Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks

I am delighted to bring you my stop on this blog tour today (the first of two today – never say I’m not good to you)!  This blog tour is organised by Lola’s Blog Tours and runs until the 28th May. I received a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.

The Author:

Born in Boston, MA and raised in Miami, FL, Sara Marks has two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated.  She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess and winning with the most degrees in her family. By day she’s an academic librarian.  In what little free time she has, she also knits and plays with her dog Cedric Doggory.

You can find and contact Sara Marks here: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Amazon, Her Mailing List.

Blurb:

Phi Alpha Pi is the oldest and largest sorority on campus and new president Lizbeth has a busy senior year ahead of her. She’s determined to keep her sorority in good standing on campus after a year on academic probation. She’s trying to manage the new sorority house manager, Mrs. C, who has her own ideas about how to support the sorority sisters. All while trying to find balance with her own academic goals to complete an honors thesis, graduate, and decide her future plans.

The last thing Lizbeth expects is her anger when Wil, a new member of the Alpha Pi fraternity, pushes every one of her buttons. Lizbeth finds Wil, a new transfer to the university with his best friend, to be rude, snobby, and judgmental. Even though she tries to avoid him, he seems to be everywhere, scowling with displeasure when he sees her.  That is, until his Thanksgiving proclamation of love. That causes Lizbeth to reconsider how she sees the world.

GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, Kobo

Excerpt:

The more they walked around the museum, the more Lizbeth realized they liked a lot of the same pieces and artists for very similar reasons. They didn’t draw while in the Matisse exhibit, but Lizbeth would periodically sit and doodle while listening to tour guides who led groups through the space. Her paper was quickly filled with little triangle butterflies and poorly drawn horses.

‘Suddenly I expect you to love unicorns and rainbows,’ Wil said, sitting next to her on a bench and looking over her shoulder.
‘I do!’
‘I was joking’
‘I’m not. I also love mermaids. Ask Becca. For years I was going to turn into one when I grew up. It was my career goal for quite a while.’
‘Are you a good swimmer?’
‘Fantastic! I’m a much better swimmer than I am an artist.’
Wil laughed at her. ‘You are great at riding horses and swimming? Did you want to become a unicorn
later?’
‘No, I was going to be a mermaid princess who came on land to ride her unicorns. That’s why my grandparents bought me Windfola.’
Wil blushed, probably remembering his plan to buy her horse.
‘Then your income would be princess-based.’
‘Obviously, a great plan.’
This time they both laughed. Wil wouldn’t let her see what was on his paper. They left the exhibit and headed for a cafe in the museum to grab lunch. As they left the exhibits, Lizbeth saw him fold his paper and slip it into his back pocket.

As they made their way to the cafe, they got distracted by a collection about roosters across cultures. They stood before a painting of a rooster called “The Cock” Neither recognized the artist, but Lizbeth felt inspired.
‘The thing that catches my eye about this cock is the color and shape. Notice the left curvature of the cock. The shape is of an average cock. What are your thoughts about the cock, Wil?’ Lizbeth said.
She turned to face Wil and found him trying to stifle a laugh.
‘Do you find cocks funny, Wil? A cock is nothing to laugh at. If you had a cock as grand as this would you want people laughing at it?’ Lizbeth said.
She would have continued, but she started laughing herself. She let Wil take her hand and pull her out of the room.
‘You’ve seen my terrible drawings. Let me see what you did’ Lizbeth said once they were seated with lunch from the cafe.
‘No, it’s nothing.’
‘Wil, don’t worry. I won’t tell your aunt how you aren’t a well-rounded young lady.’
Wil laughed at the joke, but refused to let her see what he had drawn.
‘This isn’t over. The more you refuse, the more I want to see what you drew,”
Lizbeth said as she got up to throw away their trash.

Author Interview:

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Sara some questions about Phi Alpha Pi and her reading life, and here is what she said!

Phi Alpha Pi is the second book in your ‘21st Century Austen’ series and is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with your first being a Persuasion re-telling. What made you pick those particular books / that particular author?

I started with these two books because they’re my favorites and my go-to plots (second chances and personal growth).  I’m taking a break from the modernizations for book three, but am already working on my update of Emma and Northanger Abbey.

Do you have to have read ‘Modern Persuasion’ to read this book or is a ‘standalone’ series?

I call this an anthology series because they exist in the same universe, but only the thinnest tendrils connect them.  You can read them in any order and the connections are show in the short stories that exist.

Do you have to have read the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to understand Phi Alpha Pi?

I don’t think you need to have read the original and readers have told me the same thing.  The nice thing about modernizing a book is that it’s contemporary, but nothing has to connect to the original. I find that books that are variations of Austen are more often sequels, prequels, and alternative versions of the story.  They require knowledges of the original. My story is about people like us who have no connection to their Regency era counterparts.

What made you set this story in an educational setting?

I love academia.  I love getting degrees and learning new things.  I’ve been at a college or university (for school and work) since I was eighteen.  This is a world I know better than I probably should. College specifically is a time when a lot of  people start making friends, meeting partners, and deciding how they might spend the rest of their lives.

Who was your favourite character to write about and why?

I love writing Jorge more than I thought I would.  I’m one of those people who find villains compelling characters.  I had to get into his head more than the other characters and try to figure out what motivated him to be so manipulative.

And who was the most difficult and why?

Also Jorge!  In the original he seduces and dumps young women, ruining their reputations.  That simply wasn’t going to work, as much as I tried to find the nuances of such situations. I had to think about what modern con artists do and it all centers around money.  It took a while and push back from beta readers to get him to the right place.

Do you know what book comes next and is it another Austen retelling?

The next book is a romance/mystery about a women whose husband doesn’t come home after a guys weekend.  The blurb will be at the end of Phi Alpha Pi. It’s my own idea and I’m surprisingly anxious about it being good.  Book four, which I’m already working on, is a modernization of Emma.

Were you ever in a sorority yourself? If yes, which one and tell us about your experience, if not, do you wish you had been and which would you have liked to join?

The first time I went to college it was at Florida State University. I was in a co-ed fraternity: Alpha Phi Omega and they focused on community service over everything else.  I joined because a close friend had also done it and my other friends were joining too. I had other friends that joined sororities and fraternities. I considered joining a sorority, but it can be expensive and I had other interests.

Your ‘day job’ is a Librarian; what is the best part about the job?

The best part of being in a library, for me, is that I get to keep learning new things and collaborating with interesting people in the faculty and students.  We are getting ready to take on making a series of instructional videos and improving those we have on YouTube. I’ve been learning more about putting videos on YouTube and it’s something I know I can use to promote books too.

You have professed a love for Wil Wheaton (I mean, who doesn’t love him?!), hence the name of one of the MC’s in this book – what, in your opinion, is his best performance to date?

I fell in love with him when he did Star Trek the Next Generation, but his best role was definitely Stand By Me (ed: AGREED!).  My secret favorite is a 1991 he did with Sean Astin (who I also loved), Toy Soldiers.  I only read Ready Player One because he was the narrator (it was worth the read!).

I see that you have been a NaNoWriMo participant for the past 14 years or so – how many times have you ‘won’ and do you have any suggestions or words of wisdom for anyone planning on taking part?

I’ve won it every year but one.  My advice is to not worry about the quality of the words. A lot of people get stuck in crafting the perfect opening or making sure every work is perfect.  Just keep writing and don’t delete because it’s about quantity. It’s really tough for people to remember. If you think 50,000 words is too much to manage, in April and July you can set your own word count for Camp NaNoWriMo.  I wrote Phi Alpha Pi in the April 2014 event and Modern Persuasion in July 2014!

I love reading challenges and am doing quite a few this year – are you challenging yourself to read a certain number of books or perhaps certain books this year?

I’ve done the GoodReads annual challenge, but I’ve cut down my goal to like 50 books because I get obsessed with reach the goal instead of enjoying the books.  I usually get in like 100+ books and it helps that I love audiobooks. Right now I’m at 21 books, about 3 books ahead of the goal. I suspect it will pick up in the summer and then slow down again when things get crazy in the fall.

Giveaways:

There are two tour wide giveaways during the blog tour of Phi Alpha Pi! There is a US Only Giveaway for a prize pack and an international giveaway for 14 e-copies and a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi!

US Only Giveaway

One winner will win a Prize Pack containing:

  • Mrs. C’s homemade officers shirt in Comic Sans (you pick XL or XXL)
  • A Phi Alpha Pi sorority sticker, candle, and bracelet (some of the items mentioned in the story).
  • An illustration by cover designer Risa Rodil
  • A rooster dishtowel (so you can make cock jokes with Lizbeth and Wil)
  • Autographed printed copies of Modern Persuasion, A Little More Modern Persuasion, and Phi Alpha Pi.

For a chance to win enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Open for all Giveaway

These are the prizes you can win:

  • 14 winners will each win an e-copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks
  • 1 winner will win a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks

For a chance to win enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Good Luck!

My Review:

Being British, Greek life is not something I know much about apart from what is show us on TV and in films, which I am sure is not truly representative of real life; I still have a real fascination with it though and that’s why I decided to take part on this tour. I also need to confess that although I have watched the TV series and film a few times, I never actually read Pride & Prejudice but that really didn’t matter.

I did struggle to get into the book to begin with – put I cannot put a finger on why. I think it must have ben just the mood I was in at the time as one I hit 26% on the Kindle, I looked up a moment later to realise I had made it to 53% without realising how long I had been reading! I soon then devoured the last half of the book and come the end, had really enjoyed it!

Sara tends to write words out in full (e.g. do not instead of don’t etc) and it takes just a little to get used to it (which is ridiculous really!) but it also brings it back into mind that you are reading a retelling of a Regency era book.

The characters are well written – I was invested in Lizbeth but also did feel occasionally that she was a little cols but this is something she acknowledges throughout the book.  Of course you can’t help but fall for Wil and Collins makes your skin crawl.  One thing that was interesting was the situation surrounding the Bennett sisters and parents now being Sorority sisters and other characters. I did feel it was a shame that Dr Bennett wasn’t mentioned a little more but felt that the Mrs C character was BRILLIANT!

I would definitely recommend this book if you want an ‘easy to read’ happy ending that you know is coming – if you know the story it’s interesting to see how Marks deals with things and definitely keeps you reading!

My rating is 4 Stars.

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2018, Reading Challenge

It’s Sherlock Holmes Day!

Today is Sherlock Holmes Day; According to this source, today is the 5th Sherlock Holmes Day after the event was created as a mini event run by Gaia Online, a forum and gaming site celebrating the wonderful Air Arthur Conan Doyle’s birth date.

Sherlock Holmes by Josh Hood

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the man himself, said that the character was originally based on a real man, Mr Joseph Bell, who was a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh and for whom he had worked for as an assistant. He, like Holmes, was able to draw complex and surprising conclusions based solely on minute observations which made excellent reading, along with the relationship between his friend and confident, Dr Watson and arch nemesis, Moriarty.

The first Holmes book was published in 1887 and continued until the authors death nearly 40 years later.  A complete list of the books (and stories) is below – how many have you read?

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

  • “A Scandal in Bohemia”
  • “The Red-Headed League”
  • “A Case of Identity”
  • “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
  • “The Five Orange Pips”
  • “The Man with the Twisted Lip”
  • “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”
  • “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
  • “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb”
  • “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”
  • “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”
  • “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”

 

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

  • “Silver Blaze”
  • “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”
  • “The Adventure of the Yellow Face”
  • “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk”
  • “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott”
  • “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual”
  • “The Adventure of the Reigate Puzzle”
  • “The Adventure of the Crooked Man”
  • “The Adventure of the Resident Patient”
  • “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”
  • “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty”
  • “The Adventure of the Final Problem”

 

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

  • “The Adventure of the Empty House”
  • “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”
  • “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
  • “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”
  • “The Adventure of the Priory School”
  • “The Adventure of Black Peter”
  • “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”
  • “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”
  • “The Adventure of the Three Students”
  • “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”
  • “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”
  • “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”
  • “The Adventure of the Second Stain”

 

His Last Bow (a.k.a The Reminiscence of Sherlock Holmes)

  • “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge”
  • “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”
  • “The Adventure of the Red Circle”
  • “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans”
  • “The Adventure of the Dying Detective”
  • “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”
  • “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”
  • “His Last Bow”

 

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

  • “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”
  • “The Problem of Thor Bridge”
  • “The Adventure of the Creeping Man”
  • “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”
  • “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”
  • “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client”
  • “The Adventure of the Three Gables”
  • “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier”
  • “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane”
  • “The Adventure of the Retired Colourman”
  • “The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger”
  • “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place”

 

Sherlock Holmes Novels

 

As yo know, I love me a bit of a challenge and so I thought I would do a mid-year one to celebrate this wonderful character who also happens to be one of my Dad’s favourites!  I am going to read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories between now and next ‘Sherlock Holmes Day’ .. Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – care to join me?

I have already got 3 books on my shelves (The Adventures, The Return and The Memoirs) and I’m pretty sure my dad has 2 different copies of a complete compendium so will be snaffling that when I can too. I also recently downloaded the new-ish Stephen Fry Audiobook – its 72hrs long but has absolutely everything so will be a useful thing to have in my back pocket!

**Some links may contain affiliate links**

2018

The Duchess of Sussex’s Favourite Books

Now that the furore of he weekend has calmed a little, I thought I would share my thoughts on a list of books that I found that are apparently The Duchess of Sussex’s favourite books.  She shared this list on her Lifestyle Blog, The Tig, which unfortunately closed in early 2017 when her relationship with her now husband got serious.

This list is from 2016 – it would be interesting to hear from her now to see if things have changed at all min 2 years – whether new books have made the list or her circumstances have changed the way she views reading! But for now … on with the list:

  1. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery – “I have long been obsessed with this book, and specifically with The Little Fox. Even if I don’t revisit the entire existential text (masked as a children’s book), the chapter of The Little Fox unearths a truth in me that is always worth the check-in. And if my vouching for it doesn’t give it the badass quality you’re looking for, the film remake is due to be released soon with a star-studded cast. So there ya go, fancy pants.” I haven’t read this but have heard a lot about it so should perhaps make an effort to!
  2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – “My mom gave me a copy of this book when I was 13-years-old and to this day, I constantly circle back to the Don Miguel Ruiz classic for the simplest ways to simplify your life.” I haven’t even heard of this one – my knowledge of ‘classics’ is terrible and definitely something I need to work on!
  3. The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard – “Annoyed by your self-doubt and distractions? The noise that keeps you from reaching your potential? Okay, so yeah. Me too. Even on my most Sasha Fierce days there’s a mean little voice in there going, ‘Hmmm…I’m not sure if you can, or should, or if you’re good enough to.'” Again I haven’t particularly heard of this but by the sounds of it, I should read it!  It’s nice to hear that people that we deem as successful have bad self-doubt days sometimes!
  4. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff – “Aspects of Taoism told through the characters of Winnie the Pooh – I mean, does it get better?” I couldn’t agree more!
  5. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. – “A professor at Northwestern University had this book on our list of required reading for an Industrial Engineering class I took my junior year of college. It was a seemingly odd choice, but at the end of the day, the takeaway was a self-empowerment and motivational bent that I apply to decision making in my life to this very day. It’s an invaluable quick read.” Again not heard of it but I think if I had I would have been attracted by that title!

Have you read any (or all) of these books? What did you think of them?

Sunday Roundup

The Sunday Roundup #2

Welcome to The Sunday Roundup where I roundup some of the fun bookish things I have come across in the last week. If there is something missing that you would like me to include, or you know of something that I might like and haven’t included, please do give me a shout!

**Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links**

Incoming Books:

Outgoing Books:

None this week!

Finished Books:

Currently Reading (I REALLY need to finish up some of these):

Read-a-thons & Challenges:

Exciting Bookish News:

  • The Cover has been revealed for the new Harry Potter Companion Book, ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’.
  • Anne Franks Diary only comes out of storage every 10 years and this time around, they have discovered new pages; it’s amazing what they can do with modern technology!
  • This isn’t exciting at all but it is Bookish News .. I HOPE that they were trying to make a point and so didn’t show those that could do it but …. sigh. Watch this.

Books I have added to my Wish List this Week:

Upcoming Releases of Note:

I haven’t had the chance to look at this one – apologies!

Competitions I’ve Entered:

None this week (although I have done a few RT’s on Twitter it’s worth looking at!)

Sales & Good Deals I Know About:

My Loves of the Week:

  • The Charles Paris Dramatisations from the BBC. Bill Nighy is amazing in everything he does but he plays this part particularly well and is very funny!  The dramatisations are based on the books by Simon Brett.
  • I loved to see Harry and Meghan having a lovely time at their wedding – lots of smiles and giggles – BRILLIANT!

And finally.. a bookish quote of the week..

Reading Challenge

My #Borrowathon TBR

#Borrowathon, Round 4 is starting tonight at midnight and I am planning to take part. I say planning because I actually have a lot of books to read for review at the moment as well as having some out of the library!

#Borrowathon is a week long read-a-thon that encourages participants to borrow books in any means necessary, but with a heavy emphasis on using your local library. Created by Riley (@rmfickfack and fiveleveninety), this round takes place from midnight wherever you are on 20 May to 11.59pm on 27 May 2018. There are 6 challenges that you can complete too, as well as plans for a live discussion and catchup and sprints along the way.

I took part in a previous version of this (I can’t remember which round) but it was good fun and so when I heard it was back, I started planning right away!

So my potential reading list is below – I doubt I will have enough time to read all of these but will give it a good go!  I can hit all of the challenges except 3 .. unless I can find someone that tells me that one of the books listed is their favourite!

 

Will you be taking part in #Borrowathon? Do you make use of your local library?

Review

Review: The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein

Rating: 4

Date Started: 9th May 2018

Date Finished: 13th May 2018

Where I got it from: NetGalley (via Publishers HQ)

Cost: £0.00 in return for an honest review

Published: NG lists as 17 May 2018 but Amazon lists as 24 Jan 2019.

Blurb: The most deadly trap is the one you don’t see…

Sofia has just finished university and ended a troubled relationship when she attends a lecture about a New Age movement, Via Terra. Its leader is Franz Oswald, young, good-looking, urbane and mesmerizing.

When Franz invites Sofia to visit Fog Island, the organization’s headquarters, Sofia is dazzled by the beautiful mansion overlooking the sea, the well-tended gardens, the peaceful atmosphere and the purposefulness of the people who live there. And she can’t ignore the attraction she feels for Oswald, and clearly he is fascinated by her also. So she decides to stay.

But when summer gives way to winter, and the dense fog from which the island derives its name sets in for months, it becomes clear that Franz rules the island with an iron fist. No phones or computers are allowed. All contact with the mainland is severed. Sofia begins to realize how very alone she is. And it becomes clear that no one leaves Fog Island…

About the Author: Mariette Lindstein was born and raised in Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden. At the age of 20, she joined the Church of Scientology and worked for the next 25 years at all levels of the organisation, including at its International HQ outside Los Angeles.

Mariette left the church in 2004 and is now married to Dan Soon, an author and artist. They live in the forest outside Halmstad with their three dogs. The Cult on Fog Island is her debut novel and was first published in Sweden where it won the Best Crime Debut at the Specsavers CrimeTime Awards.

Mariette now dedicates her life to writing and lecturing to warn others about the dangers of cults and cult mentality.

My Review: I want to point out here that this is the first book in a trilogy and is also translated from the original Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.  I am not sure when the 2nd and 3rd books are going to be translated and published in English.

The book started a little slow – there were times when I felt that the translation faltered and slightly bought me out of the zone but not to the point that it made me think of putting it down .. because I was gripped from the start. Put the word ‘cult’ int he title of a book, film or TV Show and I’m in!  Not sure why it fascinated me so much but it does and this didn’t disappoint me!

I think one of the things I liked about it so much is that you can see it happening – looking at it from the outside it’s easy to see where things are going wrong and where Oswald is exerting his influence over Sofia and you almost want to shout at the pages “Can’t you see what’s happening here?!” or “Have a mind of your own for goodness sakes” but then that is the whole issue with cults and cult mentality.

There were a couple of occasions where information seemed ‘tagged’ on as if the writer realised, in editing, that she hadn’t introduced a theme, idea or person but again it didn’t really detract from the story or feeling and the final one (that I noticed) I even found myself thinking “we must need to know he was here for a future plot line” .. and we did!

I toyed with my star rating and I erred on the side of lower only because there were some things that poked at me … but in total honesty, I am not sure if it was plot holes / inaccuracies or very clever writing making me totally ensconced in the story.

Either way, I really enjoyed it and I will absolutely most definitely pick up the next in the series – having read the synopsis for it I am very much hoping that it is on it’s way soon!

Book 2: The Cult that Resurrected (Swedish Title)

Book 3: Children of the Cult (Swedish Title)

**I was sent this book by the publisher in return for an honest review and some of the links are affiliate**

2018, Sunday Roundup

Sunday Roundup 1

I thought I would do a Sunday post each week to sum up the bookish things that I have done in the past week.  This will mean that I won’t post Hauls, Wrap-ups and Currently Reading posts separately, but will include those details in this weekly post too. If there is something missing that you would like me to include, do give me a shout!

**Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links**

Incoming Books:

Outgoing Books:

Finished Books:

Currently Reading:

Readathons & Challenges:

Exciting Bookish News:

Newly Released Books I want to Read:

Upcoming Releases of Note:

 

Competitions I’ve Entered:

Sales & Good Deals I Know About:

My Loves of the Week:

  • I have done a lot of reading on my Kindle Fire this week – It really is wonderful and I am so glad I spent the money on it at the end of last year!
  • This is totally non-bookish (although there have been some books published) but I have been attempting to catchup on the final 3 series of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – I boycotted it for a long time when Grissom left but after happening upon a couple of episodes on TV the other day, I decided that the time was right and so have been watching a couple of episodes a day and am LOVING IT!

And finally.. a bookish quote of the week..

“Life’s so busy, I don’t think it matters if you’re eight or 80, the world just moves so fast nowadays. I think the most important thing is to give yourself time to read.” 

Dermot O’Leary

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