Review & Giveaway: Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Synopsis:

Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a seriously glamorgeous name.’

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small, coastal town of Juniper Bay. Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle’s initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table.

But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgiveable.

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

My Review:

This is a book that grew on me.  As I turned each page, I became more immersed in the story of Tallulah de Longland.  When it ended, I simply wanted it to go on. The story spans a few decades, with Tallulah (Lulu) reflecting back on the past and sharing her story of the present.

It starts out with Lulu meeting Annabelle at their Catholic school, St. Rita’s.  Soon, they become the best of friends, developing their own language and creating a dictionary.  Both come from eccentric families, with Lulu’s mom struggling with a mental illness that is never defined (but includes bouts of severe depression).  While her mom, Rose, has her quirks, she loves her daughter immensely and loves to bake!  Lulu has twin brothers, who aren’t main characters in the storyline, but still show how resilient children can be, in a home where someone is mentally ill.  Both, Rose and Harry, are a couple who do what they can to provide for their children and help move them along to create their own adventures.

Lulu experiences first love with Josh, and the three of them (Annabelle, Lulu, and Josh) become inseparable.  Something happens and Lulu’s life stalls.  Annabelle and Josh move on, and it isn’t until Lulu moves in with a friend, that she meets the infamous Duncan.  Lulu develops her own voice and draws the line (so to speak), with Duncan, which sparks a life long friendship that is so endearing and heartfelt!  Duncan has his own issues, one being that he loves women with the letter “K”.  It is through Duncan’s own journey, that Lulu comes into her own and embraces who she is.

Because Lulu grew up Catholic, it made sense to see how much Lulu struggles to accept happiness and gifts from others.  However, through the course of the book, she learns to forgive herself, forgive those she loves, and embrace the adventures that her family and Duncan very much want for her life.

Frances Whiting is a debut author, who wrote this book, with the setting being in Australia.  So, there is some Australian lingo, mate.  However, it doesn’t come across confusing or difficult to follow.  This story has so many beginnings and endings, throughout the novel, that it really seems like this novel could have been a sequel of sorts.  Reading the interview at the back of the book, I was simply amazed that this book was a labor of love that took 7 years to write!!  The novel doesn’t show this at all, as it is seamless, quite relevant, and has a great rhythm to it.

While it could easily have been a “girl meets boy” tale, Frances takes the story even deeper and brings forth issues that happen in real life-which makes it quite relatable to anyone.  Frances also raises serious issues about friendships, boundaries, infidelity, health issues, starting over, and finding love.  Frances shows that everyone has flaws, have  journeys that sometimes intersect with their past, and above all, that everyone deserves a second chance.

This was a beautiful novel that I enjoyed.  I cried, laughed, and simply loved the way every character has his/her own personal challenges to overcome, yet no one is ever truly alone to experience those.  The title didn’t make a whole of sense to me, until I read the interview Frances gave.  Then, it made perfect sense.  Like a trampoline, there are dips, falls, and times you are soaring in the air!  Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend!

P.S. I do hope Frances considers writing a sequel to this novel! There are so many adventures for Lulu and her family and friends to share with all of us!!

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*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley. No forms of compensation were given.

Book Giveaway!

The publisher has graciously offered 2 copies of this book!! 

Simply fill out the form and 2 winners will be randomly selected. 

This giveaway is open to US & Canada readers.

Giveaway ends March 10, 2015.

Please Note:  This is a 2 part process! 

1) Fill in the comment form (it will not be visible to anyone but me, Books in the Burbs.

2) There is a question in the comment form.  Answer it below this post, where the general comments are listed.

****In order for your entry to be valid, both parts must be answered.  This includes your mailing address.  It takes time to receive word back from winners and I am on a deadline to submit both winner’s information to the publicist.  Thank you!   

copyright 2015

Book Giveaways Galore!

giveawaysgalore2014

I love this time of year, when bloggers are hosting a lot of their end of year giveaways.  This is also my 5 year blogger anniversary, so it seemed rather fitting to have more than one giveaway this month.  While many of the giveaways end this week, you still have time to enter and win some fantastic books.  I’m hosting quite a few, so take a peek and see which ones interest you the most!

Choose from 3 Gift Packs!

Giveaway ends December 18, 2014

Giveaway ends December 22, 2014

Giveaway ends December 20, 2014

Giveaway ends December 19, 2014

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Peanuts Gift Pack Giveaway!

THE PEANUTS GANG: BOOK ‘EM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

IN CELEBRATION OF 50 YEARS ON TV FOR A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

 

Hard as it is to believe, but this year marks the 50th annual airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas!

To celebrate the occasion, ABC will air the special twice: Tuesday, December 2 at 8:30PM ET/PT and Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00PM ET/PT.  Meanwhile, Peanuts Worldwide is offering a host of great holiday books guaranteed to get you in the mood for the big television anniversary.

GIFT SET #1:

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: THE MAKING OF A TRADITION

This lushly illustrated tribute to the television classic takes readers behind-the-scenes of the Peanuts holiday special. Including the script of A Charlie Brown Christmas, more than 200 full-color pieces of original animation art, Vince Guaraldi’s original score, and a look at the making of feature from producer Lee Mendelson and original animator, the late Bill Melendez, fans of Charles M. Schulz, the Peanuts gang, and A Charlie Brown Christmas will treasure this beautiful keepsake volume for years to come.

Available at amazon.com and major book stores nationwide for $19.99.

My Review:

I grew up watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.  I especially love the cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas!  So, this is a real treat for my blog to offer you so many great books to read, buy, and possibly win!  This book is the perfect gift for someone who grew up watching the Christmas movie!  With attention to detail, skits, sketches, and dialogue from the actual movie, the Peanuts fan will love this book!  It’s very well made and gives a behind the scenes look to the movie!

BE JOYFUL BOOK

This charming little book filled with Peanuts inspirational wisdom is the perfect stocking stuffer! The book highlights the simple joys of friends, life and goodwill through a collection of heart-warming quotes and illustrations from the Peanuts classic comics.  Available at amazon.com or wherever books are sold for $7.95.

My Review:

This is definitely the perfect gift for someone who loves to read little quotes from the Peanuts gang!  It’s quite colorful with simple quotes from your favorite characters, that will definitely make you smile and feel a bit nostalgic, too!

 

GIFT SET #2:

PEANUTS: A SCANIMATION BOOK BY RUFUS BUTLER SEDER

Charlie Brown and the football, Snoopy’s happy dance, Schroeder at his toy piano—cherished characters and iconic moments come to life through the magic of Scanimation.  Created by Rufus Butler Seder, an inventor, artist, and filmmaker fascinated by antique optical toys, Scanimation is a state-of-the-art six-phase animation process that combines the “persistence of vision” principle with a striped acetate overlay to give the illusion of movement. It harkens back to the old magical days of the kinetoscope, and the effect is astonishing, like a video without a screen. It is Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts—funny and wise and beloved, forever a part of our lives—like you’ve never seen before. Available for $14.95 at workman.com, amazon.com, Powell’s Books, Barnes and Noble, and independent book stores nationwide.

My Review:

This is the kind of book that any little reader will love!  The scanimation design is pre-electronics, but still is just as entertaining.  With a little storyline, each page has the scanimation that gives movement to each character and scene.  It’s a hard book that is a great size for small hands.  It’s a book that will be a great introduction in to the Peanuts gang, which will be a childhood favorite for your own little one, too!

BEST FRIENDS PLAY-A-SOUND BOOK AND CUDDLY SNOOPY

This play-a-sound book comes with its own adorable mini-Snoopy plush—essentially making it two gifts for the price of one! Aimed at the toddler on your list, the book spotlights the topic of best friends from the Peanuts point-of-view and features three buttons that highlight a different sound from the story when you press them. Available for $11.99 at Toys R Us or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

Any little child will love this book!  With coordinating buttons to cue each page, your little reader will love to hear the sounds form the Peanuts Gang!  Along with a plush, stuffed Snoopy, this will be a great treat for little ones!  The book is small enough for little hands, hard pages to prevent bending and tearing, and the sounds really encourage the reader to look for sight words and press the button to hear the sounds.  This is an excellent book that will make a great gift for any occasion!

 

 

GIFT SET #3:

GOOD GRIEF, IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!

The Peanuts gang believes in “growing up without growing old” and that’s the message behind this hilarious book filled with famous celebrity quotes paired with artwork from the classic Peanuts comic strip. Among the celebrities quoted are George Burns, Mae West, Audrey Hepburn, and of course, Charles M. Schulz himself! Perfect for anyone on your list celebrating a birthday in December and beyond. Available at Target or wherever books are sold for $9.66.

My Review:

This book is perfect for any person, as you celebrate that special birthday! I love the quotes that correspond with each Peanuts character.  Each quote makes you smile, laugh, reminisce, and will definitely make a great birthday gift for a loved one!

CLASSIC PEANUTS PAINT-BY-NUMBER KIT

For the budding artist, The Classic Peanuts Paint-by-Number Kit provides everything you need to make five paintings of iconic Peanuts moments.  From a group shot of Charlie Brown and the gang to Snoopy as Joe Cool, bring the charm and nostalgia of the classic comic to the canvas. Inside the box, you’ll find five paint-by-number canvases and stands, 10 acrylic paints, paintbrush, and a book exploring the comic’s great moments. Available for $15.25 at Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

This is the gift that is perfect for any person that loves to paint!  I was quite impressed with the quality of the paper, which has numbers corresponding with the paints.  Of course, any artist can deviate from the suggestions!  I also love the little book enclosed!  This makes a great gift for the artist in your life!  After each page is painted, the hard back pictures can easily be framed!

Overall Thoughts:

We all love Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, especially if you are child of the 80’s/90’s.  However, this is a fantastic way to introduce your beloved cartoon characters to your own children, grandchildren, friends, students, etc.  Books in the Burbs is quite excited to introduce these fantastic gift ideas, as well as offer a few giveaways!

Giveaway Details:

US entries only.

When you fill out the form, your information doesn’t appear on my blog.  It is sent to me directly.  The 3 winners chosen will have their addresses sent directly to the publisher, who will mail the gift sets directly.

Giveaway ends December 18, 2014.

 

Book Review: Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James & Giveaway Details

 

Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons–a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane’s affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race–and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

My Review:

As many of you know, my all time favorite author is Jane Austen.  I absolutely love her books, love reading about her life (albeit-it’s sad), and am drawn to anything Jane.  So, this book definitely peaked my interest.  Just when I thought I had read everything there was to know about Jane’s life, Syrie James does her research and finds Jane Austen’s first love: Edward Taylor!  This story is based during a short period of Jane’s life.  She’s 15 years old, visiting her brother Edward, and celebrating his engagement.

I love that Syrie James brings to life the charisma and charm that Jane Austen exudes in all of her writings!  While this story is based on historical fact, laced with some fiction, it is rather interesting to imagine how Jane created characters, shared her stories with others, and the interactions she has with family.  We all know that Jane never marries or has children, however, her childhood certainly shapes the views she had on relationships and helped create characters for her novels.  So, it was quite a treat to see the possibility that her summer experience helped with the storylines and characters in Emma and Pride & Prejudice.  The most special relationship, even more so than Jane’s and Edward Taylor, is between Cassandra and Jane.  The secrets they share, they talks they have, and just the concern they have for each other is quite poignant and wonderful to see how it evolves and becomes even more important for them to maintain into adulthood.

Overall, this is a fantastic storyline that Jane Austen fans will love.  It’s a book that gives a glimpse inside the world of Jane Austen, as a young teenager, who experiences first love and plays matchmaker to a group of people-only to realize that sometimes what is imagined, isn’t always realistic.  However, she never gives up on the idea of love, which we experience through her writings!

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*A huge thank you to the publisher and Syrie James for the opportunity to review the book and offer a giveaway!  No forms of compensation were given.

Photo courtesy of Syrie James website.

About the Author, Syrie James:

“The queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” —Los Angeles Magazine

Syrie James is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Jane Austen’s First Love, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, a Discover New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine.

Syrie is a member of the WGA and a life member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). She spent many years as a screenwriter and enjoys writing both novels and screenplays. Syrie writes practically every weekday. She says, “Many people can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. It’s the opposite for me. I truly love my jam-packed weekends, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I’m back in my chair on Monday morning, I’m anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story.”

Syrie was named after a character in a radio show that her mother listened to as a girl. Today, Syrie is thrilled that her name is pronounced the same as Siri, the iPhone personal assistant–even if they spell the name incorrectly. :)

Syrie was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved west at age one because her father didn’t like shoveling snow. She has lived most of her life in California, if you don’t count the two years as a child when she lived in France.

Connect with the Author:

Webpage

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Click here for giveaway details!

 

 

An Interview with Author, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

 

I suppose every reader has a guilty pleasure.  For me, my guilty pleasure is reading “Chick-lit”.  I first started reading Chick-lit books with the Bridget Jones Diary series, and from there would pick up a book here and there, to read.  It’s not a genre I read all the time, so when I do, it has to be a book that really calls my attention.  There are just so many books out there, so how do you choose, right?

They synopsis was quite interesting in New Money, which I read about a year ago. I love the Cinderella themed novel, and Savannah is a character I really liked.  You can read my review here.

I am also a huge fan of sequels and trilogies!  I love a great book series because I have a chance to read more about my favorite characters and their adventures!  So, I am quite happy that Lorraine decided to write the sequel to New Money: Independently Wealthy.  She has graciously given some of her time for an interview, for you all to read!   There is also a giveaway, because you know…we all love a free book!

 

 

Synopsis:

Savannah Morgan had high hopes. She dreamed of becoming a writer and escaping her South Carolina town, where snooty debutantes have always looked down on her. But at twenty-four, she’s become a frustrated ex-cheerleader who lives with her mother and wonders if rejecting a marriage proposal was a terrible mistake. Then Savannah’s world is shaken when she learns the father she never knew is Edward Stone, a billionaire media mogul who has left Savannah his fortune on the condition that she move to Manhattan and work at his global news corporation. Putting aside her mother’s disapproval, Savannah plunges into a life of wealth and luxury that is threatened by Edward’s other children—the infuriatingly arrogant Ned and his sharp-tongued sister, Caroline, whose joint mission is to get rid of Savannah. She deals with their treachery along with her complicated love life, and she eventually has to decide between Jack, a smooth and charming real estate executive, and Alex, a handsome aspiring writer/actor. Savannah must navigate a thrilling but dangerous city while trying to figure out what kind of man her father truly was.

author spotlight pic

 

1.  Independently Wealthy is the sequel to New Money. What do you hope readers will enjoy most about this sequel?

Lorraine:  I hope readers will enjoy the evolving relationships between the characters and seeing that by the end of the story, many of these characters have changed a great deal from who they were in the first book. I also hope readers will enjoy that a big part of the story takes place in a wonderful setting—NYC during the holidays.

2.  In what ways do you think Savannah grows more in this novel?

Lorraine:  In New Money, Savannah was abruptly thrown into a situation that was very fortunate, but it was also filled with treachery, conflict, and hard feelings. Being a wealthy heiress in Manhattan was completely foreign to her, so she didn’t always know how to navigate this world filled with people who want to take her down. In Independently Wealthy, some time has passed since she arrived in NYC, so she has become more comfortable with her new circumstances. But the way in which Savannah grows most is through her relationships—especially with her half-brother (Ned) and half-sister (Caroline). In New Money, Ned and Caroline were devastated that their father left his fortune solely to Savannah, and they were understandably resentful toward her. Toward the end of that story, Caroline had reasons to soften toward Savannah, and their relationship continues to grow in Independently Wealthy. Ned’s relationship with Savannah slowly changes throughout Independently Wealthy—and both of these characters change, too.

3.  Which character did you most resonate with?

Lorraine:  I think authors generally resonate most with their main characters—probably because we spend so much time with them! So I would say that I related most to Savannah. Despite her glamorous life, she really is just a regular girl!

4.  What would you like your readers to learn most from your novel?

Lorraine:  Readers interpret literature based on their individual personalities, values, and taste—so I think everyone will view the story and characters uniquely and learn something different from my book. However, a main theme in this series is that people are often quite different from how they appear on the surface—and it’s important to understand their circumstances and background before judging them.

5.  Prior to this sequel, you wrote your first novel: Other Words for Love. How different was the writing process for you this time?

Lorraine:  My writing process was the same, but the style was different. Other Words for Love is quite introspective and somewhat literary, while New Money and Independently Wealthy are more fast-paced. The time period is also different, as Other Words for Love takes place in the 1980s, and the New Money series is set during the present day—so when writing each story, I had to make sure the real-life references, characters’ values, etc., accurately reflected the time period.

6.  How challenging is it for you to write a book knowing that it will be sequel? Does that impact your writing the first novel: New Money?

Lorraine:  The challenge of writing a novel that will be followed by a sequel is being sure to wrap up all the storylines in a way that is satisfying to the reader but leaves enough room to continue the story.

7.  For aspiring writers: what is the one piece of advice you would like to share with them?

Lorraine:  Aspiring authors should always keep in mind that writing is extremely subjective. Just because an agent, an editor, or anyone else tells you that he/she doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean it isn’t good—it just means the reader didn’t make a connection. When that happens, don’t allow it to discourage you or make you doubt your abilities. Listen to people’s criticism, take from it what you think is valid, and discard the rest. Don’t allow criticism to stop you from writing or make you give up trying to become a published author. Some people might not care for your work—but there might be many others who will love it. Just keep looking for those people, and always keep writing.

8.  Paper/pen or computer: Which method do you prefer when writing?

Lorraine:  I write all of my novels on a computer—but when I’m not in my office and ideas pop into my head, I reach for the paper/pen to write them down.

9.  Day/night/afternoon: Which time of day do you feel most productive when writing?

Lorraine:  I usually write during a 9 to 5 schedule, but I do work a lot of nights and weekends. I have often felt that I am most productive very late at night. It’s easier to become absorbed in a scene when it’s quiet and there are no interruptions.

10.  How do you best prepare for writing a novel?

Lorraine:  It’s really just a lot of thinking—and listening to music helps, too. Music is very inspirational and can also evoke the emotions that I want to capture in particular scenes.

Thank you for time!

You are welcome! Thanks so much for having me here.

 

About the Author:

I was born and raised in New York City, where I went to high school in Queens at St. Francis Prep:

www.sfponline.org. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa: www.usf.edu with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. I also earned a Master’s degree in English, with a concentration in American and British Literature, from Northern Kentucky University: www.nku.edu, which is located just across the bridge from Cincinnati.

When I’m not writing, I like to read, work out, and spend time with my husband. I also enjoy keeping up my lifelong hobby of being a devoted TV & film buff.

Follow Lorraine on Twitter!

Lorraine’s Blog

Giveaway

 Giveaway Details:

Win 1 copy of Independently Wealthy

Add your email and answer this question in the comment section:

What is one interesting tidbit you enjoyed from Lorraine’s interview and/or the synopsis for her new book?

US entries only.

Giveaway ends December 20, 2015

Review & Giveaway: Addie B. Strong: Dream Big by Alyson Flippo and Kathleen Murphy Willer

 

Series: Addie B. Strong (Book 2)

Hardcover: 28 pages

Publisher: B-Strong, LLC

Publication Date:  September 1, 2014

 

Synopsis:

Join Addie B. Strong in her second adventure, Addie B. Strong – Dream Big. Little Addie has a big dream, but it is much more work than she thought it would be. Meet Addie’s cousin, Collin B. Kind, whose wisdom and kindnesshelps to remind Addie of her forgotten strength. As Addie works her way through the not-so-simple task of reaching for the stars, she discovers once again the magic of the strength that lies inside of her. Follow Addie on her quest as she continues her journey and discover that you too can Dream Big.”

My Review:

Back in October, 2014, I reviewed Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong.  I have been given the opportunity to review the second book in the series, and this book didn’t disappoint!

This is the second book in the series for Addie B. Strong.  The book is large, with glossy pages, which are perfect for small hands and their attention spans.  Each page can tell a story based on the dress and scenes that Addie finds herself in.  With messages of self-empowerment, never giving up, and reaching out to others, this a book that many children will love and identify with.  Parents and educators will love the message this book offers to young children, because it teaches children to not limit themselves, rather to always reach high for the stars.  While the story is simple, the message is clear, and the illustrations are clean and crisp, it’s a book that children up to age 7/8 will enjoy.  The rhyming words help with speech and fluctuation, as well as help kids stay interested in the storyline because it’s not overloaded with too many words or cluttered with too many images.  Overall, an excellent book!

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Connect with the Authors and Addie B. Strong:

Facebook

The Author, Alyson Flippo

Twitter

Giveaway

Giveaway Details:

The publisher has graciously offered both books: Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong & Dream Big!

Only 1 winner will win both books!

Giveaway ends December 22, 2014.

Winner will have 24 hours to respond to the email.  If a reply isn’t given, another winner will be chosen.  The winner’s email and address will be sent to the publisher, who will mail the gift set.

Author, Syrie James Talks Jane Austen & Book Giveaway!

“The queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” —Los Angeles Magazine

Syrie James is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Jane Austen’s First Love, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, a Discover New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine.

Syrie is a member of the WGA and a life member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). She spent many years as a screenwriter and enjoys writing both novels and screenplays. Syrie writes practically every weekday. She says, “Many people can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. It’s the opposite for me. I truly love my jam-packed weekends, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I’m back in my chair on Monday morning, I’m anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story.”

Syrie was named after a character in a radio show that her mother listened to as a girl. Today, Syrie is thrilled that her name is pronounced the same as Siri, the iPhone personal assistant–even if they spell the name incorrectly. :)

Syrie was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved west at age one because her father didn’t like shoveling snow. She has lived most of her life in California, if you don’t count the two years as a child when she lived in France.

Connect with the Author:

Webpage

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Click to read synopsis

1) What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned during your research for this book?

When I first proposed to write about Jane Austen’s romance with Edward Taylor, the young man upon whom she had admittedly “fondly doated” in her youth, I couldn’t find much information about him. Jane refers to Edward Taylor several times in her letters with affection, and I learned that he was heir to Bifrons Park, an estate in Kent—but that was it. Austen biographers didn’t seem to know any more than that. They referred to Edward Taylor as the “shadowiest of Austen’s suitors,” and most (I later realized) got his age wrong, apparently copying inaccurate data from one text to the next. I worried that I was going to have to create a back story for him entirely out of my imagination, which didn’t satisfy me. I wanted to know the real Edward Taylor. Who was he? Why had Jane Austen been so fond of him?

I spent many months buried in research, looking for nuggets about Edward Taylor. I found his actual birth date, the date of his marriage, the college he’d attended at Oxford, and the fact that he’d served in the army (unusual for a first son and heir). This only piqued my curiosity even more. Then, quite unexpectedly, I came upon The Taylor Papers (1913), the memoirs and letters of his brother, Lieutenant General Sir Herbert Taylor, published many years after his death. It was a gold mine of information which revealed that Edward Taylor was a member of a large and remarkably accomplished family who had spent most of their formative years living and traveling on the continent, where they were all educated by private masters and became fluent in five languages. No wonder Jane Austen fell in love with this extraordinary young man! It was thrilling to know that I’d discovered something so precious that was unknown to Austen biographers, and exciting to bring the real Edward Taylor to life in my novel, Jane Austen’s First Love.

2) If someone has never read Jane Austen, what book of hers do you recommend they start with?

I adore all of Austen’s novels, but I recommend that newcomers begin with Pride and Prejudice. Austen called the book “my own darling child,” protesting (in jest) that it was perhaps “too light, and bright, and sparkling” —and sparkle it does. There’s a good reason why it’s Austen’s most popular work. It begins not with Austen’s usual introductory prose, but with a lively, charming conversation that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. The story arc is so brilliantly constructed that it’s been endlessly imitated. The characters are so memorable and so beautifully drawn that they are some of the best-known and most-loved in all of fiction. Mr. Darcy has become a fangirl phenomenon, and even Jane Austen adored her heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. As she confessed in a letter to her sister, “I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.” Price and Prejudice is fun and funny, it tugs on your heart strings, and it’s almost impossible to put down. What more could one ask for in a book?

3) Why do you think Austen’s novels continue to resonate with readers today?

Jane Austen was a brilliant craftsman who wrote with elegance and wit. I think her books are timeless because she created such clever storylines and characters who are so familiar to us. We all know an attention-seeking hypochondriac like Mrs. Bennet or Mary Musgrove, a handsome rogue like Willoughby or Wickham, and an imperious matriarch like Lady Catherine—and we sympathize with the heroes and heroines, who wrestle with social, emotional, and economic problems similar to those we experience today. Another reason Austen’s works are so beloved today is that, through the experiences and choices of her characters, she subtly shows us the right way to live, and how to be the best people we can be. Austen’s novels are funny but heartfelt. They provide a pleasurable way of connecting to a past era that we view as romantic. But ultimately, what attracts us to Austen now is probably what’s been attracting people to her for two centuries: anyone, at any time, can relate to falling in love. When we read an Austen novel, it’s easy to believe that there’s a great love out there for everyone, if only we are wise enough and patient enough to know how and where to look.

4) Jane Austen’s First Love almost feels like it was written by Austen herself. How do you channel her voice in your writing?

Thank you for the kind words! To keep Jane Austen’s voice in my head while I was researching and writing Jane Austen’s First Love, I re-read her novels and letters over and over again, and restricted my other reading to books about Jane or those written by other authors in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I also meticulously checked dictionary.com to make sure that every word I wrote had been in use in the English language in 1791, when the story took place. I may have inadvertently included a few anachronisms, but I did my best. I felt it was critical, in this novel as well as in my previous books, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, that the voice be as close to Austen’s as possible, so the reader could feel they were truly communing with Jane—and I’m delighted that you feel I’ve accomplished it!

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