February 22, 2018

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-Four

Hello, my lovelies! I trust your week is going well. I've had various ups and downs for various reasons here recently. But there's a fun Anne of Green Gables read-along coming up in March to look forward to, as well as ALL the books for the INSPYs! So I have plenty to be happy about. How about you? :)

We are gathered here today to go over a few small reviews for the newest stories that I've read. So let's get to it, shall we?

Meet Cute by a variety of authors
There was definitely a couple really adorable meet cute's in this anthology. But of the however many super quick stories written here, many more of them were not at all what I'd imagined when I started the book. Perhaps it was that so many of them ended far too soon (which, I know, is the point of the book), so I never really got the chance to actually care about most of the characters. I don't know, I just never clicked with a lot of them, so I found myself skimming through really fast.

However, I can say that two or three of the stories left me hanging enough to wish I could read a full length story about those two characters, so it wasn't a complete wash! I grinned over the cute a few times and remember thinking a couple of the stories were fairly quirky fun. So overall, I'd suggest reading this if you LOVE one of the authors therein.

Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer
Of course I loved this! It's Iko, and Iko is always awesome. :) I especially loved getting an even deeper glimpse of her origins and how she came by her unique personality. It required her to work through some rough emotions, but she wouldn't be our beloved Iko if she couldn't come through stronger on the other side!

It was delightful to catch back up with the Lunar gang and see them always have each other's backs and just simply be the best little surrogate family any Earthen, Lunar, or android could ask for! Grand adventures continue to get thrown in the path of our gang and I just loved seeing them all step up and do the hard thing when needed, yet always with love at the heart it. With all the harshness these characters have faced, I love that they refuse to let it get them down.

I do have to admit that while the art is very well drawn, it isn't my favorite. And there were a few times it bothered me in this particular book. But it didn't take away from my overall feelings of happiness once I'd finished! If you like Iko (and who doesn't?!), then I say dive in! :)

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White
I've been hearing nothing but rave reviews for Ms. White's stories for a few years now, so she's been on my radar. And after seeing the same gushing over this particular story, something about it convinced me I needed to try it. I'm so glad I did! Because the chemistry between Willa and Lukas...?? Oh my stars!!! :D

Yet it's not just their chemistry, I think my favorite part is simply how music resonates for both of them. It reaches down deep in their hearts and settles there, inspiring and encouraging them. The way Willa, especially, gets swept up in her violin playing struck me from the very first pages and is why I, ultimately, decided to bring this one home from the store. (Although I can't deny that the romantic tension was also a big factor in that decision! ;)

The combination of connecting with the characters and their delightful romance, as well as the building tension of the mysteries to be uncovered, all come together to create a beautifully written story. I was thoroughly swept up and closed the final pages with a happy sigh. It's a keeper, friends! For sure.

February 21, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Read-Along :: March 2018

My AWESOME blogging friends Jenni, Suey, and Kami are hosting an Anne of Green Gables read-along in March (which starts the end of next week)!!!! So naturally I knew I wanted to participate. I've had chances to read this particular book with other friends, but it didn't suit my schedule as well. This time I'm determined to make it work! :) I love this story, and I love Anne, herself, to bits! But I haven't actually read the book in years, so I'm definitely excited. You should totally join in too! These ladies always host the BEST read-alongs, with fun, thought-provoking questions and every time I've read a book with them, it's always been fabulous.

(So have I talked it up enough yet?? You should listen to me then, and join in. ;)

Anyhoo! Here are all the details:

Reading Schedule:
Chapters 1-13: March 1-11   
Chapters 14-26: March 12-22
Chapters 27-38: March 23-31

There will also be Discussion Posts and Twitter Chats and even a Movie Watching! I have not seen any of the updated Anne movies/miniseries/tv shows (whatever they all are). I hear good things! But I'm still so partial to the '80s movies, so I was thrilled that they are going to watch that one!

Stay tuned, friends. And sign up here! :)

February 12, 2018

My Thoughts on Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

Isn't that an awesome setup?!
{Beware. I have FEELINGS about our lovely playwright...}

So over the weekend, I had the privilege of watching Shakespeare's Hamlet onstage at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse. And I have to admit that I was uncertain about it beforehand. As you may or may not know, my dear friend, Hamlette, LOVES this play (as if her name doesn't give that away, right? ;) and so, due to her enthusiasm and the fact that I'd be watching it with her, I decided to give it a go. Just to say I'd seen it once, but mainly to spend more time with her! (I totally admit that latter reason was the biggest one of all.) When someone is really passionate about something, it makes me happy to listen to them expound on why they love it so, even if I don't happen to feel the same way. Such was the way Hamlette feels about Hamlet, and also why I agreed to watch it with her. :)

But y'all!

Oh, wow. To say that I was blown away by the acting? Especially the guy who played Hamlet himself, Josh Innerst? Just WOW.

Okay, so I feel I should preface all of this to explain my relationship with Shakespeare thus far in my life. I've never been a huge fan of his, to say the least. I knew he was considered a "classic writer" or whatever term fits. But there's loads of classics out there that I've no interest in reading! So that meant nothing. In high school, we had to read Romeo & Juliet, and can I just be honest with you? (All R&J lovers out there, please don't hate me) Romeo and his Juliet have got to be the stupidest teenagers I've ever read about. I enjoy love stories, okay? Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity is totally going to know that by now. But R&J? Is SO not a love story in my book. It's depressing and horrible and they make really stupid, life-ending decisions all because they were supposedly "in love". That is not love, guys. Nope. (Sorry! But my dislike of R&J is serious.)

So! As you can guess, my first introduction to our main man, Shakespeare, was a total bust! I hated Romeo & Juliet and, thus, was very uninterested in reading anything else of his. Especially when my English teacher droned on and on about how all of his characters' choices had meaning, the only "meaning" I ever got out of those characters was how depressing they seemed!

{By the by, I'm not saying I was right in feeling this way about his plays, I'm just saying that was my impression at the time...}

But! Somewhere along the way, I found out that he'd written a non-depressing play. What is this craziness?! The idea that he'd written a comedy intrigued me (especially when I figured out there was a bit of romance in it.....what can I say? I'm a hopeless fool for romance in a story.) and so when I had the chance to read Much Ado About Nothing, I took it and fell in love. I will admit that I didn't truly fall in love with it until I saw Kenneth Branagh's version onscreen.

{Sidenote, it was mentioned sometime on Saturday that Shakespeare seems to translate better once you see the character onstage or onscreen versus just reading the lines of the play. I completely agree with this!! I understand so much more of the motives of the characters based on their facial expressions and body language! Plus the humorous lines just come through SO much more clearly and hilariously. I laughed at many moments during Hamlet that I'm not certain I would have by just reading the line itself.}

Maybe I should do a post about the versions of
Much Ado I've enjoyed so far? Hmmmm....
Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson became my Benedick and Beatrice. Their banter was perfect, their chemistry was glorious, and I simply loved every minute of the story. (I know, this post is supposed to be about Hamlet, not Much Ado About Nothing! I'm getting there, promise. Hang with me here just a bit longer!)

Thus, I decided that this guy, Shakespeare, maybe wasn't worth writing off completely just yet. But I still was awfully hesitant about his really popular tragedies. I'm a happily-ever-after girl, okay?! I like my endings to at least have hope! No depressing endings for me, thank you!

So when I asked Hamlette, before we watched the play, to tell me what it is that she loves about this story so much, I was really hoping she'd help me to understand it better. I was planning to spend at least two hours with this, I wanted hope that I wouldn't be miserable that entire time! I am happy to say she did her job. :) I sat down with, maybe not an expectation to love it, but anticipation of a storyline I could understand and sympathize with. And oh, I got that. Boy, did I ever get that! :)

First of all, I was happy to have read a little about the play before watching, so I went into it knowing at least the basics of what was supposed to happen. (Shakespeare's lines, people! You have to admit that he can be a bit hard to understand when you've got an actor/actress spitting out these complicated lines lickity-split.) The best thing though? I laughed so, so many times! I was not prepared for that. I absolutely fell in love with how Shakespeare wrote in all these little moments of sarcasm! Especially during really emotional scenes. Hamlet would be all intense and focused and then suddenly throw out this ridiculous line that would catch me by surprise! It was hilarious and perfect and I think probably my favorite thing about the play. :)

dr ralph ten things to know hamlet josh innerst blackfriars playhouse
image via
Then there was the acting. I already mentioned the guy who played Hamlet. He was AMAZING, y'all. Seriously! He'd go from being all agonizing turmoil, to throwing out this sarcastic little thought, then right back into the intensity, all while never losing his momentum or energy! By the end of the play, I could see the sweat dripping down his face and could totally understand why. Because whoa! The character of Hamlet seriously requires a ton of energy! He might not be in every single scene, but his presence was felt at all times, even when offstage. He definitely had the pressure of carrying most of the heavy weight of this story and man did he ever come through. I was very impressed with his acting. And all the other actors and actresses did a wonderful job as well!

Can I just mention the play itself now though? {Beware spoilers!} Because there was one thing I was stumped on. Having read a bit about the play beforehand, I was wondering what I'd think regarding Hamlet and his "madness". Whatever website I found last week (can't remember now) mentioned about how there are differing opinions on whether Hamlet was putting on a show of being mad or if he truly did become a bit crazy. And I still don't know what I think about that! (So if you know the story, please feel free to enlighten me. I would enjoy some clarification on this.) I began the first half thinking that he was totally putting on a show, but there were moments that I began to feel uncertain. Also, considering that Ophelia then becomes mad near the end, and I do think hers was very real, then that raises the possibility that Shakespeare could have meant that Hamlet did the same. His madness was just much more slighter and he had his revenge to keep him grounded, perhaps. I don't know! All I am certain of is that there are moments when Hamlet is clearly putting on a facade. Yet was he the entire time? I think it was during the scene when he sees his father's ghost up in the ceiling/sky (whichever it was) when he's with his mother that I felt a slight doubt as to him "acting" that bit. But maybe that's just the interpretation of the director of this particular version? Maybe it's purposely vague? I don't know! What do you think?

I do want to mention how fun it was to hear several lines that I recognized but had never actually heard in their context. Like, "To be or not to be, that is the question." And "Alas, poor Yorick...", as well as "Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love." Also, "Brevity is the soul of wit." and "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Those are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head currently. I've heard or seen those lines quoted lots of times, but I never really understood them. Naturally! Because you need to hear them in context to understand! And I do. Kinda sorta anyway. :)

(Speaking of quotes, I have to mention that I had the privilege of sitting beside Hamlette and watching as she quoted the lines right alongside the actors. Very impressive! :)

Whew! Okay, I think I'd better stop here. Anyone still with me? I hope I haven't driven you all away! But to simplify, in case anyone skips all those paragraphs just to get to this one, it was an excellently done production! I really enjoyed watching it, and it wasn't depressing. I appreciated that there was a slight hopefulness at the end. Very glad I had the chance to watch it! Not so sure I'm going to run out and immediately watch every onscreen version now, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yay!

February 2, 2018

First Line Fridays :: A Brush with the Law

Hello, my lovelies. I am here for week three (for me) of First Line Fridays! How awesome am I?! (You don't need to actually answer that. ;) As usual, the lovely ladies over at Hoarding Books are hosting the fun...

So! Today is a special edition theme: Little Month...Little Book. I am not currently reading any novellas....BUT. I did remember one I read last year right around Valentine's Day and since Valentine's is almost here...

Without further ado, I give you... A Brush with the Law by Janette Rallison


It was going to be another great Valentine’s Day— at least for someone else. For Bethany Daniels it was another work day— one where her shoulders ached and she was splattered in paint.

Janette Rallison has become one of my go-to author's for sweet romances. Especially when I need a quick little pick-me-up! This particular story is super short, but super adorable! Poor Bethany has a seriously awful day, which only means there has to be a chance for it to become better, right? And when a certain fella makes his appearance? The cute really begins! It's my favorite of all the stories in this anthology and never fails to make me grin no matter how many times I've reread it. (And I've reread it at least ten to fifteen times so far! I told you. I really like it! See my review for further reference. :)

So, what are you reading this weekend? What's your first line?
Open the book nearest you and post the first line in the comments below…
OR just click over here to join in with everyone else!


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