Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuck Everlasting (2002)

Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting is quickly becoming one of my favorite books.  It holds a special place in my heart.  My parents and sister had watched the movie version starring Alexis Bledel years before, but all I remember hearing about it was that it was heartbreakingly sad, and thus I'd airily dismissed it (this was before I read the book, understand).  But then I began to appreciate the book, and decided to try it out after all.

By the way, y'all should be prepared for a very picture-heavy review.


It was perfect.

Seriously, I really do think it was about as perfect an adaptation as a movie possibly could be.  Yes, I know some things were changed.  Yes, I know Winnie is older than she's supposed to be, and that they over-romanticize Jesse's and her relationship.  Yes, I know they spend more time in the beginning of the movie portraying Winnie's home life than Babbitt does in her book.  

I still think it's perfect.  

First of all, Alexis Bledel was perfect.  She captured Winnie's youthfulness, curiosity, shyness, and wanderlust beautifully.  

I like that Winnie, though she is fifteen instead of eleven in this version, is not portrayed as a "typical angsty teenager."  She has issues with her parents, certainly, but she isn't a brat.  She doesn't jerk away from her father and mother when she's brought back, even in the midst of pain over her separation from the Tucks.  She is forgiving, tries to be as mature as she can, and in the end shows wisdom beyond her years when she makes her ultimate choice about the spring.  

Jonathan Jackson was perfect.  Gawky, adorable, bubbling, affable, and joyful, he was impossibly endearing as Jesse.  I think I loved him more in the movie than in the book (not that I don't like him in the book, of course, but ya know what I mean).  

Ben Kingsley was…good;)  His hair annoyed me to no end, but other than that, he did a wonderful job as the Man in the Yellow Suit.  He was mysterious, calculating, but with a hint of good potential sufficient to make you regret his end.  (I liked the line:  "You speak blasphemy, sir."  "Fluently." *chuckle*  It just added a bit to the revelation of his antagonistic tendencies.)

Surprisingly, the romance didn't bother me.  I mean, think about it.  The potential  romance was always there in the novel, so I don't really mind them realizing that potential for the movie version.  Really, I like that this adaptation is just different enough to be interesting, and close enough to the book to be satisfactory.  Jesse and Winnie were such a sweet example of a good adolescent relationship--tender, appropriate, and founded on friendship.  (And their first meeting was perrrrrfect.  Oh mah word.)

The cast worked extremely well together, meshing into their appropriate relationships admirably.  One of the only issues I have with the movie, however, is the casting of Angus Tuck.  I just…William Hurt didn't do it for me.  The monotony of his voice and the lack of facial expression contributed to a general feeling of apathy about his portrayal of the fatherly Tuck.  (Maybe that's just me, though.)

Stylistically, the movie was delectable.  The scenery, costuming, props, and that gorgeous music amalgamated flawlessly into the sweeping vista that is Tuck Everlasting.  Pacing was possibly just the leeeeetlest bit "off," but only in certain parts, and I got over that very quickly.

*sigh*  I'm rambling, so to sum up…just gah.  IT WAS AMAZING AND IT MADE ME SO HAPPY.  Such an unprecedentedly faithful movie adaptation of a beautiful book was so refreshing.  I loved it.  And that ending!  Brimstone and gall, that ENDING!

I just…I can't…the music…and Jesse's face…and the slow-motion…and the flashbacks (I'm a sucker for flashbacks at the end of a movie)…

Basically, this gif encapsulates my feelings about this movie:


Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton {review}

This is what my copy looked like,
except much more vibrant.
*WARNING*:  This story deals with content such as societal hypocrisy, adultery, and the question of chastity, so I will be discussing those kinds of things in this review.

Where to start...this book blew me away.

The story is about a man named Newland Archer, who is waffling between baffling social hypocrisies and his own occasional aspirations to a "higher philosophy." Already sinking into discontent after his engagement to May Welland, his conflict is cemented when May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska returns.

Before I get on to the philosophical part of the review, a quick overview of the novel itself:  the writing was excellent, the characters were believable and evoked the right emotions, and the plot, if not dreadfully original, was flawlessly executed and given a wonderful sprinkling of authenticity by the unsuspected outcome of certain events.

Now.  On to "the good stuff" ;)

"'What's the use--when you will go back?' he broke out, a great hopeless How on earth can I keep you? crying out to her beneath his words." ~ Chapter 24 

I was apprehensive at first that this story would be one of those "satires" that would loudly shout for the abandonment of all physical or social boundaries (death to limits!), basically condemning anyone who has the temerity to think that open-mindedness and intelligence could possibly be consistent with sexual purity. However, that was not exactly the case with this book.

While I did not agree with everything Newland believed and concluded, the book did make me think--really THINK, you know, the type when you actually set the book down and stare philosophically into  the distance whilst contemplating profundity. It made me really dig beneath the surface of my convictions about purity and my faith, and that's always a good thing. (And just so you know, they came out the stronger for it.) Even though I am a firm and passionate advocate of abstinence and thus can easily lose my patience with our sex-obsessed society, it is a fact that in certain cultures, including those existing in our own countries, marital hypocrisy ran rampant even while people claimed to practice Biblical virtues such as abstinence. Typified, men would philander where and when they pleased, and were seldom seriously chastised or shamed for it, while if their wives were to do the same, society descended like a flock of vultures, and the woman's life would be plunged into irreversible ruin and social exile. So Newland did have a point there.  

What is so sad about that situation, no less sad than our present one today, is that the people were posturing to obey an empty religion.  They upheld certain Biblical doctrines, but missed the entire point of the Bible itself:  salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.  

"'I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth but never in thy heart nor in thy practice.'" ~ Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott

I think that's why I actually felt for Newland. I certainly didn't agree with him, but I did pity him.  (He was basically like Sir Timothy from LRtC, but different.)  If only he had turned to the real, true God of the Bible instead of the vague nonentity of whom he'd been taught!  If only he had turned to true philosophy, if only he had sought to fill the void his culture created within him with something other than an adulterous passion which, however sincere and ideologically pure, was nonetheless unjust and wrong.  

Reminiscent of Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence captivated me like TGG never did.  Aside from what I already mentioned, TAoI surprised me in the twists and turns which Ms. Wharton took with her writing and the power she exercises as an author to determine the overall moral of the story.  Just when one thinks she had nothing but a young, scintillating disregard for the societal mores that demanded women to be chaste while men were "unrestrained,"  she would unveil a new color in her kaleidoscopic tale--a softer, more pitying confession of a man slinking into the very hypocrisy he purported to disdain: 

"Ellen Olenska was like no other woman, he was like no other man:  their situation, therefore, resembled no one else's, and they were answerable to no tribunal save that of their own judgement." ~ Chapter 31

I know Ms. Wharton is classified among the satirists and cynics, and while TAoI is certainly an exercise in both satire and cynicism, I think the labels that paint her as an ultimately sympathetic author are also true.  At the end of the book, I felt no judgment from her, no hostility, though, to be fair, the "unresolved" "love" might leave this book open to interpretation as a story almost overwhelmingly dripping with cynicism, due to the way in which it ends.  However, I didn't get that feeling at all.  I got more of an "everything worked out as it should have."  Ellen ultimately made the right choice, as did Newland in at last accepting the way his life was and trying to make the best of it.  

"Something he knew he had missed:  the flower of life.  But he thought of it now as a thing so unattainable and improbable that to have repined would have been like despairing because one had not drawn the first prize in a lottery.  There were a hundred million tickets in his lottery, and there was only one prize; the chances had been too decidedly against him.  When he thought of Ellen Olenska it was abstractly, serenely, as one might think of some imaginary beloved in a book or a picture.  That vision, faint and tenuous as it was, had kept him from thinking of other women." ~ Chapter 34

All the characters made mistakes, all of them desperately needed the saving grace of the Good Shepherd; but in the end, I was left with a sense of closure and, if not peace, at least the feeling that redemption was attainable for these people.  That may or may not have been Ms. Wharton's aim; relational religion was certainly not a component of the storyline; but I came away from the book with a  gently dusty, far-off regret for the characters' choices, and yet a satisfaction in the way everything ended.  

All in all, though I recommend it with caution, due to the themes of the novel and the questions it raises, I certainly do recommend it.  Quite a book, really.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Why I Love…{Boromir}

I've been meaning to write another "defense" post, and since we're in the midst of Hamlette's awesome Tolkien Week, why not now?:)  (In case you all didn't know, these "Why I Love…" posts are basically the equivalent of those "In Defense Of" or "Defending" kinds of posts--talking about why I love certain undervalued or misjudged characters, and you can read my previous ones by clicking on the link "Why I Love…" in the labels section:D  Just thought I'd mention it.)

So.  Boromir.

First of all, yes, Boromir is proud.  Boromir is brash.  Boromir is reckless.  But, darlings, that is because Boromir is human.  I'm not excusing all of his behavior by any means, but I do think we all need to step back and look at him objectively as a character and realize how similar to us he really is.  Pride is Boromir's downfall, and it is a weakness with all of us--if not often, at least from time to time.  Hamlette wrote an amazing post on this guy, which you can read here, and which I am now going to quote:

"Some people think Boromir is a villain. But I think he may be the most realistic character in the whole trilogy -- flawed and faulty, but ultimately heroic. I think he's a closer representation of us than any of the other characters. We too trust to our own strength, take pride in our own abilities, and stumble often as a result."

That is so true.  And the beautiful thing about Tolkien's stories is he allows the fallible to be redeemed.  Boromir tries to take the Ring by force, yes, but his motives were at least halfway honorable--he truly did desire to protect his people.  He went about it in the wrong ways, but his end goal was the redemption and rise of Gondor.

Great.  'Cause I had no real plans for my heart in the future, anyway.

Another thing that I had not quite realized is how Boromir sees the potential in those the rest of the world undervalues--namely, his younger brother Faramir (don't even get me started) and the two more foolish, supposedly unimportant hobbits, Merry and Pippin. 

Boromir did supersede Faramir's rightful place in the Fellowship (it was originally Faramir's dream that birthed the idea of traveling to Imladris, a detail I'd never realized until I read Craig Bernthal's Tolkien's Sacramental Vision), and that was wrong, since a portion of his reasoning likely included his own arrogant assumption and desire for glory, BUT I have no doubt whatsoever that he also acted out of a clear wish to protect his brother.  Boromir at that time had probably had more experience in warfare and quests than Faramir, and while it is probable that Tolkien considered Boromir's place in the Fellowship an usurpation, "all things work together for good," and all that.  Boromir's own redemption was ultimately achieved through all his mistakes.  

For the record, I don't know what that slip at the bottom is, nor why it says 'Hitler hated this site too'.

To quote Bernthal, 

"Boromir displays the full range of temptation, fall, entrapment, and recovery within a short narrative."

I love this character for his humanity, his readiness to acknowledge (and mend as best he can) his mistakes, and his attention to those the world considers of no consequence.  While the rest of the Fellowship focuses on Frodo and Sam, Boromir devotes himself heart and soul to "the little ones" (I cannot tell you how much my inner fangirl weeps when Aragorn rushes up to him in the movie and the first words out of Boromir's mouth are "They took the little ones!).  Throughout the majority of the Fellowship's short time united, Boromir takes especial care of Merry and Pippin, though they are often neglected for more pressing matters by others.  And then--and then--but you all know how it all ends.  In a glorious act of sacrifice that I defy anyone not to applaud, Boromir singlehandedly holds back a tidal wave of Uruk-hai while bleeding from multiple arrow wounds.  Gah.  I JUST CANNOT, OKAY?!  

While Boromir is not quite my favorite character (he is the brother to my favorite, though), he is one of the best and I love him dearly.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"…There was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton."

Today, the birthday of our own dear, illustrious Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, marks the beginning of Hamlette's annual Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence!  Click on the link to find out all the juicy details, and for directions to enter her giveaways!  I, for one, think it's all monstrous exciting;)

To kick it all off, Hamlette has put together a super list of questions for participants to answer on their blogs.  Let the festivities begin!

1. What draws you to Tolkien's stories? (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)

The hope.

2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw? What did you think of it?
That would be The Fellowship of the Ring, non-extended edition.  Oh, dear.  Must I tell?  I've mentioned it in other posts, but I was shamefully unimpressed by the movies the first time I watched them.  I have repented, have no fear!

3. Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them.
Faramir--because he's my favorite;)  I actually have difficulty describing exactly why I love him so, but I know it has to do with the fact that I pity him deeply (I always tend to love the characters I pity), and I admire him greatly.  He's had a pretty awful life, and still he remains strong yet gentle, firm yet compassionate.  Gah.  I JUST LOVE HIM, OKAY?

Galadriel--her backstory is fascinating.  (Go read The Silmarillion or Craig Bernthal's Tolkien's Sacramental Vision if you don't believe me.)  Originally an antiheroine, lustful for power and embracing conflict, Galadriel erred greatly in the untold centuries before the Age of the Ring, and since then has spent the interminable years in waning Lothlorien, regretting her misdeeds and struggling to conquer her power-hunger.  And she ultimately succeeds, becoming a beneficent beacon of hope, true strength, and radiance to the Fellowship and many others.

Frodo--you can read more about why here.  Not all of what I said in that post still applies, but I do think Frodo is slightly undervalued as a character, by me as well.  And since Hamlette kindly said three of and not your three, I can include him:D

4. Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention?


5. What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most?
According to a Myers-Briggs chart I found on Pinterest, Galadriel, but I'm not sure how accurate that is.  I think I might actually relate to Faramir the most (not the whole father mentioning he'd rather I'd died instead of my brother, of course).  There are reasons, but we shan't go into them now:)  And if not Faramir, than the four hobbits, taken collectively.

6. If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?
"Where, in the cuckoo's name, did you learn to write?  I protest 'tis marvelous!"  (Yeah, I just recently reread The Scarlet Pimpernel.  This is what happens.)

7. Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don't?
Erm…none come to mind, but when I see Middle-earth merchandise I immediately gravitate toward it, of course.  I already have the Evenstar necklace, so I think my deepest craving has been fulfilled;D

8. What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of?
Eccckk--I dunno, maybe the Battle of Helm's Deep?  Or Aragorn's initial face-off with the Undead Army?

9. Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End?
Well.  That's not impossibly hard at all, now, is it?:-P  Sheesh, I don't know!  Probably Rivendell.  Because, ya know, it'd mean I was in Rivendell.

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

Thank you so much, Hamlette!  Don't forget to click on the link at the beginning of the post to get in on all the Middle-earth fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

5 Male Characters Tag

What-ho, all!  The lovely Ivy has tagged me for her '5 Male Characters Tag' :)  (You can see my answers to her 5 Female Characters Tag here.)  Thank you so much, Ivy!

Before I start, though, I just wanted to apologize--a number of my wonderful bloggie buddies (you know who you are) tagged me a long while ago for a great end-of-summer tag.  However, I didn't really have that eventful of a summer, and I just sort of kept postponing the tag until, lo and behold, it was September.  So I'm very sorry about that; I SO appreciated being tagged, and it was a lovely tag, but I think I put it off a bit too long, and as I said, I wouldn't really know how to answer the questions.  I sowwy:(

1.) List 5 of you favorite male characters (book or screen)

2.) Tagging other people is optional

3.) If you are tagged link back to the person that tagged you

4.) Link back to Revealed In Time (preferably using the link to this post)

~ ~ ~

Choose one from each category.
1.) Hero

2.) Villain

3.) Anti-hero

4.) Best book-to-screen adaption

5.) Best character perception

As Merida's dad would say, "Right, 'ere we go."

Faramir from The Lord of the Rings

I know I try to stick to characters I don't always talk about in these tags, but…to heck with that.  Faramir is the best.  Amen and amen.  *sigh*  I love this guy.  He's honorable, courageous, kindhearted, and gentle.  And no, his portrayal in the movie really doesn't bother me.  I mean, hello, it's what caused me to fall in love with him in the first place.  I think David Wenham did a wonderful job as Faramir.  It does irk me, yes, that they made him a man of "questionable integrity" at first, BUT they did resolve it, and we all know the truth of the matter, so…I don't really care too much:D

Carver Doone from Lorna Doone (2000)

This one was actually harder than I thought it would be.  The villains I tend to like are really more of antiheroes than straight-up villains, but I guess I've always been mildly intrigued by the character of Carver Doone.  There is no doubt that he's a sick little fiend, but there's something about him that makes you regret that he is that way.  It's like you want him to become a good character at times--not all the time, but every once in a while something triggers an "It's a shame you're a bad guy."  I'm not entirely sure what it is.  Can anyone else relate?

Sir Guy of Gisborne from BBC Robin Hood

You go ahead and rock that guy-liner, Guy.

Well, duh;)  Antiheroes to me are characters that are walking an almost indistinguishably thin line between utter villainy and utter heroism.  They are chiaroscuros, torn between the ease of selfishness and the conviction of selflessness.  Guy is that, definitely.  There are times (mainly in the first season) when, I'll confess, he frankly just irritates me and you kind of want him to just GO AWAY ALREADY, but then the second season happens, and his hero potential starts to come out.  Then that--ahem--is, oh, how shall we put it, "postponed" at the S2 last episode (let's not even go there).  At the start of the third season, he's tortured with overwhelming guilt over what he's done (ya think??) and yet he holds to a wild, irrational hatred of Robin and feeling of injustice that he believes Robin has done him.  Eventually, however, Robin's slow and reluctant efforts to reach out to him, partially for Marian's sake (hey, I think it might have been) "bring him out," and by the heart-wrenching, glorious series finale, he has "redeemed himself."  Ish.  

"He has qualities!"

I think we'll all dissolve into puddles of tears if we talk about Guy's relationships with the women in his life for too long (except Isabella and Annie.  We shan't discuss those unfortunate episodes).  While I am NOT and will NEVER BE a Guy/Marian shipper, I love the dynamics of their relationship.  "She saw good where there was none…she made me a better man." (SOBS)  I don't think Marian ever loved Guy like she loved Robin (obviously), but I do think she cared very much about him as a person.  Like he said, she influenced his life for the better.  And then MEG and don't even GET ME STARTED ON THE FEELS.

Best book-to-screen adaptation
Jason Isaacs as Capt. James Hook (Peter Pan 2003)

I'm a huuuuuuge fan of the book PP, and frankly I don't think any screen adaptation to date has fully captured the awesomeness, but the 2003 comes pretty durn close.  (My main problem with it is that the cast is too old, and thus they over-romanticize Peter and Wendy's relationship.)  And look at that picture up there.  That is my Hook.  Personified.  In the flesh.  Hook is possibly my favorite villain ever, and Jason Isaacs portrayed him well-nigh perfectly.  The wardrobe, the makeup, the attitude…it makes me happy:)

Best character perception
Oscar Isaac as Joseph (The Nativity Story)

This was a hard category for me to figure out, I'll admit.  I wasn't exactly sure what was intended by 'character perception,' so I thought it might mean how thoroughly an actor understands a character and embodies them?  Anyway, that's the option with which I'm going;)  So.  Oscar Isaac from The Nativity Story.  I lurve this movie, and I really love this portrayal of Joseph.  I think the actor understood the biblical Joseph.  Quiet, loyal, faithful, hurt when he thinks Mary has betrayed him, but unquestioningly obedient to the angel.  He acts far and above the call of duty toward Mary, taking her and covering her without concern for the social stigma they will suffer.  I mean, "they're going to miss us."  SQUEEE CAN I HUG YOU?!?!  He's just such a sweetheart.  

Plus he and Mary are like the cutest darn things ever.  

Now, as to tagging!  I'm going to just tag four people whom I know enjoy a good tag, so that they'll still be able to tag some people.


Have fun, guys!:)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"C.K. Dexter Haven, you have unsuspected depth!"

(I had no idea how to title this post, nor how it'd turn out, so bear with me.)

You all know those days, I'm sure, when you're just…oh, how shall we put it--not exactly feeling the greatest of kinships with Pollyanna?  Days when something that's been going on in your life is just weighing you down and making you weepy and poor-poor-pitiful-me-ish?  I've been having a couple of those days recently.  I've been in a bit of a "funk" off and on, one moment happy and contented, and the next subdued and heartsick (Well, you're an adolescent girl, Olivia.  Duh).

I don't want this to be a downer post, so I just wanted to share random rambling thoughts that have come to me as I've tried to deal with these sorts of days over the years (wise and learned sage that I am!).  

There's a very complicated familial situation going on, and I have to fight to keep resentment and self-pity from having their way with me.  Sometimes it's not so hard, and sometimes it feels like I'm Sam, trying to carry another person up flippin' Mount Doom.  And I've been realizing, through talking with the Lord and analyzing my thoughts and discussing it with my mother, that I have a deep-seated misconception about life, a misconception most of us have probably entertained at one time or another--the idea that my life should be fair.  


Life is not fair.  It's never claimed to be fair, and perhaps it's never even been meant to be fair while we're on this earth.  (William Goldman put this much more eloquently than I can in The Princess Bride, so there's another reason you should read that book.)  And when you hear that phrase, "life's not fair," it seems easy to accept as a no-brainer in the moment.  But then Stuff Happens.  You hear about terror in the Middle East, of human trafficking in your own state, and your family life is turning out to be much harder than you ever supposed it could be.  People make demands on your time, on your heart, on your mind, on your faith…and some little voice deep in your chest, half buried by your good intentions and your life lessons and all the healing the Lord has done in you, begins a muffled scream:  "This isn't fair."  And despite all your efforts, some days the voice reaches such a decibel that it seems to veritably force its way out of your better nature and raises a storm of emotions.  That's when we have to realize something, have to tell it to ourselves over and over until we understand that this just might be the way it has to be:  Life isn't fair.  Life. Is Not. Fair.  


It is amazing.

I know we've all heard it a thousand times in various forms, but our lives can be beautiful regardless of what is going on in them.  There are some things that are up to you.  You can take control of your emotions.  Of course, one shouldn't stifle them, heavens no, but there is a battle being waged daily for our minds and hearts, and with God we will gain the victory.  

One of the greatest tonics for me when I'm "having a bad day" is to go outside and just be.  I live nestled in a valley of such beauty that at times my heart aches with it.  (Countrysides are gorgeous things that should be treasured and preserved and appreciated.)  Few sights fill me with such joy and peace as sunlight glancing through the leaves and spreading onto the grass.  That's why the hours right before dusk are my favorite times of day--late afternoon.  My word, what a paradise.  In the time between 4:45 and 7 o'clock (at this time of year, where I live), even just sitting outside and gazing at the beauty of the light contrasting with the shadows renews my calm and refocuses my thoughts.  Sometimes, the Savior whispers:  "Come take a walk with Me.  Down the hill to the road, and We can talk.  The road falling away beyond the fence towards your neighbor's farm, the wind gently stirring the wild grasses and flowers down by the creek, and the meadows rolling tranquilly as far as your eye can see--let the simple beauty wash you with My love, and remind you that there are some things that can never be taken from you."  Other days I feel a tug just to sit on our makeshift swing and let the security of God's nature ground me again.  (Of course, this endeavor is helped if one is finishing a book throbbing with Life while one sits…coughcoughALanternInHerHandcoughcough.  There's nothing like reading of the struggles and triumphs of another human life for calming the old nerves.)

Just let go.  Just let your mind wander to good places--if your heart belongs to the rustling, flaxen grandeur of the prairie, travel West, young mind.  If you're uplifted into the robins-egg blue vault of sky, soar.  If awe overtakes you at the untamable, mystical ocean, swim away.  And through it all, allow the Lord to whisper His words of healing into your life.  Be honest with Him.  He knows when you feel wronged by circumstance, and He will draw near to you if you draw near to Him.  

Also, just to make y'all jealous, hehe, I'm going to see Cinderella for the second time in a theater tonight.  SQUEEEE I GET TO SEE CINDERELLA AGAIN.  I'm really excited, as you might be able to surmise:D  Thusly, in addition to all the piffle I just spouted out, have courage and be kind.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Just a quickie post to let you know...

One--I've decided to try and become a little more active on Goodreads.  My account name is just plain ol' Olivia, and I'd love to start following more of you! *hint hint*

I steal pictures/gifs from other bloggers all the time.  Did y'all know that?  'Cause I do.  Aaaaaand that ties into the next point…

…I have decided, at long last, to take the plunge, and…

I got a Pinterest.  *fanfare*  So I need to know all of your usernames so I can follow and stalk you!:D  Also, I could use any helpful tips you might have.  I'm a trifle confused on how to navigate it and pin things and such;)

This was one of the first things I found and I kind of died.  

Inkling Explorations {September}

It's that time again; Heidi's September 2015 Inkling Explorations prompt is in!  This time, it's a funny story opening in literature.  Well, naturally, the thoughts turn to Wodehouse, being the comedic genius that he is, but a few other people have already used him, so I thought I'd go with the opening to the original One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  

Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmatian dogs named Pongo and Missis Pongo.  (Missis had added Pongo's name to her own on their marriage, but was still called Missis by most people.)  They were lucky enough to own a young married couple of humans named Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, who were gentle, obedient, and unusually intelligent--almost canine at times.  They understood quite a number of barks:  the barks for "Out, please!" "In, please!" "Hurry up with my dinner!" and "What about a walk?"  And even when they could not understand, they could often guess--if looked at soulfully or scratched by an eager paw.  Like many other much-loved humans, they believed that they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that their dogs owned them.  Pongo and Missis found this touching and amusing and let their pets think it was true.

I know it's not dazzlingly witty or hilarious, but it's a charming beginning to a very clever, lovely book which you should readcuzit'sbetterthantheDisneymoviecoughcough ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Bookshelf Project

Hello, dearies! (Oh, so this is random, but our Netflix just started to work again! *victory screech* Sorry. Totally unrelated, but it's just very happy for me;D)

I have this perpetual problem with my reading schedule. C. S. Lewis said this once, "It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between." Ever since I read that, I've been quasi-committed to following that rule in my leisure and devotional reading--alternating first-timers with re-reads. However, that can get messy as I'm rather indecisive and can never seem to choose which book to read at a given time! So today the thought came to me, Why not just go through your bookcase, shelf by shelf, and read through the books you have on there that you haven't yet read, while choosing your re-reads with more leisure in between? I liked that idea;) I think God sent it, actually:D I'll be reading the ones I haven't yet read that I'm not going to be reading for school anytime soon, and that I've definitely decided to read. Some of them I'm postponing due to content, and haven't yet decided whether or not to read them. Most of these are just random ones I've picked up from our family's bookshelves or from thrift stores. We'll see if I finish them all, but that's the goal, to at least give them a chance.

So that's what I've decided to do!  If I can only keep the discipline to stick with it *crosses fingers*

Thus, here's the lowdown of what my "new" books will be, after I finish Julie and read an "old" one first, that is.  

First shelf:  The Turn of the Road by Eugenia Brooks Frothingham (there's a name for ya)
A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich (technically, I've skimmed this once, but I want to read it for realsies)
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques
Pygmalion/My Fair Lady by George Bernard Shaw/Alan Jay Lerner
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

Second shelf:  Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Yankee Stranger by Elswyth Thane
My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Third shelf:  Just Enough Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
Song of Erin by BJ Hoff
Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser
A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

And there we are! Y'all are my witnesses to hold me to accountability, haha:D

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Anne of Green Gables," My Daughter & Me by Lorilee Craker {review}

"Join Anne, me, and Phoebe Min-Ju Jayne as our stories plait together--one strand red, one raven black, and one mochachino.  Link arms with us as we find our way to places of belonging, our forever homes.  Settle in with us in this world of 'spirit and fire and dew'.  Here's a story for the orphan in us all." 

Wow.  231 short pages of pure beauty.  This book far and away exceeded my expectations.  I wasn't sure whether or not I would like it, given that AoGG, though a wonderful story, isn't one of my top favorites ever.  Also, I just wasn't sure about the genre. 

I loved it.  In style, it reminds me of Perfectly Unique, a similar-ish book by Annie F. Downs that is basically a devotional for adolescent girls.  AoGGMDAM is written in much the same way--witty, layered, and warm.  

It's apparently a newer genre, the literary memoir.  Basically, Lorilee Craker takes the story of Anne Shirley (focusing on Anne of Green Gables but including Anne of Windy Poplars and numerous references to the other books in the series) and pinpoints the relatability of her experiences.  Lorilee was adopted herself, and as a grown woman she adopted a girl with her husband and sons.  In this book, she relates her life story and combines it with that of Anne and Phoebe, Lorilee's adopted daughter.  

It's just wonderful!  Like Emma mentioned in her review, "This book was like hot tea on a chilly autumn night for me.  It was like a healing salve on my heart."  I was going through a bit of a hard time when I read it, and it was therapeutic.  One thing I really appreciate about this was that Lorilee didn't invalidate other people's slightly less dramatic life experiences when sharing her own.  She didn't label her pain as the ultimate pain, if you catch my drift.  She understood that everyone has had their own difficulties.  This was one of my favorite passages in the book:

"You feel like you are too sensitive, but oh--how the world needs feelers.  How this dented old world needs people to notice things, to offer compassion and tears and kindness.  How the broken road is consecrated because it leads cracked people like us to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.  There is a crack in everyone--that's how the light gets in."

That really stood out to me because I struggle at times with feeling that I'm overly-sensitive, that I make too much of experiences that truly hurt me and mess with my brain.  I feel that perhaps I'm just overreacting.  And maybe I am, but nevertheless, as Nick Vujicic said, pain is pain.  

Anyway.  A book that can make me laugh and smile inside shoots way up in my estimation, because frankly I've found few such books.  This one definitely passed that test!  It was by turns hilarious, warmly-fuzzy, aching, and sobering.  In lieu of a more coherent analysis, here are some of my favorite quotes:

"(Where does that come from, that innate supremacy that tolerates no opposition?  Why is it obeyed so unswervingly?  This mean-girl thing melts my head.)"

~ ~ ~

"No, the Josie Pyes of this world won't stop, unless someone stops them."

~ ~ ~

"(I interviewed a model once, and she told me--bless her gaunt heart--that she sometimes just wished she could eat an apple before a photo shoot.  I hung up the phone and ate an apple in her honor.)"

~ ~ ~

"I swear to you, he italicized."

~ ~ ~

"But from the Redeemer's position, mercy and favor are stronger forces than all our wreckage and rubble.  There are grace notes everywhere, if you have ears to hear them."

~ ~ ~

"I can tell her she's worth fighting for.  I can tell her that our cracked stories don't have the last word, not by a long shot."

Just go read it.  Let it hug away a little bit of the daily grind, the dusty pain, and the feeling of loneliness.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Look at the Wardrobe of…{a Galactic Senator}

I've been in a major Star Wars mood recently.  I don't know why.  But anyway, I have been, and so lately I've been watching YouTube fan videos (especially of Padmé) and looking at pictures and stuff.

I really love Padmé Amidala.  She saves the new movies, for me; the best character (kind of like Han is the best character in the old ones).  She's just really cool to me:)  So I wanted to take a look at her outfits, because they are AMAHZING.  As a queen and later a senator, she's always attired immaculately (well, almost always.  We'll get to that), and she knows how to carry herself.  (Hey, don't be harshing my geeky like of SW! ;D)

I love it when a character has a lot of different outfits, and luckily, Padmé is one of those characters;)  In fact, she has so many that I'm sure I'll miss quite a few of them.  I'm just going to focus on some particular ones that I find particularly awesome or particularly heinous, yes?

Let's begin!

The good

I know this is weird, but I'm actually a little in love with this outfit.  It's wacky and definitely brings in sci-fi elements, but in my opinion something about it, the closer you look, demands respect.  It's a sophisticated kind of weird.  The only thing I think I might have changed is to either remove those bulbous, spotless ladybug things from around the bottom, or make them slightly smaller.  Other than that, though, I admit it.  I love this outfit.  

I'll admit, if a crop-top is done tastefully and isn't super high, I think they can be pretty.  This ensemble is sort of a mix of Jasmine-style loungewear, classy styling, and pajamas.  I like it a lot.  It's effortless and elegant, in my opinion.

She wears this in that scene where she has that really cool line:  "So this is how liberty dies--with thunderous applause."  (oooooooooohh)  Anyway, this dress has grown on me.  I'm not completely sold on the hairstyle or the brass choker thing, but the detailing in the gown itself is stunning.  Look at it.  A beautiful color on Natalie Portman, and just regal and dignified and graceful.  

Technically, this is just a robe she throws on over her nightgown, but still.  'T'is beautiful.  

Yes, this outfit could be just a *ahem* leetle higher in the back, but from the front, it's all good.  The ombre effect is great, the styling is great, everything's great.  

Another gorgeous nightdress.  Look at the pearly epaulets!  Look at her hair!  Look at the silky sheen of the fabric!  (Yeah, I'm a bit of a dork when I find a movie wardrobe that I really like.)

This one doesn't look as pretty in this picture, but in the actual scene, it's very flow-y and golden and spring-like.  I'm not sure about those honeycomb buns on either side of her face, though…;)

Her wedding look is stunning.  The end.  (Okay, maybe the scalloping on the veil is a leetle much, but I don't really mind it.)

Yeah, it might not be Natalie Portman's best color, but I actually like it the more I look at it.  And it looks like a serviceable travel dress for her, so that's good.

A very subdued, sweet, contemplative sort of dress.  I like it.  

The bad

Eccckkk.  Something about it frankly calls to my mind the word 'dominatrix.'  It's just…odd.

Hehe.  An example of a crop top that didn't really work, at least in my opinion;)  It's not too bad, but it's not too good, either.  (Of course, she was going to be executed in this scene, so I guess it's not really supposed to be glamorous, hehe.)

I actually kind of liked this look in the movie the first time I watched it, but looking back at it after a couple of years…there's just too much going on; a whole lot of hardness and black without much of anything to break it up.  It's a bit too harsh of an outfit for me.  Though I suppose it does rather reflect the mood of the scene in which she wears it.  

The dress itself isn't atrocious, but it is a little weird.  And the styling didn't really help matters:-/

The ugly

Um, no.  You have antennae, darling.  It doesn't work.

Again…just no.  The oversized kimono thing, with that headdress, combined with the stark white facial powder the senator had to wear, just isn't very flattering or interesting at all.  

Yeah.  That's just frightening.  

Anywho, I hope you guys enjoyed this post!  Hope my geekiness wasn't too annoying;-P