Let Go Review and Author Interview

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

After getting a divorce, losing her job, and her parents moving across the world in the same week, Amelia Blake has hit rock bottom. 

With nowhere else to go, she journeys across the country to seek the help of a half-sister she's never met, hoping she can pick up the pieces of her life and move forward with a family that is much larger and more chaotic than she anticipated.

When a hitchhiking musician named Jack helps her fix a flat tire, she is drawn to his undying optimism and mesmerizing music, so much so that she offers to be his manager and help him share his music with the world so she can spend more time with him.

Though Jack keeps details about himself secret, he and Amelia grow closer until his past suddenly catches up to him and threatens to ruin everything the two of them have been building together. Torn between finding her place in her new family and helping Jack reconcile with his, Amelia has to learn to trust her own feelings and the man who knows exactly what it means to let go of the past and follow your heart.

Let Go is the final book in the Simple Love Story series and acts as a standalone, with character cameos from the other books.

Let Go goes beyond a clean, wholesome contemporary romance in a lot of ways. The main character, Blake, takes not only a physical journey, but a journey to determine who she is. Her circumstances force her at rock bottom and she has to figure out how to climb back up. I think the depth beyond the romance makes the story an engaging read that romance readers will enjoy and find compelling. The characters are likeable and well-rounded. The plot is engaging and entertaining. I found it to be a page-turner and a comfortable relaxing read. The author does a good job at immediately drawing the reader into the story and continuing to captivate the reader. The story works well as a standalone, however, I think reading the series as a whole would shine more light on the other characters' backgrounds. It would be a fun book to take on a road trip or vacation. I recommend reading this book and the other books in this series. To learn more about Let Go, click here.

Author Interview
Life Is What It's Called - What was the best part of writing this series?

Dana LeCheminant - I really loved the idea of a growing group of people whose stories are interconnected and affect each other, and the stories really told themselves as I went along. It gave me a chance to explore what happens after the initial happily ever after, since life can get messy, and this series made it possible to explore relationships beyond the beginnings. 

Life Is What It's Called - Who is your favorite character from the series?

Dana LeCheminant - This is a tough one! I have a massive crush on Colin Donovan, but I think the character who was the most fun to write was Matthew. He had a lot more depth to his character than I expected, and he was the character that pushed the series beyond the first two books (which were the only planned ones).

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope readers will gain from reading this series?

Dana LeCheminant - Life and relationships are messy, and so often I see books that seem a little too perfect. I wanted to show that not all relationships come easily, and sometimes life isn't what you think it will be. I wanted to add more of a human element to my books, and I hope people can really relate to the characters.

Life Is What It's Called - Which character do you relate the most to? and why?

Dana LeCheminant - I'm a mixture of Lanna and Beck. I've always been a shy person, and most of my younger life was filled with some naivety about the world. Now that I've gotten older, I've really adopted a more adventurous side, and while I'm not quite as fearless as Beck, I feel like she and I have a lot in common. (Like being majorly in love with Colin.)

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background helped you in developing this series?

Dana LeCheminant - I studied Creative Writing in school, and while that gave me a good framework for starting on this publishing journey, I've written a whole lot that will probably never see the light of day. As in a couple dozen books that will likely just sit on my computer for the rest of time. I really had to hone my skills as a writer and figure out the kind of stories I wanted to tell. Plus, I had a professor in college to forced me into writing something other than fantasy, which was the genre I wrote in my teen years, and because of that I feel the most confident in contemporary writing now.

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing projects?

Dana LeCheminant - I have a spin-off series planned that follows some side characters that show up in the final Simple Love Story, Let Go, and I'm so excited to branch out into a slightly different style from this series. Plus, I'm attempting some historical romances, so we'll see how that goes!

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, I provided my honest opinion. Please also note that this post contains affiliate links.

I am a Shark Blog Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

I Am the Shark
Written by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Laurie Keller
Ages 4-8 | 48 Pages
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0525645283

Publisher’s Synopsis: Hi! I am Great White Shark, and if you get this book, you’ll read all about ME–the greatest shark in the sea! Not so fast! Greenland Shark here, and as the oldest shark in this book, that makes the greatest. Did someone say fast? I’m Mako Shark, and I’m the fastest shark in this book! Eat my bubbles! Wow, I’m Hammerhead Shark. You don’t need my special eyes to see that there are lots of great sharks in this book. Sink your teeth into it now! New York Times bestselling author Joan Holub makes a splash with bestselling illustrator Laurie Keller to deliver an entertaining undersea story that encourages self-acceptance and self-esteem, and is filled with humor and the greatest shark facts in the ocean!

Available for purchase here or here

To visit more stops on the tour, click here

Author Interview
Life is What It's Called - What inspired you to write a picture book on sharks?

Joan Holub - I wondered: What if my name was Great White Shark? (Or Great Joan Holub? Actually, that has a ring to it. LOL) GWS is a great name to be sure, but one that might be hard to live up to. In I Am the Shark, GWS keeps trying to figure out what makes him so great compared to other sharks. He eventually decides, “all the other sharks are better than me. Maybe I should change my name to Just-Okay White Shark or Not-So-Great White Shark.” A little friend helps him realize that everyone’s different, and it’s great to be who you are!

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will like most about this book?

Joan Holub - The humor, occasional shark puns, the many shark facts. And when they realize that someone even as jawsome as the Great White Shark has moments of self-doubt, I hope they’ll enjoy and absorb Lantern Shark’s message of self-acceptance (“Just be happy being you”).

Life Is What It's Called - How can this book be used in classrooms, homeschools, or library programs? 

Joan Holub - I Am the Shark fits into themes such as the ocean, earth, environment, animals, and self-esteem. Since it’s a blend of fiction and non-fiction like my books often are Little Red Writing, Zero the Hero, there’s both laughter and learning. The fictional story component is always most important, but there are plenty of facts woven into I Am the Shark. For instance, did you know that the Tiger Shark is nicknamed the garbage can of the ocean? It eats things like car tires and clocks (which unfortunately sometimes wind up in our oceans)! Did you know sharks don’t have bones? Or that they were around before dinosaurs? Sharks are important to the health of our oceans and therefore to our overall environment. As predators, they help keep the earth’s ecosystem in balance. Which benefits us all!

Life Is What It's Called - What's your favorite shark?

Joan Holub - Ooh. Tough question. There are over 500 species of sharks, so this won’t be easy. My vote goes to…drumroll…Hammerhead. His distinctive hammer-shaped head, big brain, and near-360-degree vision makes him really interesting!

Life Is What It's Called - Will there be a spin-off from this book for other sea creatures?

Joan Holub - There’s a teaser in I Am the Shark that reveals the star of our second book. Hints: It’s not a sea creature. It’s big. It’s hairy. It’s growly. It has small round ears and curved claws. Can you guess what it is? Fill in the book title: I Am the _ _ _ _.

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background helped you to create this book?

Joan Holub - I began working in children’s books as a graphic designer/illustrator, and those design/drawing skills help me create picture books now. I start with a storyboard. I divide up the words and draw stick figures to start figuring out the story’s flow within 40 little boxes. Next, I work a little bigger, and layer tracing paper as I keep refining. I create a finished dummy--a fake almost-full-size book with words and simple B&W drawings—that I send to my editor. The art tells much of the story in any picture book. So by drawing pictures in a dummy, I discover which words I can leave out. Illustrators often look to my dummies for inspiration and help with breaking the story into pages. But then they create art that’s far more amazing than my doodles. It’s thrilling to see that happen.

Life Is What It's Called - What was the best part about seeing your book come to life?

Joan Holub - Laurie Keller! I’ve loved her work since her picture books, Scrambled States of America and Arnie the Doughnut. It’s a little-known fact that authors and illustrators working on a book together usually don’t meet or even interact. (That’s probably usually a good idea to make sure we don’t go spinning off track without our editor being aware.) However, Laurie and I met at ALA and wound up chatting during the design and illustration stages of I Am the Shark, so I got to know her. Not only is her illustration amazing, she’s funny, generous, and super interesting! We’re doing some virtual appearances together soon. Readers can pre-order I Am the Shark to get a bookplate autographed by us both, including a little shark sketch by Laurie! 

Life Is What It's Called - Are there any supplemental materials for this book available on your website, i.e., coloring pages, educational materials?

Joan Holub - I’ve collected some great shark crafts for kids on my “shark” Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/joanholub/sharks/.

Enter for a chance to win an I Am the Shark prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A hardcover copy of  I Am the Shark, autographed by Joan Holub
  • A child-size shark print art/cooking apron
  • A $50 Target gift card

Two (2) winners receive:
  • A hardcover copy of I am the Shark, autographed by Joan Holub

The giveaway begins March 26, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends April 26, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

Disclosure: This post is in partnership of The Children's Book Review. 

The Reluctant Debutante Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt, Author Interview and Giveaway

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Miss Miranda Bartley is in love with the Honorable Ethan Roderick, their engagement all but official. But as she basks in the success of her London Season, her joy is cut short when Ethan ends their courtship, claiming she is too insensitive. In the wake of her heartbreak, Miranda is dealt yet another blow, one that changes everything. In a harsh twist of fate, she quickly falls from Society darling to servant in her uncle’s home.

Believing he will never see Miranda again, Ethan is shocked when he encounters her by accident. Even more surprising is her dramatic change; she is no longer the self-centered young woman he left behind. Her eyes are now open to the plight of poverty surrounding her, and Miranda has become every bit the lady Ethan once imagined her to be. As he helps the woman he once loved, their tattered relationship returns to familiarity. But Ethan is determined to protect his heart and begins a courtship with his neighbor, who is predictable and safe—everything Miranda is not. Forced to perform a delicate dance, Miranda and Ethan must choose—follow the rules of Society or the longing of their hearts.

Refining the Debutante is more than a regency romance story. It explores what refining moments can do in a person's life and how a person can choose and grow into something different. This book explores what makes a person truly kind and a good character. Is it beyond the outward appearance of giving? What does it mean to be charitable? I felt like this book explores appearances vs. inward heart. It's a good clean book. The characters were engaging and interesting. The dialogue was well-written and seemed natural. The story is clean and it's something that I would feel comfortable sharing with my daughter when she becomes a teenager. It's well worth the read. To learn more, click here.

Book Excerpt

London, January 
What exactly was a man supposed to do in a dressmaker’s shop? His mother’s headache, brought on by his sister Jane’s sour temper, necessitated an early return home. This left Ethan to retrieve Jane from her appointment.

He suddenly felt envious of his youngest sister, who remained home at their country estate, and even his younger brother, who was at school. Ethan would rather be anywhere else. With a fortifying breath, he entered the narrow building of the most popular modiste in London and removed his beaver hat. He grimaced at the rainbow of colors before him. His sister had better hurry. To say he was out of his element, with the crowded bolts of fabric and the framed sketches of women’s attire, was an understatement.

Jane was in the adjoining room, standing on a raised platform. Her back was to him, but through the doorway, he could see her staring at the reflection of her new gown in the long gilded mirror in front of her. He stepped closer to gain her attention but paused when he saw her expression. She looked as if she might cry. Was this dress the reason for his mother’s headache? Eyeing the gown, he wondered what part offended his sister. It seemed nice enough to him.

The shop’s front door opened to let in a woman. He shuffled to the side of the small vestibule and dipped his head in a polite greeting. The woman curtsied and smiled up at him. Ethan did not easily get his head turned by a pretty face, but when she boldly met his gaze, he could not look away. She wore a jonquil-yellow redingote with a brown velvet collar. She did not remove her heavily trimmed bonnet, but it did little to hide the golden brown curls framing her large eyes, small nose, and full lips. While he had no intention of speaking to her, his mouth opened of its own accord. No sound emitted, and he floundered for a moment to close it again.

She looked away before he did, breaking the strange spell her presence had cast over him. He was still thinking about his reaction to this perfect stranger when she spoke in a near-whisper. “You really ought to tell your wife how wonderful she looks in her new gown.” “Pardon?” Ethan stole a glance at the stranger. Had he imagined her soft words? “It would do her a world of good,” she whispered again. He looked at her. “Are you speaking to me?” Her eyes snapped to meet his. “Who else would I be speaking to?” She motioned to Jane. “Look at your darling little wife. She is terribly insecure. She needs you to buoy her spirits with a compliment or two.”>He raised his brows in disbelief. Sisters did not care what brothers thought of their dresses, and he was nobody’s husband. “You are mistaken.” “There is no mistake. Don’t be hurt that you cannot see what I can. A woman senses this sort of thing.” She gave him a look of pity. “It isn’t your fault. You were born a man; it is harder for you. But I do not mind helping. Go ahead. Look at her. See the way she stares in the looking glass? See the worry line between her eyes?” She leaned near him as if doing so would allow him to see what she did.

He had never met a more impertinent woman. “Why would she be worried? That dress cost a fortune.”

A sigh emitted from her mouth. “She needs to feel beautiful. Only you can do that for her. Tell her.” “I don’t think—” “Do it. Go on.” Why had he agreed to come here in the first place? He cleared his throat, anxious for the woman to let him be, and stepped across the threshold of the adjoining room. “You look well,” he said to Jane. “What are you doing in here?” Jane swiveled on the platform to face him. She batted at a dark ringlet by her face, then dropped her hands to her hips. “Wait outside. I am embarrassed you would speak to me in such a place.” He shuffled backward.

The strange woman tsked her tongue. “You did a very poor job of it. A husband must learn the best way to compliment his wife. Let me demonstrate." The woman stepped past him. She looked back at him once, shaking her head as if he’d disappointed her, then waltzed into the room as if she were the proprietor. “Excuse me, but I mustn’t stay silent for another moment.” 

“What is it?” Jane asked.

“It’s your dress. It’s exquisite. I must have an exact replica.” “You? But why? Your dress is far superior.” “Nonsense. You can barely see it beneath my redingote. You are far too kind.” The woman put her hand out as if she were stroking the fabric of Jane’s dress but was not actually close enough to touch it. “This muslin is some of the finest I’ve seen so far this Season. You are a natural beauty, but do not underestimate the power of a beautiful gown.”

“You think so? It is rather pretty, I guess. I am not sure about the fit.” The woman looked her over as if she were the mantua-maker. “You’re right. Madame Gillespie? A half inch at each shoulder.” The dressmaker pinned the material in the place where the stranger told her to. “Your shoulders are slender indeed. What do you think now?” She turned to Madame Gillespie before Jane could answer. “Fetch that gold shawl on the table.” The woman accepted it and draped it over Jane’s shoulders. “Stunning. Wear it a little lower. Just there.”

Then she crossed to a table and selected a green feather. She placed it in Jane’s hair. “Sometimes the little accents give a dress greater personality.” Ethan stared. A little charm made the personality of a woman shine too. He turned his gaze from the vexing but delightful woman to see Jane’s reaction. His sister’s cheeks flushed with pleasure. “It’s far lovelier with your adaptions. I never would have been able to put this combination together.” Jane turned and preened in front of the mirror. “Thank you.” Madame Gillespie clasped her hands together in front of her chest. “Miss Bartley has excellent taste. She sometimes sketches designs inspired by her travels.” “I am most impressed,” Jane said.

Ethan was too. Miss Bartley. He would remember her name. “I am happy to share one with you, although my skills pale compared to Madame Gillespie’s,” Miss Bartley said. She pulled out a sketch from her reticule. “I happen to have one I did just this morning. What do you think of this? Oh, forgive me; I don’t even know your name.” “This is Miss Roderick,” Madame Gillespie supplied. “May I?” Jane took the picture and gasped. “It’s like a Grecian princess.”

“I think an English lady like yourself could do it justice, too. It’s yours. I believe a soft blue would do well with your coloring.” “Thank you, Miss Bartley,” Jane cooed. Miss Bartley smiled at her and stepped back into the vestibule. Jane returned to studying her reflection in the mirror, her eyes sparkling. Ethan chuckled. “You’ve made my sister feel very beautiful.” 

“She seems most deserving.” “You were right about her insecurity and the worry lines on her face. You have done something in minutes that my family hasn’t managed in two years.” 

“Well, I—” Her eyes widened. “Your sister? She is not your wife?”

 “Jane is my sister. But don’t worry. When I marry, I will be sure to compliment my wife just as you’ve instructed. I will insist on having an exact replica of her dress made to fit me. I will select her shawls and feathers. And I will sketch all the designs for her gowns.” “

Oh . . .” She sputtered. “That would be most extraordinary of you.” She took a step backward. “Perhaps I should return for my appointment when your sister is through.” 

“I’m disappointed. You cannot be finished instructing me on my behavior already,” he teased. 

“Instructing?” She looked perfectly bewildered—as innocent as a dove. “Why would I do that? We have not even been properly introduced. I wouldn’t dare speak with a stranger.”

He bit back a grin. “Heaven forbid.” 

“My thoughts exactly.”

Author Interview

Life Is What It's Called - What was your inspiration behind Refining the Debutante? 

Anneka Walker - I was reading the account of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament when the premise of Refining the Debutante came to me. For a long time, my working title was The Prodigal Debutante. Of course, my story is very different. It’s my heroine who falls from Society, and it’s the hero who brings her back. I knew immediately that the love story would be a driving force for change for my main character. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want your readers to learn from this book? 

Anneka Walker - First, I want them to come away uplifted. Happy endings give us hope that we can have the same in our own lives. I also want my readers to realize their potential for good. Each of us has a sphere of influence, however small it feels, and a capacity to give to others.

Life Is What It's Called -  Have you had your own refining moments like Miranda? 

Anneka Walker - Too many to count! And I’m still very much on that journey to improve myself. In my hardest moments, I wasn’t left alone spiritually. That comfort from heaven has made all the difference in my life, and been a catalyst for change. I hope to always strive to be a better me. 

Life Is What It's Called -  How does this book differ from your other books? 

Anneka Walker - So far, my three published novels are all very different from each other, despite being set in the same time period. My debut, Love in Disguise, is more of a traditional Regency Romance with a few twists. The Masked Baron is unique fairy-tale retell with a Beauty and the Beast/Princess Bride vibe. I’d say it’s almost an adventure/romantic suspense story. My newest release, Refining the Debutante, is primarily a character-driven romance. 

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book similar to your other books? 

Anneka Walker - Besides the similar era of Regency, my stories are all romances—my favorite! I love adding quirky side characters and witty banter to each book too. The main characters are generally flawed, but motivated by love, they work to overcome those weaknesses. I try to put in a few fun twists in each story too. I’m always searching for a unique way to tell a story. 

Life Is What It's Called -  What are you working on next? 

Anneka Walker - I am deep in edits on a story I wrote seven years ago! Just a few weeks ago, I submitted a first book in a new series I hope to publish next year. And this fall we will see another Christmas novella in the Covenant anthology! 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope will be your readers' reaction to this book?

Anneka Walker - I hope they set aside their expectations of this book being similar to my other stories or other Regencies. Yes, it’s a love story complete with awkward moments and swoony kisses, but it also is a story of all aspects of the heart. I gave a lot of mine into this story, and I hope readers will feel that! 


Please note that I was given a free ARC book to review, however, I shared my honest opinion in the review. This post also contains affiliate links that helps support the maintenance of this blog. The giveaway is handled by the publisher.

March Giveaway Listing (low to moderate entries)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


I like entering low to moderate entry giveaways and I share each month some of the blog or social media giveaways I've entered, thought someone else might be interested in entering or that have been submitted to me through bloggers. Check back often throughout the month to see if I have posted more giveaways. If you are hosting a family-friendly giveaway on your blog and would like to see it listed here, please contact me (via email). If you have a won a giveaway that I posted, please leave a comment and share that you won.

A Most Clever Girl Blog Tour with Author Interview and Giveaway

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Written by Jasmine A. Stirling
Illustrated by Vesper Stamper
48 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
ISBN-13: 978-1547601103

Publisher’s Synopsis: Witty and mischievous Jane Austen grew up in a house overflowing with words. As a young girl, she delighted in making her family laugh with tales that poked fun at the popular novels of her time, stories that featured fragile ladies and ridiculous plots. Before long, Jane was writing her own stories-uproariously funny ones, using all the details of her life in a country village as inspiration. In times of joy, Jane’s words burst from her pen. But after facing sorrow and loss, she wondered if she’d ever write again. Jane realized her writing would not be truly her own until she found her unique voice. She didn’t know it then, but that voice would go on to capture readers’ hearts and minds for generations to come.

Available for purchase here or here.

Jasmine A. Stirling is the debut author of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, a picture book biography of Jane Austen about persistence and creative mastery. Jasmine lives on a cheerful street in San Francisco with her husband, two daughters, and their dog. From a young age, she loved to write poems and stories and worked her way through nearly every children’s book (and quite a few for grownups, too) in her local library. When she’s not writing, Jasmine can be found hiking in the fog, singing songs from old musicals, and fiddling with her camera.

Jasmine first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where she read her favorite of Jane’s six masterful novels, A Most Clever Girl is her dream project, done with her dream team—award-winning illustrator Vesper Stamper and Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing. Jasmine also has a YA/New Adult history of the women's suffrage movement out soon, titled We Demand An Equal Voice.

Visit www.jasmineastirling.com to get a free Jane Austen paper doll kit with the purchase of A Most Clever Girl. While you're there, enter to win a Regency tea party gift basket! Follow Jasmine on Instagram and Facebook @jasmine.a.stirling.author where she posts about kidlit and life with two young girls.


Life Is What It's Called - What is the central theme of A Most Clever Girl?

Jasmine A. Stirling - Many of our narratives about women in history revolve around them being the first to do one thing or another. In A Most Clever Girl,  I wanted to tell a different kind of story—one centered on Jane Austen’s genius. Where did it come from? And more broadly, how do artists learn and grow over time?

I wanted young people to see that genius is the product of experimentation, persistence, and life’s hard-won battles. A Most Clever Girl is about the process of creative mastery. I thought that if children could learn more about how someone becomes a great writer, or filmmaker, or photographer, or musician, it would give them insight into how to nurture their own talents—whatever they may be—to greatness.

The key message of the book is that, to become truly extraordinary in any creative field, you must do more than be inspired and passionate. You must: 
  • Have a community that supports what you do
  • Get consistent feedback from others
  • Attain basic financial security
  • Find the routines and places that inspire you
  • Pour all that you’ve experienced in your life into your work
  • Persist through obstacles, practice discipline, and improve your craft
Life Is What It's Called - Why should young girls be introduced to Jane Austen? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - Both girls and boys can take much away from a study of Jane Austen because her unconventional life and sparkling, bookish, and outspoken characters flew in the face of everything women were expected to be at the time.

As a girl, Jane Austen was a rebel with a dark sense of humor who bucked traditional gender roles, focusing more on what made her happy than on fitting in. As she grew up, she chose to remain a spinster and a writer, despite the incredible pressure on women at that time to marry in order to preserve their financial security.

In her novels, Jane Austen’s heroines challenged the prevailing notion of the ideal woman as passive, emotional, and decorative. She wrote vibrant and flawed female characters who were often outspoken and brainy—women who grew and changed over time. Jane Austen’s heroines also helped readers experience first-hand the shockingly precarious and inhumane status of women in Regency England. Never before had an author written so vividly and realistically about women’s lives. Her novels helped fuel radical new ideas then circulating about women’s rights, freedoms, and access to education.

Finally, Jane Austen championed the novel notion of the ideal marriage as a match between two rational and emotional equals, which challenged both the idea of marriage as a strategic alliance between two families for the sake of building wealth and the Romantic idea of marriage as a purely emotional affair. Austen harkened back to the Aristotelean virtue of the mean, insisting that her heroines learn to balance reason and emotion, and that they enter into marriages fueled by love as well as logic and mutual respect.

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you choose to focus on Jane Austen? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - When I set out to write this book, I chose Jane Austen because I admire her life and her work, and because I believe she is one of the most misunderstood women in history.

Jane Austen was far from being the prim, prudish, “dear Aunt Jane” depicted by her brother Henry and her nephew Edward in their biographies of the author. 

She is also far from being an author of swoony romances, as some of her film adaptations might lead us to believe. 

These discrepancies between the popular image of Austen and the real Jane Austen gripped me. I wanted to help young people understand Jane the rebel, Jane the humorist, and Jane the artist, so that when they encountered her work later on, they might better be able to fully appreciate and enjoy it. 

However, as I delved into my research, it became clear that Jane Austen was a perfect subject for a children’s book about creativity and persistence, because her upbringing, life struggles, and triumphs tell us a great deal about what a writer needs, both internally and externally, in order to fully master her craft.

Life Is What It's Called - How could teachers use this book in a classroom? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - A Most Clever Girl provides an ideal jumping off point to teach:

Women’s history and women’s rights
How to identify and develop your voice as a writer
What artists and writers need to focus on besides creativity and inspiration

Please check my website for learning guides and articles written to help teachers lead these discussions.

Life Is What It's Called - What's your favorite Jane Austen book?

Jasmine A. Stirling - I love all of Austen’s novels, but my favorite is Persuasion, which I first read and fell in love with at age nineteen while studying abroad as an associate member of Keble College at the University of Oxford. I also adore Pride and Prejudice.

Life Is What It's Called - How has Jane Austen inspired your own life? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - Like Jane Austen, I began writing very young, but as an adult, abandoned writing completely. Jane Austen’s story of persisting through grief, doubt, and the obstacles that life throws each of us helped me persist in my dream of becoming a writer.

Life Is What It's Called - Will you write additional books on female authors? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - I have a 450-page YA/New Adult narrative nonfiction book coming out next year about the women’s suffrage movement titled: We Demand An Equal Voice: Carrie Chapman Catt and Votes for Women.

Carrie Chapman Catt may have done more for women’s rights than any other leader in US history. She harnessed the power of millions of women, each taking small but thrilling steps to achieve their rights. After a 72-year struggle, she finally managed to achieve universal suffrage for American women despite overwhelming odds and entrenched corporate interests formidably aligned against the cause. Carrie was also unofficially married to a woman: “Big Boss Mollie Hay” who led the fight with her every step of the way. Their story is a rollicking adventure; incredibly exciting and impressive.

Here is one of my favorite Carrie Chapman Catt quotes:

“WHAT is feminism? A world-wide revolt against all artificial barriers which laws and customs interpose between women and human freedom. It is born of the instinct within every natural woman's soul that God designed her as the equal, the co-worker, the comrade of the men of her family, and not as their slave, or servant, or dependent, or plaything.”

—Carrie Chapman Catt

Life Is What It's Called - Did you learn anything new about Austen while writing this book? 

Jasmine A. Stirling - Yes! I was familiar with her novels but knew almost nothing about Jane Austen’s life when I began this journey. I researched this book for two years before I wrote a single word.

Enter for a chance to win a glorious Jane Austen-themed picnic basket, including a hardcover copy of A Most Clever Girl autographed by Jasmine A. Stirling!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A picnic basket filled with: 
  • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling 
  • A vintage teacup 1 oz of tea From Adagio Teas 
  • Truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates 
  • Gardenia hand cream 
  • A set of Jane Austen playing cards 
  • A $15 gift certificate to Jasmine A. Stirling’s Austenite Etsy Shop, Box Hill Goods

 Two (2) winners receive:

  • A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

The giveaway begins March 16, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends April 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

DISCLOSURE: Per FTC guidelines, This blog post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Jasmine A. Stirling.

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