The August, September, AND October Roundup!

Can someone explain to me how today is the beginning of November?  And how I’ve missed posting my last three roundups? So much has happened since August.

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Wine Festival

First and foremost, we moved! Todd got a new job in our home state of New Jersey, so off we went.  Much (if not all) of September (and part of August) was spent packing up our life in Connecticut.  It’s true what they say: you don’t realize how much you have until you need to move it all.  He’s loving his new job.  As hard as the move was on me (I lived in Connecticut from ages 17-27) that simple fact has made the entire thing worthwhile.  I’ve been lucky enough to continue consulting for the company I was working for in CT, and I’ve also begun freelance copyediting!  (The first book I copyedited, Against His Will by Nancy Kelley, is now available and I highly suggest you go buy a copy.)

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My cousin and I at my cousin’s wedding! (I’m in love with our dresses)

Anyway, as packing began so did the goodbyes.  Much of our time pre-October was spent with friends.  There was the Connecticut shoreline wine festival, a trip to Mystic, CT, birthday parties, bridal showers, casino trips, weddings, concerts….you name it we did it.  We went big, then went home.  November 1st marks the end of our first month back in NJ and I have to say…it still feels odd being back.  We’re slowly but surely learning about our new town and getting into our new routines.

Since moving I’ve had a plethora of energy that’s allowed me to get back into the swing of cooking.  Homemade pots of sauce, roasted butternut squash, chive risotto cakes, chicken picatta, meatballs from scratch….you name it, I’ve been making it. (Todd’s in heaven in case you were wondering.)  I’ve always loved cooking, so having the energy and desire to do it again? Major plus.

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Kelly, Me, Tasha, and Col at the Chandelier Bar in The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas

So on to October. Probably the biggest event of my year happened last month.  I finally got to meet three of my very best blogging friends on our trip to Vegas!!! Kelly of Reading With Analysis; Tasha of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books; and Colleen of Col Reads all joined me for 3 fabulous days in Las Vegas.  Several months ago I emailed the girls and told them I wanted to “go west” and meet them.  Our trip to Vegas came at the perfect time.  I was stressing over the move (which had happened the week prior), all the unpacking, etc, when I was able to just pack a suitcase and talk books with three of the most intelligent women I know.  We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel (across from Planet Hollywood/next to the Bellagio) which boasts a three-story chandelier bar.  Seriously….you are IN a chandelier.  It was the most extravagant thing I’ve ever seen in my life, which also made it one of the most awesome.  We hadn’t even been together a full 24 hours before we started making plans for our next trip.  NOLA 2014….get ready.  Besides the amazing conversations, we ate incredible food, drank smoking drinks, and people watched!

You’re probably now saying to yourself, “Shut up, Kim! Tell us about what you read!”  Closing out October my total for the year was up to 169 books (20 in August, 10 in September, & 10 in October.)  I’m shockingly still ahead of pace to complete 200 books for the year.  My top reads over the last three months?

  1. Blackmoore
  2. Born of Persuasion
  3. Ride With Me
  4. Emerald Green (No review on this one yet. I only finished reading it yesterday!)

Start looking for our “best of 2013” lists towards the end of next month, as well as the beginning of our 2014 challenge posts.  There may even be a post about a challenge that Reflections of a Book Addict will be hosting!

I hope that you’ve all had a wonderful past three months and are looking forward to calm and stress-free Thanksgivings!  Share what you’ve been doing (and reading!) in the comments below.

As always, happy reading!

The February Roundup!

February proved to be a month for catching up.  When January ended I was two books behind the pace I needed to meet my goal of 120 books for the year.  As of the end of February, I’m completely back on pace! Woo-hoo!! (I read 12 books in February, bringing my total to 19 for the year.)  Two things directly contributed to my ability to get back on pace:  1.) An INTENSE blizzard that wound up dumping 40″ of snow onto my town, making it the hardest hit in the tri-state area. 2.) The weeks I spent sick with a sinus infection and possible case of bronchitis.  Together, these two things equated out to a ton of time spent in the house and reading.

20130210_133339The blizzard was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed.  Todd’s car (a VW Passat) was completely covered in snow, so much so that we couldn’t even see it! It was super difficult to dig out.  Regular plow trucks were no match for the record-breaking amount of snow we had and kept blowing transmissions due to the weight and amount of snow they had to push.  Commercial construction trucks and the National Guard had to come in and help plow streets enough for emergency vehicles to pass through.  Plows couldn’t get to the apartment building that Todd and I live in for almost three days.  Thankfully we didn’t lose power and had enough heat, books, and snacks to keep us occupied.  It’s been almost three weeks since the storm hit and we still have MOUNDS of snow everywhere. We’ll be lucky if it’s melted by April.

On the book front, February was a month filled with releases I was eagerly awaiting.  I was able to read the final book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Sever, as well as Sarah MacLean’s newest addition to her Scoundrel’s series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.  Add to these Marie Force’s newest Gansett Island book, Waiting For Love, Rachel Van Dyken’s The Wolf’s Pursuit,  Nancy Kelley’s Loving Miss Darcyand Maya Banks’ Rush, and you can tell I did a lot of “new” reading.

Speaking of “new” reading… if you remember, last month I did a joint review of Beth Revis’ final book in the Across the Universe trilogy, Shades of Earth, with Sam.  Well, I found out that Beth was coming to Connecticut (WAHOO) with something called the “Breathless Reads” tour.  Penguin (her publisher) organized the tour for her and several other YA authors to come out to indie bookstores all across the US and speak about their books.  Luckily the bookstore that they came to in CT was R.J. Julia (my favorite)!  Todd and I jumped at the chance to attend and man are we happy we did.  Not only were we able to see Beth (and get our books signed), but we were able to listen to four other YA authors (Fiona Paul, Morgan Rhodes, Elizabeth Richards, and Jessica Spotswood) and get introduced to some new books we’re excited to tell you about.  Todd wrote more about the event here, as it was the first one he’d attended where he knew one of the authors.

Looking forward to March, I have lots of books to read (I’m asking myself why I’m even writing that sentence as it’s the story of my life each month.)  I’m hoping to get caught up on reviews over the next two weeks.  I have some GREAT reads to tell you about that you’ll hopefully find as interesting as I did!  Todd’s reading Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens, Adam’s reading Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel, Sam’s reading Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason, and Christine’s reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan.  So, lots of new and unique stuff coming at you from across the genre spectrum.

Until next time….happy reading!

Kim’s Review of Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley #2) by Nancy Kelley

lmdY’all know by now that I love Pride and Prejudice.  You also know that I love reading books that explore the lives of the characters from that wonderful work, and one of my favorite characters to explore happens to be Georgiana.  I always feel bad for her in the P&P fan fiction world, as she is often relegated to being a minor character, and never the heroine.  All this changes with Nancy Kelley’s second work in the Brides of Pemberley series, Loving Miss Darcy (for my review of the first work, His Good Opinion, click here).

Georgiana Darcy is conflicted.  On one hand she is elated that her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and his lovely bride, Elizabeth, are happily married and fully in love.  On the other hand, her own personal love life is the complete opposite.  After the disastrous events that led her to almost elope with Wickham previously, she hasn’t had the drive to face another Season full of potential suitors in London.  Enter Richard Fitzwilliam, tasked by Darcy to watch over his little sister and find a suitable match for her.  The problem is that Richard feels that no one is deserving of Georgiana, even though they may be a perfectly good match.  Even Richard’s closest friends are no match for his stony demeanor.  Behind this mask, however, a growing attachment is forming, and it seems that Richard is keeping others out in the hopes that he may have a chance, however slight.  Will he give in to this growing attachment?  Will Georgiana return his feelings?

One major item that I have to commend Kelley on is her ability to portray the angst of the teenage mind via Georgiana.  Obviously, Georgiana is a teenager, and with that comes feelings of angst, confusion, and general awkwardness.  Kelley is able to tap into that mindset and describe Georgiana’s unwillingness to enter the Season due to a variety of factors, chief among them her trepidation at what others will think of the “Wickham scandal”.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is Richard, whose mindset is an unsettled war zone of nerves.  He is confused about his feelings for Georgiana, and cannot separate his duties as her guardian from his desire to want to be with her.  He also wonders if he should even voice his innermost feelings for her, as he fears that she will reject him due to the age gap between them, along with several other factors that keep his feelings in check.  Again, Kelley shows that she is in tune with her characters in writing Richard, and together with Georgiana, she made this story one that I couldn’t put down.  I can’t wait to read the story of Elizabeth’s sister, Kitty, next in the series.  If it’s as good as these other two works have been, I’m in for a treat!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my second completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

This is my sixth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Loving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley
Smokey Rose Press (2013)
eBook 244 pages
ISBN: 2940016048345

Special thanks to Ms. Kelley for my review copy!

#1 A Review of His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley

His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy NovelIn publishing His Good Opinion, Nancy Kelley joins a long line of authors who have written Pride and Prejudice from the viewpoint of Fitzwilliam Darcy.  When I first heard about this novel I was intrigued; what could Kelley have written that hasn’t been done before?  Interested enough to take the plunge and see Darcy from another’s perspective I dug right in.

In His Good Opinion, Kelly treads familiar ground.  In a wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Kelly sights Darcy in her cross-hairs as she details his progress through the novel in a new and refreshing light.  Still as arrogant as ever in the first portion of the book, we view Lizzy’s rejection of his proposal from a new angle, feeling more for Darcy as (from his point of view) the proposal seems genuine and honest, and his feelings of rejection and despair are more apparent than we ever thought before.  Later, we are able to view Darcy’s self-doubt that leads him to change in such a drastic way in order to win Elizabeth’s affections back.  In addition, Darcy’s relationships with Georgiana, Wickham, and Col. Fitzwilliam are all expanded, with new information regarding each that allow for a more detailed observation of his personal life that helps to bring new light to what went on “behind the scenes” during Pride and Prejudice.  In all, Kelly gives us a detailed biography of Darcy’s actions and thoughts that really help to support the original work and provide new questions and discussion.

Wow. Nancy Kelley is an author to definitely keep on your radar.  Her writing easily transitions into Austen-like prose, giving her novel a feel of elegance that is difficult to find in the Jane Austen fan fiction world. I’ve read a LOT of Pride and Prejudice retellings from Darcy’s viewpoint and find many of them choppy.  Choppy in the sense that you can tell where the split between Austen’s original text and the author’s new ideas begin.  Kelley does a fantastic job of seamlessly transitioning her interpretations of what Darcy’s feeling with Austen’s original story text.  Kelley’s interpretations of Darcy’s thoughts and misconceptions are all excellently thought out and written.  Rarely have I felt like I was reading Austen’s own version of P&P told via Darcy instead of Elizabeth.

I truly enjoyed when Lady Catherine came to Darcy’s townhouse, revealing the outcome of her meeting with Elizabeth.  The joy that Darcy feels upon hearing Elizabeth’s remarks are entirely palpable to the reader.  My heart was ready to leap out of its chest as he made his anxious return to Hertfordshire.  Kelley’s ability to translate his despair, anxiety, depression, happiness, etc to the written word is one that must be highly commended.

My one complaint was that I felt like the ending was cut short.  Granted, it was beautifully written, but it just felt abrupt.  I would have enjoyed a bit more story, but that’s just me. I can’t get enough of Lizzy and Darcy’s story.  Maybe Kelley has more in store for us?  Time will tell.  We can only hope that her subsequent work is as exciting and as detailed as His Good Opinion is!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my first completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley
Smokey Rose Press (2011)
eBook 351 pages
ISBN: 2940013505698