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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet

About the Book:

Title: THE SECRET DIARY OF LYDIA BENNET
Author: Natasha FarrantThe Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet
Pub. Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: The Chicken House
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

A fresh, funny, and spirited reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, The
Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet brings the voice of the wildest Bennet sister to life.

Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She’s stubborn, never listens, and can’t seem to keep her mouth shut — not that she would want to anyway. She wishes her older sisters would pay her attention, or that something would happen in her boring country life.

Luckily, that something is right around the corner, and it’s the handsome Wickham, who arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia’s not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths inevitably become entangled again.

At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she would have never dreamed possible. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it?

About Natasha:

14439497131443949692norfolk-beachI am one of those rarities, a Londoner born and bred.  And like most true Londoners, I’m not completely English, but three-quarters French with a little bit Dutch thrown in.  I can’t imagine living anywhere else, though I would like a horse, a big old house with a secret passage or two, a fig tree, a walnut tree, lots of dogs and a vista of rolling hills on one side and the sea on the other.  All of which are sadly incompatible with both life in the city and my income.

I write partly because in my stories I can live the lives I’m not…

I have two teenage daughters, Justine and Lily, who provide endless inspiration for my books.  I am pleased to say inspiration works both ways. One of them has dyed her hair pink, and the other has taken to hanging out on the roof in the middle of the night.

The “person” I talk to most is my tortoiseshell cat, Amber.  This is because as a writer you spend a lot of time alone, which makes you go slightly mad.  Amber repays me for my conversation by trashing my house.  Soon we are goig to buy a dachshund puppy called Blue, and presumably he will be equally destructive.

I get very grumpy if I don’t have a good book to read, if I’m not writing, if I’m hungry, tired or don’t get enough exercise.  Otherwise I am a generally cheerful person.

Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about my life as a writer.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive finished copies (CLICK HERE!) of THE SECRET DIARY OF LYDIA BENNET, US Only


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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: I just…Wickham, you’re a scoundrel, but somehow I love you in this version?; this adaptation/companion/retelling helped to breathe a different life into characters I wasn’t so sure about or fond of before; also, we get Lydia’s story!; great characters, humorous and entertaining read; yet another perspective on a well-known and much-beloved story

Huge thanks to Natasha Farrant, The Chicken House Publishers, Edelweiss, and Rockstar Book Tours for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinion on this book.

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If you’ve been following my reviews for ANY amount of time, you’ll probably already know that I am head-over-heels in love with Pride and Prejudice. I own an entire bookshelf of retellings, adaptations, and companion novels. I have watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries upwards of seven times since discovering it last year. If I could live inside the world of a book for a day, I’d pick Jane Austen’s beloved classic…and I’d enjoy every moment of it. It should be no surprise, therefore, that when I saw this book in a book tour email… I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review it. I HAD to. There was no other choice.

 

I did NOT, however, expect to have my feelings about one character in particular swayed so very much by a single book. So this is what I’m going to start with: Wickham, you’re a scoundrel….but somehow, you made me love you?! How?! How did you even MANAGE that, when before I was so set against you and everything you stood for? Seriously, penguins–if you’re of the same mind I was before this read, and loathe Wickham entirely… Maybe you shouldn’t read this book. Because by the end of things, you will be so, SO conflicted and confused. Wickham especially is one of those characters that surprises you, and this book was written in just such a way as to make readers view him as complex, flawed…and entirely human. I bow down to Natasha Farrant, actually–it is difficult, once my mind is so set against a character, to make me change it, and she managed that in just over 300 pages.

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This is SUCH a lovely and well-written nod to Jane Austen’s classic, guys. Lydia’s story is allowed to breathe and shine through, LYDIA! is allowed to breathe and shine through these pages…but the original story is still there, woven throughout, shifted and molded to match the appropriate perspective. In fact, through Lydia’s eyes, we are able to see a much different story occur–and able to make a more fully formed opinion of the situation as a whole. Natasha Farrant tipped her head to Jane Austen, while still maintaining enough distance to make this wholly and individually her own.

 

And her voice! Oh my penguins, guys, Lydia’s a uniquely individual and AWESOME character, and I am so so glad we are finally able to see her in all her glory. She is adventurous at heart, but always tied down by societal opinions and judgments on what proper “females” should or should not do. She, like most women I know today, longs to strike out on her own, do something for herself–find her place with like-minded and understanding individuals. I just… there is SO much growth and emotion behind Lydia’s story. I adored every moment spent within her head, hearing about the world from her own words–it was an entertaining, often laugh-out-loud experience.

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This is an entertaining, hilarious nod to Jane Austen’s much-beloved classic, and I am so so happy I was given the chance to read this for review. Lydia shines in this story, allowing us to see the world–and her!–from a new and intriguing perspective. Wickham, also, caught me by surprise–and is rather endearing in this version of events. I recommend to those obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, historical fiction, and characters just trying to find their place in the world. Natasha Farrant, you did Jane Austen good–and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway and Review: Girl on the Brink

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Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag
Genre: YA Romance/Thriller
Release date: August 30th, 2016
Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books

Summary:

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

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Buy Links:
Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo

Advance Praise:

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brinkis a must have for every high school and public library.”–Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE

Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it. For more information, see http://www.breakthecycle.org/dating-violence-research.

christinahoagauthorheadshotAbout the Author:

Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see http://www.christinahoag.com.

Author Links:
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GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: trigger warning–physical abuse, emotional abuse, violence; this was hard to read, but so cathartic at the same time; my life in book form!; emotional, harrowing, heart-wrenching read; poignant and powerful; all girls/women need to read this book

Huge thanks to Christina Hoag, Fire & Ice Young Adult Books, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay, penguins–it’s time for a tiny confession. Heading into this read, I was very worried. You see… I am a domestic abuse survivor. He never got the chance to take it farther than emotional and psychological abuse, but the scars–invisible as they may be–are very, very much real. I knew, when I read the synopsis for this book, that that was EXACTLY what was waiting for me with this read. But something about this book called to me, regardless. I decided to take a chance, triggering content be derned. (And yes, I meant to say derned!)

Christina Hoag took a very important, very challenging subject…and made it relatable. Personable. REAL. I know the statistics, penguins–so, so many women have faced, are facing, or will in the future face this exact situation. The problem is, hardly none of us actively talk about our experiences–it’s been drilled into us to keep silent, to keep secret, to keep hidden. Christina Hoag knew that, I believe–and used that to weave an emotionally harrowing, daunting story of first love…and the many ways it can go wrong or destroy the soul.

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What I’m trying to say is, this book is super important, and I feel every girl/woman needs to read it. There is emotional turmoil. There are some very difficult scenes to read and digest. But there’s also a raw, unbridled honesty laced into every word–and, at the end, something I feel we ALL need to hear more of: the reminder that we can get through it, that we can stand tall, that we deserve better. That we are loved. The characters are complex and well-written; the prose is subtly poetic and altogether beautiful. The journey is heart-wrenching, and terrifying, and hits home so hard–but it’s so important, all the same.

I have so much admiration and respect for Christina Hoag, and this book. She achieved something that many struggle with: a fine mixture of blunt honesty and raw sensitivity, a way to reach out of the pages and into readers’ very souls. I recommend this to lovers of contemporary fiction, poetic and poignant prose, and heart-wrenching journeys…but please, if you’re easily triggered by abuse, be careful going into this read. I will be keeping an eye out for future Christina Hoag novels with bated breath (I know, this is perhaps a weird choice of words following such a heavy read, but I’m going with it); I cannot wait to see what she tackles next.

 

Blog Tour Organized by:

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Damned If I Do: This Vampire is Fighting for LIFE, not Death

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Damned if I Do (The Harker Trilogy #1)

The Harker Trilogy #1
250 Pages
Paranormal/Fantasy/Romance
Publication Date: September 14th, 2015
Get a copy here!

They killed my sister and infected me.

Now I have to pick up the pieces before I die.

I’ve spent the last five months trying to find the bastard who did this. Yet, even with the help of a hot amnesiac vampire named Jude, I’ve had zero luck.

Until now. And it could change everything. Even though I grew up in a family that hunted the supernatural, there were still things I didn’t believe in.

Now I have to hurry for the slim chance that I could save us all. Because when you fight against immortal vampires, you’re the one who’s running out of time.

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: forbidden love; vampire lore with an interesting and unique twist; a vampire and a witch walk into a bar…and blow the roof off; well-developed, snarky characters; the relationships built upon and portrayed throughout are gold; loads of action and fight scenes; this will leave readers hungry for more

Huge thanks to Erin Hayes and Giselle @ Xpresso Book Tours for granting me access to this title free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I need to start this review off with an apology, dear penguins. I am a terrible, terrible book reviewer. See, I read this book on the plane ride home from my vacation. On the 15th. You know, several weeks ago? And then I got off the plane…and promptly forgot that I had a review to write at all. I guess I should have written myself a note on the cocktail napkin that came with my drink, or on my hand, or on my forehead… Something?! Regardless, I’m typing it up now–do you forgive me, penguins, for being such a basket case? I hope you do.

This book was equal parts “magical, snarky, stubborn witches”…and “blood-thirsty vampire.” There was an incredibly unique and inventive take on magic meets monster to this story that I became immediately engrossed by–no, really! I think it took all of one chapter for me to realize this was EXACTLY the type of book I love to fall into. I ADORE the world Erin Hayes built around her readers in this book–it was dark, full of action, and compelling. I was entertained from the very beginning–and hungry for more at the end. Seriously, I’m super glad I have the second novel in this series to dive into soon–I am dying to know what happens next!

The characters are well-rounded, snarky in all the right places, and realistic in their relationships/reactions. This read is FULL of drama, emotions, and broken personalities…and I adored every single minute of it. The love story is, while touching upon the cliched “forbidden” of mortal and the undead, both endearing and surprisingly steamy. I LOVE that this book is written in two perspectives, as well–it helped to fully immerse me in the story AND in the characters. There’s also an intriguing…twist, near the end, that caught me off guard. I’m not sure how that will come into play in the second novel, but it’s bound to be interesting!

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I had a TON of fun diving into this world of chaos, vampires, and magic–and I can’t wait to pick up the second book! I am sorry, though, that I forgot until tonight that I’d even finished this read; how dare I call myself a book reviewer?! Feel free to revoke my privileges, if you must…though I do hope you don’t. I recommend this read to lovers of vampires, forbidden romances (think akin to Twilight, sort of…), and a fight to the death (or, rather, a fight to NOT die). This is entertaining from start to finish; if you’re seeking a fun, quick read, perhaps you should consider this one!