Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Winners - Happy Birthday Jane Giveaway!

Hello readers! Today we go from Happy Birthday Jane to Congratulations ladies! 

I would like to say a big thank you to Harper Collins Christian Publishers! for offering this lovely giveaway on Jane Austen's Birthday and offering everyone a chance to get these books at a discounted price. 

Congratulations!!! Kirsten you have won a copy of  A Jane Austen Devotional & Patricia Alcalde you have won a copy of The Christian Encounter Series: Jane Austen.
Please contact me using the 'contact me' link at the top of the page.
Congratulations again ladies!!

Wishing everyone a delightful Christmas and New year! 

(Winners picked using Random.org)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Happy Birthday Jane! E-book offer and Giveaway!

For she's a jolly good fellow, for she's a jolly good fellow
For she's a jolly good fellow, and so say all of us
And so say all of us, and so say all of us
For she's a jolly good fellow, for she's a jolly good fellow
For she's a jolly good fellow, and so say all of us!

Happy Birthday Dear Jane Austen,
there are so many of us that are eternally grateful that you were born on this day over 200 years ago. It is also 200 years this year that Emma was published! 

With lots to celebrate, Harper Collins Christian Publishers are offering two of their Jane Austen e-book titles for $0.99 today! 

"A Jane Austen Devotional" and "The Christian Encounters Series: Jane Austen." 

Harper Collins have kindly offered a paperback copy of each title, for a Jane Austen Birthday Giveaway! 

Giveaway Time!!!!

All you need to do is wish Jane a Happy Birthday! or simply tell us why you love Jane so dearly!

Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway!

The Giveaway is open internationally!! 

1x paperback copy of  "A Jane Austen Devotional" 
1 x Paperback copy of  "The Christian Encounters Series: Jane Austen." 

Courtesy of Harper Collins Christian Publishers! Competition open until 20th December.
The Winners will be announced on 22nd December 2015.
(The Winner has 48hours to claim their prize before a new winner is selected)

Good luck Everyone!!!!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Then Comes Winter Blog Tour - Review

I am delighted to be reviewing Then Comes Winter, edited by Christina Boyd and at such a poignant time of the year!
As some of you know, at one time, my desperate need to read JAFF, wherever and whenever possible, led me to the beauty of THE SHORT STORY, who knew a HEA could be gained so quickly.
With a mixture of new and established authors, this anthology had me excited. With limited time during the holiday season, well written short stories are great when the commitment to read a full length novel can be a struggle.  I even thought it would be fun to read each story while out and about taking snap shots of the countryside at winter, however the milder weather and lack of lay-bys in which to pull over and take pictures, put paid to that plan.
However once I began, each story created such a unique picture of  winter or the holiday season that my disappointment was soon forgotten.


The first story began with a modern take on Persuasion, with each chapter being a song on a mixtape. It was the end that had me stunned into grinning silence, all I will say is tattoo, without giving anything away. However what I will say, is that the twist is, rather than Wentworth delivering the awe inspiring speech, Anne does, well not a speech per se, but considering she’s had 200 years to say something just as awe worthy, I can say it was worth the wait.

Much to my delight but maybe not to the delight of our main heroine at first, a modern twist on Mansfield Park was up next. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and was laughing out loud so much in the beginning that I even made myself jump, oh the joy of laughter.

Okay so I was really smiling now, a modern take on Sense and Sensibility, another Austen theme! I enjoyed this little tale, it focuses on how Marianne falls for Brandon and it really is a ‘it came on so gradually’ scenario, however our heroine has time to process how it has happened and why, which was nice to witness. The idea for this is really clever and the wit had me chuckling throughout.

I nearly lost all good sense when I turned the page to discover Darcy was up next and in the Regency era, could this get any better? Captivated instantly with the opening scene, I knew I was in for a treat and indeed I was, to witness Mr Darcy browsing in a milliners shop is always a delight to visualise. It would seem he also has excellent taste (although I never doubted it) and thanks to Georgiana I believe someone else will agree with my assessment. This story was a great beginning for a JAFF novel, so I was a little disappointed that it did not continue.  

As a fan of JAFF I could not but be pleased that the next story was a modern Northanger Abbey, it is not a story that often gets chosen for a reinterpretation. This story was sweet and reminded me of the fun and innocence of young love.  It had a wonderful feel of Northanger Abby against the back drop of 'Dirty Dancing' meets Christmas, a modern tale that I think would also appeal to younger readers.

Back to the Regency era, I was excited to meet with Elizabeth and Jane in Lambton, in a coffee house, just before Christmas, dragging Mr Darcy’s character through the mud (well Lizzy was anyway). All the while, the man in question is but a couple of tables away. Oh dear, he just heard Elizabeth declare him the last man in the world, oh the story just gets better.

Yes! Another Pride and Prejudice and a modern this time. Although I was pleased to see my favourite couple again they were not similar in character to canon. However this did not detract from the fiery love match. I really enjoyed this romantic story, if you like pizza and some witty banter then you’re in for a treat as Billy aka Darcy becomes pizza delivery boy for the evening.

The next story was more regency than it was Austen however I will not complain to see Fanny again and another play, the ‘Twelfth Night’. Although Fanny is not the love interest but Anne, Fanny’s cousin. Will she find love with a past crush or can people characters be seriously misjudged? I believe so (please refer to Elizabeth Bennet lol).

If you’re a fan of ‘You’ve got Mail’ you will hopefully enjoy this story, book store owner meets Professor who saves the day. Although the conclusion was brought together quite quickly I had to remind myself it was a short story, and a quick HEA was what I wanted.

Stranded on Christmas Eve, oh no! Stranded with a great guy, oh yes! This was a nice little story however definitely one that left you feeling there should have been more. Both characters seemed to be sketched with Darcy and Elizabeth in mind, therefore anything related to Pride and Prejudice meets with my approval.

The saying goes save the best till last, however that is a little unfair therefore I will re-word it and say my favourite featured last and the wait was worth it. Regency era, 1995 Pride and Prejudice characters and Lory’s great story telling skills, do I need to expand further? I think not but I will, we meet again at Netherfield, do you remember the dog Elizabeth played with in 1995 well it turns out it’s Darcy’s dog according to Miss Lilian, what a wonderful idea for a short story. Luckily Darcy is not in the bath this time but outside with his dog. Another lovely tale of love that had me feeling all warm and cosy inside.

I guarantee you will be satisfied with this lovely collection of short stories, cleverly edited to keep the author’s voice and ideas prominent. It was lovely to see bloggers, fans and authors coming together to bring a little Winter Happiness to book lovers and Janeites alike.

I did manage to find one spot to pull over, as you can see the English countryside is determined not to look wintery!

Book Blurb

“Then comes Winter, with bluster and snow,
that brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow…” - Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, The Four Seasons

If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter’s night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season—and more than a nod to Jane Austen—was fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press’s most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces several more promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Next Comes Winter, rekindles passionate fires with equal wit, wonder, and romance. 

Edited by Christina Boyd

Stories by:  Beau North & Brooke West  Melanie Stanford ● Natalie Richards   Erin lopez
Sophia Rose  Anngela Schroeder  Suzan Lauder  Maureen Lee
Denise Stout  Linda Gonschior  Lory Lilian 

Then Comes Winter Blog Tour Schedule:
11/30: Guest Post & Giveaway at FLY HIGH
12/1: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
12/2: Character Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
12/3: Excerpt & Giveaway at Jennifer Vido
12/4: Guest Post & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
12/5: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
12/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
12/7: Review at Just Jane 1813
12/8: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
12/10: Review at From Pemberley to Milton
12/11: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
12/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
12/14: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
12/15: Author Feature at Songs and Stories
12/16: Author Feature & Giveaway at Tome Tender
12/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Chick Lit Plus
12/17: Author Feature & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight

I was given an ARC copy for my honest review

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Cover Reveal of 'Then Comes Winter'!

Back in Summer,  Meryton Press released a short story anthology, Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer. 
A collection of original short stories inspired by all things summer, with many leaning towards an Austenesque persuasion, much to my delight.

So it is with great pleasure, that I announce the cover reveal of                        

                             'Then Comes Winter'! 

I adore the cover of this anthology, of what seems a real photo, now turned painting! It is sure to compliment the summer anthology and bring a little joy on those cold winter nights.
Lets hope there is a Spring anthology to follow, it would create a wonderful seasonal trilogy!

Book Blurb

“Then comes Winter, with bluster and snow,
that brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow…” - Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, The Four Seasons

If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter’s night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season—and more than a nod to Jane Austen—was fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press’s most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces several more promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Next Comes Winter, rekindles passionate fires with equal wit, wonder, and romance. 

Edited by Christina Boyd

Stories by:  Beau North & Booke West  Melanie Stanford ● Natalie Richards   Erin lopez
Sophia Rose  Anngela Schroeder  Suzan Lauder  Maureen Lenker
Denise Stout  Linda Gonschior  Lory Lilian 

A winter gem not to be missed!!!!

Look out for the Blog tour at the end of November!!!

Monday, 26 October 2015

The Unthinkable Triangle - Review & Giveaway Winner announced!

The Unthinkable triangle indeed!!!
Somehow I was foolish enough to think someone, okay let me not prevaricate, the Colonel would emerged from this unscathed, who was I kidding!

From almost the very beginning the author had me drawn in, thankfully cutting straight to the heart of the matter by the end of the first chapter. Grateful because I needed to know what I would be facing in the forth coming chapters, however what I did not foresee, was that it would equal more chapters dedicated to angst.

After taking a deep breath I bravely commenced chapter two, coming upon Mr Darcy's valet unsuccessfully trying to sneak bottles of contraband from the study and I could not have agreed more, "Darcy you need to be thinking straight, how are you going to get Elizabeth back?" I admonished.
I had fanciful notions that the Colonel didn't really love Elizabeth. That his heart would be caught by another, but lets be honest we're talking about Elizabeth Bennet! Darcy's valet once again came to the rescue by going against strict orders and admitting the Colonel and as the tension grew I held onto the hope of gleaning any information that would indicate this travesty was a farce, but alas and much to my horror, the Colonel was in love and by the time he had departed I was vehemently calling Darcy's valet to bring another bottle from the cellar.

"His servants’ attempts to fall into established patterns were brusquely rebuffed. Unasked-for trays of food were sent away and Weston, his valet, was told in no uncertain terms to come when he was summoned, and not a moment sooner. After a few unprecedented outbursts of uncommon ire, they learned to keep out of his way as he roamed from his chambers to his study in a futile struggle to grasp the enormity of what had come to pass. It was impossible to do so, and no amount of effort was making any difference. Lost to him forever. Not merely lost, but married to his cousin – firmly in his life, but never his! How in God’s name was he to bear it and not become unhinged? How was he to have her at his table as Richard’s wife, and not betray himself? How was he to see her, time and again, as his goddamned cousin, and give no sign that he wanted her more than he had ever wanted any woman? How was he to keep up the pretence, day after excruciating day?" -  Joana Starnes. 

Seeing no clear way to resolve this unthinkable triangle I resigned Darcy's fate to the capable pen of the author.

The answer in the end was quite simple, however the author had me guessing for a while and the journey to get there was wrought with angst. However it was kept in check with just enough hope to keep the reader mollified. I found myself constantly trying to figure out ways Darcy & Elizabeth could be in each others company ha! Like I had any say! But Joana seemed to be on the same wave length, Bingley would invite Darcy to Netherfield and I would readily accept on Darcy's behalf, Elizabeth's pleas in regards to travelling to Jane & Bingley's, fell on deaf ears in Mr Bennet's study just like they did with Lydia and Brighton, however this time I could not have been in more agreement, of course Elizabeth must go, Mr Darcy was to be there also!

The author had me captivated as I walked the halls of Mr Darcy's residence, every scene, every conversation, every glance, however so minimal was relevant, there are no trivial sentences every line was contrived to tell a story and the play on words from canon were creative and always brought a smile to my lips.
The thoughts, feelings and justifications behind every action had you unable to deny the truth of the matter, that however much I did not want the Colonel to get hurt, Darcy loved Elizabeth with an honour and respect that had me worshipping his feet. Even when he landed a few well placed fisty cuffs to the face of a future Earl, I was all smiles, how very unladylike of me!

A sixth sense, or whatever else it might have been, prompted Mr. Darcy to glance up so suddenly that he caught her staring. Someone who had nothing to hide might have met his eyes squarely. Those who still had their wits about them would have looked away casually and slowly, as if their mind was elsewhere and they were simply staring blankly into space. Sadly, the sensible alternatives occurred to her when it was all too late. When her cheeks were already flaming as though set on fire, and her eyes had darted in panic from his face. - Joana Starnes 

The first half of the story was told from Darcy's perspective which always gives a sense of mystery, with the second half told from Elizabeth's, however I would have loved to have seen more of Darcy's thoughts in the second half of the book especially in regards to the Colonel. Yet it did not stop me from crying when the inevitable moment arrived. If I could have seen him as the Colonel in Canon, I may not have been thus affected, however JAFF has endeared the Colonel to me greatly and I could do naught else, but shed a tear for his wretched pain.
Thankfully the humour throughout eased my pain for the doomed triangle and even when I was shouting at Darcy for inviting himself to Rosings at Christmas and taking poor innocent Goergiana along with him, I was smiling in the safe knowledge that the author would do the right thing, but it didn't stop me from doubting throughout!

I really enjoyed this book despite the angst, with one of my favourite scenes being when the realisation hits Elizabeth that Darcy is in loved with her!!! If you're a big fan of the Colonel then have your handkerchief at the ready, because you're going to need it!

This book is worthy of 4 & half hearts - Mr Bingley & Mr Darcy!

Thank you again to Joana Starnes for her guest post and for kindly offering an e-book copy of her new book The Unthinkable Triangle for a giveaway! Thank you to everyone who stopped by or left a comment on The Unthinkable Triangle - Guest post, excerpt & giveaway!

Congratulations!!! Maureen Chritzman you have won an e-book copy of The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes. Please contact me using the 'contact me' link at the top of the page. Congratulations again!!

(Winners picked using Random.org)

I was given an an ARC copy for my honest review.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Unthinkable Triangle By Joana Starnes - Guest post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

 Next Generation
Guest Post

Thanks, Tamara, for welcoming me here today, it’s always such a pleasure to be your guest!
My visit is part of the blog tour for the launch of my latest novel, The Unthinkable Triangle, a story centred on the love triangle involving Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. One of my lovely beta-readers had a great deal to say about that particular scenario, not least because she could not possibly imagine Elizabeth in any arms other than Darcy’s. Do rest assured, gentle readers, Elizabeth does get there in the end, because of course it is in Darcy’s arms that she belongs, and my dear beta-reader eventually forgave me for the detour that Elizabeth had taken.

Her other objection, a very slight and passing one this time, was the introduction of a new generation of Pride and Prejudice characters – their sons and daughters. She said that she would much rather not imagine them as parents, but as young couples. Very young couples, and very much in love. Of course, the concepts are not mutually exclusive. But I agree, I would much rather write about the Darcys and the Bingleys in the bloom of their youth. Having said that, I do like to imagine them in the early stages of parenthood, and I would certainly enjoy exploring that avenue sometime.

When our first child was born, my husband said that there is never any point in comparing life before children with life as a young family. ‘It’s something completely different. Like emigrating to another country,’ which I thought was a lovely way to put it. Of course, the change would not be quite so drastic for Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, who would have it in their power to employ a small army of nurses and nursery maids.

I think both gentlemen would become excellent fathers, in their very different ways. For now though, in The Unthinkable Triangle, this endearing journey had only just begun. The younger generation are but babes, and I would like to share with you an excerpt from the time when the first of them was born. Not to the Darcys, not for some time yet – but our favourite hero is scarcely less affected.


Maids trooped up and down the backstairs fetching hot water and fresh linen. The accoucheur arrived and was brought up. Soon after him, the midwife. Then footmen came laden with armloads sent from Gracechurch Street to set them in Jane’s sitting room, for Mrs. Gardiner to determine what was of instant use and what could be left and examined later.

The only one untouched by the commotion was Georgiana, who was still asleep in her bedchamber overlooking the gardens, at a comfortable distance from the guest rooms. As for Darcy, all that was left for him to do was to play the part reserved for gentlemen on such occasions: waiting in the downstairs parlour, although without the port or brandy commonly prescribed to the expectant father. That is, until some hours later, when a new role was assigned to him.

He had walked up, hoping to encounter one of the maids, who might have had some knowledge of Mrs. Bingley’s progress. Instead, he came across Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner. They had both come out of the birthing chamber and at first Darcy thought that something was amiss, until Mrs. Gardiner’s words removed every fear of that nature. It seemed that the difficulty the lady faced was not with Mrs. Bingley but her younger sister.

“No, Lizzy, I will not relent. You have done enough, and now you cannot help her. There is a limit to what an unmarried lady ought to see, and for your sake and Jane’s, ‘tis time for you to keep away. Oh. Mr. Darcy. How fortunate that you came up. Would you be so kind to escort my niece to the downstairs parlour? Or anywhere. Just away from here.”

Narrowed eyes and a very stubborn lip told them both that she would not go willingly. With a light frown, Mrs. Gardiner pressed her point.

“Do be sensible, dear girl. Pray do as I ask and let me go back in. I cannot stand here debating this with you. I should be with Jane.”

“And so should I!”

“No. She frets about you seeing her in pain – seeing everything. Just go downstairs with Mr. Darcy. I promise to send word,” she added swiftly, clasped her niece’s arm in tender reassurance, then hurried away and vanished behind the heavy door.

Even in the poor light of the flickering candles Darcy could see the look of pained confusion overspreading the most beloved countenance. In a few steps, he was beside her and scrupled not to take her hand.

“Come,” he urged softly.

“Can I not wait in the sitting room instead?” she pleaded.

“I think your aunt would rather you did not,” Darcy ventured an opinion and, with a deep sigh, it seemed she was about to listen.

But just then a long muffled cry was heard from behind the door, and Elizabeth tugged fiercely at the hand that was restraining hers.

“Let me go!” she hissed in anger.

He did not. None of them could tell how it came about, but a moment later she was in his arms, mindlessly struggling for release, despite his every effort to soothe her with disjointed words of comfort. At last she stilled and he most reluctantly withdrew, but took her hands in his.

“Come away. Come away with me,” he urged again. “Let us go to the parlour, as your aunt suggested, and play at chess or something…”

Chess? ” she exclaimed in disbelief, and stared at him as though he had utterly lost his senses.

Ruefully, Darcy chuckled.

“A poor suggestion, I agree. But you must see my difficulty. If you were Bingley, I would ply you with a vast quantity of brandy, but Mrs. Gardiner might have a thing or two to say if I were to give you the same treatment.”

Almost despite herself, Elizabeth chuckled too and half-heartedly allowed herself to be led towards the staircase. They descended, her hand still clasped in his, and slowly made their way into the parlour. Darcy settled her on the small sofa by the fireplace, only to see her shiver and huddle forward, arms tightly wrapped around herself. It might have been due to anxiety or fatigue and not for cold, but he took no chances. He went to stir the fire in the grate, added more coal and poked and prodded it until new flames leapt up, casting an orange glow over their faces. He stood and turned to offer:

“Let me send up for your shawl.”

“No, leave them be. They must have enough to do already.”

“Then pray excuse me for a moment,” he mentioned in passing and, without waiting for her reply, he went to fetch a cloak from the small room they were kept in, just off the entrance hall.

He brought it to the parlour and quietly approached to drape it round her shoulders. She looked up in surprise, which melted into gratitude.

“I thank you. I was cold.”

“I thought you might be. ‘Tis chilly in here. But it will warm up soon enough.”

He walked to the marble-topped table where a few decanters glittered in the firelight and cast a smile over his shoulder.

“I will not offer brandy, but can I get you something else?” he asked. “Sherry perhaps?”

“No, I think not. I thank you.”

Darcy wandered slowly back, having selected nothing either. Instead, he sat beside her and reached to cover the hands clasped together on her knee.

“Talk to me,” he entreated softly.


“Anything. Jane. Or your other sisters. Your father’s favourite books. Or better still, Mr. Collins’s poultry,” he added with a muted chuckle and she glanced up at that with a faint smile of her own.

“Or perhaps his bees,” she offered in her turn. “He keeps bees too, you know, but they do not much like him. Charlotte says they sting him now and then, but he is very sanguine about it. He has it on very good authority that a bee-sting once in a while is good for one’s health.”

“My aunt’s authority perchance?”

She gave another quiet laugh.

“I would not know. But I think it very likely.”

She dropped her eyes to stare for a long moment at their fingers, tightly interlaced, and nothing was heard but the crackling of the fire, until at last she looked up again.

“I thank you,” she said softly.

“Whatever for?”

“For being here when I need a helping hand. You always are.”

A long breath left Darcy’s chest, or it might have been a sigh. Fitzwilliam would not like this in the slightest, but it was a truth that would never alter. Without a second thought, he put it into words.

“I will always be. Whenever you need me.”

“You are very kind.”

‘Aye. Aren’t you just!’ the devil on his left shoulder grinned and, with a sudden huff, Darcy stood to poke again at the blameless fire and take some time to steel himself before returning to her side to diligently play the part of the detached kindly relation and coax her into talking of everything and nothing, to take her mind off her sister’s plight.

       Giveaway Time!

If you would like to find out how Jane’s baby came to be born in Mr. Darcy’s house and indeed where
on earth was Mr. Bingley,  please leave a comment to enter the giveaway of a Kindle copy, available internationally.

The giveaway ends on 24th Oct 15. Thanks for stopping by, best of luck in the giveaway and many thanks again, Tamara, for having me as your guest.

Thank you Joana! It was a pleasure to have you as always, The winner will be announced on the 26th Oct 15 along with a review of The Unthinkable Triangle.

You can connect with Joana Starnes on http://www.joanastarnes.co.uk ; http://www.facebook.com/joana.a.starnes ;
or visit ‘The Unthinkable Triangle Facebook page’ for details of giveaways and lots of images that have inspired this story.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Winner of 'A Jane Austen Christmas' By Carlo Devito

Hello Readers!
Today I announce the lucky winner of   ' A Jane Austen Christmas'  by Carlo Devito

I would like to say thank you to Cider Mills Press for kindly sharing an excerpt with us from the book.  I hope you all enjoyed reading it, including the Prince of Wales Punch recipe!  Lastly, thank you to everyone who participated. 

So without further ado!


Sophia Rose you have won a paperback copy of  'A Jane Austen Christmas' by Carlo Devito
Please contact me with your details, (see 'contact me' page at the top of the blog)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas however they choose to celebrate it! 

(Winner picked using Random.org)

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Jane Austen Christmas By Carlo Devito Paperback Giveaway!!

With just 80 Days until Christmas, what a lovely way to get into the mood with a new book entitled  'A Jane Austen Christmas.' by Carlo Devito

If like me, you love the Christmas season and would like to know what a Christmas in the late Georgian era entailed  or how Jane may have spent her Christmases then this book may be just what you're looking for.
Unfortunately I will be unable to get a real fire place installed in time for the Yule Log tradition, however I will endeavour in my own way to bring the spirit of an Austen Christmas to my home this year, maybe starting with the 'Prince of Wales Punch'!


Filled with the remarkable wit and insight of one of the world's most cherished authors, A Jane Austen Christmas gives readers insight into Austen's life through little-known stories about how she and her family celebrated the treasured holiday season,


Being a family contented to stay within their own unit, one can only imagine the Austens honoring the traditions of the season. Jane and Cassandra had by now brought in the usual greenery. A seemingly conservative family, the Austens might have followed the tradition of the Yule log, which was still very much in the fashion those days.
“A great blazing fire was the centerpiece of a family Christmas. The Yule log was chosen on Christmas Eve. It was wrapped in hazel twigs and dragged home, to burn in the fireplace as long as possible through the Christmas season. The tradition was to keep back a piece of the Yule log to light the following year’s Yule log,” wrote historian Ben Johnson. - Carlo Devito

Prince of Wales Punch 

Three bottles of Champagne, two of Madeira, one of Hock, 
one of Curacao, one quart of Brandy, one pint of Rum, 
and two bottles of seltzer water, flavored with four pounds 
of bloom raisins, Seville oranges, lemons, white sugar candy 
and diluted with iced green tea instead of water.

Giveaway Time!!!!

What's your favourite Christmas festivity?
Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway!

The Giveaway is open internationally!! 
1 x paperback  
Courtesy of Cider Mills Press! The Winner will be announced on 12th October 2015.
(The Winner has 48hours to claim their prize before a new winner is selected)

Good luck Everyone!!!!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

'A Special Announcement from Laughing With Lizzie'

Thank you very much for allowing me to visit your blog today, Tamara, to make my very special announcement! 
In fact, rather than making my own announcement, I am going to let the wonderful Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen's 5th great niece, tell you all!

"It is inspiring to see the positive influence Jane has on people’s lives today.     They say life is about what you leave behind and I couldn’t be more proud of Great Aunt Jane’s legacy, my inspiration for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.     As Jane’s popularity continues to grow, I wanted to extend her legacy by harnessing the global passion for Austen to improve literacy rates.    Literacy is the key to self-improvement and unlocking potential.    Reading and writing are essential skills for anyone who wants to understand, enjoy and influence the world around them.The foundation raises money to help create CONFIDENT READERS and PROUD WRITERS by providing FREE books and writing materials to communities in need around the world, in honour of Jane.     We are a volunteer organisation with all monies raised spent on literacy resources and fundraising activity.   We are currently raising funds to provide literacy resources for the displaced children of Syria, delivered on the ground by UNICEF.
I only joined Facebook a year ago and was amazed to discover a world of Austen, involving Janeites from around the world, enthusiastically and vibrantly celebrating and discussing all aspects of Jane’s life and works.     With over 7000 websites and social media profiles associated with Jane, there is a never ending stream of content to keep even the most ardent Janeite engaged.    
One in particular caught my eye; “Laughing with Lizzie”, a young woman who seemed to have a lot of fun dressing up in regency costume, visiting Jane’s former homes, participating in Austen events and sharing it all with thousands of followers in a well written blog.     I was intrigued.   Why did this young woman dedicate her time to celebrating Jane Austen?     I reached out and arranged to talk to the woman behind the blog, Sophie Andrews.    Sophie is a delight to know personally and her journey with Jane truly heart-warming, a story I will leave for Sophie to share.
Before discovering Austen, Sophie wasn’t a big reader but the discovery of the magic that lay in the pages of Pride & Prejudice, that just got better with every read, changed that and was the start of Sophie's love affair with the written word.  As a keen writer herself, Sophie was able to imagine the frustration of wanting to write but having no paper or pen and without hesitation offered to help promote the foundation.

I am pleased to announce Sophie Andrews, aka “Laughing with Lizzie”, as an Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.     We are thrilled to have Sophie’s support to help us create CONFIDENT READERS and PROUD WRITERS, in honour of Jane." 

Thank you Caroline for such kind words, and more importantly, for allowing me the opportunity to be an ambassador for such a worthwhile charity. It is an honour and I am very much looking forward to doing all I can to help the charity!

As Caroline mentioned, Jane Austen has been very important in my life, for many different reasons. I was just9 when I saw the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, but I was a little too young to fully understand the language, so it didn’t really make an impression on me. I watched that film a few more times and as I grew up I began to fall completely in love with it!  But I still wasn’t hooked on Jane Austen, it was just Pride and Prejudice – or actually, to be more accurate, I was just hooked on Mr. Darcy! However, back in 2011 I was going to be studying Pride and Prejudice for my English exams, and so that summer I had to read it - you have to understand that at the time I really wasn’t a reader. However, given I enjoyed the film, I was looking forward to it. When I was on my summer holidays I read it in a week. I just couldn’t put it down! It seemed strange to my family to see me engrossed in a book, as I guess I used to be like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading! Pride and Prejudice was amazing from start to finish, and from that point I was caught up in the elegance and eloquence of Miss Austen's world and words!
I re-read Pride and Prejudice straight afterwards and I really enjoyed studying it at school, becoming the class expert. Following this, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. There was no stopping me! Having devoured the 6 main stories, I devoted myself to studying all aspects of the Jane Austen phenomenon, from the film and television adaptations, to the fan fiction, commentaries, critiques, information books and biographies, as well as the worldwide online Jane Austen community. There was no going back now - I had become a true and proud Janeite.

Fast forward a year or so, and after a lot of 'persuasion' (if you'll excuse the pun!) from a friend, I eventually started my blog, "Laughing With Lizzie" (http://www.laughingwithlizzie.blogspot.co.uk/). It was my space to rant and rave about my passion for Jane Austen. It was also my escape; I was having a hard time at school and some family illnesses at the time (that is a whole other story I won't go into now!), and so I really threw myself whole heartedly into the world of Jane, enjoying my escape into her world through her books, and subsequently my blog. Slowly, slowly my blog becamemore well known, and then about a year and a half ago I started my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/laughingwithlizziejaneaustenblog). From there, I have no idea how, but so many amazing things have happened for me and I have participated in so many wonderful events. I have to pinch myself every day, as it is all beyond my wildest dreams

Fast forward again to a few months ago, when I noticed a certain Caroline Jane Knight had liked my facebook page. I sent Caroline a message of thanks, and before I knew it, I was actually talking to Jane Austen's descendant on skype! Caroline told me all about growing up Chawton House, and about her charity she has recently founded. I was fascinated by both, but the foundation really caught my attention; a charity that was using Jane's popularity and her legacy to do some good in the world. It really hit home with me, given how much Jane Austen has changed my life. We continued to skype every few weeks, until Caroline asked if I would be an ambassador for the charity. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance! 

I mentioned earlier how I never used to be a reader, well, the truth is that I had never read another ‘proper’ book before Pride and Prejudice!  Jane Austen brought me to reading, and so being able to have the opportunity to help bring the joy of reading to others, as Jane did for me, is truly wonderful.

The foundation is also helping to create proud writers, as well as confident readers, and this is also something I really would like to help in promoting, for, without the ability to write, I would not be sitting here right now writing this post. I would not have had a blog full stop.

Jane Austen really has been a huge influence in my life, even in just 5 years! As I cannot thank Jane Austen personally for all she done for me, this opportunity to help use her legacy to bring the ability to read and write to others seemed like the perfect way of saying thank you to Jane for bringing reading, and to a certain extent writing, to me.

I am even more pleased to be able to say I had the opportunity to meet a fellow ambassador the other day. Simon Langton, director of the groundbreaking 1995 mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, was announced as the first ambassador a few weeks back, and during a recent conference at Chawton House Library - which is even more appropriate, given that the founder, Caroline Knight, was the last generation of Knights to grow up there! - celebrating 20 years since the mini-series. It was lovely to be able to meet him in person. He was a lovely gentleman and just as passionate about the charity as I am.
Can you spot anything different about the front of the books we are holding? That little white label proudly adorning our books? What you can see is a very special Jane Austen Literacy Foundation bookplate! Bookplates are a traditional way to indicate ownership of physical books. Especially when books were scarce and expensive, labelling books was an important way of keeping track of your property, whilst still allowing them to be loaned out and circulated.   And what is even better is that you can own one yourself, personalised with you name in Jane's hand and its own unique number, perfect to stick into your favourite book, showing your support of the charity. All you have to do is head over to the foundation website - https://www.janeaustenlf.org/support-us - click on the donate button, and once your donation has been processed, you will receive by email your personalised bookplate! Simple as that

Once again I would like to say a big thank you for allowing me to come onto your blog to share my special announcement with you and your readers. I did not come empty handed either, I am able to say that I have a fantastic competition to enter! 


Bath Boutique Stays (http://www.bathboutiquestays.co.uk/) have been so kind as to offer a 1 Night Mid-Week stay for two in an apartment at 4 Sydney Place (http://www.bathboutiquestays.co.uk/luxury-apartment-rental-bath/), Jane Austen’s former Home in Bath.

All you need to do to enter to win this fabulous prize, is to predict the following question:
How many steps is it from Lizzy Bennet’s Penthouse Apartment to the carriage awaiting her at the front door of 4 Sydney Place?
(Three flights of stairs and the hallway.)

Please email you answers to Lucy Bennett (her real name!) at lucy@bathboutiquestays.co.uk and the person who guesses the correct - or comes closest to it! - amount of steps will win! 

The competition entries end on 2nd October!