April 25, 2016

Jane Austen Adaptations :: Part 3 {Pride and Prejudice & Mansfield Park}

Y'all, I'd completely forgotten that I never finished my posts on all the Jane Austen adaptations I've watched! Life got a bit crazy and then I've been trying to catch up on all my reviews and yeah, I just forgot. But! Never fear, here I am with P&P and Mansfield Park. (As if y'all were fearful. You'd probably forgotten all about it too, right? :) I saved P&P for last since I think I've watched the most adaptations of it (I think it's probably the most popular of her stories, or at least it's been adapted in some form or other the most times). (Also, here's Part 1 and Part 2, in case you missed them.) So without further ado....

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice - 1940
This one is just cute! The costumes may be wrong (Lizzie wears a hat at one point that's just....yeah, not a fan of it myself), there may be some added scenes and several other scenes changed, some characters react different, but even with all the differences it's still a fun movie. If you're an Austen purist, this film won't be for you. But for those of us who just love Austen, no matter the form and no matter the changes, go forth and watch! It'll make you grin. For an old Hollywood movie, they do a pretty great job of keeping the general themes and overall feel of the book, which is a big plus in my opinion! :)

Pride and Prejudice - 1980
Like a lot of the 70s and 80s adaptations, this one can be a bit dry and unexciting. But for some reason I still love it! I think it has to do with the fact that it was one of the very first versions of any Austen book that I watched. For a small period of time, it was my favorite! But it soon got upstaged by the more recent versions. Still, I think it's wonderful. It sticks pretty close to the original story and David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy is rather handsome in my opinion! (Always a good thing, yes? :) Plus I do think that Lizzie and Darcy have pretty good chemistry here. Which is important! For those who've seen the newer versions, you probably won't enjoy this one, but for me, it's one that I like to bring out once in a while and smile my way through. 

Pride and Prejudice - 1995
This version is amazing!! Since it has six hours to tell the story, it's definitely a pretty faithful adaptation! There are so many opinions on whether this is better than the '05 version, or vice versa. For me, it's this one. For all it's dated feel by now (it is over twenty years old), I think that the fact that I saw this one first sealed the deal for me. I love Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, I love Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie, I love that Lizzie gets plenty of time for walking....I think I just love that we get six whole hours with the characters the best! :) One of my favorite scenes is where Darcy looks out the window at Rosings and sees Lizzie playing with his dog. Such a sweet moment! Thinking about it is just making me want to watch it again. What a great idea! ;)

Bridget Jones's Diary - 2001
I confess to not being 100% certain whether I should include this one under P&P, but ultimately decided to. While it's not a direct adaptation, it's definitely got most of the usual elements (including Colin Firth as Mark Darcy! :). The overall storyline of this movie is quite fun! (It's just the language and some of the scenes that bother me.) Quite possibly my favorite scene of the entire movie is when Mark tells Bridget (Renee Zellweger) that he likes her, just as she is. That moment never fails to make me swoon! Of course, it gets interrupted much too quickly, but for that split second or so where they just look at each other....my fangirl heart does a *happy dance*. :D Overall it's a really sweet story, if you ignore some of the other stuff.

Prideprejudice.jpgPride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy - 2003
This one is cute. Not amazing or fabulous, but cute. Lizzie and Darcy are Mormon, so they attend church and a few other things happen that I didn't quite get, that I assume is part of that particular faith. It wasn't a turnoff for me though, so I was able to enjoy the sweetness. There are some ridiculous parts that I struggled to understand, but overall I like this version. They adapted the story as a modern take and did a pretty good job of it! I've watched it a couple times and while it's not a favorite and I doubt I'll ever own it, I'm still glad I watched it. Good but forgettable.

Bride and Prejudice - 2004
I love it!!! The filmmakers did a fantastic job of relocating the action to India. Not having seen a whole lot of Bollywood movies, this was my introduction to the culture. And it's hilarious! And fun! And the music....I own the soundtrack for this movie as well and it just makes me dance in my seat (when no one's looking at me ;). The colors, the costumes, the characters, the set, it all comes together to create this awesome film and it simply makes me happy when I watch it. Aishwarya Rai is perfect as Lalita/Lizzie, and Martin Henderson as Will Darcy just.....yeah. (ALL the heart eyes!) The clash of their strong personalities, of their cultures (Lalita is Indian, Darcy is American), of their attraction for each other....ah it just makes my heart happy to watch them! It's a fabulous adaptation and I definitely recommend watching it.

Pride and Prejudice - 2005
To say that I'd been looking forward to this movie for many months prior to it coming out in theaters would be putting it very mildly! I was SO excited to see it and was not disappointed at all. Kiera Knightley is wonderful as Lizzie! And so too is Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. They have glorious chemistry together, which is always, always a happy thing! :) The cinematography is gorgeous. And the family dynamics! I read every article I could find about this movie while I was waiting and somewhere mentioned how the actors and actresses of the Bennet family spent a good deal of time together before and during filming. I think it shows, they feel like a real family who love and annoy each other. I also love how Longbourn is depicted, how real and messy and lived in it feels. While that may or may not be true to the time period, I still love it! :) Also the music for this movie is wonderful too! One of my favorites is the short piece from the Meryton ball. All Austen addicts should watch this one if you haven't! :)

Lost in Austen - 2008
I remember being intrigued by the synopsis of this when I first heard it. A modern woman enters the fictional world of P&P? What's not awesome-sounding about that?! The end result is a mix of things. On one hand, I really love it! Jemima Rooper does a fine job as Amanda, being thrust into her favorite story and wanting to experience all the swoony moments. (One particular moment at the very end is very, VERY swoony! ;)  What fangirl doesn't dream of such an experience?! And Elliot Cowan as Darcy is pretty handsome and swoonworthy. On the other hand, there are lots of changes. Amanda's entrance in the storyline causes many, many things to be different and while that's not all bad, the direction of some of the storylines disappointed me. I think this was originally supposed to be a TV series, and if it'd been able to continue there may have been things that would have smoothed out and helped me like it better. Lizzie Bennet's storyline was one of those of which I wished to see more. So I wouldn't consider this a favorite, but certainly one I enjoy watching periodically, so long as I have the ability to fast forward through some parts. :)

Lizzie Bennet Diaries.jpegThe Lizzie Bennet Diaries - 2012
This little webseries is quite simply perfection! In my opinion anyway. :) I discovered it soon after it first started and was immediately intrigued. I've gushed about it before, so I won't bore you with all same stuff again. Just know this. The sisterly relationships and the friendships on this show were depicted perfectly. For all the swooniness involved (and there's loads of that, let me tell you! ;), the best parts were Lizzie and her relationships with her sisters, Jane and Lydia (especially Lydia), and her best friend, Charlotte. Watching as they frustrated one another, hurt one another, loved one another, and got through all the hardships together is just beautifully portrayed. I loved how those relationships became the core foundation of the show. But of course, Darcy (and all the Dizzie Day chaos and awesomeness) and Lizzie's journey to finding each other was amazing as well! I squee-ed at the Pemberley Digital videos, desperately waited through the Lydia crisis, and did my *happy dance* for episode 98!!! :D This adaptation is delightful and remains one of my absolute favorite adaptations of any book ever.

Death Comes to Pemberley - 2013
I have gushed over this adaptation before, so I'll just make you go read that post if you want all the details of my FEELINGS for this miniseries. But suffice it to say that I love this one! (As if you can't tell, right? :) I love all the actors and actresses in it, I love seeing Darcy and Lizzie's married life together, I love that Georgiana gets a cute romance, I just love the whole thing! I haven't read the book yet, but as I've heard good things, and as I've recently found a copy at a library sale!, I hope to remedy that someday soon. Even if you're not a huge fan of mysteries (like me), I think most every Austen fan will enjoy this one. :)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies poster.jpgPride and Prejudice and Zombies - 2016
Y'all should already know how eagerly I anticipated this movie! And how happy it made me! I LOVED it. :) Lily James and Sam Riley were so fab as Lizzie and Darcy! And that first proposal scene? Hilarious and perfect! Their chemistry was great and their banter back and forth was just a delight. I laughed, I cringed (it is a zombie movie you know), I swooned at the way he looked at her, and that final proposal scene was just....ah my heart! It's got its crazy and ridiculous parts yes, but somehow it all just works. This particular version is definitely right up there with the '95 and '05 versions on my list of favorites! In fact, it may just bounce right over them....? Not sure on that, I need to watch it again. Purely for research purposes, you know. ;) YOU SHOULD WATCH IT.

Whew! Still with me? That's a lot of P&P, right? So many fun ones! MP should be much shorter though. :)

Mansfield Park

I struggle with liking the actual plot of Mansfield Park, to be honest. Thus I have not read the book yet, but I have it on good authority from fellow bloggers/readers that the book is worth reading! I happened to purchase a copy of it from the same library sale where I found Death Comes to Pemberley, so perhaps some day. Until then, I'll just wait for a good adaptation, because I'm not a huge fan of any of these truthfully.

Mansfield Park (BBC 1986)
Mansfield Park - 1983
Another one that I skimmed my way through. I got the gist of the story and wasn't really that impressed. It's not bad, it's just a bit too dry for me. But interestingly enough, Sylvestra Le Touzel, who plays Fanny, is in the '07 version of Northanger Abbey as Mrs. Allen. AND she and Nicholas Farrell, who plays Edmund Bertram, play a married couple in the movie Amazing Grace (with Ioan Gruffudd, 2006). So while I don't really like this film, I do enjoy seeing them together in that one! :)

Mansfield Park - 1999
I like this version pretty well. I particularly like Frances O'Connor's Fanny. And she and Jonny Lee Miller (Edmund) play off one another really well. It's been a good while since I've watched this one, but I do recall that there are a couple scenes that are kind of strange (one in particular is between Fanny and Mary Crawford). I did like this one better than the '83 version for sure! So while I don't love it, I don't regret watching it either. Perhaps I should try watching it again? It's been ages since the last time, maybe I'd like it better now....

Mansfield Park 2007 DVD Cover.jpgMansfield Park - 2007
Of the three versions I've seen, this one is probably my favorite. Blake Ritson is definitely my favorite Edmund! That moment that he first starts to realize his feelings for Fanny is so well acted. I confess to rewatching that scene a few times just to see his facial expression again. And then when he's so adorkably awkward around her later? Be still my heart! :) So while I still don't love the story as a whole, if I have to choose a version to watch, this one would definitely be it. Billie Piper plays Fanny pretty sweetly as well, but Edmund's my favorite. :D

Well then! You've finally reached the end! There's going to be at least one more post because there's a couple other movies out there that are Jane Austen-based but aren't a particular adaptation of one of her stories. I figured I should list them separately. And who knows? By then I might remember another movie or two that I've forgotten here. :)

April 23, 2016

'Abandoned Towers of Books'

Harlem Playground

Brooklyn Bridge

This article about a guy who's been leaving stacks of books all around New York City was too interesting not to share! :)

April 20, 2016

:: The Happy Tag ::

Hamlette had a post about this a couple months ago and it looked fun. So! While searching for something to write about this week (since I am still reading Northanger Abbey, but not caught up yet *sadface*), I decided this was perfect. So here we are! Things that make me happy. What better thing to write about anyway! :)


Persuasion and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 
My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
Court Duel by Sherwood Smith
Savannah From Savannah series by Denise Hildreth Jones
How Sweet It Is by Alice J Wisler
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
any book by Erynn Mangum
The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery


spindiddly :: happy :: splendiferously :: persnickety :: journey
adventure :: I love you 


North and South (BBC)
You've Got Mail
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Lark Rise to Candleford
Cranford :: Return to Cranford
Anne of Green Gables
all Jane Austen adaptations
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Hallmark Christmas movies
Parks and Recreation
Korean dramas (Suey made me add this one. :)


coffee (I may not love to drink it, but I love to smell it)
lavender :: food (just out of the oven especially)
rainy days


gerber daisies :: yellow things :: tea :: libraries
poetry :: bookstores :: deep conversations
hugs :: laughter :: words

April 14, 2016

Review: Close to You by Kara Isaac

This book, my dear readers, is one to have on your radar. I have two words for why: Because. Reasons. ;) No seriously though, it is completely adorable and fun and cute and any other adjective you can think of! It really is. I had been anticipating it for months prior to getting a copy and let me tell you how not-disappointed I was. I sighed, I laughed, I shook my head in exasperation, I loved every minute! And I think you will too.

Firstly, the setting. Oh the setting! Are you a fan of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies? If so, there you go. Read no further in this review and just go order the book and devour it once it arrives. That's it. Trust me.

Because it takes place in New Zealand and we get to travel with our fellow enthusiasts on a Tolkien tour. And let me just say that there are some real enthusiastic fans traveling along! (A little too obsessive perhaps? But then again, it is a tour created for just those sorts, isn't it?) I enjoyed getting pictures in my mind of each place and Ms. Isaac swept me into the majesticness and awe-inspiring views of the countryside. As someone who'll likely never visit such a place, I really enjoyed getting to experience it vicariously. All the literary Tolkien references made me grin, only I'm positive I missed half of them (having only read the books for the first time last year).

But it's Jackson and Allie who grabbed my heartstrings and kept me turning pages. Their antagonistic attraction is simply too hilarious and adorable! I wanted so badly to bash their heads together in exasperation one minute, and then swooned over them the next. Simultaneously sweet and annoying, Jackson kind of had to grow on me, like he did for Allie. But she, on the other hand, I loved her immediately! And wished I could reach through the pages and made everything all better for her. Neither character is perfect, both have made poor choices in their pasts and now have the scars and consequences with which to live.

That's where the meat of the story came in, the hard things they had to handle. They weren't quick and easy fixes. For all the cuteness between them, there's quite a bit of growing both need to do. Yet they challenge each other! Sometimes unknowingly and sometimes quite on purpose. Their individual trajectories were every bit as compelling as the romance developing. I got hooked into each of their plights and quickly turned the pages hoping good things were on the horizon. Of course, good things do come! But not without some heartbreak and difficult choices.

Allie and Jackson felt real to me. Their doubts and fears were understandable and I could no more figure out what they should do than they could for themselves. On the other hand, there were definite moments where I clearly knew where I wanted them to go and when they refused, I had to sigh in frustration. Don't you love it when a story brings out your emotions? The feels arrived with pomp and circumstance and I happily relished every bit of it!

This is, simply put, a wonderful adventure. And I look forward to reading more stories from this author in the future! If you're a fan of romcoms with adorable leads, this one is definitely to be added to your library. :)

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

"I was walking back to the house and I slipped down a bank and I'm in some mud and I can't get out."
Things were starting to connect, but not fast enough to beat his mouth, which decided to bypass his brain. "Sorry. Who is this again? Are you sure you've got the right n-"
An icy tone he was intimately acquainted with rang down the line. "Ha ha. Don't worry about it. I knew calling you was a bad idea. I'll find someone-"
"No, wait!" Finally, it all clicked together in a blaze of light and a choir of angels singing. "Where are you?"
"In the paddock behind the house. I can see the main barn from where I am."
"And you're stuck in mud?"
"That's what I said, Einstein."
A smile slid across his face. he was probably never going to get this opportunity ever again. "Okay. I'll come, but first I need you to say it."
"Say what?"
"Jackson, please come and rescue me."
"You cannot be serious."
"Fine. Jackson, please come and rescue me." The sarcasm in her voice was so thick you could have eaten it with a spoon.

April 13, 2016

Review: The Pepper in the Gumbo by Mary Jane Hathaway

Oh my heart, I loved this story! The characters, the storyline, the chemistry, everything just came together to make a perfect delight of a read. I downloaded the sample from Amazon and it sucked me in immediately, which meant I ended up buying the book and devouring it! As much as I love story, it isn't nearly as often as I wish that a book will pull me in so completely right from the first page. But this one? Oh goodness...all I can do is exclaim excitedly how lovely it is and to quote another blogger, "if you're breathing and like to read" I would highly recommend this one!

What can I say of Alice that will help you understand what it is about her that I loved? I'm not even sure myself! All I know is this quirky, quiet, old-fashioned bookseller just resonated with me. Whether it's her more introverted nature, or her love of reading, or just the fact that she lives and works and breathes stories, I understood her. This woman knows her books, there are very few things she knows better. But when that quiet nature meets a roadblock for something she truly believes in? And when that roadblock happens to be only the best looking guy she's ever seen in her life? Just sit back and watch for the fireworks! Because Alice and Paul simply explode with chemistry. These two merely look at each other and the sparks are flying! I kid you not. Y'all know how I love a good romance and these two characters have quite the journey to happy ever after!

Because lest you think it's all roses and rainbows once they meet, oh no. Where Alice loves her comforts (and is not a fan of change!), Paul is all about the next new thing, especially when it involves electronics. And those two things? Do not a happy Alice and Paul make. But they can't deny their attraction either, so round and round they go, trying to understand the other and striving to not give in to their feelings. Which just makes for loads of fun for us! For all their differences, they also have a lot in common and that's precisely where this story hooked me.

Characters who fall in love over the words they share just make me *happy dance* and Ms. Hathaway hits it out of the ballpark with Alice and Paul! Words are so personal, you share part of yourself with them, even unintentionally. I loved the emails and the You've Got Mail aspects of the story. I also loved the town and all the personalities within it. And all the Creole culture-y things I didn't know before. And seriously! I could gush on and on about this book, but you should simply take my word for it and go read it right now. It's delightful, people! So what are you waiting for?

He wanted to believe there were kindred spirits waiting to stomp into his life and demand that he rearrange something he'd already figured out.

Mrs. Olivier reached out and and gave Alice a quick hug. "Don't be a stranger. And pray about that petition you filed."
"Mama," Paul groaned. That was the Christian way of saying "I know you're wrong but you won't take my word for it, so God will have to explain it to you."

April 6, 2016

Fiction Affects Us...

"So I picked up a book, a book I had already read and loved, and moved out of my own world of numb pain and into the world of the book. I do not think that this was escape or evasion. The heroine of the book had her own problems with loneliness and anxiety and death. Sharing these, being totally in this different world for an hour or so, helped me understand my own feelings. " ~ Madeleine L'Engle
I've wondered a few times in the last few years about whether I was just attempting escape from reality when I'd pick up a book during a hard circumstance. Someone told me it wasn't a bad thing, but I think I was afraid to believe them. Because I feared that it was a form of denial, a way for me to refuse to deal with the hard.

But then I stumbled across this small paragraph above and it made me think. Perhaps she's right? I mean, think about it. What happens when I pick up a book with characters who I love and connect with? I relate to them, and when that happens, then doesn't it make sense that I'd relate to whatever problem they're having and how they're responding to it? Right? It does! And the more I ponder this, the more I'm convinced that it's a really good thing, maybe even a needful thing.

Because when we're looking at a real life friend, we are a somewhat neutral judge (only not really). Still, we tend to judge them in a situation, rightly or wrongly. On the outside looking in to someone's life, it's easy to ascribe motives and feelings to them. It's a little more difficult for us to see that we may be judging wrong, and still more difficult to see the same thing we judged in them in ourselves.

But when we open a book, we get sucked into the story in our minds, so right from the start we're no longer operating from the outside looking in, we're already in! Yet as the omniscient reader (which we are because we're able to see the full picture that the writer is sharing), we start taking a look around this character's mind and begin making judgment calls. "This character responded this way, but should have responded this way." But when you add in the fact that this certain trait of the character is one we relate to (because we're the same, or similar at least), as we make judgments we can also start to see how/why we're doing the same thing in our own life. And realize we need to change! Maybe even as we see the character change, so do we.

Which brings me to the idea that books, especially fictional stories, can actually affect the way we are and the way we live. So reading a fiction novel during a hard moment doesn't have to be an escape (although it can be), it can be a way for us to truly begin to see ourselves.

Fascinating stuff, really. *ponders some more* What do you think?

April 5, 2016

My Quirky Reading Habits

Yep. I'm pretty sure we all have them. The funny little quirks that are either A) only unique to us or B) ones that all readers understand. There are so many posts and tweets out there about problems that we booklovers struggle with and I, for one, love to read them! Because it helps to know I'm far from being alone. Because 95% of the time, we have all been there.

So! These are things that I've noticed about my readings habits. Not really things that I have a problem with, they're just things that I do. I'm quirky! (And calling them a problem would mean that they need solved, when I'm not convinced they do.) Also, I know I've probably mentioned a couple of these before, but let's not worry about that now.... :)

Characters will make or break a story for me! And I've noticed that when I get ready to write a review, my first thought is about certain characters and what it is about them that I liked or disliked. They bring out feelings in me and I can spend a great deal of time analyzing all the whys and whynots!

::MOOD ::
It depends on my mood as to whether I read a little, a lot, or not at all. Sometimes I can read three or four books in a row, sometimes I read one and I'm done, sometimes I take days and weeks to finish one. And this isn't always dependent on the book itself! (Although sometimes it is.) I can love a story, but just not be in the mood to read it today. 

Someone noted recently how I tend to love just about every book I read/review. And this is true, most of the time. Mainly because if I'm not enjoying a book, I stop reading it. I tend to only finish books that I really like, hence most of my reviews are going to be happy ones. I'm not part of a book club, so the only occasions I have to finish a book I may not love is when I'm participating in a read-along or have a book specifically for review. Sometimes I may not enjoy those as much.

I love them! I actually prefer them because I want to know if spending my time with a story is going to be worth it or not. If things go different than how I want them to (say for instance, the main romance does not end up together or everyone dies and no one's happy), then I'd really prefer not to read the entire book only to end up disappointed. You probably think I'm crazy and that's okay. I'd just rather know what's going to happen! It only adds to my anticipation of the story, it never ruins it for me.

By which I mean, when I'm into the story and loving all the action and plotlines, I will pause now and again and flip back to the cover and just look at it. Kind of like I just need to refresh my memory of the characters faces (if they're on the cover) or the particular scene that may be depicted.

If I love a particular scene, a lot of times I will go back to where it starts and read it over again before going on. Sometimes I'll even reread it several times! I do that with particularly awesome sentences or paragraphs as well. I might even have to read it out loud to myself just to enjoy it further! Weird, I know.

I have to have a synopsis somewhere on the book! Whether on the back cover, on the front flap of the dust jacket, or even on the very first page of the book, I just need it somewhere. I do read a lot of reviews and generally know what a lot of books that I'm interested in are about, but there are lots more that I haven't read about! And when I find a new one I've not heard of, I immediately pick it up and read the synopsis. If I can't find it (or if the store has put a sticker on top of it, horrible idea!!!), I am severely disappointed. I know I can always go on Goodreads and find it, but I prefer it on the book itself.

Okay yes, I am aware that there is things going on around me, whether that be noises or people or whatever. (And if an explosion happened, or some noise that is very atypical of my environment, I would notice!) But once I'm into the story, unless you actually say my name, I am not very likely to hear you. If it's an especially good story, I hear nothing but the words on the page! Books suck me in and conversations can happen all around me of which I hear not one single sentence. I am an expert at tuning things out while reading.

What about you? Do you have any unique (or not) reading habits?

April 4, 2016

Little Moments :: Happy Heart :: Fourth Edition

I found these P&P glasses recently and they just make me happy. I grin every time I open my cabinet and get one out to use! They each have a silhouette on one side and a quote on the other. Aren't they awesome?! :)

Someone left this sweet surprise on my doorstep the other week.

So much truth! I was given tea with bookish quotes and it was fun to see what I would find when I opened the box every morning.

I found this recipe on Pinterest last fall and they were delicious! I had actually been searching for it for years because a bakery I used to work at made them but has since closed shop and took the recipe with them. :( But! I tried this one and eureka!! I think it's high time I made another batch. Mmmmm. :)

Remember when I gushed over this story? I won a signed copy soon after that! And seriously. If you haven't read this one, you really, really should.

This was my happy find while at a favorite bookstore recently.

Yay for spring arriving! (I was so done with winter.)

April 1, 2016

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Eighteen

Y'all I am still catching up on my reviews from last year. Still! It's almost April already!! I should so be caught up by now. *sigh* Yet here am I. So you know what that means! More mini reviews for your consumption. But please don't think that because I don't gush over these stories means I didn't enjoy them! Because I did. :)

Anyhoo, on with the fun stuff!

The Proposal by Becky Wade {novella}
This is a pretty quick read, yet its sweetness is not to be missed! Having not read Undeniably Yours yet (*gasp* I know), this was my first introduction to these characters. While it would probably be helpful to know their beginning, I was able to understand and enjoy the story without any trouble. As a big fan of Ms. Wade's, I always seem to fall in love with her characters, especially the swoonworthy heroes she writes. And Will is most certainly one of those! :) I loved this peak into he and Amber's lives and look forward to reading more of how they came to be at these particular moments.

Prelude For a Lord by Camille Elliot
This one had been sitting on my shelf for far too long before I picked it up! As a fan of the regency time period and definitely of Camy Tang! (she wrote under a pen name), I should have known this would be right up my alley. I really liked the characters and how they frustrated one another, yet neither could seem to stay away. Watching the two fight their attraction is great fun! :) I've not read of a musician heroine from this time period before and didn't realize how scandalous that would've been back then. But I loved how Alethea was determined not to give up on her beloved instrument. With a sweet romance, a curious mystery, and great characters, this was a delightful read!

A Cliche Christmas by Nicole Deese
As a huge fan of Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies, to say I was absolutely delighted to know the heroine of this story was a screenwriter of theirs would be putting it mildly! All the little callbacks to those movies just made me grin every time. And the characters? Georgia is awesome! She's been hurt by Weston though, so their relationship moves slowly. But he's determined not to be ignored and I loved how he pursued a friendship first before a romantic relationship. He's got as much on his plate as Georgia, and they both have to work at communicating and opening up their hearts. Watching them find their way is oh so wonderful though, and while the story is based during Christmas, it's one to be enjoyed any time of the year!

Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann
Wow! I was so not expecting this story, my friends. It completely sucked me in and what a ride I was in for! A powerful look at choosing to forgive no matter what and how difficult that can be, yet how freeing. This story is certainly edgier than Ms. Heitzmann's others, yet do not let that deter you! Because the twists and turns of the plot held me captive and the chemistry between the key players in this story was felt in every line of dialogue and even more so in their unspoken body language. The feelings refused to be denied! Both characters make mistakes and forgiving themselves is just as difficult, if not more so than forgiving the other. It's an incredible and very well written story and I am counting down the days until book two! :)

Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings by Jane Austen
I discovered this little gem a few months ago and couldn't pass it up since it was Jane Austen! A compilation of stories, some finished and some not (or at least they felt unfinished to me), some sent to family members for various reasons, others discovered after her death, and all a good deal of fun to read. Since most are pretty short, it was easy to read bits and pieces as the notion arose. Many of the stories are written in epistolary form as well and I really enjoyed that aspect of them. One can never go wrong with reading Austen, right? (And now I'm especially curious to see how the film adaptation of Lady Susan turns out!)

Corral Nocturne by Elisabeth Grace Foley {novella}
This was a very sweet historical nod to Cinderella and I quite enjoyed it! A fellow blogger recommended this one several months ago and as she rarely steers me wrong, I knew I'd pick it up some day. I'm so glad I did! (Of course, it was helped by the fact that she mentioned she kept picturing Armie Hammer as Cole and well...*swoon* ;) It's a quieter story, yet the characters shine brightly. Ellie is so gentle and wonderful, I wanted rather desperately for things to get better for her. And Cole? He was just perfect! His tender care of Ellie was a delight to read and made me about fall in love with him myself. :) A charming story well worth your time!

Never a Bridesmaid by Janice Thompson {novella}
Janice Thompson's stories are just about guaranteed to make me grin, so I always look forward to them! This one is no exception. Mari is a wonderful character! She's feeling slightly overlooked by her older sister as she prepares to her wedding day, yet never lets that deter her from making sure things are running as smoothly as possible. She tends to stay in the background and how much did I love that a certain someone notices! He gently draws her out and their friendship and subsequent relationship is so very sweet and adorable. If you're looking for a cute and entertaining escape from reality, this little story is perfect! Most certainly a keeper, my dear readers. :)


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