Cover Reveal: Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade

Friday, September 27, 2013

 ....because clearly there hasn't been enough cover love, gushing and the like around here this past week. But seriously, how could I resist sharing this, Becky Wade's new cover art!? I mean, seriously... it's charming!

What do you all think?

Congrats on another charming, winning novel cover, Becky! Betting the story will be equally great.
Happy Friday, all!
Don't forget to check out the new posts from this past week:
Would love your thoughts on this - or any of the other fun covers this week.
PS: The winner of the Chasing Hope book giveaway has been contacted and has claimed her prize! Congrats, Stephanie. Mailing your book this afternoon.

Little Letters, Edition Ten

Dear Akismet Dude, you know your stuff! Thanks for fixing my Worpress comment problem.

Dear Alaska, why aren't you closer?

Dear Apples, if I never core another one of you, it will be too soon. Just sayin’.

Dear Auntie, happy birthday! xo 

Dear Austenland, well…. Weren’t you fun!? 

Dear Autumn, can I hug you?

Dear Brad and Carrie, clearly the powers that be know what they are doing in bringing you back to host another CMA award show. We welcome you back for a sixth year – happily and with eagerness to see what you’ll do this year!

Dear Downton Abbey, not long now.

Dear Friday, welcome. It’s about time you got here.

Dear JMS, thanks. Again, it’s been fabulous fun to get together with you and enjoy some laughter and reminiscing.  

Dear Kiera Cass, the cover art for your third novel? It rocks. Please, please don’t ruin the story – let it mirror its lovely outside.

Dear Liz, this may be selfish but... I'm glad you are staying closer to home than you planned. xo

Dear Melissa Tagg, this is going to be fun! (Meaning your debut novel.) Thanks for being one awesome lady with an equally awesome sense of humor!  

Dear Michelle Madow, love the new book cover! Thanks for letting bloggers share in the fun.
(Reader's what do you think of Michelle's new cover and story?)

Dear NBC, I am thrilled for one of the productions airing in your December programming. All I ask is don’t ruin it! 

Dear Readers, I’ve said it before but… not for a while. Thanks for being you. For sticking with this blog and for inspiring the content on the blog – it has come a long way since it first opened two years ago and those first few friends who followed along (you know who you are). It means a lot. 

Dear Star Trek, halfway through you are awesome - how is that fair!?

Dear Tomatoes, you may taste good during the year of making yummy homemade soups, but any time now, you can be done. I’m tired of having tomato pulp under my finger nails.

Dear Twitter, again you inspire a letter… what is the deal with you. First you were simple, and then you changed things up. Now I am actually used to the new look and again you put forth a new format. *sigh* Does your quest to be cooler ever stop!?  

…and as always, you are all welcome to join in the fun!

Put your own spin on this meme and stop by anytime to add your own link,

we look forward to reading your letters.  

Happy Friday!


Cover Reveal: The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow

Morning, all! Today, I'm thrilled to be a part of Michelle Madow's cover reveal blog tour - and we're sharing the brand-new cover art for her upcoming novel, The Secret Diamond Sisters! Ever since reading Michelle's self-published novels I've been a fan and eagerly have followed her budding career as an author. If you've not read any of Michelle's novels, be sure to look into them - her first series is based off of Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' single and really, are some of the sweetest teen romances I've read. Since then, Michelle has signed a book deal with Harlequin Teen and is gearing up for the release of that first book. One that I am very much anxious to read!

Without further ado, here is the cover art of that first novel:

What do you think!?
Methinks it's pretty snazzy!
Here's the synopsis:
Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

·         The release date: February 25, 2014.
·         The Facebook event page for the book release party at Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL on March 1, 2014: The Secret Diamond Sisters Book Release Party!
·         Plus check out the great giveaway Michelle has going on, an ARC of The Secret Diamond Sisters. Open to those living in the US and Canada.

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·         Links to Michelle Madow’s social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest, Twitter
Michelle Madow’s website:
Congrats on this new novel, Michelle! It's awesome and seems to suit the "glamour" of the story - there's some subtle "sass" to the design, plus the conflicting "patterns" and angles are a terrific addition, they seem to add content as well as "texture" to the design - and I love that tagline. Makes me smile.
Cannot wait to get this one in my mailbox.
Share your thoughts below and read more about Michelle via any of the links above!

Cover Reveal: The One by Kiera Cass

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guess who's wearing white!?


Lovelovelove this cover art for the third and *sniff* final novel in The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass. This has been a reveal I've been waiting for now for a long while. The pose, America's expression... just everything about it is gorgeous plus it's another brilliantly lovely gown! Like seriously, as the Hollywood Crush article points out... don't you WANT to know what secret America has that we don't know!? I sure do!

Tell me, what do YOU all think!?

Check out the exclusive story on MTV's, Hollywood Crush

Plus here's the equally adorable paperback cover for the "companion" stories:

...basically, I *need* both of these. Now.

Also, take a peek at this cute behind-the-scenes video of the covershoot!

PS: I know the blog has been quiet this week, and I've missed chatting with you all! There's another cover reveal coming tomorrow (so be ready to take a look at that!) and more posts being prepped for next week. Until then...

The comments are open: WHAT DO YOU THINK!?

Happy Thursday, all.

Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me

Any movie that is about a group of people pulling off a caper is one that is likely to play in my living room at some point – especially given how well I’ve enjoyed movies such as The Italian Job. Add in a dash of magic to polish the image and I’m bound to be “in” – if nothing else, a good night’s worth of entertainment is involved.  

Someone with a carefully concealed identity has pulled together four street magicians for the purpose of pulling off a con with a resolution no one can guess. A year after the mysterious summons that brings the four people together, they are known as The Four Horseman and are playing sold out shows in some of the most prominent cities – the illusionists are Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson). On their final night in Las Vegas, the foursome robs a bank… all while on stage. This puts them on the FBI’s most wanted list and in the crosshairs of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). It’s time to put their plans in motion… all while trying to remain one step ahead of the authorities.

Anyone who enjoys the Ocean’s 11 movies or something akin to that trilogy will probably peg all the good twists and turns long before Now You See Me rolls its credits. For me, I didn’t even try to think and instead got immersed in a fun, lighthearted escapist flick – a definition that sums this story up perfectly; it abides by those rules and aspires to be no more. Let’s start with the cast. This is an ensemble that really is not “traditional.” Knowing that their characters don’t really “match” may be a reason to pull together such an interesting group of talent – and I have to say, everyone worked well together. Isla adds some sparkling personality (much like she did in Confessions of a Shopaholic) and I liked Harrelson’s dry humor. What you will notice is the lack of “character” to these fictitious personas. There is little to no development in that department. Whether or not that will affect your opinion while viewing this, only each viewer will know however given the concept, it didn’t bother me. 

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this script isn’t all that clever. There are throwbacks to the various films that came before this in the same genre and though I don’t know that any have done it “better,” there is a classy sense of “style” to this particular film – all of which is helped on by slick stage presence in all four magician personas and some “fun” illusions. All of the staging for these events is high-tech and awesome though the movie’s greatest asset may also be a failing. I liked how the film brought the four protagonists together – it created mystery and left us second-guessing everyone around them. The people who each have a role in the downfall of their ultimate goal or wish to be a ringer in the plans or those are unwilling participants in keeping up the façade. All the same, the story seemed slow-going at first. Skipping ahead an entire year before the party really gets going was a smart jump, it’s just that ultimately what the script lacked traces back to a lack of loveable characters – or at the very least characters that we can empathize with, something that its competition has gone far beyond and indeed seems to have a better grasp on (case in point being an earlier reference to The Italian Job) what it takes to keep audiences engaged.

Now You See Me isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours at all. There are some interesting conversations and perspectives on magic; it’s just there's a disconnect in the script's feeling "warm" or totally connected to its characters. Still, it’s a movie I’ll be likely to re-watch again. It’s a particularly satisfying flick for one of those rainy afternoons. Just don’t overthink it too much.  

CONTENT: some minor profanities is present [sh*t, h*ll, d*mn, plus misuses of God’s name] and there may be one use of the f-word. There are several sexual innuendoes and some crude comments. As part of their acts, the magicians lie and fake death; Henley does one particularly “daring” act that briefly implies she is getting eaten by a flesh-eating fish [the tank fills red with blood], there is also a “tense” car chase sequence. The film is rated PG13.

Cover Reveal: Love's Refuge

Friday, September 20, 2013

Morning, all! So, this past week, the lovely Amber asked on Twitter about participating in a cover reveal for author Sandra Leesmith, of course, I was game for that and am pleased today to be a part of the big reveal for her upcoming novel. Before the cover is posted, read up on Sandra and the cover designer, Lena Goldfinch (who you may all know from Amber's debut novel, Bleeding Heart, and just as a "head's up" stayed tuned this fall for the reveal of Amber's second book, Forget Me Not plus all the information about the story!)

Love’s Refuge will be released November 2013. Visit Seasons of Humility that month for more information about the book’s release and the blog tour.
Synopsis: Skye Larsen loves her peaceful life on Leeza Island in Puget Sound – the tranquility, the friendly neighbors, and especially the safety from big-city dangers. So when cruel pranks start to escalate and changes threaten to overtake the island, Skye is determined to fight for her haven. The presence of a handsome vacationer and the unexpected feelings he awakens can’t distract her from her goal.
Danny Fraser doesn’t realize how desperately he needs a rest until he meets Skye. By allowing him to glimpse her simple way of life, she helps him reorient his priorities – and steals his heart in the process. But his work and home in Seattle keep Skye at bay.
An isolated island girl with painful memories. A dedicated city boy with a wild past. What will it cost for them both to find a refuge from their storms?
(Quick note: Does this sound good or what!? I haven't had the time to discover Sandra's novels but I am confident this one will soon find a place on my shelf.)
About the Author: Sandra Leesmith loves to travel in her RV and explore all of nature’s beauty, discover America’s history, and fellowship with the wonderful people she meets while on the road. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming, and pickleball. Learn more about Sandra and her books at her website.
About the Cover Designer: Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance. You can visit her online.
Freebie Offer: Love’s Miracles – Sandra’s May 2013 release – is FREE for Kindle today (September 20th) only, in honor of the Love’s Refuge cover reveal. Click HERE to download your copy!
...and now, drumroll, please! May we present the premiere of Love's Refuge...

Isn't it sweet!? Seriously, kudos to Lena for this design, I think it's possibly my favorite from her portfolio yet - the colors, shading and the romanticism is lovely. Betting that the inside is equally charming - eager to read this one, Sandra. Congrats on another new book!

This is a book that will be up for tour come November (I believe all that will be available are e-copies), so if any of you are interested or what to learn more, go and ahead and ask your questions in the comment section or DM Amber about any open spots or the availability of it to review.
Until then, enjoy the synopsis and cover debut of Sandra's upcoming novel.

PS: Check out this great US only giveaway! Don't miss out.

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Cover Crushin'

 Happy, happy Friday, everyone!

So, today, we have a lovely cover reveal post to feature on the blog and I thought since we were showcasing Sandra Leesmith's upcoming novel, we may as well have a peek at some other pretties releasing over the next several months.

To be honest, I didn't find a ton that I fell in love with, but... I want to know what you think of this group. See any new favorites or are there any plots that sound intriguing?

Have a thought?
Do share!
After, of course, you take a look at the cover candy.

Synopsis: Determined to forge her own destiny, Alice Barrow joins the legions of spirited young women better known as the Mill Girls. From dawn until dusk, these ladies work the looms, but the thrill of independence, change in their pockets, and friendships formed along the way mostly make the backbreaking labor worthwhile. In fact, Hiram Fiske, the steely-eyed titan of industry, has banked on that. But the working conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous and after one too many accidents, Alice finds herself unexpectedly acting as an emissary to address the factory workers' mounting list of grievances.

After traveling to the Fiske family's Beacon Hill mansion, Alice enters a world she's never even dared to dream about: exquisite silk gowns, sumptuous dinners, grand sitting parlors, and uniformed maids operating with an invisible efficiency. Of course, there's also a chilliness in the air as Alice presents her case. But with her wide, intelligent eyes and rosy-hued cheeks, Alice manages to capture the attention of Hiram's eldest son, the handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske.

Their chemistry is undeniable, soon progressing from mutual respect and shy flirtation into an unforgettable romance. But when Alice's best friend, Lovey, is found strangled in a field, Alice and Samuel are torn between loyalty to "their kind" and a chance for true love.

February 2014

Synopsis: Western North Carolina, 1787 ~ To escape a threatening stepfather and an unwanted marriage, Tamsen Littlejohn enlists the aid of Jesse Bird, a frontiersman she barely knows, to spirit her away from Morganton, North Carolina, west beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Trouble pursues, as the two men intent on seeing her recovered prove relentless in their hunt. Trouble awaits in the form of a divided frontier community. Across the mountains the State of Franklin has been declared, yet many settlers remain loyal to North Carolina. Chaos reigns, thwarting Tamsen and Jesse’s hastily cobbled plan to keep her safe.

With her pursuers ever nearing, the region in turmoil, neighbors grown suspicious of her presence, Tamsen’s safety is soon put in greater jeopardy. Gaining the freedom she longs for will mean running yet again, to the most unlikely refuge imaginable—the Cherokees, a people balanced on the knife edge of war.

But the biggest complication may prove to be Tamsen’s growing bond with her knight in greasy buckskins, Jesse Bird. Falling in love was never part of the plan

April 2014

  •  This one has been floating around for a while but... really, I couldn't NOT include it.

Synopsis: After tackling her first mission and coming to terms with her power of empathy, Andrei and her fellow Remnants discover their first battles were only a taste of what is to come. As the Sons of Sheol continue their assault on the world, planning to keep all hope dead, the Remnant finds itself battling within its ranks.

With everyone pursuing what they feel is the best course of action, trouble mounts—and Andrei finds herself in terrible danger at the hands of Kellach. The Remnants must travel to Italy and find a way to fight as one before it is too late.

August 2014

  • Have I mentioned how much I love my friend, Charity's cover designs!? This one is no different, it's whimsical and cute plus it seems to match the story perfectly; I seriously think I'll bribe (with what I don't know) her to design my covers - what!? You don't really need a book in order to commission a cover design... do you!?
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Evangeline is about to discover what is different about her. She has had suspicions all along, but it is not until an aunt she never knew about turns up that her life tumbles into an adventure. Now, she is in the northern wood… a place where nothing is as it seems, where the ancient house of Dragonspire shifts its rooms around, and an unknown evil lurks nearby.

All she wants are answers to her questions.

If she is not a witch, what is she?

What is the creature that continues to follow her to and from school?

Why has her mother never told her about her aunt until now?

Has the great inventor, Nikola Tesla, anything to do with it?

And most of all, what is really in the northern woods?

October 2013

Synopsis: Officer Brinna Caruso wants perfection--perfect justice and a perfect world. She wants to save and protect all the innocents in the world, no matter the cost.Orphaned and struggling to get by, Ivana and her sister left Bulgaria for America with dreams of a better life. But since they arrived in Long Beach, everything they were promised has turned out to be a lie.After a dead girl is found in the river with a mysterious tattoo on her hip, homicide detective Jack O'Reilly asks for Brinna's help. Unaware of the depths of evil that will be uncovered, Brinna finds herself flung into a dangerous frontier--an organized human trafficking ring.

April 2014

May 2014

Synopsis: True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.

Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.

When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.

But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.

January 2014

Synopsis: A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past. Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Salvare, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

May 2014
Synopsis: For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan's friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way. Guys won't ask Macallan out because they think she's with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can't help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again -- and one kiss away from true love?

February 2014

Synopsis: In a compelling, complex story from the bestselling author of Wildflower Hill and Lighthouse Bay, two women separated by a century discover long-buried secrets in an Australian manor house.In 1876, Tilly, a recently married young English woman, is reeling with shock and guilt after her tempestuous marriage ends in horrific circumstances on the remote Channel Islands. Determined to get as far from England as she can, she takes on a new identity and a job on Ember Island in Moreton Bay, Australia, where she becomes the governess to a prison superintendent’s young daughter, Nell. Tilly fights her attraction to the superintendent, Sterling Holt, and befriends one the few female inmates, Hettie Thorpe, and a dangerous relationship develops. She doesn’t know that Nell is watching her every move and writing it all down, hiding tiny journals all over Starwater, her rambling manor home.

More than 100 years later, bestselling novelist Nina Jones is struggling with writer’s block and her disappointing personal life. Her poet boyfriend has recently broken up with her, and a reporter who is digging into her past insists on speaking to Nina about her great-grandmother, Nell. There are some secrets Nina may no longer be able to hide. Retreating to Starwater, she discovers Nell’s diary pages hidden in the old walls and becomes determined to solve the mystery. Though Tilly and Nina are separated by many years, Starwater House will change both their lives.

April 2014

  • I like this one. It's "different" with the shadowed overlay, but looks really nice; the colors blend well, though the type is nothing great.
Synopsis: Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

February 2014

  • This one is REALLY cute; the composition and "innocent" picture of childhood makes it special
Synopsis: After the tragic death of Butch Browning's wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious--and fleeting--their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O'Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they've forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way?As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go.

April 2014

Find all the details on this one in its feature post!

  • Another winner. Love the classy elegance, yet with the eye-catching red gown, this book "screams" to be noticed.  
(May I also add: LOVE this author's web page.)

Synopsis: The conclusion to the Unbound trilogy, in which Emma Townsend travels to Paris and gets lost in Gaston Leroux's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Synopsis: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

March 2014

  • I LOVE the idea of this one. Not sure I'd have gone with the blue for the "splash" of color, but otherwise, it's cute.
Synopsis: Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

April 2014


Synopsis: A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

August 2014

Synopsis: After Vespa, Syrus and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished for good, giving them hope for the first time.

But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. When a wave of unimaginable terror threatens to destroy everything in its path, Vespa, Syrus and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic---and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay.

February 2014

Synopsis: Not Available

July 2014

So... any of these catch your eye!?

Austenland (2013)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

(Let me give you all a fair warning; there is going to be LOTS of fangirling below.)
Comedy is never just black and white. There is a certain talent to getting it “right.” Some movies go for the classy sort and in turn, earn viewer’s gratitude. Others shoot for the wild and crazy, the sort that is lumped into the slaphappy. This Austen-inspired comedy of errors opts for the latter and the question on everyone’s mind is, does it work? 

Being a 30-something who lives a mundane existence and cannot keep herself from loving Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy is not something that endears Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) to the game of dating. Her friend is concerned Jane just wants the fantasy. But really, her love of all things Darcy isn’t that bad… okay, so it is a bit obsessive which prompts Jane to strike a bargain with Molly. First she books a trip to Austenland an all-inclusive Jane Austen experience run by Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), and if, upon her return she realizes regency life is just that, a fantasy, she’ll give up her dreams of finding her own Darcy. With ticket in hand, Jane books a flight to London and lands smack dab in the middle of every girl’s dream.

Once there, Jane befriends Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) and strikes up a friendship with the groundskeeper, Martin (Bret McKenzie). When she’s thrown together with the moody and arrogant, Henry Nobley (JJ Feild), Jane sees the faux in her childhood dreams. Ever since she set foot on Austenland’s grounds, everything about being the heroine in her own Austen story has been an act… or has it?  

Austenland Kiss

Right up front, let me say that I had conflicting thoughts on this book-to-screen adaptation. Only my love of all things Austen-at-the-cinema kept me glued to theater openings related to Austenland. Unfortunately, it didn’t open at the most convenient of theaters, however we made a day out of it – and oh my, what a fun adventure it was. Put thoughts of a proper, regency saga out of your mind; unlike the dialogue Jane Austen would have penned, this comedy is awkward and amusing over how funny it tries to be. Jane wove some subtle albeit wickedly good humor into her stories – satire with class, whereas this contemporary script makes many concessions to adapt to its 21st century characters. You’ve been warned. With that being said, I can in no way fault Austenland since it inserts a modern girl into a world she only thought was her “perfect” ideal.

While this was setting itself up, one of the first things that stood out was the warp speed at which the script unfolded. We were barely given time to process Jane’s addiction before she was jetting off to England. Little explanation is given as to the “why” behind neither Jane’s shy, comfortable life nor the way she immerses herself in all things 1800s. Secondly, I cannot say how impressed I was with the cast. Initially, it may line up as a mish-mash of talent – veteran actors, unknowns and British talent, it’s in the actual watching of the film that we quickly learn how well they work together. The entire cast doesn’t just create some fun chemistry none of them seem uncomfortable with the fun dialogue or acting silly to make the audience laugh with glee – something the people in the showing I saw did plenty of! This wouldn’t be a complete assessment of thoughts if I was negligent in mentioning the ending; I lovelovelove the ending (preceding the closing titles) of this film. Not because it was unique or any different than the ordinary script, but because it was sweet and the actors played it so charming, it created its own brand of special.


Bottom lining it, Austenland is a delightful film that I look forward to re-visiting on DVD. Between some catchy, terrific music, throwbacks to well-known Austen scenes or dialogue  (like a humorous caught-in-the-rain scene) and its refreshing cast, the movie is hard not to like. It's a refreshing turn after so many end-of-the-world box office picks – its part study in a contemporary woman, part whimsical and outrageous comedy. As I’ve yet to read the novel of the same name (it has suddenly moved up on my TBR pile), I cannot say how well the screen transfer was, however I quite adored everything about the film. There is more good to it than merely feeding Austen obsessions; the story is also careful to help us realize that even the best-laid fantasy is not necessarily better than reality – and it's admirable to see Jane standing up for herself, distinguishing between fiction and fact is necessary to keep ones sanity and she does it well. When we see the change in Jane at the end – a more confident person, it makes even the silly moments worth it.  

From the crazy shenanigans to the absurd playacting and accents (courtesy of Georgia King and Jennifer Coolidge, respectively), Austenland was a joyous journey, from beginning to end!

Now, it is your turn! Any fangirl moments you want to share or chat up?

The comments are open and at your disposal.

CONTENT: There are several sexual innuendoes in the script, everything from visual [albeit clothed] references to anatomy to winking hints about “touching” inappropriately [some of which is during conversation about the 1800s manners vs. contemporary]; a brief inference is made about a man being a homosexual. Men take their shirts off, to which the ladies giggle over, and much ado is made about the male actors “romancing” the female clients – women wear low-cut gowns. A man attempts to take liberties with a woman [she pushes him away]. There may be one or two minor profanities. Austenland rates PG13.

The Invention of Sarah Cummings by Olivia Newport

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2013
Find the Review Elsewhere:
Series: Avenue of Dreams – book 3
Genre: Christian Fiction; Historical
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5
Sarah Cummings has lived the only life open to her ever since she lost her parents as a young girl. Left an orphan, she grew up at St. Andrew’s and immediately went into service at the age of sixteen. Living on the prestigious Prairie Avenue at the home of the Banning’s, Sarah’s plans for a better more prestigious life is fueled by the parties and fine gowns she sees on a nightly basis – and getting the hand-me-downs from Mrs. Banning has honed Sarah’s skill with a needle. On a chance meeting with a recent Chicago transplant – Miss Lillie Wagner, Sarah invents a mysterious, Chicago socialite named Serena Cuthbert, and is put on a whirlwind of possibilities, one that involves a wealthy, politically ambitious suitor and possibly, the man who can give Sarah the life she wants to make for herself. But will the cost to Sarah and her real friends be worth compromising her values to achieve that success?

Sarah Cummings is likely a name we all remember or those of us who have, now read all three of Newport’s Avenue of Dreams series will. She made quite the impression on us as a bratty maid at the Banning home and now, has earned her own story in this, the final book of the trilogy. Early on, the story starts out lovely. There was more depth and interest to Sarah – she seemed to have matured and grown into a “better” person, despite her desire for something more. Being too harsh on the dream behind Sarah’s deception seems contradictory as all of us have some kind of aspiration we dream of making come true. It’s the way that Sarah goes about inventing her fate that is wrong – and walks a fine line between truth and deception. About three-fourths the way through the book, there was a 180 switch in her personality and suddenly, the little brat was back. That was an unexpected occurrence that I confess not to have seen coming.  

Carried through the entire threads of the book is Sarah’s love of reinventing the gowns that she is gifted. It’s an interesting part of the novel, which of course, is paralleling the transformation Sarah wants to inflict on her own life. Reading through passages of Sarah re-patterning her gowns or picturing new work to an otherwise outdated design was a lovely part of the book because a.) it gave more detail to the costuming in literary form and b.) while lovingly recreating these gowns as an accomplished seamstress, Sarah is herself rather than a put-on imitation of what she thought she wanted.

Not unlike its predecessors, I have to be honest in saying that the real flaw of the series is how underplayed the men are. I recognize that this is about three women coming-of-age and in most instances, living ahead of their time through their dreams, however, I think had there been stronger male leads, the romance aspects would have seemed more interesting if not more prominent. Had the male lead been better developed – in this instance, it’s Simon Tewell, the rush to end the book happily wouldn’t read so far-reaching. Minor in complaint, there was also a lot of uses of character's first names – not necessarily in conversation, but certainly in the second person prose. Despite the squabbles I’ve had with this series, they’re sweet one-time, good weekend reads. There is some great historical detail and Sarah ended up making a more complex character that I’d have expected. Because of that, ‘Invention’ just may have been the best of the entire series. It was unique even if it was through subtle transitions and seemed a solid way to conclude the stories in the lives of those who live on the Avenue of Dreams.  

Synopsis:  Sarah Cummings has one goal in life--to break into Chicago's high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner and to start eating at society tables, Sarah alters cast-off gowns from the wealthy Banning women to create lustrous, flattering dresses of her own. On a whim at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to Simon Tewell, the director of St. Andrew's Orphanage, Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of. Will she sacrifice love to continue her pretense? Or can Simon show her that sometimes you don't have to pretend for dreams to come true? - Goodreads

Coming Next from Olivia Newport: Taken for English, synopsis not available, coming February 2014

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Available September 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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