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" ( 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 ( 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 - - 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 ( have been so kind as to offer a 1 Night Mid-Week stay for two in an apartment at 4 Sydney Place (, 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 and the person who guesses the correct - or comes closest to it! - amount of steps will win! 

The competition entries end on 2nd October!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

'Yours Forevermore Darcy' by Karalynne Mackrory blog tour - Review

Hello Dear readers, 
today I am reviewing 'Yours Forevermore Darcy' by Karalynne Mackrory as part of the 'Yours Forevermore Darcy' Blog Tour Kindly brought to you by Jakki at Leatherbound Reviews & Meryton Press!

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy has a secret.
The letter he presents to Miss Elizabeth Bennet after his ghastly proposal is not the only epistle he has written her. In this tale of longing, misadventure, and love—'readapted from Jane Austen’s dearly loved Pride & Prejudice—our hero finds a powerful way of coping with his attraction to Miss Bennet. He writes her unsent letters.

The misguided suitor has declared himself, and Elizabeth Bennet has refused him, most painfully. Without intending for these letters to become known to another soul, Mr. Darcy relies on
his secret for coping once again. However, these letters, should they fall into the wrong hands, could create untold scandal, embarrassment, and possibly heartbreak. But what happens if they fall into the right hands?'

Karalynne's books are amongst some of my favourites so it wasn't a question of whether I would like this book but a question of how much. In Yours Forevermore Darcy, Mr Darcy has written to Miss Bennet on more than one occasion, however unlike his letter at Hunsford they have never been sent and it is the last line of the blurb that peeks your curiosity.

   "these letters, should they fall into the wrong hands, could create untold scandal, embarrassment, and possibly heartbreak. But what happens if they fall into the right hands?" - Karalynne Mackrory 

And we all know whose hands in which we would like them to fall!!!!

So the fateful Hunsford debacle has occurred (depending on whose perspective you take) and happily Mr Darcy's carriage has broken an axil forcing him back to Rosings, much to my delight! There follows, an unexpected encounter between himself & Elizabeth and my excitement began to rise. It was sweet, telling, innocent and filled with tension that left me wanting more.

'Elizabeth looked at her hands in her lap and attempted to convince herself to be pleased with successfully controlling her features when her eyes locked with Mr. Darcy’s. It had not been without great effort as the rumbling timbre of the cello resonated into a crescendo when her brown eyes met his, the vibrating notes no longer playing slow, purring tones but more like the plucking beats of her heart. It was distressing she should feel this way towards him, now of all times. She had rejected his suit, and when their feelings ought to be in accordance once more— his returning to indifference towards her and hers returning to disregard towards him— she found it entirely impossible to ignore the stirring interest she had for him. It must be conceit, Elizabeth reasoned, as Colonel Fitzwilliam continued to speak.' - K.Mackrory

Darcy heads back to Rosings and sweet dear Anne contrives a situation, where by they might be alone. I love it when authors expand on secondary characters such as Anne and although I was endeared and touched by her little tĂȘte-tĂȘte with Darcy my patience was wearing thin.
 "Anne" I said to myself, this is a most inopportune moment, I need Darcy to head out of doors so the author can create another accidental meeting with Elizabeth!
Isn't that a sign of a good JAFF when an encounter leaves you indecorously pleading for more. Sadly I would have liked to have seen more of Anne, but we cannot have it all.
Luckily Karalynne put me out of my misery but a few pages later, when Elizabeth entered an Inn; no one enters an Inn unless something is about to happen, no author would waste page space just to describe Elizabeth's part take of a light repast and then departure, thus your anticipation for the events that are about to enfold begin once again.

Following along the lines of canon, I enjoyed the clever play on words, often re-read paragraphs because the narrative and descriptions were so sweet, insightful, heart wrenching and touching. I very much liked the use of inanimate objects as symbols or descriptions of feelings.

'As he rounded the side of Rosings on his way to the stables, he glared at the edifice with maleficent blame. To him at that moment, his aunt’s home represented all of the responsibilities, duties, and expectations that he had carried on his shoulders for many years. How he hated them now! They had been a source of painful adversity when he struggled with a decision regarding Elizabeth.' - K.Mackrory

We see a lot of Darcy's relationship with his sister Georgiana as he strives to become a better man for Elizabeth and rights his wrongs. It was nice to see Darcy allowing his sister to become one of his confidantes alongside the colonel. Obviously they both would not be privy to everything he held close to his heart, however there was one who could lay claim to that privilege, in his cathartic letters to Elizabeth Bennet he laid his heart bare, if only she knew.

I really enjoyed this book and felt that Karalynne combined all the key elements from her previous books in telling this story. It had angst and tension so familiar with that of  'Falling for Mr Darcy', although at times I could guess what was coming which made the story a little predictable, however I enjoyed being correct in my assumptions, it was like getting an exclusive glimpse as to what was coming next and being all the more excited to see how it would come about.

Characters were softened and made more likeable, making them more endeared to you, much like 'Bluebells in the Mourning'. I always like how this author presents Mr Bennet in each of her books and a surprise twist did persuade me to like a certain person a little more.

Lastly the humour in this story is abundant with all the fun and humour displayed in 'Haunting Mr Darcy', Darcy's inner musings are funny, his playful teasing with his sister a pleasure to watch and his jovial banter with the colonel is great to see.

'She had watched silently from her bedchamber window as Mr. Darcy’s carriage drove by the parsonage. From above, she observed her cousin’s absurd bowing and scraping as he waved animatedly at the passing equipage. One might think he was glad to see them go and not honoring them with his vigorous salute. Elizabeth could not help the blush that crept into her cheeks as she watched her cousin’s display. Nor could she help feel embarrassment to see Colonel Fitzwilliam lean out the window and return the gesture with equal enthusiasm,'- K. Mackrory

I guarantee readers will be laughing one minute, sighing the next or on the edge of their seat, because they are all anticipation as to when these illustrious letter might go astray!
Another heart warming tale from Karalynne Mackrory!

This book is worthy of 4 hearts - Mr Bingley!

Blog Tour Schedule

9/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
9/8: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
9/9: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
9/10: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
9/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
9/13: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
9/14:  Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
9/15: Review at Wings of Paper
9/16: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
9/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at Songs and Stories
9/18: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
9/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
9/21: Review at Austenprose

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Jane By the Sea by Carolyn Murray - Winners!

Hello Readers!
Today I announce the lucky winner of   'Jane By the Sea' 
Jane Austen's Love Story, by Carolyn V. Murray
I would like to say thank you to Carolyn for kindly sharing an excerpt with us from her new book.  I hope you all enjoyed reading it. Lastly, thank you to everyone who participated. 

So without further ado!

Jo's Daughter you have won an E-book copy of 'Jane by the Sea' by Carolyn V.Murray
Ladyalyssa you have won a paperback copy of  'Jane by the Sea' by Carolyn V.Murray
Please contact me with your details, (see 'contact me' page at the top of the blog)

Thank you again Carolyn, I wish you success with your debut book!

(Winner picked using