Source: Direct from Publisher

An #INSPY Audiobook Review | Jorie was smitten by the cheeky Contemporary INSPY humour of Bethany Turner within the pages of “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish”! [Started during #CFSRS20]

Posted Monday, 21 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been participating in the Christian Fiction & Clean Reads Reading Safari readathon for the past three years now. I have found the readathon to be personally enriching as it is a wonderful month of respite for book bloggers who want to focus on reading outside their blog schedules and tuck into the gentler side of fiction which is Inspirational Fiction (ie. INSPY). A portion of INSPY is Christian Fiction however, INSPY overall encompasses all faiths and religious backgrounds as it is faith-inspired literature. As a participant of the readathon – each reader moves through the event at their own pacing – seeking stories to read, authors to get to know socially online and reading the stories which interest them throughout the readathon. As you participate there is a chance you can win a book or several throughout the month. This year I am reading a mixture of stories I’ve won during past CFSRS readathons, stories I’ve won through bookaways with Christian Fiction authors or bloggers as well as stories on my shelf from my personal library as well as borrowing INSPY stories in print and audio from my local libraries.

In May 2020, I was hosting a few promotional tours and social blitzes for JustRead Publicity Tours – one of those tours was the ‘Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish’ Takeover Tour – wherein I received a complimentary print copy of the novel in exchange for posting promotional content on social media featuring my own book photography. Whilst the audiobook edition for “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” was included in my Scribd membership which I use to regularly listen to audiobooks. However, I finished listening to the audiobook via CloudLibrary which is a service through my library for listening to audiobooks. I was not obligated to post a review on behalf of this novel and have elected to do so for my own edification as well as continuing to share my bookish and readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this story:

You’d have to understand my affection and addiction to watching *celebrity chefs!* first and foremost – as I entered into my years of cooking a bit late in the game compared to most women. In fact, I took after Julia Child and I was wickedly overjoyed knowing that she didn’t get invested into cooking or the cookery arts until well into her thirties – wherein I happily beat her by a few years myself when I started to find that I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, too!

Prior to those years of my late twenties, I was resolved that perhaps when it came to cooking my real gift was for baking – as I just did not catch onto the buzz round using fresh farmer market ingredients and sorting out which vegetarian and/or vegan dish I wanted to create by using different cookbooks and/or vegan/veg blogger recipes online until after assisting Mum as her sous chef – I started to notice I was enjoying ‘going off the recipes’ and sorting things out on my own. It was a personal reckoning of joy and I was thrilled to bits about this new adventure I was undertaking.

This also lead us to requesting copious amounts of cookbooks & baking books at our local library and happily kept the Acquisitions Library well supplied with titles for vegans and vegetarians alike! Over the years we had to take a break from focusing on vegetarian foods and are more omnivores at the moment who are anxious to return back to living through the seasons with vegetables and grains. At the same time, I was no longer finding Food Network & the Cooking Network to be on the boring side of the ledger as half the time I felt a lot of that stuff flew over my head quite a bit.

I’m all-in now – from having personal favourite celebrity chefs to having series on Food Network I am wicked thrilled over seeing new episodes for whenever I’m able to see them to realising that it could take another lifetime to *bake!* like they do on the Great British Bake-Off! I even love a murder mystery series via Hallmark Movies & Mysteries called: “Morning Show Mysteries”. The title is elusive as she runs a restaurant and has a cooking segment on a tv show.

Thus, when I read the premise for “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” I thought how wicked wonderful one of today’s INSPY Contemporary novelists’ is taking a personal hobby following the lives of celebrity chefs and spinning it into a compellingly realistic story!

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Graphic created in Canva by Jorie. Hadley Beckett's Next Dish novel Photography Credit: © jorielovesastory.com.

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish
by Bethany Turner
Source: Borrowed from local library's CloudLibrary, Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Aimee Lilly

Get ready for a heaping helping of humor, romance, and second chances

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanagh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show, To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel's other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum and is sent packing, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public's good graces is to work alongside Hadley. As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love.

In the meantime, hide the knives.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Southern Lit, Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780800735234

ASIN: B087JZQCC3

Published by Revell

on 5th May, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital, Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

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The novels of Bethany Turner:

The Secret Life of Sarah HollenbeckWooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany TurnerHadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck (2017)

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey (2019)

Hadley Becket’s Next Dish (2020)

Published by: Revell (@RevellBooks)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Audiobook Published by: Oasis Audio (@oasisaudio)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook (Digital & CD) and Ebook

Converse via: #Contemporary #ChristianFiction, #INSPYRomance, #INSPYbooks,
as well as #HadleyBeckettsNextDish and #HadBeck

About Bethany Turner

Bethany Turner

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she's chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

Photo Credit: Photo by: Emilie Hendryx © EA Creative Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #CFSRS20
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Posted Monday, 21 September, 2020 by jorielov in #CFSRS20, #INSPYSundays, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Chefs and Sous Chefs, Christianity, Contemporary Romance, Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Library Catalogues & Databases, Library Find, Love Books Tours, Modern Day, Nashville, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Reading Challenges, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Sociological Behavior, Sweet Romance, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Women's Fiction

Audiobook Blog Tour especially for #Janeites & #Austenites | A mini Review and a Conversation about “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl” (Vol.5: the Quill Collective, series) narrated by Elizabeth Grace

Posted Saturday, 5 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 17 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm Promotion I expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding my own traction into audiobooks and the way in which storytelling took on a deeper layer of immersion for me as a listerner. Meanwhile, I started to curate my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue as well as a regional library who uses CloudLibrary; I offset borrowing audiobooks through libraries with an active subscription to Scribd (for audiobooks). I batch my membership months with Audible to several months per year and purchase a few audiobooks whilst I have it active as well as enjoying selecting free Audible Original audiobooks.

This is the long history of how I entered into becoming an audiobook reviewer – it was through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions I originally crossed paths with Ms Christina Boyd with The Quill Collective (via the ‘Rational Creatures’ audio blog tour) and thereby have enjoyed keeping in the loop with their after canon stories connected to Jane Austen. This is how I came to know ‘Yuletide’ and now ‘Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl’ of whom is my favourite character from ‘Pride and Prejudice’; my favourite canon novel of Austen’s.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Elizabeth: Headstrong Girl” via Christina Boyd @ The Quill Collective in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Being a Janeite,

I have a fierce appreciation for The Quill Collective:

I’ve been a Janeite for a very long time – during #AustenInAugust [2017], I had the joyful pleasure of submitting a guest essay to commemorate how Austen has been moving in and out of my life over the years which ran on a featured day on Roof Beam Reader’s blog. It is in of itself a quite all-inclusive look at how Jane Austen has left a strong impression on my life. Do read it if you have a chance to peer into how Austen and her stories have given me a lifetime of reflective rumination & joy.

And, ever since my essay was published I have made fervent attempts of re-establishing myself into my Classics Club TBR – to source and seek out works of Classical Lit I’ve earmarked to be read and for the vast majority of those pursuits, it is the canon of Jane Austen I desire most to focus upon. I have the canon in print in several editions but most of those are packed save three and it is those three which I am in pursuit of finishing first whilst continuing to seek out after canon novelists and short story writers who are giving me a well of presence within those worlds that not only honour Austen’s own words but allow us to carry forward into the worlds themselves.

Whilst I was working on this featured post for the blog tour – I had an unexpected discovery – Audible now offers a more friendly budget price for listeners who are not in a hurry to purchase audiobooks (as choosing one per month was enough anxiety for me to last lifetimes) but rather would love to listen to an unlimited amount of them which are provided within the catalogue of the new listen and return service. Similar truly to why I am a lover of Scribd’s services for audiobooks.

Guess what the vast majority of those ‘free to listen in unlimited amounts’ per month include!? *Classics!* Including a fair amount of Jane Austen!!! I even found Rosamunde Pike’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Emma Thompson’s “Emma”!! Imagine?! I was truly taken aback and gobsmacked — another reason I am blessed to have a tablet now for listening to audiobooks & music – as it allowed me to accept a 30 day trial right now and remain within the grip of the Classics!

That news aside, what I LOVE about the Quill Collective is how they honour Jane Austen and how they remain wholly passionate about publishing stories which celebrates the canon but allows the writers they publish to re-envision those characters in such a refreshingly new way as to give each of us a new reason to seek Austen and to seek after canon stories of her collective works. These are the stories by a publisher who understands why we are such discerning readers of Classical Lit and the after canon retellings and sequels which allow us to ruminate further on those worlds… they give us the same passionate response in story as we personally give ourselves over to ponder whenever we pick up a story of Austen. And, for me – the highest praise indeed is their propensity of producing quality over quantity and giving all of us such a wonderful catalogue of stories I truly believe Austen herself would be wicked giddy over seeing published.

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An informative conversation with Elizabeth Grace:

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva. Updated version July 2020.

the questions were ones I provided and I delighted in her responses!

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As you’re narrating an audiobook with a collection of stories inspired by Jane Austen – I was curious, what first drew your eye to the project and what do you personally love about the voice, style and legacy of Ms Austen?

Grace responds: I was drawn to this project by an author I had started working with called Elizabeth Adams who wrote “Something Like Regret” for the anthology. I was just finishing up with her novel, “Green Card” and was looking for a new project. She recommended me to Christina Boyd who then asked me to audition for OHG. I hadn’t narrated an anthology before but I loved it.

Each story has such personality and a style that is at once individual to the author yet also completely in keeping with Austen’s original characters and wit. I think that is my favourite thing about her writing, how well it translates. It makes me realise how recent her writing was in the grand history of time and that while we think their society and thoughts are vastly different to ours, we haven’t really changed all that much.

I believe that is the best singular truth of insight into Jane Austen’s writings I’ve ever heard – how continuously relatable she is due to how we’ve become such an unchanged society. For all the progresses and all the developments of how live has shifted forward per generation, there are still telling truths about how she wrote about society and the pressures of how life can sometimes become too measured by what society believes it can dictate out of a life. I love the serendipitous nature of how you became attached to OHG; I tend to think those are the better moments of our lives – how we cross paths with people who have an important reason of being in our life at any particular point in time. It speaks to how we’re all connected. Whilst at the same time – how some stories ‘find us’ rather than how we presume to believe ‘we find them’.

Of all the stories of Austen, my first introduction to her stories was through “Pride and Prejudice” and thus, Elizabeth has been my favourite Austen heroine ever since the adaptation featuring Keira Knightley was released (as it coincided with my first readings). As you were reading the stories you’ve brought to life – what did you intuit out of them about Elizabeth and about her nature as one of our leading ladies who has withstood time to affect us on such a personal level of appreciation?

Grace responds: I have been asked similar questions before and I am always brought back to Tessa Dare’s wonderful foreword from the anthology. She talks about why Elizabeth is such a popular character and why we continue to relate to her so well and she says it is because “Elizabeth is just like me – but awesome”. I think that is so true, because she is extremely human and altogether female. She is clever and yet judgemental, witty and at times cutting, self-aware and often a little self-deprecating. You can feel her battling with the same traits that we battle with today and she does so with this beautiful honesty and vulnerability which allows her to accept when she is wrong but also speak out against her better judgement when she needs to defend herself, her family or her opinion.

I have so much Elizabeth Bennett inside me (as well as Jane Eyre and Jo March, and lest I forget Anne Shirley) that it isn’t too remarkable to me to realise why I haven’t found myself attached to another novel by Jane Austen (as of yet – ‘Persuasion’ has a new audiobook narration waiting in the wings for me via NetGalley) inasmuch as my absolute admiration, dedication and passion for ‘Pride and Prejudice’; singularly it is hard to discern, is it strictly due to Lizzie or is it equally split between her and Mr Darcy – of whom I’ve previously disclosed is my first and only (thus far into my fourth decade) book boyfriend! I believe that’s the key draw really – seeing someone who is not shy about speaking her mind, bluntly so at moments and honestly evoking a reaction out of others in order for her voice to be heard when it infers an importance to her to be said. In defence of family and self – there are no truer moments for which we all need to remember to listen to our intuition and feel confidence in our voice.

Isn’t that the mark of true classically perennial stories? Where you can revisit them and still see why you originally loved them but then find these extra layers of genius within how they were writ? I felt that way when I first started watching “Anne with an E” via NetFlix and when I was listening to the audiobooks for the first three “Anne of Green Gables” stories via Post Hypnotic Press – wherein I was seeing Marilla in a whole new ray of light wherein previously (per my younger visitation into this world) I was finding myself only drawn to Anne.

Did you have a favourite story in the collection?
And if so, what was it about it that drew you in as deeply as it had?

Grace responds: I really enjoyed each of the stories for different reasons. I recently did a reading of “Atmospheric Disturbances” by Christina Morland for the book tour and I loved that one because I really enjoy narrating arguments! I am not sure why, but I think its because of the fast pace and the high stakes.

Other memorable stories are “Love in the Limelight” by Beau North because of the amazing backdrop of Hollywood’s golden age. The one that moved me the most during my narration was “A Mate for Life” by Christina Boyd, I am sure you can hear my voice crack towards the end. There is something so nostalgic and tender about Elizabeth as an elderly woman reflecting on a life well lived while watching her grand-daughter begin her own journey into adulthood that is so touching.

OOh! I love when a narrator has to go head to head – character on character and walk us through the paces of a full-on row! It gives such a realistic edge to the story and such a believable measure of time for seeing the characters move through their lives – likewise, between the rows and the emotional anguish sequences – I daresay, I credit a lot to the stamina and the performances by narrators who can take us tenfold into their journey by voicing stories with such beautiful dimension! Those are dearly my favourite moments – where you can really hear and sense the ’emotions’ behind a narrator’s voice and how through their performance you can feel intuitively closer to when they had originally sat to read the audio play. As to me, audiobooks bring back why live radio theatre used to be as popular as it had been – audiobooks are the new variant of those radio plays – where it is all vocalised and it etches into your heart, encompasses your imagination and gives you this immersive depth that you cannot get otherwise by print or screen. It is very interpersonal and I love the effect of it.

I oft wonder how narrators approach their performances – did you do any prep work for narrating this series of stories and/or how did you approach getting into the head and heart of Elizabeth through the different incantations that were presented therein?

Grace responds: I would love to tell you that I prepped for weeks to get into Elizabeth’s mind and understand her inside out but the truth is I learned more about her during the process than beforehand.

Working with such talented authors as those featured in OHG, they set up the circumstances so perfectly you are given all you need to know to get stuck straight in. Like you, I was familiar with Elizabeth from reading “Pride and Prejudice“, watching the films and TV adaptations and (as a girl called Elizabeth) being likened to her for a lot of my life! I had a good grounding on what she stands for and who she is. It helps that she is super relatable so it is easy to put some of  myself into her which is really what we, as actors do. Rather than thinking so much on the lines of “what would my character do?”, I try to think, given everything I know about my character, if I was in this situation what would I do/how would I react?

OOh no standing on airs here – I love getting the ‘behind-the-book’ trivia bits about how stories are writ and performed – whatever inks out of being the truthful accounting of how a story was either first created or thus after performed are the right answers to give to my readers. I oft wonder though – isn’t that similarly true for regular performances as well? To best get into the headspace of a character you first have to take that fuller immersion into performing them – rooting out their essence and getting a niche of a feel for how they ought to be portrayed? At least, that is what I gather from afar?

I also love the personal touches you etch into this performance – as you said, you took it to a personal heart to heart level and inverted it to being a reflection of your own reactions and responses rather than simply leaning on ‘what Elizabeth Bennett might have done herself’. I think that’s champion and the best route into how to have obtained the right balance in your performance; as said, I have noted things from afar (from loving theatre, radio, television and film) but I never knew if any of those observations had merit as I haven’t yet worked in theatre.

Were there any secondary characters in this collection of stories you felt stood out to you the most?

Grace responds: Darcy can’t not stand out in the anthology, he plays such a significant role. Again, harping back to Tessa Dare’s foreword, I love her line about loving Darcy because he is smart enough to love Elizabeth. While all the other men are fawning over Jane, he is drawn to Elizabeth for all the reasons we love her.

In each of these stories we really see his tenderness towards Elizabeth shine. This is really prominent for me in “Resistive Currents” by Karen M Cox where he really displays this kindness and loyalty we don’t always get to see. I think I realised that while he is often played as being super stoic and harsh, it is really important to also portray his nervousness and protectiveness. Again, these are traits we would all have to some degree given his experiences and what he has been through.

I was immediately thinking about Peter Calpaldi as ‘Doctor Who’ – who apparently became one of the most unrelatable Doctors (according to those I’ve spoken with) and yet, he was so endeared to me for reasons you’ve broached about Darcy. It goes back to the layers of a character’s soul and the artfulness approach in how through their story and the stories after those initial ones which reveal more of those hidden layers that might oft go overlooked or become discarded in favour of presumptive prejudgements on their character. For me, Calpaldi brought a richness to the role – the emotional unresolved angst of an immortal person who could no longer live with the guilt and conscience of what he had done, whom he could not save and the weight of how the universe constantly pulled him into circumstances to act in impossible situations to resolve whatever wrong needed righted. In essence, he was portraying another situation that Dr Beckett found himself in perpetually in ‘Quantum Leap’.

I believe Darcy fits into this bracket as well – people have such strong reactions to Darcy – to his manners and to his speech that they sometimes fail to see the ‘real’ Darcy behind the gruffiness of his personality and to peer into what is motivating him to act and speak in the ways in which he is presenting himself to his peers and neighbours. As you said – more layers there, we just have to be open to finding them, understanding them and accepting Darcy on his own terms – very much like Lizzie had herself.

What is more challenging – tackling a character as renown as Elizabeth Bennett (or any Classical character) or having to give life and voice to a character fresh out of an author’s imagination?

Grace responds: There are real advantages and disadvantages to both, as you can imagine. Taking on characters that are well know, you are faced with other peoples’ preconceived notions of how they believe the character should sound or behave. However, it also means so much more when they tell you afterwards how much they feel you encapsulated that character for them. I do love creating them for myself, having the time to really understand someone new and be able to guide an audiences perception but when I do this, I am always also working with author who gave birth to them and also has a view on how they should sound so it’s not so different in that respect.

What are your favourite takeaways from this collection as a whole and what did you feel was the greatest message that would impact listeners and readers alike?

Grace responds: I think for me, the fact that each story is set in either a different time period or a different scenario really brings back the idea of Jane Austen’s initial writing being so incredibly modern. That we can pick these characters up and transport them this way while maintaining their original character traits and even literally their words in some cases just goes to show how revolutionary and natural her writing was. I think the anthology is very pertinent for women at the moment during this feminist wave where we support each other, we have opinions and we speak our minds and ultimately, we strive to be obstinate and headstrong.

What do you feel are harder to narrate? Short stories or novels and why?

Grace responds: I think novels are trickier, simply due to the length of them. Short stories tend to be very dynamic and fast paced as they try to fit in a fair amount of drama into a relatively short amount of time. They are also less complex with regards to dramatic reading in terms of chronology and subtext. Usually we find the characters in short stories have very clear needs and obstacles from the outset which for a narrator requires a little less planning. Novels are longer and so you need to be more conscious of maintaining the momentum of the story throughout and you need to really consider the characters motives at each point – what do they know, what don’t they know, what is the immediate need and what’s the end game for them etc. However, I do love novels for this complexity too, it’s often more challenging and you can get really stuck into the story, whereas with anthologies, I can feel like I am on a roll, then the story concludes and I am on to the next.

How did your impression of Elizabeth change from “Pride and Prejudice” to “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl”? What do you think became reflected through these new stories that perhaps Austen left out of disclosing herself on her behalf? As much as how did it feel to voice such a literary heroine as Elizabeth and share her name?

Grace responds: From a purely feminist perspective, when I look back on Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice” with all the knowledge I have now, it feels like she could have done more. Please don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t want the story to change but after reading of her in OHG doing all these amazing things, I feel bad that ultimately, by accident in a way, she ends up bending to societies’ expectations.

In “The House Party” by Janetta James, Elizabeth is surrounded by the suffragette movement and while she supports these women and their fight, she doesn’t get stuck in herself. It took me a moment to realise how very “Elizabeth” that is. And I am the same. I wonder what adrenaline and desperation Emily Davison felt before she flung herself in front of the King’s horse, but I will likely never know.

Like Elizabeth Bennet, I am woman of relative means, I have always lived a comfortable enough life to see the other side not so far away and to support and sympathise, say the right words but not necessarily feel that desperation to join the physical fight. Not everyone can feel like that, otherwise everyday would be a revolution I suppose, but did Jane Austen not feel desperate as a female writer in the early 1800s?

I wonder if it crossed her mind to make Elizabeth more revolutionary, but if she feared that it would make her a lot less likable at the time. I imagine she would be proud to see her heroine become one of the only female engineering students at Fordyce University, or sticking up for her sister to a big movie executive in Hollywood. We have the amazing ability to make Elizabeth’s options in life limitless. As a fellow Elizabeth, I thank women like Jane Austen for giving us a heroine that does withstand the passage of time and allows fantastic, modern authors to give new direction to her and inspire the next generation.

When you’re not narrating and performing what renews your spirit?

Grace responds: I love to travel which is why lockdown has been so hard for me. I am real social butterfly and love nothing more than seeing new places and being close to people – 2 meters just isn’t near enough! I have found solace however in my work, meeting some amazing, creative people in these authors and working with them to create something special. I write this from a hotel on an island in the Canaries called Lanzarote. It’s a little 10-day getaway that I will be paying for in isolation for 2 weeks on my return but will hopefully feel refreshed and renewed!

I am a traveller myself and fully respect the angst! Even though we, as a family have grown to love our car picnics and takeaway meals – there is something to be said for real sit down meals out of the house – which thankfully we did do the night prior to when this post runs on Jorie Loves A Story as we were craving an evening out where we could do something pre-pandemic normal and learnt our local pub was at half capacity and had an available table. I cannot express how comforting it was to order our favourite Friday night meal (ie. sloppy joes with fries) and try a new dark lager beer with a toasted after note! Even our server was thankful we were there and it was wonderful to see her after such a long absence! It was only the second time we’ve gone back to eat out – the first was during an epic storm ahead of a 12 hour shift for Mum and that was only a quick grab and go meal in a takeaway restaurant with no one else round. No, last night it felt more like we had captured a dose of normalcy and it felt brilliant!

Like you, I find solace in how I can adapt to what life brings to our path and how we can remain in contact with people in however they enter our lives. My blog is a labour of love and a saving grace which allows me to focus outside my personal adversities and give back to book world as much as it is a journalled collection of my readerly adventures and the curious thoughts which stories inspire me to share with fellow bookish geeks who seek out book blogs to read to find new inspiration in their own bookish lives. As bookish joy shared is tenfold better than never to have shared it at all.

I pray your holiday gives you what you are hoping it shall reveal and I definitely understand how it is worth the inconvenience of self-isolation on return because of what it will give you once you’ve arrived. We are all finding our way in this new situation and finding that if we keep ourselves adaptive and bendable we’ll make it through just fine.

Many blessings to you, Ms Grace and thank you for blessing me with this lovely conversation! Some of your replies I left as they were as I hadn’t had the chance to listen to the fuller contents of the audiobook prior to this being shared on my blog. I enjoyed your revelations and cannot wait to peer into those sections and re-visit your takeaways and comments.

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Audiobook Blog Tour especially for #Janeites & #Austenites | A mini Review and a Conversation about “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl” (Vol.5: the Quill Collective, series) narrated by Elizabeth GraceElizabeth
Subtitle: Obstinate Headstrong Girl
by (Editor) Christina Boyd
Source: Direct from Publisher
Narrator: Elizabeth Grace

With timeless verve, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, bares her intimate thoughts while offering biting social commentary through a collection of romantic re-imaginings, sequels, and prequels, set in the Regency to present day by ten popular Austenesque authors.

Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare. “I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter, January 1813―and we think so too!

Stories by Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, Joana Starnes, Karen M Cox, Elizabeth Adams, Leigh Dreyer, J. Marie Croft, and Christina Boyd.

Genres: After Canons, Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Classical Literature, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B08FCSJ33D

Also by this author: Rational Creatures

Also in this series: Rational Creatures


Published by The Quill Collective LLC

on 31st August, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes (unabridged)

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 5 September, 2020 by jorielov in After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Classical Literature, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Jane Austen Sequel, Short Stories or Essays

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: A few years ago now, I started to review for World Weaver Press – until I reached the day where my focus on the stories I was receiving for review fell by the wayside. A lot of this had to do with my personal health, the recovery of my father’s stroke and other things which bring adversity into your life which can and will affect your readerly life. I cannot remember exactly what first took me away from reading “Heir to the Lamp” or the sequel “Solomon’s Bell” – however, I did attempt to read them at various moments throughout the past few years including shortly after I received “Solomon’s Bell” for which I posted a Cover Reveal and Extract.

During our 2nd Year (2019) for #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to redeem myself a bit by getting back into the stories I attempted to read during our 1st year of #WyrdAndWonder (2018) but due to the migraines and other issues I was having with my health, I was unable to complete my reading schedule for the event. This is one of the series I was most eager to read and am thankful I finally was able to start reading it during our 2nd Year of Wyrd and Wonder whilst finishing it in our 3rd. As I know there are other readers who are following or joining the event directly who appreciate Magical Realism and/or stories of the Jinn as much as I do. Perhaps they will find a new author through my ruminations and as always, I hope whenever I feature a story or anthology by World Weaver Press – word will continue to get out about this lovely Indie Publisher for Speculative Fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of “Solomon’s Bell” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I admit it, ever since I met a ‘Golem’ & a ‘Jinni’, I’ve been intrigued by Magical Realism stories involving the Jinn!:

Set during a pivotal game for Virginia as a competitive JV Girls’ Basketball competitor – we open the story as Ginn is about to receive some humbling and surprising news about herself, her destiny and the ways in which she previously perceived her world. You can intuit this through the revelation at the end of the game – where her team is down for the count, the opposing team has a new member whose height puts them at a distinct advantage and where Ginn’s team is doing everything they can not to  lose the faith they could win the game from the underdog status they found themselves trying to overcome. It is here – as we are with Ginn in the car with her family as they make their way to the gym to see the game, we notice a few things about her – she’s not comfortable being in a large family nor is she enthused about having as many siblings as she has which were achieved through adoption.

The adoption side of her life is lightly touched upon – mostly through the angst of a thirteen year old who isn’t quite sure why her parents wanted to keep adding to their family or have to take-on the world whenever someone from outside the family grew critical of their choices in life; especially in how they grew their family through adoption. You can understand her perspective on the matter – as she has an eclectic sibling group whilst you can also appreciate the heart and humbled spirit of her parents who wanted to raise children and did not have a preference of whether or not they were all biologically related to them. I have a soft spot for stories involving Adoption – as I am desiring to adopt from foster care in the future – therefore, whenever I see a story involving Adoption, I do take a more critical eye on how it is discussed and how it fits into the story being told.

I think part of the reason I was struggling to anchour into story and to get into step with Ginn is how her story was being disclosed. It felt a little disjointed at first – but then, once you see her with her mother and she starts to talk about her grandmother – you start to notice her differently, seeing how much she’s trying to understand this transitional period of her life and somewhere at that junction her story starts to move forward in a way you can soak into her world.

Ginn is a girl on the brink of entering her teenage years but she’s more bogged down in worrying about what is plaguing her mind moreso than going through puberty. She has a caring mother who looks after her whenever she’s not feeling quite up to par and even goes out of her way to ensure her daughter will feel a bit better which I felt was a sweet touch. What was lovely though was seeing how a few life lessons and life philosophies were being layered into the story-line – guided by Ginn’s Mum but also, turnt over for introspective reasoning by Ginn herself. There is a point about how nightmares can overtake you if your not careful about how you extract yourself from them but also, on the importance of family. This is a close-knit family who appreciate being with their grandmother but also with each other – even if half the time, I suspect they drive each other a bit batty round the edges, as all good-natured large families do.

You have to laugh, really! Combs has worked in some cleverly placed real-world cultural points of interest into the background of the story – such as Ginn’s Mum having an affinity of interest for the cooking shows we all get excited about time after time – giving her children a bit of an interesting voyage into the culinary arts! I was smiling the whole time as apparently Ginn’s Mum isn’t as gifted in the kitchen as my Mum is nor is she as naturally intuitive about how certain ingredients work best together. This is why I was smiling the most – hearing Ginn tell it, they would be better off if they cooked from ready-made boxes and ate out on occasion if they could afford to do it.

Where the story took a turning into the fantastical is when Rashmere shows up rather unexpectedly and how he points out to Ginn all the different ways her current life is about to unravel. The expressive nature of Rashmere is too adorable! You’ll have to read the story to find out the species Rashmere is on first sight but somehow, Combs tapped into how he could be expressive despite his small presence when he initially enters Ginn’s life. In essence he steals the scene!

I immediately felt connected to Gran – she’s the kind of grandmother you can warm up to rather quickly because of her approach to life! She has a zest for humour and she has a winsome attitude when it comes to how she disarms your nerves. I loved her back-story about how she had to overcome the odds against her on the Army bases her husband had been stationed on? It shows how sometimes the people who exhume the most confidence can sometimes have their own struggles to bear and work through just like everyone else. Mostly though – she just seemed like a wicked awesome grandmother and definitely someone you could confide in the worries weighing on your mind such as the kind Ginn had on hers.

Gran had a keen ability of telling Ginn her back history in such a way that makes it credible despite the fact it has a lot of fantastical elements inside it – as this is a heritage which involves the Jinn. Though not quite the kind of Jinn everyone has heard of before but the kind who has a mixed heritage that involves the Jinn and humans. From there, what was quite impressive is how well Gran took to ensure Ginn of the details even to discuss how her feelings on this matter of disclosure were not the same as her parents – which struck me a bit as an interesting piece of information – as if Ginn’s adoptive parents dismissed a portion of her back-story, than if it weren’t for Gran disclosing the fuller story to her on her birthday, one had to wonder – would Ginn have started to deepen her curiosity about all the unexpected events happening to her since she turnt thirteen?

As we shift into the story of the Jinn – Combs does a wonderful job at educating us on the past histories of the Jinn, how they can exist and what their nature involved in regards to how they used their gifts of magic. It never felt like a specific section of information being given to you as she used Ginn’s own lack of understanding her birth origins as a route of information being passed onto the reader. The closer Ginn went with her own research, the closer we felt we understood who the Jinn were and the laws of how they existed. This also broached the topics of the books of Jinn known as the ‘grimoire’ and how the ancestry of the Jinn was as ancient as it were timeless.

Personally, my favourite character was not Ginn but Rashmere! He had the best attributes as a character but also, I felt his role in the story was so rounded and fleshed out, that his presence was a true delight to have threading through the background. I definitely am hoping he has a strong presence in the next volume of the series Solomon’s Bell as he was a keenly pivotal character within Heir to the Lamp.

This is a good novel to serve as a gateway into Magical Realism (as its the lighter side of the genre) whilst also giving a good footing of insight into Urban Fantasy and mythological Fantasy involving the Jinn. I think it would appeal to a lot of readers who are seeking a bit of danger and adventure within a fantastical world where not everything is exactly as it seems on the surface of what is being presented but where if you dig a bit deeper into the heart of what is being said, you’ll find the truth glimmering as strong as the purple smoke which is Ginn’s trademark.

-quoted from my review of Heir to the Lamp

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell
Subtitle: Genie Chronicles Book Two
by Michelle Lowery Combs
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sarena Ulibarri
Source: Direct from Publisher

Ginn thinks she has problems at home until she magically lands herself in 16th Century Prague. To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home: she can't let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens' defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies.

Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon's Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, YA Fantasy, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 978-0997788877

Also by this author: Solomon's Bell (Cover Reveal + Extract), Heir to the Lamp

Also in this series: Heir to the Lamp


Published by World Weaver Press

on 7th March, 2017

Pages: 224

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

The Genie Chronicles series:

Heir to the Lamp by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell by Michelle Lowery Combs

Genre(s): Speculative | Young Adult | Fantasy | Lore & Legends

the Jinn (or Jinnis or Genies) | Adoption

Similar Reads: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (see also Review)

About Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities.

When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Adoption, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Equality In Literature, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Foster Care, Indie Author, Magical Realism, Orphans & Guardians, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, World Weaver Press, Young Adult Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “The Monster Apprentice” (Rahana Trilogy: Book One) by Felicity Banks

Posted Saturday, 16 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I first heard from Odyssey Books late last year, however, the timing of accepting their review request for “The Monster Apprentice” wasn’t the best timing for me due to my health and my migraines. As I was setting to mind what I wanted to do for Wyrd And Wonder this year, I decided to reach out to the publisher to see if I could schedule guest author features and perhaps finally accept the chance to read and review “The Monster Apprentice”. This sparked my idea of hosting Felicity Banks during @SatBookChat as 1 of 3 guest Indie Fantasy Authors for #SatBookChat (the bookish chat I host on the weekends featuring strong female characters across genres) and having the chance to read and review her novel. I was thankful I could put together a mixture of guest features (guest posts and interviews) as well as two reviews for this Indie publisher in New Zealand.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Monster Apprentice” direct from the author Felicity Banks and the publisher Odyssey Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Prior to finishing my readings of “The Monster Apprentice”

– I hosted the lovely Ms Banks during our first #SatBookChat during #WyrdAndWonder:

I love having the chance to feature Indie Authors on Jorie Loves A Story and during #SatBookChat – as it helps me showcase authors, publishers and stories I personally love seeking out myself who are on the Indie side of book world. I’ve been showcasing the Indies since I first started book blogging as at my heart as a reader is an Indie sensibility as I grew up having such a wonderful Indie bookstore in my city. Not to mention as a book blogger my knowledge of Indie publishers, press and authors is now on a world-wide scale of discovery.

Ever since Year One of #WyrdAndWonder, I’ve wanted to select Indie Authors and/or publishers to highlight, read and showcase as I want to help encourage other readers of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy to take a chance on an Indie novel and/or series. This is also the same mindset behind why I love hosting Indie Authors during #SatBookChat – whose roots were in hosting strictly Romance & Women’s Fiction novelists – however, in early 2020 I started to lay down the bones of change wherein we’re now featuring *all!* genres wherein you can find wicked strong female characters and/or stories which have a Feminist bent to them. We still focus on Romance & Women’s Fiction – however, I’m expanding it as my own readerly inclinations are more encompassing now that we’ve reached our six year of the chat!

What was so dearly delightful about Ms Banks is how she made the chat personable (sharing photos in the timeline of the chat) and how she answered questions directly about the world within the Rahana trilogy. To gain a bit of insight into how this world was constructed be sure to seek out the archive of our #SatBookChat.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Ahead of discussing this lovely book on both #SatBookChat and on Jorie Loves A Story – I put together a short teaser of a #booktube #vlog #unboxing video which I shared on Twitter. I had a most delightful time answering one of the #WyrdAndWonder challenge prompts which was “The Best Things Come in Threes”.

I had planned to finish reading this novel and release my review last weekend – however, the hours escaped me and I wasn’t able to finish until now. I cannot wait to hear what my fellow #WyrdAndWonder readers will think once they find out about this intriguing world – wherein heroines step through ordinary lives into extraordinary circumstances!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “The Monster Apprentice” (Rahana Trilogy: Book One) by Felicity BanksThe Monster Apprentice
by Felicity Banks
Source: Direct from Publisher

The only weapon Dance has is her name.

When pirates threaten the tiny hidden island of Luar, Dance knows her home has only one hope of survival: the magical monsters that killed her twin sister.

Dance loses her friends one by one as she attempts to prepare her strange apprentices for the showdown between monsters and pirates. Can she do it alone?

The Monster Apprentice is a powerful story of looking at the world differently and finding an answer in an unexpected place.

Genres: Children's Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy, Mythological Fantasy, Pirate Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781925652130

Published by Odyssey Books

on 1st May, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 139

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Felicity Banks invented the fantasy world of Rahana while living in Indonesia. She grew up reading stories set in Narnia and Middle Earth, and she wanted to invent a fantasy world that was just as beautiful but didn’t feel British, or white, or male.

In Rahana the weather is tropical and the people are visually similar to Indonesians. Magic is common, and makes physical strength irrelevant. There are millions of islands both small and large, and sailing technology is more advanced that the other sciences. Rahana is a thriving tropical world where people are born with a love of the high seas.

Naturally, the world is full of pirates.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheMonsterApprentice, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #pirates and #MiddleGrade; #IndieAuthor, #IndieFantasy

About Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks is a Canberra author specialising in fantasy and interactive fiction, including her Antipodean Queen fantasy steampunk series, which is also published by Odyssey Books. All her interactive fiction is listed under “Felicity Banks” (visit site) and most of her interactive fiction can be read via an app.

She writes about all her various pirates tales (some appropriate for children, some definitely not) on her Facebook page as well as sharing stories and images that appeal to the not-so-secret pirate within all of us.

She met her husband at a pirate ball, and has two little pirates at home.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 16 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Death of a Sibling, Fantasy Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Twin Siblings