Mailbox Monday #298

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, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Jane Austen’s six novels are true classics, still immensely popular some 200 years after their first publication. But although the celebrated stories never change, the covers are always different. Jane Austen Cover to Cover compiles two centuries of design, from elegant Victorian hardcovers and the famed 1894 “Peacock” edition to 1950s pulp, movie tie-in editions, graphic novels, foreign-language translations, and many, many others. Filled with beautiful artwork and insightful commentary, this fascinating and visually intriguing collection is a must for Janeites, design geeks, and book lovers of every stripe.

2.  Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange, which I purchased from the library sale shelves for 50 cents.

At the age of eighteen, James Brandon’s world is shattered when the girl he loves, Eliza, is forced to marry his brother. In despair, he joins the army and leaves England for the East Indies for the next several years. Upon his return, he finds Eliza in a debtor’s prison. He rescues her from her terrible situation, but she is dying of consumption and he can do nothing but watch and wait. Heartbroken at her death, he takes some consolation in her illegitimate daughter, who he raises as his ward. But at the age of fifteen, his ward goes missing. Devastated by the thought of what could have happened to her, he is surprised to find himself falling in love with Marianne Dashwood.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #249

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  December’s host is Rose City Reader.

***Here are the results of the Mailbox Monday poll and what we all can expect in 2014 and beyond.***

The meme allows 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:

1. Ripper: A Novel by Isabel Allende for review.

The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her—Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature, like her father, the SFPD’s Deputy Chief of Homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, discovering, before the police do, that the deaths may be connected. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother’s disappearance be linked to the serial killer? Now, with her mother’s life on the line, the young detective must solve the most complex mystery she’s ever faced before it’s too late.

2.  The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn for review.

Cecily Chadwick is idling away the long, hot summer of 1911 when a mysterious countess moves into the large, deserted country house on the edge of her sleepy English village. Rumors abound about the countess’s many husbands and lovers, her opulent wealth, and the tragedies that have marked her life. As Cecily gets to know her, she becomes fascinated by the remarkable woman—riveted by her tales of life on the Continent, and of the famous people she once knew. But the countess is clearly troubled by her memories, and by ruinous secrets that haunt her…

Staying with the countess is a successful novelist and dear friend who has been summoned to write the countess’s memoirs. For aspiring writer Cecily, the novelist’s presence only adds to the intrigue of the house. But it is the countess’s grandson, Jack, who draws Cecily further into the tangled web of the countess’s past, and sweeps her into an uncertain future…

3.  Tiny Stories tote.



4.  Mr. Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange from the library sale.

Between managing his estate and visiting his brother in London, Mr. Knightley is both exasperated and amused by his irresistibly beautiful, outrageously mischievous neighbor, Emma Woodhouse, whose misguided attempts at matchmaking are wreaking havoc in the village of Highbury.

But when a handsome newcomer arrives and catches Emma’s attention, Mr. Knightley is shocked by his reaction. Amusement gives way to another emotion entirely-for his unreasonable dislike of the handsome newcomer seems suspiciously like jealousy.

5.  Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange from the library sale.

At ten years of age, Fanny Price came to live with Edmund Bertram and his family at Mansfield Park. Far from the brat Edmund expected, Fanny became his closest confidante and dearest friend.

But when the fashionable Crawford siblings? Henry and Mary?come to town, they captivate the Bertram family. Henry embarks on a scandalous flirtation with Edmund?s sister, who is already betrothed to another, while Edmund is enchanted by Mary?s beauty and wit. But when it appears that Mary is not all she seems to be, Edmund will turn to the one woman who has always been at his side to find the happiness he deserves?Fanny.

6.  Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange from the library sale.

During his shore leave from the Navy, Frederick Wentworth falls in love with the elegant and intelligent Miss Anne Elliot?only to see his hopes of marrying her dashed by her godmother.

Eight years later, Wentworth has realized his ambitions. A wealthy captain, he has pushed his memories of Anne to the furthest recesses of his mind?until he sees her again. And though Anne?s bloom has faded, Wentworth is surprised to find that his regard for her wit and warmth has not.

7.  The Archivist by Martha Cooley from the library sale.

A young woman’s impassioned pursuit of a sealed cache of T. S. Eliot’s letters lies at the heart of this emotionally charged novel — a story of marriage and madness, of faith and desire, of jazz-age New York and Europe in the shadow of the Holocaust. The Archivist was a word-of-mouth bestseller and one of the most jubilantly acclaimed first novels of recent years.

8.  The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar from the library sale.

Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar’s extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.

9. Bicycles: Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni from the library sale.

With Bicycles, she’s collected poems that serve as a companion to her 1997 Love Poems. An instant classic, that book—romantic, bold, and erotic—expressed notions of love in ways that were delightfully unexpected. In the years that followed, Giovanni experienced losses both public and private: a mother’s passing, a sister’s too, and a massacre on the campus where she teaches. Yet just when it seemed life was spinning out of control, Giovanni rediscovered love—what she calls the antidote. Here romantic love—and all its manifestations, the physical touch, the emotional pull, the hungry heart—is distilled as never before by one of our most talented poets.

10.  The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck from the library sale.

This collection of stunningly beautiful poems encompasses the natural, human, and spiritual realms, and is bound together by the universal themes of time and mortality. With clarity and sureness of craft, Gluck’s poetry questions, explores, and finally celebrates the ordeal of being alive.


11. Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes from the library sale.

The poems in Birthday Letters are addressed (with just two exceptions) to Plath, and were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963. Some are love letters, others haunted recollections and ruminations. In them, Hughes recalls his and Plath’s time together, drawing on the powerful imagery of his work–animal, vegetable, mythological–as well as on Plath’s famous verse.

Countless books have discussed the subject of this intense relationship from a necessary distance, but this volume–at last–offers us Hughes’s own account. Moreover, it is a truly remarkable collection of pems in its own right.

12.  Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith from the library sale.

In Morality for Beautiful Girls, Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency for the concerns of both ladies and others, investigates the alleged poisoning of the brother of an important “Government Man,” and the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest, the winner of which will almost certainly be a contestant for the title of Miss Botswana. Yet her business is having money problems, and when other difficulties arise at her fiancé’s Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, she discovers the reliable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is more complicated then he seems.

13.  The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith from the library sale.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is content. Her business is well established with many satisfied customers, and in her mid-thirties (“the finest age to be”) she has a house, two adopted children, a fine fiancé. But, as always, there are troubles. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has not set the date for their marriage. Her able assistant, Mma Makutsi, wants a husband. And worse, a rival detective agency has opened in town—an agency that does not have the gentle approach to business that Mma Ramotswe’s does. But, of course, Precious will manage these things, as she always does, with her uncanny insight and her good heart.

14.  The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith from the library sale.

Still engaged to the estimable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe understands that she should not put too much pressure on him, as he has other concerns, especially a hair-raising request from the ever persuasive Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm. Besides Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind. She has been approached by a wealthy lady to check up on several suitors. Are these men interested in the lady or just her money? This may be a difficult case, but it’s just the kind of problem Mma Ramotswe likes and she is, as we know, a very intuitive lady.

I did snag some books for gifts for my daughter and some other people, but I won’t post them here, in case they are watching….reading…

What did you receive?

Thoughts Provoked….

This is unusual, but while reading Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb, I came across this passage:

“By nine o’clock they were all sitting in a caleche and driving slowly through the crowded streets.  The white walls of the buildings, designed to keep the heat at bay, were blinding in the sun.  Every few minutes they came upon a market square, with tiny stalls set up wherever there was a space.  People shouted in shrill tones, advertising their wares, and all four travelers were entranced by the flowing white robes and rolled up headdress worn by the men.  Donkeys brayed on every corner and each time they stopped, small boys appeared as if from nowhere entreating them to buy sticky brown dates and succulent figs.”  (page 130 ARC)

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media, and in particular Twitter.  This particular passage of the sellers crowding a singular space and boys coming from out of no where shouting about their wares and offerings reminded me of the cacophony of Twitter.  For whatever reason, I’ve lately become weary of the hours I spend on social media and wondering whether it even gets the word out there about the truly wonderful books I read and whether there is a more effective way to accomplish this goal, particularly for poetry.

It seems that there is a stream of reviews, giveaways, comments, and other items that clog up the Twitter timeline and even if I spent all hours of the day on the Web, my tweets about poets, readings, and books would be lost in the loud morass.  I feel as though I am shouting at passersby about the books I read and the poets I love and the readings I attend, but to no avail.  They do not know me, they do not (most likely) read my blog, so why would they care what I have to say?

Hand-selling books at a bookstore and chatting with readers is what I miss.  There is an intimate connection you make with fellow readers browsing a bookstore, especially when they pick up a book off the shelf that you’ve loved.  This was never more evident to me than when I attended a recent book signing in Boonsboro when I chatted with other ladies in line about their books and why they love them.  It was good to talk about Karen White’s books with people who had never heard of her and to see them light up when I told them about her books — the one’s I’ve read and the one’s I’ve yet to read — and how its a new world and adventure every time I open those pages.  Some people I talked to immediately picked up a copy of Sea Change, while others picked up Beach Trees.

What does all this mean for me and social media?  I’m not sure, but I’m likely to mull over my presence on Twitter more and to think of better ways to use my time there.  What are your thoughts?

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb is one of the most unique spinoffs of Jane Austen’s work as it takes place years after Darcy and Lizzy have been married — double digit years later — and sets them off on what some would consider a dream honeymoon to Egypt, although without the modern conveniences that are likely to be there today.  Darcy’s Cousin Edward has been obsessed with Egypt and a fabled tomb filled with treasure since he was a boy and heard tales of his father’s trip there years before.  Edward’s fantastic stories of the African land tantalize Elizabeth’s desire for adventure.

“As she went over to her writing table, she had a brilliant vision of Darcy and herself standing in the middle of a glorious Egyptian painting, with their children seated in front of them.  She imagined the girls in pristine white dresses and the boys looking immaculate in coats and breeches, surrounded by golden sand dunes.  Then the impossibly perfect picture dissolved as her lively mind provided her with a more realistic picture:  Laurence and Jane running about, Margaret sucking her thumb, and a camel eating the flowers on Beth’s bonnet.”  (Page 39 ARC)

With the introduction of Paul Inkworthy as the Darcy family painter of portraits and archaeologist Sir Matthew Rosen, Grange and Webb have created a new dynamic to the story when Lizzy invites the youngest Lucas daughter, Sophie, along on their trip.  Besides the continued romance between Lizzy and Darcy, we see the budding of young love with Sophie and the early schoolgirl crush of Beth, the Darcy’s daughter.  And of course, our favorite villain George Wickham has to enter the foray and stir things up, and the ridiculous Mrs. Bennet and Lydia offer some comic relief.  Beyond the sweeping Egyptian landscapes and romantic adventures, Grange and Webb also weave in the stories of ancient gods and fairy tales, including one about a jealous woman, Aahotep, who bears a stunning likeness to a doll young Margaret finds and attaches herself too.

The family faces conditions unlike what they are used to, but they are all adventurous and willing to remain positive.  Readers will enjoy seeing how the marriage has matured and how they nurture their children and Sophie as she deals with a broken heart.  Grange and Webb provide glimpses of a parents’ perspective, watching how their children grow and mature and begin to find their own way in the world.  It leaves both with a sense of loss, but accomplishment.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb is an amazing journey of mystery, love, and family devotion.

About the Author:

Amanda Grange is a bestselling author of Jane Austen fiction (over 200,000 copies sold) and a popular author of historical fiction in the U.K. She specializes in creative interpretations of classic novels and historic events, including Jane Austen’s novels and the Titanic shipwreck. Her novels include Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, and Titanic Affair. She lives in England.

It’s Simplicity and Company for Darcy Writers Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb have co-written a spin-off of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice that takes her characters to Egypt in Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt.

Pulled into the craze of Egyptology, the Darcys and their lively children embark on an expedition to find a hidden tomb and uncover its treasure. Not only are immeasurable riches awaiting them in the exotic land of the Sphinx, but also danger and betrayal and the chance to lay an ancient grudge to rest…

Today, Amanda and Jacqueline will share their writing spaces with us. I hope you give them a warm welcome.

Amanda Grange talks about the basics she needs for writing:

My writing space is simple and uncluttered, in fact it’s very much like a standard office. I like a distraction-free environment when I’m working so the decorations are very plain and there are no pictures or ornaments, other than a laughing cow which I like because it cheers me up if I’m suffering from writers’ block.

The essentials, for me, are a desk and chair, my computer – of course! – and very little besides. My desk is very large so that I can open a lot of research books at the same time if I need to, without running out of space. It also means I have room for all the scribbled notes I make during the course of the book, and I can open maps if I need to, or atlases, or anything else that is oversized.

I have a calendar so I can keep an eye on my deadlines and I have a bookcase crammed with research books, from simple things like The Oxford Dictionary For Writers and Editors to more specialised research books. Most of these are to do with the Regency in some form or another, so that I can look up anything I need very quickly without breaking my writing flow.

I always have a stack of paper and a selection of pens because sometimes I want to make notes in longhand, either because I’m working away from the screen – perhaps when I’m editing – or because my head is buzzing with ideas and even the act of turning on the computer might break the thread of my ideas.

I also like the stack of paper if I’m just brainstorming a selection of ideas and I know I will throw most of them away. There’s something cathartic about throwing discarded ideas in the bin, it seems to remove them from my imagination more effectively than deleting a Word file. So of course I have a large bin!

But the most important part of my writing space is exactly that, space. Space to think, space to write and space to dream.

Jacqueline Webb talks about the company she keeps in her writing space loft:

My writing space is in the spare bedroom in our converted loft. At one time it was our computer room but as our children got older and took over the laptops that seem to abound in our house nowadays, the loft has become much less sought after. I write on the bed on my laptop. My husband recently bought me one of those laptop trays which makes it easier to balance and I had quite lot of fun fiddling about with the lamp that comes with it, filling the little space for pens, although I hardly ever use them, and trying to find a use for the cup holder.

The loft is quite large and has a big window which gives a lot of light as well as lovely views across to the park. I often end up with a cat for company, as my two cats enjoy the peace and quiet, although they leave on the rare occasions our dog turns up as she’s too boisterous for them. Being at the top of the house means I’m out of the way and less likely to be disturbed.

Thanks, Amanda and Jacqueline, for sharing your writing spaces with us.

Mailbox Monday #179

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 Alternative Read.

The meme allows 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 since vacation the previous couple of weeks:

1. Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank, unsolicited from William Morrow and I will find a new home for.

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

2.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb from Sourcebooks for review in July.

The Darcys get pulled into the Regency craze for Egypt in this romantic and adventurous Pride and Prejudice continuation by bestselling author Amanda Grange and Egyptology expert Jacqueline Webb.

When Elizabeth, Darcy and their lively children go to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth intertwine with the unraveling of a mystery dating back to an ancient Egyptian woman. They find long-hidden treasure, thwart a theft and betrayal by the ever villainous George Wickham, and lay to rest an ancient ghost.

3.  Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax from the publisher and Joan Schulhafer Publicity for review in June.

If you want to win a copy of your own, today is the last day to enter Wendy Wax’s giveaway for one of three advance reader copies of her upcoming OCEAN BEACH, to be sent to the winners prior to the June 26th on sale date. Best of luck to all!! Just go to http://www.writerspace.com/contests/ and scroll down to Wendy’s name!

Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan – until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and the project, together. With a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they’ll weather life’s storms…

4.  The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe from TLC Book Tours in August.

Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace. It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too.

After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

5. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

6. Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

7. Private #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world’s most effective investigation firm–sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private’s investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world–and they always uncover the truth.

8. Flesh by Khanh Ha, which I received from TLC for a book tour in June.

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai’s entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledge his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven a another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author’s writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

What did you receive?

Henry Tilney’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Henry Tilney’s Diary by Amanda Grange provides readers with the inner thoughts and past of Northanger Abbey‘s hero.  Like his sister Eleanor, Henry has a passion for the written word, which mirrors Austen’s homage to readers in the original novel.  Grange steeps her prose in Gothic tales of secret passages and story telling between brother and sister and between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland.  Drawing inspiration from Mrs. Radcliff and her novels, A Sicilian Romance and The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Unlike Austen’s version, Tilney reads Gothic novels for pleasure, a pleasure he shares with his sister, and while he remains very logical in his thinking about finding a wife, he is soon swept up by the charms of Catherine.  His requirements in a wife are listed on more than one occasion with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

“‘When I marry – if I marry – my wife must love to read.  I shall make it the one condition.  Her dowry is unimportant, her family is irrelevant, but she must be a lover of novels, or else no wedding can take place!'” (page 63)

Although he does say that she must love novels, he also realizes that a love of novels can go too far, and in that way Grange has paralleled the character development of Catherine in the original Northanger Abbey.  Through diary entries, readers come to know Tilney more intimately as he worries for his brother and his sister and grows increasingly concerned about his father’s seeming change of heart where money and titles are concerned.  Tilney grows from a younger son into a man of his own means and career, but he is still loyal to his family despite his budding feelings for Catherine.

Another winner from Grange that builds upon the character arcs and complex story lines left behind by Austen.  Her Tilney is a kind, gentle man with a clear vision of how his life should be, and while he remains loyal to his family, his heart guides his move.  His frank nature and his compassion bloom in Grange’s hands.  Austinites and those looking for a well-paced romance with Gothic highlights will enjoy Henry Tilney’s Diary.

I’d like to see Grange tackle a few more villains in her diary series of books!

About the Author:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had sixteen novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view.

If you haven’t entered the giveaway to win you’re own copy, please check out the guest post.

Guest Post: The Home of Visual Imagination by Amanda Grange

Amanda Grange is one of the most well-known writers of Austenesque retellings from Mr. Darcy’s Diary to her latest Henry Tilney’s Diary.  Henry Tilney is one of the main characters in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is the novelist’s sarcastic take on the Gothic novel and its frivolity.

Grange’s diary series of books focus on the heroes of Austen’s novels, though there is one about a villain Wickham.  In all of these diary books, Grange gives readers an inside look into the thoughts and pasts of Austen’s male characters, and she does it all while keeping with Austen’s vision and wit.

Today, I’ve got an inside peek into Grange’s writing space and habits.  Please give her a warm welcome and stay tuned for a giveaway.

I do a lot of my writing in my head before I commit anything to paper. When I’m writing my Jane Austen retellings, I start by rereading the original novel. If it’s a nice day, I do this outside, often going to a nearby stately home or formal garden so that I can soak up the elegant, leisurely atmosphere of days gone by. As I read, I let my mind wander over all the questions that occur to me. What was Henry like as a child and young man? What kind of relationship did he have with his parents and siblings? What was life like for him when his mother died? When did he discover a love for Gothic novels? Where did he read them?

I have a very visual imagination, and as I ask the questions, I build pictures in my mind. This is easier if I’m somewhere spacious and elegant, as I can look around and imagine the characters walking round a corner or sitting in an arbour.

Sometimes I will start writing longhand, on a large notepad, and I often do this out of doors if the weather is good. I’ve written quite a few scenes sitting on the bench in the photo, which is at a nearby stately home. Then, once I’m in full flow I move onto the computer. My study is very plain, because once I get down to the actual business of writing, I don’t like distractions. The walls are a neutral colour without any pictures and there is no furniture apart from essential office furniture. My desk is large because I’m an untidy worker and I need space for all my notes, as well as my research books. I start off in an organised fashion, making neat notes in a word document, but I soon resort to scribbling things down on any piece of paper that comes to hand – an envelope, a copy of the Radio Times, anything. If I’m out, I make notes in a notebook I keep in my handbag, except when I forget it, which is often. Then I will scribble ideas down on an old receipt, train ticket or in fact anything that can be written on. I end up with a jumble of papers on my desk and I daren’t throw anything away in case it turns out to be vital.

Once the book is finished, I throw everything away with a great sense of freedom and tidy my study, which remains pristine until I start the next book. I always say I will take a break before starting the next book, but in fact I get itchy fingers and it’s usually only a week or so before I’m raring to go again.

Thanks for sharing your writing space with us. To enter for 1 copy of Henry Tilney’s Diary by Amanda Grange:

1. Leave a comment on this post about what Austen villain you’d like to see write a diary.

2. Blog, Tweet (@SavvyVerseWit), or Facebook the giveaway for up to 3 more entries.

3. Follow this blog and let me know for another entry.

Deadline Dec. 20, 2011, at 11:59PM EST. US/Canada only

Mailbox Monday #151

First, I would like to congratulate (Ryan) on winning My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due (my review) from the last Mailbox Monday giveaway.

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 the Mailbox Monday tour blog.

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.  You Are My Only by Beth Kephart; finally my 5 pre-ordered books arrived (so the two of you readers who have won a copy should receive them soon from me) and 1 autographed copy from Beth after I won her Treasure Hunt, which I will treasure forever.

2.  Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly for review in January from Sourcebooks.

3.  Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers for review in December from Ulysses Press.

4.  Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

5.  The Unexpected Miss Bennet by Patrice Sarath for review in December from Berkley/Penguin.

6. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov, which I won from Unabridged Chick!

7. All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson from Library Thing Early Reviewers.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Laurel Ann Nattress, the woman behind Austenprose.com, is now the editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, a collection of Jane Austen-inspired short stories (check out the tour).  Authors not considered Austenites per se, like Frank Delaney writes with Diane Meier and Adriana Trigiani join those known for their Austen spinoffs, like Amanda Grange, Jane Odiwe, Alexandra Potter, and more.  The collection even includes the winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest — Brenna Aubrey’s “The Love Letter.”  But some Austen retelling favorites like Abigail Reynolds, Mary Simonsen, and Eucharista Ward are notably absent.  However, this only begs the question as to whether there will be another anthology in the future as the Austen subgenre continues to grow.

It is only fitting that the collection begins with the woman who started my journey onward into the world of Jane Austen and subsequent retellings and inspired novels, Syrie James with “Jane Austen’s Nightmare.”  The short story personifies every writer’s nightmare — that the characters will not like how they have been drawn and will seek justice.  From characters perceived as too perfect to those with a great number of flaws, Austen meets them all in her nightmare set in Bath, a city she despises.  Kicking off the collection here is a great introduction to all of Austen’s novels and characters and to her own fears and character as we know her to have been, possibly.

“Austen’s rise to fame has been steady since her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s biography, A Memoir of Jane Austen, introduced ‘dear Aunt Jane’ to broader readership in 1869, but recently, two elements have been her strongest catalyst:  the Internet and a wet shirt.”  (page xii)

There are stories for five of her six novels, and Mansfield Park, though mentioned in passing or referred to slightly, is the one left out as an inspiration for a complete story.  Each author tackles a different novel and/or theme from the ridiculousness of ghost stories in “A Night at Northanger” by Lauren Willig to the trials of living with one’s in-laws, like in “Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land” by Monica Fairview.  Clever renderings of finding love in the most unlikely places in Beth Patillo’s “When Only a Darcy Will Do” are joined by modernized stories of renewed love and patience.  These stories are perfect for those looking for more Austen and for those who are unsure whether they would like Austen retellings/continuations.

There are outstanding stories and those that are not quite as good, but let’s be clear, if you love all-things Austen, you want this collection and there are no stories here that you will want to miss.  Writing Austenesque stories requires a certain level of imagination, while at the same time a certain commitment to her characters as she has created them.  Each of these writers does just that.  Jane Austen Made Me Do It has enough clever wit and modern sensibility for any reader, and would suit those looking for prime examples of how a short story can capture the heart.

About the Editor:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Amanda Grange‘s Wickham’s Diary takes a look at Wickham’s relationship with his childhood friend Darcy before they became enemies.  Even in the early entries, readers get a sense that Wickham feels he is entitled to certain pleasantries and that he is better than Darcy in many ways.  Much of this stems from his jealousy at being merely the steward’s son and being born into a particular class.

“Fitzwilliam and I rode out this early morning.  We raced down to the river and I won, beating him by a good two lengths, at which I laughed and called him a sluggard.  He was annoyed and challenged me to a race back to the house.  I accepted the challenge and, once our horses were rested, we set off.” (page 3)

Initially, Wickham captures that jealousy at the behest of his mother to mold his charm and air of authority in an effort to better his station and prospects through his acquaintance with Darcy, his relatives, and his friends.  However, once he and Darcy head off to Cambridge, things take a turn for the worse for Wickham.  And while many of his problems are self-induced, tragedy does step in and become a catalyst for his downward spiral.

Grange has taken the character of Wickham, and while not making him sympathetic, helps readers understand his motivations and the role his parents and friends played in making him the man he becomes when readers meet him in Pride & Prejudice.  However, there are gaps in the diary, some lasting several years, that are not elaborated on or talked about.  What happens to Wickham and his family during those intervening years is unknown and not explored, which readers may find disheartening.  Readers also could disagree with the picture Grange paints of Wickham — a man easily swayed into trouble by others.

Overall, Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange is an inside look at the possible motivations of the villain in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  Her George Wickham is a young man unhappy with his life station, but too lazy to change it and easily swayed down the easiest path — whether it is finding an heiress or having a good time while away at school.  At just about 200 pages, the novel is a light read and the diary entries make it easy for readers to pick up and read for short intervals at a time.

Interview With Amanda Grange, Author of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

If you missed my review of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange, feel free to check it out.

Amanda Grange was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions about her latest novel and her writing. Don’t forget the giveaway following the interview.

Please welcome Amanda to Savvy Verse & Wit:

1. How difficult was it to return to Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice following your successful book, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, and then transform him into an immortal vampire in Mr. Darcy, Vampyre? Could you explain part of the process?

I did it by taking a step back and seeing a larger picture, one in which Mr. Darcy had a terrible secret. Then I looked at Pride and Prejudice from this new vantage point and I saw that it fit in well. It gave Darcy a new reason for his aloofness, his reluctance to fall in love and his absences for long periods of time in Pride and Prejudice. I then imagined a future for Lizzy and Darcy where this great secret lay between them and I explored the effects that would have on their relationship as well as thinking about the extraordinary things that would happen to them. I wanted to create a story that would test their love to the limits, and the rest followed quite naturally from there.

2. Most authors dealing with classic characters fell in love with them early on, but wanted something more. Is this how you felt about Darcy, and what is it you sought to do that Jane Austen had not?

Yes, that’s exactly how it happened with me. I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was about 13 and fell in love with the whole Austen world, including Darcy, but I still wanted more. So I sought to provide more with Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, which of course is the one thing that Austen didn’t do.

3. If you were to create a playlist for Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, what five songs or scores would be on that list?

Interesting. I think one would be Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, I think that would go very well with the first chapter of the book. Then I’d have Yesterday by the Beatles, when Lizzy starts to realize that something is wrong. I’d have Angels by Robbie Williams for a part of the book where Darcy watches Lizzy sleeping, and Something by the Beatles for when Darcy is explaining his love for Lizzy. And of course I’d have Bat out of Hell by Meatloaf!

4. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

You mean apart from Jane Austen? The thing about one obsession is that it doesn’t really leave room for any others (apart from chocolate!)

5. In Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, you’ve created an exciting and exotic world in which Darcy and Lizzy go on their wedding tour. What inspired you to write these vivid settings? Was there any particular paintings or travels that inspired you?

The inspiration came originally from The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs Radcliffe. Udolpho is mentioned a lot in Jane Austen’s own Gothic novel, Northanger Abbey, because both the hero and the heroine have read it and thought it was wonderful. In Udolpho, the heroine travels through France, crosses the Alps and goes on into Italy.

I wanted Lizzy and Darcy to follow her journey as an homage to Udolpho and I thought Janeites would really enjoy it as they would get the references. Having made that decision, I then based the descriptions on my memories of my own holidays in Europe. I remember my first holiday to Italy vividly. I had never been out of England before and the light was incredible. Here in England it’s often dull, with low lying cloud, and the colours are muted, but in Italy everything was dazzling.

There’s a bit in Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, when Lizzy and Darcy arrive in Venice, which says: “Light was everywhere. It poured from the sky and it danced from the water. It leapt from the gilding and twirled from the stones.” That’s exactly how it seemed to me the first time I went there.

6. Many readers are eager to know which character or characters authors most identify with, so in your latest novel, which of the characters do you identify with and why?

Hm, that’s difficult. I think I identify with Lizzy and Darcy equally. I try to put myself inside the heads of my characters when I write, and I found myself equally at home with both Lizzy and Darcy.

7. Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend?

I’ve been reading Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie and I’d happily recommend it. I love Agatha Christie. Her plots are superb and I think her writing style is underrated. It’s actually very difficult to write in such a seemingly simple style and still hold a reader’s attention. I’ve now moved on to Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. I haven’t got very far with it yet but so far I’m really enjoying it.

8. Finally, following Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Pride & Prejudice market?

My next project is a prequel to Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. Oddly enough, I don’t have any interest in writing books based on other classic stories. Somehow it’s just Pride and Prejudice that keeps inspiring new ideas in me because I can’t get enough of the characters or the perfect love story of Lizzy and Darcy.

If you want to check out the other stops for Amanda Grange, go to the Mr. Darcy Vampyre blog.

Sourcebooks has kindly offered 2 books of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre for 2 of my readers in the United States and Canada.

1. For one entry, leave a comment about one of your favorite parts of the interview.

2. For a second entry, Tweet, Facebook, or otherwise spread the word about the giveaway on your blog, etc.

3. For a third entry, let me know if you already follow or just started following.

Deadline is August 14, 2009 at 11:59 PM