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My 2017 Favorites

No preamble. Let’s get to my favorite reads in 2017:

This is also tied with his chapbook, Story Problems.

WHAT BOOKS WERE ON YOUR LIST OF FAVORITES FOR 2017?

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly

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

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

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

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

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

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

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

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

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing Process of Riana Everly, Author of Teaching Eliza

I’ve always loved My Fair Lady — the movie — and George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is on that list of classics I hope to finish reading some day. Riana Everly has taken this classic and mashed it up with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  How could I resist? I couldn’t obviously, so today’s the day she stops by to talk about her writing process and my review will appear later in the month.  Enjoy!

About the book:

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels. From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Please give Ms. Everly a warm welcome:

Some authors are incredibly disciplined. They are able to stick to a routine, and have their plots mapped out chapter by chapter, character by character, with the precision and detail of Sherlock Holmes considering his latest case.

I am not like that! In high school I never missed a deadline, but I was the kid who was up until midnight finishing my papers. In university, I clearly remember one term paper that was due in the professor’s office at 5:00pm. I frantically finished typing up at 3:57, and then flew into a panic because I had no white paper on which to print it, and no time to run out and buy some. But I did have bright green paper! Into the dot-matrix printer it went (yes, I’m THAT old), and with my precious package in hand, I dashed across the city in desperate hopes of making it on time. 4:55! I just made it. I also scribbled a note apologizing for the green paper. I did alright in that course, so I guess the green paper didn’t damage my research paper too badly.

I’ve learned to manage my time a bit better since then, but I still write the seat of my pants. I approach a new story with a general plot outline in mind, but with almost nothing written down. In the case of Teaching Eliza, the story had to conform to both Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion, but all the details were very, very vague at first. In fact, I tend to let my characters tell me what they want to do, where they want to go. Sometimes I’ll approach a scene with a polite conversation in mind, only to be horrified when an argument breaks out. Other times, I’ll plan for a heart-rending confession, but my characters will end up discussing the weather instead. Occasionally I whip them back into my plot, but more often I give them free rein and see where they take me. (Spoiler alert: I had no notion of anything developing between Richard and Charlotte when I began writing Teaching Eliza, but they fell in love. What was I to do? Break them up? That would have been cruel!)

My next planned story will be a bit of a challenge for me. For this year’s NaNoWriMo, when much of my writing gets done, I have a mystery in mind. I have always thought that there is no much more to Mary Bennet than we see in Pride and Prejudice, and wanted to explore that a bit. She’s quiet and bookish, but I think she’d make a great investigator because she sees so much and thinks about what she’s seen. However, I need to plan this out a lot more carefully than my usual stories. We need a cogent plot, a series of clues, an overarching narrative involving existing and new characters, and a resolution that makes sense but (hopefully) isn’t obvious, and all of that can’t happen by the seat of my pants. I’ll be as interested as anyone to see whether Mary will follow along with the story line I’m planning for her.

In general, I write quickly. As I mentioned, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is my best friend because it gives me a deadline and a word goal, and I need those. My family hardly sees me in November, but I can usually write about 100,000 words in those 30 days. Most of them are garbage, but it’s a necessary place to start.

Then the real work begins. I tend to let my first draft sit a very long time before I pick it up to edit. Often I’ll write another story in the interim, before going back to reread my draft with fresh eyes. I find this gives me the distance I need to see the flaws and problems and to begin the whole process of editing and rewriting. The scene that I thought was so brilliant at first might now be dull, and I might decide to complete rewrite or even cut it. And characters who I threw in for plot purposes might suddenly take on new life and become much more important to the story as a whole.

After this second go-through I send the story to my amazing beta readers. Usually they have the best ideas, and contribute so much to the stories that I feel I ought to list them as co-authors. There aren’t enough words to express my appreciation. Donna and Sophia – you ladies ROCK!

*~*~*~*~

My Writing Space

I have included a few photographs of my writing space. My desk is usually quite messy, and even cleaned up, it’s messy! You’ll see I have a magnet board for my notes. Despite being quite comfortable with matters digital, I find that I prefer to jot down my notes on paper. Sometimes I use diagrams which don’t work so well on a computer, and sometimes I like to have things sitting there in front of me without having to find the right screen or program for my notes.

I have a few writing buddies who live on my desk as well. I love to crochet, and sometimes interesting creatures emerge from my craft bag. Book Cat was just fun to make, and who could resist Poe and his raven? And when I found this pattern for Jane Austen herself, well, it was fated! Reading Fairy was a gift from Sophia Meredith, a very fine author, a dear friend, and my inspiration to get my stories off the computer and out into the world.

About the Author:

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

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

ENTER the Giveaway!

Mailbox Monday #450

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received from Anna:

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Heart-stopping romantic entanglements, crossed wires and sisterly dilemmas – all the ingredients for an unputdownable read from international bestselling author, Jill Mansell

When Clemency meets the brilliant Sam Adams, she could just about fall in love with him—if he weren’t married. Three years later, Clemency has settled into her cozy home village of Cornwall to focus on her career. Everything is smooth sailing until Sam upends her entire life…by showing up as her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Caught in the midst of a love triangle, Clemency has to pretend she’s never met Sam…and choose between the love of her life and the bond of sisterhood.

Good at Games by Jill Mansell

Who will make the next move?

How does one become accidentally engaged? That’s what Suzy Curtis thinks when she suddenly finds herself very publicly engaged to handsome Harry Fitzallan, local town hero. Harry wants famous rock star Jaz to be his best man-only he’s Suzy’s ex-husband and a recovering alcoholic. Suzy’s half sister Lucille loves getting to know the family she’d never met, but she can’t help her attraction to Jaz, nor can Suzy quash her entirely inappropriate feelings for Leo, Harry’s engaged brother!
With all these wild players at the table, mayhem is bound to ensue. As each new piece comes into play, everyone has more to lose, and the only way to win is if you’re good at the games of love…


Pride and Prejudice Adhesive Page Flags

Aren’t these the cutest!

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly for review.

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

What did you receive?