December 31, 2014

My 2014 Favorites List

I mentioned this post would be coming and here it is! My favorite reads from 2014. Looking back over the 44 books I read this year I anticipated struggling to limit my list of absolute favorites. But I surprised myself! I guess it turns out that I read several enjoyable-but-not-fabulous-beyond-reason books this year. I still read some pretty amazing stories though. So the criteria I used to pick this list was pretty simple: the book had to draw me in right from the beginning and keep me anticipating turning the pages, as well as had to be a story that I didn't forget once I closed the final chapter. Some books are fun, but once I finish I kind of forget a lot of the details. The books I've listed are unforgettable! They made me *happy sigh* many, many times and left me wishing the stories would continue forever. The authors all had the knack for sweeping me off my feet and depositing me inside their worlds for a few hundred pages, letting me forget reality even existed. Which is happiness indeed! :)


Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson - I absolutely fell in love with Edenbrooke, so my anticipation for this book was very great. I was so happy when it met my (admittedly high) expectations!


Tap & Gown by Diana Peterfreund - After having heard so many good things about this series, I was beyond thrilled to devour all four books. This one is my favorite though because everything comes to their expected yet hard-won happy ending. I DO love my happy endings! ;)


The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle - I have been searching high and low for a sequel that would do justice for my inexplicable love of Mary Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and I'm quite happy to say that this one snuck up on me. I wasn't expecting much, mainly because I'd been disappointed time and again. But this Mary is sweet and feisty and finding her way, just as I'd imagined her. And her romance is cute, which is a definite plus!


It Had to be You by Susan May Warren - My heart, it swoons! Eden and Jace's story is so wonderful and lovely and swoonworthy. These two had me at hello and refuse still to let me forget them. I just now realized that I never reviewed this one, but suffice it to say that it is definitely worth reading! Which you totally need to do, if you haven't yet.


When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren - The same could be said about this one too! Grace and Max's friendship is one of my favorite relationships of this year.


Random Acts of Murder by Christy Barritt - I don't read many mysteries, so when one catches my attention and keeps me up half the night I know I've found a keeper (either that or I need to stop reading murder mysteries late at night ;). I am decidedly a big fan of Ms. Barritt's!


The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd - Ms. Ladd's first novel was fun, but it didn't quite meet all the expectations I'd had. So I was a little leery of trying this one. Oh how happy I am that I gave it a chance! And now I am eagerly anticipating book three. :) I love when books surprise me like that.


The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien - An epic and sweeping adventure which left me longing for more! What else could a reader ask for?


A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd - Of course you knew this one would be here, right? I've only raved over it a few hundred times. And my happiness with the story is only intensified by the wonderfulness of getting to meet Ms. Lloyd in person! :)


The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab - To quote my review "Resonating with sounds and tastes and feelings, it is wonderfully expressive.....It's such a curious mix of so many different things. And it does them all well! When I closed the last page, I immediately turned the book over and started reading my favorite parts again." I absolutely love Ms. Schwab's writing!


Lizzy & Jane by Kathine Reay - This book! So full of relationships and emotions and all the messy chaos that comes with that. And SO wonderful a read. Ms. Reay has risen straight to the top of my list of authors who I'll read anything they write. Which is kind of crazy as this is only her second book! But what a story. I mean, who else could combine food, Jane Austen, and classic literature so well? This one is a must read!!!


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - Saved the best for last! This story swept me away and refused to let me go for days after I read it. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'd rush home right after work and devour my favorite scenes all over again. And I did this for at least a week or more! I have no words to tell you how phenomenal this book is. All I can tell you is READ IT!

Honorable Mentions: How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton - Both are wonderfully written stories!

12 favorites out of 44 possibles is pretty great, I must say. I tried to scratch two so I could get the perfect 10, but I just couldn't figure out which two to leave off. So 12 it is! Now tell me. What were some of your favorites from this year?

December 23, 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things......

Please tell me you sang that line in your head when you read it. ;)

I saw this fun post the other day and it inspired me to do something similar. So I'm hoping Suey doesn't mind! I plan to do a post or two about my favorite books from this year, but I thought I'd start with a general post regarding some of the things that just made me happy. Fun, right?! (I sincerely hope you think so.)
:: Making new and awesome friends in VA (As well as renewing old friendships too.)
:: Having a spot to call my very own and piling my books everywhere
:: Reading Natalie Lloyd's debut A Snicker of Magic (I know. I said I wouldn't mention any books, but this one I had to highlight because it leads to my next favorite...)
:: Going to Nashville to the Southern Festival of Books and meeting Natalie Lloyd in person (The biggest highlight of my whole year!!)
:: Spending time with my nieces and nephews (Also getting trounced in any wii sport I tried. My nephew is a whiz at that stuff! And I am so not. ;)
:: Finding a library that is amazing and awesome and words can't even describe
:: Library book sales
:: Several friends had new babies this year and there's still one more to come. Which means I've had lots of babies to cuddle!
:: Time with friends including tea-drinking, book-chatting, hugs, serious convos, crazy and fun convos, laughter, tears, and happiness.
:: Getting The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on dvd and rewatching all the fun again.
:: I'm completely hooked on Call The Midwife. SO good.
:: Also LOVE Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Such a great series.
:: Austenland Enough said.
:: You've Got Mail twitter-quoting parties!
:: Chai tea
:: Bike trips surrounded by beautiful Autumn leaves
:: Hikes and waterfalls and ice-skating and sunrises and sunsets
:: Online friends who welcomed me back after a looonngg absence and make my heart happy with your comments and twitter convos and blog posts. Hugs for all of you!
My year has been full. For all the chaos and craziness, there has been SO much wonderful and happy. Here's hoping 2015 is even better! :)

December 17, 2014

A Happy Moment {Or The Day I Met A Soon-To-Be Debut Author}


What a does this cute cover have to do with my happy moment, you may ask? A whole lot actually. :)

So this past weekend, I had the good fortune to meet Rosanna Huffman through a mutual friend. This lovely lady just happens to be a writer and that book up there just happens to be her debut novel!

And you guys! She loves to read and we proceeded to have a fabulous convo about our favorite books and writers. It was a very happy moment! She's so excited to have her book published and couldn't stop grinning the whole time we talked about it. Which I loved. Enthusiastic writers/readers make the best conversationalists, don't you think? :) The book is being published in March, so keep your eyes out for it. Or better yet, preorder it! (Yes. I am shamelessly urging you to pick up a book by someone I know. Which should totally be reason enough, right?)

Anyhoo, I think the cover is pretty and couldn't help sharing. It's always great to help spread awesome news like new books coming out! :)

December 14, 2014

Bookish {And Not So Bookish} Thoughts :: Edition Two

This is a weekly meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous where we write about stuff. I happened to see this via Birdie at Lady of the Manor and thought I'd join in.
1. Don't those pies look delicious? I discovered this cute little spot (called Piety-isn't that name perfect?!) that serves mini pies and hot tea and I declare that it may just become my new favorite place to visit! :)

2. The Christmas season is definitely upon us! I had to actually go to the mall this weekend for my dad since he's completely clueless when it comes to shopping for the grandchildren and my was it busy. I was quickly reminded why I don't like to go to the mall in December. (Actually I don't really like to go to the mall in general, no matter the time of year. I'm just not much of a mall shopper anymore. I used to love going, but that was when I was young and silly. Which I'm neither of anymore. Yes. That is sarcasm. Moving on! :)

3. Friendships are wonderful. I had lunch with some old friends this past week and it was so much fun. These are friends that, while we don't live too far apart, our lives are just busy enough and different enough that we don't get together very often. But when we do! Oh my, the laughter, the conversations, the happy just explodes from all of us. It's like no time has passed and we just begin where we left off last time! It's a beautiful thing.

4. As you know, I finally finished The Hobbit and want to read Lord of the Rings sometime. I'm also anxious to watch the movie versions of The Hobbit as well! But I'm thinking I want to wait until the final movie is out (which happens this next week I believe?) and then have a giant marathon of all three movies. And then have a huge-o-matic marathon of all six movies! Not sure when that's gonna happen, but hopefully early next year. (Doesn't that sound awesome?!)

5. Speaking of next year, I cannot believe that 2014 is only mere weeks from ending! Where has this year gone?! I may have mentioned this before, but seriously. I can hardly believe it's been an entire year since my Big Move. It's crazy how fast time flies!

6. Haven't done a huge amount of reading recently. Life's just been crazy busy and reading has taken a back seat. *sadface* I'm wondering if I'm even going to finish my Goodreads challenge. At the moment it's looking doubtful, but who knows? Maybe I'll suddenly read a flurry of books all in a row! Doesn't that sound delightful? :)

7. Kami, Jenni, and Suey are hosting a read-along of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell in January! As much as I LOVE the miniseries, I haven't ever really properly read the book (*gasp* I know, right?!). So I really want to join in. How about you?

8. I haven't been able to watch many of the new Hallmark Channel Christmas movies this year which just makes me sad. But I've vicariously kept up with them thanks to Rissi's awesome reviews, which you should totally check out.

9. Birdie wants to send out Christmas cards, so if you'd like one head over here and give her your address! She's the nicest, plus real mail is fun to receive, so I can promise that it'll be a great addition to your Christmas season.

10. Hamlette and Joanna both wrote fantastic posts about personality types and their favorite fictional characters. Firstly, can I just say that I love not being the only one who analyzes stuff like this? :) And secondly, can I also admit that I haven't actually sat down and analyzed this specific topic? Although I do plan to! Because it's so interesting to think about. Why do I like the characters I like? What is it about certain characters that make me love them immediately, while others I can't stand? Aside from the fact of who is cast as the villain or the hero? Not sure where this analysis is going to take me, but I plan to find out! :)

December 4, 2014

Review: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

(Let me preface this by saying I may get a little longwinded. I have lots of thoughts to share!) (Plus I'll probably spoil some plot points.) (But no more than the narrator does! ;) I've been wanting to read Tolkien's work ever since I watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy actually. But when I looked at that series of books, I got a little intimidated. It seemed clear based on just a little skimming through that Tolkien is a very intelligent writer (true!) and would require me to think a great deal while reading his stories (I assumed). When I mentioned this fact to a few friends, I got told more than once that I should definitely start with The Hobbit. It would give me a good taste for his writing and be a pretty quick and easy read. I finally picked up my own copy and when I found the audiobook at the library, I snatched it up as well and proceeded to have loads of fun during my driving time!

Because that's what this story is. A very fun adventure. From the very first sentence we get taken along as Bilbo gets swept into the most incredible adventure of his life. One in which he is unsure whether he'll even come back alive. (Spoiler: he does. But it's what happens between leaving and coming home that makes for a wonderful read.) That first chapter is completely what sold me. The narrator of the story is hilarious! I wasn't expecting to laugh my way through this book at all. But that's exactly what I did! By using a narrator, the reader is privy to loads of little asides and comments and foreshadowing, all told by a sometimes snarky and always fantastic storyteller. The fellow made me grin quite often. I think that was one of my favorite aspects of the story, the narrator and his humor.

Now then, let's talk Bilbo. He's a little hobbit who has lived a good life and is quite happy to settle for just that. A good life. But he has no idea of the huge potential within himself to become something amazing. And that's what made me love him. The fact that he's got such courage and bravery inside and doesn't even realize it until it's forced out of him. I like that he's so clueless, yet never once hesitates to step up and do the brave and right thing every single time. He surprises himself!  He's far from perfect though. He complains a lot and wishes multitudes of times that he'd stayed home. Yet I don't think he truly feels like that, for all the times he mentions it. I kept getting the sense that his inherent fondness for adventure (buried though it was), the Took side of him, was actually his true self. And that every time he was forced to step up and make a deciding choice, his inner self was built up and through this unlooked-for adventure, he became who he was truly meant to be. If that makes any sense at all. His complaining is really just a habit that he created because, wouldn't anyone? If they were so constantly looked down upon by the people they spend their time with (i.e. the dwarves)? Plus he had become quite settled into his boring little life before. ;)

Speaking of the dwarves, they certainly deserve a mention. From Thorin down to Bombur, they all make very interesting traveling companions. I loved how Bilbo kept surprising them! I also loved how they grew to respect and care for him. Especially Balin. (He was my favorite!) They make plenty of mistakes for sure. But when push comes to shove, once they trust Bilbo, their loyalty knows no bounds. One particular moment I enjoyed is just after they get out of the barrels and are feeling all battered and bruised. Thorin makes the statement "And I suppose we ought to thank our stars and Mr. Baggins. I am sure he has a right to expect it...No doubt we shall feel properly grateful, when we are fed and recovered." Proof of how much their initial judgment of Bilbo had been changed. Even in a moment when they're feeling quite put out, they do realize exactly how grateful they are to have Bilbo along after all. It's a nice little bit. And even when other mistakes are made later (particularly by Thorin), it was so good to see their regret as respect for Bilbo once again rears its head. The dwarves have as much to learn as Bilbo does. Plus they tend to add a bit of humor to certain situations. :D

This world that Tolkien has built is magnificent in it's grandeur! Each place the group traveled to was richly described and I could picture every moment and every spot. I am, without a doubt, in awe of his ability to create an entire world that feels incredibly real. Every stop in the journey felt as if those living there had been there forever. And that they are still there, even after we left them, just living their lives and their own adventures. Much of the actual traveling time is quickly spoken about with just a few sentences, yet I could easily picture the days and miles between each geographical area. It all feels huge! Exactly like Tolkien wished, I'm sure.

With trolls and goblins and elves and men and magical rings and spiders and dragons and eagles and wolves and even a skin-changer, there isn't much that Tolkien leaves out of his story! (I confess to skimming quickly through the spider part, as I'm not a fan of even fictional ones. I was just glad when Bilbo once again stepped up to the plate and played the hero. :) I ended the story with just the feeling that a friend told me I would have. I'm now anxious to try The Lord of the Rings! Bilbo's adventure has only whetted my appetite for more of Middle Earth. :)

And I also must mention that Rob Inglis read for the audiobook and he was perfect! With his British accent and low, kind of gravely voice, it felt sort of like Tolkien himself was reading to me. I'm thinking I need my own copy of this particular audiobook. He was wonderful!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

November 30, 2014


Listening To: Christmas music of course! Now that it's officially the Christmas season, I love turning on the radio and hearing Christmas songs. :) My current fave is Pentatonix (I know. I mentioned this group as a favorite a couple months ago. But I'm still loving them! So I'm sharing it again.)

Reading: I actually just finished reading and listening simultaneously to The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. And wow! What an adventure! I have lots of thoughts and once I can get them coherently into an actual review, I'll be posting about it. But I can tell you that I really enjoyed it. It made my drives to and from work ever so much more exciting! (Plus now I'm excited to watch the movies, as if I wasn't already.)

Enjoying: Quiet holiday's that let me have a day off in the middle of the week. Unfortunately I still had to work on Friday, but it was so nice to have Thanksgiving day to relax and refresh myself.

Watching: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and I'm loving this series!! Seriously, if you haven't watched it, you need to remedy that soon. The set design, the costumes, the characters, the writing, it's all fabulous! Once I'm finished, I think I'll have many feelings to expound on, so be on the lookout! ;)

Feeling: Festive. All this Christmas music and lights and decorations that I'm seeing has been instrumental in getting me excited for Christmas. Not to mention all the fun Christmas movies I'm watching! Last year I was feeling quite discombobulated at this time, what with my big move and all, so I'm very happy to feel more excited this year.

Craving: Pumpkin pie. I had a couple slices on Thanksgiving and now I'm craving more! Must needs to visit mom and dad's soon, see if I can talk them into sharing it again. ;)

Loving: Christmas movies! I love all the cheesy and sweet Christmas movies that show this time of year. I haven't had the chance to watch too many new ones, but it's been great fun digging out my favorites I have in my stash. Makes for a perfect evening, I must say. Been thinking I should do a post about some of my very favorites. What say you?

Anticipating: Seeing some of my out-of-state family that will be visiting for Christmas. Several of my cousins I haven't seen since last year, so it'll be fun to catch up again. Plus it's been a few months since I've seen my brother's family, I'm counting on lots of splendid niece/nephew-spoiling going on! :D

Celebrating: This season that we're entering. Christmas is a wonderful time of year, just like that old song says. Full of family, delicious food, parties, delightful movies, festive lights, fun music, and a wonderful Reason to celebrate. (Why yes. I'm quite looking forward to it! Can you tell?)

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

"The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy, knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things."
~ Lois Lowry


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all my American readers are having a lovely day full of family, food, and fun. And that everyone else is having a wonderful day as well! :)

November 24, 2014

Falling For Jane

Jane Austen, English novelist whose works include Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one delights in something, to be able to share that happiness with someone who understands is a wondrous occasion. And a particular story you enjoy quite a lot is probably not to be shared in lengthy detail with someone of your acquaintance who does not read at all, as they will most likely become bored with the subject long before you. Hence, you can imagine my astonished joy when a dearest friend commenced to reading Jane Austen and has, quite simply, fallen in love! :)

This delightful happenstance has led to many an attempt at "Austen-ese" via text message. Which leads to much grinning on my part. It has also led my brain to begin thinking. (As if I'm ever not thinking. My brain never shuts off!)

For instance, I contemplate when I first fell for Jane. I have to remember back several years. I confess it didn't happen until my twenties. I do remember watching Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson at a friend's house when I was still in school, but my true appreciation for Jane didn't begin then. It began in my early twenties when I watched Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I found the '96 version as well as the '80 version at a small library and proceeded to watch both and fall in love. I can't even tell you exactly what it was that struck me. The whole experience of the time period, the dresses, the characters, the accents, the words they used (felicity! thither! "...a pair of fine eyes..."!), it all combined to draw me in and made me search out every detail on Austen herself, her books, and all the adaptations of her stories. I began to collect just about every adaptation that I could get my hands on! And obsessively watch them many, many times.

Sadly for me, no one of my immediate circle of friends understood my obsession, so I was left to squeal and fangirl all by myself. Then I discovered the online community of awesome people who love Jane too! And that made me very happy indeed. :D

And all that thinking about Jane has lead me to wonder what exactly it is that makes her still so popular. (Note: Many, many others have contemplated this exact thing and have written lots of wonderful articles and posts about it much more eloquently than I. All I'm going to venture into is a small portion of my thoughts and opinions on this subject.)

Emma & Mr. Knightley
In speaking with said friend, who is currently making her way through Emma, one thing did come out. She didn't precisely say this, but I think she had had this idea of Jane's writing to be much more romantic than it actually is. Not to say that Jane's stories don't have romance in them because they do! And quite swoonworthy it is too. ;) But I think the adaptations tend to focus quite a lot more on that aspect than the actual books do. Which, when I think about it, how can we expect real people to be able to accurately act out all the minute details and observations that Jane employs in her books? We can't. That's the difference between books and movies. It's the quandary that will always be there, in my opinion. Writing can convey ever so much more than a person can act out. Because we simply can't read minds like we can via a book. (Which is okay. I can appreciate both things. I like Jane's books a great deal, but I'm also more than a bit fond of all the adaptations out there. :)

In fact, in going back and reading a few portions of her stories that I have on my shelves, I was reminded that Jane excelled in giving detail but not really giving detail. That doesn't seem to make much sense, except I don't know how else to explain it. In Persuasion (which happens to be my favorite btw), she doesn't give every single detail about what exactly was said word for word between Anne and Captain Wentworth in the final few chapters, yet she gives enough detail that we understand completely what they said and how they said it and what they were feeling. So there's plenty of detail, but it's not the he-said-then-she-said-then-he-responded-and-then-she-responded kind. She alludes to it more or less. Does that make sense? It's something that's pretty unique to her writing. And it's a part of her writing that I really like actually.

If you're an Austen fan, I think it's safe to say that whatever our reasons for liking her stories, she most certainly was an excellent writer! And when you're privileged to find another fan of hers (especially in real life!), it makes for wonderful and fun conversations. :) What about you? When did you first fall for Jane? What was it that made you a fan? I'm curious to know how it happened for everyone else!

November 23, 2014

Blog Tour Review: How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes (Plus Giveaway!)

How a Star FallsI had the privilege of reading an advance copy of this wonderful story and can I just say how sweet it is? For a novella, it packs quite a bit of heart and sweetness into just a few pages! Ms. Stokes branches out beyond her usual historical genre and tries her hand (beautifully I might add! :) at contemporary romance.

Derrick is a young man who is still trying to figure out what he wants in life. Which is extremely easy to relate to, for haven't we all struggled with that very question? And when Brielle suddenly falls into his life, she emphasizes how lost he feels. Which he doesn't appreciate at first! But it doesn't take long before these two lost souls begin to discover things about themselves through the influence of the other. And the mystery of who Brielle really is keeps you turning pages and wanting to know what will come next!

Mystery, romance, family bonding, and just all around fun makes this little story a delightful read. When you're in need of a sweet story and with only a small amount of time to escape real life for a while, this is the perfect book to pick up! Most definitely recommend. :)

"Are you familiar with Orion?"
Her question sent a jolt through him-a needle prick of memories from a childhood that felt light-years away. He simply jerked his head in a semi-nod.
She glanced up at the stars. "I'm from Orion's Belt." At his groan, she only grinned and added, "You could say the great hunter sent me."
"Is this some kind of joke? What on earth are you on?"
About the Author

Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest-a part of the world she's always considered home. Learn more about Amber's books at Seasons of a Story.

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November 19, 2014

Things of Note...

  1. I saw this cover the other day and let me just say that it's awesome in real life!
  2. I am sooooo terribly behind in responding to comments on here for which I apologize. I totally meant to respond last night and got distracted with other blogs. Before I knew it, my allotted blogging time was gone! I shall respond soon though. I promise! (And thank you for your patience with me.)
  3. A shout out to all my awesome blogging friends. I've met so many of you amazing ladies and love your writing. I only wish I could find more time to visit your blogs and chat with you more often! Your friendships are a bright spot in my life. So thank you.
  4. And to anyone else who visits here but may not say much (if there are any of you), a hello your way as well! Thank you for stopping by. Your visits are much appreciated. :)
  5. I hope y'all are having a lovely week!
  6. Also, I hope to have an actual real post coming soon. If not before, then definitely this weekend! I've a review coming on Sunday of a most delightful story, so be on the lookout.
  7. Til next time, my lovelies.

November 12, 2014

Isn't It Odd.....

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times? As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells....and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower...both strange and familiar." ~Cornelia Funke

November 11, 2014

The Paradise {series one}

I am a huge fan of period dramas. (Talk about stating the obvious, right? ;)

Give me an Austen adaptation and I am a very happy lady! I'm not just fond of Jane Austen though. There are lots of wonderful period dramas out there, and I am slowly getting my chances to watch some of them. The Paradise has been out on dvd for quite a while and why it's taken me so long to get around to watching it I'll never know. But watch it I did, so on with the post, shall we?

I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent in this vast and ahead-of-its-time store. Firstly, the set designers did an absolutely fantastic job! The sets are simply amazing. I watched the behind the scenes footage and they talked about how it's actually all one big set where you can walk in the front door and wind your way through almost all of the rooms used for filming. Which is cool! The way the show is filmed, the store feels like a real place and I suspect the ability to be one big set helps a lot with that feeling. But also the hats! And the dresses! And the gloves! (Ladieswear in general.) And every other part of the store! It all combines, along with the characters themselves, to create a lush and scenic show to watch. We see the elegance of the front surroundings, yet also behind the curtain, to where the real (and less elegant) lives of the shopgirls exists. It's quite amazingly well done, in my opinion.

And I also loved all the clothes the actors got to wear. Not so sure it was comfortable for them, but they looked fabulous! The ladies dresses especially. The particular time period this is set in (1870s) certainly made the fashions quite stunning. So many colors and designs. And the hairstyles! I loved the hairstyles and all the hats the ladies wore.

But of course, one of the most important aspects is the characters. Any period drama would be utterly lost without unique characters! And this one most definitely has those. Mr. Moray and Denise are the most intriguing for me. Mostly because they get the most airtime and much of the story revolves around one or the other. Or both! They certainly have palpable chemistry together. But there's also Pauline (who I loved) and Clara (who had to grow on me), as well as Sam (who had to grow on me as well) and Dudley (who is such a great friend and manager) and Jonas (who is extremely creepy) and Arthur (who is cute and just made me want to sweep him into a hug, he could use a little more love in his life). Also Miss Audrey (who had such a great storyline, I wasn't sure about her at first, but I grew to really like her) and Denise's Uncle Peter (who was awesome), and then there's Katherine (who I didn't like) and her father, Mr. Glendenning (who I didn't really like either). Not to mention several side characters of note! Plus it's just so fun to see several familiar faces as well as some new ones. I especially loved seeing Olivia Hallinan (of Lark Rise to Candleford) again. Even if her character wasn't especially lovable. :)

All in all, it's quite a fun series and now I'm anxious to see series two and find out what happens. I do have to admit, however, that while I enjoyed it, I wasn't blown away with happiness. I don't think it'll be one that I'll add to my collection anytime soon. The storylines just simply didn't grip me like I thought they might. I ended up skimming through several of the episodes and not feeling like I had missed much. But overall, I'm still very happy I watched it. And I would recommend it to any other period drama lover as well. For the fashions alone if nothing else! :)

November 10, 2014

Movie Quote Monday :: Edition Five

Andrew Larkin: [of his sister's children] One of them's named for me.
Veronica Fisher: Which one?
Andrew Larkin: [slightly confused] Andrew.

I had an epic twitter-quoting rewatch of You've Got Mail with Amber recently and Courtney jumped in and asked if either of us had seen In The Good Old Summertime (since both movies are based on The Shop Around the Corner from 1940). I'd forgotten about the movie, but I had seen it several years ago. Thinking about it made me want to watch it again, so when I happened to stumble across a copy this past weekend, I was quite thrilled and snatched it up! Needless to say, I spent a very enjoyable couple hours. I do admit that I don't think it's quite as cute as You've Got Mail, but it has Judy Garland, so that makes it worth watching. The above quote made me giggle. All the conversations between these two are loads of fun! If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend. :)

November 5, 2014

Thoughts On 'Death Comes to Pemberley'

As I am positive most of you are aware, I am a huge Jane Austen fan. And having read many a sequel based on her stories, to say that I was excited when I heard they were adapting one of them would be an understatement! Now that I've watched it, I knew I needed to post about it. Because as I so eloquently said on twitter, I have FEELINGS. ;)

Okay. To be perfectly honest? If the words "Jane Austen" are attached to a project, you can bet that I'll watch it! Whether it turns out that I love it or hate it, I will absolutely be watching it regardless. Because I just love watching any of Austen's characters come to life via a real person. Whether an actual adaptation or a reimagining, I never get tired of them. At least I haven't yet. I am one of those people who is always glad for another adaptation. In fact, I wish there'd be as many adaptations of her stories as there are of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre! (I mean seriously. There are so many of those!) Ms. Austen could use a few more to catch up. Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that?

I could not wait to see Darcy and Lizzy's married life on my screen. Though I do admit to having some concern about what this would turn out like. Whether this Darcy and Lizzy would live up to my expectations or whether I would enjoy watching a mystery with Lydia and Wickham having prominent roles. And I can quite happily tell you that I was far from disappointed! I loved it. Pure and simple. :)

First of all, it's beyond wonderful to see Darcy and Lizzy after they're married. The first scene they're in together is so cute! Their playfulness and flirtiness is adorable. Yet they haven't lost their individual personalities. Darcy has softened and warmed up due to Lizzy's influence, but he's still got a little stern edge to him. Still a little stiff and awkward, which is completely to be expected. People do change, but their inherent personalities don't do a complete 180 and disappear. So it was nice to see Darcy come onscreen and I could recognize him immediately, even without knowing Matthew Rhys was going to play him.

And Lizzy! Anna Maxwell Martin is a wonderful actress. I've loved her in so many other period dramas, so I figured she'd do a fine job. Which she did. I do admit, however, that at the beginning of the series I was wondering about her. Lizzy is spunky (Thanks, Courtney, for the word! :) and I wasn't sure I could sense that at first. But with a little more time spent with her, and also the realization that of course she'd change some too after getting married, I grew to really like Ms. Maxwell's version of her. Her warmth and teasing of Darcy (And his teasing her back! Absolutely loved that.) is so much fun. Where would these Darcy siblings be without Lizzy in their lives? Let's not even contemplate such a thing!

(via) I think this may be my favorite scene. :)
Darcy and Lizzy together? And happy? With an adorable and precocious son? (Who totally takes after his mother's energy and fun! ;) Is absolutely wonderful. I actually wish that the mystery would take less prominence and we could just spent the rest of the series hanging out with Darcy and Lizzy in their happiness. (What? I'd totally watch three hours of just them interacting together. They're adorable I tell you! ;) Of course, this wouldn't be a period drama without a little drama, right? So the sweetness of Darcy and Lizzy gets shook up a little when a murder happens on their property and Wickham is involved.

Which brings in many of the other original characters, Lydia and Wickham, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Georgiana, Jane, and even Lady Catherine herself! Lizzy and Lady Catherine's scene is quite amusing. It was great to see that Lizzy hasn't lost any of her quick wit when it comes to parrying Lady Catherine's biting remarks. Wickham is, of course, his usual awful self. Lydia, while irritating, does have her cute moments and shows she's grown up a little. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet haven't changed any and neither has Jane. She comes to give Lizzy some comfort and it was oh so good to see the sisters' relationship is still as lovely as ever. Georgiana has grown up and now has a potential suitor of her own, though she's pretty loathe to admit to it at first. The two of them are quite delightful together though. Eleanor Tomlinson does such a fantastic job of bringing Georgiana to life! She was definitely one of my favorite characters.

While the mystery aspect isn't my favorite, I'd rather focus on the characters, it's certainly very well written. (P. D. James clearly knows her stuff. I'm thinking I should read the book sometime.) I'm one of those people who never figures out whodunit until the characters themselves do, so the twist near the end snuck in and surprised me! For those of you who may have read the book, and anyone else really, you probably saw the twist coming a mile away. But alas, I'm a little dense when it comes to clues. I'd never make a good detective!

Filming wise, it was so fun to see Chatsworth House again. This location was used in the 2005 P&P and was a nice little callback to that. It's quite stately and pretentious looking, but I liked that Lizzy seemed comfortable there. In P&P, it felt very stiff and here it felt more like a home. Whether that was intentional or not, I'd like to think that it was due to Lizzy making it feel that way. :)

I could continue on, but clearly this post is an explosion of words already and I'd hate to bore you. But suffice it to say that the series is excellent! Have you watched it? Or read the book? What did you think? Tell me, tell me! I'd love to chat about it with you.

November 4, 2014

Random {Yet Current} Lists Are Fun!

  • Isn't that cover awesome? I found it at the library and let me just say, that while I had seen it online and thought it very cool, it is way better in person! I haven't been able to actually finish this book (though I have tried), but I'd totally buy it simply to have that cover on my bookshelf. :)
  • So! In case you're wondering, yes, I am still here (obviously). Life has just been busy in the last week or so and before that, I was (still am kind of) going through a strange phase (by which I mean I cannot describe it in words) where I just couldn't get very enthused for any posts. But I hope I'm on the other side of that now because I've got several ideas running through my head currently! Yay! :) Although I should warn you that my posting will still likely be sporadic because the next couple weeks of work are looking crazy. However! Posts will be forthcoming. So thank you for your patience and for sticking with me. :)
  • I really wanted to post last week about this because that's when the book was officially released but alas. Regardless of that frustrating fact, I shall endeavor to mention it now! Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay is out and about in your neighborhood stores! (Or it should be anyway. If they haven't sold out of them. Which could totally be possible since the story is amazing and awesome and fabulous and every other synonym for wonderful.) So if you haven't gotten your copy yet.....what on EARTH are you waiting for?! Don't wait! Waiting is bad! Go go go and get your copy now! (Have I mentioned that you should really go and read it? You should. It's wonderful.)
  • Also for point of fact, I thought it was pretty great that Ms. Reay's book released on my mother's birthday. My copy of the book is currently on loan to a friend, but I hope to get my mom to read it sometime. It's just the sort of story she'd like. And on a personal note (in case anyone is wondering), my mom is doing pretty well right now. So yay for that!
  • I have been thoroughly enjoying all the lovely colors of Autumn for the past month! As I missed most of it last year due to moving, it's seemed extra colorful to me this year. A couple friends and I went biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail a couple weeks ago and let me just say that biking through the quiet and still with all that color around you is simple amazing. I was in awe all day long. (Well. Until my tail bone started protesting. It very clearly spoke to me and said that I am severely out of shape. Which means that the last few miles I may not have concentrated on the color as much as thinking "I think I can. *wheeze* I think I can. *gasp* I think.....*whew*.....maybe.....I can?" ;)
  • Also for the record, did you know that mules can live for a very long time? I met a mule named Moses recently who was 47 years old. Yes, in human years. And he could still jump! I think the highest he went that day was 30 or 40 inches? Which is kind of high when you're old! He's pretty amazing.
  • I hope y'all have been doing well. Read any good books lately? Somehow my reading has gotten pushed back and I haven't read anything much. :( I know. Crazy, right? I have several books just waiting for me to find the right time and the right mood, so I hope I can get to more reviews soon!
  • Til next time.

October 23, 2014

A Moment of Happy

  • The minions make everything better!
  • Okay, if you haven't read this post titled "Who Crushed Better: You Or Your Grandma?", then let me assure you that you should stop everything right this very minute, and GO READ IT! Lotsa eyecandy and fun. Trust me. You'll thank me after. ;)
  • In the spirit of Halloween which is just around the corner (where did this year go?!), read this post by Heather Dixon.


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