surely i oughta…

Honestly, I ought to go back to bed. Come to think of it, I probably ought to go upstairs and study some more. But while I might be a night owl in normal life, I can’t make myself a night owl for my college studies. Especially when I’m not one of the teeny-bopper students that I trip over all the time. 🙂 12168714_10153620567529976_1870777962_oThough I find more and more that being a “returning student” is not a completely unheard of thing, nowadays. We are not alone. Sort of.

I wasn’t asleep, but just getting comfy and then decided that I needed to check some things on my computer. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here, hasn’t it? But while snippets of story ideas and photo opportunities come my way, at the end of the day, I don’t have any brain space left for blogging. Unlike my time in Australia, when all I had was a constant story to tell, right? Or when I was jobless before school started? Perhaps I still have that 12124494_10153625474544976_1265596368_ostory to tell… but I’m too tired to tell it, mostly. Or when I do feel like telling it, it’s usually because I’m avoiding something. You know, like going to bed or doing homework. Fall has begun, here in the South, and I’m looking forward to taking some pictures of the changing leaves… with my phone, at least, though I tell myself I really should get over to the Botanical Gardens on one of these glorious cool days. I might even do it, between books that I’m reading for my history classes. I’m taking three of them, by the way. Modern South America, Britain from 1688 til now, and Museum History. The latter was to see what’s what in the field of Public History, but I don’t really think I’m going into that field. But I have learned one thing… no matter whether you agree with a museum curator’s method of arranging 12171063_10153621803034976_751679144_otheir exhibit or not, give them due credit. They work their backsides off for next to nothing, and often, their only reward is criticism. So, be nice to the museum people, they work hard.

What else has been happening? Weddings and receptions and drooling over DIY projects on Instagram. So, of course, after every wedding, I have tons of pics of my cousins’ kids and my friends’ kids. I have to take pictures of SOMEBODY’s kids, you know, if I can’t have my own yet! If you remember my darlings from Australia, then I can’t survive for long without playing with the kiddos. Come to think of it, I really don’t have much time for that, either. No wonder I’m always tired… haven’t gotten my baby fix. I was going to try, the other week, but then SC had serious flooding along the coast and in Columbia (the capital, at the center of the state). Interstates got shut down, roads got broken up by flooding.12022006_10153581173309976_1545617657_n

If you’re into certain shows on TV, I manage to watch Dancing With the Stars and Once Upon a Time, every week… but at the moment, I’m at least a season behind on Castle. It’s very sad, but two shows is the limit for TV goof-off time. Movies? I haven’t been to the theater in eons, but we did finally watch The Avengers: Age of Ultron during my fall break. That was quite fun, and it taught me my new favorite quote.

“The elevator isn’t worthy.”

Speaking of movies, yes, I am paying close attention to all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Star Wars movie. However, I am a serious Star Wars BOOK geek, more so than the movies. I love the movies, especially the originals, but I’ve been reading the books for 20 years of my life. So, now, they have declared most of that 20 years of book to be NON-CANON. Don’t even talk to me about it. My 12033463_10153581340084976_447329520_nbrother and I have been cringing for a long time over it. So, yes, I’m thrilled by the newest trailer, but as much as I love J.J. Abrams, ask the Star Trek fans about their last movies. I am seriously looking forward to THIS movie, and yet I’m positive they’re going to ruin it. Because the books are brilliant… at least many of them are. So, they’re not allowed to change the story, sorry. Ok, I need to stop… this subject gets me steamed.

Books…. yes, I’m always reading books. Haven’t updated my list in a while. Sorry. I’ve been bingeing on Georgette Heyer again, though I also read through some of Juliet Marillier’s books, recently. The Shadowfell series, and then rereading Wildwood D12162874_10153606713649976_1342687055_oancing and Cybele’s Secret. I was even in a Barnes & Noble, recently, and that made my week. What did I buy? Oh, right, the new Rick Riordan book. Which I enjoyed, but I’m not awake enough to go into detail. Also, a kids’ book called The Doldrums, which I’m still reading slowly, interspersed with Heyer. Because you know, Georgette Heyer remains brilliant, and I go back to them like comfort food. If I could write like she did, I’d die happy… and rich, too, probably.

I’m running out of steam. I do actually have to get up in the morning, even though my class isn’t until afternoon, because as I said, I have a math test AND I need to make an attempt at reading some pages (in German) more in depth. We’re starting to study sports in Germany, in GER 305.

11939122_10153526703864976_2017429301_oAnd blast, do you know, I just remembered I should have looked at the school website and decide on which classes to register for, for next semester? I have a meeting with my advisor this week, and really need to have my list ready to show him.

So, to close this rambling post of mine, I’m going to include some of the latest pics I’ve taken, some selfies, some kiddos, one abandoned mill that my museum professor took us to see, and proof that I’m still an honorary Aussie… I have to have my Vegemite! Especially when it’s on my mom’s homemade toast. If we have them in the house, I add avocado slices, too. Heavenly!

I hope to be rambling at you again soon. Have a great week! 🙂

i’m not reading fast enough!

I’m doing it again. Worrying about my reading speed. For someone who usually reads 10 books in a month, I shouldn’t ever have to worry about this. But it’s just so funny that I’m not reading at my normal speed, held up by both my blogging and my continued interest in non-fiction books. I have always loved to read about history (and politics, more recently), but having that interest supersede my edge_evolutionfiction reading is unusual. Does it have anything to do with my reading goals for the year? I don’t think so. I can get the latest fantasy books from any library, if I want to, without having to buy them (this doesn’t keep me from wanting to buy them, however).

I’m blaming my reading issues in February on there being less days in that month. Surely I could’ve managed another book, if I’d just had 31 days. What were the creators of February thinking? But rather than run into a last minute fiction force-feeding, in record time, I thought I’d have it easier this month. I finished reading In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Scandal, just a couple of days into March.leestrobel

Then, I told myself I needed to read something light and fictional, before picking up either The South Was Right! (James R. Kennedy & Walter D. Kennedy) or The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (Michael J. Behe). Why couldn’t I have found the box, in my storage unit, with Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution? Or The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God, by Lee Strobel? For some reason, I was really wishing I could start with those. Oh, well. I’ll have to get them from a different library, because Cooper Library doesn’t have them.

When you’re fully into non-fiction mode, I’ve found it can be very difficult to switch over to fiction mode. Usually, I’m in fiction mode, with a sideswipe at history, here and there. Turning on my Kindle Fire, I made myself open up 100 Cupboards, by N. D. Wilson, which I hadn’t read yet, thoughin_defense_of_thomas_jefferson_phixr I downloaded it months ago.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book, as it completely immersed me in the town of Henry, Kansas, and the descriptions were so good, you could practically chew on them. You were so set in the realistic family, with the father being seemingly uninteresting (at first), and yet capable of quoting Shakespeare and even turning the words to his own purpose, making both him (and his words) funny and impressive. The fantasy part of the tale sneaks up on you, as the curiosity of the children leads you to uncover one cupboard after another. Literally. By the time I was finished, I was ready to read the second book, immediately.

My head really wanted to leave the fiction behind, but I kept telling myself I needed a few more fiction books under my belt, first. Of course, being on spring break will help me catch up, but there are so many other things I need to be doing!32107 It’s not just a week for goofing off, as much as I would like to do so!

The time had come for another foray into a Georgette Heyer book. I will try to resist the urge to preach on this subject, as I do so often on this blog. Suffice it to say, Heyer is the queen of the Regency romance, and she will never be beaten. If you judge her books by the genre, you have already sold yourself short, and missed some of the funniest, most clever tales of REAL people you’ll ever come across. So, I picked up Sprig Muslin, and dove into a story that I’ve read so many times before, but it never gets old.

After that, I braved the Cooper Library’s kids’ section, trying to avoid being in the full view of any of the college students. It’s not that I mind anyone knowing what I read, but when they’re all sitting around studying so hard, it made me want to squirm. Would them seeing me be like I was showing off that I could read fun stuff, or would I just feel like I was reading childish things? I didn’t want to find out, Darwin's black boxso I stayed amidst the shelves.

I carried away Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier, along with a few other books. Several years ago, I read Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing, which was based on the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I remember enjoying it immensely, but the details of the story are a bit vague in my memory. Now, I’m going to have to read that one again, because I absolutely loved this one. Cybele’s Secret continues the story of one of the sisters, as she accompanies her father on a trading expedition to Istanbul, Turkey.

The story contains both adventure and romance, of course, but what I really enjoyed was how the author dwells on the joys that come with being with family and looking at a person’s character, rather than their outward appearance or occupation. In the original story, the sisters were very close, and this comes across in the new book, even without all the sisters being present. And without giving 26486 Pan_CybellesSecret_covaway the ending, I was thrilled to find that the story didn’t just end with a kiss and a promise of a happy future. It ended with a return to family and taking that loved one into the fold, reminding you that others are involved in your life, even when you’re wrapped up in the discovery of true love. Only THEN did it end with a kiss.  : )

Now, I’ve started reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, and I don’t really know what to think of it. I’ve never read Shiver, or any of her other books, because I didn’t feel the need for another tale of a girl and a werewolf that have to be together, no matter what the consequences. Yes, I know that might not be the story at all, but how many teen novels out there are about falling in love with love, and giving up your family and who you are, in order to be with that person? Selfishness reins, in some of those books, and I like to remember what love is really like.The-Scorpio-Races

Thus far, it is very well written, and I enjoy the characters, but it isn’t a very happy book. The characters seem to brood, and the water horses are quite frightening. A secluded island, perched on the edge of a brutal sea, peopled by lives regularly touched by tragedy. I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve finished it.

And I’ll probably continue to tell of my “woes”, as I try and reach my book goals, while reading my way through the history sections of the library. It’s definitely a challenge.

where did my reading groove go?

Oh, wait, there it is. I know, I know, just because I haven’t read a book in… two or three days, there’s no reason to panic. I’m just a little stumped over what to read next. Maybe I should try The Book of Three, again? But Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, is so annoying! Maybe that’s why Lloyd Alexander invented Eilonwy, so she could slap him around regularly? No, I haven’t reached her, in the book, but I did read The Black Cauldron not too long ago.004386c3992a539fae9a55c7bb2172ff

While I try and figure out whether to read some fiction or non-fiction next, I thought I’d do a reading ramble, since I haven’t written a “Saturday Books” post in a while. Sorry, when you’re trying to avoid spending money on books, then going into a Barnes & Noble is just flat-out dangerous! I think that eventually, I will be able to venture into one, safely, but for the moment, I avoid temptation.

Back during September through October, I was on such a non-fiction kick that eventually, I had to surface for some fictional air, which resulted in my reading ten fiction books in December. In fact, I finished one of them, ten minutes after we rang in the New Year, but I think that still counted as being read in 2012. Bringing my reading list for 2012 up to 111 books.

I started December by watching the movie trailer for Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. Not only did it cause me to go pick up a copy of Imagine Dragons’ album, Night Visions, but I realized that I finally needed to read the book. Yes, I enjoy the Twilight series, but my initial impression of her followup book was that it was something about being possessed, or about aliens, so I thought that sounded la-ca-Lois-Lowryweird. Obviously, my first impression of reading the book blurb was wrong, and I found the book to be absolutely fascinating.

In a future time on Earth, our planet has been taken over by an alien race known as “Souls”. Implanted in human minds, they erase the human mind and make our world over in their image, one of perfection. Only a small number of humans still resist being taken over, once they realize what has happened. Among these, a young woman named Melanie Stryder is captured and implanted with a Soul known as “Wanderer”. But Melanie refuses to be erased, and Wanderer begins to learn what it’s like to be human. And when Wanderer/Melanie eventually find her human family again, they must work together to fight for their one life, as the humans do not trust this Soul that has taken over their friend’s body.

You may be a Twilight hater (remember, the books are better than the movies), but even if you are, you should give this new tale of Meyer’s a chance. The idea of fighting to remain yourself, when a new mind is trying to get rid of you, and then do you eventually work with that mind, hate them giveror befriend them? It’s a very interesting quandary, I think.

Then I did a quick re-read of an old favorite, Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End. I’m sure I’ve talked about this book many times, but this is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty that is well worth your time. When confronted with the reality of Rosie and her friends in the village of Foggy Bottom, you may never look at the classic tale the same way.

Next up, I found a copy of Lois Lowry’s Son, when I was at the library. Purported to be the fourth book in The Giver series, I was curious about this one. I have always loved The Giver, with its strange village that has given up feelings, color, and any type of choices in their lives. Of course, when you first read the book, you don’t realize that there is a lack of emotion, because you are hearing the story from the viewpoint of a child, who still exhibits emotions and cares for those around him.

I think I have read the second and third book in the series, but I have only vague recollections of them. One of them didn’t even involved Jonas, so I never understood (until now) why it was in the story. But Son is another tale of Jonas’ village, but from another viewpoint. Beautiful Creatures Book CoverA young woman is chosen to be a birthmother, a lowly position in their society, but nevertheless important, as they bring about the next generation. But time and time again, something goes wrong… with the birth, with the child, and with Claire’s understanding of her community. You find out why the story is attached to Jonas, and you understand why Claire must go find the son that she loves.

The second act of the book brings you to another village, by the seaside, shut in by cliffs of unimaginable heights, that only one person has ever climbed over. When Claire’s memories begin to return, she must find a way to climb out of their hamlet, and find her child. In order to do so, she must train her body vigorously for the climb. I found this second part of the tale to be excellent, as the training unfolds. But the end of the story actually fell a bit flat, and the finale was lacking something. It was like the effort involved in the first half of the book wore the writer out, and she fumbled to finish. But I would still say that everyone should give it a try, especially if you loved The Giver, which did win the Newbery Medal.

Well, with one movie trailer convincing me to read The Host, another movie trailer talked me into giving Beautiful Creatures a try. The trailer made me think it could be a bit of a knockoff of Twilight and the trend involving otherworldly beings. Witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc… they’re all in style right now. And knowing that the movie was going to star both Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson would convince me to watch just about anything. Those two are actors of the first caliber.

I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, and the adventure in the Deep South, though it didn’t make me want to read any of the sequels. Lena and Ethan are both likable, with the mystery of a strange song appearing on his iPod and eventually tying the two of them together. They, of course, can’t seem to deny their attraction for each other, and he (just like Bella in Twilight) can’t seem to say no, even when he knows that his life could be endangered 7735333by this forbidden romance. The memory of this book is already fading. I may go see the movie, because of Irons and Thompson, but though I didn’t openly dislike it, it holds no lasting interest for me.

Remember, I was on Christmas vacation, at this point, so I picked up a huge pile of books from the library, intending on reading anything that caught my fancy. One of them was Matched, by Ally Condie. In another future world, humans’ lives are completely controlled by their rulers, including who you will eventually marry. But because the Society always chooses correctly, young people look forward to the day when they are Matched, and the joys that comes with a marriage where they usually fall in love with their partner. Because it was the right person, of course.

But what happens when you’re delighted to be matched to your male best friend… and then there’s a glitch in the disc, and you see another face announced as your match? Has the perfect society made a mistake? Is it possible there is another “perfect” match for you somewhere out there? Young Cassia is faced with this problem and becomes curious to know more about her other match, even after she is warned away, again and again. Can having your choices made for you actually be wrong? And does someone else really know what’s right for you?

I have some opinions on the subject of love and marriage, especially the idea of an arranged marriage, though I never plan to have one, so this book really tickled my fancy. I know that love is a choice, not just a mushy feeling, and if you choose to love someone, you can make a lasting, wonderful marriage. But the idea that a government could possibly think it has achieved perfection, and applies it to their citizens, this is an interesting twist on the idea of love and arranged marriages. Yes, it’s a young adult fiction book, but I thought it was good fun, even though it’s not Dickens, for sure.

For Christmas, I had asked for a copy of Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, and I got it. I didn’t know much about it, except it was a bestseller and it had something to do with dragons. Of course, officialcoverI’m a sucker for almost any fantasy that concerns dragons. From the start of the book, you’re thrown right into the middle of a royal murder, and at first, I was slightly confused. But eventually, I found my footing and really began to enjoy the twists and turns.

Young Seraphina is a musician in the royal court, and despite her obvious talent, often hidden by or criticized by her own father. Her heritage is a strange one that I won’t try and explain to you, you’ll have to read it for yourself. But because of how she was raised, her court experience is the first time she must step into the spotlight, especially when a Royal is murdered, and they believe it must have been a dragon. As the anniversary of a treaty with the dragons approaches, she must try and keep her rulers safe and help them to solve the mystery, while deciding what to do about her own history. By the end of the book, I was dying to read the next book in the series, and I think there are lots of young people that will enjoy this book, too.

I was forging my way through a library copy of Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder, when my brother received a copy of it for Christmas. The beginning of the book had left me unsure if I actually wanted to keep reading, because it couldn’t seem to decide whether it was a fantasy or a science fiction tale. Every time I thought I was on the right trail, I got thrown for another sci-fi loop, and almost kicked the book across the room. But then, I finally began to get hooked, and figured I’d better finish it before Jonathan did.

The story of two young boys with the gift for seeing paths in the air and reaching into the past takes them to lands beyond their imaginings. Young Rigg’s upbringing actually reminds me a bit of Louis L’Amour’s book, The Walking Drum, and how Kerbouchard was trained and educated for things he never expected. The boys run-in with Leaky and Loaf, and eventually heading to the royal city was fun, and it became much more interesting when pathfinderthe sci-fi twists finally began to make sense. The light began to dawn, and I forgave Card for all the confusion. When I finished the book, I was left uncertain of what the next book in the series would do, as the ending was unexpected. Want some twists, turns, and confusion? Then you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

With the New Year in sight and my wanting to get a few more books on my list, I pulled out Robin McKinley’s Chalice, which I hadn’t read in several years. This one touches just slightly on a shadow of the Beauty and the Beast tale, but just barely. Mirasol has unexpectedly become the Chalice for her demesne, when the previous Master and Chalice die in an unexpected accident. Her position is important, but she is completely untrained and must fight to keep her people and her land in one piece, as even the ground revolts without having a leader.

The only heir to the previous Master has become a Priest of Fire and may be so far gone into his Priesthood that he can’t return to the human world. When he does, he is not quite a man, and many of his people fear him. Mirasol, however, chalicewants only to keep their land and people together and not deed their demesne to a distant relative that the land may reject. She and the new Master must learn how to be Master and Chalice, in a world that may not even want to accept them at all.

You already know that I love most of the books of Robin McKinley. This one is a beautiful tale of a young beekeeper that takes on a position greater than she’s ever known. Like all of McKinley’s stories, it’s a magical tale, in which she slowly inducts you into understanding what the position of Chalice entails, and why, perhaps, this particular young woman was chosen. Why a honey Chalice and a Master of Fire? I love this book, that’s all I can tell you.

New Year’s Even was spent swiftly re-reading Georgette Heyer’s False Colours, a romp of a tale set during the Regency period. With twins having to switch places to help each other, falling in love 9781445855899with the wrong person, and trying to save their delightfully impish mother from a debtor’s prison, it’s full of laughs and mischief. Maybe this isn’t one of Heyers best, as I think Lord Denville’s part of the romance is a bit lacking. But Lady Denville and Sir Bonamy Ripple have to be some of Heyer’s best characters, with the lady’s impish and mischievous ways of dealing with her awkward relatives, and Sir Bonamy’s huge girth and delight in beautiful women and delicious food. A true delight, as any Heyer fan will know. And as I always remind people, if you judge a Georgette Heyer by the genre, you’re an idiot. Heyer was the Queen of the Regency romance, and she has NEVER been bettered.

Ok, I’ve brought you all the way to 2013. I suppose I should stop for now, but I will try to do better, after this. Please feel free to check on my reading list, as I continue to work towards my reading goal without buying any books. No book purchases this year, at all! I’m one month into this, only eleven more to survive.

smelling of april and may…

With June getting ready to bust a move, in the form of days getting hotter and more humid, I’ve realized that April and May really have flown by. Or they seem to have done so, in retrospect. While I was counting the days until leaving for home, in April, I thought that a snail could have moved faster. But now they’ve gone by, the summer months have truly arrived, the town pool is open, and I’m getting ready to really start looking for a job. You know, instead of looking halfheartedly.

During this time, I continue to work towards my total of 1oo books read for 2012, and since I’ve read almost fifty books, so far, I think I’m well on the way. Even when I was packing to visit Sydney or packing to leave for the U.S., I still managed to work my way through book after book, making sure to avoid the really heavy duty ones. I’m not generally daunted by the size of a book or the historical subject matter, but I knew I didn’t have the time to read The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton (a fairly large looking book), or the brain space to read any nonfiction. But my mom just finished it, so I will probably pick it up soon. She really liked it, which isn’t a surprise, considering how much we liked Morton’s The Forgotten Garden.

You can check my official book list, because I’m not going to go over ever one of the 19 books that I’ve read in the last two months, but I think there are some that are worth noting, before I forget about them entirely.

Of course, no list of my recent reading materials would ever be complete without the great Georgette Heyer. I’ve not only reread seven of her books, during April and May, but I’ve also gotten my hands on a biography of her, The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge. No matter how many times I peruse her mysteries and historical romances, I never tire of them. And the biography was fascinating, as it showed how she went from being an outgoing woman to increasingly hiding from the public. She was not treated well by her reviewers, and she was somewhat bitter about it.

I’m afraid that because her books are labeled “romances”, she often got dissed over them being fluff, even as they may be today. But those people that discount her work for such a pitiful reason, they have no idea how much research went into her stories, how she worked hard to recreate the language that the people spoke to each other, in the Regency and Georgian periods. She was so good at making us feel like we were actually in that time period, that the entire romance genre can be attributed to her books, for every other romance wants to be her… and usually fails.

Between the mysteries and the romances, there are such a wide variety of amazing characters, every one of them fascinatingly detailed… even the minor characters. In A Blunt Instrument, a dour, religious policeman assists Detective Hannasyde and Sergeant Hemingway, keeping up the hilarity, at the conversations that occur between them, as PC Glass likes to speak in Biblical quotes.

In Powder and Patch, we see young Cleone send her “clodhopper” of a lover away, because she wants him to acquire polish and poise. Rebellious at first, he ends up in Paris, and dives headfirst in the world of wearing powder, patches, wigs, jewels (yes, this was before the Regency), and even high heeled shoes. Knowing how “prissy” they dressed back then, how can Georgette Heyer still make Philip Jettan to be a MAN, and not just a fop? I am not able to decipher that mystery, but she still achieves, amidst the various escapades as Philip, his amusing French servants, and the rest of his acquaintances go through the acceptable Society gyrations… looking for true love at the end.

I enjoyed reading The Merchant’s Daughter, by Melanie Dickerson, though it wouldn’t be the most memorable of my recent reads. A slight variation on the story of Beauty & the Beast, it’s set in the time of knights, lords, and castles, with young Annabel going to work for the lord of the manor. Wearing an eye patch and having some terrible scars, the villagers speak of rumors that he can change into a beast. But when Lord Ranulf finds out that his new servant can read Latin, he begins to have her read from his Bible, after dinner, night after night. Annabel finds that there’s more to this man than his appearance, as they both hunger to learn more from the Word of God.

The only serious history that I’ve read recently is Titanic: The Real Story of the Construction of the World’s Most Famous Ship, by Anton Gill. Not as interesting as I first thought it would be, it still gave me an amazing look into all the nuts and bolts that went into building the Titanic. I’ve never thought about how even the anchor would have taken days to arrive at the ship-in-progress. First, it had to be pulled on a wagon, by 8-12 horses, then put on the train, to finally reach the building dock. Page by page, this book details every aspect of the construction of the ship, and later, the furnishing process, before they were ready to set sail. And like any modern day cruise ship, just think of all the food they had to stock up on, just for a week at sea! Also, just like every treasure hunter on the planet, I found it fascinating to realize how many jewels and riches probably went down with the ship, locked away in the ship’s safe. Yes, I know the real tragedy is the loss of the people, but there’s so much to know about that ship, it’s a never-ending fascination.

Since I keep a close eye on whatever Regnery happens to be publishing, I was thrilled to find that Elizabeth Kantor had written a new book. Years ago, I really enjoyed her book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. But now, with The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, she has a different bone to pick with a subject that most women find really important.

In these modern times, women are looking for love, but again and again, we go about it the wrong way, and end up like some of Austen’s characters, such as Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park) and Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice).  She explains how Jane Austen was not a believer in Romanticism, like the Bronte sisters, and only one of Austen’s characters started off with truly Romantic notions. Marianne Dashwood believed in throwing her emotions into everything, and never relying on sense, but she is unique amongst Austen’s heroines.

Instead, Kantor points out how we can look for love and happiness while still considering things rationally. If you believe in love at first sight and think that you should follow your heart, even when your brain tells you that the man you love is a loser, then maybe this isn’t for you. But for any lover of Jane Austen’s writing, Elizabeth Kantor makes a great argument for Austen being as relevant today as she was in her own time, and even though Jane Austen never married, she knew very well what people are like when it comes to love, courtship, and marriage. I really enjoyed this book, both for the aforementioned subject AND because I felt like I came out of it having a better understanding of many of the characters in Austen’s books. Even if my favorite Austen hero (Henry Tilney) didn’t get a huge mention.  : )

Somewhere in the middle of April, I downloaded a freebie onto my Kindle, and began to read Ruby, by Lauraine Snelling. Part of the Dakotah Treasures series, this Christian fiction novel follows two sisters as they go west to find their father. His letter tells them of their inheritance, but when they arrive, it’s the last thing they expect. Ruby and Opal Torvald must adjust to life in the west, learn about both the good and the bad, and figure out how they will survive.

I know well enough that I enjoy Christian fiction, but some of it definitely better than others. My favorite authors will have an excellent grounding in history, and won’t  throw a blue eyed cowboy at you, right from the start. Not that I have anything against romance, but I love reading about the main characters’ trials and tribulations, just as much, without having a romantic love triangle start from the first sentence. And Lauraine Snelling’s books live up to my expectations, with plenty of history, lots of well-written character, and an ability to carry the story without depending on the someone falling in love every two minutes. Since I just finished reading Opal (Dakotah Treasures #3), a couple of minutes ago, all this is fresh in my mind.

The last two months were finished with some contrasting books. I’ve been rereading Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series, so I just finished Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart, sometime last week. I find it fascinating how she keeps the politics of two kingdoms so interesting, though having interesting names for the varying families helps. The landbound Hawk Haven tends to have titles named after birds (Earl Kestrel, Duke Gyrfalcon), while the kingdom of Bright Bay leans towards seaside names, for both titles and first names. For example, Duchess Seastar Seagleam.

Any other story that mentions the internal politics of several kingdoms, I would probably lose interest, quickly. But while coming back to this subject now and then, the story really revolves around Firekeeper, as she learns more and more about what it is to be human, and not just a “hairless wolf”. But even as she finds both pros and cons to being a girl, she and her wolf companion, Blind Seer, are summoned back to wilds, and take on a quest for the leaders of the animals. In a country which is fearful of magic, the animals have longer memories, and even more reason to fear it. Can a human wolf achieve what the other animals can not, and keep the corruption of magic from taking hold on them, once more?

Finally, I downloaded another book onto my new Kindle Fire (I can’t tell you how much I love this Kindle!). Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Jennifer Becton, tells us what became of the girl we once knew as Charlotte Lucas, friend to Elizabeth Bennet. I can be extremely leery of these sequels, though, and won’t download just any of them, even if they’re free, without doing some research. The followups to P&P tend to follow them into the bedroom and I find this extremely objectionable.

Some of my favorite authors, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Georgette Heyer, all wrote of a similar time period, while none of them needed to enter the privacy of the bedchamber to hold their readers’ interest. And many reviews on Amazon and other websites do NOT mention in their reviews whether these new books go that far, too. I would suggest to any author who writes a PG-rated followup that they should mention that in the blurb about the book.

What little I found told me that Charlotte Collins was of the clean variety, and so, I began to read. Beginning with the funeral of the Reverend Collins, we find Charlotte several years older and wiser than she was in the original book. She has seen what it’s like to live in a loveless marriage, especially one where (I know, big shock) you like your husband even less than at the beginning. She has also been able to observe the love and happiness that Jane and Elizabeth have found in their marriages, and is finally willing to even consider the subject of love. But for now, the sudden death of Mr. Collins (she’s sure he would have preferred to be run over by a high-perch phaeton, rather than a low-class mule wagon), she only looks forward to the quietude and freedom of having her own small cottage. But when her sister Maria comes to stay, life takes many more interesting turns.

I know this has been long, but I hope you’ll forgive me, as I’ve been way behind on posting anything lately. I hope that as my health continues to improve and I look harder for a job, I’ll have more of interest to share with you. Until then, I hope you enjoy trying out some of the above-mentioned books.

the saturday books…4…

After enjoying a breakfast at Mickey D’s, which involved way too much coffee, I was off to the library, then the book store. My body continued to debate what to do with all the coffee, as caffeine rarely affects me, but it could have an effect on my digestive system, that’s for sure.

I’m also on my second day of wearing my contacts and new sunglasses regularly, as I’ve been extremely lazy about putting my contacts in, lately. I think it’s because I broke my last pair of “sunnies”, so what was the point? At least that’s what my early morning thought process tells me. So, for the first hour or two after putting my contacts in, I’ve been going through a stage where I feel like I’m cross-eyed, but keeping telling myself that “this too shall pass”. And it does.

Fortunately, none of these ocular or bodily issues caused any interference with my driving skills, so I checked out a copy of Anne of Windy Willows from the library, and then drove to Blossoms. Yes, you heard that right. If you’re an L.M. Montgomery fan, and you live in the U.S. or Canada, then you’re familiar with this book by the title of Anne of Windy Poplars. Apparently, Montgomery’s original choice of a name was Anne of Windy Willows, but the American publisher thought it could become confused with The Wind in the Willows. A book about talking animals, or a book about a red-headed girl living on Prince Edward Island? Yeah, they’re too similar to tell the difference, Mr. Publisher.

So, they changed the name for us North Americans, AND supposedly edited out some of the more “risqué” stories, but everyone else got the originals. Because Americans and Canadians can’t handle a few darker stories, in the Anne books? Honestly. Montgomery’s books were not all light and fluff. Consider Emily’s taste of the second sight, in Emily of New Moon, or all of Montgomery’s short stories that were collected into a book called Among the Shadows.

So, now I have to find out if this is true, that my American copy is an abridged form of the original book. I’ve read it enough times to be able to tell if something’s new in the Windy Willows book. So, that’s something for you all to look forward to me talking about, soon.

Anyway, back to the bookstore. As someone who always likes to read about the Titanic, and considering that in April, it will have been a century since the ocean liner went down, I immediately found and bought Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic: The Ocean’s Greatest Disaster, by Marshall Everett. I already find the tales of Titanic to be fascinating, the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, all on one ship. The heroes and villains of the story, with some men barging into the lifeboats with the women (or even dressing as women), while others refused to abandon their loved ones. And of course, the horror of the steerage passengers being kept from escaping.

This book, with it’s gold-edged pages, is a reproduction of the 1912 edition, which was published immediately after the Titanic sank. I think this will be a fascinating read, both from the immediacy of the book’s writing, to how people expressed themselves in 100 year old books. It is advertised on the back cover as “a Graphic and Thrilling Account of the Sinking of the Greatest Floating Palace Ever Built, Carrying Down to Watery Graves More Than 1,500 Souls”. Fifteen hundred people. The number is still shocking. Yes, the Titanic will always be of interest, because it was a “floating palace” of extremes, and we’ll never see the like again (and for the sake of many lives, I hope we won’t).

Having satisfied my occasional need to buy an actual book, and continuing to resist the lure of buying Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (do you have any idea what that might cost me to ship home?), I determined to buy no more books today (and I held to that resolve!). And then crossed paths with a copy of The Midwife of Venice, by Roberta Rich. I still think that the UK publisher does a better job on cover illustrations, sometimes. Looking it up on Amazon, I wasn’t as much a fan of that cover.

But the story still looks fascinating. In the late 1500’s, Hannah Levi is a Jewish midwife, living in a time when Jews are forbidden to attend the births of Christians. And yet, in the middle of the night, she is offered a fabulous sum to attend a woman who has been laboring for days. The money is enough to save her husband from imprisonment, but what will happen to her if it is found out? Torture and death could be waiting for her, but she will do anything to save her beloved husband. The reviews say that this book is a page-turner, and one that just can’t put down. If I can’t get to it any time soon, perhaps someone else could read it, and tell me what you think?

From there, I picked up a hilarious little book, called The A-Z of Unfortunate Dogs, by Adam Elliot. If you’re a dog lover, or even if you’re not, the rhyming lines about each funnily drawn canine will make you chuckle. They are beset with the trials of having a long tongue, fleas, gout, short legs, and all sorts of problems, but the drawings are so cute, you want to chuckle and make the poor puppy feel better about himself, at the same time.

I was intrigued by The Usborne Cookbook for Boys, which advertises itself as being an easy cookbook of things that boys will actually WANT to eat. The implication being that other cookbooks are usually full of fancy, fluffy recipes that girls (and cooks) will adore. I can see the point, because I’m not much into cooking from cookbooks. I like my home favorites, and all the usual recipes call for things I don’t understand or care to even try. Too fancy, too complicated, what happened to simplicity, with ingredients I’ve heard of? So, I’d be tempted to buy this book myself, if I was in the market for an easy cookbook, and I had a boatload of guys to feed.

And finally, I noticed (and wanted!) Jane Austen’s Sewing Box (Craft Projects & Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels), by Jennifer Forest. Full of beautiful illustrations and artwork from Austen’s times, not only does it have directions on how to make many Regency-style needlework projects, it contains descriptions of the history behind the craft work. Discussion of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the printing press & the availability of novels, the advent of new fabrics and designs, and the results of all these changes on the lives of women in the home, are all covered here. As I find the history behind the novels just as interesting as the novels themselves, I found this part of the book even more interesting than the actual projects. I think I will have to get myself a copy, once I get home.

By the way, speaking of an interest in Regency history, I’ve already read (and loved) Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester. Whether you love Heyer’s books or not (and you should), she followed in the footsteps of Austen and Bronté, perfecting the Regency novel. And Kloester’s book delves into all areas of Regency life, showing you what it would really be like to live back then.

Now, I’ve just checked Amazon, and found that Elizabeth Kantor’s The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After will be released on April 2. I’m not sure if it’ll be on Kindle, and since I’ll be home soon, I probably don’t need to get an e-book copy, anyway. But I’ve been looking forward to this one, as Kantor uses an in-depth study of the Austen heroines (Lizzy Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, etc.) to give us suggestions on how to survive the area of dating and relationships in our modern-day world. I look forward to this read, not just because of the subject matter, but because I’ve enjoyed previous books of hers.

So, I hope I’ve livened up your Saturday and given you a few ideas on what books you might like to take a gander at. And now, I’m going to get back to reading Crucible of Gold, the latest Temeraire book, by Naomi Novik.

too little time…

There are so many books in the world, and not enough time to read them all. You’ll notice that I didn’t say “too many” books, because there could never be TOO many. Ok, maybe there are too many stupid books written by idiotic authors, but if we tried to cut back on those, we might end up losing out on the few clever things that they may actually have said. Or who would judge what’s idiotic and what’s not? Our government would probably try and keep back the good stuff, or at least make it all politically correct. Nope, there can never be too many books, and no one’s a judge of what we should have and what we shouldn’t.

Having just finished reading Detection Unlimited, by Georgette Heyer, followed by The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, by Julie Klassen, I’ve been a bit stumped as what to read next. I’ve really been on a fiction binge, recently. I realized too late that I was reading my second least favorite of Georgette Heyer’s detective stories, which would explain why I couldn’t remember what was going to happen and who committed the crime. The rest of her detective stories are so delightful and the characters so detailed that it doesn’t matter how many times you read them, you still enjoy them. Detection Unlimited was her last detective tale, and was she slipping or just tired of writing them? My least favorite of them, which isn’t actually her normal who-dun-it story, would be Penhallow, but that one was written (or so I’ve heard) because she was annoyed with one of her publishers, and wanted him to let her go. But despite it’s unlikeable characters, Penhallow is so well-written that you read it in a sort of insane fascination, waiting for the good part of the story to arrive. But it never does.

My favorite part of Detection Unlimited is the back-and-forth between Chief Inspector Hemingway and his sidekick, Inspector Harbottle, a slightly dour fellow. Harbottle always seems to have a slightly pessimistic viewpoint on things, which makes him a contrast to Hemingway’s last sidekick, Sandy Grant. Being Scottish, Grant always had some Gaelic to spout off, when frustrated with his superior. But next to Heyer’s original detective, Hannasyde, Hemingway has to be one of her best characters, with his “bird-like” appearance of interest in everything, his love of theater and psychology, and his belief in his own “flair” (or intuition). So, I would happily recommend every one of Heyer’s other detective tales, before this one, especially Envious Casca and Behold, Here’s Poison.

Taking a jump from detective stories to Christian fiction, I looked up The Maid of Fairbourne Hall on my Kindle. This being the latest book by Julie Klassen, I planned to enjoy this one thoroughly, which is probably why I stayed up too late reading it. Well, that and having a nasty sore throat, actually going to bed didn’t sound very appealing, if I was going to have to get up constantly for more water and cough drops. Julie Klassen is an author described as “loving everything Jane Eyre and Jane Austen”, which is a definite recommendation of any author. From The Lady of Milkweed Manor to The Girl in the Gatehouse, her books have explored the Regency period, but they go into more depth about the underclasses than any Austen or Brontë novel will.

I am not saying that her books are as well-written as Austen’s, but I really enjoy her explorations of the plight of unwed mothers (Lady of Milkweed Manor), the work of an apothecary (The Apothecary’s Daughter), what it’s like to be stuck between classes (The Silent Governess), and what it was really like to work as a servant during that time period (The Maid of Fairbourne Hall). And every one of her chapters begins with a quote from a book about the subject matter (servants, unwed mothers, apothecaries, etc.), written in that time period. My favorite is actually her first book, The Lady of Milkweed Manor, as it gives you the ins and outs of a home for unwed mothers, reminds you that even Christians can be hardhearted towards those that have erred, and follows the heroine through giving up her child and even becoming a wet-nurse (if there was a more embarrassing occupation, back then, I don’t know what was).

So, what to read, next? Fiction or non-fiction? I’ve started reading The Hobbit aloud to one of my girls, again, so that was tempting to begin reading, and then progress into The Lord of the Rings. But I’ve also been wanting to read The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America by Burton Folsom, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale, In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal by William G. Hyland, and several others.

Along with these books, I’ve been having some interesting discussions with new acquaintances on both my blog and others, and you can’t have these chats without wanting to read some books for the first time or re-read something you haven’t visited in a while. Discussing The Wind in the Willows and the illustrations of Robert Ingpen has me wanting to re-read that book, but also go through all of Ingpen’s books. As he’s illustrated editions of Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, and many more, you can imagine I’d have a good lot of reading to do, just with those. Of course, good illustrations might go a long way towards making Alice tolerable, as I’ve never particularly liked that book.

As mentioned before, The Myth of the Robber Barons is supposed to be an accurate (not recently revised or politically correct) portrayal of the men of big business, back in the times of Vanderbilt and Rockefeller. I remember being taught in school that these men and their monopolies were bad, therefore it was the duty of the government to slap them down. It wasn’t until I was well away from school that I read about a little bit about the truth, that these men were extremely innovative and worked hard to give us better goods, which were also lower priced. In the world of capitalism, if you can’t stand the competition, you should bow out, rather than beg the government to smack those “bullies” for putting them out of business. From what I’ve read, many companies were happy to merge with the monopolies, not forced into it. But no, the liberals wrote the history books, so I’ve had to unlearn a lot of crap I was taught in school.

Along the same lines, we were taught a bit about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, but I’ve come to believe that revisionist historians don’t actually look at the facts, but like drag down our noble Founding Fathers. No, these men were not perfect, but even the ones that weren’t Christians (and it’s supposed that Jefferson wasn’t), they were raised with morals and beliefs in better things, which this modern time is trying steal away from us. Yes, let’s tear down the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, and teach people that he may have been gay. Seriously? I may not agree with Lincoln’s path to keeping the South in the United States, but this is still a load of hooey, meant to tear down the reputations of great men.

As for Jefferson, from what I’ve read, his character does not strike me as one who would have carried on with a slave, and what little I’ve read on the subject says that those Hemings that are proud of their lineage ought to review this subject, as well. It is suggested that President Jefferson was not their forefather, but rather his brother Randolph. His brother was known for being on excellent terms with the slaves and being more of an age with Sally Hemings, too. Anyway, assuming that this book has plenty of references (look for the references when you read history!), I want to know what it has to say on the subject.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is supposed to be somewhere between fiction and non-fiction, as it’s based on a true story, but embellished a bit, where they didn’t know all the details. Mr. Whicher was one of the first detectives ever, and (I can’t remember exactly) may have been the real-life predecessor to Sherlock Holmes. I’ve heard good reviews of it, so eventually I’ll get around to reading it.

A discussion with someone, concerning a book club (I have never belonged to a book club, ever), has me wondering if I should ever read something like Water for Elephants, but then, I often avoid bestseller books, just because they’re popular, and popularity doesn’t make them good. Besides, I know enough about the story to be aware that the story involves a young man and an older woman, who happens to be married, and they can’t say no to their love for each other. Isn’t that the usual tale? The heroine may have been stupid or naive enough to marry a complete jerk, but in this modern world, people believe the lie that you should never say no to love. Well, if you’re breaking your marriage vows because of “love”, then you’re lying to yourself. Love is an action, something that you do for others, in the best interest of others. Love isn’t selfish, and when is cheating on your spouse not selfish? Sure, you need to give in to your lust because “I deserve this” and “I need to love myself”. Well, you need to look up the definition of love, what it originally meant, before you continue saying such stupid things. I’m afraid I have no patience with books that encourage this kind of thinking.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, by Wendy McClure, sounds like good fun, as what American child doesn’t have good memories of either reading all the books, or watching the TV show? I never actually watched the show, despite liking Michael Landon, because I know that the TV show bears little resemblance to the books, and that annoyed me. I grew up reading the books, or having them read to me before I was old enough to read them myself. I spent hours poring (Watch your spelling, people! You PORE over a book, not POUR) over the illustrations and reading favorite parts over and over. My memories are tied up in the dance at their grandmother’s house, making maple candy with maple syrup and snow, and how dull their Sundays sounded (in Little House in the Big Woods). I was fascinated with the life of Almanzo Wilder (in Farmer Boy) and Laura’s life on the prairie, as well as in a sod house (in By the Banks of Plum Creek). Oh, when I was little, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls.

I bought the entire set for Kit, for her birthday, and though she hasn’t finished the first one yet, I’ve started reading it aloud to the little girls. I hope to keep at it until they get interested. There are enough pictures to help keep their interest until they’re captured by the story, and I feel sorry that every Australian child wasn’t able to read these books, too.

What else? Skimming through the subjects in my Kindle, I considered my options, and looked through my listings of classic authors. I remembered telling someone about Louisa May Alcott’s books, recently. Before she wrote Little Women, she was known for writing thrillers and gothic tales, as she tried to earn enough to help her family. One of these, A Long Fatal Love Chase, was reprinted, not so long ago. I recall it being quite a fascinating story, and nothing like the rest of her books. Despite loving the story of Little Women, I was raised with a family of boys, so I really get a kick out of Little Men, and all the escapades the kids get up to. But though I read it now and then, I am always annoyed by the third book, Jo’s Boys. Amy’s daughter grows up to be a queenly woman, one that they only want the best for.

But Jo’s black sheep, Dan, is the one that falls in love with Bess. Dan is one of Alcott’s best characters, and I love the scene where he returns from his travels, bring a stuffed buffalo head for Bess, because he thinks she should having something real to sketch. Then, Dan goes away on a trip, and doesn’t come back for over a year, and it isn’t until later that they find out he accidentally killed someone in a bar, and was imprisoned for a year. Because of this stain on his character, Jo cries because he can never have the girl he loves. Well, I find Bess to be a bit one-dimensional, but I think it would’ve been a better story if they’d allowed the reality of Dan to bring Bess down from the heights, and allowed the loving forgiveness of their family to bring Dan up to the best he could be. The ending of this little love story makes me want to rip my hair out, whenever I read it.

My favorite books of Alcott’s, though… ah, it’s a toss-up. An Old-Fashioned Girl is a wonderful book, the first half telling you about the country mouse, Polly Milton, visiting her city friends, and how she clings to her old-fashioned ways. Her friends are rich and fashionable, but she is able to teach them about love, humility, and how the outward clothes mean nothing if the inward self is selfish and unkind. The second half of the book shows them when they’ve all grown up, and Polly still sticks to being old-fashioned, and when the Shaw family falls on hard times, she is able to help them through it. Truly, one of Alcott’s best books.

The other one in the tie for favorite is Rose in Bloom, the sequel to Eight Cousins (or the Aunt Hill). Perhaps Rose in Bloom isn’t really as well-written as An Old-Fashioned Girl, but I have my reasons for loving it just as much. Eight Cousins tells the tale of Rose Campbell, an orphan, who is left to the guardianship of her bachelor uncle, and comes to live in the same neighborhood of all her boy cousins. Her family is apparently ruled by all of the aunts, as some of the uncles are at sea or working in India, but all of the male cousins keep things lively. Rose has to learn the good and bad points of the boys, and what influence she might have on them, and the boys, in turn, do their best to break her of any extra fastidious habits.

Alcott herself admits she wrote this book more for the entertainment of children than to have a dialogue about women’s rights, but it’s true that Uncle Alec was endowed with some interesting views on the raising of girls. Corsets and silly, fashionable outfits he will not have her use, exercise and good habits must be learned (he is a doctor, after all), and Rose eventually comes to love and trust him in all of his amusing experiments. Again, my coming from a family of brothers caused me to have a great appreciate for the gyrations of the cousins, as they go from studious Archie, handsome Charlie, dandified Steve, bookish Mac (or Worm, as they call him), down to the soldier-crazy twins and the lovable baby of the family, Jamie. And also, you throw in the influences of the maid Phebe, whom Rose befriends and learns many good lessons from.

You may already have guessed, but the bookish Mac was my favorite, right from the start, and though rarely getting the limelight, his extreme book-loving ways eventually get him into trouble, and allow him and Rose to both learn something about life and themselves.

Rose in Bloom continues the tale, many years later, and begins to explore the romances of the whole set, and the dangers society can have for them. Mac remains his bookish, blunt self, but Dandy falls in love, and Charlie gets into bad company, and finds himself addicted to drink. Though this story involves the possibility of romance between cousins (as happened, way back in the day), Alcott resists the urge to hand her heroine right over to handsome and rakish Charlie, but explores the idea that love can develop from respect and friendship, and what comes of a man honestly, openly offering his heart to a young woman. But though both of these books may have been written to allow a little preaching about this and that, none of the characters are perfect (except, perhaps, Phebe). They have their faults and their prejudices, which they need to overcome like any other human being. And some may never overcome them, though they try.

Well, I shan’t continue for much longer. As it happens, I bought a copy of Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton, by Kevin Belmonte, and started to read it. I was prepared for it being a bit deep or a harder read, and figured I might switch it up with some fiction. But the chapters are short and to the point, so I’m really enjoying it. I may leave the fiction alone for a while, after all. If you’ve never even heard of Chesterton, then consider that he was someone looked up to by C.S. Lewis, and it’s Chesterton’s book The Everlasting Man that Lewis credits with bringing him back to Christianity… as well as discussions with J.R.R. Tolkien. If you never do anything else concerning him, google “Chesterton quotes”, and see what you get. The quotes will give you just a taste of the intelligence, wit, and wisdom that came from this fascinating man.

Here’s my new favorite quote of Chesterton’s, which he says to himself, when he met his future wife for the first time. What woman wouldn’t want this said of herself?

“If I had anything to do with this girl I should go on my knees to her: if I spoke with her she would never deceive me: if I depended on her she would never deny me; if I loved her she would never play with me: if I trusted her she would never go back on me: if I remember her she would never forget me, I may never see her again. Goodbye. It was all said in a flash:  but it was all said.”

at the beginning…

I began writing this blog in April, shortly before I left for Australia. Believe it or not, I’ve been in Emerald for over six months. How the time has flown! Now, I’m storing up some musings for November, as this is like no November I’ve ever seen or felt before.

But actually, in revisiting the past and remembering where and when this blog started, I looked at some of my original posts. And I’d like to draw attention to one of my older posts, which I think deserves some screen time, once more.

You see, true love and civility… was posted after I read a book by a favorite author, Georgette Heyer. I’ve read her books so many times that I’m capable of coming up with a fairly decent review (if I do say so myself). But if you take a glance and think that I’m just telling you about a favorite romance or romantic writer (and judging me for it), you are again committing the sin of judging the book by the genre.

However, as I re-read what I wrote, I remembered that this post was both about the book and about the subject of true love, of which our modern world has very little understanding. In these days when the magazines and internet gossip sites live to tell us every little detail of the divorces of Kardashians and other nobodies. Yes, I say nobodies, because in the long run, who will remember them? They’re only examples of who NOT to follow.

In this same world, where the Duggar family joyfully welcomes their 20th child into their family, because they are Christians who don’t believe in using birth control, and yet, the world mocks them for not acting like the rest. The Kardashians could learn something about real, true love from the Duggars, who know the secret of true joy and love in life, and where that love and joy come from.

I stand by what I said about love, in my previous post (please give it a read). I may be single, but I have some of the greatest examples to observe, in real life, of what true love looks like, and unlike some, I can even learn something from a romance book (go read a Georgette Heyer, you don’t know what you’re missing). I hope that someday, the Lord will bring my true love along, and until then, I intend to learn what I can, so my marriage truly lasts until death do us part.

the grand georgette…

Did you know you can download eighteen Georgette Heyer novels to your Kindle, for about $2 apiece, right now, from Amazon? I discovered this the other night, and was absolutely thrilled. If there was one collection of books that I didn’t like leaving at home, it would be Heyer’s. Then, I discovered that at least one of my friends over here had never heard of her. How is this possible? What’s amiss with the world?

Ever since the year 2000, I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings at least once a year. No, I don’t look at the calendar and think, “Oh, the year’s almost up, I better start reading them”. It’s because they’re SO good that, after about a year, you’re longing to pick them up and dive into the adventure once more. Do you have a favorite book that you read every year?

Ok, so how about a favorite author, that every once in a while, you pick up one of their books, and then you have to reread them all? And between those times, you pick up one or two of them, whenever you can’t decide on what else to read…. when you want something beloved and familiar. They’re your always and immediate fallback books. This is the category that Heyer’s novels fall into, for me. At least every six months, I reread as many of her books as I can find, and between those times, they’re the ones I pick up the most, to read while I’m eating lunch (I lived alone for a while, remember?). My mom, aunt, cousin, and I have been reading them since I was a teenager, and these books never get old.

When I moved to Pennsylvania for several years, I took my library with me. My books were no longer at my mom’s fingertips, and she couldn’t just go and pull them out of my closet, whenever she wanted them (yes, I used to keep a lot of my books in my closet). So, at Christmas, we bought her a few of her favorites, and when I replaced some of my older copies, I gave her the old ones. No, don’t think I’m being cheap. I like to buy books and my mother does not, she’d rather spend the money on other things. So having beat up copies of some of her favorites… she has absolutely no problem with that.

Then, when I moved back home from PA, I left most of my stuff in a storage unit… but of the books that came with me (only enough for one shelf), the Heyers were among them. All of them.

And then, I decided to head to Australia, and even for my favorite books, I was unwilling to pay full price for them (on Kindle), when I’d already paid full price for them at home. I told myself I’d borrow them from the library, once I got over here. But now I don’t have to! Some of my favorites are right beside me, loaded onto my Kindle! Hooray!

This whole time, I know, you’ve been wondering what’s the big deal, and what kind of books are these? Well, I led up to it carefully. You see, Georgette Heyer is the queen of the Regency romance, though that’s not all she ever wrote. What, you say? Why would you want to read some “garbage-y” romance? Not so fast. Make no assumptions, just because I used the word romance. And, though I’ll mention this more later, she also wrote several historical fiction novels (heavier duty stuff) and a bunch of detective novels. Keep it in mind.

You see, Georgette Heyer was following in the footsteps of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Elizabeth Gaskell, though she was writing in the 1900s. She picked up where they left off, and defined the genre for future generations. Her romances were everything that Regency romances are supposed to be… and though many have tried, very few have been able to follow in Heyer’s footsteps. All those “garbage-y” romances out there? They’re the result of female authors trying to be like Heyer, and failing. Don’t blame Georgette, or think that her books were anything like the others.

What makes her stories so wonderful, so readable (and re-readable), so fascinating? Her characters are amazingly well-drawn, and her stories are like no other. They will make you laugh out loud, and lead you where you never expected the story to go. They’re also G-rated. The heroes are sometimes strong and silent, and sometimes talkative and seemingly flippant. I think Heyer probably created the anti-hero, the “hopelessly” wicked man that is practically forced to change his ways, for the love of the right woman (the perfect woman for him, but remember, she is not perfect). These men do not become angels, you might say, but perhaps they stop being devils. And all the accompanying characters…. oh, they’re such fun. No two-dimensional side characters, they’re all fleshed out, with little quirks of their own.

And if any of the guys have continued to read, let me assure you that I know some guys who read them, because they can appreciate a good book, and don’t judge the book by its genre.

Remember how I mentioned that Heyer wrote other types of books? She was most famous for the books set during the Regency period, but several other romances were set in the Georgian era, in England. A few more are serious historical fiction, such as Simon the Coldheart, The Conqueror (well-researched historical fiction on William the Conqueror), and Royal Escape (a tale of Charles II and his escape from Cromwell). And then there are the detective stories, which follow Inspectors Hannasyde and Hemingway, as they try and unravel which of the clever and hysterically funny characters could possibly have been the murderer. I’m not much of a mystery reader, never having gotten into Agatha Christie’s books, but I find Heyers detective novels to be fabulous.

Lest I ramble completely from the point, I’ll just talk about one or two of my favorites, which I now have loaded onto my Kindle. If you want to hear me ramble on about another of her books, you can see my previous post (true love and civility…), which talks about The Civil Contract.

I’m limiting myself to choices from my Kindle, which is probably a good thing, as I can never decide on one favorite. Unfortunately, The Unknown Ajax and Cotillion are not dirt cheap at Amazon, so I haven’t “kindled” (kindle-ized?) them yet. Ohhh, but picking just two… that’s nigh unto impossible. But after several hours of deliberation (What? I had to work, today!), I’ve made my selection.

I love The Talisman Ring. Come to think of it, I may have picked two of her Georgian romances (instead of Regencies) to talk about. Oh, well. This story begins with the dying Baron Lavenham arranging a marriage between his granddaughter, Eustacie, and his great-nephew, Sir Tristram Shield. The Baron would have preferred Eustacie marry his own heir, but that young man happens to be wanted for murder, and hiding on the Continent. But after Lavenham dies, the betrothed couple find that they are very mismatched, and doomed to marital… not-bliss.

How do I explain the charm and delight of all these characters? Eustacie is half-French, very romantic, excitable, and imaginative… but for all that, she’s not an airhead, she’s very brave, and keeps her head when it’s needed. Her cousin, Ludovic Lavenham, whom she inevitably runs into, is her match in temperament, and inventiveness. Determined to prove his innocence, they enlist Sir Tristram and one Sarah Thane, to help them to clear his name, and figure out who the real murderer actually is. And it all revolves around the talisman ring.

Heyer’s characters are never dull or two-dimensional. From Miss Thane’s brother, Sir Hugh Thane, to the inn’s owner, to the bartender and the valets, they’re all fleshed out, and take part in the story. Even Sir Hugh’s love of good brandy, and his interesting opinions on the smuggling trade (considering he’s a Justice of the Peace) take a part in the story. Give this book a try (did I mention that the characters are hilarious?), you’ll never regret it. How many times have I read it? I’m not sure, I’ve probably been reading it for over ten years, and I read it several times a year. You do the math.

The Convenient Marriage is a slightly different story, also in the Georgian period. The Earl of Rule has chosen a bride, the eldest of the Winwood daughters. The Winwood family are in straightened circumstances, due to their men having a gambling problem. The only problem is that Elizabeth Winwood is already in love with someone else. However, duty to family is of first importance to her, and she prepares to marry for convenience, not love. That is, until her youngest sister steps in.

Horatia Winwood is not your everyday schoolroom miss. Barely sixteen years old, she’s short, feisty, blunt, and has obnoxiously thick and straight eyebrows. Along with her unusual looks, she has a very noticeable stammer. She decides that her sister mustn’t sacrifice herself for their family, and she goes to speak to Rule about it. Instead, Horatia proposes herself as an alternative. I won’t go into detail on how she convinces him, but she does manage it.

The rest of the book follows Horry’s gyrations as she enters the married state, finds that she has a gambling problem, and eventually, discovers true love. With her husband, of course! This is not a stupid modern romance.

Alright, I’ve finished my spiel. If I haven’t convinced you by now, you never will be. Give Georgette Heyer a try! Choose the detective novels and historical fiction, if you prefer. But remember what I said before… don’t judge a book by its genre!