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Saturday, July 23, 2016


To say I've been in a slump is an understatement, but I'm trying to get back on track by letting go of some of the bookish deadweight and getting on with a new TBR (of sorts). Wish me luck!

If you interested in being part of Austen in August, check out this post!

The Darkest Lie
The Trouble to Check Her
The Possibility of Somewhere
Vassa in the Night
Mighty Jack
Something New

Also Mentioned:
Mistaking Her Character

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. Many of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes.

Friday, July 22, 2016


I am sure that after Fairy Tale Fortnight was a no-show* this year, some of you are wondering if the same is going to be true of Austen in August; it's no secret that I've been in a slump for awhile now, and haven't been as motivated to blog (I mean, just look around... You may just see a tumbleweed). But nothing draws me in like Austen. My enthusiasm for her knows no bounds, and YOUR enthusiasm for her makes me weirdly (some would say masochisticly) excited for Austen in August and its attendant work load. So of course there's going to be an AIA this year!

That said, it is going to be a little different, just out of necessity. On top of said slump and general summer busy-ness, August is event month (apparently), and it seems like everyone I know has decided to: get married | get engaged | have babies : and there's just no way I could have AIA on its normal schedule, at the normal volume, and remain sane. So Austen in "August" this year is actually going to start late and spill over into September a bit (but don't worry, Austen's just as good in September, I promise).  I'll try to keep it as full and Austenolicious as I always do, but you might have to cut me some slack this year. A little. Maybe. (please?)

But that's enough preamble, I think. Most of you know the drill by now, but for those who don't or need a refresher:
What the Eff is AIA?

Well, funny you should ask...
The Deets:
  1. Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more! [See years onetwothreefourmother-freaking five, because it's been half a decade, yo! and six, because we didn't stop there] You can stop by any time during these 2 weeks and get lost in Austen. It's all very austentatious. . . alright, I'll stop now.
  2. It runs AUGUST 24TH through SEPTEMBER 6TH, and everyone is welcome to participate. You can just read and comment on the daily posts, if you'd like, but  as always, I will also be welcoming guest posts. Wanna review or giveaway your favorite adaptation? Share your Top 5 MOJ (Moments of Jane)? Discuss why Edmund is actually totally a catch *gag*? I'd love to host your awesome post! Fill out the form below with what you'd like to do and I'll reserve a spot for you!
  3. Are you an Austenite author who wants to be involved? EMAIL ME! I'd love to have you involved!
  4. There will also be a linky up on the first day to share last minute posts, if you find yourself inspired to jump in. :)
  5. Once again I will be hosting an Austen Read Along to coincide with the event, and this year's book is SENSE & SENSIBILITY. [Astute AIAers will have figured out that's the only one of the Big Six left that we haven't read & discussed!]
That about covers it.
So if you're interested in being a featured guest right here on this blog (or on my vlog!), or you've been burning with things to say about Jane all year, please fill out the form below! It'll remain open for the next few weeks, after which you can email me directly if you're still interested.

You guys are always amazing at contributing your time, creativity and enthusiasm to this event every year, I luuurve you for it and I can't wait to see what you come up with! And I said this last year (and the year before, and will forever and evermore), but I meeeeeeeeeaaaan it:
I don't ever want anyone to feel obligated to contribute in any way, but if you've been on the fence and too shy in the past, I'd love to feature you this year! I LOVE pulling in new Janeites, you have NO IDEA.

*side note: Fairy Tale Fortnight may still happen later this year, and if not, will hopefully be back next year!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dollar Tree Book Haul!

Because who can resist dollar books?
If you missed either of the videos I talk about in this, you can find them here:
May/June Book Haul
Spring/Summer Beauty Haul

Gameboard of the Gods
The Rivals
In Calamity's Wake

Vampire Academy
The Glittering Court
The Morganville Vampires
The Mockingbirds

Have you read any of these? I'd love to know your (spoiler-free) thoughts! 

Monday, July 11, 2016

THE Book Trend of 2016? | Book Chat

There are always tons of blips in the trend-radar at any given time, but for me, I think the overall trend when it comes to 2016 (for YA books, and maybe for society at large) is dark and gritty and line-blurring. So here are my thoughts (and a few recommendations).

Though "dark" and "gritty" are nothing new, the more recent approach to these types of stories eschews the "torture porn" schadenfreude aspects of previous crime and mystery novels/reporting. (The whole "can't look away from the car-crash / thank god it wasn't me or anyone I love" aspect that keeps people watching or reading in a combination of horror and dark fascination.) Instead, the focus is on the gray areas, the uncertainties, the good in the bad and the bad in the good. MUCH more fascinating, if you ask me.

I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts, whether you agree or disagree, and I'd also love to know which 2016 books YOU recommend, whether it's for this trend or any other!

And I'm curious: what do you think will be the trend of 2017?

Making a Murderer
The Jinx
How to Get Away with Murder

The Killing Jar
After the Woods
The Darkest Corners (review)
The Darkest Lie
Wink Poppy Midnight
Blood & Salt
and so many more! (These are just the ones shown in the video)

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. (Though the books shown were sent to me for PR consideration purposes.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Face Off: Dark Caravan Cycle Redesign!

Hey! Long time, no Face Off! But I stumbled across something that was just begging for an FFO, so we're back! A few days ago, HarperTeen released a ton of covers for their upcoming 2017 release lineup (more on that to come), and among the pretty shinies was a brand new cover style for Heather Demetrios' Dark Caravan Cycle -- or at least, the cover change was new to me. I've been a little out of the loop, so who knows, this could be old news to you. Either way, we're talking about it today.

Below you'll find the original covers for the first two books of the series (top), and the simplified new covers for all three books (bottom). As you can see, they've shifted away from the sort of personal, etheral, slightly haunted look of the originals, into a more streamlined, iconic style for the redesign. My thoughts on the change is at the bottom of this post,  But before you let me bias you one way or the other, take a look at the two sets of covers below. Which would you reach for on the shelves? Which would pique your curiousity? Which would you rather own, personally? If you've read the stories, which do you feel suits the series most?
Which one did it better? 


As for me, when I saw the redesign for the 3rd book, I was actually quite taken with it. I like the original cover for Exquisite Captive (I'm a sucker for purple and dreamy), but when I saw the redesign, I though, Hmmm, now this is something I could really get behind. The strong stance and simple iconography of it are powerful and impactful, and that big, glorious swoop on the ess in "Slave" just does things to me (I'm even more a sucker for good type than I am for dreamy purples), so I was on board -- until I saw the other two covers in the redesign. They're okay, even if the icon for Blood Passage reminds me of James Bond . . . but they're nothing to write home about, and the patterning takes away from the sleek simplicity.
So I'm torn on this one, but with the 3rd one, at least, I feel like they really got some things right.
(It should be noted, though, that they're replacing a cover with a visible POC with something more generic, which is a little disappointing. Though of course, generic means readers more readily insert themselves in the story, which helps a book sale, so I get it.)

Have a suggestion for an upcoming Friday Face Off? Let me know in the comments or email me here!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Film Review: The BFG!

Thanks to the amazing people at Walden Pond Press, a few days ago, my sister and I headed off to an advanced screening of The BFG, a new Disney/Walden Media adaptation of the very much beloved Roald Dahl book. (Yes, I am a little biased in this, being not only a huge Roald Dahl fan as a child, but especially of The BFG and The Witches -- which, yes, is one of my favorite movies from my childhood, even if it did scare the bejesus out of me. . . )  And though I originally wanted to record the experience for you, ala the silliness of the last time we went to a screening, that didn't happen -- but I still wanted to share my thoughts!
So. Let's get into it, shall we?

The Story:
A little girl with insomnia spots a giant roving through her town, and when he spots her, he snatches her up and spirits her away to Giant Land so she can't tell anyone what she saw. She learns he's a Big Friendly Giant, and that the other giants in Giant Land are much bigger and much less friendly. Heartfelt antics ensue.

The Positives:
I loved the look of it. Loved. A friend who saw it wasn't a fan of the CGI and wished that Mark Rylance wasn't so CGI-ed out, but personally, I loved the way they used Rylance. The manipulation of his features and proportions made him seem very kind and affable, and generally not threatening, which suits the BFG, and it also just made him/the movie seem more charming. And there was just something about his eyes. . . I'm not saying Mark Rylance doesn't naturally have kind eyes, but the manipulation of his features made his eyes just seem so kind, so warm and trustworthy. I know it seems silly, but it really added something to the character and the film, for me.

I remain endlessly impressed Ruby Barnhill, aka Sophie, the 12 year old actress (11 at the time!) who somehow managed to carry a massive, CGI-laden movie where the only characters in the bulk of the scenes were herself and Rylance. It's a HUGE role to begin with -- for anyone, let alone at such a young age -- but when you add in the fact that so much was green screen, and that she was kind of having to act and react in a void, her performance is unbelievable.

It was in 3D! I didn't realize this until we got there and they handed me a pair of glasses, but it's been so long since I've seen a movie in 3D that I was actually a little anxious. I was 1/2 convinced I was going to feel motion-sick throughout the whole thing, and though there were occasionally times when the fast movement of foreground objects made my stomach turn a bit, for the most part, I felt like a kid again, slightly in awe of the dimension and depth of field. (3D has come a long way, y'all!)
(It's also available in regular ol' 2D, if that's your preference.)

Spielberg adapted and captured The BFG really well -- maybe a little too well, which I'll get into a bit more below.

It had heart and laughs. This may be the one and only time I've laughed at a fart gag in my life, and at some points (mostly later in the movie, because there weren't many laughs in the beginning), the audience (kids especially) were in stitches.

It felt epic.

The Negatives:
It felt epic. . .
It felt a bit long, which is something confirmed by both my sister and the friend I mentioned earlier. But the kids in the theater didn't seem to have any problem with the length; there was no fidgeting or yelling, or anything like that. Kids seemed engaged and having a good time, and the somewhat snotty couple seated next to me settled right down and seemed to be enjoying themselves, so it's not like it dragged to the point of being boring. But for a kids film, it is long -- a 2 hour run time even in the most action-packed of films can lag or feel a bit much at times, and this did have its slow moments.

It's a very accurate adaptation, sometimes to its detriment. It captures the whimsical language and style of the book, but sometimes it was a little too on the nose -- some things work better in text than spoken aloud, and sometimes it just rang false. (This isn't necessarily a negative for kids, though, who will likely love the quirky language.)

For all her general amazingness, "Sophie" occasionally seemed coached, especially in her movements. But seriously, for such a massive role, she was spot on more often than she wasn't, and I really can't fault an 11 year old lead for not being perfect throughout an entire 2 hour movie that she had to carry (essentially) alone.

The Verdict:
My negatives don't even come close to outweighing my positives, and though I liked it very much as an adult, I can say without a hint of doubt that I would have adored this movie as a kid.
All in all, would recommend!

The BFG hits theaters across the US tomorrow (and later in the month elsewhere, I believe). Check out the trailer below, and if you've seen it / do see it / are intending to / love the book, share your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


So, about that impromptu hiatus... Vlogger fail, ESPECIALLY when you consider that I actually had videos completed AND uploaded, and just never got around to filling out the description & posting... They'll be coming soon. Until then: BOOK HAUL TIME!
If you wanna skip ahead past my little story, bookage starts at the 3:00 mark.
I totally forgot to mention my library graphic novel binge of Saga, so that, too! But I'll be talking more about that soon. =)

Mighty Jack
The Forgetting
My Mystical Wonderland
My Magical Oasis
Rat Queens, vol 1
Rat Queens, vol 2
Karen Hallion coloring book, New Adventures in Time & Space
Singing the Dogstar Blues
Crooked Kingdom swag
Saga (everything I could get my hands on, so vols 1-5)

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. As stated, some of these books were sent to me as gifts or as advance copies by the publisher, for the purposes of review.

Friday, May 27, 2016

SECOND CHANCE BOOKS | #TheFridayFive | Book Chat

Following up (finally!) to our last Chat on bookish letdowns, today we're talking about the books or authors that were *originally* letdowns, but that were redeemed with a second chance!
This chat is also part of my Friday Five meme, so if you want to see more of those, you can check them out here; and if you missed the Bookish Letdowns chat, click here!

Oh, and bee tee dubs, there's a poll in the video about a potential upcoming chat! So be all democratic and stuff and make your voice known!*

*Unless you're Trump. Then you can just really be quiet, pls.


Ice (vs. 2 other retellings)
Drink, Slay, Love
The Raven Boys
The Scorpio Races
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies:
Beauty Queens
The Diviners

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It All Came out for the Best | guest post from Maria Grace, author of The Trouble to Check Her!

You guys already know I love me some Maria Grace. She's been a fixture of Austen in August / Jane in June since pretty much the beginning (including those interviews), and she always comes up with the best stuff to talk about or share with you! I love when people are passionate about anything, tbh, but if the thing they're passionate is Jane Austen? Well, friend for life, right? Obvs. And when that person is willing to share that passionate, spread it around, then we have a winner, folks. ^_^
Today, celebrate the follow-up to the first Queen of Rosings Parks books, Mistaking Her Character, , which I thought nailed the art of adaptation, Maria's dropping in to talk about tackling the Lydia Problem in The Trouble to Check Her, This is something a little near and dear to my heart -- afterall, I do have a habit of defending Austen's "bitches". . .
I'll be sharing some of my thoughts in a video soon, and my full thoughts in this year's Austen in August, but until then -- take it away, Maria!

Don’t ever doubt that writers become attached to their characters. We do! They spent months, even years in our heads, talking to us, teasing us, sometimes lying to us, usually bossing us around and taking joy in making us utterly crazy.
I know Lydia certainly did in the process of writing her story. Now that it’s wrapped up and out there for the world to see, she invited me to tea to talk over our adventures of the past year.
The maid showed me into the parlor where tea things were already laid out. Lydia looked up at me with that smile that everyone says looks just like Elizabeth’s.
“I am glad you are come. I thought perhaps you would not wish to, that I might have worn out your patience by now.” She gestured toward a dainty chair, certainly set out specifically for my use.
The cream and blue upholstery was pulled so tight the chair was more bouncy than it was soft, but I could hardly refuse so gracious an invitation. “I was a little surprised to hear from you. I had rather thought you would be glad to be done with me.”
“Tea? You prefer hibiscus if I recall correctly.”
“I do. I’m surprise you would have noticed such a thing.”
She cocked her eyebrow at me, knowing just how well I knew the expression. “I did just spend the better part of eighteen months, I think, in your head. Did I not? One notices things after a while.”
I took the proffered tea cup, filled with the vibrant pink tea I favor.
“I am surprised you would need to ask.”
She handed me the sugar, “I do not, but it is the polite form, is it not?”
“I suppose so.”
“Ah, no, now you prevaricate. I know well that you are most attentive to such things. Do your sons not regularly roll their eyes at you for your admonitions at the dinner table? What was the last thing you told them? Something about not taking bites big enough to feed a small tenant village on my father’s estate?”
Luckily, raising teenaged boys left me prepared for such statements and I did not spit hot pink tea out all over her pretty drawing room. “Was I wrong?”
“I said no such thing.” She sipped her tea daintily. “I merely found it an amusing way of addressing the issue.”
“Not too many people call me amusing.”
“No? I suppose they do not know you as well as I.” Lydia winked.
“Indeed? What might you find so amusing about me?”
I probably should not have asked, as Lydia would have no hesitation to tell me what I probably didn’t really want to know.
“Quite a bit, if truth be told! Where might I begin? Perhaps with your tendency to start three new projects for every one that you finish—or do not finish as the case may be. How many book projects did you write notes on just yesterday? No less than fourteen I believe it was.”
“Something like that.”
“And at least four other projects?”
“I would think you be more appreciative of that trait, considering that is how you came to be where you are now.”
“You never did ask me whether or not I wanted to be reformed.” Her eyes twinkled.
“I never asked my sons if they wanted to have good manners, either.”
“Another oversight on your part.”
“My daughter-in-law disagrees. She is quite satisfied with the results of my efforts.” I placed my tea cup on the table and folded my arms across my chest. This was getting serious.
“You imply I should be, too.”
“I did provide you a happy ending, as I recall. You gave me fits through the process, though. Most ungrateful it seems.”
“Of course I did. What else did you expect? Is that not why you were so reluctant to take up my tale in the first place? As I recall I had to perform a great deal of wheedling to convince you not to leave me a dangling epilogue, forgotten by readers as soon as they closed the book.”
“So that was wheedling? Funny, I would have called it tormenting.”
She shrugged. “It accomplished the purpose, and now we both have something to show for it, do we not? You a new book, I a new reputation. It seems it all came out for the best.”
“I am glad you are satisfied. It would have been much easier getting to this point had you bothered to be forthright with me in the first place.”
“You must be joking? Share all my secrets with you so easily? I have been written as unredeemable and ridiculous often enough. You needed to earn my trust first.” She glared at me over her teacup.
“I suppose you have a point.”
“You must admit, you painted me quite the ungrateful nit in the first chapters.”
“Was I inaccurate?” I set my teacup down.
“It was not a complimentary portrayal.”
“You did not answer my question. Was I wrong or unfair to you?”
Her lips wrinkle up into a pout—an expression she had not used since the early chapters of my book. “I suppose not.”
“Well then, you should not complain. Especially when you consider how many people are rooting for you now.”
“Truly? I had no idea.” The coy expression in her eyes begged otherwise.
“You love the attention and accolades.”
“That is not true. I enjoy the attention. I love Mr. Amberson.” Her eyes sparkled just a bit.
“I stand corrected.”
“I have heard that some are asking for more: wat happens to us, and Annabelle, Juliana and Sir Anthony in Derby…”
I winced, knowing that tone of voice all too well. “I believe I have stayed too long, it is time for me to go.” Before she started wheedling and whining and pleading.
“Must you, our visit has only just begun.” She rose and shut the parlor door, leaning against it, looking anything but casual.
Oh dear, this could become troublesome. But I do have fourteen other projects line up, right?

About the Book:
Get It | Add It
288 pages
Published March 30th 2016 by White Soup Press
Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

About the Author:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

BOOK & BEAUTY HAUL | April 2016

Welp, we're halfway through May and I'm only just managing to upload my April haul... Spring-Fever-Idontwannawork has definitely struck...
ANYWAY, here's a look at some of the goodies that came my way in April, and so far, May is off to a cracking start, so look forward to *that* haul in a couple of weeks!

Also... LAWNMOWERS. -_-

Vassa in the Night
The Sleeping Prince
Crow Mountain
The Trouble to Check Her
Rat Queens, vol One
Saga, vol One

L'Oreal EverPure vox box from influenster
Tarte Glam Goodies set (includes Tartelette Tease palette, lip paint in 'tbt' and lash paint mascara)
Tarte Make a Splash skincare set (includes Marine Boosting Mist, Deep Dive Cleansing Gel, and Drink H2O Hydrating Boost)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though the books (from publishers) and the L'Oreal hair care products (from Influenster) were received as PR samples, for review purposes, as stated. This in no way changes my opinion of them.

MUSIC: Otis McDonald, "Scarlet Fire"


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