Love & Friendship Movie Review

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Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica. (Synopsis taken from imdb)

Based on the unfinished epistolary novel, Lady Susan, by Jane Austen.

My friend Hamlette has been hosting an “I <3 Jane Austen” event on her blog this week, and I’m really excited to be able to join in on the Austentatious fun with a movie review of Love & Friendship!

The most recent Jane Austen movie adaptation came out last year, but I wasn’t able to see it until just recently (thank you, Amazon Prime!). Unlike most of the other Jane Austen adaptations I have seen, I did not enjoy Love & Friendship upon first viewing. The main character Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is abominable. She’s the exact opposite of the typical heroine you’d expect from Jane Austen. As the movie’s tagline boasts, she’s “opportunistic, devious, shrewd, calculating, cunning, unprincipled.”

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But, I really wanted to like this film regardless of Lady Susan’s character, so I gave it another watch and I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed the movie much more the second time around. The supporting characters are really entertaining, especially James Martin, who is so foolish you can’t help but laugh.

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There are some terrific puns and subtle humor in this movie, and if you don’t pay close attention to the dialogue you’ll miss some really funny lines. Also, the costumes are lovely! One detail I appreciated was how oversized James Martin’s coat buttons were; it fit well with his overall ridiculousness.

As far as Jane Austen adaptations go, Lady Susan is intriguing and humorous, and at times it felt like watching Mansfield Park told through Mary Crawford’s point of view. And just as Ms. Austen would prefer, all the characters get their “comeuppance” and due rewards at the end :) I know the movie is critically acclaimed, but it may take multiple viewings for you to enjoy it. I’m really glad I gave it a second chance because it could easily become the type of movie I quote whenever a subtle sarcastic comment is called for…

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Here’s the trailer!

 Stop by Hamlette’s Soliloquy to discover more I <3 Jane Austen posts!

Top Ten Tuesday: Little Baby French Fry’s Favorite Picture Books

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Even though he doesn’t know how to read, my son is about to share his first ever post on my blog! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about visual books, and I decided to share some of my son’s favorite books, especially since he probably has as many books as I do.

Top Ten Tuesday: Killian’s Favorite Picture Books

 

Cache Cache des Grosses Bêtes by O. Latyk – This is the book that taught Killian how to roar like a lion (ok, technically taught him, but the book helped a lot!).

Où Est Mon Chien by Fiona Watt – Usbourne books are fantastic, and this one is in French! My in-laws send Killian touch and feel books from France and he loves them all. This one he loves so much that he literally destroyed it (it’s in three pieces) but he still reads it so I don’t have the heart to throw it away.

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – I bought this book as a stocking stuffer for Killian and we both fell in love with it right away. The other day he actually brought me this book to read it to him, and then asked me to reread it twice more. I can’t explain how much I love that my son is growing up to be a bookworm just like me :)

Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees – This book is so fun to read! I used to read it to Killian before his nap times and honestly I probably enjoyed it more than he did, but I know he liked it because he would sit through the whole book while I read it to him. Dinosaurumpus has lots of fun sounds and rhymes to hold little baby attention spans.

You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis and Caroline Jayne Church – This may have been the first book I bought for Killian. My mom used to sing this nursery rhyme to me when I was little and I always loved it. The song calms Killian down, too, and the illustrations are really pretty.

Une Souris Verte by Olivia Cosneau– Killian has a collection of 3 of these French “comptines” aka nursery rhymes, but this one is his favorite. It’s also super creepy: a green mouse is running in the grass, I grab him by his tail and show him to these gentlemen who tell me to dunk him in oil and then in water, and he’ll turn into a warm snail. That’s only the first verse.

The Berenstain Bears’ Sleepy Time Book by Mike Berenstain – Another book I like to read to Killian before bed or nap time. I loved the Berenstain Bear books when I was a kid, and so far Killian does, too.

5 Minute Pixar Stories – Here’s another book that is able to hold Killian’s attention for longer periods of time.

Mes Grosses Bêtes by Marion Billet – Each of the animals makes a noise when you press on their button, and the all have textures, too. Killian loves this book so much, especially the gorilla. As much as I don’t like gorillas, I was really proud when Killian began chanting “hoo hoo hoo!”

Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon – Although there isn’t much to this book, it’s still one of our favorites. Killian loves all the animal sounds, and one time I tried to change “dada” to “papa” because that is what my husband prefers to be called, but Killian corrected me right away. Such a book purist.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Bucket List

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie! So I thought I’d use this opportunity to finalize my bucket list for the year :)

I tried doing a bucket list two years ago to celebrate by 25th birthday, but I didn’t quite get around to crossing off all those items (although looking at it now, I’ve been able to do several more of those goals since I turned 25!).

So here are the Top Ten Things on My 2017 Bucket List:

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – Wilmington has so many locally owned restaurants and I have been dying to try more of them out. We don’t eat out often because it’s cheaper to eat at home, but I’d like to try out ten different local restaurants here in town this year.
  2. Go berry picking – I’ve had berry picking on my bucket list for two years now, and this year I’m finally going to do it. The berry picking farm always closes way earlier than I think it will, so last year I missed out because we didn’t go early enough. The summer before, I was pregnant, and the last thing I felt like doing was walking around in the heat. I’m gonna make it happen this year, though!
  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – I’m supposed to have finished 50 classics off my Classics Club list by the end of next year, and I’m just a little over halfway there. I have some real chunky classics I need to read (or finish reading *coughWarandPeacecough*), so I hope to get through at least 10 this year!
  4. Gardening – Our front yard is pretty bare and I’d love to put in some low maintenance foliage to make it look more inviting. I am NOT a green thumb, though, so I’m going to have to do some research about which plants will do well before going through all the trouble of planting them.
  5. Write a novel! – My biggest goal for 2017. It’s been forever since I’ve written anything, and I’ve never written anything longer than 30 pages, but I’m taking a few online writing classes so hopefully that helps. I’m still in the outlining phase but I’m really excited to see what I end up with :)
  6. Take a week off– Vague, I know. My husband and I really want and need to take a week-long vacation this year. We haven’t decided a destination, yet, but if I had my way it would be to PEI, Canada so I could really feel like Anne Shirley.
  7. See Hamilton! – Hamilton is coming to Charlotte in November and I am desperate to get my hands on some tickets when they go on sale. But only if they aren’t as expensive as Broadway tickets, because then I might as well just go up to NYC (and cross off #6 and #7 at the same time).
  8. Finish decorating my library – I love my library/guest room. It’s my favorite room in the house. But I still have some decorating to do :)
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – My husband has never read the HP books, so two years ago we started reading them aloud with each other. We’ve gotten stuck on Goblet of Fire (because it is significantly longer than Prisoner of Azkaban), but I’d love to finish it and Order of the Phoenix this year.
  10. Volunteer more – Another vague one. I already volunteer at the library on Saturdays, but I’d love to volunteer at other places, too, especially in areas that challenge me.

There you have it! Check back at the end of the year to see how well I did at accomplishing these wishes for 2017 :)

Armada by Ernest Cline

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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Armada by Ernest Cline
Published July 14, 2015 by Crown Publishing
Format: Audiobook narrated by Will Wheaton; 11 hr. 49 min.
Science Fiction/Young Adult
Also By This Author: Ready Player One
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

I love when I find books for my husband to read and he ends up enjoying them as much or even a little bit more than I do. We’ve been waiting for what has felt like months for Ready Player One to become available at the library, but I saw that Armada wasn’t checked out so I grabbed it and both my husband and I had a hard time putting it down.

If you aren’t familiar with Ernest Cline, let me preface this review by saying his books read like the ultimate geeky daydream. Zach’s adventure is Tron meets Ender’s Game meets Star Wars. If you’re a fan of any of those classic sci-fi stories, you are bound to love Armada. In fact, Armada is what I wish Ender’s Game had been (there were parts of Ender’s Game that I loved, and other parts that I equally despised, so the book as a whole was only “meh” for me).

But the most enjoyable part of Armada, to me, wasn’t the endless amounts of geeky pop-culture references that audiobook narrator Will Wheaton did such as good job at imitating. Instead, I found myself getting choked up at the deep familial relationships that honestly took me by surprise. Ernest Cline didn’t hesitate to include beautiful themes of reconciliation and reunion in between his allusions to Captain Pickard and Luke Skywalker.

There are some unpredictable twists and turns, and an ending that will leave you hanging on until the very last page. I’m all the more excited to read Ready Player One now that I’ve read Ernest Cline’s sophomore novel.

“If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.”

Read This Book If…

…you’re a geek. If you aren’t, you will not get most of the references or allusions and will therefore most likely not enjoy Armada very much.
…you’re an adult who enjoys Young Adult books.
…you’re not tired of dystopian, Armageddon doomsday (with aliens) settings.
…you want a book that will make you laugh and then unexpectedly tear up in the same paragraph.

Final Musings

This book has solidified my fairly recent love and appreciation for audiobooks. Will Wheaton does a phenomenal performance that will really make you feel like you’re watching a movie or, more appropriately, playing an immersive video game. I’d recommend checking out the audiobook from your library instead of reading Armada the old-fashioned way :)

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer
Published February 2, 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover; 369 pages
Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult Romance
Also By This Author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and Heartless
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Stars Above was the book I really wanted to read last year but was unfortunately unable to do so; therefore, it was my first priority in 2017! I think it ended up being a great way to start off the year, and sci-fi/fantasy novels always seem to me to be appropriate winter reading. I enjoyed reading all of the short stories, but here are the four that made the biggest impression on me:

The Queen’s Army was probably my favorite short story in the book. It was definitely the creepiest, because it showed graphic insight into Wolf’s transformation and training to become one of Levana’s biologically altered soldiers. Wolf is one of the most mysterious and interesting characters in the Lunar Chronicles series, so I really enjoyed reading his “origin story” and understanding more about where he came from.

Continuing the same themes of creepy yet intriguing, Winter’s prequel story, The Princess and the Guard also helped me respect and appreciate Winter more than I already had. This short story is similar to Queen Levana’s prequel, Fairest, only The Princess and the Guard was much more enjoyable to me than Fairest was. It was easier to sympathize with Winter and I really enjoyed learning more about her friendship with Jacin.

Something Old, Something New was a really fun story, and technically it’s the epilogue of the entire series. All of the other stories take place before the start of Cinder, but Something Old, Something New is set a year after the end of Winter. It’s a warm and light-hearted story and the best part is that we get to see all eight of our characters together to celebrate a wedding (whose wedding? You’ll have to read it and see–no spoilers here!). I loved the way it ends the series on a heartfelt note.

My other favorite story in this book was The Little Android, which is only slightly connected to the rest of the series in the fact that it takes place in The Lunar Chronicles universe and we get a glimpse of one of the characters from the main books. Other than that it is a completely new retelling of the classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, and it’s my favorite type of story: tragic and bittersweet! (Yes, I’m a masochist).

“I will accept any amount of monsters my mind wants to give me, but I will not become a monster myself.”

Read This Book If…

…you love The Lunar Chronicles series.
…you enjoy short stories.
…you’re a fan of prequels and epilogues.
…you have a hard time letting go of your favorite characters.

“Politeness, it turned out, was almost as effective when you wanted someone to do something for you. And kindness went further toward lasting admiration than any amount of mind control.”

Final Musings

If you’ve already read all or part of The Lunar Chronicles series, Stars Above is a great book to add to your list, as well. You can even read the individual stories in between Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Here’s the breakdown of where all the novels take place on The Lunar Chronicles timeline:

Cinder (#1)
Glitches (#0.5)
The Little Android (#0.6)
The Mechanic (#0.7)
Scarlet (#2)
The Queen’s Army (#2.5)
The Keeper (#2.6)
Cress (#3)
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky (#3.1)
After Sunshine Passes By (#3.2)
Fairest (#3.5)
Winter (#4)
The Princess and The Guard (#4.1)
Something Old, Something New (#4.5)

Just make sure you save Something Old, Something New for last!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published December 19, 1843 by Chapman & Hall
Format: Kindle e-book; 73 pages
Classics
Also By This Author: Great ExpectationsLittle DorritA Tale of Two Cities
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

This is me attempting to catch up on book reviews from last year…

Last month I finally, for the first time ever, read A Christmas Carol. I amazed even myself by waiting that long to read it. Of course I knew the story; I’ve seen enough movie versions and even that one Boy Meets World episode that re-imagines Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future. But I had never read it! I had it in my mind that I could only read A Christmas Carol when it was actually Christmastime, and each December I would be so overwhelmed with holiday preparations or finishing reading challenges that I’d keep putting the Charles Dickens story aside for another year.

Well, 2016 was finally that year and I’m not at all surprised to say that I truly enjoyed A Christmas Carol and I can see why it will forever be a holiday classic and one of Charles Dickens’s most beloved works.

As expected, the Ghost of Christmas Present creeped me out, the idea of Tiny Tim passing away made me cry, and the renewed and re-inspired Ebenezer Scrooge buying the prize turkey and sending it in a cab to Bob Crachit’s house, all the while chuckling and probably confounding the poor messenger boy, made me chuckle as well.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Read This Book If…

…you wish it were Christmas all year long.
…you enjoy shorter, novella-length books.
…you want to rediscover a classic.
…you’ve never read Dickens before and are looking to ease your way into his works.

Final Musings

I’ve heard that there are some wonderfully done audiobook versions of  A Christmas Carol, including one by Neil Gaiman. Maybe this December I’ll listen to one of those narrations while wrapping Christmas presents :)

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

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Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
Published June 7, 2016 by Bethany House
Format: Netgalley e-book; 384 pages
Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction
Also By This Author: Short-Straw BrideTo Win Her Heart
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Once again, Karen Witemeyer has created wholesome and endearing characters that inspire readers. Emma Chandler is an 19th century female banker with a heart for broken women who need a second chance at life. When someone starts threatening the lives of the women in her care, Emma turns to one of her oldest friends, Malachi Shaw, a timid dynamite expert with a protective streak, to help protect her women’s colony.

One of my favorite parts about No Other Will Do is Malachi’s career in 19th century explosives. I know in the grand scheme of the novel, this character description is only slightly relevant to the plot line, but I still thought it was remarkably interesting. I also appreciated how Malachi’s career choice contrasted with his quieter and hesitantly expressive personality.

Emma, on the other hand, is inspiring in her own sense. She’s brave, strong-minded, and incredibly compassionate. When the odds are stacked against her, she still manages to overcome every challenge, even when she’s struggling with her own doubts and failures.

Although I’d categorize No Other Will Do as an inspirational novel, it also features some darker scenes and depictions. Harper’s Station is a refuge for battered and abused women, but Karen Witemeyer is able to blend the harsher depictions of domestic abuse with compassionate characters who impart healing and hope.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy historical fiction set in the American west.
…you’re looking for an uplifting novel to start the year off with.
…you appreciate themes of feminism and redemption.
…you’re interested in well-researched 19th century life (including insight into the life of a dynamite expert).

Final Musings

I can’t believe that Karen Witemeyer has been one of my favorite authors for four years now and I haven’t written a single review for her on my blog yet! I know I’ve recommended and gushed about her books plenty of times, but I’m happy I finally got around to putting together a formal review. If you think you’d be interested in Karen Witemeyer’s other novels, I’d strongly recommend Short-Straw Bride and To Win Her Heart.