2013 OUT!

Well, 2013 was a weird year. Some really bad stuff happened but some really good stuff too. I hope 2014 will be the best year yet. I have a big milestone birthday this upcoming year, so I hope it will be a good one.

As for reading, I was a terrible reader (and blogger). I only finished 40 books. Blah! I want to be a better reader in 2014. Here’s hoping!

For now peace out 2013!

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Happy New Year!

Virtual Advent: A Fantasy Christmas Trip

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Hello, visitors! Welcome to the 21st day of Virtual Advent. I've been a part of this event since the beginning. I usually do something crafty or post a recipe. This year I didn't feel like doing anything like that but still wanted to join in. So, here's something a little different from me.

Christmas traditions are great, really, but sometimes trying to please everyone is overwhelming. What would Christmas be like if I decided to skip the usual, throw caution to the wind, and visit another region? Here's a list of places I think would be fun to see at Christmastime.

Scandinavia

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Having a little Scandinavian in me, I've always wanted to go explore the region. Christmas would be the best time to go. Scandinavians know how to celebrate the season like a BOSS! I'd have to make it a long trip so I could join in the Saint Lucia celebrations in Sweden on December 13th. Then off to Denmark to see what Nisse has been up to. A little shopping at a market in Norway, perhaps? In Finland, it would be lovely to walk around the dark streets with ice lanterns to light the way. Maybe I'd have a little glogg to keep me warm. Here are 22 ways Finland wins at Christmas! God Jul, everybody!

London, England

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I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. Love, Actually made me love the idea of Christmas in London. London seems like a Christmas town. I mean, Dickens set A Christmas Carol there, right? So, yes, London is the place to be. There's a Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park that looks like fun. Christmas carols in Trafalgar Square or ice skating at the Tower of London seems like an old fashioned good time. Or for a more modern take on the season, head over to the London Eye for all the winter festivities there.

New York, New York


New York is another city I'd love to visit at Christmastime. I'd have to see the iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and have a skate there too. I don't think I could go there without seeing the Rockette's at Radio City. I would have to shop at Macy's, even if it was just window shopping. Without a doubt, there would be enough snow for a snowball fight just like the one Elf had in Central Park. If I'm going to be there for Christmas, then I'm staying for New Year's Eve and watch the ball drop on another year!

Disney World

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When I was in Disney World this summer, I heard that the busiest time of year for the park is Christmas. That's hard for me to picture considering how crazy crowded it was when I was there. Still, I didn't really mind the crowds, because it's a controlled chaos and it is the happiest place on earth. I never really thought of Christmas at Disney World until then, but I could imagine it would be spectacular. They make special Christmas displays all over the park, parades, shows, and, of course, fireworks. Sounds like a Christmas to remember!

Hawaii

After all that running around the globe, the most restful Christmas vacation would be a trip to Hawaii. Sitting on the beach and enjoying the sun while everyone else is frantically preparing for the holiday? Yes, please.
This video makes me say, "I want to go to there." Mele Kalikimaka, everyone!



How about you? Is there somewhere you've always wanted to spend Christmas? Have you been to any of these places for Christmas?





Thanks for visiting me today. Be sure to visit the other participants for the tour!

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Review

I Capture the CastleSeventeen year old Cassandra Mortmain decides to record the daily life of her family while practicing her homemade shorthand. The Mortmains patriarch is an eccentric author who moved his family to a dilapidated castle after he served a three month jail sentence (a misunderstanding). His wife is the glamourous Topaz, a former artists' model, and the glue that holds them together. It's she who sooths his ego and takes care of the needs of the family, including his three children. Besides Cassandra, there is Rose, the eldest child, and Thomas, the youngest. The other resident of the castle is Stephen Colly, the son of the late housekeeper, who was too young to be on his own when his mom died, but now works to keep the family from complete destitution.

Mr Mortmain hasn't written more than one novel, Jacob Wrestling, since before moving to the castle. They've sold all the furniture, dress in rags, and live on tea and biscuits. Even in this desperate state of poverty, Mortmain refuses to write or make any sort of living. Work is for other people. Topaz won't go back to her modelling, and none of the children are capable of finding work. They've tried nothing and it isn't working.

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Yes, ladies, I'm giving this family's attitude towards work the side eye too.

The only solution is for the eldest girl, Rose, to marry into money. A scenario she'd happily grab onto, if any eligible men lived near the castle. In desperation, she offers up prayers to a castle gargoyle, and at that moment two bachelor brothers with money appear. The Cottons are Americans and one is the new owner of both the castle and nearby Scoatney Hall. From the first, the men are intrigued by the family and their bizarre bohemian lifestyle. However, a series of misunderstandings and potential heartbreaks threatens to upend all of Rose's plans.

I've seen I Capture the Castle on many of my favorite blogs lately so it was one I felt I really needed to read. It's charming with many funny scenes as Rose tries to attract at least one suitor. She's not without her pride though, as you'll find out. Cassandra records all the goings on as they happen, including her own feelings about the Cottons and Rose's schemes. At first, it's fun to help Rose get her man, but Cassandra starts questioning her motives. Is Rose in love? Is it okay for her to marry for the money?

Since I Capture the Castle is a diary of a young woman, sometimes the reader sees a clearer picture of what is happening than Cassandra can. Still, I was surprised by some of the developments. I thought the ending was perfect. Not too tidy. Cassandra grows up a lot by the book's closing.

Dodie Smith straddles the line between funny and downright depressing. The family is super poor. The least little problem and they'd all be dead. They have nothing to fall back on. The father would probably be diagnosed a manic depressive if this was a modern YA novel. He's a little scary. Somehow Smith makes all their problems just part of the Mortmains' charm. I wondered too if the Cottons weren't American but upper class British gentlemen if they would have found the family as appealing. Probably not. At least, that's what I've gathered from Downton Abbey.

Add me to the list of people who love I Capture the Castle. I liked it even more since I only paid $1.99 for it! (It was on sale at the time.)

My Walls Speak: Postertext

Postertext breathes new life into some of the most important literary works ever written by using the writer's own words. We take pride in our ability to produce the highest quality work that captures the heart and spirit of the author's original vision. To accomplish this, we read every single book to completion before even attempting to brainstorm possible designs.
Postertext art is made entirely out of text. Peter, from Postertext offered me a print if I was interested. Having seen their work online, I said sure. So the print was free but the opinions are my own. I wanted to check it out up close. I'm a big Jane Eyre fan so I picked that one. It's $20.95 for a 20 X 24 print. The paper is high quality glossy poster paper. Fancy. Delivery of the poster was quick and it came in a sturdy cardboard tube.

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Check out the print after I framed it. (It's very hard to take a photo like this without getting the reflection of myself and my camera. I'm doing some weird acrobatics that you can't see.)

I thought it was pretty cool. Jane and Mr R are framed by the first 12 chapters of the book. It's a very romantic pose. Swoon! I'm adding this to my collection of book art, which is getting out of hand.

Again, I was given the poster, but damn, that frame cost me $$$ because I could only find one frame in this whole town the right size and it cost more than I would have theoretically paid for the print. Frame companies- they have you where they want you. But it does look pretty.

Anyhow, if you like the look of this poster, give Postertext a gander.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Audiobook): Review

fangirlCath is starting her first year as a college student. Exciting! Or it should be. Cath is the ultimate introvert, with anxiety issues. The only reason she went away for college was to make her twin, Wren, happy. Wren is the complete opposite. She's outgoing and excited to make new friends. Cath just wants to stay in her room and write fanfiction of her favorite series, Simon Snow. The series is a lot like Harry Potter, including a boy with magical powers and a rabid fandom. Cath has been writing fanfiction for years with thousands of online fans of her own.

Fangirl covers the whole first year of college for Cath and all the changes that happen in her life. Some pretty big important changes. Cath's life hasn't been easy. Rowell reveals just how many difficulties she and Wren have had throughout the book. At first Cath's worries about her Dad seem like the fears of an overly anxious person, but those fears turn out to be legitimate. Eventually, Cath lets go and does some growing up with the help of her roommate Reagan and Reagan's (sort of) boyfriend Levi.

While I liked Cath and enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell…not too far though…, there were things that made Fangirl drag for me. Mostly, it was the Simon Snow fan fiction. I don't read fan fiction and I've never read Harry Potter. I thought so much inclusion of the fanfic was too much. It was created just for this book and it was just… kinda boring. It's not really my thing. I appreciate that Levi appreciates it but I just wanted to get on with Cath's story.

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Cath was a real person with real problems to me. She seemed to get in her own way most of the time. The people around her have infinite amounts of patience with her and her issues. She's very lucky.

Anyway, I'm getting lazy so here's what I liked:
  • The love interest isn't some super-duper handsome dude with a cleft chin or anything.
  • Reagan the roommate is a real girl. She's interesting in her own right, although we never know too much about her. She's an enigma. (Can I haz a Reagan book?)
  • There is no boy drama between the girls.
  • The family drama isn't all prettily solved by the end of the book (year), just like in real life.
  • Wren is a pain in the arse but there's a reasonable explanation for it.
  • Lots of making out. I miss making out. Making out used to be a big deal.
There is lots of squeeing over Fangirl over on Goodreads. I enjoyed listening to Fangirl for the most part, not as much as I liked Attachments. I'm not in the OMGTHISWASTHEBEST camp but it was very good. Cute, for sure. And, yeah, I got a lump in my throat at the end. Whatever.

About the audio: Rebecca Lowman is the main narrator of the story. Although she was good with all the characters, I thought she was the best as Reagan. Maxwell Caulfield read all the Simon Snow parts.