“Jane Austen did not write for academic readers. […] Rather, Austen wrote to interest those who, like her, enjoyed well-observed, stylishly written novels of everyday life.”
– Juliette Wells, from the introduction of Emma

If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.  So says humble Mr. Knightley to the spirited heroine of Jane Austen’s fourth published novel.  Yet for readers and enthusiasts of Austen, Emma has been both well-loved and well-discussed in the centuries since the world was first introduced to a heroine whom Jane famously said “no one but myself will much like.”  Now, on the two-hundredth anniversary of its publication, Penguin Classics has released a stunning new commemorative edition that celebrates all the joy that disastrous matchmaker Emma Woodhouse has single-handedly brought to generations of readers.




With new cover art specially designed by Dadu Shin (Instagram) – including front and back flaps – Penguin Classics’ bicentennial edition is “a reader’s edition, not a scholarly one” according to Juliette Wells, associate professor of English at Goucher College.  Wells, who is involved in the college library’s Jane Austen Collection and writes widely on the author, helms this new annotated edition with an exemplary introduction and an array of extras designed to heighten the contemporary reader’s experience of the novel.  Included are maps of Jane Austen’s England, tips for reading, guides to the language of the time (this is especially helpful to American readers), essays on the culture and customs featured in Emma, as well as illustrations from early- mid- and late-nineteenth century editions of the novel.





Wells’s introduction to Emma is a delight, delving into Austen’s history during the period of writing the novel rather than simply putting forth colorless facts.  After briefly covering the basics of Austen’s life and that of her family (for the convenience of newer readers), she proceeds into the territory that directly relates to Emma: an in-depth look at Austen’s reluctant dedication of the book to the Prince Regent, the process Emma would have gone through to see publication, its legal (and presumably unknown to Austen) reproduction in America, and the responses to the novel from her family and friends.  Utilizing what remains of Austen’s letters, Wells uses much of Jane’s own language to illustrate the history of Emma from its first writings to its publication and beyond. Austen’s advice on writing is even featured, with excerpts from her letters to the aspiring novelists in her family.





To give the reader an uninterrupted experience of Emma, Wells offers a glossary and essays which serve to replace sometimes obtrusive footnotes, all neatly situated at the back of the book along with the maps. “In spite of Austen’s great popularity,” Wells writes, “Reading one of her novels for the first time isn’t necessarily easy or enjoyable.” Yet the user-friendly additions to the book build a superb platform for readers, and their stylish execution allows for the book to be vividly detailed without becoming cumbersome. Much more than simply a new printing of a tremendously well-established classic, this edition is in many ways a tribute to everything Emma has contributed to the lives of its readers, and a special addition to an Austen enthusiast’s collection.


The folks at Penguin Classics were kind enough to offer a copy of the new deluxe 200th anniversary edition of Emma to one lucky winner; the giveaway is open to US residents only and the winner will be contacted via e-mail on October 9. Good luck!

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Giveaway: The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck

by Casee Marie on September 23, 2015

in Giveaways

Several years ago, author Nicole Dweck self-published her debut novel, The Debt of Tamar, to great acclaim; now readers can find the sprawling novel on the shelf at their local bookstore in a beautiful new hardcover edition available from Thomas Dunne Books. The publisher has been kind enough to offer a copy to one lucky Literary Inklings reader (see below for details).

When I read The Debt of Tamar for the first time in 2013 I was impressed by both the power of its story and the author’s poetic use of language; the combination left scenes deeply ingrained in my memory as the great reading experiences sometimes do. The novel spans 16th century Turkey to present-day Manhattan in an exploration of love and fate across time and space. Dweck takes the reader from Jewish refugees fleeing Portugal for Turkey during the Ottoman Empire to a successful real estate tycoon’s fateful meeting with a free-spirited artist as he fights for his life in a New York hospital. It’s an extraordinary story that surprises the reader at every turn, with a particularly resonate ending and an inspiring overall theme.


The giveaway for a hardcover copy of The Debt of Tamar is open to US residents only; all you need is an e-mail address (so I can contact you if you win!). Good luck!

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I would highly recommend the novel for fans of The Sandcastle Girls, No Country, and The Sea House. You can also find The Debt of Tamar on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and also check for it at your local library. You can connect with Nicole through her website and on Facebook.

Following up his 2012 debut, John B. Campbell sets his sights on Whitechapel in A Lark Ascending to tell the story of Malcolm Roberts, a young EastEnder whose curiosity leads him into the middle of a treacherous mystery.

It’s the 1920s and racial tensions are high across London as Chinese locals continue to face prejudice and even danger. When Malclom stumbles across a plot by local radicals to eradicate the Chinese population of Limehouse, his simple life in the East End becomes the target of sinister shadows lingering at every corner. After a devastating murder hits close to home, Malclom must join forces with his friend Sid, a young woman named Katja, and a street urchin named Jun to solve a mystery and unravel a vicious plot.

In A Lark Ascending John Campbell builds on his talent for cultivating the vivid atmosphere of an historical setting. The East End becomes at once familiar and brand new to readers as we witness its complexity and grit through the eyes of a young local. Malcolm adds particular depth to the story as he wrestles with the evolving society around him and his own journey into adulthood. At fourteen, he has both the adventuresome whimsy of boyhood and a grown-up awareness of ethics, social issues, and impending change. Campbell does a superb job of fleshing out the emotional intricacy of a young man’s coming-of-age as a component in an even larger story – one involving murder, familial complexity, and social progress.

The novel covers much ground in its story, and the reader is introduced to many fascinating, sometimes suspicious characters across the pages. Campbell balances the intricacies of his story with a pacing that combines fast-moving scenes with slower moments of observation and reflection. The result is a worthy follow-up to his first novel, Walk to Paradise Garden, which diverged across North America, Europe, and Africa through the better part of a century. In A Lark Ascending, Campbell shows that he can center a gripping story in one colorful city with as much verve and skill as he can spin a global saga.

[lightgrey_box]John B. Campbell has provided a copy of A Lark Ascending for one lucky Literary Inklings reader. To enter, simply submit your e-mail address in the widget below. The giveaway is open to readers worldwide until February 4. Good luck![/lightgrey_box]

I also had to share a little photo of the back of the book, where there's kindly featured a quote from my review of Walk to Paradise Garden. I also had to share a little photo of the back of the book, where the author kindly featured a quote from my 2012 review of Walk to Paradise Garden.

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Giveaway: Come Dancing by Leslie Wells

by Casee Marie on July 3, 2014

in Giveaways

Hey, friends! Leslie Wells was kind enough to offer some signed copies of her debut new adult novel, Come Dancing, to Inklings readers today. If you missed my review you can find it over here; in short, it’s a sassy, spicy romance that follows a jaded publisher’s assistant and a hard-living British rock star in ’80s Manhattan. He’s the Goodreads synopsis:

It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz.

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line.

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her.

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined.

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.

The giveaway is open to entries (US only) until Monday, July 14. Good luck, and if you’re in the States I hope you have a safe and very fun 4th of July celebration!

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Giveaway: The Joy Luck Club (Penguin Drop Cap Edition) by Amy Tan

April 23, 2014

In 1989, at the age of 37, Amy Tan published her first novel: it was an acclaimed bestseller, receiving a film adaption in less than five years and finding its place as a contemporary classic. The Joy Luck Club is the story of four women immigrated from traditional China and their four Chinese-American daughters. As […]

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Giveaway: Once Upon a Gypsy Moon: An Improbable Voyage and One Man’s Yearning for Redemption by Michael Hurley

April 17, 2013

Read: my full review With many thanks to the team at Center Street I’m happy to be offering one reader a hardcover copy of Michael Hurley’s nautically-inclined memoir, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon. Before we get to the details of the giveaway, I want to give a bit of praise to one element of this […]

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Giveaway: Win a Signed Copy of The Disillusioned by D.J. Williams

April 11, 2013

Read: my full review | my Q&A with the author In addition to taking the time for a Q&A yesterday, author D.J. Williams has kindly offered readers a chance to win an autographed copy of his upcoming novel The Disillusioned (WestBow Press; 5/1)! The thriller follows two brothers as they search for answers long kept […]

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99 Authors, 99 Books, 99 Cents: Great Books, Great Prices, Great Prizes

December 21, 2012

Prices are for Amazon Kindle books only; offer valid all day on December 21st, 2012. For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!! Just in time to help you stock up on reading matter for the new year, there’s a wonderful event going on today. The concept is simple, straightforward, […]

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