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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Diary of Colonel Brandon, by Amanda Grange

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011
The Diary of Colonel Brandon, by Amanda Grange

Colonel Brandon happens to be one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes, and Amanda Grange's look into his private thoughts makes him even more my favorite.  In this heartbreaking, yet amusing tale, we learn of his history with Eliza, his first love, and her daughter, seduced by Willoughby.  Grange portrays Brandon's heartache so well with so few words, exactly like the soft spoken Colonel Brandon we all imagine.  His quiet love for Marianne, and his generosity to Edward create the character we all know and love.  I was moved by his grief at losing Eliza, but shed tears as Marianne accepted him at long last.  His fellow soldiers in India and in England, and his insufferable family complete the story of Austen's quiet Colonel, and give us an idea why he is the man he is.  A wonderful read for any Jane Austen fan, but a particularly delightful one for lovers of Sense and Sensibility.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here We Go Again...

So I went to the doctor today.  Who cares, you might think to yourself...people go to the doctor everyday.

For me, going to this doctor in particular, makes my blood pressure skyrocket.  My OB/Gyn is a wonderful doctor, and I have Caris because of him, but my blood pressure rises because of the anxiety I always get when he starts wanting to do tests on me.  My paternal side has a strong history of cancer, in particular a great aunt had uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancer.  You can appreciate my anxiety, yes?  I obviously have no symptoms of that deadly disease, but all it takes is a fleeting thought of it to send me reeling.  The last several times I was in his office, it was happy, baby on the ultrasound visits, and talk of bed rest and delivery.

My reasons for going today are not a secret...I want Caris to have a little sister or brother.  However, I've learned from the past that it's best if I pay a visit to the doctor and get the prescribed cocktail of glucophage, baby aspirin, and prenatal vitamins.  The more prep work I do, the better chance of the aforementioned brother or sister.  Now I am to undergo a simple procedure to get me ready, and then it's game on!

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Which I Am Annoyed...

So tonight I attended the first Aurora meeting of the semester.  I really enjoy these meetings, mostly for the discussion that I don't get being a distance student.  Well, tonight, the discussion turned interesting, and I had to bite my tongue at some remarks another student made. These remarks pegged her as young, and lacking knowledge of the literary world.  I'm not claiming I have extensive knowledge, but over time, I've learned a few things.

So it went like this- we critiqued a short story this evening and it was obvious to me that either this author did not have a good grasp of grammar, or English was not their first language.  I leaned towards the language, just because of the errors I saw.  It was a story about a woman having her forty-first birthday, and feeling like she was no longer pretty, and that her husband no longer felt attracted to her.  This woman tried many things to preserve her youth, and decided the night of her birthday to stop at a bar and have some drinks, and flirt with some men.  As she is leaving with one of these men, she walks past a jewelry store and sees that a pair of earrings she admired were gone.  She realizes her husband bought them for her, and she races home to enjoy her evening with, and dies in a car accident on the way there.

So, this student's first remark was that it was written like a cheesy romance novel.  Hrm...really?  Okay.  So I commented that perhaps this was the tone they were going for, and other than some syntax errors, it was decently written.  Her next reply was questioning whether any romance novel was well written.  Okay folks, you know where that took me.  I bit my tongue, but there was no point in arguing with a 19 year old that believes anything other than classical literature is good literature.  It turns out this author was international, and English was most definitely her second language, as I suspected.  Of course, they back peddled and said they felt horrible for saying such things, and that perhaps we should publish it because it would be an international writer.  WTF?!  I kindly pointed out it would be better to stick with quality as opposed to just having an international writer.  I really wanted to ask where HER submission was, or if she had been published.

This entire exchange just proved to me how snobbish people are about literature.  This girl is obviously a literary snob, and I don't really fault her for that, but I wish people would open their eyes and minds a bit, and look past the stereotype.  I was very irritated and said little throughout the rest of the meeting.  There was nothing to say, actually.  I had no desire to try and change her mind, but I'm still annoyed as I type this.  Is it an age thing?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, by Stephanie Barron

Having never read any in this series of books, let me first say I was very excited to learn of a mystery series featuring Jane Austen.  Being a Nancy Drew lover, I was psyched to read the entire series.

And now after reading the first mystery, I am even more psyched!  I couldn't put it down!

Jane attends her great friend Isobel, the newly wed Countess of Scargrave, at a ball in honor of her marriage.  Being of humble circumstances, you immediately feel Jane's unease at being surrounded by the finery of the ton, but she deals with it well and enjoys herself.  This pattern is repeated throughout the book, as well as her self doubt in breaking off an engagement.  It is Jane's life, mixed in with the murders at Scargrave that make this book so enjoyable.  I think if it had just been the mystery, the book would not have been as well-rounded.  Jane's natural wit when put into practice in matters other than writing is enjoyable as is her natural curiosity that serves her well as the murder trial commences and she searches desperately for the real killers while her friend sits in prison.  Her tenacity and charm endear her to most everyone...except for those who want her out of their business.

Barron's writing is flawless; her characters are well-rounded and believable, as is the mystery.  There are no gaping plot holes, and in fact, I was guessing up until the very end.  There's nothing better than a mystery where you are taken by surprise by the identity of the villain, and in this mystery, the plot details are laid out with such subtlety that you are not sure until the very end.  An enjoyable read, and I can't wait to start the next one!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The New Semester is Upon Me!

So today I received the schedule for my school return coming up in a few weeks.  This break has been way too short, and yet, I am ready to get started again.  This semester I believe will prove to be interesting, for many reasons:

Shakespeare: while I am not opposed to an entire class on Shakespeare, I will admit I am a bit intimidated.  And I have the same professor (Sister) from my Women Writer's class who I had so many problems getting my grades back.  I've already heard from a past student of this class with this professor, and the problems she had.  I hope beyond hope there are no issues.

Film, Culture, and Creativity: I can't wait for this class!  I have the same professor as I did for my images class, who so graciously allowed me an extra week to get my assignments in without paying for an extension.  I'm psyched for this one and I hope it is just as awesome as I hope it is.

Christian Ethics: Okay, my professor for this class is Mr. Collins, LOL!  All kidding aside, this isn't a class I chose to take, but rather, it's a requirement.  I have some issues with the words "Christian" and "Ethics" put together, so we'll see what this class has in store for me.  I kinda wish this was a campus class, only for the discussion.

Algebra: I'm told I have the best professor for this class, and I'm taking it alternative format, meaning it will be every other Saturday in April, and one in May.  Surely I can last this long?

So that's my rundown for the semester.  I'm still Managing Editor of the Aurora, and am currently drafting acceptance and rejection letters for the magazine.  I'm taking 12 hours this semester, and I hope with the Math being only in April and a little bit of May, I can get my other assignments done in a good amount of time and not be in fear of falling behind like I was this past semester.  *shudder*  I think I have a good mix of classes this semester, even if I am intimidated by an entire class devoted the the Bard.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowmageddon!

Ah, so here we is go...the next big snow storm of the season is upon us.  This means the mass hordes will head to the grocery store to stock up on the staples of bread, milk, and eggs, as if that will save all of mankind from a snowstorm.  I only needed a few things of the non-staple variety, so with Caris strapped into the newly sanitized shopping cart, we headed into the mass of people frantic for food to ride out the storm.  There were moms trailing three or so kids, wondering around with carts so full not one more thing would fit inside; elderly women, their coats buttoned to their chins, Isotoner gloves on, picking through the jam to find their favorite; and elderly men, with mostly empty carts except for canned soup and frozen dinners.  There were people everywhere...no aisle was empty with one exception: the wine aisle.  Here I turned and stood for a moment, checking things off my list, out of the way of the mass mob vying for the last scraps of non-perishable food.  The wine aisle was a serene wonderland of bottles and wide open spaces.  An oasis of calm.  But alas, I could not stay there forever, and back into the foray I went to stand in line to check out.  Let's not talk about how long that took.

And then the fun begins in the morning, when I attempt to drive to work in all this mess.  I'm sure there will be another rant about 4-wheel drive drivers and their stupidity.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What the hell is wrong with people? R Rated post ahead...

I am disgusted.  This will be no mild-mannered blog post, folks.  I'm pissed.  This is my opinion of the events of the day, and my opinion only. My thoughts are with everyone present at the meeting where this took place.  I cannot imagine the horror.

As I listen to the news media back track over announcing Rep. Giffords dead, and now indicating she is in surgery in critical condition, my thoughts go to the person who commit this crime.  This just proves that people cannot be adult about ANYTHING anymore, and have to act like a spoiled brat that doesn't get their way.  There's a reason America is a democracy, there's a reason so many died to preserve our freedom, and people like this have no sense of anything.  They are a waste of space.  What has happened to our country, that people think it's okay to do something like this?

And now to the shooter:

Who in the hell do you think you are?  I don't care what kind of life you had, or how bad it has been, that does not you, or anyone the right to take another person's life.  A child was killed for God's sake!  Who in the hell do you think you are, asshole?  What gives you the right to decide if one lives or dies?  Your gun?  I don't think so, asshole.  You are not fit to be a human, and I hope when the courts get through with you, you will spend the rest of your miserable life rotting in a prison somewhere (please don't let them sentenced to THFedPen!) and I hope when the bad asses in your cellblock learn what you did, they use you as their bitch.  I'm not for or against the death penalty, but someone like you deserves exactly what you dished out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting an early start!

So I'm getting closer to graduation...next year in fact.  I'll know more about exactly when after I meet with my advisor in a few weeks.  My wish for a graduation gift is a trip to England and Wales.  It's been my wish for quite a while, actually, but I think it's a great graduation gift to myself.  Geesh, that sounds narcissistic!  Regardless, it's what I want for graduation, and after all these months of my nose in a book that's not of my choosing, I think it's a fair request! ;)

Really, we've been trying to go forever now.  I've lost count of how many time we've actually started to make plans, look at dates, etc., only for something to come up and completely wipe out the idea.  Needless to say I've not been amused at those turns of events.  

Until then, I've decided to start my England 2012 bank account.  Monday I will go to the bank and start an account.  I have no idea when I'll have any extra money to dump in there, but I'll do my best.  I figure if I give up some things during the week, I can slowly build until I at least have spending money! lol

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I read romance novels

I get this question a lot it seems, and I'm not sure why.  What is is about romance novels that make those who do not read them, question me as to why I read them?  Is it because they contain *gasp* sex? they whisper.  Am I trying to escape from something? they ask knowingly.  No, actually I'm not, thanks.  Are they serious?  These lovely people cannot fathom why I want to read "smut".  It's as if they don't consider it literature, and so I quickly tell them that many, if not most romance novels are very well written, and the stories are full of romance, angst, history, fabulous plot lines, and yes, sex.  That always gets an eyebrow raise!  Usually these conversations are funny, and it ends with me recommending an author for them to start out with if they're interesting in taking the plunge.  I have no idea if they actually read the book I recommend, but I've done my part for the good of the genre.

I remember when I first began getting into romance novels, and how I would browse the rows of books every time I went into the drug store, anxious to see if I had missed a book by a favorite author.  I could never walk out of a bookstore without at least four or five books.  And that was on my own!  The group book shopping expeditions are the best, of course.  I'll admit, some covers are embarrassing to tote through Barnes and Noble, unless you are in a group of fellow romance novel readers, and you've all got one tucked under your arm.  Nooks and Kindles give the most shy reader the means to read whatever she wishes without those covers announcing to everyone that you're reading an romance novel.  But...I don't mind the covers.  Some, I will give you are very cheesy, but there are some that are very tasteful.  I once had a lady tell me she could never read a book with such a scandalous cover.  (her words, not mine!)  Just think, this person is going to miss out on some seriously good books just because she is afraid of a cover!

So why do I read romance novels?  It's for the other world I am transported to, if only just for a few hours.  It's the amazing writing I find, the angst-ridden plots that pull at my heartstrings, and it's the love that these characters have for each other.  I'm a historical junkie, and part of the thrill for me is the setting in Regency England.  Being taken back to that era is an escape for me, and no, I'm not trying to escape anything in my life.  So the next time you're in the bookstore, don't pass by the romance aisle with a mere glance.  Take a moment to walk down the aisle and see what's there.  Pick up a book and read the synopsis on the back.  Have a seat and read a chapter.  Romance novels aren't "cheap literature" and they aren't insignificant by any means.  Sometimes, you just need to read some fluff at the end of the day.

Another challenge...

....and it's a good one!

Come on over to Bookishly and join in our Romance Reading Challenge!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do I dare?

I've just learned there is a Austen short story contest going on...and I'm seriously considering entering something!  Here is the link: http://austenprose.com/2010/12/14/announcing-the-jane-austen-made-me-do-it-short-story-contest/

I've missed writing so much, and this would be something that mean a short commitment.

Hrm...so do I dare?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goals...not resolutions!

Alright, I've had nearly five people ask me what New Year's resolutions I've made, and they have all been surprised when I tell them none.  I just never do them because when I do, I never achieve them.  2010 wasn't a bad year, in fact, it was a good year.  I'm in a great new job, have a wonderful family, and am trucking away on getting my degree, with my ring being the big step back in March of 2010.  So, this year, I'm going to make some "goals" and post them here.  I am not calling these resolutions, because when I call them that, I set myself up for failure.  These are my "goals" for 2011.  They are completely random!

1. Keep up with homework, without sacrificing myself.
2. Don't let things stress me out so much (see #1)
3. Get out more...with husband, friends, me and baby...doesn't matter who.
4. Read more!  This may contradict #3, but the list of books read this year is pathetically small.
5. Strive to be positive, and avoid being negative, and avoid those around me who insist on negativity.
6. Take my lunch more.
7. Get to work earlier.
8. Post a blog at least three times a week when out of school, and once a week while in school.
9. Write more, and finish at least one started story this year.
10. Give more.

So that's it...my list of goals.  I'm sure I'll add more as the year goes on!  We'll see what I've achieved this time next year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

So 2011 is here, and with that a new opportunity to broaden my horizons and move out of my comfort zone slightly to discover new literature.  Bring on the reading challenges!


Historical Fiction Challenge 2011:  Ha!  My favorite genre!  I think I can handle this!  This challenge can be overlapped with other challenges for 2011, which will be inevitable, it seems.  Here are the levels:  Severe Bookaholism: 20 books; Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books; Struggling the Addiction: 10 books; Daring & Curious: 5 books; Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books.  I believe I shall be entering myself under the level of Struggling the Addiction.  Really, I have severe bookaholism, but time constraints do not allow my to read 20 books that will of course take me way from actually doing any homework this year.  My first semester of the year is a Shakespeare class, so I'm sure I'll have my fill of historical writings!


Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011: I do love a mystery, and I've been wanting to get into some of the many Austen-inspired mysteries.  In fact, I'm fairly certain I have one floating around here somewhere!  Here are the reading levels: Neophyte: 1 – 4 novels, Disciple 5 – 8 novels, Aficionada 9 – 11 novels.  I shall be entering under disciple, just because I know I can't handle aficionada with school.  Boo!  Here is a list of the novels (Taken from austenrprose.com.  Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor (1996); Jane and the Man of the Cloth (1997) ;Jane and the Wandering Eye (1998); Jane and the Genius of the Place (1999); Jane and the Stillroom Maid (2000) ;Jane and the Prisoner of the Wool House (2001); Jane and the Ghosts of Netley (2003); Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy (2005); Jane and the Barque of Frailty (2006); Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (2010); Jane and the Canterbury Tale (2011).  I can't wait!


The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011: One of my favorite Austen books (no, P&P is NOT my favorite).  This challenge is not only reading, but movies too!  Super excited about this one, especially since I've been in the Jane Austen Society but was unable to go to the annual meeting based on Northanger Abbey.  I'm hoping I can sneak out for the next one!


All information about the challenges can be found under the links posted.  I've reposted very little information from the sites, just to whet your appetite for reading and historical literature.  Come and join with me!