Sunday, November 24, 2013

Top 5 Sunday: Re-Told Fairytales

Hello! This week on Larissa's Bookish Life, they picked a theme I suggested! Re-Told Fairytales. :) I really, really love re-told fairytales. They make me very happy. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, a re-telling of the Wild Swans, my favorite fairytale of all time. This book is just beautifully written wonderful in so many ways.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley, a re-telling of Allerleirauh, another one of my favorite fairytales, and also one of the less common ones. This is a really dark story, but also very beautiful.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, a re-telling of, shocker, the Goose Girl, another more obscure fairytale. This one's more kid-friendly than the previous two books on my list, and a lot of fun.

The Once Upon a Time series of YA books published by Simon & Shuster. These are short and sweet re-tellings of a variety of fairytales and legends, including Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey (the Ballad of Hua Mulan), The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey (Scheherezade), Water Song by Suzanne Weyn (the Frog Prince), etc.

Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Ok, so this one is not technically a fairytale re-telling, or at least, it isn't advertised as such. Still, I am convinced that the author was thinking of both Beauty and the Beast and the tale of Eros and Psyche when she wrote it. Really. Read the two stories, then read the novel and tell me you don't see the similarities.

Aaaaand....Because I read so many fairytales, I can't stop at 5. I must add more, such as:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer & Sequels. Cyberpunk fairytales = awesome.

Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey; a fantasy world where the characters are forced to live by fairytale rules and sometimes twist them to their advantage.

Entwined by Heather Dixon, a lovely re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy. This is a folktale rather than fairytale, but I love it so much that I'm counting it anyway.

Everything by Alex Flinn (loved Beastly) Jane Nickerson, Melanie Dickerson, Jessica Day George...I could keep going, but I'm already cheating enough as it is. :)

                      Lieder Madchen

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway!

Holiday Kindle Fire Giveaway
Hello! Today I'm sharing a giveaway, hosted by the lovely Inspired Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Go check it out and enter to win a Kindle Fire HDX. Don't forget to leave a nice comment for the authors and bloggers who worked to put this together. :) Happy Holidays!

Just in time for the HOLIDAYS - Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)   This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

  Or $229 Gift Card (International)

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Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7". Ends 12/18/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Recommend to X Person

It's been a long time since I did a Top Ten Tuesday post, though the meme (started by The Broke and the Bookish) has always been a favorite of mine. So help me get back into the habit by posting lots of comments!

This week's topic is books you would recommend to different sorts of people. I get to pick what sorts of people I'm recommending the books to, so this should be fun. :)

1: For tea-drinking anglophiles with a crazy sense of humor, I would recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger. Fraught with silliness and British stoicism, this book and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series is not to be missed.

2: For older brothers who don't believe women can write good novels, Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first novel set in the sci-fi world of Barrayar & other planets and the precursor to the magnificent Vorkosigan Saga. Trust me, it works like a charm. My brother went through the series faster than I could borrow them from the library.

3: For kids who were told too many Robin Hood stories before bed, I recommend The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, first novel of the Ranger's Apprentice series. It's not just for kids, either, people in my house between the ages of 27 and 10 were fighting over them when we first discovered the series.

4: For sweet-sixteen, never-been-kissed girls who spend too much time daydreaming, I recommend Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, as well as its sequel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. It's just so dang cute. :)

5: For those who like their endings bittersweet, leaving them smiling through tears, I recommend Delirium by Lauren Oliver, plus its sequels. I've read the book 4 times and it still makes me cry, in the best possible way.

6: For people who are always complaining about how awful their lives are, anything by Sherrilyn Kenyon would do the trick. The way she tortures her characters...Yes, your life could be so much worse.

7: For the escapist who wishes a magical world would open up under her feet, Random Magic by Sasha Soren is just the thing to add a little spark of wonder to your day.

8: For someone who reads far too many sad stories with far too many sad endings, I would say read If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Based in a tragic, all-too-believable scenario, it offers a bit of hope.

9: For someone who would like to try urban fantasy but can't stand the whole sex/vampire/shirtless guys on the cover books that monopolize most of the genre, I recommend Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews and everything else that writing duo has ever written. Truly, this person will come back to you full of gratitude.

10: For the aspiring writer who needs hope that it will get better, I recommend Eragon by Christopher Paolini & Sequels. That series is the clearest example I know of how a writer just gets better and better with more practice.

I hope you enjoyed my list!

                 Lieder Madchen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Top 5 Sundays: Best Evil Villains


Hello! Today I thought I would join in on the Top 5 Sundays meme from Larissa & Friends' Bookish Life. I'm nearly a week late and it isn't Sunday, but oh well, it's fun anyway. :) The theme today is:

Best Evil Villains

Don't you just love it when you come across a really spectacular villain? One who manages to actually creep you out every once in a while? Here's my list, in no particular order. Also, these are just my top 5 off the top of my head, not necessarily my favorites of all time. There are so many good bad guys...

Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments. I like all of the bad guys in that series, but he's the only one who made me shiver sometimes.

Guy of Gisborne & the Sheriff of Nottingham from nearly all Robin Hood stories. Yes, I'm a Robin Hood geek. These two aren't creepy, but they are definitely favorites.

Tohon and the Skeleton King from Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder. Tohon has been kind of creepy through the whole Healer series and the Skeleton King is downright shudder-inducing.

Hugh d'Ambray from the Kate Daniels series. He's not particularly scary, but I really loved him as a main villain in Magic Rises.

Chauvelin from The Scarlet Pimpernel. OK, so he's not scary at all, but he's so much fun. He always has this complicated, nefarious plan to defeat the hero, and Sir Percy just saunters in and makes a fool out of him.

                              Lieder Madchen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interview with J. Marie Croft, Author of Love at First Slight

Today it is my great pleasure to have J. Marie Croft, comedic romance author extraordinaire, over for tea and an interrogation, *coughs*, I mean, interview. Please join us for a cup of tea and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments. Also, check out my review of Love at First Slight.

Good morning, Ms. Croft! Thank you for coming, would you care for some tea?

I’m grateful for the invitation.  Unaccustomed to interviews, I’m a tad nervous and wonder if you have anything stronger than ... Tea would be lovely, thanks.

I'm afraid that if I attempted to serve anything stronger trouble would ensue, the constabulary would get involved and this would turn into an entirely different sort of interview...Cream and sugar?

A few sugar cubes, please.  I may have to take my lumps once this interview is over.

How did you come up with the fascinating idea of reversing all the characters’ genders from Pride and Prejudice?

Interested in all things Austen but disgruntled by the status of women during the Regency, I thought, ‘Humph!  Pride and Prejudice would have been a completely different story if the Bennets had five sons.  Hmm.  What if they did have boys? What if I tried to write such a variation with the protagonist being – not Elizabeth but – William Bennet?’  The rest, as they say, is his story.   

Are there any characters that were particularly difficult for you to write in their new roles? Which ones did you have the most fun with?

The gender reversals were more diverting than challenging, but Mrs. Bennet’s role in Love at First Slight was probably the most difficult to write.  For some reason, I find it easier to work with male characters than female ones.  Having so many men in the story was, therefore, to my advantage.  Creating dialogue for the five Bennet brothers (moralizing Martin, charming Charles, willful William, and the temerarious twins) was particularly satisfying; and I had great fun with the two youngest, Christopher (Kit) and Laurence (Laurie).

What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music, have a particular place you like to work, etc.?

Starting with a ‘what-if’ premise, I make mountains of notes.  Ideas pop into my head at the oddest times and places – middle of the night, middle of a meeting, or middle of the forest.  Written in the dark, under the table, or while swatting mosquitoes, hen-scratched jottings might simply contain a keyword, a line of dialogue, a topic to be researched, the naming of a character, wordplay, a setting, or a twist in the plot.  

Then the sewing begins, and all those paper scraps become patchwork pieces of the quilt I want to create.  Fragments are stitched together (seamlessly, I hope), and quotes from Pride and Prejudice are woven into the tapestry.  During revisions, some threads are completely yanked out and other sections embroidered upon.


Drafting and editing processes take place, in solitude, at my desk, free from distraction and noise.  My ‘real’ job is at a music school; and, although I love almost all genres, I can’t have tunes playing while writing.  When I listen to music – be it Yo-Yo Ma’s performance of Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major’ or Satriani’s ‘Always With Me, Always With You’ (Live in Paris) – I like to give the artist my undivided attention.           

Are you a teacher at the school? What instrument/s do you play?

I’m one of the coordinators there; but, sadly, I am not musically octave.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when you need inspiration?

I try to write every day, but there are times I’m unable to string together two sentences.  So, I pick up a book and take pleasure in someone else’s words for a spell.  Reading usually motivates my need to be creative.  

What is the last book you read?

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett.  Next on my list is Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and then an umpteenth reading of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander in preparation for the 2014 television series.

I don't know The Bookman's Tale, I shall have to look it up...I'm really hoping they do a good job on the Outlander show; the books are great.

I love Jamie and Claire!  On my Pinterest board, I've repinned a Someecard: 

So then they handcuffed me and said, “Anything you say can and will be held against you.”  So I said, “James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.” 

Now, let me ask you a question.  Mr. Darcy or Jamie Fraser?

Mr. Darcy has my heart, of course, but Mr. Fraser certainly draws the eye...Ahem. What is your favorite Jane Austen novel, not counting Pride and Prejudice?

Persuasion.  I consider that novel to be Austen’s finest work; but there’s just something about Darcy and Elizabeth that compels me to repeatedly revisit their story rather than Wentworth and Anne’s.

Oh, I do hope you do decide to visit Persuasion one day! It and Pride and Prejudice take turns being my favorite, depending on which one I read last.

I know what you mean, but please don’t hold your breath waiting for me to write a Persuasion-inspired story.  You’d end up half agony, half hope.
You pierce my soul! *makes theatrical gesture*

Fanciful Questions:

Trousers or knee breeches?

Trousers … unless the gentleman is wearing tall leather boots with those snug knee breeches (plus white shirt and cravat, waistcoat, tight tailcoat, gloves, and top hat).  Sharp-dressed Regency men must have been rather hot in those getups, don’t you think?

Oh, dear, I was firmly in the trouser category until you went and said that. Now I'm not so sure.

After speaking of Jamie Fraser, perhaps you should rephrase your question. Trousers, knee breeches, or kilt?

Oh, you are a wicked, wicked woman. How's a girl to choose?

Spencers or shawls?

Hmm … a spencer ... or an elegant, embroidered shawl of gossamer muslin – or delicate, patterned silk or fringed cashmere – gracefully draped around my shoulders.  Oops!  Unbeknownst to me, the shawl slides down an arm and trails along the floor.  A Regency gentleman in snug breeches, tall boots, etc., notices and comes to my rescue.  As he assists in the shawl’s recovery and replacement, his fingers ‘accidentally’ caress my skin and … What was the question?

Do you require a fan? It seems to be getting a little warm in here...

Indeed. ‘Tis almost hot enough to make a lady melt.  Let’s change the subject.  

That's probably a good idea. *fans furiously* Let's look at chocolate: white, milk, or dark?

I prefer a mélange à trois – a decadent mixture of all three.  Speaking of chocolate, Miss Elizabeth Darcy enjoys it as a drink in this snippet from Love at First Slight.

She sat and asked the footman to pour her favourite hot beverage of sweetened chocolate, flavoured with milk, vanilla, and spices. She sipped and closed her eyes in contentment. “Mmm, warm, rich, creamy, fragrant, full-bodied, and sweet, with just the right amount of zest. Perfection.” The footman took a position against the wall, stared into space, and pondered how thoroughly the young miss had just described herself.

Thank you, Lieder Madchen, for the tea and interview.  If anyone else has questions, please leave a comment, for I am quite at leisure.

The pleasure was all mine, Ms. Croft. I do hope you call again one day.

I'll leave you my calling card.  

About the Author:

J. Marie Croft lives in Nova Scotia and divides her time among working at a music lesson centre, geocaching (a high-tech treasure hunt) with her husband, and writing. Her stories are lighthearted; and her tag line is Jane Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” A member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (Canada), she admits to being excessively attentive to the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Adult twin daughters are the light of her life even though they don’t appreciate Mr. Darcy the way ‘Momzie” does.

About the Book:
In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married.

When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport (nee Bingley), speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye, even though he is beneath her station. His opinion of her is fixed when she slights him at the Meryton Assembly.

As her ardour grows, so does his disdain; and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….

Book Review: Love at First Slight by J. Marie Croft

Love at First Slight
by J. Marie Croft

Genre: Romance / Comedy / Historical / Austenesque / Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining

Ages: 15 and up

I received an advance e-copy of this book from Meryton Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Check out my interview with the author here.


In this humorous, topsy-turvy Pride & Prejudice variation, the gender roles are reversed. It is Mr. Bennet’s greatest wish to see his five sons advantageously married.

When the haughty Miss Elizabeth Darcy comes to Netherfield with the Widow Devonport (nee Bingley), speculation—and prejudice—runs rampant.

William Bennet, a reluctant and irreverent reverend, catches Miss Darcy’s eye, even though he is beneath her station. His opinion of her is fixed when she slights him at the Meryton Assembly.

As her ardour grows, so does his disdain; and when she fully expects to receive an offer of marriage, he gives her something else entirely ….

My Thoughts:

I laughed so hard while reading this book, there were times when I had to stop and bury my face in a pillow so I wouldn't wake anyone up. Even if I discounted the hilarious character interactions, the endlessly diverting twists to the story, the colorful and highly creative language, etc., the writing alone would have left me chortling.

With their genders reversed, Miss Austen's familiar characters have been turned completely on their heads. William Bennet is an out-doorsy, easygoing sort of fellow who develops an unreasonable dislike for the aloof, aristocratic Miss Elizabeth Darcy after she declares him to be 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me'. Mr. Bennet flutters about, trying to find rich wives for his five sons while his wife hides away with her novels and wine. I read with delicious anticipation, never quite knowing what to expect. Certain scenes were especially entertaining, particularly a rather damp accidental meeting...

My favorite parts of the novel were probably William's internal self-scoldings and the puns, oh, the puns! I'm not usually big on puns, but these were alternately utterly brazen or almost invisibly sneaky and I could not help but laugh, particularly when I caught them before the characters did. I also greatly enjoyed certain characters' alliterative tendencies and varied vocabularies, especially when revealed in the form of insults. I only have one complaint. Well, half of a complaint, really. Throughout the book, Elizabeth and William are engaged in a battle of quotes and pithy sayings. I loved the quotes, but the sayings were occasionally a little overwhelming.

While Love at First Slight is mostly a comedy, one mustn't forget the romance, which was just beautifully done from start to finish. I cracked up yet again at the realization that William and Elizabeth are fated to be...Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! I was supposed to be done mentioning the comedic qualities of the story, wasn't I? So much for that; the laughter just doesn't seem to stop!

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it a 3.10 for mostly mild but highly colorful swearing.

I give it a 2.10 for the occasional risque joke or implication.

I give it a 1.10 for an angry slap (wouldn't you like to know whom got smacked by whom?) and a sword-fight. 

                              Lieder Madchen