August 27, 2014

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Seven

I've been reading quite a few books recently! Well......quite a few books for me. You may read a new one every day, but I'm not quite up to that speed yet. ;) Anyway! There's been several pretty cute ones and I decided to cover some of them today. So it's mini-review time! :)

Making Marion - I randomly chose this off the "new books" shelf at the library. I liked the cover and the synopsis sounded cute. And it was! Cute I mean. For a fun read for entertainment purposes only, this is the story for you. Very loosely based around the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, it combines real time with past memories. While plenty of stories use this model, I did feel the transitions to Marion's past weren't as smooth as I preferred. And there were other moments I would get jarred out of the story and have to try to immerse myself again. So it isn't a perfect story by any means. But cute nonetheless.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs - Modeled loosely on my favorite Austen story, Persuasion, of course I had to pick it up when I saw it at the used bookstore! And I did enjoy my time spent with Anne and Ben. But fyi, the majority of the book is lots of details about college admissions and what students (as well as parents, teachers, and guidance counselors!) have to go through as they try to pick and choose what schools to apply to. The love story really takes a back seat during most of the story. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing! It was an enjoyable read and Anne's adventures with her students and parents can be either nightmarish or amusing, depending on the parent or guardian involved. So all in all, I'm glad I read it.

Courting Magic - I've been hearing great things about the Kat, Incorrigible series for quite some time now and just hadn't gotten around to reading them yet. So when I saw this novella was available, I decided it was perfect to give me a taste of Ms. Burgis' writing and to see if I'd want to read more of the series. And I do! Because this story was SO much fun! Now I want more details on what's happened in Kat's younger years, so you can bet I'm planning to pick up the first three book sometime soon. Read this one for a feisty heroine, mystery and magic, and a sweet romance! :)

Flat-Out Celeste - I read Flat-Out Love a few years ago, and while I wasn't blown away, I did think it was a fun story. So I decided to try a sample of this one on my kindle and Celeste had me at hello! I can see why her family is so protective of her and why they love her so much. Trying to make your way through your teenage years when you're just a little different than everyone else is never an easy thing to do. And Celeste has much to learn. Then Justin enters the picture. He's as quirky as Celeste and they simply get one another. They like each other just as they are, none of this trying to change each other stuff. They're so good for each other! Definitely a fun romance.

The Headmistress of Rosemere - SO wonderful! For some reason, I had been hesitant to read this one. But that was silly, because it's perfectly delightful! ;) I'm happy to say some of the things that bothered me about The Heiress of Winterwood were not present here at all. And Ms. Ladd's writing has only gotten better. Switching between Patience's POV and William's, we get to watch the mysteries unfold alongside them. And we get to watch them fall in love! But it's not just a straight-up romance, which is great. There's so much going on and the answers are strung out so we're waiting with baited breath for what will be discovered next! Ms. Ladd is a fabulous storyteller and I'm so glad I gave this one a chance. (Thanks to my local library. :) I'll certainly be adding this one to my own bookshelf soon!

August 26, 2014

Ten of My Favorite Austen Sequels & Retellings

Every book blogger and their friend seems to join in the Top Ten Tuesdays over at The Broke and the Bookish (and why not when they're so much fun?). I actually contemplated joining in myself this week, but I couldn't get enthused for the topic. Then I remembered that Misty at The Book Rat has been hosting an Austen in August extravaganza and decided that listing my favorite Austen sequels could be fun. I felt some actual enthusiasm for that topic, hence this post.

So! Here are my Top Ten Favorite Jane Austen Sequels/Retellings:

10 - Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick - It's simply too cute! It's not really an extremely faithful retelling, but it's fun regardless. And one I can recommend to younger teens.

9 - Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey - Who wouldn't want to be able to literally jump inside one of Austen's characters? At least once? To be able to actually meet Captain Wentworth.....*sigh* ;)

8 - The Second Mrs. Darcy by Elizabeth Aston - This one isn't a straight retelling or sequel exactly. It's about Mr. Darcy's extended family. And it's wonderful!

7 - Drive and Determination by Kara Louise - One of the first modern retellings that I ever read, it's still a favorite. Plus the author has an awesome name, don't you think? ;)

6 - Pemberley's Promise by Kara Louise - Imagine Mr. Darcy and Lizzy on the open seas!

5 - Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series by Pamela Aiden - Yes, technically this is three books. But if you've ever wanted an indepth look into the workings of Mr. Darcy's brain, this is the series for you!

4 - The Pursuit of Mary Bennett by Pamela Mingle - I have been searching for a sequel that would do Mary justice. I always wanted some redemption for her. Having attempted several stories about her, this is the first that I read completely through and really enjoyed!

3 - Captain Wentworth's Diary - by Amanda Grange - As Persuasion is my favorite Austen story, of course I love to read more about Captain Wentworth! Ms. Grange gave me just what I wanted. :D

2 - For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund - Amazing! I'm still blown away by this retelling. Ms. Peterfreund's reimagined scifi world is so well described. I can't count the many times I've reread this book. Highly recommended to everyone!

1 - Sanditon by Jane Austen and "Another Lady" - The first eleven chapters are written by Ms. Austen herself and the transition between writers is very smooth. This remains my absolute favorite sequel to date. Countless rereads of it as well as bent pages will testify to that! ;) Whether the second author takes the story where Austen wanted it to go we will never know. But as for me, I think it's wonderfully written!

So there you have it! Mind you, as much as I love Jane Austen stories, I haven't actually read tons of them. But I sure do enjoy them. Do you have a favorite?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

August 25, 2014

Music Makes My Heart Sing

Firstly, many thanks to Amber for the title idea as well as the topic (and for recommending some great songs!), she wrote a post a while back about discovering a new-to-her musical group. As someone who has loved music my entire life, I thought today might be a great day to talk about it! :)

For as long as I can remember, music and song has been a part of my life. My mother tells me that when I was very young, I would be around older people who were singing a song and within the next few days after that, she would hear me singing that same song by heart. So clearly music has a bigger impact on my heart than even I might realize! ;) I've always enjoyed it, but it's not been until the last few years that I realized exactly how much it encouraged and inspired me.

I noticed how a song could uplift me when I was feeling down. How it could express my happiness when I was feeling ecstatic. How it could affect my emotions in general.

I think that's probably what happens to a lot of people. Music and emotions go hand in hand. Isn't that how songs get written? How many times have I read an article about a songwriter that said something along the lines of "I wrote this song when such and such happened to me and while dealing with the emotions of it, the lyrics just wrote themselves."

Songs speak to our emotions, whether sad, angry, happy, or even just ambivalent. It's actually pretty amazing how that works! Don't you think? :)

August 23, 2014

Weekend Happenings

Isn't this light cool? It looks like fireworks! :)
I think I might be a bit crazy? .................or passionate! Let's go with passionate.

Okay so, I went shopping with friends today. (Well. Technically they were taking me out to lunch for my birthday, but we went shopping too. Anyway!) We somehow kept ending up on the aisles with all the journals, in every single store we went in. Do you like journals? I like journals. I LOVE journals actually. As stated above, I might be slightly....passionate about journals.

"How so?" you may ask?  Because I have at least 20 at home and I bought another one! Yep. I should know better than to even look at that aisle. I should walk quickly by it and avert my eyes. I didn't. (Oh who am I kidding? I never do that.)

So I brought it home and added it to the pile. Then I took another look at the pile and realized something..........I don't write in journals all the time.

I'm actually pretty sporadic with writing in them! So why exactly do I need to have so many? Why do I continue to buy them? Excellent questions! And as soon as I know the answer to that, I'll let you know.

I mean, besides the obvious reasons of "because they're cute" and "because they're college ruled". (I love college-ruled. Down with wide-ruled! Unless you love wide-ruled. In which case completely ignore that last exclamation.)

Therefore, the next time you're feeling a bit silly for all the things you may collect (whatever it may be), picture me surrounded by empty journal after empty journal and I guarantee you'll feel better about yourself! ;)

The above bookmark was one of the gifts I got. Isn't it lovely? Tea and books = fabulous combination.

Hope your Sunday is lovely. I'm off canoeing down the river! Probably in the pouring rain. Didn't I say I think I might be crazy? ;)


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