The Pride and Prejudice Special

“I cannot fix the hour or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun…’
-Darcy

Pride and Prejudice was my first ‘adult’ classic that I read and watched – it is one of my all time favourites and since reading the original, I branched out into the Pride and Prejudice re-tellings. Here are some I love and highly recommend…

Pemberley Quaking by Melanie Schertz

In November of 1795, an earthquake struck Derby shire. Trapped in the basement of the mercantile in Lambton are Gerald Darcy, his son Fitzwilliam, and Miss Elizabeth Bennet. What will happen in the wake of the earthquake?

This was an interesting take on Pride and Prejudice. Fitizwilliam Darcy and his father meet Elizabeth and Aunt Gardeners fathers store where she is helping out. Darcy Snr knows that Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam are perfect for each other and forces them to marry after the earthquake! With the twist that happened in Pemberley Quaking, I didn’t see it coming..

Darcy’s Midsummer Madness by Cass Grix

There is nothing like a love potion to make a party interesting. Caroline Bingley schemes to make Mr. Darcy fall in love with her, but her plans are thwarted by a mischievous footman who puts her love potion in the pastries served at the Netherfield Ball. This sets off a series of romantic misadventures.

Mr. Darcy is falling for Elizabeth Bennet and she begins to fall for him, but will their love last beyond midnight?

Darcy’s Midsummer Madness is a whimsical Pride and Prejudice Variation Novella based on Jane Austen’s most famous couple and loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. What fools these Mortals be!

Pride and Prejudice and a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream have joined to bring us a tale about Netherfield Ball. Let the gaiety ensure. Darcy’s Midsummer Madness is told from multiple characters point of view. So you get into their mid set when certain events happen (looking at you Caroline Bingley).

Much Ado About Darcy by Jane Grix

A rainstorm prevents Fitzwilliam Darcy from giving Elizabeth Bennet a letter after his botched proposal, so they part ways with their misunderstandings bitter and unresolved. They hide their passions behind a war of wit until some well-meaning friends conspire to bring them together.

Much Ado About Darcy is an Austen and Shakespeare Mash-up, a Pride and Prejudice Variation Novella set in the Regency era.

Much Ado About Nothing meets Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy are in the roles of Beatrice and Benedict and they play their roles well. This is a quick and fun read.

Fair Stands the Wind by Catherine Lodge

We all know that in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is proud and prejudiced because he is a wealthy landowner who believes himself above his company; and that Elizabeth Bennet can afford to be proud and prejudiced because she believes she has the freedom to make choices for herself.

But what if Mr Darcy is the second son, sent to sea at a young age? What if Elizabeth is trapped by circumstances, with an ill father on one side and an understandably desperate mother on the other?

Meet Captain Darcy of the Royal Navy, a successful frigate captain, with ample prize-money and a sister he needs to provide for while he is at sea. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, who needs a husband and is trying to resign herself to Mr Collins, the worst “least worst alternative” in the history of literature.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the second son of the family. His father sent him to the Navy when he was nine years old. Fitizwilliam is now a well respected navy captain. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth’s marriage starts off as a convient one.. But it doesn’t necessarily end as it started… or does it???

The Perfect Gift: A Pride and Prejudice Novella by Christie Capps

TIMELESS ROMANCE FOR THE BUSY READER

On the path to love, will Elizabeth ever catch up?

In this sweet modern variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy has been his usual prideful/arrogant self and Elizabeth Bennet would rather have gum stuck to her shoe than be stuck in a room with him.

When the turmoil of having a pre-teen sibling reach puberty knocks Darcy off his pedestal, his only saving grace will be the one woman who confounds him, teases him, torments him, and intrigues him. They say love is blind, but is it totally insensible as well?

Follow along as Elizabeth’s journey to happily-ever-after is filled with obstacles, roadblocks, and her own obliviousness to Darcy’s growing affections. Will she ever find her way?

Set in the modern day, where both Elizabeth and Darcy are authors. Elizabeth and Darcy start off getting into arguments and debates even if they started out having a normal conversation. But when Darcy asks Elizabeth for help with his younger sister Gianna, let’s see what happens…

This story can be read in about an hour and is just over 100 pages in length.

 

“He is a gentleman and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal” Elizabeth Bennett

 

Pride and Prejudice special post is brought to you by Meredith

 

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Shauna’s Great Expectations by Kathleen Loughnan

An important coming of age YA novel with an indigenous lead character that is written by an indigenous author

A fresh and compelling novel about an Aboriginal scholarship student and her surprising final year of school.

Shauna is in her final year at an elite private school and has great expectations. She holds an Indigenous scholarship and is determined to be the first member of her family to go to university, no matter what. The year is off to an excellent start and she and her friends are dreaming big about life after school and planning a trip to Paris. But suddenly she finds she must make a choice that threatens to throw all her plans into disarray. As pressure builds from every corner of her world, Shauna wonders what she’ll have to sacrifice to keep hold of her dreams… Can she fulfil her own promise and still keep her promises to others? Will all her expectations be ripped away?

An insightful and important coming of age story with a strong indigenous female protagonist who sends a powerful message to those of marginalised backgrounds. This brought back memories of “Looking for Alibrandi” whereby Shauna is the indigenous minority who is on a scholarship in an elite school having to deal with racism and discrimination due to her background. Her determination in life was what I found to be her strength. Whilst Shauna is subjected to having to deal with negativity around her and live with a life choice that can influence her next life decisions, it was interesting to see how Shauna went about her choices and how she tries to be true to herself. A compelling indigenous voice, a great book and very eye opening!!!

About the Author:
Kathleen is an Australian lawyer and writer. She was born in rural Victoria and now lives between Australia and Europe with her husband and their four children.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers + Aus YA Bloggers for having us on board for the Instagram Tour.
-Annie

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – with exclusive Q&A with Hafsah Faizal

The epic debut in the Sands of Arawiya Series!!

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands

“An idle mind is the devil’s playground…”

As I heard about this book a year ago, I purposely took my time to read this slowly so I really could really immerse myself in the intricate world of Arawiya. What first drew me in was how the world was inspired by ancient Arabia and the story included a strong female character, djinn and ifrit – elements of an epic Arabian inspired tale. The world building in the first quarter of the book did take a bit of time as the world of Arawiya is complex and made up of 6 main lands or kingdoms or sectors that we learn about as we learn about our characters however it was still very engaging.
The way the author really described the landscape really brought back memories of my visit to Arabia as images of the Arabian desert and ancient Arabian villages came to life in my mind. It really triggered my imagination. The characters really came to life too and I kept picturing characters dressed as the cast from an Islamic history movie called “The Message” which is set in 6th Century Arabia. From the clothes to the housing to the Arabian food – the author did an amazing job in bringing everything to life – I actually wanted to go to Arawiya!!
The book is very clever and lyrical. There are multiple story lines that blend together so eloquently and I came to care for the characters we met – particularly Zafira and Nasir. Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, The Sultan. Both have a lot at stake and both are legends of Arawiya.

“The first step in getting anywhere is believing you can…”

This is my book love for 2019 and it is only just released. For me, this book had everything from deep fantasy world building inspired by one of the most exotic places I have come to know to a journey of self-discovery, empowerment and courage. Epic plot twists that lured me deeper and deeper into the story and the way it ended was quite exciting – yes there is a cliffhanger I am really looking forward to but will definitely re-read the finished copy. I am so happy this book is written.
-Annie

First and foremost, a book by a Muslim author set in Arabia with kick-ass characters is already very special, and I completely get the hype around the book. For me, however, the beginning was a bit hard to get through. There was a lot of story building, and the only reason I was able to understand a lot of it was because of my prior knowledge of the Arabic language.
 
Once you get past the first few chapters it becomes much easier to read and immerse yourself in the world the story is set in. What I liked about it was obviously the fierce female protagonist and the very interesting world it was set in, and how the secrets were slowly revealed as you keep reading.
The ending seemed a little rushed, and cliche, but it ended on an interesting cliff hanger that definitely makes you want to get the next book in your hands ASAP!  And I also appreciate Hafsa for making it clear that there is no Muslim representation in the book, and that Arab is not equal to Muslim. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!!!
-Aida

Exclusive Blog Q&A with author of We Hunt the Flame, Hafsah Faizal

The names of your characters are very unique and beautiful. Is there a reason you chose certain names for them?
Yes! Each character name ties into that character’s personality and role in the story—most of the time, anyway. I put a lot of thought into each name, and I love that anyone who analyzes them will be rewarded with an extra treat! The names Zafira and Nasir are both variations on the word “victorious.” There’s something deeply satisfying about two people who seem wholly different being entwined in ways that aren’t obvious at first.

Who is your favourite character and why?
I can never answer this question, because I love Zafira and Nasir equally. I love Altair, too, the general who somehow became a main character without even having a point-of-view of his own! If I had to choose which character’s point-of-view I like best, however, I’d say Nasir, because we get to learn his feelings about Zafira, Altair, and the rest of the cast, and how drastically those views change as the story progresses.

What is your writing process?
I just write! I try not to pause for research and the like when I’m in the thick of it, saving those for before or after a writing session so as not to disrupt the flow. The process itself varies depending on my mood or the scene I’m writing. Sometimes, I have a clear image in my head that’s a breeze to get down. Other times, I’ll have to write a few different versions to see which fits the scene best. One thing I’ve learned: trust the characters. They know what they want, and if it’s not clear at first, I can usually uncover their motives and desires after a few edits!

Where do you go for inspiration and motivation?
Pinterest! Admittedly, finding anything Middle Eastern is hard because it’s so often mixed with South Asia, but there’s always something! For motivation… it depends. Sometimes, when I’m in a rut, I just need to watch an Assassin’s Creed game trailer. Other times, I just need to work on something else, usually design projects.

Why did you choose ancient Arabia or an Arabian nights theme for your debut novel?
This is a long story, but I never set out to write a story inspired by the world of ancient Arabia. We Hunt the Flame started off as a fantasy set in a eurocentric world, but while drafting, I had a nagging sense of something being off, but I couldn’t figure out what. After about thirty-thousand words, I stopped to craft the world’s map when it hit me: the structure of my world matched that of the Mediterranean. Why not go further south—to the world of Arabia—and set the story in a place more familiar to me? It’s a place so often demonized and sometimes exoticized, and I had the chance to make a difference. The rest, as they say, is history!

From initial idea to draft to manuscript to publication, how long did “We Hunt the Flame” take you to write?
I’m not sure when the initial idea for the story occurred, but between the time I started writing We Hunt the Flame until its publication on May 14th, 2019, it took roughly six years. It was going to be my last attempt at publication, so I took it less seriously than I did my other manuscripts. Once I finished the first draft, I became more dedicated to it—between polishing the draft, querying, and auction, it took around six months! Which is the perfect analogy to publishing: things can move excruciatingly slow one moment, and lightning quick the next.

I love the map of Arawiya, I actually printed it and it’s hanging on my desk at work (yes I know, I’m a nerd) I am curious to know how you come up with the landscape/map of Arawiya, did you design it and mark everything yourself or did you have a ‘bookish cartographer’ on hand?
Oh gosh, I adore the map! Virginia Allyn is the mastermind behind the stunning work of art. As I said, I put together a sketch of the world early on. It was very bare bones, with defined borders and locations. When the time came, I sent that sketch, symbolism, and as many details as I could to Virginia, who turned it around with the amazing map we have now. Funny thing, back when being published was a dream I didn’t fully believe in, I used to hoard bookish maps and humor myself that I would have a map half as beautiful one day. Dreams do come true!

What is the best piece of advice you received during your writing journey and what would you pass onto other aspiring writers?
You can’t edit what isn’t there.
I know, it’s such an obvious thing, but when you’re drafting, it’s so easy to feel like the words you’re writing aren’t good enough. It’s easy to get caught up on editing the same passages over and over again, which is hindering, and tends to slow me down drastically, when instead, I could be finishing a draft and getting a better idea of what needs editing. I’m still learning to “just write,” so if you’ve mastered this, you’re a pro already!

Visit her website for more on ‘We Hunt the Flame’ and updates from: Hafsah Faizal

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending us an advanced review copy of this book and for organising our exclusive blog Q&A with the amazing Hafsah Faizal.

ARC read along + Blog Review + Q&A
compiled by Annie and Aida

Sky by Ondine Sherman – Blog Tour

Sky is the first book in the Animal Allies Series.

Friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

After her mother’s death, Sky leaves her city life to move in with her aunt and uncle in a small Australian town. Life in a new place isn’t easy, and Sky finds comfort in the friendship of a stray dog she meets along the way.

But her new friends at school are another story, and as Sky struggles to fit in, she finds herself doing things that go against everything she believes in.

When Sky stumbles on a case of animal cruelty, she is forced to question what’s really important to her and who she wants to be.

This book was quite easy to read and follow. Not normally something I read myself but I found it interesting that the story taps into themes that I don’t usually come across in YA. Themes like family and family secrets are quite normal but for a teen who has embraced the path of being a vegan and is quite passionate about animal rights and against animal cruelty were areas I found unique to the story. I enjoyed Sky as a character and how she deals with transition in her life from loss to staying with family who even though they’re family, it’s not your immediate or inner circle. I feel this is an important book, I can see why the author felt it needed to be written – really touches the heart. The ending has left scope so I am keen to see what happens in book 2.

For more about the author, you can visit Pantera Press or connect with Ondine Sherman via Twitter Instagram and Goodreads.
To add Sky to your TBR:  Sky Goodreads page.

With special thanks too Pantera Press + Aus YA Bloggers for sending out a review copy of this book and for having us on board for the Sky Blog Tour.
-Annie

 

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

**Content warnings: Racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD and anxiety triggers.**

“…Your people, my people, our people, they’re everyone. They’re Malaysians. It’s not Malays killing Chinese or Chinese killing Malays. It’s stupid people killing stupid people.”

Melati Ahmad looks like your typical movie-going, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.

With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

“How do you expect unity to grow from seeds of self-interest? Look at the riots in Penang last year….”

This book was an incredibly powerful historical fiction that really brings the bloody history of Malaysia in 1969 to life. I was able to relate to it from a cultural and religious perspective as I am part Indonesian and Muslim so the cultural values, language, religious referencing places, food, even the civil unrest is something I was very familiar with. I was engrossed from the first page as the writing was very easy to follow but I agree the story may be difficult for some readers to stomach and as I recommend this book, please note my recommendation comes with a warning. The content in this book is definitely not for a younger audience – it’s definitely an older YA novel.

Our protagonist is Melati Ahmad’s torment and journey really came to life in my mind and it was heart wrenching to read about innocent people trapped in a war zone but aren’t just fighting for survival – they are battling their own demons as well, in this case, the djinn that keeps controlling Melati’s mind in horrific ways. Yes this book is quite confronting and very detailed in bringing out the violence and Melati’s torment. Personally, I was able to handle it as I felt the author really nailed it with her writing and explored these themes very well. I really kept turning the page yearning to know what happens next. I shed tears as I read the epilogue – it was so touching and final. I was convinced to pick this book up sooner than I planned and I wondered why I took so long to read this.

I highly recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction with an element of ‘urban fantasy’ (which I believe is a metaphor in this story) and strong cultural representation. Please note, again, my recommendation comes with a trigger warning. This book contains graphic details and violence, death, racism, war and mental illness and I believe this to be more suited to older readers. Please do not read this book if you feel it may be harmful to you in any way.

Happy to say this is another book love for 2019. Just amazingly written, very insightful, a book I won’t forget anytime soon.

Publisher: Salaam Reads – subsidiary of Simon and Schuster
-Annie

Kidz Korner School Holiday Special Round Up of Recommendations

Easter is here which means the kids are on school holidays!! We really enjoyed these children’s books so we hope you have fun with these titles over the break!!


It’s a Book by Lane Smith

Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages. This title has Common Core connections.

Interesting way to introduce someone to a real life book. Where you don’t need to recharge, scroll internet or even click the mouse. Within “It’s a Book” we get to see one fall in love with reading.

Recommended to younger readers from aged 4 years and up.
-Meredith

Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz
Little Donkey loves to eat grass. And only grass. Nothing else. He has grass for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUM. Will his mum ever persuade him to try some new food?

This was such a cute picture book very suitable to reading to young kids as young as 2-3 years old. Its a story that teaches a valuable lesson – when too much of something may have its ramifications. In this case, when the little donkey eats too much grass, he turns green! Not a lot of sentences on the page which holds a toddler’s attention. Cute artwork featuring fruits, vegetables, donkeys and other animals! It was fun and highly recommended as a good kids read.

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie


Imagine a City by Elise Hurst

Imagine a world without edges . . . where bunnies and bears ride bicycles, lions read books, and buses are fish that fly through the clouds. In the city of imagination, anything is possible, and an outing with their mother brings a world of adventure to two lucky children.

The illustrations are beautiful and the words only enhance the illustrations.

With each new page, I was wishing that I was in the world. Where fish were buses or having gargoyles having tea next to you. Or even rabbits reading the newspapers.
-Meredith

Moonwalkers by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton
Dream astronaut dreams, and celebrate Australia’s role in one of humanity’s greatest achievements, the moon landing of 1969. Moonwalkers is a joyous story of imagination and play – the greatest bedtime story ever told. When Apollo 11 blasts off for the moon, the whole world is watching. On the other side of the planet, Billy, Mickey and Buzz decide to be astronauts too.

It was such a joy to see children enjoy this insightful story of one of history’s greatest moments!! The story and the illustrations kept their attention and it is highly recommended as a family read to children as young as 3 years and up.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner and Tom Jellett
There are four seasons in a year, and they’re all awesome, but only one of them gets to be summer!
Sunny days, weekends at the pool, games in the backyard, daylight until late and long, lovely holidays . . . that’s summer, the best season ever.

“Why I Love Summer” goes through the joys of Summer that children see and go through. We get to see the beach, the pool and games such as backyard cricket.

Oh! the joys of summer holidays!!!

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Meredith

Extraordinary Life of Michelle Obama – The Extraordinary Lives Puffin Series
A bold new non-fiction series that focuses on the lives of inspirational historical and modern figures. This one in particular focuses on the extraordinary life of a lawyer, writer, activist and First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama. It explores how she has become a role model and modern icon all over the world. From her childhood in Chicago, to her role as an advocate for women and diversity, via her incredibly influential time in the White House, be inspired by her determination, her voice and her story.

“As ever, there were people who criticised Michelle for her work. No matter how much she did or didn’t do, there was always someone out there who had an opinion.”

Although a book written for a younger audience that is definitely recommended to young readers from ages 7 years and up, this book can be read and enjoyed by an older audience who have an interest in getting to know Michelle Obama’s life without having to invest in extensive reading or research. This book is a snapshot or summary of the former U.S First Lady’s life, achievements and passions. She is one remarkable and inspirational woman, I have always liked the Obamas but since reading this book and gaining a little more insight into Michelle’s life, I have an even greater respect for her. I love her strength, her courage, her passion for education and equality, her love for family and her determination in life. I loved her resilience as she herself experienced racism at a young age – she didn’t let that get her down, it was always on wards and upwards with her. I found it was very interesting to see how hard she worked to become who she is and to see her status was not simply given to her on a platter – she earned it. How she met her husband Barack Obama for the first time was a sweet and funny story. I highly recommend this to young readers as Michelle Obama is an inspiration and I also recommend this to older readers who do have an interest in her life and would like a quicker insight.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

“Absolute power can corrupt even the purest of hearts. Such is the folly of men…”

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

With an army of demons and the unlikeliest of allies,  secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself….

“The tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend” 

I really enjoyed the read along I experienced with 2 dear friends. This book got me hooked from the first page, so much happened virtually straight away. I loved how the story line explored the Japanese culture and legend and I would recommend this to readers who loved Kylie Chan’s “Dark Heavens” series. It was captivating, action packed and really intriguing.

The only flaw was the confusing switching of perspectives throughout the book. Normally it’s quite clear whose voice we are reading but this one took me a moment or 2 in the next chapter before I realised who we were following. But other than that, it was a great book! A great story with strong Asian cultural representation, so much action particularly from the first chapter that really caught my attention and maintained the pace throughout the book. I particularly loved the ending and I will be investing in the next book.

With special thanks to Book Depository for sending me this book as a thank you for when I engaged in their mini Blogstars project. It’s really worth the read!
-Annie