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Monday, September 30, 2013

Septemb-Eyre: Jane Eyre Readalong Recap #4

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Chapters XXX-End

Commentary:

St. John Rivers - the anti-Rochester.  Re-reading this part of the book again, I focused on all the things that made St. John the complete opposite of Rochester.  And there's a lot.  St. John is blonde and fair to Rochester's black hair and dark features, tall and statuesque to middle height and square-ish, a minister and philanthropic and you know Mr. Rochester isn't that concerned with religion and early on Jane points out that Rochester's brow is deficient where it should indicate benevolence.  St. John likes to read at mealtimes and study, while Mr. Rochester can't stop talking to Jane, St. John is completely honest with Jane and Rochester is considerably less so.  Both however are intelligent, and both study Jane's character well and find something in her to attract them but Mr. Rochester sees Jane as his equal and really better than him, and St. John sees Jane as the diligent workhorse he's always wanted.

That's where I really have a problem with St. John.  Sure he's striving for good things, and wants to use his skills and intellect to make a difference and fulfill a duty to God, but with his dismissal of the individual needs of a person and then of a woman, it's hard to feel very sympathetic with him.  He continually puts reason above feeling and in doing so cannot understand the complete beauty of humanity.  Of course for Jane, meeting him at this point in her life when passion has not resulted in happiness, it is great for Jane to see the other side.  In this section Jane matures even more - she knows that she needs to be loved for herself and not what she can do.  And she gets the family and financial independence to live free and contented on her own.  So she can return to Mr. Rochester as his true equal - she doesn't have to worry about depending too much on Rochester's wealth and connections because she has some of her own.

But I think the transformation Mr. Rochester undergoes is the greater.  He's so broken when Jane comes back - humbled and accepting of his fate - and what breaks my heart is that while Jane was strong enough to soldier on without him, Mr. Rochester was not.  It's too romantic that Rochester needs Jane that much.  And he's not just humbled by the experience, but also accepts God and his past.  Passion balanced with reason.  Just like Jane.  Now they can have their happily ever after.  I've long thought Jane Eyre a study in that balance of passion and reason - Jane was too passionate at Gateshead but tempered at Lowood by Helen's reason, then Jane is pushed towards an excess of passion at Thornfield and an excess of reason at Moor House, to finally find the middle ground with Mr. Rochester at Ferndean.

This book is just so extraordinary to me.  It has so much depth and has resonated with me so strongly ever since I was a teen.  I wonder what I would have thought of it if I had read it when I was older, but I'm so glad I had the chance to grow with this story because I've found so many different things to appreciate about it at different times in my life.  And I am so glad I participated in this readalong with fans and newbies!

Memorable Quotes:

“Meantime, let me ask myself one question—Which is better?—To have surrendered to temptation; listened to passion; made no painful effort—no struggle;—but to have sunk down in the silken snare; fallen asleep on the flowers covering it; wakened in a southern clime, amongst the luxuries of a pleasure villa: to have been now living in France, Mr. Rochester’s mistress; delirious with his love half my time—for he would—oh, yes, he would have loved me well for a while. He did love me—no one will ever love me so again. I shall never more know the sweet homage given to beauty, youth, and grace—for never to any one else shall I seem to possess these charms. He was fond and proud of me—it is what no man besides will ever be.—But where am I wandering, and what am I saying, and above all, feeling? Whether is it better, I ask, to be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles—fevered with delusive bliss one hour—suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and shame the next—or to be a village-schoolmistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy heart of England?" - Jane, Chapter XXXI

"I used to rush into strange dreams at night: dreams many-coloured, agitated, full of the ideal, the stirring, the stormy—dreams where, amidst unusual scenes, charged with adventure, with agitating risk and romantic chance, I still again and again met Mr. Rochester, always at some exciting crisis; and then the sense of being in his arms, hearing his voice, meeting his eye, touching his hand and cheek, loving him, being loved by him—the hope of passing a lifetime at his side, would be renewed, with all its first force and fire. Then I awoke. Then I recalled where I was, and how situated. Then I rose up on my curtainless bed, trembling and quivering; and then the still, dark night witnessed the convulsion of despair, and heard the burst of passion. By nine o’clock the next morning I was punctually opening the school; tranquil, settled, prepared for the steady duties of the day." - Jane, Chapter XXXII

"If I do go with him—if I do make the sacrifice he urges, I will make it absolutely: I will throw all on the altar—heart, vitals, the entire victim. He will never love me; but he shall approve me; I will show him energies he has not yet seen, resources he has never suspected. ” - Jane, Chapter XXXIV

"Reader, I married him." -Jane, Chapter XXXVIII


Extra Credit:

I had an idea that for this last recap I would make it all about learning Hindustani and put some phrases and their translations but I really wanted it to be what Jane would have been learning at the time, and I couldn't tell if that was Hindi or Urdu or what, and then maybe it's not that interesting anyway, so I will instead talk about the Moor!

Jane wandered about there, and also the Rivers live in an area surrounded by it, and when I visited England a few months ago I was able to take a walk to the Brontë Falls (where the Brontë' siblings would frequent).  There was speculation among the group of us that Charlotte might have based the spot where St. John asks Jane to marry him on the area around those Falls --

“Let us rest here,” said St. John, as we reached the first stragglers of a battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of pass, beyond which the beck rushed down a waterfall; and where, still a little farther, the mountain shook off turf and flower, had only heath for raiment and crag for gem—where it exaggerated the wild to the savage, and exchanged the fresh for the frowning—where it guarded the forlorn hope of solitude, and a last refuge for silence." (Ch XXXIV)

The area was really beautiful and peaceful - there was only one other person there walking about - a man, and since our group was three girls, we pretended he was Branwell - and we had a nice little picnic on the heath.  No proposals in sight.  And apparently if you got to a higher point you could see Top Withens which is said to be where Emily Brontë based the house Wuthering Heights.  (I couldn't see it though!)

 I don't know how close the walk and the area is to what Charlotte experienced in her time - there was plenty of domesticated land to make me doubt it was very close - but there is still a sense of that wild beauty about the place that really was incredible.  Even though the wind was bracing and chill and there were A LOT of sheep wandering about (and they weren't particular about where they relieved themselves) this was a walk I would make many times because the countryside is so beautiful and it felt pristine to me.  And of course it was easy to imagine Jane wandering that land.  Not to mention hearing Mr. Rochester's voice calling to you??? (One can dream!)



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Suspense Sundays (64) Dark Journey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Dark Journey"
Air date: April 25, 1946
Starring Nancy Kelly and Cathy Lewis
>>Episodes here<<

Alice reminisces about her friend Ann Brody who 15 years ago, was madly in love with a man named Clyde Dexter.  She loved him so much but he broke up with her to marry someone else.  Ann reveals to her friend Alice that Ann has an ability to make things happen just by wishing for it hard enough.  She's been able to get people to call her by simply wishing, and she decides to make Clyde change his mind and goes by the house to wish at him.  She realizes though that Clyde's mother is stronger and that he will never be his if she is alive.  Later Ann receives news that Clyde's mother has died.  Was Ann responsible?

Aside from how annoyingly clingy and neurotic Ann is about Clyde, I did think this was an excellent Suspense story.  Especially because with the focus on the two women, the real solution to the story just comes as a surprise.  It's not an unpredictable one though.  I think it's interesting how this espisode focuses on the power of women only to have it taken away in the end.
Friday, September 27, 2013

Film Review: The Time Machine

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Because the original 60s adaptation of The Time Machine was a long wait in my Netflix queue, I decided to watch the 2002 adaptation instead.  This version starred Guy Pearce as the Time Traveler (or Alex), Sienna Guillory, Samantha Mumba, and Jeremy Irons.

There are many changes made to the story in this film.  The main character has a name now - Alex - and he's a professor in America who's seems rather shy and nerdy but is in love with beautiful Emma and just after he proposes to her and she accepts, something terrible happens and she dies.  Now Alex is moved to make the time machine to go back and prevent Emma's death which as it turns out, he can not because she ends up dying another way.  Alex travels into the future to try and find out why you can't change the past and then comes across the Eloi and Morlocks.

The movie gives a completely different character arc to the time traveller and a completely new twist on the Eloi and Morlocks.  The Eloi are still the Morlock's prey but the Eloi are more human and the Morlock's are considerably less human - downright scary actually.  They are crazy powerful and some have developed psychic powers.  The evolution of the Morlocks and the Eloi are a little shrouded in mystery, and I missed having that sense of scientific logic behind their development.  There's really not much in the way of real logic in this story though.  There's quite a few plot holes, and it's rather cheesy and cliche too.  The plot is very predictable, even though it only takes elements from the original book.  It's entertaining at times because of the action, and the creepiness of the Morlocks, and I thought the time elapse effects and how they showed time travel was really cool, but overall as a film, I can't say I was very impressed with this one.
Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Post: When to End a Book Series

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I read the first two books in Jade Kerrion's Double Helix series (Perfection Unleashed and Perfect Betrayal) and I really need to catch up and read the rest soon!  I really enjoyed the blend of action and science fiction with some really intriguing kick-ass characters!  Thank you to Jade for sharing this guest post with my blog for her fourth and final book in the series Perfection Challenged, and please check out the series if it sounds like your kind of read!

SERIES: To Be or Not To Be (and when to stop being…)

If Amazon (the company) were a river and all the books in its vast online repository were drops of water, you wouldn't be able to skim a pebble across its surface without hitting a book that is a part of a series. Series are popular--they work in movies, on TV, and in books--and for good reason. No one ever likes saying goodbye to the people they've fallen in love with. We like to see our heroes and heroines overcome adversity, and then do it again, and again. Novel series come in at least three different flavors.

1. Standalone books within a series with a rotating focus on various protagonists. Each novel within the series focuses on, and resolves, one major storyline, but the protagonist (usually a side character in one of the other novels) will claim the spotlight for one book within the series instead of all of them.
Romance novels tend to lean this way (after all, happily ever after usually happens only once per couple.) Nora Roberts has written many trilogies of families and friends, with each book focusing on a particular person finding his or her happy ending. Sherrilyn Kenyon does this with her (apparently unending) Dark Hunter series as well.

 2. Standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists. Each novel within the series tackles one major problem and resolves the problem by the end of the book.
Many detective and mystery novels adopt this flavor. As a teenager, I enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. These days, I read P.L. Blair's Portals series that features human detective, Kat Morales, and her elven partner, Tevis.

3. Non-standalone books within a series focus on one or two key protagonists, and story is typically best enjoyed in order from the first novel to the last.
Fantasy and science fiction novels, with their sweeping storylines and their tendency to put entire worlds and civilizations at risk of extinction (hey, high stakes, right?) tend to lean in this direction. Each book should resolve a major crisis, but some threads are clearly left trailing as feeders into the next book. Some of my favorite authors fall into this category, including David Eddings who wrote the Belgariad and Mallorean series, and Neil Gaiman, author of the Sandman. Just about all of my favorite authors are series writers. In hindsight, it’s no surprise that I would, as an author, lean toward writing a series. My Double Helix series is a series of four novels. When I finished writing the fourth book, I finally tackled the issue I’d been avoiding since November 2010, when I first started writing Double Helix series.

When do you stop? Sometimes, the answer is easy: “when you save the world.” But what if the answer isn’t as obvious? What if the world careens from crisis to crisis (sounds like our world, doesn’t it?) What if the world always needs saving? I wrote the Double Helix series as a blend between a type 3 series (non-standalone) and a type 2 series (standalone.) The fourth book, Perfection Challenged, was actually the transition book between a non-standalone and standalone series. In theory, I could have gone on forever, coming up with yet another crisis for Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath, to handle. Challenges would always abound in a society transformed by the Genetic Revolution. Danyael would likely encounter most of them, but did he have to be the protagonist?

Let’s segue briefly into another series—Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series. Occasionally a storyline or plot transcends each book and unifies the series. In Kushiel’s Legacy, it is the rocky path to love and happiness between the heroine, Phedre, and her protector, Joscelin. That storyline is the single thread that runs through the series, and for the series to end, the thread needs to be neatly knotted by the final book. My readers love Danyael. It was hard to make the decision to move him to the sidelines, yet in practice, I knew that Danyael’s story was done, and for one primary reason. His story had come a full circle. He dealt with different challenges and antagonists over each of the four books, but the storyline that unified the series—his apparently unrequited love for the assassin Zara Itani—reached its conclusion in the fourth book. It was my gift to Danyael, the ending he deserved. “But,” dismayed readers howl, “you haven’t yet done this, or that, or another. You haven’t finished telling all the stories…” I’ve moved the spotlight off Danyael, but that doesn’t mean he won’t appear in a smaller role in another novel. Spin-offs are popular among series writers. Some side characters in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series show up as focal characters in her Dream Hunter series. And so it will be for my Double Helix series. I’ve already written a young adult spin-off. I have others planned, including a standalone series of romantic thrillers featuring mercenaries from Zara’s agency, a novel about Xin, the Machiavellian clone of Fu Hao, a 1,200 BC general, priestess, and queen (busy woman indeed…), and a novel about Galahad, the genetically engineered perfect human being. Inevitably though, those novels and series will someday end. Quoting one of my favorite characters, Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series: “It always ends. That’s what gives it value.”

“The best of the four books…the perfect ending to an amazing series.”
Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to the multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, is finally here. Grab your copy today. If you've never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep reading for a special offer on the six-time award-winning novel, Perfection Unleashed.

PERFECTION CHALLENGED

perfection-challenged-600x800An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him. Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad? In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him. E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK


Perfection Unleashed

PERFECTION UNLEASHED

"Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men." Recipient of six literary awards, including First place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner, Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013. FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99) E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository


Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (57) Fairy Tales: Cinderella

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. Awesome Adaptations was created by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading.

An Awesome Adaptation set in a school
Title: Fairy Tales: Cinderella
Adapted from: Cinderella

In 2008, the BBC adapted four fairy tales in modern retellings, and I absolutely adored their take on Cinderella when I first saw it.  Hans M. Prince (say it aloud - see what they did there?) is an eminent and well-known anthropologist and Cindy Mellor is a janitor at the university.  But she is very smart and when Prince is looking for a research assistant, Cindy wants to apply for the job, even though she has no credentials and is self-taught.  At first Prince is very dismissive and arrogant, but Cindy challenges his views on some of his anthropological theories and when he realizes she may be right, he has to find her to offer her the job.  Of course with some romantic interest included.

The interaction between Prince and Cindy is sparkling and fun - especially because Prince is really so arrogant in the beginning and it's great to see him get a reality check near the end from Cindy.  And Cindy is intimidated at first but eventually realizes she has so much to offer that she shouldn't feel unworthy and it's great to see her grow and become more confident.  The parts of the evil stepmother and stepsisters are very well filled in by an ambitious research department head and the two students she would like to see get the job.  This adaptation is just so cute and inventive with the wonderful twist that Prince and Cindy become interested in each other because of mutual respect for each other's intelligence.  There's lots of humor as well because of plenty of farcical moments, and the romance is certainly sweet and beautifully developed!  
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Shadows on the Moon

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Shadows on the Moon
by Zoë Marriott

Plot Summary:

"On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before."

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.

Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.

Review:

This story has incredible plotting - the pace never falters because so much happens - it truly elevates the Cinderella tale to something complex and magical.  The rich prose style helps with this as the author creates interesting, varying characters and a fantastic, culturally rich setting of a fairy tale version of Japan.

The story also adds an element of true fantasy - with shadow-weaving.  Suzume (I prefer that name to the two she picks up later) meets a few other people who are skilled in these arts - they are able to mask or change their appearance and I loved that logistics of the ability.  Suzume has to learn to use her ability to survive the terrible things that happened to her and it was great to read about her slowly coming into her own.  But her experiences does take a toll, and the book delves into some rather dark ordeals such as depression and cutting.  And while the topics are dealt with realistically, the story still moves very quickly and it doesn't become preachy but is instead an important part of how Suzume overcomes the trauma of her past.  There's such an intelligence to this story because the author incorporates these issues and it adds poignancy to Suzume's struggles.

The romance between Otieno and Suzume is another highlight of this book.  It's so poignant and sweet - especially how Suzume views Otieno in comparison to her family and culture.  Otieno and his people are so much more forthright and demonstrative and I found it interesting how Suzume was fascinated by that freedom of expression.  It's a tense relationship too because Suzume has so many secrets she needs to keep but Otieno is so good at breaking down her reserves.  He's so honestly interested in her and in taking care of her, that I thought every scene he was in was swoon-worthy!

The ending is only where I felt a little let down - although the resolution perfectly fits the story and provides a fantastic end to Suzume's developement, it felt a little rushed and the turnaround in thoughts and feelings that seemed to build for most of the book was so quickly disregarded that I didn't find it as believable.  It's a minor issue because this is such an intriguing, poignant take on the Cinderella tale, that is relevant today with the way it depicts some important issues.  This is a fantastic read!

 
Amazon

Goodreads


Monday, September 23, 2013

Septemb-Eyre: Jane Eyre Readalong Recap #3

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Chapters XXII-XXIX

Commentary:

The too short amount of time we get to see of Jane and Rochester's courtship is one of the highlights of this book for me.  So sweet and romantic on Mr. Rochester's part and so sassy and teasing on Jane's; I feel like this is a heightened idea of how Mr. Rochester and Jane's conversations went towards the end of the three months they were getting to know each other in the beginning of the story.  Where Jane was just beginning to realize her power of "vexing and soothing him by turns."  Their banter in these couple chapters just makes me smile!

But my favorite chapter in this book is chapter 27 - the one where Mr. Rochester talks to Jane after the interrupted wedding.  The scene where Mr. Rochester's secret is revealed is incredibly devastating, but in this chapter the emotional damage to this reader just gets worse.  It starts with the fact that Jane believes Mr. Rochester didn't really love her, to her realizing that he did and still does, but that doesn't change the fact that she must leave him.  And Mr. Rochester is deluding himself with a hope that he can keep Jane with him by promising to treat her as his only wife. It's so tempting and Jane does love him, but she just can't compromise her integrity and her moral beliefs and it's an exquisitely painful dilemma.  And even though Mr. Rochester has committed such a betrayal, I love that Jane forgives him almost instantly when she sees how remorseful he is and how much he still loves her.  It's such a big thing to forgive him for, but I completely understand it because Mr. Rochester is a flawed character and he tried this because he was desperate to secure Jane.  This is the time that Mr. Rochester is totally truthful as well (it is his only recourse now) and when he has no more secrets and no more games to play but is earnestly pleading, it's so darn moving!  And romantic!  So much of both Jane and Rochester is revealed in this chapter and I think that's why I find it so powerful.

Jane's three days wandering is a part of the book that I didn't used to appreciate as much - it really is distressing to read how Jane suffered and was almost ready to give up.  But she clung to her dignity and to her moral convictions.  As if it wasn't enough that she had to turn her back on the love of her life, she also had to suffer starvation and mortification!  But again everything just reinforces Jane's strength of character and makes her a fabulous heroine to look up to.

This section has all the extreme ups and downs of the entire book!  Though I don't really think of it, it is pretty odd that Charlotte Bronte plotted this story to have such a climax in the middle, but I feel the last section of the book is a genius addition that really completes Jane's journey.  So til next week!

Memorable Quotes:

“I never met your likeness. Jane, you please me, and you master me—you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy you impart; and while I am twining the soft, silken skein round my finger, it sends a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am influenced—conquered; and the influence is sweeter than I can express; and the conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can win." - Mr. Rochester, Chapter XXVI

"“Well,” he said, after some minutes’ silence, “it is strange; but that sentence has penetrated my breast painfully. Why? I think because you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and because your upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith, truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me. Look wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one of your wild, shy, provoking smiles; tell me you hate me—tease me, vex me; do anything but move me: I would rather be incensed than saddened.”" - Mr. Rochester, Chapter XXV

Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat—your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me” - Mr. Rochester, Chapter XXVII

"Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonised as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love." -Jane, Chapter XXVII

(there's seriously so many quotes I wanted to put here!)

Extra Credit:

M. Constantin Heger, circa 1865
In 1842, Charlotte and Emily Bronte attended a boarding school in Brussels to learn French and Charlotte developed a strong attachment to her teacher M. Heger.  Who was married and had kids.  Although it's possible that Mr. Rochester is based in part on M. Heger (who did have a rather abrupt and changeful character), I mention this because of the song that Mr. Rochester sings to Jane in this section of the book -

The truest love that ever heart
Felt at its kindled core
Did through each vein, in quickened start,
The tide of being pour.

Her coming was my hope each day,
Her parting was my pain;
The chance that did her steps delay
Was ice in every vein.
(Chapter XXIV)

Charlotte wrote this poem and what I find so interesting is that this is based off a longer poem she wrote around 1845 that seemed to explore her feelings for M. Heger.  She returned alone to Brussels in 1843 to take up a short-lived teaching position at the Heger Pensionnat but she was mostly unhappy there as she was lonely and her feelings for M. Heger were unreciprocated.

 The poem was also revised and adjusted for the first novel she wrote The Professor which was published after her death.  There are some differences in that version but I just wanted to focus on the original and Jane Eyre.  So I read both again and put the original below.  I hope other Septemb-Eyres will find it interesting!

At first I did attention give
Observance-- deep esteem
His frown I failed not to forgive
His smile-- a boon to deem

Attention rose to interest soon
Respect to homage changed
The smile became a returned boon
The frown like grief estranged

The interest ceased not with his voice
The homage tracked him near
Obedience was my heart's free choice
Whate’er his word severe

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Suspense Sundays (63) Noose of Coincidence

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Noose of Coincidence"
Air date: April 7, 1949
Starring Ronald Colman
>>Episodes here<<

A man by the name of Christopher Swan enters the bookshop owned by another man named Christopher Swan and shares with him a prophecy of the bookshop owner's future.  He predicts that bookish bachelor Chris Swan will soon marry a redheaded girl named Margaret.  Of course Chris is dismissive but soon he meets Margaret and wants to marry her.  The psychic crosses his path yet again and makes a much more sinister prediction. That he will be hanged by the neck until he is dead on November 9th.

So many thoughts on this particular episode.  First is that I love Ronald Colman - he has such a lovely voice, I could listen to him forever. Next is that I don't believe in psychics so immediately upon starting this episode there's fun in trying to figure out what the realistic explanation is for the psychic's predictions.  And let's just say, I got it right.  Then there is Margaret - I thought it was so hilarious how when Chris marries her, she seems to be so sweet, and then immediately after her acceptance of his proposal, we hear how their marriage has been going, and she's horribly shrewish and shockingly dismissive of Chris as being lazy because he likes to read books.  (I was waiting for a prophecy of her death!)  The last entertaining piece of this wonderful episode is the psychic and how annoyingly pompous and pretentious he is! It's important to his character, but I wonder that the bookshop owner even tolerates talking to him for a minute!  This is a great episode!
Friday, September 20, 2013

Author Event: Gretchen McNeil and Michelle Gagnon

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , , ,
Yesterday I attended the author event with Gretchen McNeil and Michelle Gagnon at the Barnes and Noble at The Grove in LA.  I've devoured the suspenseful novels that Gretchen has written so far, so I was really looking forward to getting my hands on 3:59 and of course hearing her talk about it.  I at first didn't realize there were going to be two authors at this event, until Stacie at Shy Book Nerd told me, so I checked out Michelle's books as well (and they look really good!)

I got to the event pretty early as I was unsure about how it was going to be run, so I had time to rummage the store and I found an autographed copy of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  Score!  Later I asked an event coordinator if Rainbow had had a book signing there and she said no, she just dropped by for another event.

The Authors (the blonde lady with her back
turned is Leigh Bardugo!
One mocha frappuchino and tweeting fest later, I was seated and ready for the event to begin.  Each author talked a little about their book and also read an excerpt - I thought it was funny that they both edit themselves when they read their books - they can't help thinking what they could improve!  I forgot my blogging notebook, so I just took notes on my iPhone which gave my notes more of a bullet point style.  So here they are:

Books they read as children that they go back to and are inspired by as adults:
Michelle: The Hobbit, Madeleine L'Engle, and Nancy Drew
Gretchen: The House with a Clock in It by John Bellairs and Anne of Green Gables.  (Never heard of The House With A Clock In It - I must read it!)

Actors they imagine playing any of their characters:
Gretchen: Elle Fanning for Minnie from Ten
Michelle: the lead actress from the Australian film Tomorrow When The War Began (oops forgot to note down the name of Michelle's character. This movie sounds really good!!)

Gretchen was inspired to write after reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and when she told him at a book signing that he inspired her and it was likely she was going to get a deal at a publishing house soon he shook her hand and thanked her for telling him 'the best thing he had heard all evening'.

How is YA different from Adult:
Michelle: The characters in YA don't have the same resources as characters in Adult (for instance the the adult characters in her books can rely on resources available to the FBI) so you have to find a way to work around it.
Gretchen: In YA everything that happens when you're 16 feels like The Most Important Thing Ever and you have to feel that when you write it and that can be a little bit embarrassing. (LOL)

Almost the very last question Gretchen put to Michelle was what her next project was and she said it was a modern update on Jane Eyre.  WHAT!!! My ears perked up and I might have stopped breathing for a few seconds, cause that's TOTALLY up my alley!! I was like, CAN I HAVE IT NOW PLEASE?!  But then the signing started so we all lined up.

I talked to Gretchen first, about how much I love her books and how I can't wait to read 3:59.  Even though the ending might have less than a complete feel to it (help!)  I also asked why the time 3:59 and Gretchen said it was going to be 3:57 at first (just random) but the powers that be said it was the name of a gun (I didn't know that) so she changed it.  And when 3:59 clicks over to 4:00 it is rather dramatic, so it works.  And I have to give props to the guy who was nice enough to take the first two photos - he did the first one than said to do a silly picture, and I absolutely love the bunny ears pic!  Gretchen is so cool!

Then I talked to Michelle Gagnon, and though I wasn't familiar with her work (but again, so looking forward to reading her YA thriller series!) I squeed over Jane Eyre and asked her a bit more about the book (I think it might be called "Eyrie")  She said the "Jane" would be from Hawaii, and moves to San Francisco to stay with her rich troubled relatives, and I was also thrilled that she said *maybe* the lunatic in the attic might not have to be alive... maybe she's a ghost!  Did I mention I was looking forward to this book?  Yeah.  I am.  Michelle seems really cool too!

I had lots of fun at this event - it was pretty intimate and informal with Michelle and Gretchen chatting to each other and the audience like we were all friends.  I was so happy I went!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: My Cousin Rachel

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne Du Maurier

Plot Summary:

Philip Ashley's older cousin Ambrose, who raised the orphaned Philip as his own son, has died in Rome. Philip, the heir to Ambrose's beautiful English estate, is crushed that the man he loved died far from home. He is also suspicious. While in Italy, Ambrose fell in love with Rachel, a beautiful English and Italian woman. But the final, brief letters Ambrose wrote hint that his love had turned to paranoia and fear.

Now Rachel has arrived at Philip's newly inherited estate. Could this exquisite woman, who seems to genuinely share Philip's grief at Ambrose's death, really be as cruel as Philip imagined? Or is she the kind, passionate woman with whom Ambrose fell in love? Philip struggles to answer this question, knowing Ambrose's estate, and his own future, will be destroyed if his answer is wrong.

Review:

This is a suspense story that takes it's time to build.  While the narrator, Philip, reminisces about what happened with his cousin Rachel, the reader is constantly left guessing until about Rachel's true intentions and her past.

Philip Ashley is not a character I liked a whole lot as I read more about him.  He's sheltered and a curious mixture of phlegmatic detachment and impulsive immaturity, prone to jumping to conclusions and acting on them without much thought, while also keeping his emotions locked away as much as possible.  For a character to be so introverted I suppose I thought he would have been more thoughtful and aware.  But as a narrator he was perfect to tell this story because he was not equal to dealing with Rachel who had charm and sophistication and plenty of secrets to keep the reader on edge.  And while you couldn't trust Rachel, you equally couldn't trust Philip which kept increasing the suspense.

I can't talk too much about Rachel without revealing the basic plot point of this book - did she bring about the murder of Ambrose Ashley and is she planning something similar for Philip, or is she innocent and all  the evidence against her merely circumstantial.  It's difficult to determine, and conflicting information avalanches the reader from the beginning, so that there is an aspect to the ending that feels very open to interpretation.  I have my own feeling one way or the other about Rachel and I found the way I interpreted the ending to have a very profound effect on me, which showed me that the way this plot was built was very effective.  The story's pace flags at times - especially in the beginning before Rachel arrives, but I think the story is so well written, and paints the characters in such murky lights that the novel is ultimately very intriguing and satisfying.

The other aspect that was so intriguing about this book - which was really brought home by the ending - is the power of femininity over a man.  Rachel holds this sway over more than one man, and yet all of her power comes from feminine charm and interest.  She's contrasted very well with Louise, who is Philip's childhood friend and long thought to be the girl he would marry.  Philip treats her terribly though, especially when he becomes obsessed with Rachel, but Louise remains steadfast and loyal and yet not very effective.  It's interesting to read how these two women work, and how Rachel is much more effective at snaring attention than Louise.

The setting in this book created a wonderfully immersive atmosphere - from the heat and opulence of Italy to the solid strength and beauty of Cornwall, I felt like I was in those countries, experiencing the emotional twists and turns in this story.  It keeps you guessing, and packs an emotional punch by the end.

 Third read for Classics Club Challenge
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (56) Jane Eyre 1972 BBC Radio

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. Awesome Adaptations was created by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading.

An Awesome Audio Adaptation
Title: Jane Eyre
Adapted from: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Surprise! I'm going to talk about Jane Eyre!  There are a couple long radio adaptations of Jane Eyre but this one from 1972 starring Meg Wynn Owen and Patrick Allen is the standout version in my opinion.  At five hours long, it adapts much of the novel and because it's radio and the focus is on the words, the script uses much of Charlotte Brontë's original dialogue.  And the actors, especially Owen and Allen, make all of that dialogue come alive.

In the first part, I believe Meg Wynn Owen plays young Jane's voice so it's a little whiny and unrealistic for a child to my ears, but overall the adaptation does a good job of capturing the first few chapters of the book.  It is rather truncated though as the first episode also includes Jane's arrival at Thornfield. And with a voiceover, Jane's first encounter with Mr. Rochester in Hay Lane is also passed over.  But then the conversations between Jane and Rochester are bliss.  I am rather partial to Patrick Allen's voice and his gravely peremptory or tender delivery of the lines as needed.  There's a moment when he calls Jane a provoking puppet in an irritated way and in the next moment he says "Come, kiss me" in an ardent tone that made me wonder how could Jane say no!  The actors capture their parts beautifully and the script moves through the story effortlessly.  The Gyspy scene is even portrayed!
Though I wonder if Patrick Allen fooled any listeners with the voice he used.

This radio version is so awesome because the actors are perfectly cast and the script is stellar.  And there are so many of my favorite lovely moments and lines preserved in this version.  Mr. Rochester even sings with Blanche! If you have five hours to listen and you're opposed for some reason to just reading the book, I think this is a perfect introduction!

I have this and almost all the Jane Eyre radio adaptations I've been able to find on my Jane Eyre website to download. 
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Morlock Night

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Morlock Night
by K. W. Jeter

Plot Summary:

Just what happened when the Time Machine returned?

At the end of Wells' classic tale, the traveller returned to the far future in search of his Eloi love.  Having acquired his device for themselves, the brutish Morlocks have come from the desolate far future to Victorian England to feed upon docile humanity and cause mayhem and disruption.  But the mythical heroes of Old England have also returned, in the hour of the country's greatest need, to stand between England and her total destruction.

Review: 

There are a few things that surprised me about this sequel to The Time Machine.  The first is that we don't see anything of the Time Traveller.  This story has little, if anything to do with the ideas of time traveling - as time travel is more of a device to deposit the ultimate evil in our midst.  And not even the Morlocks are the main villains of the story.  So this is a sequel that completely overlooks the main character of the original, the Time Machine, and the Morlocks.  This story focuses more on the return of England's mythical hero - namely King Arthur and Merlin.  I suppose on it's own, this is an interesting tale but the fact that it has little to do with further developing any aspect of The Time Machine so that the story could be worthy of being a sequel kinda bothers me.  There's just none of the ingenuity and cleverness of the original tale, and more of an adventure romp with Edwin Hocker as he tries to find and combine the different Excaliburs that have been taken out of their time.  And with each new issue or challenge, the main characters resolve it rather quickly, making the story feel even more unrealistic.

Most of the characters were very one-sided, especially Edwin Hocker's sidekick - the taciturn Tafe who seemed more like a prop and had very little personality.  Just overall - from the plot holes (Merlin can time travel?  I don't understand why there was such a problem with Excalibur then...) to the poor characterization this was just such a disappointing read that had me disinterested and unengaged.  I think it was very interesting that the author tried to work in the old Arthurian legends and a little bit of Atlantis besides, and there was a twist in the end that I didn't see coming, but I wouldn't recommend this book to fans of The Time Machine.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Septemb-Eyre: Jane Eyre Readalong Recap #2

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Chapters XII-XXI

Commentary:

Oh Jane.  I find your restlessness so endearing!  When I was a teen, I would re-read those passages where Jane wishes to see more of life and "more vivid kinds of goodness" and really empathize with how she was feeling. I think this is one of Jane's great monologues in this book, and I always find it funny how such deeply heartfelt thoughts are suddenly followed by Grace Poole and the strange laugh.  It's like those momentous thoughts of hers should be it's own chapter!

Now Mr. Rochester! I just love him so. He acts so unconventionally with Jane from the beginning - and his sense of humor is so skewed!  Cause it's kinda mean how he didn't introduce himself to Jane in Hay Lane. But Jane wasn't even upset, so you know it's true love! :D  I love how Jane can barely follow and almost certainly doesn't understand some of the things he talks about in their second conversation and yet she holds her own and comes up with great answers!  The back and forth banter in those scenes between Jane and Rochester just remind me how much I love Charlotte's writing because it's intelligent with that touch of humor.  And re-reading it I am again reminded how much I associate Michael Jayston's voice and acting with Rochester now because I just hear and see him in this role completely! (I'm referring to the 1973 miniseries adaptation - my favorite!)  Mr. Rochester is so talkative too, Charlotte makes it clear through Mr. Rochester's words that he is falling in love with Jane, even if Jane is not so sure.

There's really all kinds of moments in this section where I'm just gleeful every time there is an indication of Mr. Rochester's interest in Jane.  My favorite is the tantalizing "Good-night my--"  Ahh, what was he going to say??  And then the whole scene after the fire in his bedroom is full of indications as well as the Gypsy scene, the scene in the garden after Mason's attack and Jane asking for leave.  These are all some of my absolute favorite parts of the book because this is the kind of romance I adore - the subtly indicated and gradual evolution of love. It's just so beautifully done!

Oh yeah, Mr. Mason's attack.  For the first-time readers - weird huh? :)

Memorable Quotes:

"Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then, when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adèle played with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line—that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen—that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach. I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adèle; but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to behold." - Jane, Chapter XII

I believed he was naturally a man of better tendencies, higher principles, and purer tastes than such as circumstances had developed, education instilled, or destiny encouraged. I thought there were excellent materials in him; though for the present they hung together somewhat spoiled and tangled.” - Jane, Chapter XV (this is sooo perceptive of Jane, and I think an important counter-argument for anyone who thinks Mr. Rochester is a "bad man.")

"I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me." -Jane, Chapter XVII

"The forehead declares, ‘Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision. Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the dictates of conscience.’" - Mr. Rochester, Chapter XIX


Extra Credit:

"I must see the light of the unsnuffed candle wane on my employment; the shadows darken on the wrought, antique tapestry round me, and grow black under the hangings of the vast old bed, and quiver strangely over the doors of a great cabinet opposite—whose front, divided into twelve panels, bore, in grim design, the heads of the twelve apostles, each enclosed in its separate panel as in a frame; while above them at the top rose an ebon crucifix and a dying Christ.

According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam hovered here or glanced there, it was now the bearded physician, Luke, that bent his brow; now St. John’s long hair that waved; and anon the devilish face of Judas, that grew out of the panel, and seemed gathering life and threatening a revelation of the arch-traitor—of Satan himself—in his subordinate’s form." Chapter XX

This Apostle's cabinet described by Jane while she is caring for Mr. Mason in the mysterious room on the third story, was an actual piece of furniture Charlotte Brontë had seen when she visited North Lees Hall in 1845.  It's also thought that Thornfield Hall is partially based on North Lees Hall, and a family named Eyre did live there at the time.  So cool right!?

When I visited England a few months ago I of course stopped by Haworth, where Charlotte lived, and the Brontë Parsonage Museum where they have this cabinet available for viewing in a fantastic and informative display room.  This is the quick photo I snapped of it, sorry it's not the best quality!  There are much better photos of it online.

It  felt so incredible to stand next to this and imagine both Charlotte and Jane looking at it.  Although I loved touring the Brontë's home - glimpsing what their lives were like and seeing so much of their personal possessions - I have to say seeing this cabinet was probably the highlight for me.  Because I love the book so much and it almost made the story feel real to me.  I could imagine I was looking at something that was recovered from Thornfield Hall instead of North Lees Hall. (Normal fangirls think that way right?)
Sunday, September 15, 2013

Suspense Sundays (62) Commuter's Ticket

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Commuter's Ticket"
Air date: August 1, 1946
Starring J. Carroll Naish
>>Episodes here<<

Bert Gavin takes the same commuter train everyday and notices that no one on the train ever bothers to socialize with each other, and because of that anonymity he hatches a murder scheme.  He takes an earlier train home, kills his wife, and then takes the train back to work where he'll claim he was at work the whole time and even had to stay overnight to do some repair work.  But when he gets on that return train to work everything goes wrong, and he somehow finds many different ways to make himself memorable.  But when he's accused of a different murder, will people actually remember him on that train?

Well Mr. Gavin certainly has no luck in this episode! It's amazing and hilarious how many things went wrong on his return train - partly his fault though because he couldn't keep cool!  But the fun in this story is also in how many twists and turns there are to the narrative - I couldn't even begin to guess what was going to happen in the end!  This is another really great episode - entertaining as well as suspenseful, and of course justice is served in the end.
Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: The Time Ships

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Time Ships
by Stephen Baxter

Plot Summary:

There is a secret passage through time ...

and it leads all the way to the end of Eternity. But the journey has a terrible cost. It alters not only the future but the "present" in which we live.

A century after the publication of H. G. Wells' immortal The Time Machine, Stephen Baxter, today's most acclaimed new "hard SF" author, and the acknowledged Clarke, returns to the distant conflict between the Eloi and the Morlocks in a story that is at once an exciting expansion, and a radical departure based on the astonishing new understandings of quantum physics.

Review:

When I first started this book, the insightful intellectual way the author approached time travel really impressed me.  There's so much more to the idea of traveling through time, that thinking about time linearly can not encompass, and the author really opens up your thinking through this story.  I can't pretend that I really understood all of it, especially towards the end, despite the very lucid way the author describes this exploration of time travel.  I think all that scientific information woven into this constantly evolving tale of new futures and new pasts is the highlight of this book.

The author also captures the time traveler's forthright voice in relating his adventures, and because this book is much longer than the original by H.G. Wells, we get a better sense of his character and a better persepective on his actions especially when contrasted with the new, more enlightened Morlock, Nebogipfel.  I think while it was sometimes difficult to sympathize with the time traveler because of his prejudices and his irrational instincts, it was very easy to sympathize with patient and understanding Nebogipfel who seemed to be the best of humanity in an odd inhuman way because he was so rational and his only goal was to obtain information. Which was an interesting idea in the book.  That that is the highest achievement mankind should strive for - trying to learn about everything.  There are a variety of other characters the time traveler encounters on his journeys through time, but these two were the main protagonists, and the other characters, while well drawn, did not stand out as much.  The main focus is on the way the different experiences changes the time traveler.

What really disappointed me about this book was the extreme length.  I felt it started off strong and there were so many ideas and theories to touch on that it was a very interesting read.  But it began to be too much for me after awhile, when every chapter seemed to highlight some new idea or some new world and I really wished the time traveler would settle someplace already.  It's difficult for me to say this because I felt that all the pieces of the story worked together as a whole and probably everything was needed to really explain all the aspects of time travel the author wanted to get across, but the pace became ridiculously slow, and by the last third of the book, I just wanted it to be over.  The ultimate conclusion the time traveler came to, was a little less satisfying as well.  I don't want to give any spoilers, so I won't say much on that except it didn't really seem that it was the best situation for him.

As a thought-provoking and illuminating story, I'd recommend science fiction fans to check this book out.  I personally find time travel fascinating and although the story really grinds to a halt many times, the different scenarios and theories were really very interesting.  It's not a light read, and it's a story that might appeal to a very select group.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Journey Home: Introduction and Sign-Up

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
October 7-27 2013

Honorary Lumaterans:

Charlene: You may have heard or read of a remarkable book called Finnikin of the Rock by the brilliant Melina Marchetta. If you’ve read it you no doubt know the captivating story within. If you’ve only heard of it - here’s what you are in for :

  • An engaging, realistic fantasy world
  • Kick-ass heroes and heroines
  • Moral complexity
  • Intriguing adventure and danger
  • Captivating characters
  • Amazing writing
  • Emotional character connections
Paola: And also, you will most definitely be facepunched by the feels.

Charlene: No exaggeration there! There’s a little group of us Lumateran-loving fangirls who have fallen hard for these books, and Paola from A Novel Idea (Finnikin Ambassador extraordinaire) and I thought it would be great fun to host an event devoted to it. And if you, like us, are interested in experiencing or re-experiencing the wonderful journey of Finnikin and Evanjalin to reclaim Lumatere from the false king and break the curse over their beloved land, please join in the festivities of this event and celebrate the Lumatere Chronicles with us!

Paola: It’s become our mission in life to bring this beautiful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable series to as many people as possible. I would say more about it, but I tend to get all incoherent and ridiculous when I try to talk about this book. Err, more incoherent and ridiculous than usual…

Charlene: Don’t worry though, since we’ve read this book before we will be much more in control of our emotions! (Watch us fail.)

Paola: Oh yeah, we are TOTALLY going to be in control of our emotions. We will not be sobbing and clutching our copies of Finnikin of the Rock. You can count on us to not be a hot mess the entire time… PROMISE.

Charlene: For three weeks we are hosting a read-along with discussions of the first book - Finnikin of the Rock. The read-along is not mandatory and new readers or re-readers are welcome to join in if they wish. The second part of the event will be all about the guest posts with participating bloggers writing about any topic they want. (Again neither the readalong or the topic posts are mandatory - you can do one or the other or both.)

Topics for these posts can pretty much cover anything relating to the series and include:

  • Favorite characters
  • Themes of community, family, dispossession
  • A look at the relationships between any characters
  • Any other themes
  • Approach to fantasy/world-building
  • Fan-casting the characters
  • What touched you about the story/ a feels reaction post
  • Reviews of any of the books in the series

We would like every blogger to post on different topics (except when it comes to reviews of the books or reaction posts - there’s no limit on who writes these posts) so please let us know what you’d like to write about through the Google Doc Sign-up form below with your preferred schedule date. We would like to schedule posts throughout the event so there will be something fun to read every day. If you were lucky enough to participate in Love Triangles 101 last July, the event will be run similarly to that.

The most important thing is to celebrate these books. The Post-Finnikin Support Group is going to read the last book in this series soon and I am so not ready to let go of this world, and sharing my love of these books with as many people as possible will help extend the experience. And why not foster our own little community of Lumatere-aholics here!

Paola: Um, well I never actually left Lumatere, so I’ll see you all there! I’ll be the one distributing boxes of Kleenex and pints of Ben & Jerry’s to all participants. Trust me, these are necessary provisions for your journey. The lovely ladies of the Post-Finnikin Support Group will also be on hand to give #TrevanionBearHugs to anyone in need of them. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU.

Can’t wait to see you all there!



Charlene & Paola

Founding Members
Lumatere Tourism Board




Read our reviews of the first two books!
@ A Novel Idea: Finnikin of the Rock  |  Froi of the Exiles
@ Bookish Whimsy:  Finnikin of the Rock  |  Froi of the Exiles

P.S. Thank you so much Paola for all your collab help and for making the awesome banner and event badge!!  Best Ambassador EVER!

Tentative Scheduling:


The Event runs from October 7th - 27th
Finnikin of the Rock readalong: October 7th-20th. (That’s two weeks to read 400pg)
October 7th-13th: Prologue and Chapters 1-15
October 14th-20th: Chapters 16-30
(Scheduled posts by participating bloggers will be added here as they are received.)

Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews | Lumatere Chronicles & High Fantasy (date open)
Lee @ Rally the Readers | Reaction Post (Oct 21)
Jorie @ Jorie Loves Stories | Recap/Reaction Post (date open)
Tory @ The Sleeping Latte | Feels post, possible Lucian post (Oct 14, 21)
Kim @ YA Asylum | Character/Relationship post (Oct 17)
Alisa @ Picture Me Reading | Undecided (date open)
Samantha @ Celestial Carousel | Review, possibly more (Oct 22)
Doing Dewey | Review (Oct 25)
Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy | Review, Beatriss and Trevanion (date open)
Paola @ A Novel Idea | Undecided/Isaboe (date open)
The Duchesses Group Review (date open)

Please if you have any thoughts or comments or ideas for changes to make to this event, let me or Paola know!  Sign-up below!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (55) Les Demoiselles De Rochefort

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
This meme celebrates an awesome adaptation related to a weekly category. Any format of adaptation (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. Awesome Adaptations was created by Alisa Selene at PictureMeReading.

An Awesomely French Adaptation Film
Title: Les Demoiselles De Rochefort

This is technically, absolutely and definitely not an adaptation of a book, short story, play or even a poem.  And I really tried to shoehorn this into something literary based.  But I didn't find a thing. I'm still going to talk about it though because even though there are a couple French films I've seen that are adaptations of a book, this is just my absolute favorite French film.  Sometimes my absolute favorite film ever!  And I really want to talk about it!

It's a pastiche and homage to the musical movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood (and it features one Gene Kelly) and because I love that era of film, this movie could appeal to me on that alone.  But where movie musicals from the 40s and 50s might have some vestige of realism to them (somewhere) there is absolutely no realism in the way Les Demoiselles de Rochefort plays out.  If you want a film vibrant with fun, love and serendipity that just makes you bubble up with joy, than this is the film.  (Um, except for the part where there's a brutal murder. I'm serious.  It's incidental though, and even that has a rather cheery song to go with it as people gossip.)  From the way the background actors dance and twirl as they are walking down the street to the dinner scene where their conversation (which is spoken!) randomly just rhymes this movie is filled with an effervescent sense of happiness even as the twins who are the main protagonists struggle to find their true loves and fulfill their life's ambitions.  There's a sense of happy melancholy even in the twins' sincere wistfulness.

I love the music in this film as well which is so wonderfully pop and jazz infused, and sprinkled throughout the film sometimes at odd but somehow perfect moments, that really bring out all the emotions of the characters.  There are three pairs of lovelorn lovers here and what is truly delicious is how the film continually keeps them apart until the romantically satisfying end.  I have a favorite of the three couples (hint: Gene Kelly) and the two dance sequences where Andy first meets Solange, and finally sees her again in the end, is so breathtakingly romantic with joy and yearning.  I'm such a sucker for those scenes, I just love to curl up on the couch while watching and dream about being able to dance so beautifully.

I don't know if I can recommend this film highly enough!  You have to like movie musicals though because this movie takes that to the next level of song and dance integration, and you have to like romantic flights of fancy because this is it in a 2 hour moving picture.  It's gorgeous and fluffy and swoony and a ridiculous amount of fun!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Septemb-Eyre: Jane Eyre Readalong Recap #1

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm

Chapters I - XI

Commentary:

Re-reading these first chapters I am struck by the fact that Charlotte Brontë started our introduction to Jane when Jane finally rebels against her bullying cousin John and the irrational hatred of Mrs. Reed.  It's a powerful representation of Jane's character because although she becomes outwardly subdued and her passionate nature is restrained for much of the book later, it's important to know that this is who Jane is, no matter the cultural conventions.  As a child she's not cute and cuddly and as an adult the "rugged points" in her character must be accepted by the people she allows to get close to her.  

The other aspect I find so interesting is how quick Jane is to point out hypocrisy.  I think I read somewhere that children excel at recognizing hypocrisy and what is and isn't fair and while it's pretty serious how unfair it is that Mrs. Reed shows such disdain for Jane and gives preferential treatment to her children, and how Mr. Brocklehurst is so intent on making the Lowood girls humble and plain yet his family lives in ostentatious luxury, Jane can put her statements about these circumstances in such a way that shows a very ironic and sly wit that I really enjoy.  For instance:

"Abbot, I think, gave me credit for being a sort of infantine Guy Fawkes."

"Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted.  Thanks being returned for what we had not got..."

"Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted: three other visitors, ladies, now entered the room. They ought to have come a little sooner to have heard his lecture on dress, for they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs."

It was great to read Jane grow into an adult - with her childhood memories sometimes tempered by the adult Jane who is telling the story so we can get that bit of humor and a little bit of perspective - like why she felt she was an outcast at Gateshead.  Of course now that we are at Thornfield, there's so much stuff to look forward to reading about!

Memorable Quotes:

"It is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear." - Helen Burns, Chapter VI

“If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” - Helen Burns, Chapter VIII

I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: “Then,” I cried, half desperate, “grant me at least a new servitude!” - Jane Eyre, Chapter X

Extra Credit:

"Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two: here are the keys of the storeroom." - Mrs. Fairfax, from Chapter XI

I've decided for each recap post, I'm going to spotlight some aspect or do some activity related to each section I'm reading, so for this post I decided to make a little hot negus and try it myself.  And it's pretty easy so you can try it too! (um, aged 21 and over only obviously)

The recipe (which I pulled over here, with my own modifications since there seems to be a few different recipes out there)

1/2 cup Port wine
1 cup water
Juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp sugar
Sprinkle of nutmeg

And I didn't quite follow the steps of the above recipe... so here's what I did:

Warm up the wine and water in a saucepan (I really should have just warmed up the water to almost boiling and then add the wine to the cup)
Add lemon juice and sugar (could add more sugar to taste).
Sprinkle in nutmeg - I used ground, when the recipe called for grated, so I hope that's okay.

There's a bit of tang to it which I think comes from the lemon, so maybe I'll try adding less lemon next time (and more sugar because I have a sweet tooth!) but it was really a very comforting drink, I can see why Mrs. Fairfax called for it after the long traveling day Jane had to Thornfield.  I actually don't like the taste of alcohol that much, but it's not too bad in this drink, so I highly recommend giving it a try!  Of course I had to try this when the weather's been in the upper 90s and a hot drink is definitely not what I needed, so I'm saving this for colder days!