The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth

Moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution and inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose.

Viviane de Faitaud has grown up alone at the Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany, for her father, the Marquis de Ravoisier, lives at the court of Louis XVI in Versailles. After a hailstorm destroys the chateau’s orchards, gardens and fields an ambitious young Welshman, David Stronach, accepts the commission to plan the chateau’s new gardens in the hope of making his name as a landscape designer.
David and Viviane fall in love, but it is an impossible romance. Her father has betrothed her to a rich duke who she is forced to marry and David is hunted from the property. Viviane goes to court and becomes a maid-in-waiting to Marie-Antoinette and a member of the extended royal family. Angry and embittered, David sails away from England with Lord Macartney, the British ambassador, who hopes to open up trade with Imperial China.

In Canton, the British embassy at last receives news from home, including their first reports of the French Revolution. David hears the story of ‘The Blue Rose’, a Chinese fable of impossible love, and discovers the blood-red rose growing in the wintry garden. He realises that he is still in love with Viviane and must find her.

Viviane escapes the guillotine and returns to the ruin of Chateau de Belisima to rebuild her life. David carrying a cluster of rosehips finds her there, and together they decide to grow the fabled red rose of China in France.

This book was so beautifully written and I am so humbled to have received an advance copy of this book which helped me prepare for the in conversation I hosted with Kate the other week. I would rate this 4.5 stars. Once again, Kate weaved an intricate story that blended history with a beautiful fairytale that became a unique tale about overcoming boundaries, acceptance and unconditional love. It was fascinating to learn about the cruelty of the world in 1700 and the parallel between France and China. The connection between our favourite characters David and Vivianne truly warmed my heart.

-Annie

Beautifully written. I loved how all the elements of the story are tied in so well together, from the commonalities between the Imperial France and Imperial China, the French Revolution and the class system, to the characters and their encounters. I felt the storytelling was masterful. In true Kate Forsyth style, this novel drew inspiration from the Blue Rose fairy-tale from China with the central themes of achieving impossible love, freedom and hope through the symbol of the blood red rose. What I enjoyed most about this book is the exploration of freedom and how it is presented in both the ancient fairy-tale and through the French Revolution. In particular, freedom to choose who you love, freedom to live the life you want, and freedom to be who you want to be. It also presents an insight into imperial China. Kate Forsyth has done massive research into Imperial China and has respectfully represented the differences in cultures and understanding, as well as used symbolism to weave a thoughtful and delicate love story set during turbulent times of the French Revolution. The writing is elegant and thoughtful, each chapter engaging and takes the reader on an immersive journey. Highly recommended.
-NJ

With special thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for sending us an Advanced Review Copy of this book.

My Name is not Peaseblossom by Jackie French

Titania rose to her feet. ‘What is going on here, Peaseblossom?’ she demanded.

I bowed to her. ‘I apologise, Your Majesty. But I’d rather be known as Pete.’

‘Pete?’ She frowned. ‘That’s no name for a fairy.’

‘No, it isn’t, ‘ I said, meeting her eyes.

At court, he’s known as Peaseblossom, a servant to the Fairy Queen.

But as Pete, he prefers pizza to sugarplums and denim to daffodils. He wants to choose his own life too. But how can he when a fairy’s sole duty is to obey the all-powerful Queen Titania?

This is Shakespeare’s popular and delightful comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream with an added army of Amazons, a sea serpent and a selkie called Gaela, who luckily for Pete makes the best pizza in the world.

It is also a story of the intrigues of the Fairy Court, of vampire plots to dominate the world and of impossible loves that might just come true. Not by enchantment, but when two hearts thread together, making a magic of their own.

I was quite excited to read this book as it was pitched as a “A mid-summer night’s dream” retelling. The story was quick to read and the transition between fae world and real world was particularly interesting however the story traveled at the same pace from beginning to end. It didn’t have the peaks and troughs that most books have, this remained the same throughout the entire book. If you’re looking for a book that grabs you with intensity, this isn’t it.. This book is something you would read to bridge gaps between reads or when you need something light to read after a draining day. It was funny and it was interesting, the dialogue was funny. I also enjoyed the Shakespearean references which reinforces this is a Shakespeare retelling and I would recommend this to readers as young as 10 years old.

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

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

 

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Release Date: End of January/Early February 2019

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win but we must play all the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless”

A contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast – none like you have ever read before!!!! 

“Fall in love, break the curse… Break the curse, save the kingdom..”

Rhen: It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope…

Harper: Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world…

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. Powerful forces are standing against the land of Emberfall and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people…

This was a fantastically, amazing beauty and the beast retelling!!! None like I have ever read before!!! I enjoyed the dual perspective as it was to distinguish both characters: Rhen and Harper. The story made grow to care for the characters very much. I have to be honest, I found Jake annoying, Noah to be lovely but my heart is with Grey!! From beginning to end, the story traveled and developed at a great pace. I loved how as we progressed, more secrets are unlocked and wow that ending – I honestly did not see it coming!!!

This was the first time I ever read a book either cerebral palsy representation and I feel it was written very well. I did a buddy read for this book with a dear friend who also has cerebral palsy and throughout the reading, I cross referenced what we read and she too agreed an individual with cerebral palsy was represented very well in this book. What I admired was how Harper, who is the character with cerebral palsy, did not have her condition define her. If anything, she is someone who just happens to have cerebral palsy. She is a very head strong, loyal and determined young lady above everything else.

I strongly recommend this book to all who enjoy YA fantasy fiction and story retellings. It is truly one of my 2019 book loves already!

Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an advance review copy of this book.
-Annie

Longbourn: Dragon Entail: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Maria Grace

This is the sequel to Book 1: Pemberley: Mr Darcy’s Dragon

In this story, Darcy thought his problems were over when Pemberley hatched and successfully imprinted on humans. But baby dragons prove far more difficult than any dragon lore prepared him for. Only Elizabeth Bennet’s notes offer him any help. Elizabeth, though, has problems of her own. After the Bennet family dragon sent Pemberley away, life at Longbourn was supposed to return to normal… or so they thought..

Dragons.. Dragons and more Dragons..

Misunderstandings got cleared up – Collins got threatened by quite a few dragons in “Longbourn: Dragon Entail”. I am so hoping that they follow through in the next book. Collins is still a massive pain in the arse – please let him get eaten.

Meanwhile, Pemberley is growing up, she’s even started throwing a couple of tantrums.

A great Jane Austen meets Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern.  A must read for fans of Pride and Prejudice and those who love alternate stories and retellings..

-Meredith

Pemberley: Mr Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace

For the Jane Austen fans: This is book 1 in Jane Austen’s Dragons Book series

Whilst England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes, most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind.  Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind…  Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced…

Pride and Prejudice and Dragons.. what more can you ask for?

..Meanwhile.. a dragon egg gets stolen and ends up somewhere in Hertfordshire. Darcy and Elizabeth need to find the egg before it hatches. While they are searching, they can’t draw attention to what they are doing. Not all humans can hear dragons talk..

One of my favourites!!

-Meredith