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National Poetry Month Tour Schedule & Linky

Welcome to the 2014 National Poetry Month: Reach for the Horizon Blog Tour!

I do have a couple open dates still, but this is the schedule for April 2014 as it stands, with our first post on Savvy Verse & Wit and Rhapsody in Books!

April 1: Beth Hoffman and Rhapsody in Books
April 2: Book Snob
April 3: Bermudaonion
April 4: Tabatha Yeatts
April 5: Rhapsody in Books and Still Unfinished
April 6: Rhapsody in Books
April 7: The Bluestocking Society
April 8: the bookworm
April 9:  Lost in Books
April 10: Come, Sit By The Hearth
April 11:  Book Dilettante
April 12:  Rhapsody in Books
April 13: I’d Rather Be at the Beach
April 14:  Sophisticated Dorkiness
April 15:  Reader Buzz
April 16:  Everything Distils Into Reading
April 17: Necromancy Never Pays
April 18: Peeking Between the Pages
April 19:  Rhapsody in Books
April 20:  Rhapsody in Books
April 21:  Burning the Bridges
April 22:  Erica Goss
April 23:  Diary of an Eccentric
April 24:  Sweta Srivastava Vikram
April 25: Melissa Firman
April 26: Beth Kephart
April 27:  I’d Rather Be at the Beach and Emma Eden Ramos
April 28:  Regular Rumination
April 29:  Mary McCray
April 30:  Tabatha Yeatts

For those participating this year, please leave your post link below:

12 Moons Video Project Is Live at Atticus Review

With the new year comes the monthly unveiling of the 12 Moons by Erica Goss, Kathy McTavish, Nic S., and Swoon at Atticus Review.

Beginning last year, Erica was kind enough to share some insight into the project, and now that it’s here and live with the first installment, I wanted to provide a central list of links for our previous guest posts and interviews below:

With that recap, I’d like to turn everyone’s attention to January’s post at Atticus Review.  Do spread the word, make comments, and wait anxiously for February’s installment…

I know I am.

Guest Review: Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Sullivan

Erica Goss is a talented poet, whose Wild Place poetry collection I loved (my review) and who is the current Poet Laureate for Los Gatos 2013-14, has offered up her talents today as a reviewer, while I’m attending a wonderful writer’s conference in Boston.

Today, she’ll be reviewing Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Sullivan (Tebot Bach, San Diego, CA, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-893670-86-0, 118 pages).  Without further ado, please give her a warm welcome:

On September 11, 2001, I woke to the news that New York City had been attacked. From almost three thousand miles away in California, the events I watched on TV, in spite of their horror, didn’t seem real to me. They were happening in some faraway place.

That evening, I discovered that Mark Bingham was on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Mark was the son of my neighbor, Alice Hoagland. The attack was no longer “over there.” It had arrived in my back yard.

David Sullivan’s latest collection of poems, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, brings the war in Iraq up close and personal in the same way. I had to close my eyes often, after reading lines such as “Pleasure and sorrow / are bound together – wheat sheaves / awaiting threshing” (Night Visions 1) or “No tears mark these days. / After Saddam’s soldiers left / she burned the bedsheets” (Kurdish House on Fire).

One of this collection’s many strengths is how the poems use the smallest details to authenticate frequent shifts in point of view. From the poem “Swirling Sand,” the voice of a soldier:

This sand infiltrates
every goddamn thing I wear.
Send lotion, pronto.

And the voice of a grieving father:

Allah knows my heart,
my son.  I do not want to
hear your voice on earth,

only in heaven,
perched by Allah’s ear, singing
inside a green bird.

War is a strange blend of the unthinkable and the practical. They both inform “Swirling Sand,” from graves that “look like / hastily plowed fields” to

Outgoing letters
catch helicopter downwash,
bust the ropes that hold 

them and cascade out
over the ocean.  Flurry
of never-heard birds.

The poem ends with this chilling image: “The eyeless sockets / fill with swirling sand,” describing the “black ash that was once a man.” From the irritation of sand on skin to the ghostly after-image of a dead man, these images crash into the reader’s mind with a precise, yet jumbled logic. War often appears this way to the powerless, to civilians, and anyone outside of the decision-making process, which is to say most of us.

Astute readers have probably noticed that these poems are in haiku stanzas. In his preface to the book, Sullivan writes that all of the poems “came in the same linked haiku form.” The choice of haiku, although not intuitive at first, works unexpectedly well with the topic of war. It imposes a structure on inconceivable violence and tragedy, containing them in manageable, bite-sized sections. Each stanza, controlled within haiku’s syllabic restraints, functions almost as a separate poem; the white space between the stanzas gives the reader a place to breathe before moving on. Using the haiku form “cut(s) down the poem to its sinewy essence,” to quote Denise Levertov from Light Up the Cave. That essence is vital to the voices represented in the book, giving each one a distinct diction and vocabulary.

Angels are among those many voices. They provide commentary, speaking in detached and eerie tones. From “Angel Jibril (Gabriel), The Messenger:”

Get out of the way,
I could have said, but you had
to believe someone
would be forgiven

and

you go out soothed
by the songs you’ve heard birds sing
and come back sobbing.

Sullivan’s skill as a poet is evident as he moves from the impartial voice of an angel to the voice in “Staff Sergeant Alex Lemons, From His Wheelchair:”

My dreams grow heavy
with daily fuck-ups.  I trudge
back up garage ramps

having forgotten
where I parked and what the damn
Impala looks like.

Again, the details make the poem real and vital: “I tried recovery, / but I’m not into talking / ‘bout what they can’t feel.” Most of us will never understand Alex Lemons’s suffering (in the notes to the poem, Sullivan writes that since returning to the US, Lemons has had fourteen operations on his damaged feet, which were “shredded due to an accident in Najaf”), nor the physical and emotional damage such an event has left him. Through the deep compassion of these poems, however, we have a place to enter.

“The Black Camel” evokes three distinct interpretations of the same event. Sullivan’s notes on the poem help explain the various sources for the story, but they are not necessary to fully enjoy it. The voices of an American soldier, an Iraqi Republican guard, and his heartbroken father, grow more anguished as the poem unfolds: “The IED hit / while I held his cigarette. / Where’s God, Tiffany?” and “Swore I saw my son, / but when they showed me, I cried / for a stranger boy.” Only the voice of Malak, the angel, stays consistent: “No one has been here / before you, no one will come / after you’re gone” and “Don’t cling to one form; / water continues to flow / after the pot breaks.”

These poems do not judge, nor are they therapy. They do not offer explanations. At the end of the book, I still didn’t know why men start wars, but I understood a more disturbing truth: that the capacities for violence and compassion live within every person, and quite often, comfortably side-by-side. As the Reverend Marilyn Sewell once wrote, “Most evil is done in the name of some greater good.” The poems in Every Seed of the Pomegranate recognize this paradox. They remind us that even though what happened in Iraq might seem far away, it’s as close as our backyard. We ignore it at our peril.

Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Sullivan sounds like a collection that would have a deep emotional impact on the reader, particularly those who know soldiers — are related to them or friends with them — or who are even soldiers. Were these poems cathartic for the writer as they might be for a soldier? I’d like to think they would be, and Goss makes an excellent point about the capacity for violence and compassion living within every person and the paradox that it presents.

Poetry for Your 2012 Holiday Shopping List

Savvy Holidays!

I’m sure all of you have either completed or have nearly completed your holiday shopping, but I wanted to recommend a couple of poetry books for the readers on your lists.  These books are accessible and could widen the scope of reading of your loved ones and maybe even yourself.

Wild Place by Erica Goss is a stunning chapbook collection that visually renders the wildness within ourselves through a series of images stick with you long after you read the verse.  One look at that cover can tell you the kind of raw power Goss uses in her poetry to explore how humanity can impair nature, but she also talks a little bit about history, particularly in her poems about Berlin, and the hardships of emigrating to another country.  In my review, I said, “Wild and untamed, the verse sings the beauty in the blame as humanity encroaches on nature, sometimes leading to its destruction and at other times unveiling the beauty beneath the scars.”

 

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz examines the often ignored struggles of Native Americans in the modern world, particularly as they try to integrate into mainstream society.  The kids who are around white students in school are looking to be like their peers, while at home, their parents trying to hold onto their cultural traditions.  Diaz has a frankness in her verse as she not only tackles drug addiction, but also Native American myths and ancestry.  While these poems are steeped in culture, there also is a universality to the lines that make them accessible to people of all cultures.  I consider Diaz’s book “a glimmering debut collection that hums in the back of the mind and generates an emotional aftermath that will leave readers speechless.”

Of the two Natasha Trethewey books I’ve read this year (though one was a reread), this is the one that has impressed me the most and has caused me to reassess some things.  Thrall is an even more mature combination of the personal and historical than Native Guard is.  While her earlier collection examines the struggles of a mixed race child, the latest collection builds upon those insights to create a wider historical record of mixed race children and how they are viewed by their parents and history.  My review indicated, “While her reading can enthrall you and bring you near tears, her careful word selection in each poem will ensure that you reflect on the meaning of each line in each verse before you even think about the overarching themes of separation and connection as well as their juxtaposition.”

I hope that you’ll consider these collections as you do your holiday shopping and have a great holiday, everyone.

Mailbox Monday #172

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Cindy’s Love of Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Night Road by Kristin Hannah, which I won from Jo-Jo Loves to Read!!!

2. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear from HarperCollins.

3. Wild Place by Erica Goss from the poet for review.

What did you receive?

***Scroll down for today’s National Poetry Month Tour stop.***

Mailbox Monday #602

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:

National Geographic’s America the Beautiful for review with TLC Book Tours.

America the Beautiful showcases the stunning spaces closest to our nation’s heart–from the woods in the Great Appalachian Valley that Davy Crockett once called home to the breathtaking sweep of California’s Big Sur coast to the wilds of Alaska. It also celebrates the people who have made this country what it is, featuring a wide range of images including the Arikara Nation in the early 1900s and scientists preparing for travel to Mars on a Hawaiian island. Culled from more than 130 years of National Geographic’s vaunted archives, this provocative collection depicts the splendor of this great nation as only National Geographic can, with a dramatic combination of modern and historical imagery–from the creation of architectural icons like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lady Liberty to the last of the country’s wild places currently preserved in our national parks.

Organized by chapters focused on region (west coast and the Pacific, east coast, the south, and the Midwest) that are themselves inspired by verses of the original poem America the Beautiful, this book also features a moving introduction offering perspective on the country’s unique journey. You’ll also find behind-the-scenes commentary from the world-renowned photographers who captured this unforgettable imagery, and observations from the conservationists, activists, and historians who help keep America beautiful today. Profound and inspiring, this is a book for everyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of the United States.

Frankie Sparks and the Big Sled Challenge by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell, which I purchased.

Frankie Sparks can’t wait to enter the town-wide sled design contest. With the help of a team, she must design and build a sled using only cardboard and duct tape. And there are PRIZES!

Each team in the contest will be judged on:
1. Best looking sled.
2. Fastest sled.
3. Most team spirit.

Even though Frankie might know a lot about building a sled, it turns out she still has a lot to learn about building a team. With lots of twists, turns, and big bumps along the way, can Frankie and her fellow super-sled designers create a dream machine—and a dream team?

Frankie Sparks and the Lucky Charm by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell, which I purchased.

It’s springtime in Ms. Cupid’s class, and the entire class is excited to build their very own leprechaun traps. Maybe, if they catch one, they will all get the gift of good luck!

And after a few magical clues, it looks like there might be a leprechaun on the loose in Frankie Sparks’s house! Her best friend, Maya, is convinced the leprechaun exists, but Frankie has her doubts—especially when it feels like every trap she designs fails! Will Frankie and Maya find their lucky charm, or figure out how to create some luck all on their own?

What did you receive?

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.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Rebellion at Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid

Hello readers. Today we have a delightful look at Victoria Kincaid’s latest Pride & Prejudice variation novel, Rebellion at Longbourn.

First, I want to share with you a little bit about the book before we get to Kincaid’s excerpt and the giveaway. Please give her and everyone at Longbourn a warm welcome.

Synopsis:

Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn.

After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton. Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance.

Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner? Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied. Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception. Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn?

Isn’t this always how we want to see Darcy? A dashing hero to the rescue.

Hello Serena and thank you for welcoming me back to your blog! Rebellion at Longbourn takes place two years after the events in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy never had a chance to propose at Hunsford. Instead he has been on an extended tour of Canada with Bingley and Georgiana; they have heard nothing of the Bennet family during this time. In this scene they have just returned to London and are awaiting a visit from Bingley’s sisters. Enjoy!

“No doubt your sisters will arrive any minute. I could not allow you to loll about in bed one more minute.” A messenger had been sent to the Hursts’ townhouse very early, and Darcy knew Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst would be eager to share the latest on dits. He experienced a pang of regret; Bingley would be leaving them to stay with his sisters. Darcy and Georgiana had relished his company on their travels.

Bingley sighed and pushed around the eggs on his plate. “I expect I shall receive another lecture about how irresponsible it was for me to gallivant off to North America.”

Darcy grimaced. “At least you have had more practice in saying no to them.” They had criticized Bingley’s decision in every letter. No doubt Bingley would have collapsed into scribbling abject apologies if Darcy had not stiffened his spine. But being on his own had been good for his friend. Bingley had grown far more decided and sure of his tastes when he was away from his sisters’ influence.

“It shall be quite trying when I relocate to Grosvenor Square,” Bingley mused.

“You are welcome to remain at Darcy House for as long as you like,” Darcy remarked.

“It is no imposition.”

Bingley straightened up in his chair. “I may accept that offer.” Darcy knew his sisters would not like it, but obviously Bingley was willing to risk their wrath.

Briggs, the butler, entered the room and announced, “Miss Bingley, sir. And Mr. and Mrs. Hurst.”

Bingley sighed deeply, not like a man pleased to be reunited with his family after a year and a half. Both men stood as the three visitors entered.

The two women gave their brother perfunctory kisses on the cheek, and the men exchanged handshakes. The newcomers helped themselves to breakfast from the sideboard and settled into chairs around the table. Darcy and Bingley talked a little about the details of their trip, but the sour expression on Miss Bingley’s face and the disapproving purse of Mrs. Hurst’s lips suggested they were not particularly interested in that subject. Mr. Hurst was primarily interested in the kippers.

When the weight of disapproval had caused the conversation to wane, Bingley gamely asked, “So, what is the news, eh?”

“You would know if you had ever bothered to write,” Miss Bingley answered tartly.

“I did write.”

His sister rolled her eyes. “I declare it was not above four times! I am overwhelmed by your fraternal devotion. And, of course, the letters were short, dashed-off affairs.”

Bingley rubbed his forehead. “I am a poor correspondent. I acknowledge it, but I am here now. What have I missed?”

This was all the encouragement his sisters needed to launch into twenty minutes of gossip, primarily about people Darcy did not know or could not care about. Eighteen months of freedom from the obligations of the ton had not endeared him to the social whirl, although he supposed he should pay more attention now that Georgiana would be launched in society. Still, he found himself thinking longingly of Pemberley.

His absence had apparently not dimmed Miss Bingley’s hopes of Darcy, for she still addressed the better part of her remarks directly to him, although he had not asked her any questions.

There was only one person he would consider inquiring about, and he did not dare.

Fortunately, Bingley unwittingly assisted him in this endeavor. “What is the news from the Bennet family? You did not mention them in any of your letters.” He leaned forward in his seat.

Miss Bingley blinked. “Why should I?”

“You are Jane Bennet’s friend.”

His sister fluttered her hands. “Friends, Charles? Certainly we were acquainted, but friends…” She gave Mrs. Hurst a sidelong look.

Mrs. Hurst actually giggled. “It is for the best if we do not acknowledge the connection. Thank goodness you gave up the lease on Netherfield!”

Bingley exchanged a glance with Darcy but did not correct his sister’s mistake. Darcy restrained the urge to fidget in his chair as he imagined everything that could have befallen the Bennets.

“Surely you have heard some news from Longbourn,” Bingley said.

“Indeed…” Miss Bingley drew the word out. She was taking pleasure in the suspense.

Darcy’s heart beat faster, knowing that whatever she said would be bad. She would not derive such pleasure from relating news of the family’s extreme felicity. “Shortly after you departed, the father died.”

Darcy could not prevent a gasp. If he had known, he never would have left. If he had known, he would have returned. He was angry with himself for not discovering the news and with Bingley’s sisters for not relaying it. During the early part of the voyage, he had been so intent on endeavoring to forget Elizabeth that he had not sought to know about her family, and this was the result.

“Did Mr. Collins take possession of Longbourn?” Darcy attempted to keep his tone neutral and disinterested.

“Mr. Collins?” Miss Bingley asked. “Oh yes, the clergyman. I suppose so.”

Bingley’s pale face mirrored Darcy’s own distress. “How terrible for Ja—all the Bennets!” Bingley exclaimed. “Where do the sisters reside now?”

A fist clenched around Darcy’s heart. Although he knew change was inevitable, some part of him had secretly expected to find Elizabeth dwelling with her parents at Longbourn just as she had when he departed.

Mrs. Hurst rolled her eyes. “They are hardly the sort of family we would maintain a connection with. How should we know?”

Bingley frowned. “I thought at least you would condole with them, write them a note expressing your sympathy, invite them for tea when they visited town.”

“I am not aware that anyone from the family has been to town,” Mrs. Hurst replied. Strange. Darcy remembered clearly that the Bennets had relatives in Cheapside.

Although Elizabeth might have guessed at Bingley’s sisters’ insincerity, Miss Bennet seemed to believe them true friends. Surely she would have written to them if she visited town—at the very least to maintain a connection with Bingley. Was it possible she had remained sequestered in Hertfordshire all these months? It was scarcely thirty miles’ distance!

The sisters were sharing a conspiratorial smile that triggered Darcy’s suspicions. Surely anything that made these two so very gleeful could not be good for the Bennets.

He crumpled his napkin in frustration. I cannot ask them. I cannot betray too much interest. Patience, he counseled himself. I will learn everything soon.

Aren’t you eager to find out what happens? I know I am.

GIVEAWAY:

One Lucky Reader can receive an e-book of Rebellion at Longbourn. Please leave a comment with email so I can contact you. Deadline to enter is June 24 by 11:59 p.m.

Good Luck, everyone.

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner

Source: Purchased
EBook, 342 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner begins when three girls are read the will of their aunt in New York, a place Lizzy Clemente has not lived since the death of her father. They soon learn that they have inherited a prize piece of property in “Snobsville” but to keep it, they must go to confession at church and make other changes.

Her sisters, Gina and Nikki, are eager to open up their own salon in the building and start earning their own money, and Lizzy begrudgingly stays to help them. She’s got her work in Los Angeles as a podiatrist, and she’s hoping that she can return to that life soon before the Italian-American heritage she’s buried for so long sneaks up on her. But her flight back to LA has her thinking about the altar boy she glimpsed at the church when her sisters were making confession.

“Seven figures a year, a body like David with a face like Cary Grant and you resort to selling yourself like a used Mercedes in need of an overdue tune up.”

Little does Lizzy know that her dreamboat has a conniving grandmother who is after Villa Fortuna, which she claims is rightfully hers and stolen by the Clemente sisters’ long dead mob-tied relative. Stella De Luca is a grandmother no one wants meddling in their lives, and Dr. Mike Garin is no exception. Gardiner has a flare for the dramatic in this variation of Pride & Prejudice, which strays far from the original as it must given the modern setting. I loved the characters, particularly Toni(y) the cross-dressing salon receptionist with a heart of gold and Rusty (the rival hair stylist) at Halo. These characters are hilarious, as are the situations they find themselves in. But readers will love the heat between Dr. Garin and Dr. Clemente.

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner is a modern love story with mobster vendettas, over-the-top drama, and salon gossip to get you in trouble if you believe it. Lizzy and Dr. Garin must use their heads to lead their hearts, but sometimes assumptions can lead to trouble, especially when there are Machiavellian strategies afoot.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. Austenesque, from the comedic Christmas, Chick Lits Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna, to the bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventures Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers, who don’t mind a deviation away from canon and variations.

Cat’s love of 20th Century Historical fiction merges in her first Pride & Prejudice “alternate era,” set in a 1952 Noir, Undercover. Her most recent publications are time-travel WWII P&P short stories: A Vintage Valentine, A Vintage Victory, and A Vintage Halloween as part of the Memories of Old Antique Shop Series.

Her greatest love is writing Historical Fiction, WWII–era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever was named a Romance Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel in the Liberty Victory Series.

Married 24 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world—their orange tabby, Ollie and his sassy girlfriend, Kiki. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

Mailbox Monday #474

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 we received:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls from Audible for book club.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes, purchased.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Aided by Austen by Vaishnavi Nair Kolli, Kindle freebie.

At twenty-seven, Jane Cotton cannot identify with any literary heroines, except one – Anne Elliot of Persuasion, whom she has long loved. Jane however, with her executive job, is no Anne; there is no lost love nor long regrets and at least Anne in Regency England did not have to deal with the small town gossip of Summerfield, where everybody knows everybody. Cautious Jane can only take comfort in her art of staying low! But when she is unexpectedly persuaded into the Annual Summerfield musical, Jane must realize that heroines become so, not as they watch from the sidelines, but as they wade knee deep into life’s hubbubs… perhaps her chance now with trials, confidantes (even suitors gasp!) and Austen-esque triumphs, might finally make for a life worthy of a novel?!

Mr Darcy & Elizabeth: Unexpected Affection by Cassandra Knightley, a Kindle freebie.

Lady Catherine’s objections will be the least of their concerns when compared with the nasty schemes of Mr Wickham, not to mention the scandals posed by Elizabeth’s own relations! Can Mr Darcy handle the chaos that is the Bennet Family? Can Elizabeth put aside her hurt pride long enough to allow her true feelings to shine? Will these two withstand scandal and scorn to finally discover their happily ever ?

Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter, purchased.

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery—and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #423

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 Scheme of Things by Hilde Weisert for review from the poet.

With craft, musicality and humor, Hilde Weisert’s poems illuminate the complex interconnectedness of the scheme of things, letting us see in new ways friendship, family, place; illness and war; and even the nature of poetry itself.

Novel Destinations by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon for a TLC Book Tours.

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved authors, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, and many more. For vacationers who crave meaningful trips and unusual locales, cue National Geographic’s Novel Destinations—a guide for bibliophiles to more than 500 literary sites across the United States and Europe. Check into Hemingway’s favorite hotel in Sun Valley, or stroll about Bath’s Royal Crescent while entertaining fantasies of Lizzie Bennett and her Mr. Darcy. The fully revised second edition includes all of the previous sites—with updated locations—plus color images and an expanded section on all things Brontë. The book begins with thematic chapters covering author houses and museums, literary festivals and walking tours. Then, in-depth explorations of authors and places take readers roaming Franz Kafka’s Prague, James Joyce’s Dublin, Louisa May Alcott’s New England, and other locales. Peppered with great reading suggestions and little-known tales of literary gossip, Novel Destinations is a unique travel guide, an attractive gift book, and the ultimate bibliophile’s delight.

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery, an unexpected surprise.

Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future and, ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big, hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson for a TLC Book Tours.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly news magazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.

What did you receive in your mailbox?

United States of Books: The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Source: Public Library
eBook and audiobook, 211 pgs.; 4+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

For Louisiana, Entertainment Weekly says, “Chopin’s early feminist work, which presents a woman carving an identity for herself that has nothing to do with wifedom or motherhood, also serves as an engrossing immersion in the historical worlds of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf Coast.”

awakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin is considered by many to be a work of Feminism, published in the early 1900s. Mrs. and Mr. Pontellier appear to have a mutual respect for one another and the relationship many married couples fall into, such as nods and certain looks that are read easily by one another. He is a broker and has very specific ideas about how much attention his wife should pay to the children. But despite their easy way with one another, there is something distant in their relationship, as he feels she does not value his conversation and she tries to tamp down her anguish about only being a mother and a wife.

While summering at Grand Isle, she comes to view their relationship much differently and that of her place in the world. Mrs. Pontellier can see from the actions of other mothers vacationing there that she is much different. She does not worship her children and she does not have all the sophistication of a societal wife. As she becomes aware of these differences, Robert Lebrun begins to pay her special attention, which recalls for her many youthful infatuations. However, when Alcee Arobin crosses her path, things begin to change dramatically for the reborn painter, Mrs. Pontellier.

Edna Pontellier returns to the city and begins to break with tradition, which raises her husband’s eyebrows. Chopin’s work is not so much about the liberation of a woman from societal expectations. It is an introspective look at how we present ourselves to our husbands, children, friends, and greater society. Our inner selves, our true selves — if they ever emerge — are buried deep within our private worlds. For many of us, our true self is only known by us and, in some cases, not even then. Edna has been awakened to her true self and she embarks on a journey to realize it fully.

“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”

In terms of the setting, it’s clear that they live in Louisiana and music and art are strong cultural elements. The roots of French colonization remain in the area, and many of the people Edna interacts with speak French. Many of these people are definitely from the upper crust as they do little more than socialize, entertain one another, and gossip. The Awakening by Kate Chopin explores the consequences of becoming independent and stripping all pretension, leaving Edna in a solitary world (which mirrors the one she held close prior to her awakening). However, it seems as though Edna fails to evolve, merely bringing her inner world to the surface to find that she cannot survive, rather than exploring what that means and how she should move forward.

RATING: Tercet

chopinAbout the Author:

Kate Chopin was an American novelist and short-story writer best known for her startling 1899 novel, The Awakening. Born in St. Louis, she moved to New Orleans after marrying Oscar Chopin in 1870. Less than a decade later Oscar’s cotton business fell on hard times and they moved to his family’s plantation in the Natchitoches Parish of northwestern Louisiana. Oscar died in 1882 and Kate was suddenly a young widow with six children. She turned to writing and published her first poem in 1889. The Awakening, considered Chopin’s masterpiece, was subject to harsh criticism at the time for its frank approach to sexual themes. It was rediscovered in the 1960s and has since become a standard of American literature, appreciated for its sophistication and artistry. Chopin’s short stories of Cajun and Creole life are collected in Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), and include “Desiree’s Baby,” “The Story of an Hour” and “The Storm.”

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