Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Look

What-ho, what-ho, what-ho!  {I may or may not have finished a Jeeves and Wooster omnibus this morning. [I did.] (Does anyone else love how they're called omnibuses?!)}

Well, here's the new look for spring!  Whatcha think?  *bites nails*  I will admit, it didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped, but overall I think I'm satisfied with it :)  I'm sure there will be much tweaking going on in the coming days (I think I want a different background).

Btw, Miss Meg, thanks for your suggestion to unveil it on April 1!  I would wait, except that tomorrow is always the busiest day of my week, and I don't know how much time I'll have.  Hence the early reveal :P

What think you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon…and the orchards'll be in blossom…"

(Yes, that quote was necessary.)

SO.  This week, due to Easter's proximity, I have two weeks to get done a little less than a week's worth of homework (there was a lot of 'week' in that sentence).  Yaysies!  I'm attempting to be diligent and use the time profitably, of course, but sometimes it's tempting to just take a full-on break (not a good idea if you're like me) ;D

Thusly, "getting on the computer to work on a poetry presentation for British literature" turned into a half-hour Pinterest spree pinning OUAT gifs and collages.  Behold, the fruit of my searching labors:

GUYS IT'S SPRING AND I'M SO RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY ABOUT IT.  The birds are trilling of a morning again, and it isn't black as midnight at 4:30 p.m., and--*lowers voice*--my dear, darling, beloved cherry tree is starting to hint at blossoms.  I'm ecstatic :)

Speaking of the cherry tree, I want to share with you all the benefits of impromptu swing-making, as discovered by me sometime last year.  As you know (obviously), we have a cherry tree on our property.  I adore that tree, and I mightily wish that it'd stay in bloom longer than a few weeks, but we shan't complain.  Anywho, sometime last spring, I spontaneously decided that I wanted a swing under said beloved cherry, and so I determined to make one.  Somehow I recruited my younger brother into helping me, and after a good bit of trial and error, we managed to construct an extremely makeshift swing by drilling two holes in a thick plank of wood my father had on hand.  (This plank is just long enough to be able to sit on it comfortably.)  We then used a random length of rope that was lying around, knotted and contorted it into handles that fastened under the holes in order to provide security, slung the ropes around one of the tree's thick boughs, and voilĂ !  We had ourselves a swing :)

This is an enterprise I highly recommend, if any of you ever have a hankering for a plain-and-simple, good-old-fashioned swing under a favorite tree.  It is sheer bliss to be able to tramp outside and loll in a swing while either reading or composing poetry with God or whatever it is one can feasibly do on a swing.  Of course, the blissful nature of these pastimes is considerably lessened if one wants to be reading masterpieces like Ivanhoe and instead has to read Wuthering Heights for school (which, in case you didn't know, is like literally the worst book to have to read on a swing, under a cherry tree, on a beautiful spring day).  There's also always the vague danger that the rope (which is really more like sturdy cord, if the truth be told) will snap and you'll fall and break your femur.  BUT if you can get past those drawbacks, nothin' beats it ;)

I'm re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and OHHHHHH MY HEART.  Atticus though.  I just--isn't it weird how you can want to be married to a guy, want to be his daughter, and want to be his neighbor friend all at once?  This story is just doing something to me, guys.  I mean, all the parts when life happens and one of the children starts to cry and suddenly find themselves pressed against his vest…I want to get to bury my head in Atticus' shirt front.  There, I said it.  I admitted to the weirdness of my soul :P  And seriously, how was Gregory Peck so flippin' perfect for the role?!?!  That movie is basically spot-on for an adaptation, guys.  It ain't getting any better than that.  *siiiiiiiiiigh*  Anyway.  Moving on.  

My mom and I are re-watching the Anne movies for the umpteenth time :)  (Btdubs, go read this.  Whoever made it understands life, I tell you.  It does contain some language, including abbreviations, just so you know.)  I really love this story.  It's so…good (#vocabularyofficiallyexhausted).

I have a new look in store for spring, and I'm really excited to put it together :D  Howevuh, I think I'm going to wait at least until April starts, because I really do like the look I have now and I feel like I just changed it :P  What do you all think?  The new look will probably have to stay for quite a while, so…

You know what's awkward?  When you sign up for a semester of free voice lessons that music students at the local college are offering, and the (really awesome) girl who's tutoring you begins to undermine the foundation of your choral training xD  ('Cause there is a WORLD of difference between choir-singing and solo-singing, as I'm only now starting to fully comprehend.)  

I can't think of anything else to say, really.  I just felt a need to post randomness in conjunction with pretty pictures :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Flirtation Walk {by Siri Mitchell}

I don't quite know how to review this book.  I'm in, as it were, a bit of a pickle.

First, the back cover's synopsis:

Lucinda Pennyworth, the daughter of a con man, is trying her best to leave her father's sordid past behind her.  When he dies unexpectedly, she takes the opportunity to move to West Point to live with her aunt, ready to take on a new life and determined to marry a respectable man, a West Point cadet, to impress her relatives. 

Seth Westcott, a cadet at the academy, is proud to be at the top of his senior class.  But when his mother dies and his sister loses their inheritance to a swindler, Seth wants nothing more than to head west to track down the con man.  But the army will only send the cadets at the bottom of the class to the frontier…which leaves Seth with some tough choices. 

When a woman trying her best to be good meets a man determined to be anything but, can there be hope for love, or will two lonely hearts be condemned to casual flirtation?

"Here's the deal with the deal":  this book is good.  Indeed, for a CFR, it was very good.  The characters are well-drawn, and the romance is actually fantastic.  Lucinda and Seth take an immediate liking to each other, so we're spared the often overdone cliche of girl-hates-guy-but-totes-admires-his-abs and guy-is-irritated-by-girl-but-enthralled-with-her-eyes.  (That's not to say that Seth doesn't instantly think Lucinda is beautiful, because he does.  But that's mentioned a couple times and then Ms. Mitchell moves on.)  These two become close friends quickly, BUT they also actually have lives.  Apart from their romantic interest in each other, they have other concerns.  The romance is rather understated for quite a while, actually, and it's a tremendous breath of fresh air.  

So…why didn't I like it more than I did?

The answer to that question, my dear darling readers, is I simply don't know.  Perhaps it was because I read it coming off of a CFR-high initiated by reading the first two books in the Heart of India trilogy and the first Love Comes Softly book.  (Have we talked about the HoI trilogy?  HEAVENS ABOVE.)

It just didn't do much of anything for me.  I haven't the faintest idea why, as I love the time period, the setting, and the characters.  The writing was even good.  (Look at me, oozing condescension over here.)  I truly don't know why I was bored during the first half of the book.  I just wasn't connecting with it, I suppose.  

But anyway, enough about my personal experience with the story.  Other than a few grammatical errors which were rather distracting, I feel I should mention the switch in POV.  Each chapter alternated between Lucinda and Seth, and I don't know how I feel about that.  I personally don't really care for changing viewpoints in books as a general rule, but that's a personal preference, I'm sure.  Overall, it was neat being so thoroughly immersed in both of the protagonists' worlds, and it added a slight element of "cliffhanging" in certain chapters. 

The characters, as I've mentioned more than once, really are wonderful.  I lurve Seth's circle of friends, and I like Lucinda's relatives.  I loved the parts when Deke, Dandy and Seth were contributing advice to Otter's letters to his mother, and I loved the way Ms. Mitchell delved into the psychological and social impacts of life as a West Point cadet.  She took her story to different levels, and I really appreciate that.  

ALSO.  THAT ENDING.  That ending left me with such a big smile on my face.  It was just so cuuuuuuuuuuuute :D  

All in all, I highly approve.  The more I think back on it, the more I find to admire about it.  I suppose it was just an inopportune time for me to be reading it, and that's why I didn't enjoy it more in the moment.  However that may be, it's well-written, humorous, touching, and for the most part a keeper :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My top three period dramas and why they are so.

You're welcome.
Greetings, beautiful people!  I know that, for most of us, it's hard to narrow down the overflowing list of favorite movies, so isn't it great that we can get around that by specifying with favorite movies in certain genres?  I do that a lot.  In the dark of the night, disaster will find her I sometimes compose favorites lists :)  And at random other times during the day when I should be paying attention to something else.  (Fun fact:  that is now at least the second time Olivia has referenced A Certain Repulsively Fun Villain Song on her blog.  Olivia clearly has some issues.)

Anywho!  Since I figured out a while ago which my three favorite period drama movies are, I decided to share them with you, and also why I love them so much!  Sound fun?  Hopefully :)

I can't possibly rank these three, so I guess I'll go in reverse-alphabetical order (no, there is no rhyme or  reason to this).

~ Wives and Daughters (1999)

(Miss March, you are quite free to laugh at everything I say about this movie, or just skip to the other two.  I promise not to be offended ;-P)  

*contented sigh*  I really, really love this movie.  Deeply.  (Obviously.  Why else would it be one of my top three period dramas?)  I feel like this is one of those movies that just gets me.  Don't you love those kinds of movies?  The ones that make you feel, in a strange way, understood?  The story draws me in each and every time, and I love practically all of the characters very dearly.  Even Cynthia:  I personally believe she is egocentric and acts shallow because she's trying to protect herself--she's been hurt, even if unintentionally, by people who ought to have supported and loved her, and she wants to make sure she doesn't get taken advantage of again.  (And oh, let the comment-arguments begin ;-P)  Even Roger:  an idiot, yes, but he reforms.  And he really is a dear soul, in spite of his naivetĂ©.  Honestly, I love Hyacinth xD  She's ridiculous, and she certainly has moments when I don't like her, but I don't think she's malicious.  She isn't evil.  I like how Francesca Annis put it in an interview:  she said she didn't really see her as an Evil Stepmother, she just saw her as someone who was "rather shallow, really."  And then, of course, I really really really love Molly.  I relate to her in some ways, and I just love watching her story develop.  

I love the atmosphere of this movie.  Even though it has moments of turbulence and mystery and all that, I like how they focused on life in the Gibson household--the numerous, sweet little dining room moments, the sister-bond of Molly and Cynthia, Molly's attempts to console and be loyal to Hyacinth.  I can't really explain it; it just has a certain kind of 'aura' to it that I find exceedingly appealing :)  

I could go on, but I may review it one of these days, and this is supposed to be a quicker post ;)

~ Sense and Sensibility (2008) ~ 

*splutters inarticulately for several minutes*  IT'S JUST SO STINKIN' BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING AND GOOD.  

I love that this movie is dramatic, but not overly-dramatic, if that makes any sense.  There's passion and blighted hopes and despair and love and tears and laughter and all that jazz, but it's all done in an almost understated way that I really appreciate.  

The characters in this one all have their flaws, but there's more of a stark contrast:  the Good Guys are pretty thoroughly noble and wonderful and I claim Brandon but I'll leave you Edward so we're both winners, and the Bad Guys, while we may pity them, are more thoroughly despicable.  It's nearly a black-and-white situation in some ways, while in others it is glaringly not.  The makers showcased the strengths and superiority of the protagonists, but they also took the time to highlight small moments of vulnerability in the antagonists.  The greatest example would be Willoughby's "apology" scene, of course, but there is a moment with the elder Mrs. Ferrars, as well:  right after she has basically turned Edward out of her house, we do get this split-second tremor in her facial expression before she returns to "stone cold", and it's just very interesting.

…That had practically nothing to do with anything.  Moving on.  I love the cinematography in this one:  the setting, the music, the lighting, the angles, everything.  I love the acting (it's phenomenal just sayin').  I love that we see Meg beach-combing and decorating her yard :)  I LOVE SO MUCH ABOUT IT I CAN'T EVEN MAKE A COHERENT LIST.  (But I did manage a review once upon a time.)

~ Belle (2013) ~  

For those of you who haven't yet been able to see this movie, you have my deepest condolences.  Honestly, this has sped up into my top three spot so quickly, it's that good.  

One thing I really appreciate about this movie (who am I kidding, I appreciate alllllll of it) is how the makers handled the relationship between Dido and Elizabeth.  I was expecting it that it would turn into a rivalry, but it didn't--or at least, not in the way I thought it might.  They had their fights and they hurt each others' feelings, like real sisters, but they were also fiercely protective of each other and they love each other in spite of their weaknesses.  So I love that <3 

The story is kiiiiiiiind of like Amazing Grace, but also different enough to be original.  And it's based on a true story, which makes it that much more potent.  It's sweeping and taut and intense and elegant, and askjgkaisdhasdfnmell.  Fun fact:  my dear friend Cordy informed me that Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the (very talented) actress who plays Dido, didn't actually wear any makeup while filming the movie, in order to maintain historical accuracy.  Isn't that something?  

It's just a very well-done film.  It's gripping and beautiful and I think you should watch it ;)


Well, there you have it.  There's a bit about each of my top three favorite period drama movies!  Of course, I love and adore many p.d.'s, and have I don't-know-how-many second and third favorites.  Oh, the beauties of the world of period drama :)  (ALSO.  This was strictly a favorite movie period drama list.  Hence the absence of RH.  Y'know--just in case you were wondering.)    
         So what are your top three period dramas, do you think?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers {1954}

*solemn voice*  Angels, the time has come.  My feelings will not be repressed; you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love this movie.

Which movie, you ask?  Well, assuming, for the purpose of including cheesy and overdone preambles to reviews, that you did not actually see in the title of the post, I'm finally here to review one of my favoritest of all favorite movies…Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!  And all the people said, "Amen."  (Heh.  Not.  In all probability, all the people groaned, "Lord in Heaven, spare us, we pray.")

I'll be upfront about this right here and right now:  this movie is ridiculous.  It's silly and it's politically incorrect and there are multiple opportunities to say, "This is so wrong on so many levels," while watching it.  At least, that's the impression I've gotten from watching it with other people.  Me myself, however, well, I have to be honest.  This movie is one of my favorites of all time.  And I mean that.  If I were ever actually able to make a top ten list of movies, I'm almost morally certain this movie would be on there, and pretty high up on the list. 

This movie makes me really, really, un-containably, irrationally happy.  So, in all likelihood, this review is going to be all over the place--full of pictures, inside references/jokes, references to other movies, and unashamed gushing about Howard Keel.  


Okay, okay, first things first.  Setting.  Basically, there's this guy named Adam Pontipee.  This is back in the olden days, when the west was still being settled.  One fine day, he comes traipsing into town to trade his furs and stuff for supplies, and he casually mentions to the storeowners that he's also in the market for a bride.  Yep--this crazy backwoodsman actually intends to find a wife that day, marry her, and carry her back to his homestead in time for evening chores.  (He doesn't put it like that, but he doesn't put it much better.)  And you know what's even crazier?  It works.  After surveying "what the town has to offer" in his lordly fashion (which really means just walking around town noticing women and singing an unfairly catchy tune in his unfairly heavenly voice), he meets "the one."  Her name's Milly, and she's all "spirit and fire and dew," but also kind, hardworking, and, not to mention, beautiful.  Adam somehow persuades Milly to marry him (THAT DAY), and they do actually get hitched.  How he manages this I'll never know--it's not like he sang to her (which, it must be confessed, would earn him a heck of a lot of points in my book).  But anyway, Milly explains her feelings lucidly enough, and her guardians have no choice but to agree.  So Milly goes back with her new husband to his homestead.  What hubby failed to mention, however, is that he has six adult brothers…who all live with him on his farm.  (I can only suppose this is because they ain't hardly ever seen a girl before, and thus haven't settled down on their own.)  Milly is quickly and sharply disillusioned with the new life she's chosen, but does she complain?  Nope.  She buckles down and whips these seven rowdy mountaineers into shape, before letting them loose on society, changed men (or so she thinks).  

This movie has a lot of dancing and singing, in case you hadn't picked up on that.  There are so many rollicking, feel-good numbers in it--and that's one of the reasons I love it so much.  It makes me happy in a way I don't think any other movie has made me happy :)

Now, let's talk about Howard Keel for a moment.  We have to get it over with sometime ;)  I think you all know this, but Howard Keel is one of my favorite actors.  And yes, the greatest attraction is his voice, which is undeniably one of the greatest things I've ever heard in all my livin' life.  I also do have quite a bit of respect for his abilities as an actor--I've seen him in mostly musicals, 'tis true, but I also saw him in a more serious role in the John Wayne Western The War Wagon (which movie, by the by, is OH MY GOODNESS).  Admittedly, Adam is an idiot.  He's ridiculous.  He's insensitive.  He's slightly egomaniacal.  But for some reason, I adore watching him.  I think it's because he's fictional--I get to poke fun at how he just doesn't understand life, but I also get to laugh hysterically at his antics.  You can read more about why I love Adam here, but for now I guess I just want to clarify, if any of you haven't seen this (WHAT?!) and are considering doing so (yes do), that Adam Pontipee has serious issues.  The guy incites his brothers to go and abduct a bunch of young women.  But he's also really lovable and adorable and his voice is like legit the best and he changes by the end so it's okay anyway.

And since that came up, let's talk about the middle of the movie, yes? ;)

SO.  Basically, Milly has been, as I said, whipping these boys into shape (and believe me, they needed it).  Eventually, it's time for a barn raising back in town, and Milly is debuting the new-and-improved boys, hoping to get them a bit of a cultural experience. (And also to know how to treat girls.  Because--and take careful note of this--offering a girl a "chaw of chewing tobacco" is NOT how to treat girls.  Grabbing her as if she were a flapjack is also a practice upon which society frowns.)  So off they all toodle to town in the wagon.  (That wagon is practically fathomless, by the way.  I hadn't thought about it before, had you?  Think how many people fit into that wagon bed by the close of the movie!)  

Btw, Adam is a bit clueless (no surprise there) as to what Milly has been doing with the guys, and he's none too happy when he discovers that she's "turned them into a bunch of mama's boys." BUT, he's powerless to stop the course of true love (of course it's true love if you see a girl and have an epic-beyond-all-description dance with her and then spend your chore time lamenting your loneliness, you silly cynic), and boy meets girl, boy dances with girl, and boy and girl apparently fall into, if not love, very deep like.  (I am using a positively horrific number of run-on sentences and parentheses in this review.  Apologies.)

Speaking of that epic-beyond-all-description dance scene, I'm going to include it for you, because I love you.  And because this scene is probably my favorite scene out of the whole movie (maybe--I don't know--I can't decide!).  So, here 'tis.  "I defy you not to roar."  (I don't actually know what that quote is from, can anyone enlighten me?)


Clearly, I'm finding it hard to blog about this wacky, exuberant, beautiful burst of glory that is SBfSB, but I will say I'm having fun trying ;)

Also, I feel like I should mention Milly.  'Cause that woman.

I aspire to be Milly when I grow up.  Yep.  I say that most times I watch this movie ;)  See, I love her, because while she does show a sliiiight *ahem* lapse in judgment when she marries a guy about twenty minutes after meeting him, when she gets to the farm and finds her dreams are going to be unfulfilled and her life is going to be very different from what she anticipated, she doesn't sit around and mope.  She settles into her new role and doesn't complain.  She knows when to be firm and when to be gentle; she knows when to refuse to tolerate the guys' idiocy, and when to be understanding.  So, yeah.  Basically she's flawless :D

So here's a spoiler:  Adam's idea of "talking" with his brothers is to brainwash them into abduction.  Mmhmm.  After the barn dance/raising (which turned into a total fiasco when all the men decided they needed to prove their manliness by having a good ol' cat fight), Adam's brothers are depressed, because they like the girls they met a lot, but they know the girls' fathers (to say nothing of their plentiful admirers) would never let them marry them.  So Adam, being the sage and goodhearted big brother that he is, in essence tells them that if you can't get them legally, why not go and kidnap them?  After all, the Romans did it, and they were paragons of civilization.  Here's what happens:

(I included that video because this scene is my second favorite in the whole movie, if not my first.  As you know, I'm indecisive.)  Now, clearly, this is ridiculous and wrong and preposterous, but you know what's really sad?  I find it absolutely, irrevocably hilarious.  I mean, LISTEN to the LYRICS in that song.  They're pure gold--pure sexist/wrong/stupid/pernicious/amazing/amusing gold.  

And SPOILERS it all ends up okay, because during the months that the girls are stuck up in the cabin (Milly forthwith banished the boys to the barn--in one of the very few actually serious scenes in the movie), they fall in love with the boys and forgive them, and all's dandy and happy.  And then spring comes, "the pass is open!", and the cavalry rides to the rescue, except that the girls no longer want to be rescued.  "It's all quite entertaining," but I really need to get off the computer, so I'm going to wrap it up.  Let me just say that the ending is happy and golden and I loves it :)

Quick note as to content:  It's fine, really, but there are some veiled innuendoes.  The bachelor brothers tease Adam the first night Milly spends at the farm, and there are just a few grins and chuckles from the six of them.  Also there's a scene in the bedroom itself (not a bedroom scene, though), which is a bit…odd.  I mean, they're married, so it's fine, and it's not like they show the beginning of anything, but…it's just an awkward situation.  I don't know how to explain it xD

In conclusion (finally), this is one of my very favorite movies (you've said that already).  And you know what?  I never get tired of it.  Like, literally.  I've watched it more times than I care to try and count, and it still wholly delights me.  Adam's ridiculous sexism, Milly's boss-ness, the dances, THE MUSIC, the colorful costumes, the various romances (especially Adam & Millie and Gideon & Alice), everything.  I sometimes watch it twice in one sitting.  #trueconfessions (Actually, I usually just go through it selecting scenes, but still.)

This is my golden musical.  I loves it a whole lot :)


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lovely Books // Covers & Titles

That awkward moment when…blogging inspiration is at a bare minimum.  See, the problem is, I want to blog, but there are two problems:  1.) School/other responsibilities aren't exactly leaving the field of time wide open, and 2.) whenever I get a chance to sit down and blog, my mind blanks.  What should I post?  I think.  Another random life update one?  I just did one of those.  Another review?  Ain't got time yet.  And on it goes…but anyway, this shall all pass and I'll get more time/more inspiration, I'm certain :)  In the meantime, I'm here to provide my selections for a splendiferous link-up that I first discovered via Mary's answers (have you been over to Mary's blog yet?  You should--the girl is amazing).

ANYWHO.  You can check out the original link-up post on Tracey's blog, here.  Tracey has kindly left  it open until March 5 so that latecomers like myself can enjoy her idea! :)  (Speaking of which…PEOPLES IT'S MARCH!!!!  I am so flippin' excited, you don't even know.  Or maybe you do, if you've got spring fever like me.)

For this edition of the link-up, we're supposed to rave about all the scrumptious covers and exciting titles we love.  So here I am!

First of all, about half of these books I haven't read yet, so I can't vouch for their content.  As to the ones I have read, some of them I endorse and some I don't, okie-day? ;)  I've also forced myself to limit my choices in each category to one per author, if that makes sense.  Oh, and I'm one of those people who likes movie covers for books, even though I've only included one in this list.  (Sometimes.  For some reason, I don't like them for Jane Austen novels.  Isn't that weird?)

Enough ado!  Here we go, a by-no-means-comprehensive smattering of lovely books.

~ Covers ~

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

I love this cover.  Like a whole lot.  I love the ingenuity of hiding the face behind the mirror, and the Renaissance-y tapestry behind her, and how I can never decide whether the black behind her neck/back is part of the tapestry, or her hair with things in it. 

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

This one might not look like so much on the computer screen, but in person it's awesome.  The colors are vivid, and it's just so homesteader and wholesome and perfectly fits the story.  And it provides the inspiration for what Hattie looks like ;)

Brave Enough by Nicole Unice

Again, this looks rather barebones.  But that's because you can't see the back, and the picture is a bit faded, so you can't see how she incorporated the beautiful sea-foam color into the font and the arrow and the stuff on the back.  A bit simpler than I normally like, but beauteous. 

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

I've never read this, but after seeing it on three different answer lists for this link-up, I think I'll have to fix that.  (Apparently the story is as good as the cover.)  This one is a wee bit dark for my taste, but other than that, 'tis gorgeous.  I mean…I don't even know what else to say.

Dragon's Breath by E. D. Baker

I haven't seen this book in years, but I remember positively loving the cover.  It just takes you back to childhood, don't it? :D  The color scheme is cheerful and cohesive, and I like the sidebar details.  Plus, if you haven't noticed, that dragon is danged adorable.

Storming by K. M. Weiland

This cover really appeals to me, and I don't even know why xD

Victoria:  The Royal Diaries Series by Anna Kirwan

I was originally going to include the cover for the Marie Antoinette diary, but then I noticed the one for Victoria.  Isn't it pwetty?  So soft and relaxed.  I love the gentle light streaming in at the window, and the muted cream of her dress, and the dog sitting next to her. 

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

This one is so country (in a good way).  It just makes you feel okay inside.  The peaches in the apron look like Southern hospitality and warm, sunny, leafy days.  

Out of the Silent Plant by C. S. Lewis

For some reason, this cover makes me really peaceful, relaxed, and happy.  Maybe because it's so fantasy--it looks like another world (which it is, if you haven't read the book).  The color of the water makes me feel adventurous and settled all at once.  I can't really explain what this cover does to me, because I don't really understand it myself.  It just quietly exhilarates me for some reason.

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Sheeeeeeeeesh, it's so beautiful.  Just…yes.  Her billowing sleeves, her expression, the clouds, the color scheme…seeing as it's my least favorite of the trilogy, this cover is one of my favorites I've ever seen for LotR.

Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli

It's just so Venice, y'know?  I love her dress, I love her hair, I love that there are gondolas...

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

GAAAAHH.  Guys, this picture does this cover no justice whatsoever.  I just--oh my.  Where do I even start?!  I saw this at a bookstore once, promptly shrieked a little, and persuaded my mom to buy it for me in advance of Christmas.  Okay, okay, SO:  it's got the title all nice and big (IN SILVER SPARKLES), and then--and then--it has quotes from the book embossed around its impossibly beautiful faux leather cover.  And y'all I can't.  Just wow.  

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki

Can't.  Can't.  The sheer epicness, people!  I mean…whew.  Can I just make it clear that this cover is amazing?  The font is perfect, the dress is perfect, the flag is perfect, the backdrop is perfect…aaaahhh.  

~ Titles ~ 
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In My Father's House by Ann Rinaldi

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Mossflower by Brian Jacques

Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent

I like titles that "reference" other books (no duh there), like In My Father's House or Vanity Fair.  I also like the whimsical titles that sweep me off on childhood adventures and hours happily spent, like Mossflower and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.  And then I like the ones that just roll off the tongue, like Tuck Everlasting :)

There you have it!  Okay.  I'm going.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Brave Enough {by Nicole Unice}

[I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Tyndale Publishers.]

"Here's a not-so-hidden secret:  We are all a little scared."  When I read those words on the back cover of this relatively thin devotional book (which cover, by the by, is gorgeous), I thought, Ooh.  This should be good.  And it was!

I normally wouldn't request a nonfiction book to review, but I'm glad I requested this one.  While it is written for adult women, and thus I couldn't relate to, say, things to do with motherhood, I found it pretty durned relatable otherwise.

This book sort of reminded me of "Anne of Green Gables," My Daughter, & Me, as well as Perfectly Unique, in terms of writing style.  It was funny at times, touching at times, and it was powerful.

I can definitely see myself re-reading this many times (and annotating).  I'd also like to recommend it to my mother! :)

It talks about being "brave enough" to truly trust God, to be ourselves, and to be the best version of ourselves, that God wants us to be.  It ranged from trust to forgiveness to personal limits to conflict, and was very insightful.  

Here are some particularly good bits: 

"One particular Sunday night [at youth group] started off no differently than any other.  The students streamed in the front door in all their dyed-hair, ball-cap-backward, short-skirt, selfie-taking glory."

"We put limits on ourselves, fueled by self-doubt, all the time...We see mountains where God sees speed bumps.  We see oceans where God sees puddles.  But if He's calling you to climb that mountain or cross that ocean, He will sustain you for the task."

"You are part of His plan A for bringing His love to the world, for working His plan of rescue, for restoring dignity and worth to all human beings."

"Perhaps God has given us two great gifts--great capacity and great fragility...God, in His great love for us, invites us to live as the people we are, not the people we want to be.  He invites us to know both the power of the treasure we hold within us as the dwelling place of Christ and the fragility of the jar of clay in which the treasure rests. He invites us to run free within our boundaries while honoring our limits."

"Am I finding joy, wonder, and whimsy in my days?  Nothing shows more trust in God's plan than the ability to laugh during the day, find wonder in the small things, and celebrate the silly and whimsical in the world."

One quote towards the end of the book, I even made into a little poster to put on the back of my door.  See?

Overall, I highly recommend this book!