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February Reading and More!

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Guys, I love to read. I have ever since I started reading. But with work and kids and a house to maintain, there’s no doubt that finding time to read has been tricky for at least a decade. Tricky or not, I squeeze in time here and there. So far, 2018 has been a good year for reading. I signed up for a reading challenge on Goodreads and it’s so fun to keep track of what I’m reading for the year.

I just got back from a trip to Virginia and as soon as I realized I’d be flying somewhere by myself, I got all excited about having time to read. I managed to finish Next Year in Havana, Still Me, and start The Selection. IMG_0858I enjoyed all three books so much.

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton drew me in with its dual storyline and intriguing look at Cuba. I loved getting what felt like an insider’s look at Cuba, past and present. (Also, it really made me appreciate the freedom we have in America.) Family secrets, danger, romance–there was a lot to enjoy in this story. For some reason, dual storylines always take me longer to read. Maybe because you’re trying to keep track of two stories and how they intersect. Regardless, it was a great read.

And I loved Still Me. To be honest, Me After You was not my favorite. I wanted to know what happened with Louisa Clark, but it just didn’t capture my heart the way Me Before You did. Louisa is such a delightful character that I wanted to know where her story ended up, after the sadness she, of course, went through in Me After You. Still Me (like Me After You) went in all kinds of directions I had not expected. (There were moments when I paused and thought, Where are we and how did we get here again?) But the story took hold of me and I was again rooting for Louisa. I like when stories keep me guessing (but I can get crazy and have to flip ahead when I can’t wait anymore!). This book kept me guessing and ended so well. I recommend it for fans of Me Before You.

And finally, I just finished The Selection by Kiera Cass. I really do love YA fantasy, but it’s been a while since I read a book from that genre. With book club choices and others on my TBR list–and so many popular YA fantasy stories that I can’t keep track of what I’m missing out on–I’ve been on a little break. But this cover stood out to me forever ago, and I’ve had it on my to-be-read list ever since. It was such a fast, easy read, I should have read it ages ago. (Plus side, I think the series may be finished so I can read them straight through.) I found the heroine to be likeable and relatable. And all the covers in the series are gorgeous! If you like YA fantasy and you’ve never tried this one, I recommend it.

February felt like Jane Austen month over here. Since the start of the year I’ve read Jane of Austin, The Austen Escape and Jane by the Sea. I either need my own vacation to Bath or a (very) temporary break from all-things-Austen. However, I did love all three books! Jane is the queen.


I’m about to dive into a few freelance projects so my reading time may get squeezed even more over the next several weeks. And I have some exciting book news coming up soon in my next newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for that, hop over to and plug in your email to sign up. I can’t wait to share that with you!

What have you read so far this year that you’ve loved? Any recommendations?








Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

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Loveys, so this was the latest book club read over here! I really love to read so much that I wish I could read a book a month and get together to discuss. But amid the craziness of raising kids and doing life, I have to be careful with how much I take on. After the lovely chaos of the holidays, I started thinking it was time to find a book for book club. As usual, I get all my ideas from my sister Sara. She’s an amazing reader and always has a pile of books she’s reading. She recommended Lizzy and Jane to me a while back, and if Sara recommends it to me, it’s usually a very good read. So I emailed all the girls from book club to see who was up for it, and we got a good group together!

Here’s the scoop on this book (via Amazon):

Lizzy and Jane couldn’t be further from Jane Austen’s famous sisters for whom they are named. Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create?

*My thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. It’s full of emotion (though sometimes you want to strangle the sisters!) and there are a lot of layers for discussion. For this reason, especially, I think it works well for book club. There are parts to love and parts to pick apart. I loved the food element woven throughout. One of the sisters is a chef, so food is almost a main character in the book. (Which I love!) When it came time for book club, I decided to host a potluck dinner. Last summer, our book club read 800 Grapes (good choice!) and wine was an important part of the book. So a night of appetizers and wine went well with book discussion. This time, a potluck dinner sounded super fun to me. So we sat around my table and, over pasta and salad and bread, talked about the complicated family relationships in the book, the decisions the sisters made, and more.


Especially for Austen fans, you’ll enjoy the mentions of Austen’s novels and characters. For people who’ve experienced difficult illness, you’ll appreciate the family dynamics in conjunction with stress and hurt feelings. For foodie’s, you’ll love the ties to food and cooking.

More than anything, what I love about book club is simply coming together to share our perspective and our own stories. I’m very grateful to all the lovely ladies who took part. Good times. Can’t wait till next time!

For my reader friends, check out Lizzy and Jane!

The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen by Shannon Winslow

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]You guys know I love Jane Austen everything. Sara gave me this book for Christmas and I just finished it, and I loved it! Persuasion is one of my favorite love stories. I have both movie versions and have watched them a million times. So this story was just extra fun for a Persuasion fan. Here’s the book blurb:

What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?

This story weaves together Jane’s own experience (fictional) as she writes Persuasion. In this novel, it’s Jane’s own love story that inspires Anne Elliot’s! I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories, and I found this one to be extremely well-written and engaging. This was my first Shannon Winslow novel but I have a feeling I’ll be reading more. She’s the author of The Darcys of Pemberley, Return to Longbourn and more. Her website is All Austenites should check her out ASAP.

On another note, loveys, my author page on Facebook is up and running! Hop over to LIKE my page and I’ll love you forever! And spread the word!

The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote by The Austen Authors Collective

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So I’ve been reading this book that Sara gave me at my book launch dinnerPP200cover7small

party. And I’m loving it! It’s so fun to get glimpses into other characters and read extra scenes that feel as though they could slide right into Pride and Prejudice. It’s a gorgeous book, the kind I want to keep on my bookshelf for a very long time. Because these are just scenes written from the perspectives of many different characters (Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s sisters, Kitty–to name a few), you can skip around and read wherever you like. The chapters aren’t too long, some are quite short. So I’ll flip through and read whatever looks the most interesting to me at that moment. It’s a large book, but it’s not intimidating for that reason. I think any P&P lovers should take a look. If only to read a few fun scenes from Darcy’s perspective. It’s fun to watch him fall in love with Lizzy.

Many thanks to my precious sister Sara for giving me this beautiful book!

I’ve been thinking about my to-be-read for the fall. What do you recommend? I’m thinking I’d love to pull together a friend or two this fall and dive into reading The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. It looks delightful. I’ll keep you posted!



Dearest Cousin Jane by Jill Pitkeathley

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9780061986178_p0_v1_s260x420So I just finished reading Dearest Cousin Jane by Jill Pitkeathley and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is told from the perspectives of several members of the Austen family, and in some cases through letters. In some ways, it didn’t feel like one cohesive story, since we’re hearing from several people whose lives are plenty interesting on their own, but that didn’t detract at all from the worth of the novel. The purpose was to give us a better look at Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza, who married Jane’s brother Henry. I’ve always found Eliza to be captivating so I was glad to get to read more of her story and get to know her a little better. For any and all Janeites, I’d say this novel is a good read. The most intriguing part of Eliza’s history is the question of her father. But that’s also the frustrating part because we never get a definite answer. There’s a lot of speculation that her godfather was her actual father.

I loved all the parts about Jane Austen specifically. Reading this book made me want to watch Becoming Jane in order to see Jane, Eliza, and Henry again. Eliza lived a fascinating life, full of adventure, glamor, style, romance, and more. She seemed to have a lot of depth to her, however, and her love for her family shines through in this novel.





The Mischief of the Mistletoe

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So, I’m one of those people who loves Christmas-themed novels. This is one I checked out from the library this year. I’m going to be honest and say I haven’t been able to finish it yet. My Christmas season has been a bit full. But it’s really fun to see Jane Austen as a character in this book. So if you’re a Janeite, this one might be for you.

Reading fun Christmas novels makes me want to write one of my own! I have a book I’m about to start writing and with every carol I hear and every wreath I see, I start to wonder how I might incorporate some holiday-ish themes in the novel. Not that I’m borrowing from anyone! Christmas stirs all kinds of inspiration for me when it comes to writing. I just want to tuck away with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows and some popcorn and  type away.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas and that you receive some wrapped books for Christmas (or ebooks of course!).

The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen by Lindsay Ashford

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the-mysterious-death-of-miss-jane-austen-by-lindsay-ashford-2013-x-200So I flew to Texas recently and took this book with me. Flying alone (rare for me), I settled in with this book as soon as the plane took off. I was engrossed! I made it more than half way through the book during the two-hour flight. I waited to finish until the return flight. I have to say that I was caught up in the mystery of this book right away and thoroughly enjoyed it and now want to research every aspect of Jane Austen’s death.

Good writing, compelling storytelling, intriguing characters, and a topic that I find fascinating to begin with (Jane)–I loved this book. It felt so true! You have to wonder if this could have happened. However, the ending leaves you just a little unsatisfied. But it has to be that way, I suppose, because of the theories posed in the book. I don’t want to give spoilers for any Jane-ites out there who might read the book. It’s worth reading and I am so glad I did. You know me, I believe in closure and I like books that give us that (unless they leave room for sequels). But, in some ways, you do get a sense of closure in the book. The mystery and excellent writing make this such a fun, entertaining read.

From what I’ve heard, this book was so realistically written that it sparked some controversy on Jane Austen’s death (not that there isn’t any out there to begin with; there are only guesses and theories on the illness that killed her). If you’re a fan of Jane, definitely read this book and see what you think!