Everyone loves a survey!

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I came across this fun little bookish survey over at Covered in Flour and it reminded me of my MySpace survey-posting days (Ahh, high school). I had some time to kill this evening so here you go!

Author you’ve read the most books from: Lucy M. Montgomery. I’ve read her beloved Anne of Green Gables series (8 books total) multiple times.

Best sequel ever: I adored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I remember staying up all night to read it, and even having to take pauses to deal with all the feels. That was probably my favorite novel in the series.

Currently reading: I read Jane Eyre last week (started and finished…I couldn’t put it down), so I am currently in between books. But I will be starting Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a few days.

Drink of choice while reading: Tea, in a nice mug, or water, if it’s hot outside. Sometimes very rarely I will drink coffee if it’s rather early in the morning or late at night and I need caffeine to help me stay awake.

E-reader of physical book?: I love the smell and feel of physical books, yet I love my Kindle as well. Most of the novels I read are on my Kindle, and I love not having to pick and choose what books stay in France and what books stay in the U.S. Every now and then I will buy a paperback, and of course I have hardback editions of my favorite series (except for Anne of Green Gables…I only have the paperback box set that I received as a Christmas present when I was 12. I love reading those copies the best, but I have the series on my Kindle as well).

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My husband, knowing my quirky love of smelling books as I read them, brought me home this edition of Jane Eyre earlier this week. Guess I have to reread it! ;)

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school: Ahh, I was always intrigued by the mysterious, yet charismatic guys the most in high school, but I don’t know if I would have actually dated one. Possibly, but I think I’d be more inclined to date a Captain Wentworth or Gilbert Blythe.

Glad you gave this book a chance: Jane Eyre, definitely. I was turned off by it for the longest time and fortunately I came across this read-along last month and now I will consider it one of my top 5 favorite novels.

Hidden gem book: I think I’ll go with The Giver by Lois Lowry. I love those types of dystopian novels.

Important moment in your reading life: Just the fact that I was so encouraged to read by my elementary school teachers. They made it fun, we had challenges, and we were always encouraged to read if we finished our lessons early. That stopped once I got to middle and high school, but it was too late by then because I had already become an incurable bookworm!

Just finished: Jane Eyre! I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Kinds of books you won’t read: Game of Thrones and 50 Shades of Grey type books. I read the first three A Song of Ice and Fire novels and I would be happy to never read another book like them again. I have a hard time getting past the violence, crudeness, and graphic imagery in those types of reads. And do I need to elaborate on my reasons for not reading 50 Shades of Grey type novels? I read the Twilight series in high school and that is already over my limit.

Longest book you’ve read: Moby Dick.

Major book hangover because of…: There are three answers that complete this sentence: Jane Eyre (I am still on that hangover…), Pride and Prejudice (finally got off that hangover after 3ish weeks), and the Anne of Green Gables series (was on this hangover earlier this summer). I only seem to have book hangovers after reading classics. I think it’s because I get all nostalgic and wish I could time travel back to somewhere between 1700 and 1900.

Number of bookcases you own: A lot of my books are e-reader format, but I would say I have at least 4 bookshelves of various heights.

One book you have read multiple times: I’ll pick one that I haven’t yet mentioned, and that will be Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. My guilty book pleasure (but I don’t really feel guilty about it) is reading historical Christian fiction, and this is my favorite, along with To Win Her Heart by the same author and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I love the period-era atmospheres, the entertaining characters, and the positive themes. It’s my pick-me-up genre.

Preferred place to read: right now I love reading on my living room couch with the back door wide open and fresh autumn air blowing through the curtains.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: one of the few favorite quotes I have that I can actually recite from memory is this one by John Keats from his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (my favorite poem): “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;” It’s become one of my life mottos.

Reading regret: Besides Game of Thrones, like I previously mentioned? Probably waiting so long to read Jane Eyre. It was never assigned to me in high school or college, but I had heard of it sometime after reading Wuthering Heights in 9th grade and just never desired to read it. Shame on me.

Series you started and need to finish: Percy Jackson. I own the first three installments, in French, and that is why I have not yet finished the first book *guilty and lazy*

Three of your all-time favorite books: I have already mentioned four of my top five favorite novels (Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), so I’ll give you the last one: Persuasion.

Unapologetic fangirl for: My first fictional crush, Gilbert Blythe (sorry Miss Shirley) and Peeta Mellark of Hunger Games fame. Yep, unapologetic.

Very excited for this release more than all the others: You know, I do not read a lot of modern novels. When I do, it’s only after it’s been out for a year or two. I remember waiting for Harry Potter sequels to come out while I was in high school, and the anticipation was excruciating! I would love any recommendations for books/sequels that are being published soon!

Worst bookish habit: probably looking up things about a book before I’ve finished reading it. And I don’t mean I go and look up the endings, I mean I just go to Pinterest and type the title of the book in, especially if it has a film adaptation, and then things get ruined…

X Marks the spot (start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book): Super Stitches Crochet. Yay for reference books!

Your latest book purchase: Most of the novels I read are free because–classics! But the last book I bought, which I have not yet read, is another by Karen Witemeyer: Stealing the Preacher (spin-off from Short Straw Bride).

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY too late): I consecutively spent multiple evenings last week reading Jane Eyre until 2 in the morning…

Jane Eyre Chapters XII-XXI

Here is my post for Part II of the Jane Eyre read-along I’m participating in. Prepare yourselves for a longer than usual post, because I have many Jane Eyr-ie things to discuss today (and also, my husband loves to purposefully call the novel Jane Eyrie and play it off with the “I’m French” card)! I’ve actually had to write this post early (it is currently Thursday) since I can’t seem to put this book down, and I want only to talk about chapters 12-21 without interference from future plot happenings (especially because things are really starting to get good!). →So, from this point on, take caution if you have not read up until Chapter 21 of Jane Eyre. I would hate to have anything spoiled for you!←

As you can tell, I am loving Jane Eyre. I did not think it possible at first, so I would like to make an addendum to the old saying and propose instead to say: “Never judge a book by its beginning chapters.” Okay, that can’t quite be applied to every novel, but I will apply it to my first impressions of Jane Eyre, and I think it is rather fitting, since I have heard of the novel being compared to Pride and Prejudice, which was almost titled First Impressions. The shared theme runs deeper than that, but I will elaborate further on that next week.

Last week (I smile at that, knowing I will most likely already be finished with the novel by the time I publish this post) we left our beloved Jane–yes, I have come to adore our intriguing heroine!–in unusually hopeful circumstances. Dun, dun, dun! Obviously this is foreshadowing. Jane herself says that “happiness is irrevocably denied” to her (chapter 14). BUT I am in simultaneous hope and fear as I continue reading. This is why I love Gothic lit, you’re always kept on the edge!

I love how this novel is narrated by Jane herself. It gives us appreciative insight into the workings of her mind. One of my favorite instances of this is actually two separate yet intertwined passages. When Jane first confesses that she is developing feelings towards Mr. Rochester, she attempts to subdue them by focusing on her employer’s romantic opportunities. Jane then uses a portrait she sketched of Blanche Ingram in order to point out her own shortcomings, essentially to remind herself of her place and her own meager opportunities. In this chapter Jane views herself inferior and beneath Blanche and Mr. Rochester (whom she also feels unworthy of). However, and I loved this part, two chapters later, once Jane has met and observed the accomplished Miss Ingram, her attitude towards her has changed drastically.

“There was nothing to cool or banish love in these circumstances, though much to create despair. Much too, you will think, reader, to engender jealousy: if a woman, in my position, could presume to be jealous of a woman in Miss Ingram’s. But I was not jealous: or very rarely;–the nature of the pain I suffered could not be explained by that word. Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling. Pardon the seeming paradox; I mean what I say.”

BAM! And this is when I came to really admire Jane. She sees people solely for their inward qualities, their actions, their treatment of others. Appearances no longer matter to her, and conventionalities are beginning to lose their influence as well. And yes, we could also state that Jane, although she denies it, does exhibit feelings of jealousy. After all, they do desire the same man’s affections, right? But no, Jane is not jealous (or as she says, “very rarely”); if anything she is disturbed by the idea of Mr. Rochester marrying anyone undeserving of his affections. How beautiful a reaction is that! It doesn’t ring of jealousy; it displays a mark of true love.

And what of the compelling Mr. Rochester? I have come to like him a great deal, as well, yet there is something I’ve been having a difficult time understanding: can anyone please explain to me why Rochester did not reveal to Jane who he was during their meeting on the road? I believe it ties in with the gypsy scene; clearly he has a thing for disguises and secrets, but I could not help but think how awkward I would have felt in Jane’s place, yet she doesn’t even question his beguilement…why? Does he act this way simply because of his standoffish persona, or is it because of his troubled history, which Mrs. Fairfax briefly explains to us?

I had also wanted to discuss Jane’s visit to Gateshead, but I would be more interested in reading YOUR thoughts instead. How did you react to that chapter? What observations did you make about Jane’s aunt and cousins, or even about Jane herself? Tell me in the comments or in your own post!

Last week I left you readers with some crossover memes. This week I will be signing off with a humorous little ghost story that happened to me the other night. Like the typical bookworm that I am, I was awake until nearly two in the morning reading Jane Eyre. It happened to be the chapter when Mr. Rochester’s room is arsoned, so already I was in a heightened state. I should mention here that the weather in my corner of France has been beautifully autumnescent (I do not believe that is a real word, but feel free to add it to your vocabulary nonetheless) as of late, which goes hand in hand with a story like Charlotte Brontë’s:

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Ahh…I wish half the year was spent in fallen leaves and the other half in fields of wildflowers.

So, while reading late at night with the window ajar and the fresh air flowing my bedroom, I was just passing the part when Jane has to wait alone in Mr. Rochester’s smoke-filled, water-drenched chamber when I started to faintly hear the eery soundtrack of an old black-and-white film being played somewhere in our apartment building. Now, in most cases, classic film music is lively, joyful, and nostalgic. For me, it was certainly recalling old memories…but memories of watching “The Twilight Zone” or passing through scare zones and haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights. Needless to say I quickly shut the window, finished my chapter, and buried myself in the comforts of my covers before any chainsaw wielding maniac could seek me out. Nothing like a gothic ghost story to send you off to dreamland… (I also just realized how fittingly this story coincides with Anne Shirley’s Haunted Wood mishap in Anne of Green Gables: I’m letting my overactive imagination run away with me!).

Happy Reading everyone!

Jane Eyre Chapters I-XI

As previously mentioned, I am participating in a Jane Eyre read-along this month, so for those of you who have not read at least the first 11 chapters of the novel, be prepared for some spoilers.

This is my first time reading Jane Eyre, and before I started I had absolutely no idea what it was about, and had only heard mixed reviews on whether I should like it or not. Typically I do enjoy Gothic literature, especially Gothic short stories (A Rose for EmilyThe Cask of Amontillado, and The Lottery are just a few of my favorites), but I had always assumed that Charlotte Brontë’s novel would be similar to her sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, which I have continued to like less and less since I read it almost 9 years ago, mainly because of how awful the characters are to one another.

And so when I finally started reading Jane Eyre last night, I was rather discouraged before I even reached the third chapter, and this can all be contributed to the horrid Reed family, who have probably succeeded in winning the “Quickest Character(s) to Earn My Undying Hatred” Award (move over, Dolores Umbridge).

But in all seriousness, John Reed MUST have been George R. R. Martin’s inspiration for Joffrey Baratheon. Consider this lovely (and somewhat lengthy) passage, which serves as our introduction to Jane’s malicious cousin:

     “What do you want?” I asked, with awkward diffidence.
“Say, ‘What do you want, Master Reed?'” was the answer. “I want you to come here;” and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
[…]
Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.
“That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,” said he, “and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!”
Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.
“What were you doing behind the curtain?” he asked.
“I was reading.”
“Show the book.”
I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
“You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.”
I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
“Wicked and cruel boy!” I said. “You are like a murderer–you are like a slave-driver–you are like the Roman emperors!”
[…]
“What! what!” he cried. “Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won’t I tell mama?[…]”

This.

Fortunately, after reading through Chapter 11 I can safely say that the book has greatly improved, although some of the chapters did seem to drag on a bit. I did however love the goodbye scene between Jane and Helen Burns. It was so beautiful and emotion-filled. I love heart-wrenching stories like that. I know it’s pathetic, but those types of emotions always have a greater impact on me. I am sad to lose Helen as a character, though…she was so good and kind-hearted. I admired her forgiving spirit, and the fact that she never held a grudge ever. I know that if I had to pick between which of these girls I am most inclined to be like, it would without a doubt have to be Jane. I was pretty convicted in that regard. But through Helen and Jane’s relationship I was able to relate to our heroine and find a connection with her, which is an essential factor in me being able to like the novel. This is also why I classify myself as being a part of the minority of Austenites who love Fanny Price/Mansfield Park.

So I can truthfully say I am now eagerly looking forward to the rest of Miss Eyre’s story, as long as there are no more appearances from the Victorian Joffrey (and if there are, all of you who have already read Jane Eyre are encouraged to laugh pitifully at me).

But I really do love modern-classic crossovers, so here are two more little funny gems for you all:

Joffrey

“How to be a Turd” written by John Reed

Hamlet

Unrelated, but still amazing.

Septemb-Eyre

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast month I participated in an online read-along for Mansfield Park. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to join another one this month for Jane Eyre, which I have never read before. This novel is also on my Classics Club list, so I figured that it would be more fun to read it with other bloggers than by myself. I actually don’t know much at all about the story and I have never seen any film adaptations. I have heard mixed reviews about this novel, but hopefully I end up enjoying it. And hopefully I am able to keep up with the weekly readings (I have to read the first 11 chapters for next week’s post)!

If any of you are also interested in reading along, here’s the link to sign up and here’s the link for the first week’s introductory postings.