March 31, 2011

The Winner: CSN GIFTCARD

And the winner of a $50 gift card to CSN Stores is . . .

Amy L!

Congratulations, Amy L!  I will be emailing you directly about your new gift card. 

Thank you to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway. I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here.

I hope everyone will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.

Thank you again to Kate Harney and CSN Stores for making this giveaway possible.


Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winners.

Happy reading!


March 29, 2011

Guest Author: KARA LOUISE

Today I am happy and excited to welcome Kara Louise, author of the newly published Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, back to Psychotic State Book Reviews.  Welcome, Kara!

I asked Kara to share with me her thoughts on transporting her readers to Pemberley.

Transporting the Reader to Pemberley
by Kara Louise

Thanks for inviting me here today. I thought I would talk a little bit about Pemberley and Elizabeth’s first impression as given to us in Pride and Prejudice, and compare it with her first impression from my new book, Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.

OMDWD is a variation of P&P where Mr. Bennet has died and Elizabeth has to become a governess. She soon discovers that the family for whom she works has a previous acquaintance with Mr. Darcy. The last thing she wants is for them to discover her past with him or to be thrown into his presence. To her dismay, the family receives an invitation from Mr. Darcy to come to Pemberley for two weeks. 

Pemberley is Mr. Darcy’s grand estate located in Derbyshire. When Elizabeth first visits it – in both books – she has no idea what to expect. Here are some of the descriptions that Jane Austen gives us when Elizabeth first sees it.

The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of the lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent… They found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House. Situated on the opposite side of the valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; – and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned…

Elizabeth is impressed with the grounds at Pemberley and their natural beauty. So different from the grounds at Lady Catherine’s, which had more of a harsh, artificial tending.

In OMDWD, Elizabeth comes upon Pemberley more than a year after Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Because of her father’s death, she was not able to take the trip with the Gardiners and, therefore, visit Pemberley the summer before. She not only had that year to think about the contents of Mr. Darcy’s letter and ponder the man, but now has the added admiration of him by the Willstone family, and in particular, the sister of Mrs. Willstone, who has had a strong admiration for him for some time.

When the family is invited to Pemberley, Elizabeth accompanies them; knowing Mr. Darcy most likely still harbors great bitterness towards her. Unlike her visit in P&P where she understands that he is away from home and therefore won’t likely see him (and we know how that turns out), this time she knows he will be there and will forced to be in his company for two long weeks. And because Elizabeth is now a governess, her standing is society is even further beneath him.

Here is Elizabeth’s first view of Pemberley from OMDWD

Elizabeth’s eyes took in everything around her. She noticed a wide, briskly moving stream that seemed to dictate to the road its curves and turns and straight paths. Sometimes it disappeared behind the trees and at other times it burst forth from those very trees as it continued on its way…

…Elizabeth saw delightfully beckoning mounds and valleys, a myriad of flora and fauna, and the ever-present stream urging them along.

…Elizabeth gasped, for there in all its splendour was Pemberley. Situated majestically across a small crystal blue lake, it rose in stature and breadth in glorious prominence…

…The setting sun cast an ethereal golden hue across the stone edifice. The deepening oranges and reds of the clouds painted a rainbow palette of colours as it reflected down on the lake at the front. A slight breeze stirred small white caps on the lake, distorting the mirrored image of Pemberley that extended down into the depths of the water. 

Elizabeth was very much impressed with the grounds when she first saw Pemberley. What about the interior of the home?

In P&P, we follow Elizabeth as she admires the grounds from every window. Elizabeth viewed the rooms as large, well-proportioned, and handsomely fitted up. The furniture in the rooms was suitable to the fortune of their proprietor… but with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings. 

In OMDWD Elizabeth’s first impression on stepping into Pemberley is one of continued admiration: Elizabeth stifled the gasp but could not conceal her look of admiration as they stepped into the entryway. It was truly majestic, in a way that gave honour to those who built it centuries before, as well as its heritage through the years. She could not deny that it was everything agreeable to her sensibilities.

In P&P we learn from Caroline Bingley that Mr. Darcy had an extensive library, but we never experience Elizabeth seeing it. In OMDWD Elizabeth not only visits the library, but has quite an embarrassing situation occur while in it. I’ll leave it to you to read the book to find out what happened there, and to take a more extensive tour of that magnificent estate, Pemberley.

In writing variations of Jane Austen’s novels (or sequels or prequels), we depend upon her descriptions and then take them from there. Hopefully we do her justice in those things we add to or embellish. Pemberley is grand, and it was fun to write about Elizabeth’s first impression of it, and walk with her as she admired the home, explored the grounds, and encountered Mr. Darcy here and there, all the while wondering what he must be thinking of her!

Thanks for letting me share with you today, and I hope that you were transported – in maybe a small way – to Mr. Darcy’s great estate Pemberley!

ONLY MR. DARCY WILL DO BY KARA LOUISE - ON SALE NOW!

In this fresh and original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s greatest fear comes to pass — Longbourn is entailed to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth finds work as a governess in London, widening the social divide between her and Mr. Darcy and making it more difficult than ever for them to find their way to each other...

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do
Published by Sourcebooks





So, readers . . . was Kara successful in transporting you to Pemberley?

Free Original Short Story: MY JANE AUSTEN VACATION by Cindy Jones

Feeling a bit Austen-less?  Need a little pick me up? 

Thanks to Avon Romance, you can read author Cindy Jones' original short story, My Jane Austen Vacation, for free.  Just follow the title link and have yourself a wonderful read. 

In case you weren't aware, Ms. Jones' My Jane Austen Summer is being released today!  I have my own review copy on its way and I simply cannot wait to spend some of my pre-summer with our beloved Jane. 

Here is the synopsis for My Jane Austen Summer.

Lily has squeezed herself into undersized relationships all her life, hoping one might grow as large as those found in the Jane Austen novels she loves. But lately her world is running out of places for her to fit. So when her bookish friend invites her to spend the summer at a Jane Austen literary festival in England, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself.

There, among the rich, promising world of Mansfield Park reenactments, Lily finds people whose longing to live in a novel equals her own. But real-life problems have a way of following you wherever you go, and Lily's accompany her to England. Unless she can change her ways, she could face the fate of so many of Miss Austen's characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

My Jane Austen Summer explores how we fall in love, how we come to know ourselves better, and how it might be possible to change and be happier in the real world.

Doesn't that sound fantastic?  Aren't you dying to read it? 


Happy Tuesday, all!

March 10, 2011

Book Review: LETTERS FROM HOME by Kristina McMorris

BOOK DESCRIPTION:   In love and war, nothing is as it seems . . .

Chicago, 1944.   Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn't need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she's set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation - cut short by the soldier's evident interest in Betty - but Liz can't forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.


Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from "Betty" are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn't know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.



As I write this, I have finished Kristina McMorris' debut novel Letters from Home less than two hours ago and my mind is swimming with many thoughts - - thoughts of the characters, thoughts of the true story that inspired this book, thoughts of what daily life must have been like during World War II and thinking that one word to adequately describe this book would be "magnificent". 

Letters from Home is that rare melding of romantic historical fiction told partly through letters,  with three main characters - - each of them different and yet my heart yearned for each of them.  What is so wonderfully rare about Letters from Home is that is succeeds on every front - - as a nostalgic historical fiction, as a fictional recounting of World War II (told from the homefront and from the battlefield) and as a good old fashioned romantic tearjerker. 

I loved the wistfulness I felt while reading Letters from Home, a yearning for a so-called simpler time when love at first sight was not only believable but expected and when letter writing was the sole means of contact for those men and women serving our country.   And therein lies the basis for this book - - an altered take on Cyrano De Bergerac, where one girl writes romantic letters for and as her roommate.  In this tale, those aspects come together perfectly.  The letters absolutely made my heart ache and I looked forward to those pages that were devoted to them.  Rather than slowing down the story, or halting it entirely, as can happen when a story is told, at least in part, through letters, they added an exciting and creative dimension to an already moving story.

I fell in love with each of these characters and became utterly invested in them.   While reading about Liz, I was so wrapped up in her story I didn't want to let go of her, even briefly, to change gears and move on to Betty but once I got with Betty, I was so wrapped up with her that I didn't want to leave her behind to take up with Julia.  It was a so-called vicious circle in a wonderfully delightful way. 

The supporting characters were just as enthralling and real as the main characters in the book.  I easily visualized Morgan, proud and determined, in his Army uniform, as well as his younger brother Charlie, cutting up and going for the easy laugh.  Betty's Coconut Grove and her female coworkers as well came alive for me; so real were they I could feel the humidity of Hollandia, hear the insects outside, the scratchy radio inside and taste Herb's contraband Jungle Juice. 

Letters from Home is such a complete and well written story it's hard to imagine it is author Kristina McMorris' debut novel.  The writing is so smooth and fluid, it's like butterscotch, to semi-quote character Julia.  There is just enough historical description to make you feel as though you have stepped back into 1944-1945 and enough romance and true feeling to make your heart flutter and ache without withering from a literary sugar shock. 

Despite portions dealing with the brutalities of war, Letters from Home is not violent nor gruesome.  There is no offensive language and the only true intimacy and eroticism comes from two souls being laid bare through their letters. 

To say that I fell in love with this book, its characters, the story and Kristina McMorris' writing would be a vast understatement.  I did not want to put this book down and was both fufilled and saddened upon concluding it.  The ending left me with a bit of conflict - -  happy for the obvious ending for one character and the suggested endings for the others but desperately hoping that Ms. McMorris could somehow write a sequel so that I could continue this on-pages relationship with characters that I had come to care about and adore. 

This is, without a doubt, one of the most touching romances you can read and absolutely one of the best books of the year.  Do not hesitate when I tell you to the go to the bookstore.  Now.  Letters from Home  is worth it.  Trust me. 

Letters from Home is is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Kristina McMorris, please visit her website.


Review copy of this book provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

Many thanks to Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book for the opportunity for Psychotic State Book Reviews to be a host on this tour.




Excerpt from Letters from Home:

July 4, 1944

Chicago, Illinois

Silence in the idling Cadillac grew as suffocating as the city’s humidity. Hands clenched on her lap, Liz Stephens averted her narrowed eyes toward the open passenger window. Chattering ladies and servicemen flocked by in the shadows; up and down they traveled over the concrete accordion of entrance steps. The sting of laughter and music drifted through the swinging glass doors, bounced off the colorless sky. Another holiday without gunpowder for celebration. No boom of metallic streamers, no sunbursts awakening the night. Only the fading memory of a simpler time.

A time when Liz knew whom she could trust.

“You know the Rotary doesn’t invite just anyone to speak,” Dalton Harris said finally. The same argument, same lack of apology in his voice. “What was I supposed to do? Tell my father I couldn’t be there because of some dance?”

At the condescension, she snapped her gaze to his slate gray eyes. “That,” she said, “is exactly what you should’ve done.”

“Honey. You’re being unreasonable.”

“So it’s unreasonable wanting us to spend time together?”

“That’s not what I meant.” A scratch to the back of his neck punctuated his frustration, a habit that had lost the amusing charm it held when they were kids. Long before the expensive suits, the perfect ties, the Vitalis-slickening of his dark brown hair.

“Listen.” His square jaw slackened as he angled toward her, a debater shifting his approach. “When I was asked to run my dad’s campaign, we talked about this. I warned you my schedule would be crazy until the election. And you were the one who said I should do it, that between classes and work, you’d be -”

“As busy as ever,” she finished sharply. “Yes. I know what I said.” With Dalton in law school and she a sophomore at Northwestern, leading independent but complementary lives was nothing new; in fact, that had always been among the strengths of their relationship. Which is why he should know their separate activities weren’t the issue tonight.

“Then what’s the problem?” he pressed.

“The problem is, anything else pops up, campaign or otherwise, and you don’t think twice about canceling on me.”

“I am not canceling. I’m asking you to come with me.”

Liz had attended enough political fundraisers with him to know that whispers behind plastered smiles and greedy glad-handing would be highlights of the night. A night she could do without, even if not for her prior commitment.

“I already told you,” she said, “I promised the girls weeks ago I’d be here.” The main reason she’d agreed, given her condensed workload from summer school, was to repay Betty for accompanying her to that droning version of Henry V last week – just so Dalton’s ticket hadn’t gone to waste. “Why can’t you make an exception? Just this once?”

He dropped back in his seat, drew out a sigh. “Lizzy, it’s just a dance.”

No, it’s not. It’s more than that. I have to know I can depend on you! Her throat fastened around her retort. Explosions of words, she knew all too well, could bring irreversible consequences.

She grabbed the door handle. “I have to go.” Before he could exit and circle around to open her side, she let herself out.

“Wait,” he called out as she shut the door. “Sweetheart, hold on.”

The plea in his voice tugged at her like strings, halting her. Could it be that he’d changed his mind? That he was still the same guy she could count on?

She slid her hand into the pocket of her ivory wraparound dress, a shred of hope cupped in her palm, before pivoting to face him.

Dalton leaned across the seat toward her. “We’ll talk about this later, all right?”

Disappointment throbbed inside, a recurrent bruise. Bridling her reaction, she replied with a nod, fully aware her agreement would translate into a truce.

“Have a good time,” he said, then gripped the steering wheel and drove away.

As she turned for the stairs, she pulled her hand from her pocket, and discovered she’d been holding but a stray thread. The first sign of a seam unravelling.

March 8, 2011

MY READING NECESSITIES . . . AND A GIVEAWAY

I have been a voracious reader all my life.  People who know me know that I always have a book on me.  I take one to work, I have one in the car if I'm travelling, I take one into appointments with me.  A waiting room is not the perfect environment for serious book reading I grant you.  So what is?

I have a wonderfully comfy chair in my family room that I love to curl up in, it's a perfect size to tuck my feet under me and get truly comfortable.  Right next to my chair is a pair of fantastic table lamps that I chose specifically with reading in mind and in a design and style that attracts me and goes well with my decor.  Good lighting is definitely important - - especially for my nearsighted self! 

I also like being in my well worn sweats and yoga pants so that I'm as relaxed as possible.  Throw in a good cup of tea or cocoa and a scented candle . . . ah!  Heaven!  Very easy to get lost in a good book.

With this is mind, CSN Stores has very graciously offered up to one of my readers a $50 gift card to be used toward purchase on any of their incredible products - - a bookshelf, table lamp, tea set or any of number of fantastic goods!  Trust me when I tell you this is a wonderful opportunity. 

So what do you need to do to enter, you may ask?  Simple!  Leave me a comment, letting me know what reading necessities you have, if any.  Your comment is worth one entry.  I am also offering additional entries for this giveaway. 

For extra entries: 

+2   Current blog followers
+1   New blog followers
+2   Current subscribers to Psychotic State Book Reviews via Feed Burner
+1   New subscribers to Psychotic State Book Reviews via Feed Burner
+2   Current Psychotic State Book Reviews Facebook follower
+1   New Psychotic State Book Reviews Facebook follower
+2   Current Twitter follower
+1   New Twitter follower
+5   Repost or re-Tweet giveaway (leave link)

Please be sure to note if you are a current follower, new follower, etc. so that you get proper credit.  Please leave a separate comment/post for EACH entry and a valid email address with each entry.

NO EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR ENTRY = NO ENTRY!

No P.O. boxes.  No Military APOs.  This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada only.  My apologies to my overseas friends. 

Contest to end on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winner drawn by randomizer.org on Thursday, March 31, 2011.

Good luck!

March 5, 2011

The Winners: THE MISTRESS' HOUSE

And the winners of a brand new copy each of The Mistress' House by Leigh Michaels are . . .


Martha Lawson 


&


Anita Yancey


Congratulations Martha and Anita! I will be emailing you directly for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours so that your new book gets out to you timely.

Thank you to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway. I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here.

I hope everyone will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.

Thank you again to Danielle Jackson and Sourcebooks for making this giveaway possible.

Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winners.



Happy reading!