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50 States, 5,000 Ideas by Joe Yogerst

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 288 pgs.
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50 States, 5,000 Ideas by Joe Yogerst is a gorgeous guide to the 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. Each section breaks down the state or province into cities and landscapes, offers tourist information, provides a background on capitalism, and offers highlights of local favorite foods and drinks and festivals or other events. Some states have hidden treasures, while others include road trip suggestions or trivia about movies, art, or music that came from that location. Yogerst also includes little known facts in some states as well, which could be fun to test on a road trip with family or friends. Rounding out the book are gorgeous, full-color photographs of landscapes, local hubs, monuments, and animals. These provide users with a sense of what to expect when visiting these locations.

My family and I have looked through this book several times, and I took extra care in revisiting some of the states we’ve already visited, just to see what Yogerst recommended. We also checked out what he recommended within our immediate area — Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. For D.C., there is the typical Smithsonian and government buildings listed, as well as our personal favorite The National Zoo, but there were no local flavors listed such as the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl. I also noted that the National Arboretum, the Maine Avenue Fish Market, President Lincoln’s Cottage, and others were not included. Each section is probably kept minimal, but there are some great hidden treasures that shouldn’t be missed.

On the other hand, I was thrilled to notice my favorite museum as a kid, the Worcester Art Museum, made it into the list for Massachusetts. But again, here there were no mentions for the EcoTarium or the Blackstone Valley River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which has a series of trails and more for exploring the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. My hometown is the home of the Asa Waters Mansion, which was part of the Underground Railroad. Maybe I’m just being a bit too picky.

50 States, 5,000 Ideas by Joe Yogerst is not as comprehensive in finding some hidden treasures as I would prefer, but when visiting new places, the treasures he points out are just what most people would like to see. I think as a beginners guide to traveling the 50 states, this works well. There is enough within each state to occupy those interested in culture, history, and nature. I’ve had the travel bug since I was younger, and while I dreamed of visiting all 50 states someday, I’ve only seen about 19. Wish us luck as we try to tick other states off the list!

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

During three decades as an editor, writer, and photographer, Joe Yogerst has lived and worked on four continents—Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. His writing has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Islands magazine, The New York Times (Paris), and numerous National Geographic books. During that time, he has won four Lowell Thomas Awards, including one for Long Road South, his National Geographic book about driving the Pan American Highway from Texas to Argentina. Buy the book at the National Geographic Store.

Magnesium by Ray Buckley

Source: MindBuck Media
Paperback, 98 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Magnesium by Ray Buckley is an independent poetry film that explores the dark moments of breakups and the struggles people have with lost attachments to people they relied on in their lives. “Stay with me. Assure me of things I know I can’t be assured of. Press your will against the arguments which mortality makes against us,” the narrator says in “Assure Me”. “Say to me the work I do will keep us persistent through the years we were not allotted.”

Artists often want their work to stand the test of time, but it’s more than just the art or the poetry or the words, it’s us, a part of us, that can live on and demonstrate that we were here. Our time is precious and to create a lasting impression is something many of us want for ourselves, even if it is to just be remembered fondly by friends and family. However, we can never truly be assured of our place in others’ lives, no matter how much they assure us of their love, devotion, and care.

Many things are left unsaid between people, even close family, and these unsaid moments become an obsession for those left behind when someone passes away. Like the narrator tells Ray in “Untitled” (pg. 21), “I’m sorry that there’s nothing I can say to you ever again. I’m sorry that we’ll never know each other.”

However, there are digressions and movements in time that are not linear, and readers will just have to go with the flow and ponder the events after taking the journey. Digressions into politics and the need of politicians not to have their own opinions and not care about things but only do what the people of their area tell them is particularly poignant in today’s times (“A Minor Digression”, pg. 54-5). However, it also speaks to the ridiculousness of this expectation. People have opinions and emotions and those are what guide them daily.

Magnesium by Ray Buckley burns the oxygen around it, and while some poems are brighter than others, they call attention to the emotional baggage we all carry.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Ray Buckley is an American author, actor, and cinematographer from Portland, OR.

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette

Source: the author
Paperback, 413 pgs.
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Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette is the second book in a series of Great War Romance novels, and while you could read this as a stand alone novel, I wouldn’t recommend missing the two-book experience. Set during WWI, Monette captures the uncertainty of war-time romance with Pride & Prejudice‘s most beloved characters. If Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy were able to overcome their preconceived notions about one another in a shorter period of time, but become separated by the war, would their love endure the miles and trauma of war?

With all of Darcy’s resources would he be able to find Elizabeth if she disappeared, even as he is stuck at the front in battle? Could spies and Germans keep them apart with their war efforts, or would love and chance find a way to keep them close? Without giving away the details of this book, readers will find that the hardened Darcy of book one has been softened by his love for Elizabeth. But in this one, Elizabeth is wary of discovery as she strives to hide and protect her loved ones from reputational harm.

Monette’s settings and characterizations are in line with the time period, when women were gaining ground in male-dominated roles and expectations of marriage as the only option beginning to wane. The tension between Lizzy and Darcy has dissipated somewhat as they face new challenges outside their control, and they must not only learn to make their own decisions but also bear in mind how those decisions could impact the ones that they love. Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette is a solid follow-up to the first book, and I loved every minute of it. She has a strong sense of historical facts and the original Austen characters. This is by far one of my favorite P&P re-imaginings. Don’t hesitate, get books 1 and 2.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes

About the Author:

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I. When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Visit Ginger Monette on Facebook, on GoodReads, or on her website. Purchase the book here.

Giveaway- – Downton Abbey Tea!

Three lucky winners will each receive a tin of Downton Abbey Tea!
(Open to US residents only)

Mailbox Monday #413

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, which I purchased for Book Club reading.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, which is my first GoodReads giveaway win! This one comes out in April 2017.

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….”

The Poetry of Weldon Kees: Vanishing as Presence by John T. Irwin for review in May.

Weldon Kees is one of those fascinating people you’ve likely never heard of. What is most captivating about Kees is that he disappeared without a trace on July 18, 1955. Police found his 1954 Plymouth Savoy abandoned on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge one day later. The keys were still in the ignition. Though Kees had alluded days prior to picking up and moving to Mexico, none of his poetry, art, or criticism has since surfaced either north or south of the Rio Grande.

Kees’s apparent suicide has led critics to compare him to another American modernist poet who committed suicide two decades earlier–Hart Crane. In comparison to Crane, Kees is certainly now a more obscure figure. John T. Irwin, however, is not content to allow Kees to fall out of the twentieth-century literary canon. In The Poetry of Weldon Kees, Irwin ties together elements of biography and literary criticism, spurring renewed interest in Kees as both an individual and as a poet.

Irwin acts the part of literary detective, following clues left behind by the poet to make sense of Kees’s fascination with death, disappearance, and the interpretation of an artist’s work. Arguing that Kees’s apparent suicide was a carefully-plotted final aesthetic act, Irwin uses the poet’s death as a lens through which to detect and interpret the structures, motifs, and images throughout his poems–as the author intended. The first rigorous literary engagement with Weldon Kees’s poetry, this book is an astonishing reassessment of one of the twentieth century’s most gifted writers.

The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero by Brett Favaro for review in April.

Favaro’s Carbon Code of Conduct is based on the four R’s: Reduce, Replace, Refine, and Rehabilitate. After outlining the scientific basics of climate change and explaining the logic of the code he prescribes, the author describes carbon-friendly technologies and behaviors we can adopt in our daily lives. However, he acknowledges that individual action, while vital, is insufficient. To achieve global sustainability, he insists that we must make the fight against climate change “go viral” through conspicuous conservation.

The Carbon Code is a tool of empowerment. People don’t need to be climate change experts to be part of the solution! In this book, Brett Favaro shows you how to take ownership of your carbon footprint and adopt a lifestyle of conspicuous conservation that will spur governments and corporations to do the same. Climate-friendly action is the best decision on every dimension–economics, health and well-being, and social justice. Saving the planet is, after all, about saving ourselves. The Carbon Code provides a framework to do this, and helps you to become a hero in the fight against climate change.

What did you receive?

Breakup/Breakdown by Charles Jensen

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 42 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Breakup/Breakdown by Charles Jensen is a slim and powerful chapbook of poems that not only examines the emotional side of breaking up but all of its practicalities in a way that’s fresh and modern.

In the opening poem, “How to Leave Things Behind Without Even Trying”, the speaker talks about leaving his laptop at an airport and is aghast at how this could be accomplished given its significance in his life. This is then juxtaposed with his boyfriend’s exit from his life and the way in which the apartment was cleaned and staged as if he had never been there at all. The speaker struggles with both losses, trying to interpret their meaning in an effort to understand their absence, but he rightly says, “you wait to learn//anything about what was lost./You wait for the phone call,//which only comes if you’ll be/happily reunited.//” (pg. 8)

There are several poems in which the speaker is taking selfies with beloved literary and pop culture icons from Miss Havisham in Great Expectations to Molly Jensen from Ghost. In each of these poems, Jensen unravels the inner mysteries of loss felt by each of these characters. Havisham’s sadness over lost love is really her belief in true love and that caged birds set free will return but, in the meantime, she’s left wondering who she is without that caged bird to love and protect. The loss of an affair leads Alex in Fatal Attraction to extremes, but even if you don’t go to those extremes after a break-up, you can certainly understand where they come from.

Jensen’s couplets are powerfully crafted so that readers will feel each gut-wrenching loss, like “Everything we’d placed//inside those years spilled out/like blood escaping from a vein.//” (pg. 13, “Disruption”) But lest you believe this collection is all sadness and woe, Jensen has a sense of humor about it all, which one might expect comes with a bit of distance from the actual breakup events.

From “On the Night Gays Across America Celebrate the Marriage Equality Ruling, You and I Divide Our Possessions” (pg. 17)

We shake loose our lives like a braid
untwirling at the end of a long day.

I want everything and nothing
that belongs to you, that holds

a memory of you like an urn
full of ash, the kind of thing

you never open but have to
keep on hand because it means

Yes, I’m leaving you hanging with the above quote from this poem, but it’s one I don’t want to ruin for you. What the selected quote shows you is the humor and the lightness that Jensen brings to his couplets even in the midst of a breakup moment. There’s something to be said about bringing a bit of levity to loss. Breakup/Breakdown by Charles Jensen is a commentary on the modern breakup and the swiftness of it, which can leave each of us stunned and empty. But what it teaches is resilience and growth, a move toward letting go, even if not complete. In order for new things to begin, the old must be broken down, and Jensen does that here with aplomb.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Charles Jensen is the author of The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture (2012 MiPOESIAS Chapbook Series) and The First Risk, which was published in 2009 by Lethe Press and was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award. His previous chapbooks include Living Things, which won the 2006 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, and The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon (New Michigan Press, 2007). A past recipient of an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, his poetry has appeared in Bloom, Columbia Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Field, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. He holds an MFA in poetry from Arizona State University, where he also did graduate work in nonprofit leadership and management. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis, and is active in the national arts community by serving on the Emerging Leader Council of Americans for the Arts. He lives in Los Angeles.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 337 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy, which was the January book club selection, is based on historical events along the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s involving the Glanton Gang that scalped many, engaged in mercenary acts, and sought their fortunes. Led by John Glanton, who fought for Texas independence during the Mexican-American War, the gang murdered Indians and Mexicans alike. Readers should expect this book to be brutal and violent. There is no way around it with this subject matter, and much of the violence has little to no purpose other than to garner wealth and property for the gang members.

“The judge watched him. He began to point out various men in the room and to ask if these men were here for a good time or if inded they knew why they were here at all.

Everybody dont have to have a reason to be someplace.

That’s so, said the judge. They do not have to have a reason. But order is not set aside because of their indifference.” (pg. 341-2)

The kid is the main protagonist here, and he stumbles into the gang after wandering for some time. Readers will not view him as a hero, and in many ways he is an anti-hero because he is morally ambiguous like many characters in westerns. The focus on the bloodshed and the meanderings of this gang through the desert and mountains is a surface reading of the novel, the central character and theme is related to “God”, “destiny,” and the order of the universe, which the judge clearly says encompasses more than can be understood by the human mind. Some mysteries are perpetual, but he reminds us to never forget that there is an order and a reason behind even the most chaotic and mundane events.

Like the kid, the readers is forced into a world where violence is the norm and it just is, without any moments of morality or kindness present. In this world, how can the kid strive to understand a wider picture, learn to review his role in that violence, and come to any other conclusion than human kind is animal-like in its brutality?

While there are allusions to Christian traditions, such as the burning bush, there seems to be a subtext about relying too heavily on the stories/tales of “leaders” — whether they are religious or otherwise — because they oftentimes are lies (like the early tales told by the judge). The judge even keeps a ledger, which makes readers reflect on who is keeping that ledger and why? Is it God, Satan, or someone else, and does it really matter who? Moreover, the final scenes of the book call to mind Shiva’s Tandava, a violent and dangerous dance related to the destruction of the world in order for creation to flourish. It seems McCarthy is using a mesh of myths and religions to bring his points across about the violent birth of America.

The narrative is distant on purpose, but following the kid throughout gets difficult, and the number of bloody events could have been pared down significantly to demonstrate the points the author wanted to bring across. The strongest character in the novel is not the antihero but the judge, his antagonist. Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy could have been a much stronger novel with some editing.

Book Club Discussion:

As I was more than halfway through this one, I attended the discussion and planned to finish it after the meeting. Many liked the book well enough, though some said the narrative had their eyes/brains glazing over if read too quickly. Others found a bunch of theories to postulate on, including one where the Judge Holden appeared to be Satan or Satan-like because he was very good at a great many things.

Upon further discussion and review, it seems as though McCarthy took a lot of his events from those in My Confession by Samuel Chamberlain, who claimed to be a member of the Glanton Gang. Some scholars have said that the Kid in McCarthy’s book could be Chamberlain. Judge Holden is supposed to be a historical figure, but the only references to him are in Chamberlain’s book.

RATING: Tercet

Other Reviews:

The Road

About the Author:

Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

His earlier Blood Meridian (1985) was among Time Magazine’s poll of 100 best English-language books published between 1925 and 2005 and he placed joint runner-up for a similar title in a poll taken in 2006 by The New York Times of the best American fiction published in the last 25 years. Literary critic Harold Bloom named him as one of the four major American novelists of his time, along with Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and Philip Roth. He is frequently compared by modern reviewers to William Faulkner.

In 2009, Cormac McCarthy won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, a lifetime achievement award given by the PEN American Center.

Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon (audio)

Source: the author
Audiobook, 5+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, revises the time line of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice quite a bit. Elizabeth Bennet is visiting Charlotte Collins at Hunsford Parsonage when she meets Mr. Darcy, and both view the other’s behavior as impertinent. Through quick assessments, Darcy and Miss Bennet have decided the other is not worthy of notice, and Elizabeth takes particular dislike to being told to warn her family against Mr. Wickham, whom she still holds in high esteem even though he abandoned her in pursuit of Mary King. Despite overhearing Darcy speak of her as merely “tolerable”, Elizabeth vows to be civil to him. Over the course of time, both begin to admire the other, but how can they bridge the gap that their earlier perceptions have wrought?

Hewitt is a fantastic narrator for this type of fiction. She does an excellent job voicing different characters so that they do not get confused by the reader, and her accent is spot on. Dixon’s story is surprising in how the original timeline is played with, which made the story enjoyable. However, the only drawback here is that the story seems rushed at the end and the description of the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth could have been fleshed out more with body language cues, etc., particularly in mixed and restricted company.

However, these do not detract from the overall story in which Darcy and Elizabeth must come together, learn to see past their own per-conceived notions, and dare to dream for a marriage that society would deem inappropriate at best. Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, is lovely and unique, especially as Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves able to get to know one another in unusual circumstances — on long walks from Rosing to Hunsford and in the east library at Rosings.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

P.O. Dixon has authored several Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations, all written with one overriding purpose in mind—falling in love with Darcy and Elizabeth. Sometimes provocative, but always entertaining, her stories have been read, commented on, and thoroughly enjoyed by thousands of readers worldwide.

Mailbox Monday #412

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

50 States, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do from National Geographic by Joe Yogerst for a TLC Book Tour.

This richly illustrated book from the travel experts at National Geographic showcases the best travel experiences in every state, from the obvious to the unexpected. Sites include national parks, beaches, hotels, Civil War battlefields, dude ranches, out-of-the-way museums, and more. You’ll discover the world’s longest yard sale in Tennessee, swamp tours in Louisiana, dinosaur trails in Colorado, America’s oldest street in NYC, and the best spot to watch for sea otters on the central California coast. Each entry provides detailed travel information as well as fascinating facts about each state that will help fuel your wanderlust and ensure the best vacation possible. In addition to 50 states in the U.S., the book includes a section on the Canadian provinces and territories.

An Unwavering Trust by L.L. Diamond, which I purchased.

Two strangers with no one to turn to but each other…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is in a difficult situation. His father is pressing him to propose marriage to the last woman in the world he would wish to take as his wife. With a fortnight to announce his betrothal, he makes the acquaintance of Elizabeth Bennet, who is in a predicament of her own.

Could Darcy be willing to consider Elizabeth as a solution to his problem and to hers? And can Elizabeth ascertain enough of Darcy’s character to trust him upon nothing but a first impression?

Contains scenes with adult content.

The Abominable Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by J Dawn King, which was a Kindle freebie.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes are instantly drawn towards a handsome, mysterious guest who arrives at the Meryton Assembly with the Bingley party. The gentleman destroys her illusions by delivering an insult that turns him from Mr. Divinely Attractive to the Abominable Mr. Darcy.

While Elizabeth sets in motion her strategy for retaliation, Darcy plans to win the campaign being waged in the genteel drawing rooms of Hertfordshire. As more players from Jane Austen’s beloved cast of characters enter the fray, complications arise–some with irreversible consequences. Can a truce be called before their hearts become casualties as well? How many times can two people go from enemies to friends and back again before it’s too late?

The Last Casualty by Andrew Leatham, which was a Kindle freebie.

Belgium, 1917.

Wilf joined up at seventeen, wanting to do his bit.

But now he is broken by the death and human agony surrounding him. The smell of the rotting corpses, the vermin gnawing on the corpses in No Mans Land, has all been too much.

After a brief period of R and R, he knows he cannot return to the line, but off he is sent. When his courage falters, he’s charged with cowardice, court martialled, and shot at dawn.

Lancashire England, 1995.

Joanne Neally’s grandmother has died. While cleaning out her house, she finds the telegram that informed her family of the death of her great grandfather, simple and unpunctuated.

Regret to inform you Private 792163 Isherwood Wilfred 3rd Batt Pennine Fusiliers died of gunshot wounds Ypres August 22 1917

Joanne is moved to tears by the telegram, but it is the diary she finds next that will change her life forever, for Wilf Isherwood detailed his experiences at Passchendaele, one of the fiercest and bloodiest battles of the Great War. A battle that cost the lives of half a million men, and changed the landscape of Belgium forever.

Rich with detail of the life of a soldier during the Great War, the Last Casualty is an ode to a time that forever changed the world.

A Perpetual Estrangement: Jane Austen’s Persuasion Reimagined by Alice B. Ryder, Hilary Johnson, another Kindle freebie.

Anne has two wonderful friends and her own London bookshop, but she isn’t happy. Ten years ago she was put in an impossible position and had to let go of the only man she ever loved, and she’s regretted it ever since. She had to fight her way out of heartbreak and despair just to get this far. Now Freddie is back, and the wound is ripped open.

Freddie once loved Anne deeply, and she had even agreed to join him in his travels abroad. But her family and self-doubt made her back out, and to this day he still feels betrayed. Anne believes he’s determined to remind her of that every day, and it’s all the harder seeing the man he has become since then, stronger in spirit and even more attractive than before.

Whenever Anne is around him now, she sees only his disdain and bitterness. The only way for both of them to find happiness is to finally get over each other. Freddie seems to be trying; but Anne has tried before, and failed. What she fears most is falling back into the agony she felt all those years ago – a dark place she can’t bear to think about.

Longbourn Library: A Novel of Pride, Prejudice, and Books by Trudy Wallis, a Kindle freebie.

Liz always believed working as a librarian in Hertford, Idaho would give her opportunities to meet intelligent men. Lately, however, she is starting to think her theory was wrong. She finds herself hiding from Collin, that slimy blind date she wishes she could forget. Charlie is a nice fellow, but he is clearly taken with Jane. Then there is that Californian “aspiring writer” named Darcy. What a snob!

What are chances any man could answer the wishes of Liz’s heart? Is being fond of reading the first step toward falling in love?

GI Brides by Grace Livingston Hill, Amazon Kindle freebie.

Classic Grace Livingston Hill storytelling shines in three romances she wrote during the Second World War. In All Through the Night, Dale is grieving her grandmother and overrun by greedy relatives, but the love of a soldier gives her hope. In More than Conqueror, Charlie finally confesses his love for Bonnie just as he is leaving on a deadly mission and is surprised by her acceptance. In Through These Fires, Lexie is consumed by loneliness when an unexpected admirer sends her a letter from the warfront. Will letters across the sea give these men and women something to live for?

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Power of Song by Anngela Schroeder

A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder envisions an Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy on parallel courses to marry out of duty and for money. Readers will wonder how these characters could ever come together for their happily ever after as Jane Austen prepared for them. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I wanted to share with you a little about the book and a guest post from Anngela Schroeder. And, there’s a giveaway!

Book Synopsis:

Fitzwilliam Darcy was raised to never stray from the path set before him: ensure the continued prosperity of his estate, Pemberley, protect and educate his sister to become an accomplished woman, and marry the woman his mother chose for him—his cousin Anne de Bourgh. With a letter bearing his late mother’s signature, Darcy presumes his fate is sealed and prepares to wed one he does not love. However, his destiny begins to unravel when he glimpses a pair of fine eyes on a quiet, country road.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter of a respectable though insignificant gentleman. She is flattered to have captured the attention of a local squire, a childhood friend, and everyone believes her path is secure—until a handsome, rich gentleman arrives at a neighboring estate. Happenstance begets the unlikely pair together, bridging a forbidden love long past a mere friendship.

In A Lie Universally Hidden, two of literature’s most beloved romance characters are destined to marry for fortune and obligation rather than love. How will Darcy and Elizabeth fulfill their true destiny under such circumstances? Shall honor, decorum, prudence—nay, a signed letter from the grave—forbid it?

Please welcome Anngela Schroeder — who was recently interviewed on Good Day Sacramento — as she talks about the power of song in her new novel, A Lie Universally Hidden.

Serena, I’m so excited to join you and your readers today at Savvy Verse & Wit. My little book has been on a whirlwind journey these last two weeks, and I am grateful for such a hospitable stop to be its last.

I thought long and hard about what to pen for today, and decided I was going to focus on one aspect of my story which to some may be insignificant, yet it is actually a thread tying two characters together. These characters will never meet, but the song, “The Rose of Tralee,” sung by their lips, has a similar effect on Darcy.

We first hear the song in Chapter 1, when Lady Anne Darcy, on her deathbed, is singing it to her beloved son, Fitzwilliam. The words seem innocuous enough when we hear the lyrics from the first verse: “The pale moon was rising above the green mountain, the sun was declining beneath the blue sea, when I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain, that stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee…” The song continues on about two young lovers who are destined to be apart and how the young man longs for Mary, his Rose of Tralee.

I took liberties by using this song in the novel, the main one that it was not written until roughly 1843, thirty years after my story takes place. However, once you hear the history of the piece, you’ll understand my need to incorporate it in my book.

Written by Irishman William Mulchinock, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ is an elegy of the life he briefly had, but then it was snatched away from him. Having been born into wealth, he was visiting his family’s estate, when he went up to the nursery to see his nieces, and he met the new nursemaid, Mary O’Keefe. He fell in love immediately with her. Unfortunately, his family objected to his feelings, and things became even more complicated when circumstances came about in his life and he was accused of murder. (I really couldn’t make this story up!) He was sent to India to avoid prosecution, and stayed there for six years. Upon his return to Ireland, he discovered that his love had died only days before his return. He then married and moved to America, before abandoning his wife and two children to return to his homeland and die alone.

In my novel, Lady Anne sung it as an old Irish folk melody, and that is how William had always recognized it. But, when he heard Elizabeth sing it in the emptiness of Ashby Park, the meaning became clear to him. It was not longer the sweet ballad of his youth. It now had even more significant meaning to him. Here she was before him; his own Rose of Tralee, Elizabeth Bennet: she who he loved, but could never have. They were destined to be apart because of their own social standings, as well as preexisting circumstances beyond, what they believed to be, their control.

The song itself also speaks of the depths of Darcy’s love: that it was not a superficial kind of feeling. “Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me; oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning, that made me love Mary the Rose of Tralee.” A pair of fine eyes, perhaps? Darcy’s love also was not based solely on Elizabeth’s physical appearance. We know that she had more accomplishments to recommend herself, yet painting tables and netting purses were things that were of little consequence to him. Darcy wanted a woman of substance, and that is what he found in Elizabeth Bennet, the one woman who he felt spoke to him like no one else, save his mother, the first love of all little boys.

I sprinkled this song throughout the story, always trying to connect Elizabeth and Darcy with Lady Anne, in an attempt to wreak havoc on Darcy’s understanding of himself and his mother. Whenever he thought things were under control, ­ BAM! There was the song, throwing off his equilibrium.

I do hope you have enjoyed this look into this meaningful aspect of my story, and I hope it helps you understand Darcy’s struggles a wee bit more.

About the Author:

She has a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. She lives in California where Anngela dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Giveaway:

Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (US mailing addresses only), 2 kindle versions (Open to international winners), an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (US mailing address only) and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover.

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Good luck!

Transforming the Virtual Poetry Circle

It has been a joy to share poems with everybody each week and to have discussions about them. The Virtual Poetry Circle has been a staple here on the blog for many years, but I’ve been looking for ways to change it and incorporate greater audience participation.

To that end, I’m no longer going to showcase work found across the web from published poets.

Instead, I want to put out a call to readers and their friends who write their own poems.

I would love for anyone interested to submit a poem about resistance (broad term and doesn’t have to be about the current administration, etc.) for posting on Saturday, Feb. 4. Send 1 poem per person to savvyverseandwit AT gmail [dot] com by Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Include a short 50 word bio with any social media links you want included.

I will choose one poem to feature. Happy writing.