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Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To use a somewhat derogatory turn of phrase, this book popped my Jane Austen cherry.

Now that I have your attention, this really was my first Jane Austen. I was ten when I saw the movie (1995, written and starring Emma Thompson), but followed it up about two years later with the novel (I was a kid, sue me). I love this story. I love everything about it. I love the relationship between Elinor and Marianne, it sometimes reminds me of the relationship I have with my own sister, though I think our personalities are each a mesh of both elder Dashwoods.

I love Elinor's quiet adoration of Edward (and vice versa), and just how it differs from Marianne's open adoration of Willoughby. Marianne is really the only one that wears her heart on her sleeve. Even Colonel Brandon kept quiet about his own feelings for Marianne. That's what sets her young ideas of love apart from everyone else's. Elinor, Edward and Brandon are all very pragmatic about their affections. Elinor knows that if she voices her love for Edward, he could be cut off financially from his family, Edward knows that if he voices his love for Elinor (or his former love for Lucy), he'll be cut off. Brandon believes himself to be too old for Marianne, so he admires her from afar. Each person thinks about the repercussions of the object of their affection before acting. Except Marianne, and she has the hardest lesson to learn.

I love this story. It never gets old for me. I can quote it, and I'm determined my avid watching of the film is what got me the lead role in my high school production of "The Murder Room." I had the accent down pat, thanks to Jane Austen.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this at the suggestion of another blogger, and it piqued my interest when I was trying to figure out which books I wanted to get for my free Audible trial.
The two parallel storylines were both fairy interesting, but I much preferred the historic one of Vivian, to Molly, who was basically used for modern political propaganda. Vivian's story was epic, tragic, and extremely beautiful. She had quiet the journey from Ireland to New York to Minnesota, and then Maine.
As this was on Audible, it was interesting to listen to the narrator, switch from an American teenage accent to an Irish Accent, as well as the accent of an old woman who's lost her Irish accent.
For the most part, I did enjoy this book, especially once Vivian was settled, and finding herself falling in love. I love love stories, what can I say? This was a good read for a drive, and I HIGHLY recommend Audible. ;-)

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Jurassic Park by Michael Chrichton

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1)Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this awhile ago, and got distracted, as I'm wont to do.

This book really was fascinating, with all the backstory, and side stories about everything leading up to the park tour.

Parts of it got a bit scientific, which I didn't really understand, and there were several pages of what a computer screen was supposed to look like, indicating feeding and medical records of the dinosaurs, but overall, it was a very exciting read. I'm glad that I got a chance to read it, and I look forward to the next one. I'm just glad I finished this before I saw Jurassic World.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke

When Calls the Heart (Canadian West #1)When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually really enjoyed this sweet story. I was beyond shocked when I started watching the TV show on Hallmark Channel/Netflix that I already had purchased this book awhile back. I zipped through it quickly. Almost too quickly. I honestly felt this book was super short, and couldn't believe that after two days, I was so far through it. That just seemed like absolute madness! Maybe I just really like Jeanette Oke, and tend to read her faster than other authors. Who can honestly say? But I just loved the sweet story, and found myself laughing at Elizabeth's antics, and agreeing with her in many parts of the book, especially when talking about not throwing herself at men. I'm right there with you, sister.

Long story short, loved it. I just wish it were longer. :-)

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review: And The Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

And the Shofar BlewAnd the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've never felt so convicted reading a book. Ever. The inner workings of the Christian mind is a trippy thing to behold, and being a Christian, myself, I often wonder if God sees me as a whiny brat for all of my crying out in my temptation.

This book made me realize that God expects us, and wants us to cry out to him. We all struggle. Even Jesus struggled, but He didn't act on it, which is why He was the sacrificial lamb to heal our transgressions.

I hated Paul Hudson. I hated the inner workings of his mind, his detestable, prideful mind. Every time one of his Elders, or his wife, or his mother tried to talk to him, he'd brush them aside, like he was the only one God actually talked to (similar to the priests in the Bible, honestly). He thought he was so far above everyone that he could never actually fall.

Sadly, I did see something similar in the church I attended growing up. There's no doubt in my mind that the pastor loved God, but the church grew so much so quickly that a lot of things got lost in the shuffle. I saw a lot of people leave the church, hurt, angry, and lost. When my parents finally left the church (because the messages were never finished. They were rabbit-trailed, and carried over week to week with no resolution), they made certain that the pastors knew there were no hard feelings. The church we're in now is trying to grow and build, but it feels like we're doing it in an honest, Christ-centered way. It's amazing the difference.

Back to the book, I had originally wanted to read this several months ago, when Joel Osteen had all those scandals in his church. I got into a debate with my friend, Laura, about whether or not TV evangelists are legit (I'm still on the fence about Joel, but she was complaining about Joyce Meyer. I have a friend who came to Christ because her mother insisted she turn on Joyce Meyer, and I've never known Joyce to preach anything besides the honest truth about how God saves). My mom and sister suggested I read this book.

Gotta tell you, it is flipping terrifying to see how the Devil creeps into the cracks in our foundation, and destroys. The fact that God still wants us after we've been through the mud says a lot about Him. Makes me think about how the devil can sneak into my own life, and use my pride and vanity against me. The only way to get through it is to put myself in the Word, and pray constantly. This book reminded me of that.

I did find it a bit hard to get into, but once I got past the first two or three chapters, it really flew by. I couldn't read it fast enough. I stayed up until midnight reading on a work night, just because I had to know how what was going to happen.

Love it! I now need to read more Francine Rivers. And re-read "Redeeming Love."

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Hello, my lovely readers! Just popping in to wish you a very Happy Independence Day!

Be Safe, Be Happy, Be Free!

Don't be like me and burn yourself on a punk while trying to light Zippers. ;-)

Via The Comical Conservative on Facebook

Via Kari Jobe on Facebook

Via The Writer's Circle on Facebook

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chick Lit vs. Women's Fiction: The Constant Whining of Artistes

I've been a superfan of Chick Lit and Chick Flick probably since the mid to late 90's. I loved love stories, funny stories, and stories with awesome clothes. The fact that I loved writing these stories in college was kind of a thorn in the side of my teachers and classmates, who thought my love of Romantic Comedy wasn't worth their time (Seriously). In fact, my best friend, Lauren, and I bonded after our Screenwriting class, on our way to the Commons for lunch, because we were both discouraged that our screenplays, hers a black romantic comedy, and mind a fluffy romantic comedy, were torn apart by classmates whose own works were, for lack of a better word, weird.

Last week, I read an article on Buzzfeed about how Chick Lit is a degrading title that holds women back from their works being viewed as "Literature." This article actually made me mad, because I see Chick Lit as a specific genre. Wikipedia describes Chick Lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.

I took it to my Facebook Writer's group, and their reactions pretty much matched my own: that women are so afraid of their work being construed as Chick Lit that they bash a genre that's not even theirs. A book can be funny, engaging, and have some of the same themes as Chick Lit and NOT be Chick Lit.

What bothers me the most about the Buzzfeed article is that it compares Women's Fiction to books that are a completely separate genre. They claim they're just marketed differently just because they're written by men. The books shown on the article Dead Man's Room by Peter James and The Kill Room by Jeffrey Deaver. Both books are thrillers, not dramas or comedies. Of COURSE they're going to be marketed differently than something like It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane. They involve two different subject matters.

Now, yes. I agree, based on the cover of McFarlane's book, it does look like Chick Lit. But let's take a step back. How much of a say did she have in the cover design? The marketing? Could she have said no at any time to how it was portrayed in the media? I don't know the ins and outs of traditional publishing, but I do believe that we can take ourselves out of the equation at any time if it's not what we want.

According tWikipedia
The Women's Fiction Writers Association guiding statement is broad and comprehensive: An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey. These stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds them together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.[2]
While I can kind of see how aggravating it is that your work is referred to as something that it's not, Chick Lit is a specific genre. There are authors out there who proudly publish Chick Lit.

I'm part of a proud group of women writers who love the light, fluffy genre, and we write it with the best of our ability. We take control of our writing by being true to who we are and what we love. We don't tear down another genre because of stereotypes. People like McFarlane and Marian Keyes are tearing down a genre that doesn't match their own ideals. Instead of fighting against a genre they don't want to be considered as, they should be fighting for their own work.

Author Brea Brown had this to say about the article, and I agree with her.
 It's pretentious and doubly sickening, because it's denigrating one form of expression in order to glorify another. "What *I* write isn't chick lit. Oh, no, no, no! Heavens no! It's women's fiction. I really wish people would stop referring to it in such debase terms." It's only debased because of the people who continue to perpetuate that stereotype!
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I don't know why Chick Lit gets a bad rap. I'm all about escapism in my writing. Peeking in and experiencing someone else's life for a couple hundred pages. When I read Chick Lit, I want to laugh, relate, and hopefully fall in love with the characters. I think all writers hope that people have similar emotions and actions when reading.

Real Chick Lit has nothing to do with being anti-feminist, which is an argument that many people on the Buzzfeed article complained about. It can have serious undertones, while written in a lighthearted manner. I don't think it's a bad thing to like stories that have a happily ever after. The stories might not be realistic, but not every book has to have deep, philosophical meaning. And that's okay.

  • What are your thoughts on whether or not Chick Lit should be banned as a descriptor?
  • Do you like/read Chick Lit?