July 31, 2016

The Blue Castle~L.M.Montgomery

“Fear is the original sin,” suddenly said a still, small voice away back—back—back of Valancy’s consciousness. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.”  Blue Castle: Valancy stood up. She was still in the clutches of fear, but her soul was her own again. She would not be false to that inner voice.:
Yayyyy. Recently I was pondering on how long it's been since a new book came my way that drew me head over heels into its story. I wanted something new and exciting, some book that would sweep me off my feet for love of it and add another fictional world-and accompanying characters-to my collection of favorite stories.  A story that would leave me thinking of the characters, mentally drawing new stories for them, or a story that inspires to pick up my pencil and chip away at my own writing projects. Well, thankfully I received L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle for my birthday.

This book is definitely one of Montgomery's finest, in my opinion. It's nothing majestic or different or astonishingly exciting. It many ways it could almost be labeled cliche or predictable, but I just couldn't say that about this book. Anything you would label as such is covered over by all that's fresh, bright, witty, and unique.

First off, we have our heroine, with her utterly unique name, Valancy. Oh, what a lovely heroine. I wouldn't say I particularly relate to her, but I understood her. I ached for her when the book opens to describe her awful existence. For the most part, I could sympathize with her door-mat personality (although I did have a few moments of thinking "WHY do you put up with this?!!") and I wanted to hug her and be her friend and encourage her and help bring sunshine into her life. And I would definitely have encouraged her to leave her family and strike out on her own. Family or not, they're horrid. And Valancy is 29 years old! She has every right to find her own "place" in the world.

(Oh, and I find it really refreshing to have a heroine who is NOT a teenager or in her early twenties. I do love heroines like that, but older, more mature ones are scarce and this should not be so. How many people have all their excitement in life happen when they're just past childhood?)

 (Yes, I know I'm comparing real life with fiction, but hush. My point still stands. Look at Corrie Ten Boom!) (Although, her "excitement" wasn't exactly...exciting. But I digress.)

(Oh, and you should all read The Hiding Place. One of the most inspiring books I've ever read.)

(I promise, I'm getting back to the review now.)
Behind the Scenes - Alicia Vikander (Vera Brittain) - Testament of Youth (2015) directed by James Kent:
Before reading TBC,  I had seen dream casts for a movie of the said story, and so I think the faces for Barney and Valancy kind of stuck with me. I'm pretty sure I recall Alicia Vikander as being a possibility for Valancy. But, whether she was or not, I pictured her a little like that.

Barney. Barney. Baaarrrneeey. Okay, other than your rather horrid name (it conjures images of a purple dinosaur and a rather inept policeman) you are wonderful. I wouldn't put you on my list of favorite heroes (well, maybe I would) but I did really love you and what you did for Valancy and when you saved her from the train and when you finally told her you loved her and....yeah.

*spoilers* And oh, wasn't the proposal adorable? I just loved its unorthodox-ness and the matter-of-fact attitude in which all is arranged. And then, later on, we finally get his declaration of love and...ohhh. SO sweet. Let me just include this part:

"Love you! Girl, you're in the very core of my heart. I hold you there like a jewel. Didn't I promise you I'd never tell you a lie? Love you! I love you with all there is of me to love. Heart, soul, brain. Every fibre of body and spirit thrilling to the sweetness of you. There's nobody in the world for me but you, Valancy.” 

If that's not one of the most romantic declarations ever, then I don't know what is.
*end spoilers*

Fassbender in Slow West:

As for Barney, Hamlette's suggestion of Michael Fassbender is something I definitely agree with. And yet, I also pictured him a little like Dan Deluca, who played Jack Kelly in the tour of Newsies.
Dan Deluca in the touring cast of Disney's Newsies (Photo by Deen Van Meer) Can't wait to see this cast in January!:
(Why do I keep mentioning the tour of Newsies? I'm just making myself upset.....)
(It's 5 hours away from me right now and I want to see it sooooo bad! -sniff-)

*spoilers*
Going into this, I knew very little about the plot, but enough to keep me waiting for Barney's appearance. And, I honestly don't know how I figured this out, but the moment the librarian told Valancy about her favorite author being "anonymous" and "no one knows where he lives", I knew it was Barney. For awhile I thought I must have read it somewhere and forgot, but then my mom read the book (right after finishing it I thrust it upon her. "HERE. You must read this book!!") and she guessed that early on, too. Both of us were surprised when he turned out to be Dr. Redfern's son, though! Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to find Barney wasn't previously married. I figured he had some sort of Romantic Past, and though widowers finding a second love works really well in some stories, I just didn't see that for this one.
*end spoilers*

So, for those of you who don't know the story, Valancy lives a monotonous, stifled life with her mother. She has a large family, and none of them understand her or treat her very kindly. She's an old maid, with nothing to look forward to in life. And then, she gets some news from her doctor that flips everything she thought about her life upside down. She finally decides to stand up to her family, and strike out on her own. She agrees to become the housekeeper of Roaring Abel, the notorious town drunk, and be a companion for his dying daughter, Cissy. It just so happens that Barney Snaith, the man everyone in town thinks to be a murderer, extortionist, gambler, and anything else that is remotely bad, happens to be friends with Roaring Abel and so he and Valancy meet often.  She has never believed the stories they told about him-or at least one in particular-and they become friends. Meanwhile, her family looks on in horror. They're certain that timid, mouse-like little Valancy has gone mad.

There's so much humor and romance scattered throughout the story. The dance at Chidley Corners started out exciting, but eventually progressed to a sweet scene because of broken down car--and then a hilarious encounter with two of Valancy's relatives.

That's another thing I love about this book. Goodness, it was so FUNNY sometimes! I smiled and laughed quite often at Valancy's various mental (and spoken) observations about her family and all sorts of things. L. M. Montgomery's narration is also quite delightful and witty.

And then we have the descriptions. Goodness, I forget what talent Montgomery has at description. (Okay, I don't actually forget, but I take it for granted till I read her work again.) I confess at times I would start to skim her delicious imagery to get back to the characters (more dialogue, please!), but I then I would stop and try to make myself read it slowly because it's just so darn beautiful.
10 things to do in Northern Ontario.  Picture of a canoe in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada:
Living in Michigan myself, I loved how the area the story is set in (Muskoka, Canada) reminded me of northern Michigan rather than Canada. I love Prince Edward Island, but it was really nice getting a break from that setting and having a more woodsy, lake feel. Like a camping trip or a hike during the misty, chilly morning. It was beautiful. And it makes me want to LIVE in Muskoka. Could it get any more beautiful?

And let me talk for a moment about Barney's house because CAN I PLEASE LIVE THERE? His cabin is just...perfect. While reading this, I found myself dreaming about owning a secluded wooden home on an island, cozy and comfortable, resting quietly in the middle of a placid, sapphire blue lake. Reading the seasons pass on the island was so restful for me. The chilly, sharp autumns blazen with color, winters spent in front of a roaring fire after trekking through the diamond, snow-laden woods, springs and summers spent outdoors, exploring everything green and blooming and beautiful--I just loved it so much.
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Basically, this book was the perfect summer read. It was light and quick, but still chock full of beautiful words and a story that is now one of my very favorites. I can't wait to re-read this and write down all my favorite passages.

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly. It had a few (mild) swear words, and talk of a girl who had a child out of wedlock, but nothing is explicit or detailed. It's a lovely, magical story about a woman, her dream of a blue castle, and her subsequent discovery of it.

Well done, L. M. Montgomery. If I wasn't already a fan, I would be now.

July 22, 2016

Yes, I like chocolate and yes, I like books


A long while ago ( I mean, seriously, a long time. It could be years, I have no idea.) I stole this tag from Olivia's blog. This post, labeled as "Chocolate Book Tag (stolen from Arwen)" (that's how long ago it was; Olivia originally called herself Arwen when she started out blogging) has been sitting in my drafts ever since then. In fact, if I went to the trouble of finding Olivia's post, I could probably find my comment asking if it was okay for me to steal the tag. Let's see... here it is.

Aww, look. I had my Marian profile picture then. (Okay, it was over a year ago. Not years. Apologies.)

Dark Chocolate (a book that covers a dark topic): 
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It's not a dark book (I personally found it one of the most hopeful and inspiring books ever) but since it covers some of the horrid evils of the Holocaust, I think it counts.

White Chocolate (a light and humorous read): 
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. A little silly, a little young, but quite funny, I really love this book. And Liam. Liam is really sweet. :)

First Meeting by TheGingerMenace123.deviantart.com on @DeviantArt:
Milk Chocolate (a book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read): 
Hmm, perhaps The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. And guess what? I got a copy for my birthday!

'The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery - one of my favourites, a sweet romance with odd and quirky characters by the author of Anne of Green Gables (and I'm not a romance reader). Cover by Masako Kubo:
Caramel-filled Chocolate (a book that makes you feel all gooey inside): 
Oh goodness, can I include a list? :P Okay, fine...maybe Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent. Jessy and Luke finally get engaged and it's just...gah. SO SWEET.

Wafer-less Kit-Kat (a book that surprised you): 
Catrin in Wales by Mabel Esther Allan definitely surprised me. It was just a random book my mom picked out at a rummage sale. I had no idea it would become one of my favorites. (THANK YOU, MOM!!)

Snickers (a book you're going nuts about): 
Right now? It's really sad, but I'm not really going nuts about any book right now. I discovered there's a children's book about the true events of the Newboys Strike of 1899 (I'm probably not supposed to capitalize that, but it deserves to be capitalized) and I reeaaallly want it. It's called Kid Blink Beats the World by Don Brown.
(Oh, and I found out about it by watching Corey Cott's "King of New York" vlog. It was on a shelf in the background. If you're a fan of Newsies on Broadway, you neeeeed to watch it. Here's the first episode.)
OMG THIS IS MY NEW WALLPAPER!!!! <--- No but this is literally one of my favorite pictures in exsistance and I am so glad someone found it!:

Hot Chocolate with Mini Marshmallows (a book you turn to for comfort): 
Maybe The Betsy Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace.


A Box of Chocolates (a series you feel has something for everyone):
A series? For everyone? Goodness, that's hard. I'm going to say Lord of the Rings. Because why not?

Thank you for letting me steal this from you, Olivia. ;)

ps. How do you like my new summer blog design? I should have done it earlier, but oh well. Better late than never. :P

ps2. Thank you all SO much for your lovely comments on my birthday post. You all made my day. :D

July 18, 2016

Eighteen Years

Hey, everyone. I have exciting news!

Yes, indeed, folks it is my birthday and not only that, it is my eighteenth birthday. 

Yay!!!!

(Well, it will be my eighteenth birthday. I'm writing this the night before. So...as of now I'm still 17.) 

(Not really. I'll be with my family :D)

For this post, I tried to recall a memory from each of my past eighteen years on planet earth, but I couldn't do it. It would take me all day to think of a memory from when I was three. So I tossed that idea.

For some reason the thought of using the number eighteen some how in my post  is appealing, so I decided to share eighteen of my favorite quotes with you. Quotes are inspiring, and being eighteen and done with high school is inspiring. So...yeah. I'm sharing inspiration with you all. ;)


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1. "Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you hide." C.S. Lewis

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2. "We have to choose joy and keep choosing it." Henri J.M. Nouwen



3. “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”  Laura Ingalls Wilder

wildflower bouquet | image via: hello may:

4.“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


5. “…. I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” J.R.R. Tolkien

6. "It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." William Faulkner
Arthur ;)
(to those of you who know about my book, you will know who this is. :))

7. "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I would like to be, I am not what I would hope to be, but I am not what I once was, and by the grace of God, I am what I am." John Newton
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8. “I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams
Picking Roses, Percy Tarrant. (1879-1930):

9. “He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
via @nicolehunziker on Instagram http://ift.tt/219JoW8:

10. "The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home." C. S. Lewis

The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home. - C.S. Lewis | Lisa made this with Spoken.ly:


11. "Be the type of person you want to meet." 
American Army nurses stationed in Melbourne during WWII:


12.“Her heart was a secret garden and the walls were very high.”
William Goldman, The Princess Bride
"Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high." William Goldman, The Princess Bride:


13. "The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely." Louisa May Alcott
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13."The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and to start saying 'I will.'" Charles Dickens
In a familiar scene that all of us can likely relate to, a 1940s woman (in a cute dress, I should point out - note the scalloped hem and sleeves) tackles the task of scrubbing the family bathtub yet again. #vintage #1940s #homemaker #housewife #cleaning:
(a very inspiring quote when you need to clean out the bathtub :P)


14. "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality." Beatrix Potter 

/.:

15.“It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
 Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility:

16.“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking
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17.“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
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18.“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot
JOHN NEWTON HOWITT (American, 1885-1958). Picking Flowers:

It's hard to believe I've lived eighteen years on this earth. But they've been wonderful. I feel so blessed that God saw fit to let me live this long, with such a loving family and amazing friends. And that includes all of you! I feel that I might be a very different sort of person if I had never started a blog and "met" all of my lovely blogger friend. You all encourage me and make me so happy with all your lovely comments. Thank you!! -hugs-

I'm sitting on my bed as I write this. It's dark outside, with fireflies undoubtedly blinking away. I'm trying to find the best way to phrase what I want to say, but I'm such a jumble of feelings. And not all those feelings are ones I want to share on my public blog. ;)

I have a lot of uncertainty about the future. I've finished high school, I'm turning 18, and I have...no idea where I'm going in life. :P Sure, I have dreams, plans, and ideas, but life always turns out differently from what you expect.

Some days my future seems exciting and full of opportunity. Other days it's a little scary. On still other days, I can feel like Katherine Brooke in Anne of Avonlea where she says something to the effect of, "I see my road stretching ahead of me, with no bends in it at all." I think nothing is scarier than the notion of having a monotonous, boring life.

But I know that's not true. God has continually reminded me of how unpredictable life is. Many times I've had my ideas and plans turned upside down and shaken around into something new. And every time MY plans go wrong, I can see where God's plan was so much better. His way is always best.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6,

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

I feel as if I quote it a lot, but it is so comforting. I've been amazed by how many situations I've been able to apply this verse to--and how true it is. 

I'm excited for this new year of my life. Despite all the negative feelings that can sometimes come to the surface concerning my future, I know I can trust in my God and King that all will come out well in the end. He's holding me in His hands--and there's certainly no place I'd rather be then there.

For I hold you by your right hand--I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.
Isaiah 41:13

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ps. The saddest thing about being eighteen is that I'm now older than Jack Kelly. Where is my childhood going...