Monday, August 31, 2015

Bookish Tag

I love blog parties about books and period drama. Join this one here and be sure to read one of the interviews such as this one.

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
The last book I finished was The Pickwick Papers, and I recommend it if you like Dickens and British humor. I took awhile to warm up to it, but I really ended up enjoying it.
2. Describe the perfect reading spot.
Somewhere quiet and seclude where I can curl up comfortably and spine-wreckingly.
3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
Whole milk.
4. Share favorite quotes from four books.
I have a quote book, but I only recently started, so I have many more loves in quotes. Also, my humorous to serious collection is a bit skewed.
" 'Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life.' " Henry IV, part I
" 'I feel," said Harriet, maliciously, 'as if we had just been married at St. George's, Hanover Square.' 
'No, you don't,' retorted Wimsey, 'If we had, you would be trembling like a fluttered partridge. Being married to me is a tremendous experienceyou've no idea.' " Have His Carcase
" 'It has been agreed,' said Mrs. Selwyn, looking around her with the utmost contempt, 'that no man ought to be connected with a woman whose understanding is superior to his own. Now I very mujch fear, that to accomodate all this good company, according to such a rule, would be utterly impracticable, unless we should chose subjects from Swift's hospital of idiots." Evelina
"It was one of the most exasperating attributes of Bounderby, that he not only sang his own praises but stimulated other men to sing them." Hard Times
5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
Well, I am kind of on a Dickens binge right now. The Lunar Chronicles are my favorite Sci-fi although I also like Ultraviolet and Quicksilver (which are better written). I do not really care for dystopias and the series I think is most well-written I cannot recommend and the series I can recommend is HORRIFIC quality. I will stick with the status-quo The Hunger Games. Bleh. Set it contemporary times? I will go with a middle-grade, A Snicker of Magic for now. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, so I am allowing myself to pick 3: The Faerie Rebels, The 100 Cupboards Trilogy, Harry Potter, and Narnia . . . oh, . . . wait.
6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from.
Jane Austen, Shakespeare (do plays count?), R.J. Anderson.
7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?
I love it when it is well done and clearly differentiates between good and evil. I think the occult is a TYPE of magic and one which I do not approve of if it is treated as good.
8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
Darling middle grade illustrated covers. Fantasy covers. The new L.M. Montgomery covers.
9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
Mr. Pickwick . . . because I just read The Pickwick Papers and he was the main character . . . I thought he received too much focus; I would have preferred more on the others, my favorite, Mr. Snodgrass received the least attention.
10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
My reaction is (internally at least) along the lines of, "Heard of the library?!" I always have tons of books from the library and only buy books I now I love.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Random Reads from Recent Months

Middle grade Fun

A Snicker of Magic
Precious and unique. Magic and Appalachia. Cute characters. What a title! And the title and cover together. I hope the author's newest book will be a sequel.

Under the Egg
Cute if you like art mysteries for kids. Not near as excellent a work as above book.

Boys of Blur
N.D. Wilson. Are any of his books not good? Again, a combination of new, modern setting plus some magic. Not fantasy, but legend in modern day. Hard to explain but fun and unique.


The Lunar Chronicles
I greatly enjoyed these books which were fairly clean (minus book 3.5 which I decided was not worth finishing for a couple of reasons) except for a few, rarely mentioned issues. Fairytale+futuristic concept is fun. Not brilliantly written but probably good for general run of Y.A. books. Thorne is hilarious but Kai and Cinder are my favorite couple. I think maybe Jacin and Winter will come in second. Wolf and Scarlet are a bit much. I cannot wait until the fourth book is published although I am a bit afraid of what the quality will be. I think three slipped, and I do not think that a resolution can be reasonably reached in one book and match the pace thus far.

The Princess Diaries
I read books 2-4 this time around. I did not think these were as fun as the first one (i.e. Michael's awesomeness is not as well-portrayed) and found them a bit tedious. I think I will read the rest but am not in much of a hurry. Oh, and these are not squeaky clean. 


Dad read The Chronicles of Narnia to us twice, and then I  read a couple on my own. This spring and summer I read the series start to finish. I love those books every time. In approximate order of favorites The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Horse and His Boy, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Last Battle, and The Silver Chair and The Magician's Nephew. Prince Caspian had to grow on me; when Dad first started reading it when we were children I was so disappointed in the change and that imposter, the usurping Caspian! Yet, I enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader right away. This time I enjoyed The Last Battle more than before, but only a little more than my least favorites. Actually, maybe I should've included it with them. Incidentally, I just learned that high fantasy is fantasy in another world while fantasy fiction is ostensibly set in our world, interesting.

I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights for the first time in 8 years I think. I do think Jane Eyre is better written than Wuthering Heights (although I think with a better writing quality Wuthering Heights would be better), but I still find Jane Eyere and Mr. Rochester irritating. I think I enjoy the story in film version better. I bought the newest version, but I think since I have not watched it yet that I will still try to watch a few more earlier versions first. I find the situation with Wuthering Heights quite different. I found Wuthering Heights painful to watch (besides not clean and no warning of that fact) and did not finish it nor am I over eager to finish it soon.

I reread Beauty by Robin McKinley. I loved it as before. I still think I prefer the Cinderella story overall. You have to admit falling in love with a beast is at least a bit disturbing, but I love the setting and atmosphere of Beauty and the Beast. Forest, mystery, wonderful enchanted castle with a majestic library (Prince Derek's library is pretty great too, fyi), and beautiful gardens.

I started on rereading Northanger Abbey. I have watched the movie. I meant to reread and then watch the movie but that did not happen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Mutual Friend Review




I recommend complete ignorance for first time readers (which means do not read covers, reviews, prefaces, chapter headings, and etc.). I remembered a little of what my sister told me (albeit it was sometimes quite a distorted memory) as I read and constantly referred to the headings of future chapters.

Oh, Eugene. Eugene! Oh, Julius Handford/John Rokesmith.

I enjoyed this book intensely, even thinking that it was my favorite Dickens' novel . . . until the last 100 pages after which I felt hoodwinked.

This novel took me back to Dickens' characteristic humor which was rather lacking in Little Dorrit and Bleak House. Three marriageable, wonderful heroes. One sweet heroine. One annoying (first because of being a brat, later because of being a baby). 3-2=Mortimer is mine!

One thrilling love scene when John comes bursting in on Bella and her father which was rather spoiled after the last 100 pages. Actually, I (heartlessly) enjoyed the scene of his first proposal because of the disparity(?) in John Rokesmith and John Harmon's reactions.

Eugene is a work of artistic skill in himself. As is Bradley Headstone or at least the description of his behavior, thought processes, and etc. The Eugene and Lizzie dynamic is intriguingly intense and unique. All of the multitude of characters in this novel are interesting.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blue Castle Mini-Review

I had seen this book appear on a couple blogs, but our library did not have it at the time and bought it on my recommendation but forgot to put in on my request list, so I only recently discovered that the library had it. Definitely worth the wait. Read for the first time in total ignorance (I only new a very little and what I did not was distorted/far less important than I thought so did not really mess up my reading experience). Realistic dismal and dreary sections. Mercifully short miserable sections. Wonderful humorous sections. Beautiful nature and introverted-homey sections. Romance. Perfect, one-of-a-kind hero. The end.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Daniel Deronda Review

I think that part of the reason why I have enjoyed some of the Dickens and Eliot books so much is because I am quite unfamiliar with the stories. I also greatly enjoy the writing style; so much so, in fact, that I do not have to love the characters (or many of them at least) to enjoy the book.

I would have liked Daniel Deronda far more if not for his-not-truly-honorable interactions with Gwendolen. Sometimes it is enough for actions to be bad if they look bad. Gwendolen had no reason to have confidences with a man not related to her and not her husband, and Deronda had no business receiving them.

Gwendolen was obnoxious. Grandcourt was awful, but I think that Gwendolen deserved some awful. I hate the might-have-been implied/hinted at between Deronda and Gwendolen although I was relieved that he never actually liked her too much. But still. I hate salvation separations from outside or offensive party's side! And the Deronda/Gwendolen interludes are so intense especially compared to the (far fewer) depicted interactions with Daniel and Mirah.

Mordecai is rather weird and the Hebrew issues are disturbing, particularly as religions are portrayed relatively. There are some passages that are freakishly prophetic though.

I liked Hans and Sir Hugo although they are underdeveloped characters.

There are some humorous incidental sentences that made it into my quote book. I am not sure that I will reread this novel though; I found it interesting and enjoyable, but I preferred Middlemarch and Adam Bede.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Northanger Abbey Movie

I watched this film for the first time recently. Part (most?) of the reason it took me forever to watch was the fact that some parts needed to be skipped actually we just skipped one scene but most of the movie was filled with suggestiveness and innuendo and you cannot do much about that besides not watching any of the film.

When I read all the Jane Austen books years ago, Northanger Abbey was my least favorite because Catherine was so embarrassingly stupid, and Henry Tilney so out of her league. I also think I was in my tall-dark-melancholy-eyed-serious-humorless hero stage then too, so I did not appreciate him as he deserves.

The film. The film Catherine just seemed flighty and young; I thought the book Catherine that plus stupid, but I am due for a reread. J.J. Feild is of course awesome (but I was doing a Tom Hiddleston comparison . . . and I prefer him and his voice). Henry Tilney is of course out of Catherine's league (and I do not mean merely because of birth). Their story was fine, but I could not watch while Catherine embarrassed herself and everyone a couple times.

Plus all the other awkwardness. Awkwardness in books is so much easier to handle than in movies, and I felt the filmmakers made awkward sections from the book even more awkward.

And as I mentioned before there was so much, SO MUCH innuendo/suggestiveness (2007 Mansfield Park is similar and this aspect impedes my enjoyment of that film). Yeah, the suggestiveness was RIDICULOUS in its amount and historical accuracy. I do not remember Isabella Thorpe being anything more than a silly flirt, but maybe I missed something. Anyway, yeah. I did not enjoy the movie and do not know if I can unless I skip a lot of it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Skirt Refashion

I bought a plus sized maxi type dress at Clothes Mentor and turned it into a maxi skirt with an elastic shirred waist. I ended up taking the entire skirt section apart and cutting it into the A-line shape I wanted.

I looked up two tutorials before I dared to try the elastic shirring, but I need not have feared as it was quite simple. I enjoyed seeing the steam "magically" shrink the shirring together. I also added elastic to the top in a casing.

The skirt is fun and comfortable, but does not have the most flattering silhouette. I think an elastic waist would work better with a more circular skirt, and I would prefer my a-lines to be bias cut. But I am still pleased with the skirt, especially since I have several tops and blouses to wear with it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Yarn Along

I have not participated in one of these in forever; I am linking up here again.

I am working on this skirt in a cotton silk blend yarn. I am planning on lengthening it a couple inches. I am rereading Northanger Abbey; this is supposed to be a light distraction while I try to make my way through the Pickwick Papers.

Well, it is finally finished. I still do not have blocking boards, so I had to block it on a towel. It is still uneven, oh well. I am soooo glad it is done. It has kept me from starting new projects. I have more baby things to knit which I need to start soon, so they will be done before the babies arrive and so they will not take up all of my knitting energy.

I also finished the lace neckerchief I was working on, but I do not want to post that until I can block it properly.