Mansfield Park Read-Along ~ Week 1 Thoughts

The lovely and amazing Amber is hosting a Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen) Read-Along in the month of January!!!! Each week, we are discussing 12 chapters. We’re also tweeting as we go with the hashtag #MansfieldReadAlong!

No surprise, but I’m a *little* behind already (I blame it on life craziness and other really, really good books I’m currently reading). Anyway, this is my post all about these chapters following the format Amber has set. This is my first time reading Mansfield Park, so the read-along experience is adding to my excitement and absorption of the story!

Mansfield Park Read-along

Please go visit her discussion post to see other readers’ thoughts and post links, too!

Mansfield Park Volume I: Chapters 1-12

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week’s reading

Favorite Quotes

“It is unknown how much was consumed in our kitchen by odd comers and goers.” -chapter 3, the worrisome Mrs. Norris

“When he returned, to understand how Fanny was situated, and perceived its ill effects, there seemed with him but one thing to be done’ and that ‘Fanny must have a horse’ was the resolute declaration…” -Edmund, chapter 4 (this reminds me of a tiny part of North and South where Mr. Thornton has the wallpaper changed in consideration of Margaret ❤ )

“Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions; and, in observing the appearance of the country, the bearings of the roads, the difference of soil, the state of the harvest, the cottages, the cattle, the children, she found entertainment that could only have been heightened by having Edmund to speak to of what she felt.” -Fanny, chapter 8 (This is a telling passage, showing Fanny’s contentment in keeping things to herself and revealing her high esteem of Edmund’s companionship and conversation.)

General Impressions

IMG_20180103_205419_127.jpgBecause of my slight familiarity with the story (I’ve seen the 1999 BBC film only), I know a little of what to expect with how the main characters behave and are resolved. With that said, it’s a little surprising to me that so much focus is on everyone else at Mansfield Park while Fanny Price, the main character, seems pushed to the side. Clearly, the reader is to be most sympathetic with her and see how their treatment is influencing her life greatly. Maybe this minimum focus is intentional to make us feel her emotions, when expressed, more keenly?

The Bertrams are puzzling. Like Fanny, I care the most for Edmund, though he does concern me at times with his nearsightedness. The Miss Bertrams are just plain spoiled! And, the other men of the family, the Thomases (elder and son), haven’t been on the page quite long enough for me to judge them.

Mrs. Norris, the Rushworths, and the Crawfords are all colorful characters, if often self-centered, that are adding much humor and interest to the story so far. I’m anxious to see how entangled it all becomes — and how Fanny overcomes her situation.

3 Questions

1. Would you consider the Bertram family taking in Fanny to be a kindness in the long run? If so, why? If not, could it have been a kindness if they approached things differently?

Yes, in the long run, I think it will be. She is being raised to an advantage of education and exposure to a different class of people which was important at the time. Though I think she is treated as unwanted and as a nuisance at times, I believe her experiences are shaping her character. Thank goodness she has a kind friend in Edmund! That is the light in her situation.

2. If you were a governess teaching the Bertram children and Fanny, what lesson would you specifically choose for each of them (as kids or adults)? Feel free to have fun with this!

I would teach the Miss Bertrams about kindness and courtesy, Thomas Bertram about respect and the blessing of his family, Edmund Bertram about the danger of flirtatious women (ahem, Mary Crawford), and Fanny Price about bravery and the importance of her individuality (I think she puts too much stock into “standards” her relatives dictate).

3. Imagine you had joined the group on their visit to Sotherton. Which part of the tour would you most have enjoyed? Would we find you wandering the halls or meandering through the wilderness?

You would find me out in the wilderness, perhaps even climbing over the gate (but not arm in arm with Mr. Crawford).

 

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my musings on Mansfield Park?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s TTT topic is all about that growing, towering, To-Be-Read pile, shelf, island, or whatever shape it may be. Mine seems to be ever-increasing with new releases happening ALL THE TIME, lovely reviews from other book bloggers, and recommendations from friends. It’s a delightful problem.

These are the top 10 books on my Spring TBR. More like the top 10 books I’d like to read next. The first 5 will be conquered because they are review copies from generous authors or publishers (Ya’ll are awesome for keeping me in books! Thank you.).

Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

(Book titles linked to Goodreads)

stf-jpeg-642x1024

Shoes to Fill by Lynne Gentry

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

With Love, Wherever You Are

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

second-impressions


Love at First LaughSecond Impressions
by Pepper Basham (and the rest of the Love at First
Laugh
novella collection)

Close To You

Close To You by Kara Isaac

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Sweet Surrenders

Sweet Surrenders by Rachel Fallin

Edenbrooke

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Sway by Amy Matayo

Sway by Amy Matayo

What is on your Spring TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I Love Period Dramas

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I Love Period Dramas

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is open-ended: 10 reasons you love _______. So, I’m taking the opportunity to ramble in delight over period dramas, whether they be film, television, or series productions.

Top 10 Reasons I Love Period Dramas

The Young Victoria. So many amazing costumes! AND it is a true story!

The Young Victoria. So many amazing costumes!

1. History

As a fan of both history and historical fiction, what better way to combine story and facts than a period drama?

2. Costumes

Cravats.

Cravats.

Style HAS certainly changed over time, and it’s fascinating. I’m thankful to live in a modern era where comfy pants are acceptable. But I love seeing the elegance and class of past eras. And cravats. Need I say more?

3. Musical Scores

Essential to enhancing a story, if you ask me! I spent a previous topic talking about some of my favorites.

William & Georgiana (James Norton & Eleanor Tomlinson) in Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries

William & Georgiana in Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries

4. Various Story Formats

Series, movie, miniseries. All great for different reasons.

5. Often adapted from books

Books + visual representation of setting + amazing casting = perfect recipe for a perfect period drama.

The Bennett sisters.... I love the way they are portrayed in P&P 2005!

The Bennett sisters…. I love the way they are portrayed in P&P 2005!

6. Portrayal of Relationships

For some reason, period dramas tend to have a better grip on relationships — or at least they emphasize them. And I’m not talking about romantic relationships, but friendship, sibling, or parent-child ones. Think Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables, or the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice, or the closeness of Jo March and Marmee in Little Women. Maybe it’s because our life is more complex now due to technology and travel, but fewer modern stories can emphasize and portray relationships with such gravity.

Heath Ledger & Mel Gibson in "The Patriot". A favorite film set during the American Revolution.

Heath Ledger & Mel Gibson in “The Patriot”. A favorite film set during the American Revolution.

 

 

 

7. Love Stories

Call them chick flicks if you want, but I am a huge fan of love stories. And classifying a production as a period drama almost guarantees some part of the story will involve characters finding love and, hopefully, happiness. Which brings me to….

 

Little Women

Little Women

8. Happily-Ever-Afters!

Yes, I’m aware that not every period drama ends with a happily ever after scene. And that’s ok, I still like some of those! But I’m a sucker for a good ending. Or at least one that offers hope and maybe leaves you wondering about the rest.

 

 

 

9. Variety of Sub-Genres

Mystery, suspense, war, drama, romance, comedy, true stories.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

10. Vocabulary

A little item, yes, but SO important. Language and vocabulary are two more things that have changed so much with time. It’s so interesting to be reminded how people spoke.

Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey adaptation.

Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey adaptation.

And, sometimes learning new words is a fun bonus! Examples: Plimsolls, quixotic, taciturn.

 

 

 

 

It’s your turn! Why do YOU like period dramas? Or do you prefer another genre of film/TV? Please share your thoughts below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Music & Books (or, my favorite music from book to screen adaptations)

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s theme is books we’d give theme songs to or songs we wish were books. Well, I’m stretching it a bit and going with my favorite instrumental music from book adaptations. If music with no words is not usually your thing, I get it. I really do. But, trust me here, you might just be captivated by the emotion and beauty in some of these themes.

 

Top Instrumental Music from Book Adaptations

1. Poldark by Winston Graham – “Theme from Poldark” composed by Anne Dudley (BBC series)

2. Emma by Jane Austen – “Knightley’s Walk” composed by Samuel Sim (2009 BBC series)

3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – “Northbound Train” composed by Martin Phipps (2004 BBC series)

4. & 5. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – “Mrs. Darcy” and “Leaving Netherfield” composed by Dario Marianelli (2005 Focus Features film)


6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – “Orchard House” composed by Thomas Newman (1994 Columbia film)

7. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper – “Main Title” composed by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman (1992 Fox film)

8. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – “Tara’s Theme” composed by Max Steiner (1939 MGM film)

9. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – “My Father’s Favorite” composed by Patrick Doyle (1995 Sony Film)

10. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans – “The Rhythm of the Horse” composed by Thomas Newman (1998 Buena Vista film)

What are some of your favorite series/film themes or scores? Have you seen any of these? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Little Women Read-Along Part 1 (ch 1-17) Questions

We’re a little over 10 days into the Little Women Read-Along and it’s already time for the first discussion questions post! Ahh! I can’t believe we are this far into the book already.

littlewomenreadalong

This week, Suey is hosting the part 1 post and has come up with some awesome questions for all of us. We’ve made it through chapter 17 now!

(For more about our read-along and our schedule, visit my earlier post here.)

1. What are your opinions so far about each of the girls? Do you identify more with one or the other of them? Do you like them, or do they get on your nerves in a way? Which one do you think would be your friend?

Meg is sweet and takes her role as oldest sister seriously, though she struggles with pride and vanity (which does barely get on my nerves). Jo is dramatic and impulsive (which sometimes gets her in trouble), yet brings a playful spirit of leadership to the family, too. Beth is the shy and gentle caregiver who never seems to complain, though I think she deals with pain in her own way. Amy definitely acts the part of the youngest child, trying to tag along or fit in with her older sisters yet showing her own immaturity sometimes.

I think I identify more with Jo and Beth (though I am the baby of my family). They would be my friends 🙂

2.What do you think of Mrs. March aka. Marmee? What’s one of your favorite pieces of advice or lessons she’s taught the girls so far?

Marmee is my favorite!!!! I love how Louisa May Alcott has portrayed her as a leader and as influential in each of the girls’ lives, as a mother should be. With that influence, we also see her vulnerability and profession of flaws. She has offered some great advice already, but I think my favorite is from chapter 16, just before she goes to Mr. March in the hospital:

“Don’t grieve and fret when I am gone, or think that you can be idle and comfort yourselves by being idle and trying to forget. Go on with your work as usual, for work is a blessed solace. Hope and keep busy, and whatever happens, remember that you never can be fatherless.”

And, this quote for Meg is of note:

“Learn to know and value the praise which is worth having, and to excite the admiration of excellent people by being modest as well as pretty, Meg.”

3 .Do you think that the characterization of these girls and this family is realistic? Explain.

I think each girl has a distinct personality and voice in the book (especially noticeable when reading their thoughts/writings/letters). Bravo to Alcott for her skills! They are, perhaps, over-dramatized in some cases. But maybe it’s because this story was meant to appeal to young women? I’m not sure who the intended audience was, but that’s my guess. The melodrama would make it clearer to a younger reader the flaws and virtues of the characters.

4. What’s your favorite scene or incident so far? And why?

I’m not sure! Maybe the evening spent on the hill with Laurie reading while each girl was occupied with needlework/drawing. That was a peaceful scene, and their discussions of each one’s “little castle” was telling of their personal character. AND, somewhat foreshadowing of things to come.

5. If this is your second (or third etc.) time reading this story, what stands out to you this time?

It’s my first!

6. If this is your first time reading this story, is it meeting your expectations? Or is it different than expected? Explain.

Yes, it is definitely meeting my expectations!!! It is possibly better than I expected. It has been easier reading than I thought it would b. I am pleased with how each chapter is almost a vignette or scene from their daily life instead of all combining with 1 central plot or purpose.

7. How do you feel about Jo cutting off her hair? Was this incident surprising to you? Do you think it’s symbolic of anything?

It didn’t surprise me, because I have seen the 1994 movie adaptation countless times. (side note: I am impressed with how true it stayed to the book *so far*). I think it could be considered a sign of Jo growing up a little, realizing and acting on her ability to help her family.

8. What’s your feeling about the inclusion of poems, letters, stories, plays and etc. into the story? 

I like them! They make the story even more unique and add perspective.

9. Any thoughts in particular on the male characters in this story?

Hmm. They seem to be secondary! I like Laurie and think he is good for the March family. He is their connection to a higher class of people, yet is not proud or affected. He is a true friend. Mr. Laurence is very devoted and sweet, especially to Beth, which makes me happy.

10. Are you liking this reading experience? If yes, why? If not, why?

Yes! It’s so much fun to participate in a read along, especially for a “classic”. I have more motivation to read it that way. And, the discussions are always insightful.

 

That’s it for my part 1 post! Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Little Women. What are your opinions of this story so far?

My Favorite Reads of 2015

Happy (almost) New Year! I want to wish all of you a blessed year. I’m so thankful to be celebrating a new year and being partway through my fourth year of blogging. It’s a pleasure to “meet” with my readers and chat about books and the grace of Jesus.

I can’t believe it’s time for another year-end recap! Though much has transpired in 2015, this post will focus on books. It seems like just a couple months ago I was considering my books from 2014 and looking forward to new releases in 2015. In this post I want to share my favorites I read this year. Hopefully you’ll find some titles to add to your TBR — and share your thoughts in the comments!

I came really close to my goal of 50 books — I made it all the way to 46 books. (46 and a half if you count my current read). And, I checked off all but 3 books from my personal 2015 reading challenge.

These are in no particular order, but they are kinda grouped by genre: classics, historical, contemporary. (I’ve linked each title to its review/related post here on the blog or to its Goodreads page)

Classics

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This one is a classic for good reason. Plus there’s the BBC miniseries adaptation that is wonderful. The best part about the novel, in my opinion, is seeing both Margaret’s and Mr. Thornton’s side of the story.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I really enjoyed this one! Participating in the read-along made this one even better with all the analyzing that went on.

 

Favorites of 2015 on The Green Mockingbird

Historical

The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

A great finish to this series! I was caught up in the intrigue and romance from the very start.

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

Lori is just awesome. She writes beautiful characters and prose with great depth. I’m super excited for the sequel in 2016!

“Price of Privilege” series by Jessica Dotta (Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, Price of Privilege)

Ah, Jessica Dotta is amazing. This is possibly my favorite series of all-time! (And I don’t say that lightly). I have more plans to discuss these on the blog in 2016. Look out, world.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Laura always delivers with a fantastic story. This one might be the best to date! (And my mom really liked it, too)

Favorites of 2015Contemporary

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

I was so glad to read Amelia’s story! The Christiansens feel like my own secondary family at this point.

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

A story for book lovers. Enough said.

Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann

SOOOO good. And unexpected. And comical. And deep.

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

This one made me want to go to Scotland!!!! Fun, emotional, and characters with great chemistry.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

An epic romantic story focused on the importance of family, redemption and the choice to forgive. Move over, Nicholas Sparks!

While You’re Awake by Amber Stokes (novellete)

This one was a delightful twist on a fairy-tale that had me hooked! And craving coffee.

One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg (novella)

I literally laughed out loud at this one. But it’s more than a comedy — it’s a sweet story of family and learning to trust God.

 

Whew! That was fun to put together. If you’re interested in what other books I read in 2015, check out my Goodreads challenge page.

What made it onto your list of favorites in 2015? Did you read any of these? What is on your TBR for next year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top {11} Book Quotes

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a FREEBIE topic for Top Ten Tuesday! So, looking back through past topics, I was inspired to share some favorite book quotes (originally a topic in 2010, I believe). While I have many favorite book quotes, I have chosen 11 to share here that hopefully make sense out of context. Narrowing it down was not easy!

Top {11} Book Quotes

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. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Taking a sip of tea, she felt immediately better. Tea was comfort. Tranquility. Civility. – Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped. – Persuasion by Jane Austen

“You put new meaning to the word bookworm. More like a book… boa constrictor.” – Blake in Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

We said goodbye at the end of the day with the kind of reluctance usually reserved for small children leaving Disneyland. – A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

“…one cannot turn one’s back on the truth. One cannot wish it away, or pray it away, or even live it away.” – Verity in Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

“I know it’s difficult to see right now, but if we trust Him, God can bring us through these dark places, through our fears and even what we think is impossible, to give us more. More of Him. Even more of ourselves, through Him. In fact, He can do more than you can ask or imagine if you let Him.”  – Grace in When I Fall In Love by Susan May Warren

“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.” – Mr. Thornton in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

“Do you know-” her tone went musing- “belief does something marvelous to courage. Courage is something to be drummed up without it, but if you have belief, it does the drumming.” – Clare in Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Not everything that happens to us in this life will bring us joy. …But in time God will work even the worst things men do to us for our lasting good. Eternal good. Trust in the Almighty, in His love for you, and you’ll have no need to dread anything He has befall you. For with a test, a trial, He gives an equal measure of grace to bear it and the comfort of His fellowship as He strengthens us. He is acquainted with suffering. – The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Imagine how differently we’d treat people if at the beginning of an acquaintance we were given opportunity to know how that person would affect our life. – Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite book quotes?