Review: Irrepressible you by Georgina Penney

ire“You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.

When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he’s hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn’t occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset – after all, it’s hilarious, and his readers love her!

It isn’t until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he’s cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?”

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Set in the sunny port city of Perth, Australia, this stunning debut has style. I loved Amy. I thought she was funny cute, sassy and clever. I am a big fan of the 1950’s style of dress and wished I had her wardrobe.

Everything has such personality in this book, from the outdoor plumbing to Gerald, the dog and his testicle implants.

There are plenty of false starts for Ben and Amy and at times it feels as if someone poured a bucket of water over you. When they do get together it is very saucy. In all honesty, it is racy but it is done tastefully. I blushed myself a few times, and needed a cold shower by the time it was over.

This book is a breath of fresh air and I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for an out of the ordinary story with loads of style.

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Review: Love and Liability- Katie Oliver

loveandliaLove and Liability is the second book in the Dating Mr. Darcy series by Katie Oliver. This book features Holly James, previously mentioned in Prada and Prejudice. The book starts off when Holly is due to interview “Henry Barrington” for BriTeen again. She is expecting an old duffer, but he is really Alex, the gorgeous.

Holly bungles things at first, and the whole first encounter is adorable. Later disaster strikes as Holly’s job is being sabotaged. Her relationship with Alex heats up along the way and even manages to salvage every thing by the time she meets Zoe.

Although Love and Liability can be comedic at times, there is a more serious under current with  Zoe’s story line. The mystery of Erik’s merchandise is dark and gritty; which highlights an important subject matter with realism.

It just gets better and better as the series continues. The gaffs are funnier and the men get more delicious. Katie Oliver out did herself and I am preparing myself to be blown away by the next book in the series, Mansfield Lark.

Mansfield Lark hits shelves Monday, March 3rd, 2014. Pre-order it now.

 

The most recent televised adaptation was “Death comes to Pemberley” by PD James. It is a perfect example of an “Austen After”. Although critics did not like the program, I think it is worth a view.

Over the years, there have been many spoofs and quite frankly, a few very bizarre adaptations. Here are my picks in the category:

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zombiessea monsters

 

 

misey memeYou can see the plot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in almost every modern romance book. Usually is about a young woman who meets a man above her station. I know what I sound like and it does nothing for women’s lib, but you do have to admit there is an abundance of “Lords” and “Billionaires” in modern romance. Even though it is apparent to everyone the hero is above the heroine in Class stature and monetarily wealth, the heroine is far superior to the hero in virtue and in character, she out shines him.

The world was a different place two hundred years ago when Jane Austen wrote her novels, but certain things never change – like the human heart.

We continue to identify with these characters because their wants and our wants are so similar. We recognize ourselves in their insecurities, longings and failure to find love. More often than not, they are successful in love, but it is their humanity that makes Jane Austen’s characters timeless.

wetcolmemeAlthough, the class structure isn’t as stringent as it was in Jane’s days, there are still limitation in the world today. The landed gentry of yesteryear could be today’s CEO. The relevancy has just been shifted and adjusted to modern life.

Every modern heroine as a bit of Elizabeth Bennett in her, because Lizzie is what we all aspire to be. She is quintessential, every woman.

One of the most successful Pride and Prejudice adaptations, is the Bridget Jones franchise. Jane Austen is so engrained in our culture that we did not even questions it as being an Austen plot.

From Bridget Jones to Pretty Woman, Jane Austen the Grandmother of romance is everywhere. Her popularity has not waned in two hundred years and will stand the test of time. As long as there is love, Jane Austen will endure.

The BBC has a great article about the Janeites: The curious American cult of Jane Austen.

In production news: Longbourn by Jo Baker, “A new novel that retells the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of its servants”. Looking forward to that Regency Upstairs Downstairs, I even heard rumours that it will be snapped up for film or tele soon.

 

 

 

shadesI did come across this book on my travels and I thought the series was worth a mention. I know it isn’t an “After Austen” but it is set in that time. When I saw this book I knew I had to have it, I then went and bought the whole series. I am hoping to review it very soon. These are some of the things that are being said about:

The Glamourist Histories are comedies of manners and magic, and a whole new way
of looking at an era that we only thought we knew before. (John Scalzi)

With magic, manners, mayhem, and no small measure of derring-do – the Glamourist Histories are everything you could wish for in a sleek, fashionable fantasy series. A shimmering adventure for history buffs and glamour enthusiasts alike. (Cherie Priest)

A beautiful, lyrical, tightly woven meld of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast – I couldn’t put it down! (Lili St. Crow)

Shades of Milk and Honey could easily fit into Austen’s canon… Kowal has captured both the style and content of an Austen novel, adding her own speculative fiction twist. Readers who enjoyed such novels as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell will find this novel appealing as well. (The Jane Austen Centre)

If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, [this] would have been the result. Written with painstaking attention to detail, Kowal’s prose is serenely evocative of the time period, and the fantastic elements are a seamless fit. The characterization is extremely well done and Jane is a sympathetic, strong and intelligent heroine whose
devotion to her family trumps nearly every other concern.= (RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!, Seal of Excellence winner)

Today’s quiz is “Which Austen heroine are you?” Make sure to post us your results because we love to hear from you.

Please visit and like our Facebook page, for additional recommendations, freebies and fun.

 

Feature: Katie Oliver- Prada and Predjudice

To celebrate Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary of publishing Mansfield Park, we are having a full week of a special theme “After Austen”. For over 200 hundred years, fans have delighted in Jane Austen books and even added their own special touches to it. To kick off the week, Katie Oliver stopped in for a chat to discuss her books. Let’s start with my review of Prada and Prejudice.

prada-and-prejudice    Prada and Prejudice is loosely based on Sense and sensibility. There are familiar themes and even some familiar character and names, but the rest is all Katie Oliver’s wonderful imagination.

The book starts off with Natalie, who is heir to a failing department store and London socialite. Spending more money than she can ever hope to make, her grandfather puts her to work on the sales counter.

After being dumped by her train wreck of a rock star boyfriend, she meets Rhys Gordon. I’d say more like ran into Rhys. Rhys was called in to save the store and as soon as he met Natalie, it was handbags at dawn.

It is love/hate relationship between Rhys and Natalie, with a sexual tensions you can not miss. Rhys has this stoic Scottish thing, that is totally irresistable. He manages to tell Natalie off a few times but in such a charming way, you could almost see a glint in his eye.

It is a glitzy world of “WAGs and Eurotrash” that is so recognizable as real life but so detached from our own life, that it makes the book pure escapism.

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“I’m free” John Inman as Mr. Humphries in “Are you being served?”

Katie Oliver adds so much humour that I found myself laughing out loud . The book really is a light-hearted romp. It is filled with designer labels, stroppy fashion designers and iconic London locations – It made me feel as if I was actually there.

Natalie’s grandfather reminded me of Mr. Grace from “Are you being served?” and whenever I pictured the declining Department store, I always thought of Grace Brothers.

With financial whiz kid Rhys Gordon on the case, and with Natalie’s help they get things off the ground. Things escalate between them and it gets very steamy.

Prada and Prejudice isn’t just a book, it is an adventure. There is intrigue, blackmail, buried secrets, and back stabbing. There are quite a few bombshells along the way and you will be kept in the action right to the very end. You don’t have to be a fan of Austen’s to appreciate this fresh, funny and exhilarating  romance.

Also by Katie Oliver:

love and liaSometimes your sensibilities make absolutely no sense!

Holly James is looking for her big break. A young journalist for BritTEEN magazine, she is dying to write about something more meaningful than pop stars and nail varnish. So when she spots a homeless teenager outside the office, she feels compelled to tell her story. But her evil boss Sasha has other ideas…
Holly is sent to interview a city solicitor she has never heard of. But Alex Barrington turns out to be the very opposite of fusty and boring and Holly’s interest struggles to stay strictly professional!
With Sasha sabotaging her every move, and her story about teens on the street leading her into London’s dark underworld, Holly is chasing both love and success at the same time. But happy endings like that only happen in books don’t they…?

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NEW RELEASE ON MARCH 3rd 2014:

Gemma Astley has succeeded where so many others have failed. She has somehow managed to tame tearaway rock star Dominic Heath and stop his womanising ways for good. But just as they  find happiness, Dominic’s secret aristocratic past becomes public knowledge, and jeopardises everything.

Dominic is actually Rupert Locksley, heir of Mansfield House, a crumbling stately home that needs major financial investment to save it from ruin.

Dominic’s mother pleads for his help, but his father, the Earl, is on the verge of disinheriting him. Meanwhile Dominic’s new status as Mansfield’s long-lost heir attracts the
attention of cut-throat socialite Bibi Matchington-Alcester, who means to make him hers at any cost.

Gemma and Dominic will need to test the strength of their foundations – as well as those of Mansfield House – if either are to remain standing.

 

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Katie Oliver.

janebbc The BBC is also commemorating the anniversary in a new radio production:

The Mysterious Death of Jane Austen Episode 1 of 5

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast: Monday 24 February 2014

Twenty-six years have passed since the death of Jane Austen. Armed with a lock of Austen’s hair as perhaps her best clue, Anne Sharp, former governess to the Austen family and Jane’s close friend, has decided at least to tell her story-a story of family intrigues, shocking secrets, forbidden loves, and maybe even murder.

Upon its publication in the UK, Lindsay Ashford’s fictional interpretation of the few facts surrounding Jane Austen’s mysterious death sparked an international debate and uproar. None of the medical theories offers a satisfactory explanation of Jane Austen’s early demise at the age of 41. Could it be that what everyone has assumed was a death by natural causes was actually more sinister? Lindsay Ashford’s vivid novel delves deep into Austen’s world and puts forth a shocking suggestion-was someone out to silence her?

Andrew Davies, who has a phenomenal track record in adaptation, has collaborated with Eileen Horne in recent years, first as writer and producer on a new TV version of Room with a View (2007) and as writer and editor on The Purple Land for Radio 4 (2011).

Written by Lindsay Ashford Adapted by Eileen Horne and Andrew Davies

 

alan rickmanFor many of us, Emma Thompson’s 1995 film is the version we most identify with. There were a lot of great actors such as Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Greg Wise. Emma Thompson later married fellow Greg Wise- Lucky girl!

Each of us has our favourite Darcy, but who is your favourite your favourite Col. Brandon? For me it is David Morrissey from the 2008 television adaptions. I asked Janet Gover author of Flight to Coorah Creek, and was featured last week in two articles and reviews- Who was her Austen hunk? She is a big Alan Rickman fan, so for her it is him every time.  I have to admit, he does look very dashing .
There have been many adaptions over the years and each of them have their own merits. I found a television version from 1981 that features Tracey Childs of Howard’s way fame and babe of her day.

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Now what we have all be waiting for my exclusive interview with Katie Oliver:

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EPBR: Will there be anymore Dating Mr. Darcy books after “Mansfield Lark“?

KO: I’m currently furiously scribbling away on a new story featuring Natalie and Rhys, Gemma and Dominic, and a couple of brand new characters. The book is set in a small village in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s just before Christmas, and a blizzard has brought everyone together at Draemar Castle, the ancestral home of Natalie’s friend Tarquin Campbell. There’s conflict – Gemma is insisting that Dominic set a wedding date, now – and newly-married Natalie wants to have a baby straight away, but Rhys is adamant that they should wait.

Add in a mysterious groundskeeper, a female guest who isn’t quite what she seems, and a family secret, and you have the makings of…well, I can’t reveal the title just yet. But I promise, it’ll be a fabulous read!

EPBR: What else are you working on and how is it different?

KO: I have a couple of other books on the back burner, each featuring an American heroine and a sexy European hero. The first book is set in Baltimore, Maryland, and features an Irish-American family. Shauna has a brand new degree. But jobs are few and far between, and she’s returned home to work in the family’s sports bar, waiting tables until she finds something better.

When Declan Quinn comes in with a rowdy group of Irish rugby players, Shauna’s life is turned completely upside down…

The second book takes place in Manhattan. Lauren is an art director who falls for the sexy Italian barista who owns the coffee shop around the corner. Their chemistry is through the roof. But will Luca’s secret stop their romance in its tracks before it even gets started?

These books are different from my others (Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark), in that they’re set in the USA, not the UK; but they still promise to be fun, romantic, page-turning reads. That will never change!bridget

EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen Book?

KO: Oh, unquestionably Pride and Prejudice. I never tire of the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. My heart aches for Elizabeth, who believes herself cruelly snubbed early on by Mr Darcy; but I feel even more for Darcy himself, who comes across as snobbish and judgmental, despite the fact that he’s a fine and honourable man who gradually grows to love Elizabeth with all his heart.

I love Emma, too – because even though Emma Woodhouse is a terrible snob and an incorrigible busybody, I can’t help but root for her, as she always means well. As most busybodies usually do…

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EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen film, and it can also be an after, like Bridget Jones?

KO: Oh, how can I pick anything but Bridget Jones?

Colin Firth as handsome-but-stuffy lawyer Mark Darcy is comedic perfection, and Renee Zellweger as Bridget…well, she’s hilarious and she gets it exactly right. Add Hugh Grant as the office sleaze, Daniel Cleaver, and you’ve got a perfect, funny film. The blue soup…the granny knickers…the Tarts and Vicars party that isn’t, actually…who will ever forget those scenes?

EPBR: Which actor makes your Darcy?

KO: Colin Firth. He’s number one. That white shirt…that pond…that damp, manly chest…LOL!

Coming in at a very close second, however, is Matthew Macfadyen. In fact, I prefer the film with Matthew and Keira Knightley over the BBC miniseries (although it’s very good, too).

Thank you so much Katie Oliver, and remember Mansfield Lark is being released on March 3rd, 2014. Pre-order it today.

Please visit the Facebook site for other Austen themed books and links. Tomorrow we have more treats in store, but for now I will leave you with a Vicar of Dibley Sense and sensibility joke.

 

Review: Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikli

milanI have to be honest, when I got this book I thought it was going to be another fluffy Regency bodice ripper romance with some rake in mole skin trousers. Was I
wrong!

This book is nothing like you would expect. The only way I can describe it, is as a Regency version of Dynasty. It has everything, secrets, lies,blackmail, love triangles, death, drug addiction, jealousy, affairs, scandals, oh and some bodice ripping too- the only thing it is missing is Joan Collins. However, I think Mrs. Henley, Adelaide’s mother runs a close second.

Mrs. Henley forces Adelaide to go along with the story that she created in order to save Adelaide, but all it does is eats her away from the inside. She is later put in a position that the only way to get out of one lie is to tell more. No one is who they seem in this book, except for Tristan. Tristan is truly honourable man with a moral compass who repeatedly saves Adelaide.

Adelaide’s only real crime is being young and in love and obeying her mother. Time after time, her loyalty to her mother and her husband are tested. In the end, you learn who the true villain is and why.

The book has a genteel opulence of Anthony Trollope’s The Palliser’s but underneath the waving fans it is all gritty intrigue.This is the first book I read by Beverley Eikli and I can say I am now a fan.

The Maid of Milan gripped me from the start and kept me there. I read it in a day, I just couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this unique book.

Also by Beverley Eikli:

 

Reluctant Bride coverCan honour and action banish the shadows of old sins?
Emily Micklen has no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who represents her only escape from destitution.

Major Angus McCartney is tormented by the reproachful slate-grey eyes of two strikingly similar women: Jessamine, his dead mistress, and Emily, the unobtainable beauty who is now his reluctant bride.

Emily’s loyalty to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s determination to atone for the past and win his wife with honour and action. As Napoleon cuts a swathe across Europe, Angus is sent to France on a mission of national security, forcing Emily to confront both her allegiance to Jack and her traitorous half-French family.

Angus and Emily may find love, but will the secrets they uncover divide them forever?

 

Here are some great things they are saying about The Reluctant Bride”:

“Eikli creates a enchanting sense of time and place, real emotional conflict and lots of drama.”

“The Reluctant Bride is intriguing, compelling and one that I really enjoyed – I’m very much looking forward to more from Beverley Eikli.”

” This is a tour de force from my favourite regency romance writer, delivering well beyond my expectations.”

Review: Flight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover

ImageThe first thing I said when I finished Chapter One was Wow!. From the first line you were transported right into the middle of the action. Within a few pages, you felt like you knew these characters and were revisiting old friends.

Queensland is described in such vivid details that you can almost feel the heat of the sun and the outback dust in your throat. The Outback is like a character in its own right because it is depicted with it is own personality and vibrancy.

I felt immersed into Coorah Creek’s world. It is a world where life has a slower pace, neighbours care about each other and good old fashion country charm – that never goes out of style.

The main characters are all impossible to believe they are fictional. I identified and bonded with Jess immediately, because we all know what it is like to be in love and blind. Dr. Adam, all I’m going to say is I wish he was my doctor. Watching Jack and Ellen’s romance unfold was breath-taking. I don’t believe in spoilers, but there were a few times I cried.

Janet Gover’s writing is phenomenal, she can make something as complicated as flying a plane easy to understand and visualize.I didn’t even feel like I was reading a book because a film played in my head. It was a perfect book from the start to the last line “…broken only by the distant laugh of the kookaburra.”

I fell in love with Coorah Creek and it’s in habitants and so will you. This book has the Wow factor.

I highly recommend to anyone who loves reading.

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I caught up with the wonderful Janet Gover last night for a little Q&A to answer all those questions I had.

janetgoverMe: Is Coorah Creek a real place?

Janet: No, but if it did exist it would be in western Queensland, midway between Mt Isa and Birdsville. Birdsville (also in book) is real.

Me: Where can you suggest for an authentic Outback experience?

Janet: Visit Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach for outback experience.

hotelIn the book Flight to Coorah Creek  the team head out to Birdsville races, I only just learned about through Janet Gover’s book but it is a yearly event. There is still time to check it out and book tickets. If like me, you have no chance of making it to Australia any time soon, the website offers many pictures and links, so you know exactly what you are missing.

Now you can not mention the land down under without mentioning Lamingtons.

300px-NZ_LamingtonLamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian’s childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut.

These little treats are sold at school fairs and bake sales around the country.

 

outbaxk I had a wonderful time reading and reviewing Flight to Coorah Creek and learning more about Australia. I would Like to thank Janet Gover and the RFDS for all their support with my features. Read all about the RFDS in my article, The Royal Flying Doctors. I hope all of you enjoy the book as much as I did. It is the perfect holiday read.

I have one final treat for you. In my interview with Janet Gover she mentioned Longreach Outback experience. I found a video for you. For now we will have to make do with being an armchair explorer. I leave you with the distant laugh of a kookaburra. Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

Review: The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson

cake treeThe book starts with a mystery and Terry the magic tortoise, who could resist that?. It then goes on to be a fairy tale of self discovery in the most gorgeous locations. Scotland is described in breath taking details. I had to laugh at the Clootie dumpling- most people has no idea what to do with it either.
The progression of Alasdair and Grace’s romance starts out as old fashioned and charming, but the heat definitely gets turned up. Trust me when I say it is all tasteful and you will want an Alasdair of your very own.
I think the book asks the question “How we do we know our parents?”. We think we know them but there are always hidden stories. Most incredible is that Grace gets to retrace her mother’s past.

With every new letter from Grace’s mother, Rosamund, more is revealed, and there are plenty of bomb shells too. As soon as you think the book is going in one direction- Boom!; You are off in another. This is definitely not a run of the mill story.
I sat on the edge of my seat for the last two chapters not wanting it to end, and the author keeps you in a delicious suspense right till the end.
I sighed, as I closed the book and was asked “Mummy, why are you crying?” and all I could answer was “Because it was such a beautiful ending.”
I highly recommend this stunning début and I can not wait to see what Melanie Hudson writes next.

wedding cake tree

I fell in love with the idea of planting a tree to mark special occasions. I found a picture of a wedding cake tree andthought it was gorgeous. The name does not do it justice.

I also found a great site to re-create all of those yummy Scottish dishes mentioned at http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/ . For my last treat an interview with theauthor herself on Choc Lit Publishing’s own home page blog
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Review: Hubble Bubble by Jane Lovering

hubbleIf you could cast a magic spell to get whatever you wanted. What would you wish for? I’d wish for a sequel to this book. What I really liked, is that the magic is based in reality. Was it magic? Or everything working out for the best. That is what I think real magic is, not having 100% proof but still believing. Not one over the top nose twitch here.

Kai is a wonderful three dimensional character full of angst and smouldering Welsh-ness. Holly is a strong modern heroine who doesn’t need saving; She lives by her own rules.

It was a lovely story full of redemption, friendship and love. I highly recommend this book, it is a fast paced, action filled, feel good story.

You won’t ever go wrong with a Jane Lovering book, each one is as good as the last one. Happy reading.