Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Saturday!

I was nominated for this back in July, and while I said I would get to it ASAP, it seems I did not…I’m the worst with these things :/  Siobhan @ Siobhan’s Novelties nominated me, and I have to say, I’m so honored and so so sorry it took me so long to finally do it! This award was created by Okoto Enigmas, and I would like to thank both Okoto and Siobhan for this award!

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Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate roughly 10-20 people for this award
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  8. Ask your nominees five questions.
  9. Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

Three Things About Me (these are all reading facts about me):

  1. I am in a book club called “The Well-Read Mom”– it is a book club that is spread throughout the United States, and in my group, I am the only person who is neither married nor a mom…I just really like the book selections 😉 If you want to check it out, you can go to WellReadMom.com.
  2. Inspired by Well-Read Mom, and out of request by one of my friends, I started my own book club/list for 2017, and I intend to make a reading list for next year as well. My list is a mix between classics and newer books, and if you want to check it out or join in the reading fun, you can check out my list here!
  3. I just joined the “Operation War & Peace” group on GoodReads…and it’s exactly what it sounds like. In September (and the first week of October) I, along with the rest of the group, am going to try to get through the entirety of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s quite an undertaking, but I’m feeling oddly optimistic! Feel free to join the group on GoodReads if you want to participate, the more the merrier!

Siobhan’s Questions:

  1. Who is your guilty pleasure author/series? Do you love to hate it or hate to love it?
    • I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure author or series, but more a genre. I hate to love political thrillers. The reason I hate to love them is because I don’t think they are the best written books, and they are usually pretty predictable, yet I really enjoy them!
  2. What is the latest book you’ve read that you’ve absolutely hated/loved?
    • I recently finished Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and I absolutely loved it! It took a little while for me to finish it, but I thought it was splendid!
  3. What bothers you in your favourite genre (e.g., love triangles in YA)
    • I love me some classics!…but I will say, some classics could use an editor who told them to cut, cut, cut….those classic authors tend to ramble and get sidetracked at times.
  4. What is the most underrated book/series/author?
    • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. This book is absolutely fantastic, and it is in my top five favorite books! While Twain is not underrated, this book is almost unknown. Twain claimed that it is his best book, and it is the one he spent the most time on, and if you ask me, it deserves recognition.
  5. If you could pick a book you wanted to change, which book is it, and how would you change it?
    • Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. It’s not so much that I would change anything, that I would have it not be printed as it was. I did enjoy this book, but it was allegedly printed in haste and without being completed by the author, I think it did an injustice to her words. Now, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe it was printed exactly how she intended it, but from what I read and how the book “felt” it seemed that she was not quite done with it.

Ok, it is late and I am falling asleep, so I’m not going to nominate anyone directly, but please please please, if you have good answers to my questions and you feel inclined to answer them, consider yourself nominated! I would really love to learn more about you! I’m really sorry for breaking this part of the rules, but sometimes that just happens!

My Questions:

  1. What book surprised you the most or what book did you expect to dislike but ended up loving?
  2. Which author have your read the most of? Is he/she your favorite author or is it coincidence?
  3. What is your favorite TV show?
  4. Have you taken the Myers Briggs Personality test? If so, what is your personality type? Mine is INFP 🙂
  5. What are you currently reading and what do you think about it so far?

 

My best and my favorite post’s I’ve written might be different, so I’ll share both. Before I do that, I will say I like my reviews better than my tags, because I’m more passionate about them, but my tag post have much more views/likes than my reviews, so I will share my most viewed tag post and my favorite tag post.

My most viewed post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Biggest Bookish Turn-offs post, but my favorite post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Dead Authors I’d Love to Have A Drink With post.

Thanks again to Siobhan for the tag and nomination! I hope to see some of you answer my questions (even if it’s only in the comment section)!!

 

Friday Five: Jane Austen

After reading Love & Friendship and Lady Susan by Jane Austen, I was inspired to dive into some of her quotes, and I’d love to share with you a few of them that speak right to my soul!

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“There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.”

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“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.”

5.

Love & Friendship and Lady Susan

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At last, I have found my favorite Jane Austen stories. Ok, I wasn’t really looking very hard, but I found them nonetheless!

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I also have only read Pride and Prejudice before reading these two beauties. P&P didn’t suite me, and so I kinda stayed away from Austen, assuming (probably incorrectly) that most of her novels are similar. I did resolve to read some of them, and they are high on my TBR, but somehow I keep looking over them to the next book…oops… But now, after reading Love and Friendship and Lady Susan, I am more inclined to pick up some Austen books because these two short works are so fun.

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is a collection of letters written by Jane Austen before the age of 16 (allegedly) for the entertainment of her family. The story unfolds in an exchange of letters and, as was Austen’s intent, seems to poke fun at the traditional romance novel.

This book is hilarious. The women highlighted are absolutely ridiculous, and they are constantly scheming, dramatizing everything, and fainting at every possible moment. Austen’s humor shines much stronger than in her longer novels, because she really goes to lengths to exaggerate every detail of these woman’s lives. If they had a bad day, she makes it the utmost worst day anyone had ever experienced. If someone insulted them, she made it an insult that had embarrassed them so greatly they were forced to faint on the spot…everything is the worst or best.  This, of course, helped show Austen’s point that romantic novels are nothing more than dramatic women making things more dramatic.

The quotes in this book are so so fantastic. For example, her is an excerpt from one of the letters.  Upon having a shock, “Sophia shrieked and fainted on the ground – I screamed and instantly ran mad. We remained thus mutually deprived of our senses, some minutes, and on regaining them were deprived of them again. For an Hour and a Quarter did we continue in this unfortunate situation – Sophia fainting every moment and I running mad as often.”  This, fainting and running mad, is quite a common trend in the book, and every time it happens it’s more comical then the rest.

There were other comments that were just hysterical, e.g.:

“She was a widow and had only one Daughter, who was then just seventeen–One of the best of ages; but alas! she was very plain and her name was Bridget. . . . . Nothing therefore could be expected from her–she could not be supposed to possess either exalted Ideas, Delicate Feelings or refined Sensibilities–.”

Um…what? I actually really like the name Bridget…ok, Austen. It’s comments like this that make the stories ridiculous and therefore hilarious.

Austen is pointing out the flaws of romantic novels, and perhaps writing things like this was her inspiration to fix romance novels in the future.

Without the knowledge that Austen wrote these letters in order to entertain her family and to make fun of romance knowledge, this story would seem annoying and extremely juvenile…it would almost be expected of a 14-year-old to write. However, knowing that Austen was only 14 while writing them, and she did so in order to mock the common way women, love, and friendships are seen in books, makes you realize the true genius of the writing, and how advanced Austen was.

If this story teaches you nothing, or if you thought it was complete rubbish, at least take this from it:

“Beware of fainting-fits. . . Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable yet believe me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution.”

 

Lady Susan

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I want to be Lady Susan. Ok, not really, because she is not a good person, but Austen makes her so deliciously bad, you just want to have her confidence and cunning nature…even though she really is bad.

“[Lady Susan] does not confine herself to that sort of honest flirtation which satisfies most people, but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making a whole family miserable.”

This book takes about 2 hours to read (maybe fewer), and it’s really worth the sit down. Plus after you can watch the movie adaptation on Netflix, which is confusingly called Love & Friendship. Why they decided to call the movie the same title as a different Austen book, I do not know, but I do know that the movie is very well made, and it follows the book decently well.

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Ok, so Lady Susan is another book that is told through a series of letters. These letters are much more sophisticated than those written in Love and Friendship, and they tell of a much more sophisticated plot. Lady Susan, our anti-heroine, is a widow who basically goes around flirting with any man she can find, and making the lives of everyone around her miserable. She is a terrible mother, a two-faced friend, and believes toying with the emotions of young men a suitable and enjoyable way to spend the day (ok, she may have a point with that last one..).

“My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.”

I don’t want to give the main plot away, because this one really should be read by all Austen fans…it’s so entertaining. The great thing is that with every letter denouncing Lady Susan’s actions, you have two letters from her praising her own actions, and even though you know she is crazy, you find yourself believing her and pitying her, even though she deserves no such pity.

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Both these stories are just fantastic and so much fun to read. I won’t go on, because I’ll could just ramble on and on about how funny they are, but seriously, if you are a Jane Austen fan or a fan of classic romantic novels, give these two a read; I promise you will be entertained!

Top Ten Tuesday: but classics are boring! 

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Top Ten Tuesday is back!! This week The Broke and the Bookish gave us a pretty open topic. All they said was “Top Ten Book recommendations for _________.” This topic can go every which way, and I can’t see what people do with it.

I’m going to stick with the classics and list 10 classics for people who think classics are boring (I’ll also have some honorable mentions at the end, because there are so many!)

Some of these have made it in my top tens before, a few are new, but all of them are books I did not want to put down until I finished them.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas 

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Revenge, prison breaks, knife fights, kidnappings, treasure hunts, elaborate parties, and never-ending love…these are only a portion of what you get from The Count of Monte Cristo. While it’s a long book, the action really speeds it along (also the movie is pretty good, even though they change a few things).

2. The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles

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You want drama? Sophocles will give you drama. The cycle is a combination of three plays written by the greek philosopher, and they are packed with insanity. You have unlikely marriages, accidental murders, and you will learn what happens when you try to trick fate and fortune.

3. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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I don’t think I have to explain this one. Tolkien masterfully told an epic tale of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and their role in the destruction of the ring of power.

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

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These witty and sophisticated mysteries are so fun and clever. Each mystery is it’s own chapter, so you don’t have to worry about stopping in the middle of one without getting to the answer, but I promise you, you will want to keep reading.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

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While nothing like the movies, Frankenstein is a genius work full of science, adventures, betrayal, murder, and repentance. It is fast-paced and exciting, and it does not cease to make you think.

6. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer 

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Hands down, the two most epic tales ever written…also the oldest epics ever written. The Iliad and the Odyssey (if you can get past the poetry) are stories like none other. Their mix of mythology and history give a unique and fascinating tale of the Trojans and the Greeks.

7. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

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Affairs, battles, corrupt politicians, assignations (and failed attempts), blackmail, and so much more. The Three Musketeers, in classic Dumas fashion, never stops the action and keeps adventure a top priority.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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While being a children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia are entertaining to those of any age. They are quick reads with fantastic characters and plots, always showing the chivalry and honor of the hero’s, and the evil capabilities of the villains.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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This gripping novel tells of the civil rights movement in the deep south. This book isn’t as action packed as the rest in my list, but it never fails to grasp the reader’s attention, all while sharing the history and morals of the author’s childhood.

10. Anything by Agatha Christie  

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Christie never fails to impress me, and her stories are always so entertaining. She will show you that even old books can have some mystery and excitement when it comes to murder. Christie is known as the Queen of Mystery and she has certainly earned that title.

 

Honorable mentions:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

1984 by George Orwell

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

tragedy-of-hamlet.jpgHamlet by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★★★ // so. much. goodness. (and killing). 

Favorite Line: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Review:

Am I allowed to review Shakespeare? I don’t think I am…I’m just a mere peasant, after all. Well, this will be a mini-review then, with limited critiques, mainly because I couldn’t find many things to actually criticize.

Why have I never read Hamlet before? Well, probably because I’m a punk and I assumed it was overrated. Also, I already knew the story, so I figured there wasn’t really a reason for me to read it. As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

Hamlet, for all you other non Hamlet readers, is the Prince of Denmark. The play picks up right after the marriage of his mother to his uncle, which takes place only one month after Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, is killed. Hamlet is in a foul mood, for obvious reasons, when he meets the ghost of his father, who tells him he was murdered and must be avenged. This sends Hamlet deeper into madness, and he devises a plan to trap his father’s murderer and take his revenge. He’s also in love with Ophelia.

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

The plot of Hamlet is terrific. While I had known the general plot before reading, it really takes a shape of it’s own, and is much more intricate in the play. Obviously in a play the narrative is the main way of moving the plot along, and the way it is done in this play is brilliant (this is Shakespeare, after all).

I always forget how funny some of Shakespeare’s characters are. Even in a somber mood, he frequently seems to bring in the sarcastic, or at least the witty, friend to lighten the mood, or to bring the character back to his senses. Another thing I really liked about this play is that the wisdom, much of the time, comes from insignificant characters. There is a conversation between two gravediggers, I think in Act III, and they are just laying down solid philosophy the whole time, all while telling riddles and jokes to each other. So here we have a play full of royals and scholars, but some of the most intelligent conversation comes in jest between two gravediggers. It’s a great way for Shakespeare to make his point without making it too obvious.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The quotes alone are worth the read in this one. This is where the “method in the madness” saying comes from, the “be true to yourself” quote pops in there (of course, it’s in rhyme in the play), this is where the famous “to be or not to be” speech is found, and there is also the amazing line, “get thee to a nunnery!” which is, of course, fantastic.

“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Ok, so spoiler alert up ahead for any of you yet to pick up this play, but it’s my only criticism and I want to talk about it. Why did Hamlet have to die? I mean, I assumed it would happen from the beginning because in these plays everyone dies, but it was really unnecessary. The only reason I can think of is that he had no one else to live for, but c’mon man, you’re like 25, you will find another Ophelia and you’ll probably be King of Denmark, so just stay alive. That’s my only real criticism. I really hated that Ophelia died too…she was so sweet, but that one I understand because her life really fell apart fast. 

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

I definitely want to read this one again, because it really is so rich and full of wisdom. So, is Hamlet overrated? Well, to quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, “No!”.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

It finally happened!  I’ve been given an award for being the ball of sunshine in everyone’s life 😉 all jokes aside, I am thankful to Rachel at the Pace, Amore, Libri blog for the nomination! Check out her Sunshine Blogger Award post because her answers are really interesting and fun! (Rachel, I took the graphic from your post, I hope that’s ok!)

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

 

Rachel’s Questions: 

1.What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

Ummm. I think it was probably Moana, which is a little embarrassing, but hey, I’m a nanny and also Moana is awesome, so I’m not that embarrassed ;).  I really did like it. Some of the plot details bothered me, and the Shiny song makes me uncomfortable, but all-in-all it’s a good movie. I mean, it’s no How to Train Your Dragon, but it’s very good.

2. Do you have any weird or random talents?

Does having an insanely good memory count? I retain really random facts, so I feel like I know a decent amount about a lot of random things, and it’s all accidental. For example, I have memorized all the State nicknames (i.g. Minnesota is the North Star State, Idaho is the gem state, etc.) and I really didn’t try to do it, I just remember useless information–which basically makes my talent trivia. Other than that, I don’t really think I have any random talents.

3. What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I have 3. “Whatever it Takes” by Imagine Dragons, “One More Light” by Linkin Park, and “All We Ever Knew” by The Head and the Heart.

I’m also really digging the “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” soundtrack.

4. What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I almost always blog at night.

5.What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium is my all-time favorite. A close second is the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands…I may or may not have cried when I went there.

6. When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

ha! well, I’m kind of a professional wedding-goer. I’ve been to 8 weddings this summer and I have 3 more this year…and I’ve been in half of them, so I’m a little done with weddings at the moment, but my last one was the last weekend of June.

7.Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Not that I know of, however many have told me I look like the Chesire Cat.

8. If you were a cat, what color cat would you be?  (Very important question.)

Going off of my last answer, I have to say purple.

9. Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I don’t know if they are my favorite, but I really like the little penguin on the Penguin classics books.

10. Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character?  (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Other than in plays or for halloween, I really don’t think I have, which is kind of sad.

11. What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I hail from the great state of Iowa. If you don’t know where Iowa is, it is right in the middle of the United States. I really love how kind everyone is here. People are just genuinely nice and it’s amazing. Every time I come back from traveling, I’m always pleasantly surprised with the people of Iowa–they are great. Also, barbecue.

 

For the Sunshine Blogger Award, I nominate:

My questions are:

  1. What is your all-time favorite book or books?
  2. What is your go-to binge show on Netflix?
  3. What is the best book you’ve read this year?
  4. Where is your dream vacation spot?
  5. What book would you recommend everyone to read, right now?
  6. Do you prefer a physical book, e-book, audiobook, or all three?
  7. What fandom are you least likely to join?
  8. Do you have a favorite piece of art or artist?
  9. Book clubs, yay or nay?
  10. Are you a morning, noon, or night reader?
  11. What does your dream trip look like?

 

Thanks for reading!!

Friday Five: Alfred Lord Tennyson 

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birthday this week, so I thought I would share some quotes and part of a poem from one of my favorite poets. Enjoy!

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“I hold it true, whatever befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

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“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”

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Bonus: Part 1 of “The Lady of Shallot”

Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (mini-review)

13622161.jpgThree Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie

Rating: ★★★★// same Christie, just in bite-sized stories

Favorite Line: “She had often been alone in the house before—but she had never before been so conscious of being alone in it.”

Review: 

Agatha Christie not only gave us mystery novels, but also mystery short stories! That’s what we got here in Three Blind Mice and Other Stories. While much shorter than her usual tales, these stories still keep up all the excitement and charm of a classic Christie mystery.

Three Blind Mice is the primary and longest story in this collection, and it is quite wonderful. The best part of Christie novels is knowing that the guilty party is one you would usually least expect, so you begin to accuse pretty much everyone, and yet, you still find yourself surprised at the end. This story finds us in a classic scenario: stranded in a Bed & Breakfast with many strangers, in the middle of a snowstorm…and then, of course, murder.

The other stories all involve murder in some way, but we get to revisit the classic sleuths, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

One of them, The Third Floor Flat, involves and unintentional break in which leads to the discovery of a body. Another, Strange Jest is a fun inheritance treasure hunt. Tape-Measure Murder sends the whole town into frenzy when the seamstress is found dead. Four and Twenty Blackbirds has us wondering what on earth made the old man order blackberry tart, plus more stories to keep you reading though the night.

They are really fun and allow you to have some Christie magic, just in smaller portions.