Tag Archives: literature

Summer Book List 2016

What could be more appealing in the hot hours of long summer days than a glass of lemonade and a book?

Here goes the Summer Book List for 2016:

  1. Lorna Doone – R.D. Blackmore
  2. Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton – Dale Ahlquist
  3. The Father’s Tale – Michael O’Brien
  4. A Landscape With Dragons – Michael O’Brien
  5. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  6. As You Like It – William Shakespeare
  7. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare
  8. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
  10. The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas
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A Cure for Writer’s Block

Over the past couple of months, I have have been doing some work on my novel-in-progress. I am determined to get a substantial amount of it written this summer, for I feel that if I don’t write it now, it shall never be done.

Image My sister is extremely excited for Camp NaNo, starting next month, so I hope that her motivation and influence will rub off on me. Which is not to say, of course, that I am not excited for NaNo, for I very much am, but rather, that I keep coming to a standstill with the actual writing and dialogue. It seems so dry and as soon as I write it, I despise it. The general ideas flow quite unrestrictedly, however. I think that is my favorite part of writing: reaching out for the ideas and images that float into my head, capturing them before they escape, and immortalizing them on paper. It is because my ideas are all the moments of action and excitement; but when it comes to the actual nitty-gritty details of writing the story down successively, all the in-between, boring, dry parts are unavoidable.

There is some hope of rescue, however. At the library, I discovered a gem of a book called “The Writer’s Idea Book” (what more tempting title could there be?) written by Jack Heffron. It is replete with over 800 prompts  to help the writer recall his own experiences and feelings, and then weave them into the lives of his characters to give them greater depth. Brilliant, in my mind.

Here are a couple sample prompts:

“Write about a public gathering you attended in a place you visited. A baseball game or street fair, an outdoor concert or historical reenactment. Put yourself there by freewriting or clustering, allowing your mind to wander back. Write about the people you saw, the smells in the air…”

“Use the description above as a backdrop for fiction, writing at least one scene in which characters deal with some sort of conflict while attending the event….”

“Begin a scene with a line you’ve overheard someone say recently. It needn’t be a catchy or powerful line. Something mundane will work: “How much are these pants?” “If you’re good, I’ll let you pick out some candy at the counter,” “Is he ever on time for a meeting?” Begin there, and move forward, providing a completely different setting and context for the line.”

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Little Women

This is my 50th post!! WOOT WOOT! well, it’s not that great an accomplishment considering I started blogging in April, but still… it..makes..me… HAPPY! Yes, very extremely, hyperlike happy!! okay I should get to the point before I get carried away with all this random cheering and happiness! So, without further ado, I would like to present to you…

My review on Little Women the movie!

(are you excited?)

You should be!

Because I am!

Anyways, I really love this movie (in case you didn’t realize that…)

 Last time I read Little Women was in grade 5 or 6, but I’ve loved the story since and it was my favourite book for several years. The characters are endearing, the story is sweet, there’s excitement, family, and just the right touch of romance added to make it the perfect story for all little girls, and grown-up girls too, who have not forgotten their childhood or perhaps still are a child at heart.

The acting in the 1994 version is quite beautifully done. The actors are well chosen and most of them are very much like I pictured them to be in the book. I do so love when the characters are well portrayed!

The story revolves around Jo, who is 15 when we meet her at the start of the story. In this movie, she has just the right amount of tomboyish-ness and mischief, while still remaining ladylike and feminine. I’ve been disappointed several times in the past by Jo’s portrayal, in the last movie I saw and a musical presentation I attended, she was unrefined, loud, with jerky, masculine movements. So I was very pleased when in this movie she was perfectly captured as feminine, yet retaining her own tomboyish qualities without which Jo would not be Jo.

At the ball Laurie. LAURIE! Well, what can I say, but that he is the sweetest, most gentlemanly, ahem-most mischevious little neighbour that the March girls could ever have! I would love to have him as my neighbour! Such a great friend! And the funny part was, that I had just watched Batman Begins the day before and then as I was starting Little Women I was astounded to see Christian Bale’s name pop out in the opening credits. And I must say I like him much much MUCH better as Laurie than Batman!

The rest of the March girls: Meg, Beth, and Amy were also very well cast, and I exceedingly enjoyed each of their performances. Although Beth, being my favourite of the March sisters, I thought could have been played even better, but that is merely my opinion as a personal fan of hers, so I daresay it’s possible I  might never be satisfied and always expect more.

 Jo is quite an inspirational character to an aspiring writer and I found myself thinking about whether I myself write for my own pleasure or only what I think others want to read. I will have to try writing a story that is 100% for my own enjoyment, not caring a whit about what other people think, and see what shall come of that. Anyways, I shall conclude now, but not without a final comment about Laurie’s proposal. Don’t you ever wish she said yes? I mean, I completely understand why she said no and I sympathize with her for the sorrow it must have caused her to refuse her best friend, but I do think they make such a cute couple!!!!

Compare:

 could this be her father? He’s caring and good, but Laurie has her fun side! Such a difficult choice! I’m glad we’re leaving it in Jo’s capable hands!

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A Bibliophile Goes Shopping

I went shopping today at a used item store. Of course, after I looked at the clothes, I went over to browse through the book section. AND THEY HAD AN ENTIRE SET OF JANE AUSTEN!!! and Jane Eyre. and Phatom of the Opera. Cyrano de Bergerac. Shakespeare’s plays. THREE Pride and Prejudice’s. And they were so cheap! I desperately wanted to buy them.

But there’s no more room on my bookshelves. *sigh*

When I couldn’t fit books vertically on the shelves anymore, I started putting them on top of each other. Then I put some of my books in a box under the bed. And then they started appearing everywhere; on the windowsill, on every little stand or table, on chairs, etc.

Yep, they were just about everywhere.

At least Cicero should be proud of me. He did say “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” (one of my favourite quotes, by the way)

Okay, so I admit, I really couldn’t resist those books at the store. In the end, I ended up buying  “A Man For All Seasons” and “Brideshead Revisited”. They are now proudly occupying the dining room shelves. Despite the fact that those shelves are already overflowing.

Ahh, the life of a bibliophile.

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Reading List

Books I plan to read someday, sometime (in no particular order):

1. Persuasion- Jane Austen

2. Eragon- Christopher Paolini

3. The Three Musketeers- Alexandre Dumas

4. The Count of Monte Cristo

5. The Prince and the Pauper- Mark Twain

6. Pygmalion- George Bernard Shaw

7. Captain Blood- Rafael Sabatini

8. Emily of New Moon- L.M. Montgomery

9. Hamlet- William Shakespeare

10. North and South- Elizabeth Gaskell

11. Screwtape Letters- C.S. Lewis

12. A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens

13. They Loved to Laugh- Kathryn Worth

14. Ivanhoe- Sir Walter Scott

15. Lorna Doone- R.D. Blackmore

16. Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen

17.  The Swan Kingdom- Zoe Marriott

18. The Enchanted Castle- Edith Nesbit

19. As You Like It- William Shakespeare

20. Nicholas Nickleby- Charles Dickens

21. Little Dorrit- Charles Dickens

22. Alex O’Donnell and the Forty Cyber Thieves- Regina Doman

23. Why Catholics Are Right- Michael Coren

24. Prove It! Series- Amy Welborn

25. Gone With the Wind- Margaret Mitchell

26. Mara, Daughter of the Nile- Eloise Jarvis McGraw

27. Emily Climbs- L.M. Montgomery

28. Emily’s Quest- L.M. Montgomery

29. The Blue Castle- L.M. Montgomery (yes, I like her books. A lot)

30. The Interior Castle- St. Teresa of Avila

31. Don Quixote- Miguel de Cervantes

32. A Gown of Spanish Lace- Janette Oke

33. Edmund Campion- Evelyn Waugh

33. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- Anne Bronte

34. The Silmarillion- J.R.R. Tolkien

35. Rob Roy- Sir Walter Scott

36. The Bride of Lammermoor- Sir Walter Scott

37. Dressing With Dignity- Colleen Hammond

38. The Phantom of the Opera- Gaston Leroux

39. Catholic in Philadelphia Court- Martin de Porres Kennedy

40. Ella Enchanted- Gail Carson Levine

41. Hattie Big Sky -Kirby Larson

42. Orthodoxy- G. K. Chesterton

43. Idylls of the King- Tennyson

44. Enemy Brothers- Constance Savery

45. Escape From Warsaw- Ian Serraillier

46. Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier

47. Confessions of St. Augustine

48. Antigone- Sophocles

49. Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster

50. Sun Slower, Sun Faster- Meriol Trevor

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Mansfield Park

    Mansfield Park is the fourth Jane Austen book that I’ve read so far. I love it! One of my favourite books ever!! How ironic that my two favourite Jane Austen novels are Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, her least popular and most disliked books, respectively. I can see how someone could dislike Mansfield Park, it is darker than Austen’s other books and perhaps at some times depressing. But the characters are so wonderful, and the storyline in my opinion, very interesting, I could not put it down! I was addicted, even when I was not reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Fanny and Edmund and Henry and all the other characters. They seemed so real, and I felt that Fanny and I had a lot in common. For instance, we’re both shy and don’t talk much (I’m generally not much of a talker, but sometimes I can talk like crazy. Especially when I’m tired. Then I talk, and chatter, and giggle- nope, you don’t want to be around me when I’m tired! But I’m getting carried away. Back to topic.) And Fanny considers herself “grave” and while I wouldn’t describe myself as such, I often don’t succeed in being funny, even if I try. . . She’s a stark contrast to Emma Woodhouse, for example, who is quite popular (that’s not the right word but what I mean is sociable) but Fanny isn’t unsociable, she just doesn’t make friends as easily. So in those respects I can identify with her. But first I should explain the story.

Fanny Price lives with her rich uncle and aunt, and four cousins: selfish Tom, kind and considerate Edmund, vain Maria, and the youngest Julia. The story begins when Fanny is about 10 years old and she comes to live with her realtions because her family is so poor, and homesick and lonely, she is miserable most of the time. But when 16-year old Edmund shows compassion for his little cousin, they grow closer and closer, becoming very close friends and confidantes over the course of 8 years. Then Fanny falls in love with her gentle, caring cousin, but his affections are directed towards someone else. [*Warning: SPOILERS!] The” Someone Else’s” brother, Henry Crawford, flirtatious and full of worldliness and vanity,  makes up his mind to make Fanny fall in love with him, but she remains strong and refuses to be decieved as she has seen others fall for his attentions and then left heartbroken. Henry ends up falling in love with Fanny himself, but she continues to refuse him, because she loves Edmund. Just as Henry is beginning to acquire gentleness and more kindness during his pursuit of Fanny, he does a terrible thing that will cost him the loss of any chance of Fanny ever returning his affections.[*End of Spoilers]

 

Oh, Henry Crawford. . .how could you??? So charming and determined in the pursuit of the only woman he thinks could ever make him happy, Fanny, he was, in my opinion, impossible to dislike, particularly when he comes to visit her in Portsmouth where she is staying with her family. It was one of my favourite parts of the book! Fanny, pining for Mansfield and all the friends she has there, is at first startled at Henry’s appearance at her doorstep, but soon begins to notice how much his manners have improved. Now, if only he had taken her advice and gone to (well, I forget the name of the place, but it was somewhere where he was to help the poor or something) perhaps he would have gotten her to love him after all! Arghhhh!!

I fell in love with Edmund when he was so kind to Fanny when she was homesick, at the start of her life in Mansfield. He seemed so human, not as dashing and romantic as Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley, but the sort of character I’d be most likely to meet in real life. He is so nice to Fanny, but it is extremely aggravating when he doesn’t have the sense enough to fall in love with her. And then at the end, when she tells him she’s loved him the whole time. . . Edmund!!

The first three quarters of the book were absolutely delightful, but near the end was when it got a bit depressing. But of course, there’s a Happily Ever After for Fanny and Edmund- perhaps not so much for several of the other characters. I thought there should have been more with Fanny and Edmund at the very end, when he tells her he loves her, IMO, the scene was a bit too short and could have used spme more dialogue. Still, the book is definitely something worth reading and thinking about. Personally, I loved it and I am so extremely happy to have read it!

-Elestyn

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Emma

   A couple days ago I finished reading Emma by Jane Austen. It was one of the books on my reading list, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t like the first half all that much, but then it got better, with Emma’s personality changing along the way (thanks to Mr. Knightley!)

 Emma is the story of a young lady whose hobby is matchmaking. After making a successful match for her friend Miss Taylor, Emma proceeds to find a husband for her 17-year old friend Harriet and gets into some scrapes in the meantime. I found Emma to be a somewhat annoying, meddling character at first but fortunately she improved in the course of the story. It was refreshing to read Jane Austen again, I haven’t in quite a while, and I look forward to reading Mansfield Park soon!

I would probably give Emma four stars out of five. Definitely worth the read!!

Emma and Harriet

I also just watched the 1996 movie starring Kate Beckinsale. I was quite pleased with the film. Emma (Kate Beckinsale) was absolutely perfect, I don’t think she could have been better! But then I haven’t seen any other versions of the movie, so I guess I’m not much of a judge. Mr. Knightley was not completely what I had imagined. It seemed to me that he almost had a worse temper than his brother John who is known for his grumpiness, and I can’t say I found Mr. Knightley to be quite as handsome as he is described to be in the book.

Ohhh, don’t even get me started on Frank Churchill, however!!! He was even more charming than I had pictured him in the book and had the most awesome curly hair and amazing eyes ever! But most of the other characters could have been played by better actors, IMO. I’m not saying the acting was bad, on the contrary, I considered it pretty good, but the actors could have been better chosen. Although I was delighted to see Olivia Williams playing Jane Fairfax. She made a very pretty, quiet Miss Fairfax, very close to what she was in the book.

The script also stayed close to the book, and the movie contained all the important parts, so overall, I was happy with this version. I’m hoping to watch the Gwyneth Paltrow version sometime soon, it will be interesting to see a blonde Emma after Kate Beckinsale’s lovely dark hair.

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