Broadway in December 2015, and is written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Fellowes has authored two novels: the international bestsellers Snobs (2005) and Past Imperfect (2008/2009).

Julian Fellowes became a life peer in 2010. He lives in Dorset and London with his wife, Emma.


Award winning creator/writer of Downton Abbey presents his latest endeavor, Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, a new book blending the Victorian-era serialized novel with modern technology.

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia will be featured in a progressive blog tour April 14-June 16, 2016. Similar to a “progressive dinner party,” where a group of friends each make one course of a meal that moves from house to house with each course, a “progressive blog tour” is the same concept applied to the Internet. Eleven historical fiction bloggers and authors are participating, each taking one episode of the novel and offering a recap and review for that week. As a participant, you will follow the tour and join in the read-along and conversation. A fabulous give-away contest, including three (3) hardcover copies of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia will be open to those who join the festivities.


April 14 – Austenprose.com: Episode 1: Dancing into Battle
April 14 – Edwardian Promenade: Episode 2: A Chance Encounter
April 21 – Fly High: Episode 3: Family Ties
April 28 – The Calico Critic: Episode 4: At Home in Belgrave Square
May 05 – Luxury Reading: Episode 5: The Assignation
May 12 – Risky Regencies: Episode 6: A Spy in our Midst
May 19 – Book Talk and More: Episode 7: A Man of Business
May 26 – Mimi Matthews: Episode 8: An Income for Life
June 02 – Confessions of a Book Addict: Episode 9: The Past is a Foreign Country
June 09 – Laura’s Reviews: Episode 10: The Past Comes Back
June 16 – Gwyn Cready: Episode 11: Inheritance


Win a Copy of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia

In celebration of the release of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, Grand Central Publishing is offering a chance to win one of the three (3) hardcover copies of the book!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the stops on the Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia Progressive Blog Tour starting April 14, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, June 22, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Austenprose.com June 23, 2016. Winners have until June 30, 2016 to claim their prize. The contest is open to International residents and the books will be shipped after July 5, 2016. Good luck to all!

Connect with Belgravia and Julian Fellowes

Twitter handles: @JFBelgravia; @GrandCentralPub; @OrionBooks

Twitter hashtags: #JFBelgravia, #BelgraviaBlogTour #HistoricalFiction, #Giveaway 


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