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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor

Source: the author
Paperback, 208 pgs.
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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor is an ambitious undertaking in which the poet takes the first lines of each of Pride & Prejudice’s chapters and turns them into a haiku that reflects not only the first line, but major happenings within the chapter.

Chapter 2:

In pastoral terms,
Bingley was breakfast for the
Bennet early bird.

Gaynor provides the first line of each chapter as written by Austen and his haiku on the following page. It is a labor of love for him to incorporate her wit into his haiku and still maintain the main highlights of each chapters. I can only imagine how long it took to get each haiku to fit not only the form, but also the intention of the project. In many of these haiku he succeeds well in highlighting ironic twists within Austen’s chapters in just one line of verse. In the back, Gaynor also includes a summary of each chapter in the back of the book to highlight the what, the where, and the when that are on display in his preceding haiku.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor is a fun collection of haiku for poetry and Jane Austen lovers alike. It’s size even lends itself to the stocking stuffer gift for your literary friends and relatives.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet: (#HaikuJim)

Author of Everything Becomes a Poem, James W. Gaynor is a poet, artist, editor, and writer. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lived for years in Paris, where he taught a course on Emily Dickinson at the University of Paris, studied the development of the psychological novel in 17th-century France, and worked as a translator. After returning to New York, Gaynor worked as an editor at Grosset & Dunlap, Cuisine magazine, Scriptwriter News and Forbes Publications. His articles, book reviews, poems and essays have appeared in The New York Observer, OTVmagazine.com, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, and The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. As #HaikuJim, Gaynor publishes a daily haiku drawn from current newspaper headlines and is the creator of Can You Haiku? – a corporate communications workshop based on using Japanese poetry techniques to improve effective use of today’s digital platforms. He recently retired as the Global Verbal Identity Leader for Ernst & Young LLP. A silver medalist in the 1994 Gay Games (Racewalking), Gaynor’s found-object sculpture has been exhibited internationally. He is a member of the Advisory Board of New York’s The Creative Center at University Settlement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the creative arts to people with cancer and chronic illnesses (thecreativecenter.org) Gaynor lives in New York City with his canine companion, Emily Dickinson Gaynor, and the cat who oversees their entwined lives, Gerard Manley Hopkins Gaynor. #HaikuJim jameswgaynor.com

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab

Source: the author
ebook, 238 pgs.
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Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab is so much more than a book about writing and motivation, it’s about looking inside yourself to find what makes you happy and make it your center. Raab uses her plethora of writing experience and combines it with her knowledge of psychology and meditation to help writers create their own seven-step plan for writing not only about their own lives but other artistic projects too.  This is not a book about writing and selling your art, but about tapping into natural creativity and emotion to improve the whole body and psyche.

“Setting an intention involves focusing your thoughts in the particular direction of what you want to bring about or manifest in your life. … One thing to remember is that, even before you set an intention, you need to make sure you believe in it, .. ” (pg. 51 ARC)

Setting goals often is the easiest part for writers and others, it is the intention and believing in those goals that will ensure you reach them. Raab has fantastic advice about maintaining balance, how to find happiness and maintain it, and how this all falls in line with a writing life. However, those who are not in a place to commit will find it hard to begin, let alone sustain big changes. Raab’s advice is sound and writers who follow it are bound to reach the goals they set for themselves, especially after they have created a space where writing will be done (inside their own heads and in a physical space).

Meditation is a big part of her process, and while many may find this too “new-age” or “hokey”, it serves as a marker — a reminder to slow down and make time to think and reflect.  It does not have to be the standard meditation. It could simply be a walk that clears the mind of clutter or a few moments listening to classic music to relax.  It is about stepping away from the busyness of life to move forward with personal goals.

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab will help writers and others focus their energy on their own happiness and show them the way toward fulfillment.  Writers often suffer from writer’s block, and there are a number of options in this book to help you break through.  For those who want to write about the past or the future or their emotional trauma, this guide will surely help them toward healing and toward embracing the truth of their lives. Too often we are busy with other things, but Raab reminds us that to be healthy and happy, we need to be busy with our own bliss.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge. Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust. As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly

Source: the author
Ebook, 352 pgs.
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Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly is clever and fun, just as George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, aka My Fair Lady the movie, but also witty and romantic like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Everly strikes a perfect balance between the two works and creates her own story for Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet that not only defies convention and societal norms of the time, but also demonstrates how aristocrats and their peers can achieve the ends they seek with a little scheming.

Her Darcy is a bit more Shaw than Austen, but it is what we need in this tale to believe what transpires between Lizzy and himself. When Elizabeth and Professor Darcy meet it is after Charles Bingley has already decided on who his bride will be. He must merely ask her, and in this, Bingley is a stronger character than in Austen. I applaud Everly for giving us a stronger Bingley, even if he is still pleasant and easy-going in most things.

Once the tutoring of Miss Bennet begins and the scheme is agreed to, there is little room for turning back, and Elizabeth laments about her decision to enter into this scheme: “Oh, I find myself dreading a headache which will last six months.” But despite her misgivings, she finds that she enjoys the challenge of transforming her speech and manner as much as Professor Darcy. But like all great creations, they often disagree with their creators, and this makes for entertaining sparring between the two.

Everly clearly knows both of these classics well, and it shows, and while readers will need to be a little flexible in their notion of Regency behavior and expectations, it is well worth the effort to do so. The challenge lies in how Lizzy will overcome her dislike of Darcy when he selfishly pats himself on the back and whether she will see his more endearing nature beneath the cold facade he uses in London. Readers will love her determination and her ability to forgive, and they will certainly challenge this Darcy’s character as Lizzy does.

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly is a variation I did not want to put down. I was delighted by every twist that brought Darcy and Elizabeth together and enjoyed the entertaining paths they took when they were parted. Darcy has more to learn in this variation but Lizzy also has to make some hard choices that could affect the rest of her life.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading! Visit her website and on Facebook.

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman (giveaway)

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 352 pgs.
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The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman offers a platter of new characters set in Detroit, which is beginning its renaissance. Cousins Addie and Samantha risk everything to buy a nearly hollowed out diner and a crumbling home that they divide into two livable spaces. They hope that through the meals they serve, using organic ingredients, they can make a successful eatery. However, they fail to take into account how their new venture will be received by the community.  As pressures mount, their relationship begins to fray and readers will see just how the past and present influence their future.

Through alternating points of view between Samantha and Addie, readers are able to see the quirky characters that make up their diner family. But through the atmosphere built by Lampman, it is clear something ominous is on the horizon, especially after an unexpected letter arrives. The author has drawn not only the main characters well, but also the secondary characters, creating a well rounded meal on which to chew. Some of the best parts of this book involve food and those recipes are in the back of the book, and I loved the material about WWII polish immigrants like Addie’s grandparents.

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman is a succulent dish served in the evening with wine and a good dose of humor.  Readers will have watering mouths as they work their way through this renaissance for Detroit, Addie, and Samantha.

RATING: Quatrain

GIVEAWAY:  U.S. residents age 18+ Enter by leaving a comment about this review and book by Oct. 31. Good Luck.

About the Author:

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications—summa cum laude—from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public-relations firm. When she returned to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, she sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

Scratch and Create: Enchanted Forest: 20 Original Art Postcards by Kailey Whitman

Source: QuartoKnows
Postcards, 20
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Scratch and Create: Enchanted Forest: 20 Original Art Postcards by Kailey Whitman comes with its own tool for scratching off the metallic coating, and it has its own plastic storage space attached to the book.  Kids may want to be careful with the plastic storage case, as it could easily be ripped off or damaged when trying to access the tool.  Others shouldn’t have a problem at all.

My daughter hasn’t had a chance to use these yet, but I’m sure that she will soon.  I, on the other hand, have had a stressful few weeks and was looking for something mindless to do and relieve stress.  This seemed to provide some relief, especially as I’ve had very little time to do anything outside of work and other life projects. I’m going to send my first one out this week.  I hope that my cousin will be able to take a picture because I want to see how well it arrives to her. I’ll keep you posted on that.

You will want to place even pressure on the tool to scrap away the metallic coating and not too much pressure because it will tear away the coloring underneath if you are not careful.  You’ll see the little bit of color that I tore away on my near the bottom of the bird on the left-hand side at the bottom of the postcard. I was a little bummed, but learned how to add just enough pressure to make the image appear. You can also use a coin if you’d rather do that. I tested it out and it works just as well.

Scratch and Create: Enchanted Forest: 20 Original Art Postcards by Kailey Whitman is a good way to send art in the mail and keep in touch with family or friends.  It’s as fun as a scratch ticket from the convenience store, but with much better results.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Illustrator:

Kailey Whitman is a Philadelphia based illustrator and designer. She is a graduate of the University of the Arts illustration program and when she’s not drawing, she is thinking about drawing.

Her work has been recognized by the society of illustrators 2016 student competition and she was the recipient of the Roger T. hane award. Her work has been featured on behance, brown paper bag, and she was named one of Adobe Creative Cloud’s Artists to watch.

clients include the new york times | the village voice | The Phoenix New Times |grid magazine |Main Line Today | Cincinnati Magazine | Delicious Living Magazine | middlebury college magazine | At Buffalo Magazine | Parragon | Quarto | wASHINGTON SQUARE WEST CIVIC ASSOCIATION |eastern state penitentiary.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis

Source: Meryton Press
Ebook, 424 pgs.
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Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is a Pride & Prejudice variation that will take Mr. Bingley to task for his easy-going manners that allow others to influence his decisions and will demonstrate how mistaking another’s actions can lead to disaster.  Misunderstandings in Jane Austen are nothing readers are unused to by now, but Lewis amps up the miscues and the drama in her variation.

“Life was muted in her absence.” (from Mistaken)

Much of the story from Austen remains intact here and Lewis shows readers what may have happened behind Austen’s scenes.  She also engages Austen’s characters in new ways and creates her own subplots. What worked well was the main love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and his demonstrable grief and her anger are tangible in Lewis’ deft hands.  Their romance is believable, despite the obstacles, and his fierce protection of Lizzy rings true.

“‘Cease hiding behind the Titan and admit it. You agreed with him.’

‘I did?’

‘Aye! He did not make you leave. You chose to do it.'” (from Mistaken)

However, in ramping up the misunderstandings, we see a side of Jane, Lizzy’s sister, that is less than pleasant as jealousy and resentment consume her to the point where her relationship with Lizzy appears altered forever. As Jane’s behavior dragged on and worsened to the point where this reader no longer liked her, it was hard to watch Lizzy deal with not only her new responsibilities, but also the absence of her best friend and sister and the repeated flirtations of men she had no interest in.  It read a little too much like a daytime drama in some instances, but the scenes where the ton are gossiping was exactly as readers would imagine it to be and demonstrates how fragile a woman’s reputation was in those times.

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis is unique in the number of misunderstandings that occur and how they are resolved in a series of puzzles that are laid out in pieces for the reader.  Lizzy is still headstrong and lively, but it is clear that this personality could get her in loads of trouble among upper society.  Readers of Pride & Prejudice will recognize various differences in their beloved characters, and the lack of resolution at the end for one plot may leave the door open for another part to come. Lewis’ novel is engaging and terrifying all at once, especially if you’ve grown attached to the Bennets and their new husbands.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight (Audio)

Source: publicist
Audible; 8+ hrs.
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Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight, narrated by Alison Larkin, is a memoir of one of the last people to live in Chawton House — the home of Jane Austen — as part of a family.  Knight peppers her family stories with historical notes from the ancestors, the letters, and the stories she heard as a child, but she also incorporates the words of Jane Austen from her novels at the most opportune moments.  Readers will be delighted to learn how elements from her books were taken straight from her family’s experiences.

From the beginning readers know that Knight was forced from her home at age 17 due to financial distress.  You can imagine how being forced from an ancestral home would be disconcerting and lead her to distance herself from Jane Austen. But readers will want to learn how her life comes full circle and leads to the creation of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight, narrated by Alison Larkin, provides a unique look at Jane Austen’s ancestors and explores how family members many years removed can carry some of the same traits and interests.  Knight is a curious woman who loves to weave stories about her family members with those of Austen’s novels and real life.  She mirrors Jane’s streak of independence, which readers have found so compelling about Elizabeth Bennet.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Caroline Jane Knight shares more than Jane Austen’s name and DNA. As a direct descendant of Jane’s brother, Edward Knight, Caroline is the last of the Austen Knight family to grow up at Chawton House on the estate where her fifth great-aunt Jane Austen lived and enjoyed the most productive period of her writing career. Caroline explored the same places around Chawton House and its grounds as Jane did, dined at the same table in the same dining room, read in the same library and shared the same dream of independence.

Killing Summer by Sarah Browning

Source: the poet
Paperback, 100 pgs.
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Killing Summer by Sarah Browning begins in the heat of summer in which a woman walks her neighborhood and does not cross the street because there is a black man there and there is a man stabbing women on the loose.  But look closer at “Pentworth, Early Evening” and you see a narrator who thinks about doing just that, who has fear deep down that she’ll be a victim of violence by a black man.  Like her, we want “to tear history” from us, free ourselves from that ingrained habit that those unlike us are something to fear.

From “Flag of No Walls” (pg. 93)

I want the flag of talking,
of sitting on the disintegrating
wall and gabbing, gossiping,
negotiating, waving that flag
of no walls. That flag.

Through Browning’s open endings, her poems seek change and there is a glimmer of hope that changes are coming and that transformation could be for the better (at least for those who come after us).  Her poems are ripped from the headlines, but they also are reflective of the past — a societal angst that was gone and has returned.  From an adolescent student seeking the courage to be seen by the boys in the courtyard to the pull between the ingrained fear and the inability to reconcile an ancestry of slave owners, there is a tension throughout the collection that simmers, wearing us down.

From “The Blueberry Seasons” (pg. 77)

I can’t stop admiring you, how you run
like that, bring your bucket now to show me.

Summer is often referenced as a time of being carefree, and there is some of that here in poems such as “The Blueberry Seasons,” but Browning is quick to remind us that life is not carefree for everyone — not the amputee, not those touched by foreclosure, and not those falsely imprisoned.  Her poems ask us to view ourselves and our actions through the eyes of others, to see how we are perceived and to begin again and become better, more compassionate, and connected.

Killing Summer by Sarah Browning reminds us that even in the most turbulent political times, we should not be blind to our roles and we should not passively watch or read. We must act if we hope to make change.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Sarah Browning is co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock. She is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and a featured writer for Other Words. Author of Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry Press, forthcoming 2017) and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007), and coeditor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004), she is the recipient of artist fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, a Creative Communities Initiative grant, and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning has been guest editor or co-edited special issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and POETRY magazine. Since 2006, she has co-hosted the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. She previously worked supporting socially engaged women artists with WomenArts and developing creative writing workshops with low-income women and youth with Amherst Writers & Artists. She has been a community organizer in Boston public housing and a grassroots political organizer on a host of social and political issues.

Story Problems by Charles Jensen

Source: the poet
Paperback, 39 pgs.
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Story Problems: Poems by Charles Jensen, the winner of 2017 Palooka Press Chapbook Contest, is a chapbook written in a composition exam book style, complete with prose and sample questions for the reader. It’s interactive like all forms of poetry, seeking the readers’ input and self-analysis or even quirky responses to strange questions.

I remember these composition exam books fondly (I’m probably the only one) because I could write out my answers as completely as I wanted and there was no anxiety of speaking in front of the class in a presentation format. There also wasn’t the dreaded multiple choice, on which I always second guessed my answers and changed them, inevitably, to the wrong one.

Jensen’s perspective on grief and loss is as infinite as the universe. Imaging an “Origin Myth” of yourself and then the loss of a parent, how could someone so small in comparison to the rest of the universe contain an entire universe? But isn’t it true that our family is often a universe to us and when it disappears through death or other means, we are drifting and empty?

From “2. The Water Cycle” (pg. 7)

“Breath and words a latticework of ruin.”

From “6. Journey to the Center of the Earth” (pg. 11)

“I told people later grief is the absence of hope, but even then I knew it wasn’t true. Grief is when you have hope, and then hope leaves you.”

From “14. Temporary Death” (pg. 19)

“To watch a loved one breathe out without breathing in makes you stop breathing. There’s a long moment that follows in which no one watching is really alive.”

The prose poems are only as complex as the reader who reads them. With its simple language and in some cases platitudes we’ve all heard before, Jensen is able to pull forth the more existential questions self-actualizing humans find harder to deal with and answer. In this composition exam, the reader is asked to dig deeper into what they know of themselves, their religion, their whiteness, their losses and more to see not only the futility of some of our actions but also how identity is a construct that very few of us understand. He leaps from the broader universality of the human condition to the immediate “you” that we are trapped inside with his probing questions and fanciful instructions.

Story Problems: Poems by Charles Jensen is a chapbook with unending possibilities for the reader.  Self-examination and world examination at its best.  Jensen is becoming one of my favorite poets.  His work is unique and universal, but it also challenges the reader to become more than the passive observer.

RATING: Cinquain

Photo: Philip Pirolo

About the Author:

Charles Jensen is the author of six chapbooks of poems, including the recent Story Problems and Breakup/Breakdown, and The First Risk, which 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 American Poetry Review, Bloom, Columbia Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Field, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler

Source: QuartoKnows
Paperback, 144 pgs.
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The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler has a colorful cover and it is clear from the drawings that your lettering will never be plain Jane again.  When kids doodle adding things to their letters or words, they are often told to write the letters as they should be written.  But this book allows their imaginations to run free, adding all sorts of designs to the dangles hanging from their letters.  There are chapters in the book to guide them through the process of drawing them, and there is no limit to how many dangles or what types of items can be made into dangles.

The introduction explains what dangles are and how different strings on which the charms hang can determine the mood of the lettering — evoking different emotions and reactions from the reader.  This type of lettering is great for stationary, artwork, and other creations.  Create wedding invitations with dangles, create monogrammed stationary, and use a variety of materials and styles.  There is a recommended list of materials in the beginning, including watercolor paints, colored pencils, markers, and more.  This is the perfect companion for Hand Lettering A to Z, which would enable you to create even more elaborate designs.

I loved that there are faint outlines for kids to practice creating some of the designs they see in the book. The Art of Drawing Dangles: Creating Decorative Letters and Art with Charms by Olivia A. Kneibler can help kids slow down and be creative, while providing parents with some quiet time. It also can help parents recharge by having them step away from their day-to-day stresses to create art with their children.

RATING: Quatrain

Find out more about the Author:

“Art has been my bliss since I was a very young girl, so much so that I majored in fine art in college with a minor in psychology. I have been producing and selling my art for many years using mostly watercolor as my main medium. When I began focusing solely on art as my career I freelanced for various companies and continued on that path for years creating illustrations for greeting cards, invitations, promotional materials, fabric, figurines and plush teddy bears. Some of the companies I freelanced for were pcCrafter, Bradford Exchange, Gibson Greetings, Paper Magic Group, Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company (exclusive artist), Leisure Arts, Gooseberry Patch, Walter Drake and more. I was the in house Senior Designer at DecoArt and worked in all aspects of the creative department and extensively on the Liquid Rainbow product, completing four books and numerous projects. After years of working with different companies I decided I would start working for myself so I opened my site, Olivia and Company.”

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Source: William Morrow
Hardcover, 384 pgs.
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Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams tells a twisted and dark tale reminiscent of Rebecca‘s Gothic nature and the secrets held back from the main character Virginia Fortescue — you may remember her sister, Sophie, from A Certain Age.  The narrative shifts between the early 1920s (Virginia’s present) and the Great War where as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charming doctor, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam.  Their relationship starts out as a friendship, but you can tell that there is a spark between them from the start — almost a magnetic pull.  Virginia, unfortunately, carries a great deal of baggage and has an inability to trust men because of her father and the death of her mother. Meanwhile, Simon is bent on protecting her by any means, including keeping secrets and telling lies.  Their relationship seems doomed from the beginning.

The pacing of this novel between the time lines, plus the additional twists and suspenseful moments, can leave the reader fatigued as they try to see through the lies and get at the truth.  Like Virginia, who is the main narrator, the readers is left wandering in a fog of lies with little light to guide them.  The relationship of Simon and Virginia is passionate, but the deeper connection they felt is so easily broken by the lies of others and the circumstances they cannot control.

Many years pass and the darkness has poisoned what was once between them.  It makes it difficult for the reader to have faith in the relationship at all given all that has happened and the inability to find even a little truth in the lies.  It’s like in all the years since WWI, Virginia remains that same naive girl who is easily lead astray.  Simon is a character who is hard to get a handle on because of Virginia’s inability to see who he truly is for nearly the entire novel.

What’s even more frustrating is the last third of the novel seems out of left field in places and overly dramatic (like a soap opera), which again may be related to the Gothic feeling of the novel.  Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams is enjoyable in many parts and definitely dramatic.  There is definitely a lot to discuss with a book club.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Annotated by Sophie Turner (Giveaway)

This is not precisely a review of Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner, as much as it is a look at why this revised edition was created. I’ve read this novel more times than any other, and because I do love it so much, I wanted to take a look at what Sophie Turner found in her endeavor to return the novel as close to Jane Austen’s original as possible. As grammar rules as we know them today were not as established when Austen wrote, there is a sort of free flow with her use of grammar and words.

This is particularly of interest, as the examples cited by Turner indicate how well placed Austen’s commas are in an effort to create a distinct voice for her characters. I also loved that the exclamation points we often think of as part of Mrs. Bennet’s character are not as plentiful as one would assume. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this novel again, as well as Turner’s annotations. As an editor, I’m obviously fascinated with the choices that novelists make in word choice and punctuation.

Check out Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner to find Austen’s more authentic voice.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Book:

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original voice.

About the Sophie Turner:

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon. Visit her: Facebook, Twitter, Sophie Turner’s Blog, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon.

International Giveaway:

To enter, leave a comment about why you’d like to read this new ebook edition of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated by Sophie Turner.  Enter by Sept. 15, 2017, 8 p.m. EST.

Good Luck, everyone.