Friday, July 1, 2011

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy
Victoria Connelly
5 Stars
352 pages

I haven't read any books by Victoria Connelly before, but I was pleasantly suprised with this book! It was an absolute gem and such a fun book to read.

The story follows two women, Katherine Roberts and Robyn Love meet and become friends at a Regency "Jane Austen" weekend.  Both share a love for Jane Austen and also a love for the regency books by Lorna Warwick.

While away at the conference Katherine finds herself drawn to a man attending the conference, Warwick.  They become friends, and soon grow to more than friends.  But Warwick has a secret he is hiding from Katherine and isn't sure how she will react.

Robyn is attending the conference because of her love for Austen, but also to get a break from her long term boyfriend, who annoyingly keeps showing up at all the wrong times and in all the wrong ways during the weekend.  Trying to get away she ends up meeting another man, Dan, and is torn between her comfortable life and boyfriend and new beginnings and challenges.

In the end I felt this book was fun loving and a cute read.  It would be perfect for a weekend book or vacation or summer read.  I felt that Connelly had a talent for adding romance and passion without being too racy.

I think any Jane Austen fan would love this fun book.  I am already looking forward to Victoria Connelly's Austen Addict books that will be published this summer!  I can't wait!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Legacy of Pemberley

The Legacy of Pemberley
Rebecca Ann Collins
5 Stars
323 pages

I finally finished this book - which concludes the series, and it was such a bitter-sweet ending.  I discovered the first book in this series 3 years ago and over the years I have cherished all 10 books.  This last and final book was no different.  I am so sad it is ending!

Since the end of Pride and Prejudice, these books take Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy through 50 years of marriage.  This book concludes the story of children and grandchildren, cousins and friends. One of the main plots belongs to Caroline, the widow of Colonel Fitzwilliam.  While she finds herself learning to live and adjust to life on her own,she is able to watch her daughter, Rachel begin her own romance and blossom.  I loved the addition of Daniel Faulkner to the characters.

Of course, Collins doesn't leave anyone out and there are many other appearances of many of the other loved characters and friends from the whole series.  For example, I was so sad reading the story of Emily Courtney, but the reading of her will actually made me smile and have a little laugh.  I believe the only person that I would have loved to read more about after finishing the whole series would be Georgiana.  However, I was secretly happy that Virginia got basically what she deserved.

I can't think of high enough praise for this series of books.  They really have been an absolute favorite of mine throughout the last couple years.  I will continue to recommend these books to any Austen fan I meet and hope that Collins continues to write and will look forward to any new projects she holds for us in the futures!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

100 ideas Real Rooms

100 Ideas Real Rooms
Better Homes and Garden Publications
5 Stars
96 pages

Another grocery store check out line find!  I have enjoyed reading, marking and rereading this magazine several times.

I particularly like the kitchen ideas, there were several ideas on how to keep an organized kitchen, and keep your kids involved that I really liked.

Just like it says, the book is just a list of 100 ideas.  There are some directions, but if you are a project person who needs step by step instruction, this might not be the place to start.  If you are looking for something to jump start your brainstorming or creative juices, this is the perfect solution!

100 Decorating ideas under $100

100 Decorating ideas under $100
Better Homes and Garden Publications
5 Stars
96 pages

I love Better Homes and Garden special publication magazines!  This series, 100 Decorating ideas under $100 is hands down one of my favorites out of all their publications.  I pick it up every time I see a new one published (I believe it is once a season).

I tag a lot of the pages in these books.  One of my favorite projects I took on after reading the first one I picked up was painting a dresser for our nursery.  At the time I had a 14 month old girl, but new she would soon start sharing her room with a new baby brother.  I had an old dresser I was going to refurbish white so it would be general neutral, but after reading (and drooling) over a picture in this magazine, I went for it and ended up painting it a color similar to candy apple.  It turned out perfect and I love how how it matches everyone's decor in the room.

I can't wait for the next season to come out, in fact writing this posts makes me feel inspired to go look for it and start a new project!

Secrets of Getting Organized

Secrets of Getting Organized
Better Homes and Garden Publication
5 Stars
112 pages

So, technically this is a magazine, but I still want to post about it.  When I was on my organization/reading kick I found this in the grocery store and was so happy that I picked it up!  I have loved it and find myself picking it up to look through again and again.

One of the main reasons that I loved this book is that it isn't just one expert writing about the subject, but a whole panel of seven experts.  I really enjoyed reading the different opinions as well as got a lot of new book ideas to look for at the library!

I got a lot of useful ideas out of this book and have already started tagging the pages for things I want in our next house (we will be moving in the next year!).

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Year to an Organized Life

One Year to an Organized Life
Regina Leeds
4 Stars
294 pages

I picked this book up at the library.  Perhaps spring cleaning has made me want to get organised, but I am reading a lot of these books lately.  One Year to an Organized Life has so far been one of my favorites.

Obviously, the plan that Leeds gives you follows a year span. During each month, she has weekly sections, that have goals you will accomplish that week, as well as an estimate for the time that you will spend.

I believe one reason that this book appealed to me so much was that the first step that Leeds suggest is to buy a journal.  Each month has journaling prompts.  She firmly believes that through journaling you can truly learn why you clutter, or organize the way that you do - and then find solutions to the problem.  I love journaling, and I really love the prompts that she offers throughout the book.

While I read through this book without doing any of the projects, I have some ideas now that I can't wait to put to use.  When I look back at the contents of this book, I can think of projects from more than half of the 12 months that I want to put in use right now!

Leeds uses a lot of her personal stories and stories she has learned from being a personal organizer.  I love reading the stories about many of her clients.

I think if you are looking for a little help organizing your home, and have a little extra time every month than you should check out this book.  If you are looking for a lot of help organizing your home, then you should probably just hire Leeds herself!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Get Energy

Get Energy
Denise Austin
5 Stars
239 pages

Before reading this book I would not say I was a Denise Austin fan.  Not that I had anything against her either, but if it hadn’t been on display, I probably never would have read this book.

Like I said, I saw it on display, we were at the library.  And I’m positive after corralling 4 kids (7, 4, 2 and 7 months) around trying to keep everyone quiet and happy while selecting books, I was all out of energy.  Get Energy, was begging to come home with me.  So it did.

Another reason I thought I would like this book is that in my personal life this year I’ve picked one word to try and focus on this year, and it is “enjoy”  So I thought this book would be helpful in my focus.  I have really wanted to focus on enjoying life this year.

At the beginning of the book you take a quiz to find out exactly what is “zapping your energy.”  The following chapters highlight ideas and solutions for each section that had your highest scores.  I read through every chapter and I found helpful information in almost every section!  The last part of the book has a worksheet and a 14 day plan that can help you increase energy.

After reading Austins suggestions and plan I think the only item that I would have a really hard time doing is getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night.  That baby mentioned still wakes up at night...along with random times his siblings wake up too.  I also stay up way to late at night so I can spend time with my husband who works pretty long hours.  I know lack of sleep is a serious energy drainers in my life right now. It's an area that I really need to work on.

I have to say that I loved this book!  I found it filled with fun and easy ideas that are easy to incorporate into your life.  It was uplifting and inspiriting. Now I just need to go out there and Get Energy in my life!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Unclutter Your Life in One Week

Unclutter Your Life in One Week
Erin Rooney Doland
3 Star
227 pages

I am always looking for new ways to organize and reorganize my house and life!  I saw this book on display at the library and it totally jumped out at me.  I was excited to find some new tips and maybe come up with a plan for a couple problem areas in my house.

After reading (mostly skimming) through this book I was disappointed.  I think if you work full time, are single, or a couple without kids, that live in a large city that you would really enjoy this book.  I just didn’t find many of the ideas that she presented fitting into my life.  I am a stay at home mom of four young kids.  One is at school, which frees some of my time, but the younger three, that demand the most time, are still at home.  The author suggests 3 projects a day, one in the morning, one at work and one at night.  I could maybe manage one of the projects a day, but certainly not 3.

I really think what I am trying to find is an "organize the family" life book.  I need the most help with kid toys, clothes baby items.  The book never address kids, kids room, or kid clutter.

That being said, I don’t think that this was a “bad book” I just didn’t feel like it was for me.  Every day at an activity you could do at your office.  I don’t work outside the home, and while our “home office’ really needs a make-over, this book just didn’t have the tips and suggestions that I was looking for.  I did enjoy the section about cook books though.

I think that Doland did have some good suggestions, for example, not holding on to sentimental clutter.  I also do most likely hold on to books much longer than I need too.  Some of the other suggestions she had I totally disagree with. I believe in having a food storage, and a couple months supply of certain items.  I believe in case of an emergency these items aren't considered clutter, but  are essential for our family.  They only are clutter in my mind if I can't find a proper place to put them away.  

In the end, I suggest if you are looking for some organization tips and you see this book at your library it’s worth checking out and skimming through.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wickham's Diary

Wickham’s Diary
Amanda Grange
5 Stars
195 pages

A few years ago I enjoyed a book by author Amanda Grange, Mr. Darcy’s Dairy.  So when I heard about the release of her newest book, Wickham’s Diary, I thought it would be such a fun book to read!  I was not disappointed.

Obviously the book is just what it is called – an account of Wickham’s life, written in journal style.  Since we know very little of Wickham and his background from Austen, I would be willing to believe this was such a fun story to dream up!  I completely enjoyed this book; it had a light, fun storyline, perfect for the beach vacation that I took it on.  Totally entertaining and insightful to Wickham’s past, readers learn more about his family, his upbringing and his relationship with Darcy.

Let me begin with a few words on Wickham’s mother, what a selfish character!  She was so annoying and with a mother like that, Wickham hardly stood a chance to grow up to be a decent man.  On the other hand, while his father wasn’t focused on much, I believe if he would have taken after his father, Wickham might have turned out pretty responsible.

This short (under 200 pages) book was charming.  I almost found myself feeling sorry for Wickham a time or two, but by the end of the book, he was the true villain that Austen created.  Grange did a fantastic job creating this journal; I would love to see her write more “diary” books from other Austen character.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Would Mr. Darcy Do?

What Would Mr. Darcy Do?
Abigail Reynolds
5 stars
227 pages

A guru at Pride and Prejudice variations, Abigail Reynolds presents Austen fans with a fun version of what might have been.  We enter the story when Elizabeth and Darcy are meeting at Lambton, but what happens next is the magic.  Reynolds creates a whole story about what would happen if Elizabeth and Darcy had made different choices that day, what if they would have been able to speak their mind or express how they truly felt?

This romance offers such a fun twist on the original Pride and Prejudice.  I particularly enjoyed Reynolds attention to details in the book.  For example, one that I enjoyed following throughout the story was that of the handkerchiefs.  When Elizabeth was busy stitching Forget-me-nots and Sweet Williams I couldn’t help but smile.

Another highlight of the book for me was the development of Georgiana’s character.  I believe the friendship between Georgiana and Elizabeth really benefited the story.  I loved the chapter containing Georgiana’s visit to Longbourn and how Mary and Kitty’s characters were enhanced by her friendship in this chapter as well.

I would like to warn that there are pretty graphic kissing scenes in this book.  While they are that – just kissing, they are pretty sensual.  If you are sensitive to this type of literature I still suggest reading the book, it truly is a fun story, but you might want to skip a few passages.

All-in-all I was pleasantly surprised with this fun book.  I look forward to finding and reading more books by Reynolds.  It’s a fun, quick read that I believe any Jane Austen fan would enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Trouble with Mr. Darcy

The Trouble with Mr. Darcy
Sharon Lathan
5 Stars
339 pages

This is the first book I've read by Sharon Lathan, and it is the fifth book in her Darcy Saga series and I'm puzzled as to why I haven't picked or read any other previous four books in this series.  I was happy with the fact that I found this book a very good "stand alone book" even though it is part of a series.  There were only a few moments in the story that I thought that the previous books would have been helpful, but not enough that I would say you have to read the first book in the series to understand it at all.

There are a couple different stories that develop in this book.  One, Darcy and Elizabeth experience some struggles with depression and their relationship after the birth of their second son, Michael.  I think that this might sound strange, but I actually enjoyed this part of the book.  I was relieved that someone wrote about these struggles, I know that women had to have struggled with postpartum and depression during this time period, but it seems like no one wants to discuss it in their books.  Sharon Lathan did a wonderful job at addressing the issue, but found a way for the romance to continue and have Darcy's and Elizabeth's relationship remain intact.

In the second part of the book Darcy and Elizabeth are faced with even worse trials as Wickham and returns for a family wedding.  Not only does he bring his bad attitude but even worse villains arrive with him.  Without giving too many spoilers away, Darcy is then faced with some horrific circumstances where he chances to lose what is more important to him!  After a fast pasted ending I was pleasantly surprised with the book.

Sharon Lathan is talented at creating whole new lives for characters that we loved in Pride and Prejudice.  There is a lot of romance and I have to warn you if you are not a fan of romance, kissing or love scenes you might want to skip a few paragraphs throughout the book.  Darcy and Elizabeth are in love in a loving marriage and Lathan doesn't shy away from that fact at all.  There are definitely parts in the book that are pretty hot, without going over the top or becoming too inappropriate.

I enjoyed it and look forward to now going "back in time" and reading the first four books in this series.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Happy Friday Everyone (all 5 of you who read my blog haha!)  The sun is shining and after a trip to the library and playing at the park I had my very serious helper sit down to help me with the drawing.  Really, I wish I could just send all of you a copy, wouldn't that be fun?

And the winner of the autographed copy of Heart of Lies goes too....

Kim!  Don't ask about the face, or be offended.  I think he thought his own name was going to be on every paper.

And the copy of Heart of Stone...


How exciting.  I will need you guys to email me your address, just in case I don't have it.  I hope you both enjoy, they are fun books!

I have three "Jane Austen Fiction" books that are being released next month that I am going to post about next week.  Hopefully I will have some more giveaways check back!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Autographed Giveaway!

One of my goals for this year was to give my neglected book blog some much overdue attention. Last year was pretty rough for this little blog.  I know this year will end up better.  I've been getting some great books from different publishers for review and I am so excited about the books, and love some of the authors!

To finally get things started on what I hope will become a more regular (weekly or bi-weekly) posting, I have an AUTOGRAPHED! copy of Heart of Lies to give away to a lucky reader!

I thought this book was great! If you love historical romance or historical fiction you will enjoy this book and this series, especially if you are familiar with Anita Stansfield's writing, I think you will like this author!  You can read my review here.

And - just for fun, I'll give away another lucky reader a copy of the first book in the series, Heart of Stone.

So - two winners!  

All you have to do is this:  Leave me a comment on this blog with your favorite historical fiction time period.  I bounce back and forth between times, but I think if I had to pick one it would be Regency (Jane Austen)...does that surprise anyone?

Good luck!  It should be a fun week, the winners will be chosen Friday at noon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Suzanne Collins
3 Stars
390 Pages

Just like everyone else, I was super excited to read this book.  As it so happens I was pregnant and due about the same time that this book was to released.  I told my husband that if I did in fact go into labor on the day it was released that he was supposed to go buy me the book, ASAP after having the baby.  Well, we did have the baby, and he did try to find me the book, but instead of bringing our family a hot dinner one night, a very good friend brought me a new copy of the book instead.  Can I say awesome?!  (My friend for brining me a book instead of dinner, not the book, by the way!)

So – there was so much hype surrounding this book –and with good reason too, I loved the first two books in the series.  They were great, so I was really looking forward to how Collins was going to sum this all up.  However, I am sad to say that I was a little disappointed with the ending.

The story involves Katniss Everdeen, along with her family those of District 12 find themselves in battle with President Snow and the capital for an all-out war.  There is plenty of action in this book, but somehow there is also a lot of nothing going on as well.  Katniss is not the same Katniss from the first book.  Her attitude really bothers me and I wish she would just be normal again.  I suppose I wouldn’t be normal either if this had been my life?

I think the thing that bugged me the most about this book was the ending.  I had to read it and re-read it a few times.  Really – she just caught fire, blacked out and woke up and it was done?  I feel totally robbed by this ending!  I know that Collins is trying to make a point here and make a statement – but this is a young adult book and I think that it crossed the line a few times.  I was really sad that Finnick, after finally finding happiness, was killed at the end.  I was also very disappointed that Katniss never really choice between Peeta and Gale.

Not really sure what else to say about the book.  I enjoyed The Hunger Games.  I recommend that.  I think Catching Fire was so-so, I recommend it, but not whole heartedly, but I don’t recommend Mockingjay, and that makes me sad.

The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero
Rick Riordan
5 Stars
553 pages

I was very excited to read this book – a book with the old kids from Camp Half-Blood, but also a new set of kids for new adventures? Yes, please!

Jason, the hero in this series, wakes up to find out that he has no idea who he is, where he is at, or how he got there!  The story unfolds from there as Jason and his girl friend, Piper and his best friend Leo join forces in a way they never imagined to fight forces they never thought could be real.

Like, I said before, I was super excited to read a book that revisits Camp Half-Blood.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.  I found Jason an easy character to love, just like Percy.  I love Leo and his quirts and find Piper very likable.  While the book is lengthy, it doesn’t seem like it and I read it in a very short amount of time.  The action and adventure level seemed just right - as did the down time too.

I think this young-adult novel is perfect for any teenager, or even adult who enjoys magic/mystical creature books.

I am looking forward to the rest of the series and learning more about these “Roman” Gods and after the ending in this book I am waiting on the edge of my chair for book two!

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid
Rick Riordan
4 Stars
516 pages

The Red Pyramid is the first book in Riordan’s new Kane series. After finishing the Percy Jackson books I was really excited to find out that he has this new series as well.  The book centers around the two Kane teenage siblings; Cater, who grew up traveling with his father, and Sadie who grew up in London with her grandparents.  Pushed together by a series of tragic events, Sadie and Carter find themselves in a world-wind adventure.

The book is very fast paced, I felt like I couldn’t catch my own breath before something else was happening or someone else was trying to deceive the Kane siblings.  I wish that we could have had at least one chapter or two of “background” before they all took off on the adventure.  There is a lot of action, which is great, but in this case it almost made me feel rushed.  I would have liked it if the kids could have had a few more breaks so we could all catch our breath.

Unlike Percy Jackson, The Red Pyramid follows the Egyptian Gods.  I think if you enjoy Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Fable Haven – or any young adult mystical/magic reading then you will overall enjoy this series.  I don’t believe it will be my favorite out of this category, but certainly not my least.  I am looking forward to where book two takes us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heart of Lies

Heart of Lies
Irish Angel Series, Book Two

Jill Marie Landis
285 pages
4 stars

Raised on the streets of New Orleans by Dexter Grande, Maddie was taught to beg, steal and cheat her way through life.  As Dexter’s gang dissolves, Maddie moves to the bayou with her twin “brothers”.  The story develops as the twins appear at the doorstep one night with an eight year old girl they have kidnapped and need Maddie to hold hostage.  Against her better judgment Maddie agrees, but trouble soon follows as Pinkerton agent Tom Abbot becomes part of the case.  Tom, who is also working for Laura Foster McCormick, from book one in this series, Heart of Stone.  Maddie begins to question who she is, who her family really is and if she can really trust Tom.

I was excited to hear about the second book in this series being released.  I really enjoyed the first book and couldn’t wait to read more about the sisters from New Orleans.  I think the romance isn’t over the top, but nice, old fashion and clean.  It's refreshing to find books like this, ones I don't have to worry about while reading.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t like it would be Dexter’s character.  Landis did a fantastic job making him into a creep and I really shuttered every time he graced the pages.  I was so disturbed at the thought of Maddie taking part of the changing of the kids.  I am glad she was able to find Tom and eventually Laura.  I hope that in the next few book that it will touch on that she has been able to find peace in her life.

The novels and the writing really make me think that if you love Anita Stansfield books, you will enjoy these series.

I'm looking forward to book three. Hopefully it doesn't take a full year to come out!