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Excerpt & Giveaway: Embolden by Syrie James and Ryan James


Hi, dear readers. It’s that time again to welcome back to the blog Syrie James, but this time, she’s got an excerpt from her second novel in a series she’s writing with her son, Ryan James. The first novel, Forbidden, will be up for grabs after you hear about Embolden, which will come out Oct. 30 but is available for pre-order now.

About the Book:

The world is trying to tear them apart.
Will they stand together and fight back?

After a season of psychic visions and super-powered drama, Claire Brennan and her angel-gone-AWOL boyfriend Alec MacKenzie can finally be together. Under the protection of Claire’s grandmother, they are trying to lead a normal life, going to high school at Emerson Academy and hanging out with their friends.

But jealous teenagers, vengeful enemies, the city’s new Watcher, and even the school play threaten to break them apart. Not to mention Claire’s surprising second power, which could sabotage the trust of everyone she holds dear. And just when they need to stick together, they finally get a lead on where Claire’s missing father might be.

The threats, which come not only from without but also from within, will test the strength of Alec and Claire’s relationship. Is the love they share enough to keep them safe? If they want to stay together … can they learn to fight together?

Here’s an excerpt from book 2 in the series from Chapter 6:

Six

“I wish Brian would get his head out of his ass.” Claire was standing with Alec by his vintage car in the junior parking lot, his arms around her.

“Is that what you really want? The two of them together?”

“She’s my best friend. I want her to have what she wants.”

“If it’s right, it’ll happen.”

“Since when did you become Dr. Phil?”

Alec smiled into her eyes. “I’m not. But I’m learning. Slowly.” He kissed her. Also slowly.

It was a lovely kiss. As always, Claire’s heart fluttered. When the kiss ended, she gallantly opened the door to his Mustang and waited until he was seated inside. “Drive safe.”

“You too. We’ll talk tonight.”

As Alec drove off, Claire crossed the lot to where her own car was parked, unable to hold back her smile. Having Helena in their lives had certainly come with some great benefits.

Besides having her long-lost Grigori grandmother around all the time, which Claire loved, money was no longer a problem. Claire’s tuition was paid in full (no more stressing about her grades to keep a scholarship), and they’d moved into a luxury condo in Brentwood, just a five-minute drive from school. That meant a little extra sleep every morning, which Claire really appreciated after her late-night video chats with Alec.

And with Helena’s seemingly limitless bank account, Claire could at last have a car of her own, like everybody else at Emerson. But not just any car. It was a brand-new Acura hybrid with a garnet metallic finish, a top-notch sound system, and all the bells and whistles a girl could want.

Claire unlocked the door, heaved her backpack into the rear, and settled on the smooth leather seat behind the wheel. The space was so snug and the instrument panel so cool, it felt like she was in the cockpit of her own private airplane. The car—her car—made her feel grown-up, which was both exciting and intimidating.

As she stuck her key in the ignition, the sound of a man clearing his throat beside her was so startling, she shrieked. She turned her head to find a man sitting in the passenger seat. A man who had definitely not been there a second before.

“Holy shit!” Claire’s stomach jumped in fear as her hand moved to the door handle. “Get out of my car!”

“I’m sorry if I frightened you, Miss Brennan. I’m not going to hurt you. There’s no need for a fuss.”

Claire hesitated, some instinct making her think he was telling the truth. Maybe it was the man’s eyes: they weren’t menacing, but rather appraising, reassuring, and very, very tired.

She struggled to control the beating of her heart as she studied him. He was slender, with a long, smooth face augmented by a hint of a goatee, and everything about him was pale, from his white skin, to his blond hair, to those eyes, which were the gray of an overcast sky. He wore a white turtleneck with a beige blazer and washed-out jeans. His legs were so long that they looked cramped in her car.

“Damn right, there’s a need,” Claire said. “Who are you? What do you want? How did you get in here?”

“Locks aren’t a problem for me.”

That wasn’t exactly an answer to her questions. “You weren’t here when I got in the car.”

“Oh, but I was. I’ve been waiting for you for the past half hour.”

“That’s impossible.”

He gave her a small smile. Suddenly, all the color drained from his body, until it looked like he was made of ice, at which point he faded entirely from view.

Claire gasped, staring at the empty space where the man had been. He had totally, utterly vanished. Yet she sensed that he was still there. Definitely some Fallen witchcraft. “You’re one of them! Did Celeste send you?”

He reappeared. “No, child. I fight for the other side. I am the Watcher for this city.”

Claire nodded slowly. She remembered hearing Alec talk about the Grigori who watched over Los Angeles, policing its Fallen, and initiating newly awakened Nephilim. The one Vincent had temporarily replaced during the horrible events of last fall, when she had awakened. The authority figure Helena had to constantly check in with to confirm that Claire was walking the straight and narrow.

But far worse: the person most likely to discover Alec and ship him back to their Grigori brethren. When Claire spoke again, her voice was no more than a whisper. “You’re Zachariah.”

“So, you’ve heard of me.”

Claire’s heart pounded, but she just shrugged her shoulders, hoping to appear casual as she carefully chose her words. “Helena may have mentioned you once or twice.”

“I see.” Something buzzed in Zachariah’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and began texting as he spoke. “Please forgive my dramatic greeting, Miss Brennan, but as Emerson is a closed campus, I had little alternative.”

Claire studied him, aware that she had to keep this man on her side. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not at all. I’ve had you on my mind ever since I resumed my post, but this is the first time I’ve been able to fit you into my schedule. I’ve been meeting with Helena telepathically with regard to your progress, which is all positive. Well done.” He glanced at her. “But I thought it important that I meet you for myself, face-to-face.”

“Why? So you can see if my grandmother’s been telling the truth about me the past three months?”

Zachariah silently resumed texting, his expression betraying nothing.

I guess that answers that. Claire sighed. Clearly, he’d cornered her in her car so he could give her the third degree without Helena there to influence or protect her. “Okay. Great. We’ve met. Now what?”

He put his phone away and rubbed his eyes wearily. “Let’s take a little ride. I hope you don’t mind if I accompany you home?”

Claire’s jaw clenched. This was the last thing she wanted. A cold fear gripped her as she thought of all the times Alec had come over since Zachariah had returned to L.A. Thank God Zachariah had been too busy to worry about her until now. Otherwise, he could have been lurking (invisibly!) at school, in her old apartment, or the new condo. He would have recognized Alec on the spot and busted him. Good thing Alec hadn’t made plans to come over today.

Aloud, she said, “Do I have a choice?”

GIVEAWAY: 1 ePub copy of Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James; please comment by Oct. 30, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

About the Authors:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels translated into eighteen languages. Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things English and 19th century. Her books have been Library Journal Editor’s Picks and won numerous awards including the Audiobook Association Audie for Romance, Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, B&N Romantic Read of the Week, Best Snowbound Romance (Bookbub), Best of the Year (Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews), and Best First Novel (Library Journal). Syrie thoroughly enjoyed working with her son Ryan on Forbidden and Embolden, her only forays into novel co-writing. Syrie is a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and JASNA, and has addressed audiences as a keynote speaker across America and England. A theater enthusiast, she has also written, directed, and performed in numerous stage productions. Her new Dare to Defy series of historical romances are now available from Avon Impulse.

Ryan M James has enjoyed co-writing not only Forbidden and Embolden with his mother Syrie, but also two screenplays as well. By day he works as a performance director, lead editor, and co-writer for the video game industry, recently being honored by the Writer’s Guild of America award for his work on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. By night, he conjures stories for print, screen, and web, including an independent feature, a handful of short films, and the machinima webseries A Clone Apart. He, his brilliant wife, and their vertically-challenged corgi live in Los Angeles within walking distance of Syrie.

Syrie and Ryan both welcome visitors to their websites syriejames.com and ryanmjames.com, and invite you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Forbidden:

When Claire Brennan begins to get psychic visions and mysterious warnings that she’s in danger at the start of her junior year, she isn’t sure what to think. But the truth is stranger than anything she could have imagined.

Alec MacKenzie has fled his duties as a Watcher angel and come to L.A. in search of normalcy. He never dreamed he would find a half-angel at his school, or that he would fall in love with her.

Mailbox Monday #502

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Pansy Cottage by Barbara Silkstone, a Kindle freebie.

~ A Light Jane Austen Comedy ~
Lizzie plots a secret garden wedding for her sister, Jane and Charles Bingley. Can she outsmart Mother Bennet or will the gorgon prevail? With her nerves in high gear, Mrs. Bennet plans the marriage of her eldest daughter. Behind the scenes, Lizzie races against the clock to design a small garden wedding ahead of her mother’s over-the-top ball. Can Darcy cart the unsuspecting Mrs. Bennet to the garden ceremony? Will Mr. Bennet cooperate with Lizzie’s plans, or does Pansy Cottage still cast a long shadow in his memories?

Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James, which I purchased when it was on sale.

When Claire Brennan begins to get psychic visions and mysterious warnings that she’s in danger at the start of her junior year, she isn’t sure what to think. But the truth is stranger than anything she could have imagined.

Alec MacKenzie has fled his duties as a Watcher angel and come to L.A. in search of normalcy. He never dreamed he would find a half-angel at his school, or that he would fall in love with her.

What did you receive?

Excerpt & Giveaway: Syrie James’ Summer of Scandal

Today, Syrie James has stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Summer of Scandal. And there will be a giveaway at the end of the post for her first novel in this series.

First, about the new book, Summer of Scandal:

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

Here’s the excerpt from the new novel, Summer of Scandal, Ch. 10, in the Dare to Defy series:

Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.

“Miss Atherton!”

Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.

This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.

He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.

“Collecting seashells?”

“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”

“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.

Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.

He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.

She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”

“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”

“That was thoughtful of you.”

He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”

“Thankfully, no.”

He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.

“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”

“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”

“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.

“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”

“And so we did.”

“And so we did,” she repeated.

Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.

“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.

“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”

“How do you know? Did he say something?”

“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”

“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”

“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”

“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”

“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”

“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter.

Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.

“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Runaway Heiress to U.S. mailing address; comment by Sept. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST

About the Author:

Syrie James is the critically acclaimed author of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance including the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel, Library Journal); Nocturne (Best of the Year, Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews); Dracula, My Love; The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen; Jane Austen’s First Love; Forbidden; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the Harrison Duet (Songbird and Propositions). Her work has been translated into 18 languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves all things 19th century. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and England.

About Runaway Heiress:

When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.

Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.

Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.

Savvy’s Best of 2014 List

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I cannot believe how quickly 2014 has flown by, and I also cannot believe I read more than 150 books this year. 2015 will be a year of changes for me, as I pull back from reviewing and reading so many books here on Savvy Verse & Wit as I start my own business, Poetic Book Tours.

I did want to share with my readers here the best books of 2014, in case you missed the day-by-day announcements on the Facebook page.

  1. Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James (my review)
  2. Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming (my review)
  3. Lust by Diana Raab, read by Kate Udall (my review)
  4. Any Anxious Body by Chrissy Kolaya (my review)
  5. Going Over by Beth Kephart (my review)
  6. The Descent by Alma Katsu (my review)
  7. Still, At Your Door by Emma Eden Ramos (my review)
  8. A Long Time Gone by Karen White (my review)
  9. The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch (my review)
  10. Children’s Activity Atlas from Sterling Publishing (my review)
  11. Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion (my review)
  12. Women of Valor: Polish Resisters to the Third Reich by Joanne D. Gilbert (my review)

What books have made your end of the year favorites??

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?

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Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.

Interview with Syrie James, Author of Jane Austen’s First Love

Syrie James is a quintessential Austenite and her Jane Austen-related fiction is never a disappointment.  Her latest release, Jane Austen’s First Love, is a contender for the Savvy Verse & Wit Best of 2014 list.

Here’s a snippet from my review:

“James cannot be praised enough for her ingenuity and dedication to the spirit of Austen and her novels.  She pays tribute to a young Jane in the best way possible.  Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James is the author’s best novel yet, and a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction, Jane Austen, or coming of age stories.”

Other James’ books you should consider reading include:

 

Today, I have a special treat … an interview with Syrie James! Please give her a warm welcome.

As a writer of Austenesque fiction, you must have a favorite Jane Austen book and character, or at least a few.  What and who are they and why?

Like many readers, my favorite Austen novel is Pride and Prejudice. It’s brilliantly constructed, beautifully written, and the characters are unique, fun, and recognizable. Best of all, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s character arcs as they go from intense dislike to admiration to love are so wonderfully drawn and so satisfying that the story has been endlessly imitated. Pride and Prejudice, unlike Austen’s other novels, also begins with a lively conversation that grabs your attention right off the bat. I am a huge fan of Persuasion as well, with its theme about second chances. It was written later in Jane Austen’s life, and her maturity as writer really shines through.

As for favorite characters, I have so many! I adore Elizabeth Bennet, with her bright eyes and feisty nature, and Anne Elliot, who is goodness personified. I think I fell in love with Mr. Darcy (along with the rest of the female world) when Colin Firth turned him into an icon. I am also mad about Captain Wentworth and Mr. Knightley, truly divine Austen heroes who feel very real to me on the page! And this may be heresy—but my two other favorite characters are Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who I love to hate, and the foolish Mr. Collins, who, with every re-reading and in every film version, always makes me laugh.

Syrie James headshot 2012 x 250Did you always love Jane Austen’s books and when did you first fall in love with them (how did you find out about them)?

I was first introduced to Jane Austen in a British literature course in college, when we read Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I don’t remember my first reaction to the books, and Jane Austen didn’t resurface on my radar again until the mid 1990s, when four Jane Austen films came out that quickly became my favorites: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant), PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle), PERSUASION (Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds), and EMMA (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam.) Yes, it’s true—I fell in love with Austen because of the movies!

I immediately read or re-read all her novels, then devoured the juvenilia, biographies, and her preserved correspondence. I was desperate to learn more about the woman who wove such incredible stories and showed such a deep understanding of human nature—and the obsession has never stopped. Because there were no Austen memoirs to discover, I wrote one myself: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Because there were no more new Austen novels to read, I decided to write one: The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. And because I was intensely curious to read about Jane as a teenager while experiencing her first romance, I researched and wrote Jane Austen’s First Love.

As a fan of Austen, you must have visited the various sites in which she lived and visited. Which of these places is your favorite, where is it located, and why? What advice would you give someone interested in touring Austen’s places?

I’ve taken two Jane Austen tours of England—one of them self-guided, the other as part of a formal tour group—and I’ve had the opportunity to visit nearly all the famous Austen sites, some of them twice. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I guess it’d have to be Chawton Cottage, now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum. It was like a pilgrimage to walk through the rooms and gardens of the house where Jane lived during the nine year period when she wrote or rewrote all her masterpieces. And to see the little table where she sat by the window and wrote, was too thrilling for words!

The Austen tour that I took with my husband was absolutely wonderful, but took many months to research and plan. To see all the iconic Austen sites I’d recommend a guided bus tour, where you will enjoy the company of like-minded people, as well as guest speakers and other Austen-related events that you won’t get on your own. JASNA has such a tour every year; they’re run by Pathfinders, the same tour company I traveled with, and they’re fabulous.

For Jane Austen’s First Love, you did quite a bit of research into her mentions of Edward Taylor, who was the heir to a home in Kent. When did you know that you should stop researching and start writing? What part of the research did not make it into the book that you wish had made it in?

I continued researching the entire time I was writing the novel! Re-reading books by Jane Austen and biographies about Jane Austen while I was writing gave me an infusion of details to use here and there, and helped me to keep her voice in my head. Continuous research proved to be even more important where Edward Taylor was concerned. When I first began the novel, I hadn’t found much information about him, and had created an imaginary back story for him—but it never felt right. So I kept looking. And looking.

By a stroke of luck, I came upon Edward Taylor’s brother’s memoirs, which filled in so many details about the Taylor family and the unusual way in which all eight children were raised abroad. What I learned was far much more fascinating and remarkable than anything I could have made up! I put all that was pertinent into my novel. There were a few great scenes however that didn’t make the final cut. I had to delete one scene, for example, where Edward is telling Jane about a family excursion off the southern coast of Italy that ended in disaster. It was a great tale, but unfortunately it didn’t move forward the action of my novel, so it had to go.

A much bigger disappointment was when I felt obliged to delete a scene from Chapter One, in which Jane inscribes her name and the names of three imaginary suitors in the register at her father’s church at Steventon. I loved the scene I’d written, but once again, it didn’t move the plot forward, and the first chapter was too long. (The deleted scene may have a new life, however, as a short story.)

As the market becomes even more saturated with works about Jane Austen and her books, do you think readers will ever tire of these spinoffs, retellings, and fictionalized accounts of her life and work?

I hope not!

What keeps you returning to Jane Austen and her world?

I love Austen for so many reasons. I love immersing myself in the way the gentry class lived and loved during the Regency era, where we rarely see anyone working (other than the servants.) Austen’s characters lived in grand manor homes, were waited on hand and foot, drove around in elegant carriages, hunted on horseback, played cards and music, sang and read, sewed and drew, took walks on impeccable grounds, and danced at balls. What’s not to like? Not to mention the way they dressed! Tight breeches, tailcoats, and cravats! Gossamer, empire-waisted gowns! Hair pinned up like the ancient Greeks! It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

What I love most about Austen, though, is not the fairy tale setting—but the brilliant way her stories are plotted and the familiarity of her characters. We all know an overbearing woman like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who believes she knows best and must be catered to. We’ve all met a sweet, kindly blabbermouth like Miss Bates. And while we laugh at Austen’s fools and love to hate the villains, we can’t help but fall in love with her heroes and heroines, who are all flawed—just as we are—and who must earn their happy endings by recognizing their missteps and working to correct them. That’s the real reason I keep returning to Jane and her world—because her tales of courtship and romance are perfectly structured morality tales, and the lessons resonate today.

Finally, do you read poetry, why or why not? And if you do, what are some of your favorite poems and who are some of your favorite poets? Also do you read contemporary poets or classic poets, why or why not?

I’ve been so busy reading novels over the last twenty years that I haven’t read much poetry—which I truly regret (I enjoy poetry.) While researching my three Austen novels and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, however, I read all the poetry written by Austen and the Brontës. Jane and Charlotte wrote rather good poetry, but Charlotte’s sisters Emily and Anne outshone them. I’ve posted a selection of the Brontës’ poetry on my website, which were published together in one volume in 1846. Emily’s work is as darkly compelling as her novel Wuthering Heights. One of my favorites of this collection was written by Anne Brontë (under the pseudonym Acton Bell), when she was miserable and homesick while working as a governess for a wealthy family:

Home
by Acton Bell

How brightly glistening in the sun,
The woodland ivy plays!
While yonder beeches from their barks
Reflect his silver rays.
That sun surveys a lovely scene
From softly smiling skies;
And wildly through unnumbered trees
The wind of winter sighs. . .

But give me back my barren hills
Where colder breezes rise;
Where scarce the scattered, stunted trees
Can yield an answering swell,
But where a wilderness of heath
Returns the sound as well. . .

Restore me to that little spot,
With gray walls compassed round,
Where knotted grass neglected lies,
And weeds usurp the ground.

Though all around this mansion high
Invites the foot to roam,
And though its halls are fair within-
Oh, give me back my HOME!

Many thanks for having me here, Serena, at Savvy Verse and Wit. I’m happy to answer any other questions you or your visitors might have, so feel free to leave a comment and ask away!

JAFL Banner v6Please check out the other stops on the tour.

 

 

 

Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie’s unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014.

Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!

JAFL Grand Prize x 420

Click the image for more details

Mailbox Monday #286

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

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.  My Jane Austen Prize pack, with tote bag, bookplates, etc. from Syrie James’ Facebook giveaway!

2.  Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson for review from Milkweed Editions.

Sara Eliza Johnson’s stunning, deeply visceral first collection, Bone Map (2013 National Poetry Series Winner), pulls shards of tenderness from a world on the verge of collapse, where violence and terror infuse the body, the landscape, and dreams: a handful of blackberries offered from bloodied arms, bee stings likened to pulses of sunlight, a honeycomb of marrow exposed. “All moments will shine if you cut them open. / Will glisten like entrails in the sun.” With figurative language that makes long, associative leaps, and with metaphors and images that continually resurrect themselves across poems, the collection builds and transforms its world through a locomotive echo—a regenerative force—that comes to parallel the psychic quest for redemption that unfolds in its second half. The result is a deeply affecting composition that will establish the already decorated young author as an important and vital new voice in American poetry.

3.  The Fever by Megan Abbott on audio from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher and the father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school, and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families, and the town s fragile idea of security.

4.  Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta on audio from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

When thirteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity, and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

5.  The Last Mile by Blair Richmond for review from Ashland Creek Press in October.

In the final book in the acclaimed Lithia Trilogy, Kat has new losses to mourn but also new reasons to live. On the brink of new beginnings, she is back together with Roman, their relationship deepening more and more even as she wonders whether she may still harbor feelings for Alex.

Yet Kat finds it difficult to focus on such things as college and romance, with terror still haunting the hills of Lithia and threatening the entire town. As several recent earthquakes baffle scientists and put residents on edge, it seems that something more dangerous may be looming in Lithia’s future.

6.  The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg for review from TLC Book Tours in October.

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

 

7.  Madame X by William Logan purchased from Novel Books.

One of the most technically gifted poets of his generation, William Logan here presents four sequences, each of which is haunted by the battered history of the enchanted city of Venice: two refugees from Nazi Germany replay a version of the Aeneid that shadows their lives in and out of Venice; the comedy of Tiepolo’s Punchinello drawings are given mocking narrative; a modern traveler finds in Venice’s insects, birds, and fish a nature that endures within an unnatural city; and, in a formal sequence reminiscent of W. H. Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror,” King James commissions a revision of Macbeth in order to impress the chief magistrate. These new poems showcase Logan’s trademark refinement and erudition.

The poems here delve into what William Logan calls the “ill-lit kingdom of the past.” The book is haunted by the dead but equally penitent toward the rich insinuations of the living: the lost floral paradise of the Florida outlands, the steamy Gatsby summers of a Long Island childhood, the frozen stones of a colonial burying ground. This new collection of seventy-two poems will allow readers to delight in the richness of Logan’s language and the boldness of his vision.

8.  A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers for review for Book Junkie Promotions in September.

“Set in the vast and sometimes violent landscape of contemporary Brazil, this is a gorgeous collection of stories-wise, hopeful, and forgiving, but clear-eyed in its exploration of the toll taken on the human heart by greed, malice, and the lust for land.” -Debra Murphy, Publisher of Idyll’s Press, Founder of CatholicFiction.net

 

 

9.  Crow-Work by Eric Pankey for review from Milkweed Editions.

“What is a song but a snare to capture the moment?” Eric Pankey asks in his new collection, Crow-Work. This central question drives Pankey’s ekphrastic exploration of the moment where emotion and energy flood a work of art. Through subjects as diverse as Brueghel’s Procession to Calvary, Anish Kapoor’s Healing of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio’s series of severed heads, and James Turrell’s experimentation with light and color, the author travels to an impossible past, despite being firmly rooted in the present, to seek out “the songbird in every thorn thicket” of the artist’s work. Short bursts of lyrical beauty burn away “like coils of incense ash,” bodies in the light of a cave flicker, coalesce and disappear. By capturing the ephemeral beauty of life in these poems, Crow-Work seeks not only to explain great art, but also to embody it.

What did you receive?

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James

Source: NetGalley
Paperback, 400 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James takes readers back into Jane Austen’s teen years, between the time she is a young girl free to play and the time she comes out and becomes a woman.  While her sister Cassandra and she share everything and every confidence, there are some tender emotions that are too new and sacred to share right away — that of a first love.  Jane Austen is 15 when she is given an unprecedented opportunity to attend a ball and a month of festivities in Kent to celebrate her brother Edward’s nuptials before she comes out to society.  Things are not all that they seem to a young girl who longs to be out with her sister and share in all the activities Cassandra does.  James paints a picture of Austen that is lively and young, as she enthusiastically takes on challenges before her — to prove herself not only to others but to herself — and enjoys every event set before her.

“My anticipation of the expected visitors was shared by Louisa, Charles, and Brook Edward, who kept running to the window to ascertain if they could perceive a hint of an impending arrival.”  (ARC)

Jane is ever the observer of human nature, actions, and character, even at the young age of 15, but even though she observes carefully, her interpretations are not always as accurate as she presumes them to be.  Meeting the lively and enigmatic Edward Taylor, Jane is besotted as any young girl would be who finds someone she admires in looks and in intelligence.  But he also challenges her outlook on society and its traditions, as well as her own role in that society.  James has created a complex relationship that could have happened in real life, and perhaps helped to shape Austen’s views on society, love, and more.

“We are a living part of history!” cried Edward Taylor.  “We are making history this very moment.” (ARC)

James weaves in not only the facts of Kent, her real brother’s marriage to Elizabeth Bridges, and many other characters, but the events and paraphrased lines of Austen’s very own novels.  James cannot be praised enough for her ingenuity and dedication to the spirit of Austen and her novels.  She pays tribute to a young Jane in the best way possible.  Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James is the author’s best novel yet, and a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction, Jane Austen, or coming of age stories.  This is a definite contender for the 2014 Best Reads List.

About the Author:

Syrie James, hailed by the Los Angeles Magazine as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: SONGBIRD and PROPOSITIONS. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.

In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An admitted Anglophile, she loves romance and all things 19th Century. To learn more about Syrie, visit her online at www.syriejames.com, Follow Syrie on Facebook.

Mailbox Monday #282

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.  My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going With Your Gut by Hannah Hart for review from It Books.

One day, sad cubicle dweller and otherwise bored New York transplant Hannah Hart decided, as a joke, to make a fake cooking show for her friend back in California. She turned on the camera, pulled out some bread and cheese, and then, as one does, started drinking. (Doesn’t everyone cook with a spoon in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other?) The video went viral and an online sensation was born.

My Drunk Kitchen includes recipes, stories, full color photos, and drawings to inspire your own culinary adventures in tipsy cooking. It is also a showcase for Hannah Hart’s great comedic voice. Hannah offers key drink recommendations, cooking tips (like, remember to turn the oven off when you go to bed) and shares never-before-seen recipes.

2.  Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James for review on Aug. 6.

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

What did you receive?

Guest Post: Ten Secrets of Happily Ever After by Syrie James

Syrie James is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, Dracula My Love, Nocturne, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages. Syrie lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on her Website, facebook, and Twitter.

I’ve reviewed The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen in the past, and enjoyed them as a Janeite.  I’ve also reviewed a collection of Jane Austen-related stories edited by Laurel Ann Nattress that includes one from James, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

With the republication of Songbird in e-format and paperback, the first book in the Harrison Duet, James agreed to stop by and share her Valentine’s Day secrets.  Without further ado, please give her a warm welcome:

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day to celebrate love! Admittedly, as a writer of romantic novels, both historical and contemporary, I have love on my mind most of the time! I love to write about people meeting and falling in love. That moment when two people look at each other and just know they’re meant to be together forever—it’s one of the most magical, meaningful, and memorable experiences in the world. And when it’s followed by a lifetime of love and blessings, what could be better than that?

My novels Songbird and Propositions are the perfect Valentine’s Day treat. They feature strong, intelligent, accomplished women who meet men who are every bit their equals, and who experience a love so deep, immediate, and profound, it forces them to rethink their future and the very meaning of romance. And of course they all find their Happily Every After!

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by love in both my professional and personal life. I met my husband in college, and thirty-eight years later, we are still together and very happy. Which has set me to thinking: how do you achieve that Happily Ever After? Thinking back on our relationship, I’ve come up with a list of 10 elements that I think help make for a long and happy marriage. See if you agree!

  1. You consider your partner to be your best friend for life. (Bill is definitely my best friend and always will be!)
  2. You are honest with and implicitly trust each other.
  3. You respect, admire, appreciate, and dearly love one another—and you tell each other so on a regular basis. (You say thank you for even the smallest things, like when he takes out the trash.)
  4. You balance and complete each other. You have similar interests, tastes, and beliefs, but enough differences and skill sets that you can learn from and help each other. (i.e. Bill oversees the finances and house repair, and I handle cooking, laundry, and our social calendar; it works!)
  5. You put the other person’s happiness and well being before your own, and can count on each other to always be there in time of need.
  6. You make time for each other every day, even if sometimes it’s just a phone call to say hello, and create special moments and memories just for the two of you, away from your children, family, and friends.
  7. You support each other’s dreams. Except when his dream is to buy a motorcycle. (LOL.)
  8. You listen to each other. Always. You can share your most personal thoughts, memories, dreams, and fears with each other without judgment.
  9. You make every major life decision together, considering each other’s ideas, needs, wants, and preferences.
  10. You are committed to make your relationship work. You stick with each other through thick and thin, through happiness and sorrow, through good times and bad, regardless of what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and what will happen in the future.

Is there anything else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear what you think. To see ten more things I think help make for a long and happy marriage, please visit my blog. And for an ultra romantic Valentine’s Day read, I hope you’ll check out books one and two in The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. They’re available in Trade Paperback and for Kindle and Nook. Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Reading!

Check out her 10 additional times on her Website.  What are your tips for a happily ever after?

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Syrie James’ The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a novel within a novel when librarian Samantha McDonough finds a letter in an old poetry book while on a trip to England with her boyfriend, Stephen.  Through this mystery letter, Sam begins an adventure through the countryside of England and enters the novel world of Jane Austen.  Through her travels she meets Anthony Whitaker, the heir of the former owner of Greenbrier, a small country estate in England.  He’s breathtakingly handsome and intelligent, but at times his dream of owning his own company can take over and make him arrogant and stubborn.

“Anthony and I had been taking turns reading aloud.  He was a quick study and had a marvelous gift for bringing characters to life.  Hearing Jane Austen’s words in his delectable British accent was divine.”  (page 127 ARC)

Like Austen’s characters, Sam and Anthony are flawed, but optimistic — and they lose their way, but eventually stumble onto the right path.  James has a way of capturing Austen’s style that belies the modernity of the story she’s telling, and in many ways, readers will get lost in the manuscript, just as Sam and Anthony do.  The missing manuscript not only captures everyone’s rapt attention, but highlights the enduring truth of Austen’s words in her own novels.  Mirroring the quirky characters Austen created and the hilarious proposals she used in her own novels, James’ missing manuscript echoes the great classics while continuing in the tradition of Austen’s fans by making them fresh and fun.

While the events in the manuscript regarding Miss Stanhope’s family and her love life are predictable, it is the journey that she takes to get to happiness that is worthy of Austen’s approval.  James’ character blossoms from a naive, country girl into a women who continues to have a strong mind, loyalty to her family, and dedication to those deserving of her compassion.  However, Sam and Anthony are more like tools to move the story along when — in this case — a frame story would have been sufficient.

Sam and Anthony’s relationship seems to blossom away from the reader’s vision, and this could hamper the reader’s ability to connect with them.  There are brief moments where they interact while reading the manuscript, but what goes on between them while they are reading — looks or brief touches — are not shown.  It’s also hard to interpret Sam’s feelings for Stephen when all we have is her comments about their relationship and rarely see them interact.  Additionally, the hunt for the manuscript seemed rushed, and should have had a bit more depth and twists and turns to make it more suspenseful and believable.

Overall, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James is an enjoyable work about Jane Austen, historian’s thoughts about her work, and the mysteries that remain.  But at the same time, it is about the interpretations of her novels in how the hero always must prove himself to the heroine to win her love and how change can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

About the Author:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.

Mailbox Monday #206

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 Suko’s Notebook.

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.  The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James, a second copy from the publisher.

2. The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn, a second copy from the publisher.

3. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins, which I won from Necromancy Never Pays and her Trivial Pursuit for Bloggers.

What did you receive?