Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 Reads of 2014

I've had a wonderful year and read a lot of wonderful books! Here are my top 10 favorite reads of this year!!!



A Kiss of Adventure (Treasures of the Heart #1)




The Nonesuch




What were some of your more enjoyable reads in 2014???

Merry Christmas!!!

The Rogue's Reform

I don't think I will ever get tired of Regina Scotts' writing! 
I loved this novel- there was so much more mystery than I was expecting and it was absolutely gripping! The cast of characters was varied and covered every personality (from an over-imaginative schoolgirl to a slightly "off" mother with a single daughter...surrounded by the three single Everard cousins). 
I am so glad there are 3 more books in this series because I did not want the story to end! Minor issues/misunderstandings are resolved quickly, and the major contention in the story is kept upbeat by swashbuckling and poetic cousins; and of course a sweet (and clean) romance between two who "can never be" helps too. ;)
This was the first time in a long while I stayed up til the wee hours of the morning to finish a book. 
No regrets. ;)


Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunrise Song

Like the other books in this series, Sunrise Song was super interesting and I learned a lot more about elephants than I ever would have had I not read this; Catherine Palmer makes learning about random things fun and intriguing. :)
UNlike the other books in this series, the story dragged a bit and I looked forward to finishing; right from the beginning the romance in the story had a soap opera style to it- like the author was reaching for something out of no where and rushing it a bit. 
The ending, however, was great! Everything (as usual, when it gets down to it) wrapped up quickly and nicely and I was very satisfied with the last few chapters. So besides being a bit slow and having a rather cheesy romance, I did enjoy this last installment to the Treasures of the Heart series, and I'm glad to have read the fourth Thornton siblings story so as to know each of them individually, even if it did seem that the author forgot about Fiona and then remembered to write her story as an afterthought. ;)

Have the best of Christmases!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

To Refine Like Silver ~ Author Interview/*Giveaway Winner*!!! (Jeanna Ellsworth Blog Tour)

To finish out the blog tour this week, I asked Jeanna Ellsworth some specific questions about her latest novel, To Refine Like Silver for a "Book Interview" - this was super fun to put together and it's always so awesome chatting with Jeanna.

What is the main reason this story is so special to you, as the author?
I found that writing is very cathartic. I suffered severe depression for ten years and although I did not see my growth or the fruits of my efforts to fight it then, I see what it has made me become. It was a harrowing trial to bear, but I am a much better woman now that I continued to put one foot in front of the other. So that was the main message I hoped to get across: Our trials do not define us, rather they refine us.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and knows exactly what we need to go through to mold us into who He has for us to become to serve Him best! 
Your testimony is a great inspiration! :)

Who's character was the hardest to re-develop?
It wasn’t really hard, but I think the character that is the most changed is Darcy. The setting is in his home county of Derbyshire and so I was able to write him as a more relaxed, less socially inept, and comfortable (even flirty!) Darcy. It was rather fun.
Did Matthew Macfadyen live up to your expectations of Mr. Darcy? Absolutely! A hundred and fifty per cent. I mean, he blew away my expectations of the character. He is the perfect Mr. Darcy. (Keira Knightley)
I loved your unique take on Darcy in this story!

I love this cover! Especially knowing that you know the people posing for it! What made you decide to have Darcy and Georgiana- as opposed to Darcy and Lizzie- on the front? 
Good question! I like my covers to be scenes from the book and this particular scene, where Georgiana finally admits how melancholy she really is, and Darcy catches a glimpse into realizing that he cannot offer her the help she needs, is the turning point of the book. It is where they first turn for help. No one can endure their trials alone, we must all ask for help at some point. And we should! No one should be afraid to ask for help, no matter how great or small the trial. I wanted the turning point in the book to be memorable.
Love it!

What was the hardest scene to write & why?
The hardest scene was when Darcy meets Mrs. Bennet for the first time. Mrs. Bennet is terribly verbally abusive to Elizabeth and up to this point in the book, Darcy has been sweet and lovable, and Elizabeth has been confident and positive. When Darcy meets Mrs. Bennet it is painfully obvious that Elizabeth shrinks in confidence and Darcy has to stand up to Mrs. Bennet in a very commanding way. It was hard for three reasons: Mrs. Bennet was mean, Elizabeth lost her sparkle, and Darcy had to be intimidating! None of which are fun to write!
Hmm...completely understandable. ;)

What was your favorite scene to write & why?
Oh, by far, the bookshop proposal. I loved helping Darcy cross that internal barrier where he starts to open up to her about how he feels for her. It is one of my favorite proposals I’ve written.
but with his guitar instead of books
It's most definitely my favorite of your (and really any) proposals!!! What better place? ^_^

Who was your favorite character to write about (besides Lizzie & Darcy:))?
My heart is with Georgiana and her struggles. Some of her internal dialogue could have been a page out of my journal. I loved writing her growing and stretching until her trials no longer defined her.

How much research did you do this book compared to how much you did for Pride & Persistence?
Quite a bit! I mostly did online research on how to refine silver. I looked at probably 20 articles and a few videos. I read other people’s sermons on the blacksmith metaphor from Malachi 3:3 and pieced it all together. I even did research on silver mines that were active during that time.
That is super cool! I loved the theme of the metaphor running through the whole thing!

What is your favorite quote of Darcy's from this variation? Elizabeth's? 
This is a favorite part of the book that where Darcy does this: ‘Darcy stopped walking, reached up to her cheek, brushed it with the back of his hand. He lowered his voice and said, “I know exactly where my heart is.”’ My favorite quote Elizabeth never really says but it is referred to twice in the book by both Georgiana and Darcy. It comes from Elizabeth’s prayer notebook: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have left.”
pin of the week bestYou never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have
I loved all of Elizabeth's prayer notebook quotes! :D

I'd never read a book or even just someone's opinion on Mrs. Bennet that went so far beneath her abrasive and impolite personality to her deeper character and motivations...
Can you explain a little what motivated you to explore the relationship between Mrs. Bennet and Lizzie so thoroughly? What element were you hoping to add to the story by it?
Mrs. Bennet is basically verbally and emotionally abusive. I have a game I play with myself when I can’t understand why someone would say or act a certain way that seems so mean. I ask myself, what would it take for ME to act that way? What extenuating circumstances would it take for me to say such awful things? Well, I usually can come up with some far-fetched scenario that makes me have some patience and possibly even forgive the behavior. Don’t get me wrong, abuse is never acceptable, but sometimes we need to find meaning to it and in this case, I gave Mrs. Bennet some reasons why she would venture into the realm of abusive behavior. This game helps me not to judge people too harshly because if I think hard enough, I can think of times where I might make a mistake or be impolite like that. I was hoping to add that we should never judge someone solely on their actions. Sometimes we have to have faith in a person until they work through their issues.
Typography Mania #165In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7....then who am I if I do not forgive......it doesn't matter how I "feel" it's what is right that matters!  When you decide to pray for those who hurt you....it's just too hard to think badly and remember the hurt.
Great words, those! Thought-provoking...
Were any of the characters tweaked at all to resemble people you know?
I usually do have people from real life that I filter into the story. I would say Mr. Bennet is more like my dad and a lot of his counsel would be something that my dad would say. I remember having hours upon hours of spiritual discussions with him about heaven and gospel principles. He is a spiritual giant and very compassionate. He was one of the key people that helped me through my depression and divorce.
Family Portraits by Picture It Mine Photography could you imagine taking this at this age then doing the same thing on the day of her wedding with her dad? Soo cuteDaddy Daughter photo. Family Photographer in Menomonie, WI and Eau Claire, WI | Portraits http://katiemallett.wix.com/katiesphotography-

Here's a totally random question that I thought of while reading and simply wanted to know your opinion- a question I've wondered at ever since I became an avid Janeite: Anne de Bourgh: was she really sickly, or was it a ruse with deeper incentive? :)
I’d say it was a ruse. I always picture her standing up to her mother sooner rather than later but only when a strong man steps in and gives her support.
Hmm...smells like a story cooking. ;D I'm with you, by the way...just look at her face...she's definitely plotting. B-)

If someone asked you to summarize your book in one sentence, what would your answer be? 
Our trials do not define us; rather they refine us.

How about in one key word?
This is hard. I have heard inspiring, stirring, and motivational, but I guess the only honest answer I can give is what I feel it is. Hopeful.
Hope anchors the soul... sometimes it's all we've got but it's a really great start.

How do you keep such a good balance between your drama to comedy ratio?
Oh dear! You may be the first one to state that there is a good ratio! I always feel like my books could use more comedy and less drama but I can’t help writing the things that stir deep emotion.
Drama Mask Ink Tattoo Black Pretty
Not complaining at all! I love to have emotion and drama in my stories, so long as there is any comedy to lighten the mood every so often, and your balance was perfect! Haha!

If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would it be?
I would ask who in her life were some of the characters based off of. I just know that there were loves in her life. Did she know a Mr. Knightly? Which heroine was most like her?
Ann Hathaway as Jane Austen in Becoming Jane.

What habits/customs/sayings from the Jane Austen world do you find yourself using in your daily activities as a result of your writing?
I find myself saying “indeed” or “splendid” frequently. I have caught myself saying stuff like “Do tell me. . .”  or “Are you ill?” I also put more weight in the subtleness of gestures or looks and play a game with how I could describe a look or gesture in words.
I find myself using "proper words" all the time!! :D

What do your hope to accomplish most through this novel in the lives of your readers?

Besides the obvious? A great entertaining love story? Ha Ha. You are right though, I do hope to share a message. I dedicated the book to those without hope. I think if I had read a book like this when I was depressed than I might not have felt so alone in my fight. It would have reminded me that sadness really is just a feeling. To be reminded that sadness cannot consume me would have helped me a great deal because it sure felt like it would! I hope that I touch at least one person’s life. I have had several people contact me and tell me how much it helped them and so I consider it a success.
You are definitely touching lives through your novel(s)! 
Thank you so much for your time and the closer look at TRLS! It's always a pleasure talking with you about your books/Jane Austen!


I'm super excited to announce the winner of their very own copy of To Refine Like Silver to be Anji!!!! Congrats, Anji!!! I know you'll enjoy this wonderful story! 
(Anji- When you read this, please contact me at flutterbug95@ gmail.com with your kindle information so that I can get that info to Jeanna and she can send you your copy! :) Thank you!)


Thanks, everyone for stopping by the blog to join in on this tour and to welcome Ms Ellsworth! And thanks again, Jeanna, for being my very special guest in Wonderland this Christmas!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

To Refine Like Silver (Jeanna Ellsworth Blog Tour/Giveaway)

I am super excited to be a part of this blog tour for a great friend of mine, the amazingly talented Jeanna Ellsworth! :D
Thanks so much for letting me join in. ♥
Below is my review for her newest novel: To Refine Like Silver(TRLS).
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

But what if that isn't the case? What if a certain single gentleman of ten thousand a year has no thoughts of matrimony, but only to live peaceably and happily with his young and healing sister? Until one day he crosses paths with a most unusual and bright-eyed young lady who just so happens to be the witty and perfectly tolerable Elizabeth Bennet?

Thus we are reintroduced to our dear old friends of Pemberley and Longbourne - but in an entirely new and brilliant light.

Now full of life and a desire to help others, Elizabeth Bennet had dealt with much pain and sorrow in the past, struggling with pain and depression for years; however, she has learned to rejoice and grow in the trials that are brought her way- Fully Relying On God to use these situations to purify and refine her into the woman He wants her to be, and to help her view them as milestones, rather than millstones.

This concept of relying on God is a bit harder to grasp for someone who has never seen the benefits and significance of refinement; Elizabeth knows as soon as she sets eyes on Georgiana Darcy that God has called her to be the short-term neighbor to this Darcy-sibling-duo for a reason.

Both William and Georgiana are challenged and encouraged by Lizzie (and by a few others they meet along the way) in lessons of forgiveness, unconditional love, the importance of molding their wills to Gods', and, ultimately, refinement through trials. 

Something I want mention in agreement with a fellow reviewer and in appreciation to Jeanna, would be her lovely way with words- particularly in her use of metaphors; written simply yet profoundly, they are thought-provoking and encouraging.

Also- on the topic of appreciation: I'd like to specifically thank the author for writing in that bookshop scene (she knows the one)- it truly did my bookish heart good, my friend. ^_^ 

Regency and Inspirational Romance fans do not want to miss this work of literary art!
Jeanna has a vibrant and vivid way of capturing the English countryside and sophisticated regency era, customs, and manners that would make Jane Austen proud.

A hot cup of tea and a large comfy sweater compliment this novel to perfection (and take my word for it and clear up your schedule, because you won't be able to put it down)!

"Sadness is just a feeling; it cannot consume you."

Now for some exciting news!!!! Here is your chance to win a copy of To Refine Like Silver (ebook or paperback- winners choice) from the author- just in time for Christmas! :D
To enter, simply leave a comment below including your email address, and if you'd like to also ask Jeanna a question, feel free and she will be answering those throughout the week.
This giveaway will be ending Saturday, December 20th.
On Saturday I will be announcing the winner, along with a TRLS-themed conversation with Jeanna! You don't want to miss it!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Touch of Betrayal

Amazing!!! Quite possibly my favorite in the series yet (with #1 coming in at a close second. ;)). This book was intense- full of intrigue and suspense. The cultural aspects all throughout the book were interesting and gave the plot historical charm. I really enjoyed learning about the different tribes and clans of Kenya and their customs; the Maasai in particular. Grant and Alexandra were an awesome couple and their journey of faith in surrendering to Christ and finding Truth in their difficult surroundings was touching and inspiring. Everything came together nicely, and this was a very happy ending indeed. :)
Beyond that, I really can't convey the depth and awesomeness of this book justly. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Falling for Chloe/Peter Pan

The main characters in this story- Chloe and Gil- were super cute and loads of fun with all their witty banter and easy friendship. I don't ever really get tired of the two-good-friends-end-up-realizing-they-love-each-other story line. I think it's cute- and these two played the part perfectly. 
Lord Rival really drove me insane and there were parts with him that I didn't really like (thus, 3 stars). 
There were times during this book that I felt like all I wanted to do was finish it, and it seemed to be taking forever- but the end was so worth the whole! I love when- right at the end- in swoops a minor character to set all to rights in the most simple manner that leaves us all clapping slowly in wonder and stupefaction (saying, "Why didn't that happen sooner?!!?"). 
All in all, this was a cute story and I enjoyed it for the most part, but I was also ready to move on afterwards.

This book was so random and strange- which I love! I loved all the odd paragraphs that shouldn't make sense but do in context. Really this was a cute and quick read and I'm glad I got to it! 
I did not, however, like Peter himself much. Way too cocky and disrespectful for my taste and he totally disregards his friends, which frustrated me. Also- who knew Tinker Bell was such a menace! 
I really did enjoy reading it, though- just wish the main characters were more lovable. I liked the first half best, and the three Darling children are, well, darling. ;)


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cue for Treason

This was a brilliant and intricate story and I highly enjoyed it! It has been some time since I read a Tudor themed novel and, even though this is mainly for Young Adults, I LOVE the setting, the plot, and the Shakespeare/players tie-in. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable, but I was impressed with how many plot twists the author could fit into one book without it seeming repetitive! 
This book has great characters- the very last paragraph made me SO happy! (But you have to have read the whole thing for it to be so sweet and wonderful, so no looking ahead. ;))
Interesting descriptions of the Cumberland countryside lent an authentic feel to this gripping and mysterious tale of a young boy determined to put a stop to a band of treasonous men if it's the last thing he does- which, in a few cases, it almost is!  
Any and all historical fiction (Elizabethan/Shakespearean) lovers will enjoy this book, and I would especially recommend to YA boys.