Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Ways Jane Austen Heroines Are Just Like Us


     We may not dress like them or even act like them, but in many ways the heroines of Jane Austen's novels are a lot like us.  They just happen to be from a different time and place.  Don't see the similarities I'm talking about?  Here's my short list:

1. They love to read.  Obviously.


     And don't we all???  Reading is one of those enjoyable passtimes that simply never burns out.  Elizabeth improved her mind by extensive reading.  Catherine stayed up late to read Ann Radcliffe and other ghost stories.  Marianne was in love with Shakespeare's sonnets.  (Only Emma seems to tire of a good book after a few pages.)  See?  Just like us.  

     Still not convinced?  Good.  We're not through yet. 

2. They get annoyed with their siblings sometimes.


     Remember when Lydia flirted with all the gentlemen at the ball?  And when Margaret blurted out the last initial of Elinor's secret crush?  Yeah.  Siblings can be frustrating at times.  (Yet after all, we still love them.)  (Even Lizzy wanted good for Lydia, did she not?)

3. They welcome male attention.

     Oh, come on.  What girl doesn't want a handsome guy to smile at her, talk with her, hang out with her?  You know you do, and so do Emma and Catherine and Marianne and Elizabeth...all of them, yeah.  Just be careful of the Wickhams and Willoughbys of the world, right?  ;-)

4. They have different talents and dreams.


     Marianne is musically gifted.  Emma longs to travel.  Lizzy is as intelligent as they come.  All of them want to marry for love.  We all have various gifts and aspirations, too, making us different from one another but united in the pursuit of our hopes and dreams.

5. They're not perfect.

     Just like us, these ladies are not perfect.  Emma can gossip with the best of them, and Marianne is rather vain.  Lizzy is judgmental, and Anne throws away true love.  But you know that they all learn from their mistakes and become better people because of it.  Just like we can.

     As I said, we may come from different worlds, but we're not that different really.  Not at all.

What other ways do you find that Austen heroines are just like us?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Spy's Devotion | Book Review

Image result for a spy's devotion by melanie dickerson
     
     You've seen it before: writers inspired by Jane Austen to write a Regency-era romance.  But they never quite get it exactly right, do they?  I mean, no one will ever be able to equal Jane Austen.  But, of course, that goes without saying.  Well, even if that's so, Melanie Dickerson did come up with one of the most satifactory Austen-imitation novels I have read in a while.  (It was much better than the Julie Klassen I read last summer.)  
     
      In England's Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life--but behind closed doors treason and deception thrive.  Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility and bloody barbarity.  After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal--and to fulfill a dying soldier's last wish by delivering his coded diary.

      At the home of the Wilherns, one of England's most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey.  Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance--until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia's guardian.  As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation's undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman.  And when Julia realizes that England--and the man she is falling in love with--need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray.  Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?*

     Hmmm...will they?  I don't know!  (Please note the tone of sarcasm there.  Is it just me, or are books like this always super predictable???)
Image result for a spy's devotion by melanie dickerson 
     I'll give it to Ms. Dickerson.  The plot is original.  Although, I will add she used some obvious parallels to Mansfield Park.  There were a few holes I noticed and a couple loose ends, but the book was fairly good.  It was well-written, if rather more in the style of a YA than a classic.   (However, I would like to point out that people "become ill"; they don't "get sick".  Especially if they are in historical England's high society.)

     I did enjoy reading it.  There were a few good, heart-pounding moments woven throughout the pages.  The ending, though, as I said was too predictable.  Sometimes it bothers me when the author dangles the main character's life in my face, like "Oh, no!  This is the end!  Will they even survive?"  And I'm simply turning the pages, rolling my eyes with a smirk and thinking "Of course, they're not going to die.  You would never let that happen, and it amuses me that you think your readers would actually wonder if you might."  (Am I the only one?)  But it's all good, because I do prefer happy endings, after all.

     The characters were fairly well-portrayed and developed.  Everyone had a different personality and behaved characteristically throughout the whole story.  My favorite was Felicity Mayson, a background character; I really feel like she didn't get enough say in the story.  (Oh, wait, not to worry.  The third book in the trilogy is all about her.)  Julia and Nicholas were fine characters.  (Though sometimes I wish modern authors would keep the physical descriptions to a minimum.  I mean, maybe I am too picky, but you never hear Elizabeth thinking to herself "how attractive it is that Mr. Darcy hasn't shaved in a day or two".  *eyeroll*)  But to give Julia a little more credit, she did assert that character was more important than physical beauty.   All in all, I can't say anything really bad about them.  The good guys were good, but not perfect; the villains were perfectly sinister.  Just as it should be.
(Yet I will criticize a bit more and say that it is quite convenient how the hero and heroine are always absolutely flawless supermodels.  You know?  Reminds me of Jane Austen's own words:)

Image result for jane austen quotes 

     There was really no objectionable content, so I have nothing to say on that score.  All of the manners and traditions which would have been correct in the setting were observed by the characters, which I was pleased with.  (Excepting maybe once or twice, but it wasn't ridiculously historically inaccurate like other Austen-imitation novels I have read.)  Spying in order to save General Wellington was, obviously, fictional, and there I am not certain how common such things like espionage were among the elite society of the Regency era.  However, I trust the author researched that.

     I rated this 3 okay, 4/5 stars.  I really did like the book.  It is sometimes fun to read a sappy romance sprinkled with mystery and intrigue with *spoiler warning?* an attempted murder thrown in.

     So, yes, I will probably read the rest of the trilogy.  (Although, I didn't care for the character of Leorah Langdon very much, and she's the heroine of book #2.)

*synopsis taken from the back of the book

     Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?
     Or, if you haven't, comment below and tell me what your favorite Austen-imitation novel is.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fictional Characters Tag

     Hello, everybody!  Lovely Friday, is it not?  I am about three chapters away from finishing A Spy's Devotion, which is a regency romance that I have been reading for the past few days.  I plan to finish it tonight after I post this.  I also have to finish my list of period dramas I haven't seen and need want to.  In other news, my youngest sister has been away at camp this week, but she comes home tomorrow and I am quite glad.  I have missed her.  
     And, goodness, I'll be lucky if I actually get this post up tonight.  The WiFi here has been awful the past couple days.   (I just heard Meg March in my head, "Jo, please don't say 'awful'; it's slang.")
     Oh, dear.  My apologies for the rambling.  MovieCritic tagged me with this a good while ago and I am finally getting around to it.  If you don't know, this is me comparing myself to four fictional characters that I find to be...like myself in certain ways.  That's not the best explanation, I know.  So, without further ado, I give you The Fictional Characters Tag.

1. Belle

     Cinderella is by far my favorite princess, but I do think I am more like Belle in plenty of ways.  For one thing, I LOVE books.  Good books.  That's obvious, right?  For another, I feel like a lot of people around me think I am 'odd'.  I'm a bit preoccupied and daydream-y from time to time.  And I just don't seem to fit in with most cliques.  Finally, everytime I hear Belle sing "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere...I want so much more..." etc., my heart sings out "Me too!".

2. Anne Shirley


     I believe I have compared myself to Anne before.  But let's rehash.  I am constantly doing something awkward or making a goofy mistake because I was lost in thought, not paying attention, or simply not thinking.  I am a bit of a hopeless romantic, too.  (I say 'a bit'  but, okay, I just am a hopeless romantic.)  I also tend to be rather idealistic, and some day I think I'll find, just like Anne, that what I was really looking for was right in front of me the whole time.  Maybe.

3. Elinor Dashwood


     This likeness I discovered through an online quiz and couldn't help but agree.  Perhaps I am romantic and 'daydream-y', as I said, but I can be sensible and careful, too, when it is really important.  I have also been known to mother-hen everybody, being overly concerned about others.  I'm also fairly reserved and quiet when it comes to my thoughts and feelings.

Yes, I may have thoughts and feelings like Anne, but I do not wear them on my sleeve as she does.

 4. Meriadoc Brandybuck


     Here's the most surprising one, I am sure, but as I was considering my fourth choice, he came to mind and the more I thought about it...yeah.   See, Merry and I are both kind of in the background a lot, but we can be loyal and courageous, too.  It may not be obvious at first, but he and I both have what it takes to be a hero (or heroine, in my case).  And like him, I may be underestimated because I am short, but I am passionate about what I believe in.

     So there you have it.  Four fictional characters I really relate to.  I hope I proved my case satisfactorily ;-)  Thanks for the tag, MovieCritic.
     Speaking of her, MovieCritic is actually hosting the Robin Hood BBC watch-along that is going on right now.  Be sure to hop over to her blog and join in the fun!

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cordy's Jane Austen Would You Rather


     I discovered this lovely game of would you rather -- Austen style -- over on Cordy's blog, Write On, Cordy!  I'm so excited to play, so let's get to it!

 1. Would you rather summer at Abbey Mill Farm with the Martins or spend the winter in London with your aunt and uncle?

     London.  I'm definitely more of a hustle-'n'-bustle-loving city girl.  I think visiting the Martins' farm would be pleasant, of course, but I wouldn't spend an entire summer there.
 
2. Would you rather be carried away in the moment and insult someone in company or be overcome by horrid imaginings and have to confess your thoughts to someone you admire?


     I suppose, if I have to choose, I would rather embarrass myself than insult someone in public. 
 
3. Would you rather marry Mr. Bingley or Robert Martin?


     Probably Mr. Bingley.  He seems like such a fun guy.  Robert Martin, as nice as I'm sure he is, seems too serious for me.  (Not that that's a bad thing.)


4. Would you rather tour the lake country or visit the seaside?

      The seaside, definitely!  I am so in love with the seaside.
 
5. Would you rather entertain Miss Bates or Mr. Collins in conversations?


      Oh, Miss Bates, to be sure!  She may talk as incessantly as Mr. Collins, but at least she's a kind and well-meaning woman.  Mr. Collins can be so annoying.
 
6. Would you rather sing a musical piece at a gathering while hiccuping every other line or take a great tumble while dancing?


     Oh, dear.  I suppose I'd prefer...I don't know!  Goodness, I'd be embarrassed either way.  I'll go with the hiccups while singing, though.  I might be able to work with that.  I'd hate to fall in the middle of a dance and appear clumsy!


7. Would you rather be deceived by Willoughby or Wickham?

     I have to say Willoughby.  He never seemed so spiteful and vindictive as Mr. Wickham.  At least, to me.
 
8. Would you rather fall head over heels in love with a man who turns out to be engaged or fall for a man too busy loving someone else to notice you?


     The former.  At least that way he made the engagement before he fell in love with me, rather than making me feel like a fallback after publicly displaying affection for someone else.  If that makes sense.  Pretty much what Cordy said.
 
9. Would you rather ride in a carriage or upon a horse to an evening party?


     In a carriage.  I wouldn't want to soil my dress, now would I? ;-)

 
10. Would you rather accept advice from Mrs. Weston or Elinor Dashwood?

     Oh, I don't know...either one would be fine.  Perhaps Mrs. Weston because she's not so blunt as Elinor.
 
11. Would you rather have as a companion Jane Fairfax or Charlotte Lucas?


     Jane Farifax.  I definitely have more of a soft spot for her.  

   Thanks for the fun game, Cordy! :-)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Eleanor Tilney | An Appreciation Post


     Continuing my series highlighting the minor heroines of Jane Austen's novels, I have decided to focus on Eleanor Tilney today.  (Read my first post about Jane Fairfax.)

      From the first moment Mr. Tilney introduced Catherine and me to his sister, Eleanor, I liked her immensely.  She has a serious, yet kind and generous personality.  Her warmth and sincerity make her a much better friend than Isabella Thorpe could ever be.  

     The influence her frienship has on Catherine is obvious and quite significant as she encourages Catherine to mature and become a better lady, like herself.  Catherine instantly admires Eleanor upon first introduction, even though she is still rather loyal to Isabella.  However, by the end, Catherine learns what is really valuable in a friend.

      After losing her mother at a young age, it is clear that Eleanor is a bit lonely with only her harsh, controlling father and two brothers for companions.  She is in love with a man whom she is forbidden from speaking to.  (*Spoiler alert: She does anyway, secretly rendezvousing in the woods.*)  Catherine's friendship with her is just as important as hers with Catherine.  

     Despite her rather sad and lonely upbringing, Eleanor proves to be a strong woman who believes in love.  Even when she is unhappy in love herself, she encourages both her brother and Catherine in their growing relationship.  Having Catherine come and stay with her at Northanger Abbey is a turning point for them both as they spend time in each other's company and grow closer.  Unfortunately, they are soon torn apart by General Tilney who tells Eleanor that she must ask Catherine to leave immediately with no explanation.  Yet they determine to correspond with each other in spite of Eleanor's father.

      Now poor Eleanor is alone again.  That is until *spoiler warning* her lover returns a viscount and she marries him.  Finally, out of the goodness of her heart, she influences her father to consent to Henry and Catherine's marriage as well.  Really, if it weren't for Eleanor, Catherine's story would not have a happy ending.

    

     I think Eleanor deserves her own novel, truly.  She does possess the qualities of a heroine one can sympathize with.  She proves herself to be strong and sensible, not one of Jane Austen's timid minor characters nor one of her ridiculous ones or the witty social critique.  No, Eleanor is definitely a heroine in her own right.  
   She has always been a favorite of mine and should not be underestimated.  What do you think?  Do you agree?  Does she not deserve as much credit as I give her?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Musings | A Warm Welcome to Summer


     Is it just me or did May go by ridiculously fast?  School is out for the summer here in the States, and it is so nice to be wearing capris and sandals again!  

      There are so many great things about summer, don't you agree?  I have a few goals in mind to accomplish before August rolls around.  For one, I'd like to read more and post more often.  (I should be able to with a bit more time on my hands, though even summer gets busy.)  I have a couple of tags waiting to be filled out for posting and a few other ideas for some fun summery posts. 

     I'd like to get a job and start making money to put toward college, etc. and also fill out my college application before the fall.  It's all coming up so quickly!  

     Hopefully, my family will get to take a nice vacation as well.  I must say, we need it, with as busy as life has been lately.  It will be nice to slow down and get away for awhile.  Perferably to a beach. ;-)

     One of my favorite things to do with my sisters is try out fun hairstyles.  So as I was brainstorming posts to do for the summer, I thought of one where I do hairstyles on my sister from some of your favorite period dramas.  My sister has been wanting me to try some on her for a while now, and I thought it would be even cooler if I shared the finished products with you all!  What do you think?  Any requests?

     Alright, I will now wrap up this rambling post.  Until next week, dear readers! :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guess the Period Drama from Its Scenery Game -- Answers

Thank you all for playing the game I posted a couple weeks ago! :-)  Here are the answers and the scores:

1. Poldark

2. Anne of Green Gables

3. Pride & Prejudice (1995)


4. The Young Victoria

5. Downton Abbey


 6. Saving Mr. Banks



7. Little Women


8. Northanger  Abbey

Miss March - 50
Rachel - 40
Varvare - 80 
MovieCritic - 40
Ruth - 30
Molly Rebekah - 40

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Book Tag


     MovieCritic has tagged me with the Book Tag, and I haven't done a tag in a while so this should be fun. :-)  Thank you, MovieCritic.  Now, onto the questions...

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

     Not sure which one, but I have had my American Girl books longer than all of the others currently on my shelf.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you'll read next?

     I've been reading more than one book at a time for a while.  Currently, reading The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson, since I just finished The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest.  Also, reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.  I would like to read Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard and Bleak House by Charles Dickens next.

3. What book did everyone like but you hated?

     I didn't necessarily hate it, but The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak.  I heard so much about how good it was from more than one person, but it just wasn't for me.


4. What book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?

     Ummm...well, honestly, I read the books I want to read. 

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

     I'm not saving any.  Why would I wait to read something when I want to read it now.  I'm sure there will be lots of new books to read by the time I get there. ...I guess I could say The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, since I would like to read it, but it's kind of at the end of my list.

6. Last page: read it first or wait 'til the end?

     Is that even a question?  Wait until the end, of course! :P



7. Acknowledgements: waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?

     I don't think it's a waste of paper because I find it to be a nice sentiment.  However, I rarely ever read them, so I can't call it an interesting aside either.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

     I'm sure you all expect it, but I must be honest: Emma Woodhouse.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

     Well, not that I can think of at the moment...


10. Name a book you acquired in an interesting way.

     Oh, when I was thirteen, the church I was attending at the time was cleaning out their library and I took Shadows of the Canyon by Tracie Peterson from one of the boxes.  (I asked first, don't worry. :-)

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

     I have given plenty of books to my younger sisters when I've outgrown them.  There's nothing really special about that, but I haven't given books away to anyone else.

12. Which book has been with you most places?

     Emma has been to summer camp and Puerto Rico...both The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden have been to several states.  (Of course, all the books on my Kindle App have been basically everywhere I have, but I didn't think I could count those. ;-)


13. Any required reading you hated in high school that wasn't so bad later?

     Nope.  All of the required reading that I have disliked, I still dislike.  (Ahem, Robinson Crusoe.)

 14. Used or brand new?

     There's something about opening a fresh, unused book that just cannot be topped.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

     Never heard of him.


16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

     Rarely.  There are movies that are as good as the book, but not better.

17. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks included?

     All of the Pioneer Woman cookbooks make me hungry, yes.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?

     My mom's.  She has a very similar taste in books, so I know her recommendations will be books I will love.


     Now, let's see...four people to tagged.  I don't know who has already been tagged by Olivia, but I have four random people:
1. Rachel
2. Abby P.
3. Kelly-Anne
4. Miss March

    Thanks again, MovieCritic for the fun tag!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guess the Period Drama From Its Scenery | My First Game


     I've seen quite a few games like this on other blogs, and I enjoy them so I thought I would try one myself.  I'm sure you all know how to play, but just in case, here are the rules: Look at the pictures, comment the name of the period drama with the corresponding number, and try to answer them all correctly.  There will be no pictures of the actors and actresses in this game, in order to make it a little harder.  Let's see how well you know the scenery of these beautiful period dramas! :-)

1.

2.

3.


4.

5.


 6.



7.


8.


     I'll be posting the answers sometime next week.  I hope you enjoyed!  

*10 points for each correct answer

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thankfulness

{photo taken by me}

     For those books that make me break into a grin.
     For those pink and purple skies that steal my breath.
     For those kind words of advice from my mom.
     For those melancholy spring showers.
     For those movies that move me to tears.
     For those friends who listen to me share my heart.
     For those daydreams that take me far away.
     For those ice cream cones on a warm night.
     For those last few minutes before I fall asleep.
     For those sisters that make me laugh.
     For those experiences that keep me humble.
     For those Bible verses that give me courage.
     For those talks with my dad.
     For those stories that form in my imagination.
     For those chores that give me time to think.
     For those readers who allow me to keep on blogging.
     For those songs that make my heart soar.
     For those flowers blooming outside.
     For those brief moments of pure silence and reflection.
     For those holidays that bring me such joy.
     For those cups of tea in the morning.
     For those times when I can't keep from singing.
     For those opportunities to do what I love.
     For the freedom to openly worship Jesus.
     For the dreams and passions in my heart.
     For a family to share memories with.
     For a home to call my own.
     For a God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me.
     For all this and more, I am thankful to Him.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

It's Been A While


     It has been so quiet on my blog lately!  I've been meaning to post, truly, but...well, I won't make lame excuses.  Instead, I'll update you all!
        Here's what's been going on:
  • Saw Beauty and the Beast -- loved it!  It was beyond everything I could have hoped for.
  • Started rereading Sense & Sensibility.  I can't believe how much I had forgotten!  And it is still such a good book.
  • Been considering job possibilities and college classes for next year. 
  • Looking forward to summer, of course. 
  • Coming up with new blog post ideas.  I'm planning to get into a better habit of posting regularly.  :-)
  • Updated my blog look about 3-4 times before settling on my old one with a couple minor tweaks, as you can see.
  • Oh!  And I got a lovely new spring dress for Easter.  (Hopefully, we will have spring weather before the holiday weekend!)
 
       What's been going on with you all?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Lovely Day


     I wasn't going to post again until next week sometime, but I had such an enjoyable day yesterday that I couldn't resist the opportunity to write about it.  Maybe it was cold and cloudy, but my family brought out the best of Friday.

     We went ice skating in the late morning/early afternoon.  It was such fun!  My sisters and I had a blast circling the ice and laughing.  There's just something about gliding over the ice that inexplicably makes your heart soar, you know?  Afterward, we went out and enjoyed a late lunch at one of our favorite places to eat.  We sat by the warm fireplace in the cafe and simply talked and ate together.  When lunch was done, we took a drive.  Just a drive.  We weren't going anywhere in particular, but instead took the liberty of driving along the wide, swollen river.  It was quite relaxing.  Honestly, yesterday was one of the best family days ever.

     And then, for the icing on the cake, the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack was released yesterday, too, so I listened to that when I got home.  Wow.  (Am I the only one who got goosies?)  Suffice it to say, I love it.  Like, a lot.   "How Does A Moment Last Forever" brought tears to my eyes.  And I'm pretty much addicted to it now.  

     Now, I intend to enjoy my Saturday, as well.  I don't usually watch movies in the morning, but I'm in a Cinderella mood, so here I go.  Have a lovely day, dears!

     How was your Friday?  What do you all think of the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack? 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Watsons | Excerpts


     As I mentioned back in January and again in February, during I Love Austen Week, I have been writing my own conclusion to Jane Austen's "The Watsons".  It has been my favorite project for some time now, even though I don't have as much time to work on it as I'd like.

     After debating it for a while, I finally decided to just go for it and share a few short excerpts with you all.  And you may criticize if you wish.  I am always open to feedback, as you know.  I'm a bit apprehensive about it, but I feel like I had better just get on with it before I get too nervous and decide against it.  You know what... No.  Okay.  Here goes.


      "I anticipate meeting him, after all his good attributes have been pointed out to me so carefully by you," replied Emma warmly.
      "Yes, indeed. You will find him most agreeable."
      "I only wish we could help him a bit," Emma sighed.
      "With what, dear?"
      "With respect to my friend Miss Edwards. Mary seems so taken with Captain Hunter that I fear Sam has little chance of winning her."
      "Yes, that is too bad. I think that if he cannot have her, then there is someone better suited to him, perhaps somewhere outside of Surrey."



            Emma did not know what to say. She needed a moment to think about all that which Penelope had just related. Yes, Elizabeth had indeed been evasive. But she had still been so kind and caring. "I am very sorry about it all," was the most she could muster in reply.
           "Did I say too much?" Penelope asked uncertainly. “Was I wrong to tell you? I assure you it is all true.”


            Now, what was she to do? Whom could she trust?  It was then that Emma decided she needed to get away from Surrey.  But where should she go? She did not want to go to London.  A visit to the seaside was rather appealing, she decided.  She had visited the sea several times with her aunt, and it was there she wanted to go now.  It was the ideal plan.