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Archive for the ‘read in 2016’ Category

darcys-hope

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

In fulfilling a promise to her father, he had laid his heart open, and she sliced it up and handed it right back to him. Then he had invested in his company of men–cared for them, thought only of their safety day and night–only to have them slaughtered, leaving him the heart-wrenching task of writing letter after letter to their families.

(from Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes)

Ginger Monette’s latest novel, Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set during World War I. Elizabeth Bennet wants to be a doctor and does not want to depend on any man, especially not Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy, who requisitioned part of her family’s property for the war effort, insulted her upon their first meeting, and then expected her to accept his proposal of marriage. With her family torn apart and no home to return to, Elizabeth finds herself at a French chateaux turned field hospital serving as a nursemaid for an elderly man.

Darcy, meanwhile, has shut off his feelings following Elizabeth’s painful rejection and massive losses at the Somme. When he arrives at the field hospital as part of an investigation to weed out enemy operatives, he never expects to find Elizabeth there. As they each get to know the other’s true nature, uncertainties regarding their past history threaten to keep them from revealing their true feelings. The danger of Darcy’s mission looms large, threatening what little happiness they have managed to find amidst the carnage of war.

In Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, Monette does a fantastic job weaving the history of the Great War, the horrors of the trenches, and the excitement of a covert operation into the basic plot of Austen’s novel. A lot is changed in Monette’s variation, and those changes kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Much of the attention is on Darcy and Elizabeth, of course, with small appearances made by Jane Bennet and Charles and Caroline Bingley. There is a darker mystery surrounding Lieutenant Wickham and Elizabeth’s sister, Lydia, and there are several intriguing original characters, from an American doctor to a Mr. Collins-esque French officer.

The evolution of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship unfolds realistically, as does the portrayal of their scars inflicted by the war. Readers should be aware that the action of the novel builds up toward the end, and while some ends are tied up between the pair, they will have to wait for the upcoming sequel, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, to see how their tale concludes. Overall, I was satisfied with the ending of Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, but I really wish I could have immediately delved into the next book!

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About Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes

World War 1 has turned French chateaus into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet’s life in tatters.

Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!

But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until HE arrives…

Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”

But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.

With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope…

Check out Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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About the Author

Ginger Monette

Ginger Monette

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Connect with Ginger Monette via website | Facebook | Amazon author page

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Disclosure: I received Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes from the author for review.

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essentialreadingsToday, I’m delighted to welcome poet K.V. Dominic to Diary of an Eccentric for a Q&A on his poem, “Musings from an Infant’s Face,” from Essential Readings & Study Guide, which compiles four collections of his poems into a single volume. I enjoyed perusing the book to select a poem for the Q&A, and I’ll admit it was hard to choose just one. I was a bit hesitant when I first picked up the book because it looks a bit like a college textbook, but I urge you not to be put off by that! Inside you will find plenty of poignant poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment. I know very little about life in India, so I was fascinated by the poems. I hope you enjoy our discussion!

Musings from an Infant’s Face

(Composed on 8 March 2010–International Women’s Day)

An infant over
her mother’s shoulder
looked at me
from the front seat
of the bus I travelled.
Infants always
tempted me
like bloomed roses.
Babies–human
and non-human–
are embodiments
of grace and innocence.
The Creator is
manifest in their faces.
Blake’s poems
of Innocence
and Experience
flashed through my mind.
I tried to smile
at the infant;
she didn’t smile back.
Might be my
smile is guile and vile.
Her eyes seemed
to tell me something.
Her mother’s appearance
foretold the infant’s lot.
Born to poor parents,
how thorny would be
the path of her life!
She is yet to toddle;
I could vision
the blood oozing from
her soft feet.
Being a female,
black and dark,
poor and low caste,
discriminations,
humiliations,
abuses and tortures,
will come in battalions
to give her
Guard of Honour
and lead her along
the brambly path.
Lame and tottering
she will struggle along
till she reaches
her terminus, death.

(from Essential Readings & Study Guide, pages 115-116)

Here are the questions I posed to K.V. Dominic about the poem and his answers:

Was there a single, defining moment or experience that prompted you to use your poetry to speak about social justice, particularly the plight of women in India?

The inspiration or impetus for the poem is a single defining moment as portrayed in the poem, a bus journey. But that is only a dramatic occasion for the poet to speak about the plight of women in India, particularly poor and low caste born ones as well as those who don’t meet conventional definitions of beauty.

What is the significance of describing the narrator’s smile as “guile and vile?”

The narrator is a grown-up man, who unlike the innocent, graceful child is full of evils and sins of the world. Hence his smile is hypocritical, not like the divine, pleasing smile of the child. The child has more element of divinity and hence could detect the guile and vile of the narrator’s smile.

What is the significance of the image of “the blood oozing from her soft feet?”

The child being very poor, when she starts walking barefooted along the world around her, thorns and sharp grains and little stones will bleed her soft feet. That is the literal meaning. But it has a deeper meaning that the world around her is a cruel world to her, not sympathetic to people of her social class and every step she makes in her life will give her only pains and never happiness.

What is meant by Guard of Honour?

A Guard of Honour in India is a ceremonial practice to honour great dignitaries. Usually a battalion of police or soldiers headed by their commander march to the dignitary and salute him/her. Here in the poem the poor child, after all her voyage in life, serving the people around her, is honoured by not good words but discriminations, humiliations, abuses and tortures.

How/why have Blake’s poems inspired you?

I had to study and teach William Blake’s poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience, published in 1794. The book juxtaposes the innocent, pastoral world of childhood against an adult world of corruption and repression.

What is one thing you’d want U.S. readers, particularly women, to take from the poem about the experiences of women in India who are similar to the infant and mother in the poem?

The prime motive of my poetic compositions is social criticism and the reformation of the Indian society in future. The plight of Indian women is very pathetic, and patriarchy is responsible for it. I wish my American sisters to feel this hellish life of their Indian sisters, and thank the Almighty first for being fortunate to be born in a better country than India. Secondly, they should try their maximum to minimise the hardships of their sisters in India and other undeveloped and underdeveloped countries.

Thank you for answering my questions!

 

About the book

K. V. Dominic’s Essential Readings gathers for the first time the three most important works of poetry from this shining new light of contemporary Indian verse in English: Winged ReasonWrite Son, Write, and Multicultural Symphony. A fourth collection of 22 previously unpublished poems round out a complete look at the first 12 years of Dominic’s prolific and profound verse. Each poem includes unique Study Guide questions suitable for South Asian studies curricula.

Written in free verse, each of his poems makes the reader contemplate on intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, political, and social issues of the present world. Themes range from multiculturalism, environmental issues, social mafia, caste-ism, exploitation of women and children, poverty, and corruption to purely introspective matters. From the observation of neighborhood life to international events, and everyday forgotten tragedies of India, nothing escapes the grasp of Dominic’s keen sense of the fragility of life and morality in the modern world.

Check out Essential Readings & Study Guide on Amazon

About the poet

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Internationally acclaimed poet Prof. K. V. Dominic (Kerala, India) is the author of three major volumes of poetry about the natural world as well as social and political commentary: Winged Reason, Multicultural Symphony, and Write, Son, Write.

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without-a-conscience

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

Still entangled within his embrace, surrounded by the peaceful cadence of the park, Liz watched how every word the caller spoke brought forth the Iceman. Darcy’s lips grew taut; his body went rigid in her arms. When he finally clicked off without even having voiced a word into the phone, the affectionate man, who moments before was about to seduce her beside the riverbank, was gone.

(from Without a Conscience)

Cat Gardiner has done it again! She knocks it out of the park with her latest release, Without a Conscience, which is book two in the Conscience series that began with Denial of Conscience. Elements of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice emerge again in this newest installment, as Fitzwilliam and Liz Darcy — six months into their marriage and living peacefully at their Virginia estate, Pemberley, training horses and riding their Harleys — seem destined to misunderstand one another. But in Gardiner’s world of drug lords out for revenge, CIA corruption, and contract killers, these misunderstandings can be deadly.

Darcy has retired as the stone-cold assassin Iceman, settling into a quiet and blissful existence with his new wife. Or so he thinks, until he receives a call that forces him back into Obsidian to extract his cousin from the jungles of Peru. He has no choice but to go and see Operation Macarena through to the end or the people he loves the most will be in danger. Meanwhile, back at Pemberley, Liz and her sister Jane are being taught self-defense skills — Liz because Darcy deems it necessary and thinks she has some serious skills that need only be teased out, while Jane dreams of being a Bond girl and joining Obsidian alongside her lover, Charlie Bingley.

Liz’s world is thrown into chaos with the arrival of Caroline Bingley to teach the sisters some of her ninja skills. Caroline is jealous of Liz and determined to steal back Darcy, and when Liz overhears a conversation that sends Caroline off to Paris and into her husband’s arms, Liz isn’t just going to sit idle. Already worried that Darcy has grown bored in the new life they have created, Liz is determined to fight for him — and leaves on what she doesn’t realize is a dangerous adventure.

Like Denial of Conscience, Without a Conscience is sexy (definitely for mature audiences only) and exciting from the very first page. Gardiner is a fantastic storyteller who weaves clever plots and navigates Darcy and Liz through the twists and turns while further evolving their relationship. In the midst of the danger and excitement, Gardiner provides plenty of humor, and the obvious rivalry between Liz and Caroline had me laughing out loud several times. The novel is perfectly paced, and there’s just something about Gardiner’s writing style that has me hanging on every word.

Cat Gardiner has quickly become one of my favorite authors, not just among Austen-inspired fiction. I’ve read several of her novels this year — Undercover, A Moment Forever, and Denial of Conscience — and all were 5-star reads for me. I’m sure one or more of these books will make my Best of 2016 list!

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Disclosure: I received Without a Conscience from the author for review.

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heirlooms

Source: Review copy from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing
Rating: ★★★★☆

In the last light, the fields outside gleam. She must finish her letter, so she can post it at the next station. There is much she cannot write her parents and her sister Allegra about: not the round-ups in Paris, for instance, not her new awareness of the gradations and varieties of fear — one that numbs, another that makes her sharp and quick, certainly not Alain’s and Jean’s involvement with the Resistance.

(from Heirlooms)

Rachel Hall’s Heirlooms is a collection of interconnected short stories that takes readers to France, Israel, and the United States during and after World War II, following a single family as it navigates the fear, devastation, and loss of war and the evils of the Holocaust. The collection opens with Lise going to her sister-in-law’s deathbed, secretly pleased at the prospect of raising her niece, Eugenie, as her own. Then Lise and Eugenie, escape Saint-Malo to avoid having to register as Jews, and thus begins the family’s journey from place to place, leaving behind their lives, their belongings every time they are forced to flee.

Each story stands on its own, but putting them into a single volume makes for a richer, more profound tale that spans generations. Hall brings to life such interesting characters — from Simone, a woman in the Resistance who dares to dream of a future after the war, to Magda, a Holocaust survivor who takes great pains to hide the numbers on her arm — and it was fascinating to see how they were connected to the Latour family. The stories also touch on the immigrant experience, with Eugenie becoming “Genny,” and the ways in which a family’s history is passed on.

The story “Heirlooms” was particularly touching and reminiscent of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried in listing the things the family had lost to the war, from furniture and businesses to their language and their loved ones, and how secrets and desires cannot be left behind.

“Sometimes,” Lise will say, “I find myself wondering where something is–an owl brooch set with turquoise eyes from my sister or a particular square platter. And then I know: It is gone.” She shakes her head, laughs at her forgetfulness.

For the Latour family and others who have been displaced by war, the heirlooms they pass on are these stories of survival and their ability to rebuild their lives and move on, to even laugh again. I didn’t realize how attached I’d grown to these characters until I teared up on the last page, when the story comes full circle and acknowledges the sad fact of life that not all of the questions about our pasts will be answered. Heirlooms is a hauntingly beautiful tale of love and loss over the course of generations, touching upon what it means to be family and how the pains of the past can impact the future.

Disclosure: I received Heirlooms from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing for review.

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frankenstein-darcy

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

He felt that Elizabeth Bennet was like a lightning bolt to his heart. It was uncertain whether she would enliven him or kill him outright, but the wisest course of action would be to fashion an emotional lightning rod.

(from Frankenstein Darcy)

Cass Grix’s latest novel, Frankenstein Darcy, is a paranormal retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that includes elements from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In Grix’s version of events, Elizabeth and Jane Bennet meet Frankenstein Fitzwilliam Darcy when they are young girls. While touring Pemberley with their aunt and uncle, they help save the life of the young Mr. Darcy when he is shot right before their eyes. Several years later, Mr. Darcy appears at the Meryton Assembly and is rude when Elizabeth — happy to make his acquaintance once again — approaches him.

Mr. Darcy’s late father was an amateur physician who experimented on animals in his lab at Pemberley — and rumor has it, those experiments later involved human corpses. Elizabeth isn’t sure what to believe since Mr. Darcy, now a trained physician himself, takes such good care of Jane, who falls ill at Netherfield, and herself when she is injured while traveling there to be with her sister. However, it isn’t until after their meeting at Rosings and her rejection of Darcy’s proposal of marriage that Elizabeth begins to realize that whatever he might lack in bedside manner, he isn’t the horrible man Mr. Wickham claims he is. But will she ever accept Darcy after learning the painful secrets he has uncovered about his past?

In Frankenstein Darcy, Grix does a great job adding some dark and dangerous elements to Austen’s story without making the novel too violent or gruesome. I especially enjoyed how Wickham and Lydia’s story played out in this variation, and Darcy’s assistant, Greenwood, was an interesting addition to the cast of characters. However, there was a portion of the book that was a bit slow for me, mainly because Grix closely follows the events of the original novel, and from the Netherfield Ball until Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter, not a whole lot was changed. But as soon as the Frankenstein-esque aspect of the story returned, the pace picked up, and I found it to be an exciting tale. Although I didn’t feel the emotional connection between Elizabeth and Darcy in this variation, Grix does make the paranormal elements believable in the context of the story.

Frankenstein Darcy is a delightfully unique take on Pride and Prejudice and a perfect read for this time of year. I never would have thought such a mash-up would work, but it does, and the unexpected twists and turns are thoroughly enjoyable. I would definitely read it again for Halloween in the future, and I can’t wait to read more from Grix!

Disclosure: I received Frankenstein Darcy from the author for review.

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ERGON_cover

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

George HS Singer’s poetry collection, Ergon, is impressive in its use of language. Singer does a great job painting portraits of various people and bringing to life glimpses of the ordinary through his poems. I’d already been impressed by the poem “To Charlotte Who Fled Hitler” (you can read the poem and Singer’s guest post on his inspiration for it here), and I enjoyed getting a chance to read the entire collection.

I knew the poetry within these pages would be profound as soon as I saw that the collection opened with the definition of “ergon” according to Aristotle: “The core function or purpose of something or someone. Virtue arises when the ergon is realized fully.” Right away I new these would be poems best suited for multiple readings, but thankfully I was able to glean some meaning just reading through them one time.

Singer’s use of imagery really stood out to me in “Tiny Fish,” particularly in these lines:

My wife stroked his feet, (no bigger than a doll’s).
Small hands opened as if to wave and soon
curled and closed like the tendrils of a sea anemone.

(page 28)

His ability to tell stories in just a handful of lines comes through best in the title poem, “Ergon”:

Neither did
my sorrowing angry father, not ever, not even once,
speak the names of his little sister nor of his
big brother, carrying this secret to his grave

(page 35)

My favorite poem in the collection, “Our Quotidian,” shows the evolution of a marriage and brings to life the everyday tasks, monotony, and annoyances in living with someone so long:

You vacuum, I mop.
I know your smell and you, my snore.
In line at the market, you lean into me,

Grazing my shoulder with the warm loaf
of your breast, I tap your thigh–still here,
together in the quotidian.

(page 54)

Furthermore, there were many observations that stood out to me in their wisdom, like these lines in “In Which He Explains Why He Bowed to the Dead Moth Stuck on His Door”:

Death can never be more than a thought. Until.
Best then to make it a kindly thought.

(page 63)

Ergon touches upon many topics, from nature, spirituality, and life/aging/death to memory and the complex workings of the mind. But where the collection shines is in Singer’s detailed observations of life, from the animals that inhabit the world to everyday tasks, with hints of sexuality, humor, and a sense of peace.

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About the Poet

GeorgeSinger_AuthorGeorge HS Singer, a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

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About Ergon

George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.

George HS Singer, a former Buddhist monk, has written a debut collection of poems about his life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life when he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

Check out Ergon on Amazon | Goodreads

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Disclosure: I received Ergon from the author for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

She must turn back into the woman she was before she had met Georgiana Darcy.

The letter was folded and put away, like the Darcys had done with Elizabeth’s heart.

(from Letter From Ramsgate)

Suzan Lauder’s latest novel, Letter From Ramsgate, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that imagines what might have happened had Elizabeth Bennet been the one to interfere with Mr. Wickham’s attempt to elope with Georgiana Darcy to gain access to her fortune. Elizabeth and her aunt spend the summer in Ramsgate with her aunt’s childhood friend, Lady Edwina, and in the midst of enjoying the ladies’ tales of their mischievous adventures as girls and taking part in Lady Edwina’s ladies salon, Elizabeth befriends the shy Georgiana, who is on holiday with her companion, Isabel Younge.

Georgiana’s stories of her older brother and guardian, Fitzwilliam, make Elizabeth confident that he is the best of men and should be consulted when Georgiana, in her youthful whirlwind of romantic notions, confides in Elizabeth her plans to go to Scotland with Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth’s decision sets into motion a series of events that both save her dear friend and ruin her own chances at happiness.

I absolutely loved Letter From Ramsgate, from the way it deviates from the original novel to Lauder’s writing style (using only words in use during the Regency period) to her original characters and her expansion on Austen’s secondary characters. Lauder portrays Mrs. Younge in a sympathetic way, allowing readers to understand her motivations for scheming with Wickham, and she writes Georgiana as a girl stronger than she appears at first glance, who is fiercely loyal to the people she loves. Lady Edwina was a breath of fresh air, giving Elizabeth a connection to the highest circles (though through her aunt in trade), encouraging intelligent discussion, and providing a shoulder for Elizabeth to cry on. I truly enjoyed Lady Edwina’s backstory, how she understood Elizabeth and her pain, though I wish the resolution of her story had been shown. She was such a well-developed, interesting character that she could carry a novel on her own.

Lauder does a great job showing the evolution of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship, though I had a hard time accepting Darcy’s swift about-face and then ended up being really angry at him for a time. However, Lauder takes care to highlight both Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s flaws and how they both contributed to the misunderstanding that tears them apart.

Letter From Ramsgate is a novel about loyalty, friendship, and the power of the written word. Lauder takes Elizabeth and Darcy on a journey from the sea to a menagerie, with plenty of passion and pain along the way. I had no idea how they would find their way back to each other, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face while reading the last scene. After loving both Letter From Ramsgate and Lauder’s first novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

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Disclosure: I received Letter From Ramsgate from Meryton Press for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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tea-time

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★★

There were so many ways to survive, even after you’d died.

(from “Tea Time”)

“Tea Time” is a short story set in the ruins of Berlin in the days after World War II. After reading Tiffani Burnett-Velez’s powerful novella, A Berlin Story, I knew I had to check out this story, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The story is set in the remains of the apartment building at 500 Friedrichstrasse. Maria, a Holocaust survivor, is having tea with her friend Greta — nettle tea served out of a rusty tin can and heated on a stove fueled by pieces of broken furniture. The older woman is the first friend Maria has had in years, which is probably why Maria puts up with her crazy babbling and smiles in the midst of so much sorrow. And when Russian soldiers enter the apartment, it quickly becomes obvious just how much Maria depends on Greta’s positive attitude to maintain her hold on sanity.

In the midst of their conversation, Burnett-Velez gives readers a glimpse of Berlin and the women fighting to survive in the aftermath of the war, and bits and pieces of Maria’s past are revealed to add depth to the story and help readers understand all that she has endured. I finished reading “Tea Time” in less than half an hour, and I was satisfied with the abrupt ending even though I wasn’t ready for the story to be over. The final few lines pack a punch and made it a story I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to read more from Burnett-Velez.

Disclosure: “Tea Time” is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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trick-or-sweet

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jane laughed, “I know exactly what you mean! That’s the beauty of novels, isn’t it? How well fiction can illustrate and even reflect everyday life. I never open a novel without reading about someone I know — and often meet people I’m already familiar with from the pages of a book.”

(from “Once Upon a Story” in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet)

Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is a collection of six Halloween-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“Must Be Magic” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Persuasion)

Anne Elliot is still learning how to control her powers — the powers that cost her the love of Fareed Walia eight years ago when she turned down an offer from him in order to find herself — when her family is forced to sell Kellynch House. Fareed comes back into her life at the same time as a dark figure from Anne’s past seeking a powerful talisman and revenge.

“Once Upon a Story” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Northanger Abbey)

College student Catie meets a pair of curious sisters at a coffee house as she attempts to piece together what went wrong at the annual Fall-o-Ween festival. Her research about the Battlefield Legend may have cost her the friendship of the Tilney family and the man she loves.

“Insensible” by Cecilia Gray (based on Sense and Sensibility)

Betrayed by her parents, Miriam Dashwood’s life and the family’s business, Dashing Events, are in shambles. She scrambles to pull off the ultimate Halloween party for Brandon Firestone’s law firm as she navigates her confusing feelings for him and the excitement of a motorcycle ride with the bad boy rocker from the band Willow Bee.

“Emma Ever After” by Melissa Buell (based on Emma)

Emma Woodhouse is planning the annual Fall Ball to benefit the charity in her late mother’s name and decides it would be a great idea to auction off local eligible bachelors. Her friend Grant Knightley is skeptical of the plan, her matchmaking abilities, and TV show host Frank Hill, who may or may not have his sights set on Emma.

“Mansfield Unmasked” by Jennifer Becton (based on Mansfield Park)

In a mash-up of Mansfield Park and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pug — Lady Bertram’s furry friend at the Mansfield Park Boarding House — wants to use his cupid magic to help his friend, Pryce, but things get all mixed up at an outrageous, last-minute Halloween party.

“Beyond Midnight” by Jessica Grey (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Will Harper loses a bet to his sister and must attend the high school’s Trick or Sweet dance dressed in the costume of her choice: Mr. Darcy. Things get very uncomfortable for Will when he insults Elena Marquez, who is unlike any girl he’s ever liked before, and he worries the magic between them will be lost when the dance is over and he takes off the Darcy costume.

All of the stories in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet are fun, humorous, and romantic, not to mention quick and satisfying. The stories are connected in small ways, namely the Mansfield Perk coffee house, which I really wish existed! I enjoyed all of the stories, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be probably be “Insensible,” as I really found myself drawn to Miriam and Brandon’s sweet relationship and how they both changed over the course of the story. All of these authors did an admirable job setting the autumn/Halloween scene and retelling important aspects of Austen’s novels in just a handful of pages, making them modern and very different (in a good way) at the same time. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Holidays with Jane collections!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I’m thrilled to spotlight Jeannette Katzir’s new novel, Footprints in the Forest, on Diary of an Eccentric today. I’ll be reading it soon, but while you wait for my review, Jeannette is generously offering an ebook copy to the first 10 readers to comment on this post (more information below)! I’ve been eagerly anticipating this novel since reading Jeannette’s memoir, Broken Birds, which is about her experiences as the child of a Holocaust survivor.

Book Summary

favorite-attempt-2To an Eastern European holocaust survivor the time difference between 1940 Poland and 1948 Brooklyn New York is unquestionably 8 years, but time is insignificant to Chana. To her, angry voices outside her Brooklyn brownstone apartment door drag her back to Poland, where tall, shiny booted Nazi soldiers, with swastikas on their sleeves, storm into your home, dripping with hatred and entitlement.

On this day, those voices cause her to run to the kitchen, fling open the drawer and grab a sharp knife. She won’t go without a fight.

It’s 1940, and with little more than a few hours warning Chana leaves behind her mother and younger sister, slithers beneath a barbed wire fence and escapes the Baranavichy ghetto with her older brother. She has no idea where she’s going, or what will be asked of her, but she knows they are to join a band of forest dwelling partisans. There she learns how to shoot a gun, plant bombs and keep away from the lecherous fellow freedom fighters who now see her as a blossoming young woman. She also learns about death, perseverance and love.

There is a concurrent story line about Chana and her brother’s lives after the war. Poland doesn’t want their kind to return home, so they leave Eastern Europe and journey to New York, where they begin life anew. Chana is a budding artist, who paints what she remembers from her time in the forest. She is also a young woman, a young woman in search of her beshert or soul mate. But finding love means sacrifices and Chana feels she isn’t willing to sacrifice anything more.

Footprints in the Forest features dual storylines about the same person; one who is young, fighting to live and learning about love and life. The other is about a young woman and choices that life demands her to make.

Check out Footprints in the Forest on Goodreads | Amazon

About the Author

portraitI am the second child of five children born to two Holocaust survivors. Footprints in the Forest is my second book in this genre. My first book, Broken Birds, the Story of My Momila, received positive reviews, and was spotlighted by Jesse Kornbluth of Head Butler and The Huffington Post. “Broken Birds is self-published, and I’ve never read anything like it,” were just a few of his complimentary words. I live in Los Angeles and am currently in the process of writing a new book, one which is not about the Holocaust.

Giveaway

Jeannette is generously offering an ebook copy (pdf or mobi) to the first 10 readers to comment on this post. Please be sure to include your email address and which format you’d prefer in your comment, and I will make sure Jeannette receives your information. This giveaway will close after the 10 copies have been claimed.

Stay tuned for my review of Footprints in the Forest!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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