A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol.jpg

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 :)

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Winter Highlights!

So I’ve been trying to post my December and January Highlights for WEEKS MONTHS now, but seeing as how February is now over and Spring is almost here (yay!), I figured I’d just summarize the last three months into one wintery post :) I have lots of highlights from our trip to France for Christmas, but first, BOOKS!

In December and January I read 10 books (and DNF 2). I also read a short story prequel to The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight A Grimm Curse Hello Goodbye To Win Her Favor The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things brokenhearts Faires Vampire Academy Winter A Worthy Pursuit

did not finish The Distance Between Us by Kasie West or Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, even though I was looking forward to that book so much! I really enjoyed his first novel, Let’s Get Lost, but his new book did not have the same feel or voice to it and the main characters drove me insane. It felt too much like a John Green novel, so if you’re a fan of his you might enjoy Never Always Sometimes.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2015 (December)
Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My To-Be-Read List (January)
A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings (February)

What I Watched

Reign

I started watching Reign on Netflix in January. Even though it’s not the best show, dialogue and plot-line wise, I am obsessed with the costumes on Reign. They’re definitely not historically accurate, but they’re so pretty! Also, Anne Shirley plays Queen Catherine of France! I haven’t watched it in a while, though, so I’m not caught up on this season.

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In February I binged watch Chicago Med (it’s still in season one, so I only binged like 9 episodes). It has an ER feel to it, and the drama of the show is more focused on the patients than the nurses and doctors (although they have their drama and relationship problems, too. It’s just not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy).

What I Listened To

Like so many other people, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago. I love how upbeat the soundtrack is, and I only wish I lived closer to NYC so I could actually see the show performed on Broadway. Maybe one day they’ll start touring and come down to NC?

I also fell in love with two new (to me) podcasts. Astonishing Legends covers unexplained disappearances, treasure hunts, time travel, urban legends, and other weird & interesting topics. I got my husband into this one, too, after we listened to a 4-part series on the Oak Island Money Pit. I can’t listen to these podcasts at night, though, because I’m just like Catherine Morland and my imagination gets scared easily…

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I also started listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which also has it’s creepier episodes, but overall it factually covers some famous and not so famous history lessons. One of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently was about the Great Vowel Shift and a brief history of the English language. Each episode is only about 30-40 minutes, perfect for me to listen to while doing housework or driving across town.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Highlights

  • Killian is now 4 months old!

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  • We did a lot of traveling this winter. For Christmas and New Years we visited my in-laws in France! We were blessed to be able to stay for 2 whole weeks and I’m so happy that we got to see lots of extended family and friends while we were there. Here are just A FEW of the pictures from our trip:
  • In February, my best friend Jae visited us for a whole week!! It was so nice getting to spend time with her, and she helped me organize and clean house which was a huge blessing to me (boxes of Christmas decorations had taken over our kitchen counters).
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  • Killian’s first trip to Florida! I’m from Florida, and some of my family still lives there. Last month I was able to fly down to Tampa with the baby to visit my extended family for a week and it was so nice! I hadn’t seen a lot of my mom’s extended family in a few years (not since my wedding, actually), so it was nice to catch up and introduce them to the French Fry.

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    Four Generations! Great-Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy, and Baby :) (and we didn’t color coordinate on purpose)

Looking Forward to in February

  • Birthdays! Matt, Solo, and I all have our birthdays in March. Mine is actually next week! We don’t have any big plans, but I’m excited for cake & presents (aka BOOKS because my family knows me so well).
  • Family visits. My parents and my sister are both visiting us later this month, and it’s always nice having them here. Since the weather is warming up now I hope to take them sight seeing at some of the outdoor attractions here in town. There’s a WWII battle ship and a Civil War battleground that I know my dad will enjoy, and then there’s always the beach :)
  • Finding a job. I’ve started job hunting now that Killian is a little older. I’m not looking forward to leaving him at daycare, though!! *cries*
  • Moving! Our lease is up in about a month and I’m excited to move to a less-crowded home (right now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment!).

Whew! Those are my condensed highlights from the past three months. I wish I could have made a whole post just about Christmas in France, but I’ve done that before so I guess it’s ok that I abbreviated our trip in this post instead. You can read it here :)

November Highlights!

I cannot believe it’s already December. Back when I was pregnant I felt like the year was dragging on but now I’m feeling like I just wrote my post about October and now the year is a few short weeks from being over. Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I can’t believe so much has happened in just twelve months!

November was my first full month as a new mom. It’s been hard. Babies are a lot of work, in case no one has ever told you. Even if you have been told before, you won’t believe it until you actually have your own infant attached to you for what feels like every hour of the day. But that’s ok, babies still bring you so much joy even while they’re sucking out all your energy (the sleep deprivation has made me a  little sarcastic lately…).

Anyway: highlights!

I read 5 books (and DNF 1)

Trouble With Destiny openroadsummer Me Before You The Truth About Forever LifeIntended

Most Popular Post:

October Highlights
Ever After’s Château de Hautefort (I can’t wait to go back one day!)

What I Watched:

BrooklynNineNine

Yeah, we binged watch this whole show between the last week of October and the end of November. After all the stress from having a baby and Thanksgiving and family visiting, this was the perfect way to relax and have a few (actually, a lot of) laughs.

Favorite character? Probably Terry, although Boyle is hilarious and I really love Jake, too.

What I Listened To:

James Morrison.jpg

I started listening to a James Morrison station on iTunes Radio last month and it’s pretty much all I listen to nowadays. Probably because his songs are relaxing and they actually went really well with the books I was reading last month.

Highlights:

  • Killian’s 1 Monthiversary! – I can’t believe my little sweet cheeks is already a month old (technically he’s 6 weeks now).
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  • Thanksgiving – We had an interesting Thanksgiving week. Killian was sick and we ended up having to postpone our actual Thanksgiving meal until Saturday. But my parents and both of my siblings were here with us so it was fun having family time :)
  • Reading some quality books – I read some books that made me cry from laughing and others that made me cry so hard it was more like sobbing (I’m looking at you, Me Before You). But I only read one book that I didn’t like, and I didn’t finish it because I just don’t have time for books I’m not into!
  • Decorating for Christmas! – We have to take down our tree before we go to France for 2 weeks (fire hazard), so we were anxious to get it up as soon as we could after Thanksgiving. We finally got to break out the Christmas ornaments we used for our wedding decorations 4 years ago, but most of our ornaments ended up being Hallmark ones that my mom and sister gift us in bulk every year. We love them :)
    You've Got Mail.png

Looking Forward in December:

  • The Broke and Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event!! – I’ve purchased just about everything for my Secret Santa, I just need to run to Target and buy some chocolately goodies. I’m really excited to find out who my own Secret Santa is!
  • GOING TO FRANCE FOR CHRISTMAS! – It’s been about 16 months since we left France, and 3 years since we’ve had Christmas in France! Yeah, it’ll be hard flying with a newborn, but the fondue and raclette and family time will be totally worth it. Plus, my sister-in-law just had a baby this week so I have a new niece to meet!
  • Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 3 years ago we find out that the newest Star Wars movie is being released on our 4th wedding anniversary, so Matt decided a long time ago what we would be doing to celebrate. I’m nervous about having someone watch Killian for those few hours, though. It’s too soon to leave him!

Who else is excited about Star Wars?? I’ve already decided I like Kylo Ren, even though he’s on the Dark Side and we don’t know anything about him. The mystery makes him cooler :)

Fall Bucket List

Pumpkins

Our carved pumpkins from last year :)

I know that we are already a month into the autumn season, but I’m just now getting around to sharing my Fall Bucket List!

Fall is my favorite season, and I’m especially excited about it this year because in a few more weeks we will be welcoming our little baby boy into our lives and I can’t wait to experience all my favorite holidays and fall activities with him :)

2015 Fall Bucket List

  • Carve some pumpkins
  • Go apple picking
  • Make homemade apple pie and berry cobbler
  • Decorate our apartment for fall
  • Have a Harry Potter marathon (complete with HP themed snacks)
  • Make crock-pot apple cider
  • Finish crocheting Little Baby French Fry’s baby blanket
  • (speaking of babies…) HAVE A BABY!
  • Read some science fiction
  • Go on a hayride (Matt really wants to do this)
  • Prepare some freezer meals for after baby’s arrival
  • Go to the farmer’s market before it closes
  • Take our first family photo

I’ve technically already put up our autumn decor, but I haven’t posted any pictures of it yet, so that’s still coming :)

What are some of your favorite fall activities?

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

earnest

“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
First Performed on February 14, 1895
Classic/Play/Comedy
Format: audiobook (table reading); 1 hour 46 minutes
Also By This Author: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend, the “rivals” to fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds, pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

Thoughts

One of my favorite book synopses ever belongs to The Importance of Being Earnest: “A trivial comedy for serious people.” It just fits it so perfectly! I decided to read this book last month because I wanted a short classic and I had never read anything by Oscar Wilde before. I was very pleasantly surprised. The Importance of Being Earnest isn’t a deep story that will leave you pondering over the dialogue for days, but it is fun and very enjoyable. I laughed out loud and even gasped a few times while listening to an audio recording of this book. Wilde’s writing is witty and his characters are entertaining. And if you need another reason to read/listen to/watch this story, today is the 120th anniversary of its first performance!

Yes, The Importance of Being Earnest premiered on Valentine’s Day in 1895. So if you still need date night or hang out plans for later, you can watch one of the film adaptations or, if you’re lucky, find theater tickets for a local performance. It’s sure to be a fun evening whether you spend it with friends or a special someone :)

Read This Book If…

…you love trivial comedies! (and you’re a serious person)
…you enjoy witty banter, puns and pranks, and clever disguises.
…you’re looking for a short read that can be enjoyed in one sitting.
…you like Classics or would like to “ease” your way into the genre.

Final Musings

I listened to a table recording of The Importance of Being Earnest during my commute to work and back one day. It’s a very quick read but it’s fun and uplifting. The production of this particular recording did a very superb job, actually. They had four different actors who also read the stage directions to make up for the fact that it wasn’t a staged performance. Here’s the link to the YouTube video, but there are also taped performances online to watch as well!

And, of course, there’s the movie adaptation featuring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Francis O’Conner, and Reese Witherspoon.

Earnest

Earnest:)

December Highlights

Happy New Year!! I know this post is a few days behind schedule, but I was taking advantage of some vacation time to relax and not worry about blog posts. Instead I was catching up on some reading :)

December was a pretty stressful month, actually, and I think a lot of that had to do with my reading goals for 2014. I’m a predictable procrastinator, and I pushed myself to read some bigger books near the end of the year because I didn’t feel like reading them months ago (I’m also a mood reader). BUT,  I was actually pretty satisfied with how I finished the year.

I read 9 books in December

That doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but 3 of those books were Classics, one of which was in French! 

themessenger julesverne NorthandSouth
MontanaChristmas MatchMadeInTexas FullSteamAhead
aseparatepiece ThisisWhatHappyLooksLike PaperTowns

Most Popular Post From December

My post about my and my husband’s 3rd Wedding Anniversary received the most hits last month :)

Highlights from December

  • Christmastime!!! I love decorating the house for Christmas. Our tradition is to bake Christmas cookies and watch It’s A Wonderful Life after the tree has been set up and decorated.
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  • Visiting Mount Vernon for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. We attended their special Christmas Illuminations event, and it was so much fun that we hope to go again this year!
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  • The Broke and the Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event. This was my second year participating in this event, and this year it was the best ever! I was so thrilled when I found out that I had received the event’s coordinator, Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner, as my secret santa! I think I had more fun picking gifts for her than opening my own gifts! But my secret santa, Alana, did a phenomenal job at gifting me the perfect books! And she also sent me a dinosaur magnet and a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows necklace! So awesome, right??
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December’s Challenges

  • For me, the hardest thing about December was how busy and stressed out I was. Since I started my new job back in November, I’ve realized how little time I can devote to reading now. My commute is 1 hour-1 hour 30 minutes each way, depending on traffic, and so when I get home at night it feels like I have enough time to eat dinner and watch an episode of Supernatural with my husband before I either crash from exhaustion or force myself to go to bed so I can get up for work again in the morning. I’m still shocked that I was able to read 9 books this month, two of which were solely audiobooks. A couple of the Classics I would listen to from YouTube during my commute and then pick up the paperback at home. I’m hoping that we’re able to relocate somewhere closer to my job in January or February, but until then I will just need to come to terms with the fact that my job trumps reading :(
  • Reading Journey to the Center of the Earth in French! To cross off one of my 25 Things, I finished reading Jules Verne’s epic adventure in French last month. I had read the first half back in July (each July to celebrate Bastille Day, I like to read a Verne book. This is my patriotic side coming out, something that Americans delight in having while the French kind of laugh at), but I hadn’t finished it and I wanted to read it by the end of 2014 for my Back to the Classics Challenge. It was hard, but I managed to finish the book in 4 days (I could only read about 50 pages a day before my head started hurting).

Looking forward – January TBR

JanuaryTBR

What I’m Looking Forward to in January…

  • My husband had a phone interview last week and he has another interview tomorrow where he will be given a software test (he’s an engineer so it’s some type of design software). We’d appreciate prayers! He’s been unemployed for over a year now and it has gotten really hard on him.
  • I’m really looking forward to working towards keeping my bookish New Year’s Resolutions! So far, so good. I’m stressing out less about reading, and I’m NOT checking out books from the library until I’ve finished the ones I’ve been renewing since November. I’ve also avoided buying any books in the 4 days since New Years Day (hey, for some people, that could be a record).
  • I bought some yarn today and plan to crochet an afghan this month! I haven’t crocheted anything in about a year, and this is also a bucket list item I’ve put on my 25 Things list :) So expect a post in a few weeks about that!

What were some of your highlights from December? Any big wishes for January that you’d like to share? I’d love to know!

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Resolutions!

toptentuesdayThe last Top Ten Tuesday post of 2014 is all about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015! Normally I have one or two resolutions at the start of each year, but I rarely follow through. I feel like 2015 will be different. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m getting older, but there are plenty of things I want to do in my life, and there’s no time like the present :)

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Stress out less about reading – Sometimes I get into that habit of treating reading as a chore instead of a hobby. I create these deadlines and sign up for these challenges in order to get myself to read more, and sometimes those things are fun, but usually it just stresses me out. And reading is supposed to be fun, not stressful!
  2. Cut back on book review requests – This year I discovered NetGalley, and I love it! But I went a little clicker-crazy and requested to review way too many books. I never expected to be approved for most of them, but I was wrong. So now I’ve decided to spend the beginning of next year focusing on all the upcoming books I need to review. I’m also hoping this will help out with stressing out less about reading (checking things off a To Do list=a happy Maggie).
  3. Trim down my TBR list – I expanded my library so much this year, and most of those books are still sitting on my shelf unread. I’m hoping to knock out a big chunk of those To Be Read books in 2015.
  4. Reorganize my personal library – I have too many books and not enough shelf space (the pitfall of being a bookworm). I’d love to reorganize my bookshelves and also keep a better record of the books I have out on loan (one of these would be fantastic).
  5. Read more Dickens – I am ashamed to admit that I have read ONE Dickens novel in my entire life. Granted, it was one of his best (Great Expectations), but I would love to make 2015 a Dickensian year.
  6. Talk to my husband more about the books I read – He probably already thinks I talk enough about books, but I would love to share more with my husband about my bookish thoughts.
  7. Read what I love – This year I read a lot of books I normally wouldn’t have because of their popularity and not necessarily because they were “me” books. Often at times I didn’t want to finish these books because I couldn’t stand an unrealistic character, a cheesy plot line, or a cringeworthy writing style, but I hate the idea of giving up on a book I’ve started. I don’t plan on keeping this reading habit up into the New Year. In 2015 I will read the types of books I know I will enjoy, whether they are popular or not.
  8. Travel more – This isn’t a bookish resolution, but next year I definitely want to spend more time visiting new places and taking mini-vacations. Living in France showed me the importance of going on vacations a couple times a year, and I think that’s a habit I should keep up now that I’m back in the States.
  9. Cross off as many things from my 25 Things list as possible – I have seriously been slacking on my bucket list I made to celebrate my 25th birthday. I’ve completed less than 10 of my 25 goals, with a few more lined up in January. There are a few big things, like travel to the UK/Ireland and visit a new continent, that I know I won’t be able to do before March (at the time I thought we’d be living in France for another year or so and would have more opportunities to travel). BUT, to be optimistic, I’ve done a lot of fun things that weren’t on my list :)
  10. Move! – This is the biggest resolution for me and my husband. We’re itching to find our own apartment/home and to actually start settling down into our new life in the States. It’s been great living with my family and spending time with them, but as any married couple can agree with, sometimes you just need your own space :)

There you have it! My 10 resolutions for 2015. What are some of your resolutions for the New Year?