Quantcast

Book Blogger Directory 2020 Edition

Wondering which blogs to pitch your book to? Look no further, the 2020 edition of the Book Blogger Directory is here.

Synopsis:

This Book Blogger Directory lists blog addresses, contact information, where reviews are posted, as well as standard turnaround time and book formats accepted. Indexes list bloggers by accepted genre so you can easily find bloggers amenable to your subject matter.

More than 200 blogs are included, all current as of June 2020. The index lists each genre linked to each blog that accepts books in that category.

Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Guest Post: A Publishing Journey by Poet Aries, Author of Aches and Epiphanies

Today’s guest is a poet with a lot of drive, who queried publishers on her own about sending a manuscript to them for publication. Aries was rewarded for her persistence when Olympia Publishers gave her the green light for her collection, Aches and Epiphanies.

Before we welcome her to the blog, let’s learn a little bit more about the collection:

A collection of poetry, prose and thoughts from poet and songwriter, Aries.
From love lost to happiness found; from pain to joy and vice versa. The words of the unspoken and raw human emotions come to the fore.

For those who have stood face to face with love and it has been terrifying or have hidden secrets behind closed doors. For those who find comfort in the hands of another, you will learn, page by page.

As the universe takes its last breath, it looks at you with glittering eyes and smiles. You were worth the destruction.

Please give Aries a warm welcome:

My name is Aries and I’m a 21-year-old poet and just three months ago, I released my debut poetry book, Aches and Epiphanies.

I started writing poetry when I was 16 and needed an outlet to express my feelings. I started off writing in the comments section of photos I used to post on an Instagram page I made, but only a few of my friends knew about it. I liked having a place where I could write down my thoughts and feelings privately, but as I grew more confident I realized these were more than just thoughts; they were poetry, and I wanted my work to be seen. From there I began writing everything down in notebooks, and when I turned 18 I decided I wanted to get a book published. I was completely new to the entire process and started out just emailing publishers to ask if I could send over a manuscript. I kept doing this until one replied, and one year later came my proudest piece of work: Aches and Epiphanies. So much hard work goes into the process of writing and editing but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been incredible reading and re-reading my poems, and changing them up a little as well.

Aches and Epiphanies is divided into two chapters, the first chapter exploring pain in the form of misunderstandings, breakups and confusion. The second chapter talks about all the things I’ve learned and the good that has come from the bad. How the sun always rises even when the night seems endless.

I wrote all the poems in the span of about three years, taking notes of little experiences and then expanding them. I found it really therapeutic to put all my feelings down on a page because then, they can have a new life, and they’re no longer interfering with my happiness or growth. I write about the hurt because I know there are people out there who feel it too, and if it can make one person feel less alone or inspire them, then that poetry has the power to move mountains.

I don’t think I really have a writing process, and I definitely don’t write consistently. There are days when I’ll write pages and pages and then I won’t be able to think of anything for a week. I’ll also write down words or feelings and then go back to them in a month or so when I feel ready. I also love writing on the train, strangely. I think it’s because I have a lot of time to focus and I have a lot of time with my thoughts, but a lot of my first drafts of poems get done when I’m traveling.

Poetry has helped me with lots of other creative outlets such as songwriting; I’ve been a singer/songwriter for over ten years and since starting poetry I’ve found my lyrics have grown and changed in the best way possible. I use a lot of my poems as bases for songs I write as well, so many of my themes in music and writing are similar.

I still have much to learn as a writer and a person, but being able to document all of that and turn it into something beautiful is the reason why I keep writing. Being an author is one of my proudest achievements and I hope one day Aches and Epiphanies will be on someone’s shelf, next to Allison Malee or Rupi Kaur, inspiring them to write too. And one day, they can move mountains.

About the Poet:

Aries is a poet from Kuwait who currently lives in the UK. She is passionate about writing down feelings and turning the pain into something beautiful.

She has enjoyed writing from a young age, as well as composing songs, and is currently releasing music on several platforms.

Aries draws on personal experience as well as the experience of others for her work, and aims to express real feelings on paper to reach out to anyone who is willing to listen.

Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins by Suzanne Selfors

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 272 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins by Suzanne Selfors is the tale of Lucky Prescott and her family’s move out west while her father works on the railroad expansion through the west. On her ride from the city to Miradero, Lucky sees a mustang riding fast and is amazed. But when the mustang is captured, Lucky is devastated, especially when she learns from her father that he’ll likely be broken and sold to someone, essentially losing his freedom.

Lucky has some trouble fitting in, especially when her aunt Cora insists that she wear a dress in the heat. She’s no longer learning to be a proper lady in the city and when she gets to school, most of the girls are wearing pants. She has a misunderstanding with Pru and Abigail, but Maricela seems to want to be her friend — too bad she’s a bit stuck up and hates horses.

My daughter loves this television show on Netflix and watches every season. This book follows much of what happens in the first season of the show, so we were not surprised by what happens. She still enjoyed reading this together at night before bed. She still wanted more pictures. This was definitely a book you’ll want to read with younger kids, not let them try to read it on their own. The language should be easy to follow, but the lack of pictures makes younger kids get bored easily, even when they are 9.

Spirit Riding Free: The Adventure Begins by Suzanne Selfors was a good book for gals who like horses and adventure, but this was definitely a book that adults will want to read with younger readers who still need pictures to pay attention. We really loved riding along with Lucky and watching her navigate a new place and find new friends.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Suzanne Selfors lives on an island near Seattle where it rains all the time, which is why she tends to write about cloudy, moss-covered, green places. She’s married, has two kids, and writes full time. Her favorite writers are Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, and most especially, Roald Dahl.

Mailbox Monday #586

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Build a Castle: 64 Slot-Together Cards for Creative Fun by Pail Farrel from Media Masters Publicity for review.

This pack contains sixty-four cards (4 x 2¾ inches) of a variety of graphic designs. Clever paper engineering allows you to slot the cards together, building up and out in whichever way you like! Also included is a short ten-page booklet, with descriptions of the card designs and suggestions of stacking methods. The instructions tell you how to build a castle, or you can let your imagination run riot and design your own!

Renowned illustrator Paul Farrell has designed these cards in a cool, graphic style–turning the image of a castle into a work of art.

What did you receive?

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

I hope the rest of this year is not as harrowing. We’re more than halfway through 2020, so let’s hope we can turn this year around and end it on a high note.

Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 144 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell, is a third grader who loves her best friend, Maya, and loves science. When her teacher informs the class that they are going to get a class pet, she has her heart set on getting a rat. Her teacher lays out the criteria:

1. Fit in aquarium.
2. Cost less than $50.
3. Be easily portable.
4. Be able to be left alone for the weekend.

While she completes all of her research on rats at home through the internet, books, and information from her aunt Gina, her other classmates have barely begun. Her aunt works with rodents at her job, and Frankie must solve the one problem with her rat idea — how to feed them every day even when the kids are not at school to do it. My daughter struggled to read some of the larger scientific words in this book, but I loved that they included explanations for the kinds about what those words mean. I also liked that Frankie loved science and that it was incorporated into the book without being overly boring.

My daughter’s favorite part is the end of the book, even after the class pet is selected, and when Frankie realizes that she shouldn’t force Maya to vote for the rat when she wants a betta fish and when she apologizes to her friend for being not so nice. Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell, is a great introductory book for early readers to learn about science, experimenting, solving problems, and being good friends.

RATING: Quatrain

Lantern Puzzle by Ye Chun

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 68 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Lantern Puzzle by Ye Chun, which was Winner of The Berkshire Prize for First or Second Book chosen by D. A. Powell, opens with an earthquake. The world is shaken beneath the reader before the journey has even begun. In the Map section of the book, Chun pains a picture of each town/city in a way that leaves the reader wondering when the next explosion will happen and upend everything we know. The pent up unpredictability of life is felt in each of these poems, and not all of these poems are about China — the narrator explores Kansas City, Washington state, and Texas. In “Guangzhou,” the narrator says, “if only I knew the safe land–/the world terrifies me too, the world that is no/stranger than before.” We are all vaguely aware that the world is not entirely safe, but we must have courage to face it head on. How can we do that without a loved on to lean on or an amulet to protect us?

Photo of My Father at Eleven

Your father had decided to find you
in the year after the war. He, an officer,

remarried. You and your sisters and mother
feed on banana and church congee.

Your mother's sorrow hangs like a wisteria bud;
she leans her head in the north-facing room.

Father, I have your eyes and mouth.
I wore the same Youth Pioneer band on my neck,

its knot also bigger than my throat.
In a few years you will find the words

to speak to your father. But for now,
lost in bricks and gray asphalt,

let us hold hands and hum together.

Chun leads us into the second section, “Amulet,” where the journey traverses through a prison, a broken home, the Andes, and more. There is an urgency to run toward forgiveness even as the narrator is unable to do so. The idea that forgiveness must be given to move on is strong, but the mind can sometimes move faster than the heart and body are able to when they are harmed. “Peachwood Pendant” is one of the most beautifully haunted poems in the collection where the narrator is still unable to hold and carry the unloved or those not loved enough even if they should be loved. Ending the section with “Photo of My Mother at Twenty-Five,” brings us full circle to the broken home and the plight of a single mother, but there is beauty in her struggle, at least as seen through the narrator’s eyes — “It’s spring again./Look at those yellow flowers.//I feel so light,/slipping from your body.”

In the final two sections, “Almanac” and “Window,” we begin to explore important dates from a great flood to the first moon. These are windows into the past. Through these events we are given a window through which the narrator can journey into the future without the weight of the past bogging them down in the river. In “Chrysanthemum is Prettiest in the Ninth Moon,” the narrator says, “The window has moved./My gray-haired elders are still there,/counting chrysanthemum petals in the sun,/each petal a sad shoe.” When we get to “Off Year,” the narrator has “swept spiders off the walls” moving forward into the future.

Lantern Puzzle by Ye Chun is meditative in its journey of unraveling the self and the past, winding and unwinding it to view it from different angles to achieve a peace with the past and the future. Chun’s use of language is deeply rooted in nature, but it also adept at capturing the abstract emotions of life in a way the breathes new life into family history.

RATING: Quatrain

Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage by Tori Amos (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 8+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage by Tori Amos, a memoir of creativity read by the author, explores a variety of political climates through the lens of an adult. When Amos was playing piano bars in Washington, D.C., the hotbed of political machinations, at age 11 in the 1970s, she was likely not aware of the political situation as much as she is as an adult. She brings her knowledge of now when she looks back on those experiences, but what sticks with her was how a marginalized group took a chance on her young talent as a pianist to provide entertainment for the political elite. Growing up in music bars throughout the city and in hotels where lobbyists made their deals with politicians provided Amos with a window into the truth of our Republic. Young people learning about our government and its structure often have a naive view of how our country is run, and I can tell you from experience that it is devastating when you learn how deals are struck and powerful men always seem to have the upper hand even if the side they are on is clearly wrong and devastating.

I love the structure of this memoir and how Amos uses her song lyrics to discuss her inspiration, the process of creativity, and what aspects of the wider world helped fuel her muses. While some of the songs may seem only tangentially connected to the world affairs she connects with them, that’s the beauty of art. It grows beyond the original intent or words to paint a wider experience of the world around us and help us to see our part in that world.

While Amos’ creative process will not be something that everyone can ascribe to or understand, it is an intriguing journey that she’s made with her family and alone. She speaks about the death of her mother briefly, which must have been particularly devastating. But it is clear that her strength as an artist and women comes from her mother and the inspiration and direction she received from her.

Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage by Tori Amos is a memoir that I’ll remember for a very long time, and is definitely a step above compared to her first, Tori Amos: Piece by Piece. Each artist comes to their work in a different way, and while some may be excellent performers, there is a richness that comes with artists’ like Amos who create work that deeply affects their own soul, as well as those around them. Her memoir is even more relevant today that it was when it was written — before the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the COVID-19 pandemic and ignorance of society about public health protections and so much more.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #585

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

The Adventures of Miss Olivia Wickham by Kay Bea, free Kindle book.

Miss Olivia Wickham was almost a footnote in Love Unsought, her Aunt and Uncle Darcy’s love story. But she is fierce and determined and would not be relegated to history so easily. With a little polishing and a good deal of love, my girl was ready for her debut. I hope you grow to love Miss Wickham as much as I do.

 

Pemberley: Before the Wedding by Margaret Lynette Sharp, free Kindle book.

As her wedding-day draws nigh, Miss Emily Collins – the beautiful and talented fiancée of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jr – seems to be having second thoughts about her forthcoming nuptials, especially in the light of news of the realisation of a friend’s ambition: an ambition that lingers in Emily’s own mind. Will Miss Collins renounce her engagement?

 

Dreams and Expectations by Wendi Sotis, free Kindle book.

Although family and society expect Fitzwilliam Darcy to ignore his heart and “marry well,” soon after entering Meryton, he falls in love with the woman of his dreams. The problem is, while she is perfect for him in disposition, the lady is far below him in everything that matters to his peers and relations: wealth and connexions.

Past experiences have convinced Miss Elizabeth Bennet that marriage with a gentlemen of high social standing would be out of the question. However, against her better judgement, she cannot turn away from the man she loves, and enters into a friendship with him.
Fate, mystery, and intrigue bring them together again and again in Hertfordshire, Rosings Park, coastal Broadstairs, and London.

Will Elizabeth and Darcy listen to their consciences and continue on simply as friends? Or can they overcome the confines of duty, the malicious designs of others, and their own scruples, and allow the yearnings of their souls to guide them, instead?

What did you receive?

Guest Post: How I Researched Anna’s Dance: A Balkan Odyssey by Michele Levy

Today’s guest is Michele Levy, author of Anna’s Dance: A Balkan Odyssey, who will explore the research into Anna’s Dance, a journey of self-discovery. But first, as always, please check out the book’s synopsis.

Book Synopsis:

It’s 1968. The world is in turmoil. So is twenty-thee-year-old Anna Rossi, who questions everything about her life, from her mostly Jewish heritage to her fear of intimacy. Summer in Europe with a childhood friend offers a perfect way to escape her demons. When her friend abandons her in Italy, Anna makes the rash decision to travel on with strangers. Her journey takes a perilous turn, leading her into conflict in Eastern Europe and into the heart of the Balkans.

Love, Intrigue, Betrayal—Anna must find the strength to survive.

Without further ado, here’s Michele Levy’s guest post; give Michele a warm welcome:

It seems I have been doing ‘research’ for Anna’s Dance since I first encountered Balkan music and dance as a high school student. References to Balkan dance and songs learned at dance workshops, camps, and groups over many years permeate the novel. But eventually I wanted to explore the roots of that vibrant culture— its tangled ethnic past. Reading Balkan literature and history, I published two articles about the myths and images that history engendered, some of which made their way into Anna’s Dance.

Then in 2008, after co-teaching a Senior Honors Seminar on Genocide for English, history, and psychology majors, I shaped a component on the Bosnian War. That summer, during a week-long seminar on genocide at the US Memorial Holocaust Museum, I explored the museum’s huge library. The following summer, as a museum Fellow, I spent a month immersed in its holdings on both the Holocaust and Balkan violence. From those materials I shaped a conference paper that grew into an article since published in three separate venues: a journal and two books (the most recent listed among the sources).

I widened my research to include the survival of Serbian Jews during the Holocaust and the politics of memory in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia post-WWII and the Bosnian War. For this I studied survivor testimonies, newspapers, and relevant online and library materials. I also began to read ancient, but particularly 19 th century, Balkan history and the emergence of competing ethno-nationalisms, like those that engendered the Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination by a young Serb from the Bosnian Black Hand, which aimed to free Bosnia from Austria-Hungary. This desire for ethnic autonomy sparked World War I, helped fuel the outbreak of World War II, and ignited the Bosnian conflict of 1992-1995. Given Macedonia’s recent struggles to name itself, the story has not ended. I wove much of this history, both of Balkan Jews and the Macedonian question, as it is called, into Anna’s journey and Spiro’s character.

For the novel’s settings, I relied on the memory of my four trips to the Balkans, maps old and new, others’ recollections, and guidebooks, especially older ones, given how many routes and names have changed since 1968. Mihajlov, the tiny mountain village where Anna stays with her beloved Spiro, does not exist. But trolling a Macedonian chatroom in 2010, I encountered declarations of extreme nationalist sentiment, some including violence. This convinced me that small pockets of proud former Macedonians might have existed in 1968 Bulgaria, under Zhivkov’s oppressive regime. [A tour of YouTube shows that strong ethno-national feelings continue in 2020. Labeling a song Macedonian might anger a Greek who views it as Greek.]

Since minority communities within a majority culture often cling to their suppressed traditions, e.g. Irish, Scottish, Basque, and Catalonian nationalists, or European village Jews, it seemed possible that Pirin (part of Macedonia till Bulgaria took it in 1913, at the Treaty of Bucharest that ended the Second Balkan War) might harbor some former Macedonians squirming under Todor Zhivkov’s nationalist regime, which sought to create a homogeneous population loyal to Bulgaria. Having earlier labeled its Macedonians a ‘minority’ to please Stalin, by 1968 Bulgaria had reclassified them as ‘Bulgarian’ to suit a changed reality. For this part of the novel, besides consulting books, webpages, and chatrooms, I interviewed Macedonians from both within and outside Bulgaria. Fragments of those stories shaped Spiro’s history.

Belene, one of Bulgaria’s infamous labor camps, proves pivotal to Spiro’s backstory. Here I studied online histories and testimonies from survivors of those camps, some of which operated till communism fell in 1989. Their existence left a painful legacy not yet fully acknowledged. Tzvetan Todorov’s Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria. provided particularly poignant images, while Elizabeth Kostova’s novel The Shadow Land explores this issue and why some still wish to conceal it.

For Spiro’s past I also researched Bulgarian spy craft, since Bulgaria, the Soviet Union’s most faithful satellite, worked closely with the KGB. In 1978, its spy network became notorious for murdering dissident Georgi Markov with the poisoned tip of an umbrella on a bridge in London, to which he had fled in 1968. Here I used mostly online sources, including reports from MI5 and 6, US government documents, and so forth.

Regarding the American and Western European elements, I experienced what I mention and only made sure to validate those memories online.

Some Relevant Sources

Intense historical research underpinned Anna’s Dance. The articles and chapters include many useful sources that explore Eastern European nationalism and the violence it kindled:

  • Levy, Michele Frucht. “From Skull Tower to Mall: Competing Victim Narratives and the Politics of Memory in the Former Yugoslavia,” in Life Writing and Politics of Memory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave/MacMillan UK, 2015).
  • “The Last Bullet for the Last Serb: The Ustasha Genocide against Serbs, 1941-1945,” Nationality Papers, Vol. 37, no. 6, November 2009 (807-837).
  • Petersen, Roger D. “Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe,” Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Poulton, Hugh. “Who Are the Macedonians?” Indiana University Press, 2000.
  • Todorov, Tzvetan. “Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria.” Robert Zaretsky (trans.). University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1999.

About the Author:

Like Anna, Michele Levy fell in love early with Balkan dance, which ignited her fascination with the Balkans. Having published on their history and culture, and traveled there several times, she sought to portray in fiction the special beauty, vibrancy, and complexities of the land and of its peoples. And she still delights in dancing to a sinuous rhythm and a strong drumbeat. Visit Black Rose Writing and the website.

Guest Post & Giveaway: In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson

Please welcome Don Jacobson to the blog today with his latest Pride & Prejudice variation In Plain Sight.

As some of you may be aware, Don was challenged by Lory Lilian to write a D/L love story. Joana Starnes also kept pushing/encouraging him to do the same. Well, he finally did it.

Book Synopsis:

“At the end of the day when we are each of us lyin’ flat on our backs, lookin’ at the ceiling, and the vicar is whisperin’ in our ear, the greatest comfort we shall ’ave is to know that we loved well and were well loved in return.”

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father slides into an early grave, his son is forced to take on
Pemberley’s mantle. Brandy numbs his pain, but Darcy’s worst inclinations run wild. After tragedy rips everything away, he spends years finding his way back: a man redeemed by a woman’s loving understanding.

Elizabeth Bennet is afflicted with a common Regency ailment: observing the world about her but not seeing those beneath her notice. Then a clarifying act shatters the propriety that has denied her heart the transcendent love she craves.

In Plain Sight explores Jane Austen’s eternal love story by flipping social roles on their heads. From their first encounter, Elizabeth Bennet and the convict known as “Smith” must overcome their prejudices and break through their pride. Only then can they share the treasure hidden in plain sight.

Please welcome, Don, to the blog:

Thank you, Serena, for hosting me today as I continue through the blog tour for In Plain Sight. This vignette is actually an epilogue which could have been presented after the last chapter of the novel. However, I decided that the ending was so much stronger if I left Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pemberley family outside in the great driveway. We know that all will move into their HEA as they are in their Happily-Ever-Now at that exact moment. Yet, for those who might be interested in what happened to our characters in later times, I offer this selection.

An Epilogue of Sorts

Watson’s Mill, Meryton, August 8, 1819

The bread line snaked past the trestle tables set up by the mill’s chained and padlocked iron gate. The counters were staffed by a patchwork of neighborhood notables leavened by folk whose hands showed the wear-and-tear of daily toil. The continuing economic collapse had left those dependent upon the now-silent spinning jennies and looms on the brink of starvation. Even in the midst of this privation, scarecrow children clad in rags gamboled around the flagged mews laid between the five-story brick edifice and the great millpond. The sturdiest mother’s heart or aunt’s nerves palpitated when youthful exuberance overcame good sense as one little one or another streaked toward the greasy waters that usually fed the great wheel powering the factory. The watercourse was still now, its force unnecessary. On the far side of the pool, the Lea-Mimram Canal was filled with a brackish sludge. The refreshing surges of Mimram water that usually swept
through the channel were non-existent in this time of crisis. Great cauldrons of soup steamed in the morning air. Freshly baked bread contributed a yeasty aroma that spoke of brighter days. Granaries controlled by Meryton’s squirearchy had been thrown open to feed the unemployed. Estate mistresses turned out their attics to fill the levy for Longbourn Chapel’s poor box.

Mr. Benton, an archdeacon for the diocese, and Mr. Tomlinson, the town’s Methodist speaker, policed the queue, collecting tidbits of news from their female parishioners. This was not gossip, but rather a taking of the temperature of the neighborhood. Benton would gather tales of drunkenness, illness, pregnancy, and malnutrition and add them to his own
wife’s burden. Mrs. Mary would take that intelligence and confidently march into Meryton’s four-and-twenty parlors of note and prod ladies to do their Christian duty. She was not above leaning upon her connections. Elizabeth Darcy, Jane Bingley, and Georgiana Cecil often would add their considerable social weight through gently worded invitations to
events in town.

Tomlinson, lately a sergeant in His Majesty’s Army, leaned on his earlier experience to winkle out the scent of discontent. He had opened the Good Book when he had closed his military career. Tomlinson believed that a man served the Lord first, but he could also support the realm in second place. Women this day told of caravans rolling north to hear Henry Hunt speak. He knew that his former master, General Fitzwilliam, would take these threads and weave a tapestry that he would lay before Liverpool’s cabinet. The general was settled on a chair leaned against the bolted doors of the tavern opposite the manufactory. His equine companion, Imperator, was left gamboling in one of Purvis Lodge’s paddocks where four or five of his favorite broodmares competed for his affections. Fitzwilliam snorted as he recalled his old friend, nearly twenty he was, prancing about the stable yard, nipping at youngsters to remind them that he was king.

Like Impy, Fitzwilliam was no country squire, wide across the bottom. His usual bluff demeanor and partial deafness gave him an air of rusticated geniality. Yet, he frequently surprised regimental colonels as he explained the facts of life. No officer would ever forget that the horse-breeder at Purvis Lodge regularly cultivated his connections in town’s rarified high country. The militia never gave Meryton trouble.

Comfortably tilted back next to Fitzwilliam was James Foote. Foote’s invisibility, growing from his time as a Longbourn servant, had served the General well as he stage- managed the dark ballet that kept the Czar, Metternich, and Talleyrand in their respective boxes. Foote was adjusting to fatherhood as his wife, the former Miss Tomkins, had recently birthed their second son. She was seated beneath an oak that shaded the town square. Mrs. Foote, along with Charlotte Fitzwilliam, kept a weather eye upon a dozen children from various branches of the Longbourn family.

Also enjoying the shade were two old friends. The black and white board lay upon a portable table set between them. Moves were made, but both men, widowers now after the fever of in the year seventeen had swept off their ladies, spent more time chatting with each other about things of which old men often do, of the world as it was in their youth.

Michael Hastings, now retired, in the midst of his bereavement, had found himself taking advantage of a long-standing invitation to visit Pemberley. There he met his college friend, Tom Bennet, who likewise was draped in black. The two gentlemen sat side-by-side in the great library, a stack of books and a bottle of port between them. Before long, they
reignited their ancient comity. Realizing that loneliness was the quickest path to the grave for men of their ilk, an unspoken agreement was reached. Hastings closed up his Derby house and moved into Longbourn with Bennet.

The judge’s hand hovered above his castle—a staunch tory, Hastings always favored his bishops and rooks. A snuffling sound distracted him.

Affecting a grim look, he speared the miscreant with a beam from beneath bushy brows. The curly headed youngster, old enough to be out of leading strings but not so grown as to have escaped the nursery table, was unmoved. He had the courage of a child well-acquainted with the fact that the Moon and the Sun revolved around him.

Hastings growled. “Well, son, who do you belong to? All of your cousins look like Mr. Bennet here.”—he waved at his opponent who unsuccessfully tried to stifle his guffaw— “and I find myself at a loss.”

The little fellow stood straight and confidently began, “Of course I take after Mr. Bennet. He is my Grandpapa, after all! I am a Darcy!”

Then Master Darcy leaned in and confided. “My Mama told me that we were not Darcys today, but rather Smiths.” So saying he scurried off.

“And where are the…Smiths?” Hastings quizzed his housemate. Bennet pointed with his chin as his eyes returned to the chessboard. “Last I saw, Lizzy and Will were strolling on the towpath.”

###

The shingle crunched beneath their feet as they left Meryton behind and approached Longbourn. The lady was clearly with child.

Elizabeth looked up at Darcy and smiled. “You know how happy you have made Mary and Edward. They have been feeding and clothing the mill families for months. Usually it is just Charlotte and Richard manning the barricades.

“Mary knows that you would be loath to leave Pemberley in August with my pending confinement. I will own that I would have preferred the cooler Derbyshire climes to semi- tropical Meryton. However, you appeared in our sitting room one morning and stated, ‘You are yet able to travel. Edward wrote me telling of their work at Watson’s, and he is concerned that your sister was wearing herself thin. She could use our help.’

“And, you were correct, dearest. Mary is like a terrier and will just not let go or ask for aid.”

Darcy looked down at his wife. The toes of his worn work boots kicked out from beneath the simply hemmed cuffs of his canvas pantaloons. He shifted his shoulders beneath the red-checked cloth of his shapeless shirt. These clothes rarely saw the light of day except when Fitzwilliam Darcy wished to move about incognito, to be unseen by all except the crowd.

“Elizabeth,” he said, “I approached you because I knew that Mary’s silence was out of love for you. Her fear would be that you would become agitated with the knowledge and immediately rush to the stables to have the carriage horses harnessed.

“My own motivation was in a similar vein. I knew that if you had learned of this situation, you would have worried yourself trying to encourage me to overcome my protective nature and allow us to travel. I stole a march on you by acting first.”

He placed his hand atop hers where it rested in the crook of his elbow. “I knew that Bingley would never leave Thornhill, not with your sister so close to her confinement. I hoped to console myself with the thought that Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Keith would be in town, that we could let this opportunity pass. Then I wondered if the militia had relocated to Brighton.”

Elizabeth nodded, “Your instincts were correct. Kitty, as the Colonel’s lady is installed in her Regency Square house lording it over the regiment’s wives. As for Lydia, she has gone to her house in Bristol to await the Captain’s return from the Orient.”

Darcy smiled. “Acting on impulse was the right thing to do. I vow, Elizabeth, I am becoming more like Bingley every day! Speaking of things Bingley, and I ask this for informational purposes only, have you heard anything about the Soamses?”

Elizabeth peered up at him from beneath her brim. “It has been seven years. Not once in all that time have you asked about that awful man and his wife.”

“’Tis a time I would prefer to forget, dearest,” he softly replied, focusing his eyes toward where the arrow-straight ditch crossed onto Longbourn. His wife sighed and answered, “Sir Thaddeus’ son is at Cambridge. His eldest daughter turned seventeen in February. Jane tells me they wished to launch Miss Soames into society this past Season but had to wait until May. They took a house in Portman Square.

“Matlock wrote to say that she assisted, not wishing to punish the daughter for the sins of the parents. The countess found one of her friends to sponsor the girl at court. That acquaintance also threw a small soiree where Miss Soames played and sang. Apparently, that and her £22,000 dowry landed her an offer from a viscount’s second son.”

Darcy nodded as they continued walking. After several minutes he continued, “Lady Soames must had been thrilled with her stepdaughter’s success.”

Elizabeth could feel her husband’s arm tense beneath her hand. “William, it is ancient history. We have three darling children and another on the way. We are done with them.”

Darcy relaxed. “And how many children has Sir Thaddeus gotten upon his wife?”

Surprised at the sudden change in direction, Elizabeth replied, “Five.”

Darcy’s voice rumbled, shivering her entire being. “Hmmmpf. Five to your three, Mrs. Darcy. Miss Bingley, or should I say Lady Soames, is undoubtedly more accomplished than you.”

Elizabeth squeaked and slapped his arm in faux outrage.

He recaptured her errant hand.

Then husband and wife, convict and housemaid, moved down the path toward the manor house, its gables barely visible above a copse of oaks.

Giveaway:

Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of In Plain Sight by Don Jacobson.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series—

  • The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
  • Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
  • The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
  • Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
  • The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
  • The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
  • The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, released in 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016). Lessers and Betters (2018) offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing. He is a member of the Austen Authors Collective and JASNA. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, Pam.

Finna by Nate Marshall

Source: NetGalley
eARC, 128 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Finna by Nate Marshall explores identity within the Black community, while looking not only at the dark past of America but also its hip hop present. “when America writes/about Black life/they prefer the past/ tense,” the narrator says in “When America Writes.” Many of the early poems explore identity, a young man who wants to learn and go to college, choosing something more than the gangs and drugs he sees in the community. But even then, there is that push and pull of becoming a learned person and the person the community nurtured.

In “another Nate Marshall origin story,” the narrator says, “perhaps our rage at the other is just the way we fill what we don’t know about ourselves.” A deep look at who we are is integral to our development no matter what stage of life we are in, but many times we skip this step and force ourselves into certain roles in our environments or in our families. For a young boy of five to already know lyrics about the deaths seen regularly in the Black community is a strong judgment on our society’s treatment of those who are not white. He delves further into the saddest commentary on our society in “I thought this poem was funny but then everybody got sad” — “what has a black body/& is read all over?/I mean is read all over/I mean/that’s the punch/line.”

publicist

a mentor told me
to consider writing
essays that commemorate
days that relate to my book.
it's a good way to insert
your work into the public
conversation. well motherfuckers
spend every day killing
a Black somebody in Chicago
& every next day the whole world
practices saying silences like
Black on Black
gang related
violent neighborhood
so I guess I owe a
million essays.
i guess my book
will be huge.

Finna by Nate Marshall expresses the struggles of Black America using familiar cultural vernacular and Hip Hop to bring readers into a world masked by white institutions and standards that are imposed upon these Americans. Nate Marshall’s narrator speaks about the other Nate Marshalls of the world and how he is not like them. But they are connected in how their life’s struggles can emotionally wear them down. What Marshall brings to life in this collection is that we are all human and empathy is something we need to relearn in order for us to connect.

RATING: Quatrain