Thursday, March 31, 2016

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Read-Along: Conclusion

Hop on over to our host Amber's blog to read her final thoughts on Northanger Abbey and to get all of the details of the watch-along happening tonight! In the meantime here are my thoughts on this last section and answers to the questions that Amber posed over on her blog.


1. How would you respond to General Tilney's rudeness if you were: Catherine? Eleanor? Catherine's parents?

Oh wowsie! I'd be ticked off! I'd want to know what the reason was for his sudden change of heart if I were Catherine. He definitely caused her some confusion and hurt. As his daughter Eleanor I think I would have demanded the reason and then explained to him the error of his ways(probably very loudly!). As Catherine's parents...I have to say here I was a bit disappointed in them. I thought they would be less air-headed than the rest of the characters in this story, but I found some of the things her mother said as much without substance as say the Allen's or even the Thorpes. As her parent I would have been incensed with her treatment of her being sent home without a chaperon or anyone else accompanying her and I would have been even more ticked off of her being turned out of the house without any explanation and chance to defend herself. I'm definitely not a General Tilney fan. He should have been more aware of how the Thorpes operated and not relied on rumor to base his judgment of Catherine. Yeah, disappointment in all that participated in this circumstance! 

2. How do you feel about Henry Tilney by the end of the story? What do you think of his home in Woodston, his response to his father's actions toward Catherine, and his initial reasons for pursuing her?

Well hmmmm, I liked his home in Woodston. It seemed much more cozy than the Abbey for sure. Less pretentious and more homey. As far as his response to his father's actions and initial reasons for pursuing her...I'm happy he at least went after her. I thought he was a bit impetuous when he told his father that he was going to offer his hand to Catherine. It reminded me of a child that was pitching a bit of a fit and threatening the worst he could think of like, "I'm going to run away" ha! But yeah I was happy that Henry went after her and that he was ticked at his father and stood up to him even though he and Eleanor were used to allowing the General to get his way and bully them around.I loved that he kept to his goal even though the General was furious.

3. The final line of the book states, "I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience." What is your verdict? Do you believe the story recommends parental tyranny or a child's disobedience? What do you believe is the book's real message?

Again, like trying to put a character with an actors face on said character I just don't do well with that, the same with trying to determine a "real message" in a book. I think sometimes a message is very clear and sometimes it is just a story to be a story. I did mark that quote because I found it apropos to the situation. I do not recommend parental tyranny. If we raise our children right we are raising them to make responsible adult decisions when they become adults. The characters of Catherine, Henry and Eleanor were all considered adult even though Catherine is a bit young. I think that Henry was a bit old to be bullied around by his father, and likewise I think Eleanor was too, but being a young woman in the times I'm sure she had no other choice. Anyway, if as a parent you set yourself up to be the ruler, the dictator, the boss and then proceed to rule with an iron fist or a flight of whimsy then you set yourself up to be disappointed and angered by your children. As for filial disobedience, I don't agree with that either. ha! I think there are times when we need to submit to our parent even when we are adults. In this case though, I would have backed Henry and Catherine! But I thought it was wise of Catherine's parents to demand the General's approval before allowing a marriage to take place and a good thing that Catherine and Henry abided that request. It gave Catherine another year of maturing and the General time to cool his heals and soften his heart. So is parental tyranny recommended or rewarding filial disobedience...yes and no ;)

Favorite Quotes:

"To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself, moreover, convinced that the General's unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny or reward filial disobedience."

This was the perfect ending to the story and one that reminded me so much of my own courtship with my husband. I was just 18 when we met and he was a seasoned 25 year old! We only knew each other a few short months before we knew we wanted to marry. My parents asked us to wait 1 year. It did give us a chance to get to know each other more, gave me a chance to mature a bit more and it was a way of honoring my parents request. Thankfully they weren't against the marriage, they were just wise enough to ask for a little growth time. If the General had come about his objections a bit like that then the outcome would have been a bit different. No tyranny and no disobedience needed :)

"Catherine would make a sad, heedless young housekeeper, to be sure, was her mother's foreboding remark; but quick was the consolation of there being nothing like practice." 

A bit of an example of one of the reasons Catherine's parents disappointed me. It seemed momma was full of these little pithy exclamations and proclamations. I hope she spent the year training Catherine in how to become a better housekeeper!

"His departure gave Catherine the first experimental conviction that a loss may be sometimes a gain."

Again with Jane Austen's wit and insight. Loved this!

Wrap Up:

I was happy to see that Catherine finally saw the true colors of the Thorpes, and found it rather interesting that the Tilney's saw it right away(at least Henry and Eleanor did, not the General). Mrs. Allen and Catherine's mother seemed suited to each other. Mrs. Allen only interested in what she was wearing or what someone else was wearing(maybe) and Mrs. Morland seemed just as flighty. She did see more of the character of someone, but still she seemed too shallow. Maybe it had to do with the period, but the women in this book seemed very unintelligent and in need of some other distraction besides fashion and novels. ha! Maybe that is the point of the story? I just started reading one of the "horrid" books mentioned in Northanger Abbey. It does prove some of the tongue-in-cheek attempt of Jane Austen's characters in Northanger Abbey. 

All-in-all I enjoyed this read-along. I thought I had read Northanger Abbey before, but apparently if I did nothing "stuck" with me so I will consider this my first time through. It was fun discussing each week what we had read and I definitely look forward to our next read-along.

Tonight is the watch-along. Go to Amber's blog for all of the details to join us. I may be a bit late, but I will definitely watch and then post comments and such as I go. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bear Country Fun Sticker & Activity Book by Jan & Mike Berenstain

This fun activity book reminds me a bit like the Highlights magazines. I would say the puzzles in this book are a bit easier than the ones in Highlights. This activity book features word searches, crossword puzzles, picture searches, coloring pages, sticker pages, mazes, along with math and reading pages, and some dot-to-dots. All of the puzzles feature the Berenstain Bears having fun. This activity book would be perfect for road trips or entertainment purposes for young children. The target age is 4 to 8 years old. I sat down with my 4 year old granddaughter and she was able to do some of the puzzles as long as I read the instructions to her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

April's Promise by Holly Schindler

Patricia and Timothy Steele are newly retired and having a hard time finding themselves in that retirement state. Patricia has no interest in the things she perceives other retirees doing. She doesn't have a knack for gardening or knitting or the desire to sit on the front porch rocking her days away. Timothy is starting to get on her nerves so her memories and ideals are starting to get a bit skewed. One thing that Patricia and Timothy have always done together is the April's Promise race in Finley. But even that is bringing some dissatisfaction to Patricia this year. Will things with Timothy ever be the same or are they destined to grow apart in their retirement years?

Oh my! This short story in the Forever Finley Short Story Cycle hits a little bit close to home! My husband and I are in that retirement state of life right now. No more work, children grown and out of the house, struggling to find a new purpose and goal in life, and most of all trying to figure out who is this person that we have been married to for 30 years?!

I really do become more and more impressed with Holly Schindler's writing skills the more I read her books. She has a way of capturing the realities of life and putting those realities into characters that the reader can relate to, empathize with and learn from. With Patricia and Timothy I felt almost like Holly was a fly on the wall in my house! Seriously, how many times have I caught myself looking at my husband and thinking "who is that gray haired man?" Or how many times have I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying something hurtful or hateful when my husband gets on my last nerve with something that he has done our entire married life? I love Timothy's character and how he was able to put things in perspective once more for Patricia. Yes, they got a little "lost" for a bit, but they will find their stride and move on together just like my husband and I have :)

Check out my reviews of the other stories in the cycle:

Come December
January Thaw
Forget February
Dearest March

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along: Discussion 4

The Read-Along is hosted by Amber on her blog at Seasons of Humility. Head on over there and check out this weeks news, information and comments.

Week 4 Questions:

1. If you were Captain Tilney's sibling, would you say something to him about his behavior toward Isabella? Or if you were Isabella's friend, would you try to warn or correct her? What do you think of Henry's reaction to Catherine's concern about the situation?

I guess I might be a bit more bold than Catherine and probably would have chewed her Isabella out for flirting with Captain Tilney. Especially if it were my brother involved. But Catherine's eyes are starting to become open where Isabella and her brother are concerned so maybe if the relationship with Catherine's brother and Isabella breaks off there will be much relief? In these chapters there really isn't much to see of Isabella and her creepy brother though, so we don't know how that is progressing. 
2. After reading all about Northanger Abbey, what are your thoughts of the place? Is it anything like you were expecting? Would you ever want to visit or live there if you could?

I guess I was expecting more of the gothic look like Catherine was. But other than that I really had no expectations. I'm not very visual when I read so I don't tend to get caught up in the descriptions of places. My impression is that it has a lot of rooms though and kind of sprawly which I wouldn't really care for. I also guess if I were on a tour of the countryside it would be a nice stop to visit, but probably not live there. I'm more a cozy cottage kind of gal! But if it had a turret I might be interested...I've always wanted a turret! 
3. How do you feel about Catherine's thoughts and behavior in this section? Was it all harmless intrigue, or do you thinks it's possible to be too caught up in daydreams and fictional worlds?

I think Henry set her up for her imagination to run wild in this section. After all she is an impressionable 17 year old girl. She is totally into the gothic novels of the day that scare the pants off a person and then he adds his story to the pot...poor Catherine didn't have a chance upon arriving there! 

Favorite Quotes:

"And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as 'what one reads about' may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?"

See the set up? Henry is egging her imagination on and she is too young to get that.

"But now you love a hyacinth. So much the better. You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. Besides, a taste for flowers is always desirable in your sex, as a means of getting you out of doors, and tempting you to more frequent exercise than you would otherwise take: and though the love of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?"

Tongue in cheek much? ha!

"At any rate, however, I am pleased that you have learnt to love a hyacinth. The mere habit of learning to love is the thing; and a teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing."

More like the gullibleness of a young lady...

"Catherine had read too much not to be perfectly aware of the case with which a waxen figure might be introduced, and supposititious funeral carried on."

Wow, she really had herself convinced that Henry's father was a dastardly dude capable of perpetrating such a devious ruse. She really needs to stop reading those "horrid" books! 

Thoughts on these chapters:

Is Catherine really heroine material? She seems so young and naive sometimes it makes me wonder if she is even old enough to have a "love" interest. Anyway, these chapters tend to just plod along, I honestly have to say I was more impressed with the beginning of the book rather than these last several chapters. I still love Austen's tongue-in-cheek wit and observation of human character that comes out sometimes unexpectedly. I then find myself snort-laughing as was the case with the hyacinth dialog. Sometimes I find that wit so subtle that I have to go back and re-read something to make sure I read it correctly the first time! 

One more week to go. I wonder what these last chapters will bring? I'm so curious to find out what happens with Isabella and also what seems to be the great "secret" at Northanger, if there is such a secret. Head over to Amber's blog and check out all of the information about the watch-along coming up on March 31. 

Until next week!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along: Discussion 3

Today is discussion three so head over to Amber's blog at Seasons of Humility to check out all the details.

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you feel about the way Catherine handled herself with John, Isabella, and James when they pressured her into ditching her walk with the Tilneys in favor of their own outings? How do you feel about the way she explained herself to the Tilneys?

I'm glad she finally stood up for herself. I think she is way too confused and tossed about by circumstances where they are concerned. I wish she would wise up and dump them! She is way naive where they are concerned and it kind of irritates me sometimes. I can't remember anything specific about the way she explained herself to the Tilneys except in being honest and really isn't honesty the best policy? Catherine seems to always be honest because she hasn't had any experience in having to edit her words or feelings, I like that about her, what you see is what you get. She's sweet, if excessively ignorant of the duplicity of the Thorpes. 

2. Henry, his sister, and Catherine have an interesting discussion about books and education on their walk. What was your favorite part of that conversation? Did any of their opinions on novels, history, or the difficulties in learning to read resonate with you?

Well of course my favorite part of the conversation was this gem:

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

Spoken by Mr. Tilney. Truer words were never spoken! And now I have GOT to find a copy of The Mysteries of Udolpho to explore this hair-raising tale!

Note: I just looked up the book on Amazon and there is a Kindle copy for free, but there is also a book comprised of all 9 of the "horrid" books mentioned in Northanger Abbey for only .99 on Amazon. Check it out! I bought a copy!

3. We've been given more glimpses into Henry's character - as well as Catherine's infatuation with him. Do you think Catherine has fallen too hard too fast? Or do you think Henry is proving himself worthy of such admiration?

My verdict is still out on Henry. At the moment he is still not hero material for me. I liked how he expressed himself about novels and such, but there is still some knowledge of him that is lacking. He's elusive maybe? I just can't put my finger on it, but there is something that he is holding back. I frankly can't see what Catherine sees in him. Hopefully once Catherine arrives at Northanger Abbey she will get to know him more and so will we.

Favorite Quotes:

"Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind, is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."

"John would have me go, for he vowed he would not drive her because she had such thick ankles."
That made me laugh again at Austen and her wit! 

General Impressions:

I have to admit that chapters 11-17 were harder for me to get through. It seems that they weren't as entertaining as the first 11 chapters. Maybe it was just me? But it seems to have bogged down here. I'm disgusted with the Thorpes and growing weary of their antics that is for sure! I'm afraid that the whole conversation that John had with Catherine about James and Isabella's engagement has led him to think that he and Catherine may become engaged, if not in his clumsy way thinking that they are engaged already. This confusion on Catherine's part is what frustrates me about her. The fact that she cannot see where he is going in this conversation or what he is implying makes me want to shake the stupidity out of her!

 Once again I'm thinking that Isabella and James think that Catherine's family has more money than they really do. Have they heard something to that nature or are they assuming that their attachment to the Allen's must mean they are of the same financial circle? With Isabella subtle complaining about the living that James' father bestows on them at their engagement there obviously is an expectation of wealth there. It will be interesting to see what transpires. And again, even though Catherine did kind of defend her father's endowment she still doesn't seem to understand the subtlety(or blatant) hints from Isabella and John's desire to attach themselves to her and James.

I'm definitely anxious to see what happens with these two and how Catherine's trip to Northanger Abbey pans out!

Have you read Northanger Abbey? What are your thoughts? Feel free to share in the comments or leave a link to a post on your blog!

Until next week!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Berenstain Bears Mother's Day Blessings by Mike Berenstain

The Bear cubs want to surprise Mama Bear and take her to lunch for Mother's Day. On Mother's Day on the way to church the cubs are surprised to see that not all mom's get the day off of work.

I enjoyed how the story showed that even though these mom's had to work on Mother's Day their families were with them to make their day special anyway. I also liked that the book focused on how important these mom's were to the jobs they were working. A very good lesson for the cubs to learn that mom's are special and all mom's are different and mom's deserve to be celebrated.

This is a part of the Living Lights Faith stories.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Glimmer of Hope by Julie Lessman

In this prequel to Isle of Hope we get to know the young Lacey Carmichael and Jack O'Bryen. We see how Lacey's home life shaped who she was. Not receiving any love from her father Lacey is constantly testing Jack's resolve to lead a pure life. Lacey desires physical love from Jack to prove to her that he loves her. Jack is heading to seminary and has every desire to keep their relationship above reproach, but Lacey's brokenness drives him to constantly prove to her his love.

As always Julie Lessman writes a passionate story. Her characters are always driven by fierce emotions. Frankly in Glimmer of Hope Lacey is not a very likable person, she's needy, she's broken, and she's headed for destruction. I found myself wanting to grab her and shake her and then grab her and hug her! Her father is an awful man which we learn more about in Isle of Hope, and Lacey is constantly belittled by him and fighting with him. It is no wonder that she seeks to fulfill her need for love in a physical way because she has no example of love from her father. I found it interesting to read the dynamics of the adults in the story as well. Tess and Adam and Ben and his wife Karen were all best friends in Glimmer of Hope. You will need to read Isle of Hope to find out what these families go through.

I love Julie Lessman's books because they are so real. She writes about broken people in need of a Savior who is waiting with open arms for them!

Check out my review of Isle of Hope

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dearest March by Holly Schindler

Jo March runs the bookstore named after her in Finley. Mark is a quirky character that comes around now and then but Jo thinks of him as more of a nuisance than anything else. Mark is loud, absent-minded, careless, and for Pete's sake he lives in a tree house! So when Jo receives a gift of her favorite book of all-time she doesn't even think that it could be Mark. Sure that her ex-husband is trying to get her attention again Jo is flattered, especially when she starts receiving notes from her admirer.  At the same time Jo starts to notice Mark sneaking around and she sets out to find out what he is up to. What she finds out changes her perception of him.

Awwww, this is my favorite so far, but I have a feeling you will need to be prepared to hear that a lot as the year goes on because the Forever Finley Short Story Cycle seems to get better as it progresses! In Dearest March we once again meet up with Norma from Miles Left Yet. She's settled into Finley quite well now and has made a go of her antique store. She's also friends with Jo and I enjoyed the relationship they have built. I loved Mark's character. He's definitely full of surprises. Looking forward to next month to see what happens next in Finley!

Check out my reviews of the rest of the cycle:

Come December
January Thaw
Forget February

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along: Week 2

Today we are discussing chapters 4-10. Hop on over to Amber's blog at Seasons of Humility and check out what others are saying about the book! Also enter into the contest that Amber is having on her blog.  Here are this week's discussion questions:

1. Is Isabella a friend or a "frenemy"? Do you think there's the seed of a genuine friendship between her and Catherine, or is Isabella only loyal to her own ambitions?

I don't think I would classify her so harshly as a "frenemy," But, I do think she is out for her own ambitions and she has set her eyes on Catherine's brother! I also think she is very self-centered and reminds me a bit of Mrs. Allen. Also Isabella seems very contradictory. She says one thing, then goes and does the exact thing she says she wasn't going to do. Are her actions to suit the circumstance or is she really that vapid that she has no idea what is coming out of her mouth? I think she is out to catch a man and she has set her eyes on Catherine's brother, but she will drop the whole friendship if someone richer comes along. So in a way she is probably the mercenary one instead of Tilney as I first thought!

2. Let's talk about John Thorpe, whose presence is obviously a problem! How would you advise Catherine in her interactions with Mr. Thorpe?

Sadly I am afraid she is going to have to be very blunt with him because he is a boorish man! Ugh! His talk of horses...snooze snooze! His arrogance! Ack! He has nothing to be arrogant over yet his ego is bigger than he is! I don't think that even if Catherine ignored him he would pay attention(dance scene in chapter 10), he has set his mind on her for some reason. This is another reason that I am wondering if he and Isabella think they are hitching their wagons to a star. Are they the mercenaries? And what is the draw to the Thorpe's that they are trying to attach themselves to them?

3. Do you agree with Mr. Tilney's comparisons between dancing and marriage? And do you consider dancing an important component of romance?

I believe more in what Catherine said. "People that marry can never part, but must go and keep house together. People that dance, only stand opposite to each other in a long room for half an hour." So yes Mr. Tilney is correct in that there is a commitment, but it is a limited commitment as compared to a lifetime commitment of a marriage.

No, I do not consider dancing an important component of romance. Especially nowadays. Maybe in the era that Jane Austen wrote in because the dances were much more elaborate and partners had to carry on some sort of conversation. So in that case it was a part of the courtship process. Now, if I had to rely on a dance to further my romance when I met my husband then I would have been up a creek! I was raised in a home that said "dancing is a sin" so needless to say, my dancing skills are very lacking! So at the risk of showing my age and upbringing I would say that yes, it furthered the romance in the Victorian era because it provided a safe place to court and get to know a person but in today's society no, dancing cannot further a romance because seriously, how can you even get to know someone with music playing so loud you can't hear yourself think let alone hear what someone is saying? 

Quotes that caught my attention as I read:

"He(Tilney) was nowhere to be met with; every search for him was equally unsuccessful, in morning lounges or evening assemblies, neither at the Upper or Lower rooms, at dressed or undressed balls was he perceivable; nor among walkers, the horsemen, or the curricle-drivers of the morning." Poor Catherine, it seemed she searched high and low for Mr. Tilney and he was MIA.

Upon meeting the Thorpes: "but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children, and Mrs. Allen of her gowns." Again I think we see Jane Austen's wit and observations of humankind.

I totally found the discussion of the gothic reads of the day interesting and had to look up some of the titles. Some of them are definitely still in print. I will have to check them out and see just how scandalous reading a gothic tale in that day was!

"I will read you their names directly; here they are in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warning, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time. Yes; pretty well; but are they all horrid? Are you sure they are all horrid? Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them."

Here is an example of Isabella's contrariness:

"I wish you knew Miss Andrews...I think her as beautiful as an angel, and I am so vexed with the men for not admiring her!"

then a few moments later:

"for I must confess there is something amazingly insipid about her."

Singing Miss Andrews praises in one breath and then cutting her in the next.

Oh, and Catherine is currently reading Udolpho at the time of the gothic book conversation.

Again showing Isabella's contrariness and Jane Austen's wit:

"She(Isabella) was so far from seeking to attract their notice(a couple of men), that she looked back at them only three times."

"only" three times! This just killed me!

Mr. Thorpe when Catherine tried to come up with some conversation to be had with him:

"Novels are all so full of nonsense and stuff! There has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Tom Jones, except The Monk; I read that t'other day; but as for all the others, they are the stupidest things in creation."

Again Mr. Thorpe shows what a jerk he is:

"On his two younger sisters he then bestowed a equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly." 

When Catherine finally starts to see Isabella and her brother's true colors:

"Her own family were plain matter-of-fact people, who seldom aimed at wit of any kind; her father at the utmost being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit, therefore, of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would contradict the next." 

"as it was, she could only lament her ill-luck, and think over what she had lost, till it was clear to her that the drive had by no means been very pleasant, and that John Thorpe himself was quite disagreeable."

So to wrap up this week's discussion my impressions are a bit turned as far as Tilney goes. We see just a bit more and so I like him just a bit better. As far as Isabella and her brother John, I am thinking that Catherine is going to regret this association. Feel free to hop into the conversation and leave a comment with your thoughts. And of course I am looking forward to next week's discussion!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Forget February by Holly Schindler

In Forget February we learn about the founder of Finley. It is quite a sad love story between Amos and his love Finley. The legend that is celebrated in Finley(the town) is that Amos and Finley are still searching for each other to be reunited in the afterlife. Each year Finley residents decorate for Valentine's Day in the hopes that this will be the year that Amos and Finley will finally be reunited.

Two skeptics watching all of the goings-on preparing for the big party this year are Kelly and Nathan. Nathan has just been dumped by his fiance` and Kelly's life is not going the way she had thought it would or should be going.

Scoffing at the people around them for believing in such a legend and feeling like life has beaten them down Kelly and Nathan have no intention of being drawn into the legend of Amos and Finley. But, there truly is something about Finley that captures hearts and brings them together. And there is always hope that this will be the year that Finley and Amos finally find each other.

I thought this was a sweet story. While Finley and Amos's story is tragic I enjoyed the legend that built up around their love for each other and that a town would hold onto it and commemorate it each year.

Check out my reviews of the other books in the Forever Finley Short Story Cycle:

Come December
January Thaw

Come back next month for my review of the next story in the cycle: Dearest March

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Northanger Abbey Read-Along Discussion #1

If you are participating in the read-along hop over to Amber's blog at Seasons of Humility and add your thoughts to the comments.

Here are week 1 Questions:

1. What do you find most endearing about Catherine's character? Do you consider her to be good heroine material? I'm afraid that at the moment my verdict is still out on Catherine's character. I guess at the moment I am finding her rather dull and unremarkable. Even the author kind of has a blase' attitude about her, 
"...her heart was affectionate, her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind; her manners just removed from the awkwardness of shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty; and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is."

I guess she is okay, but again, nothing remarkable about her so let's see if she improves as I read.
2. What are your first impressions of Mr. and Mrs. Allen? What sort of impact do they have on Catherine?
Mr. Allen seems separated from his wife in that he lets her just flounder out in society while he is off doing whatever it is he does while out in society. Mrs. Allen seems more interested in her outfits, air-headed and clueless and also self-centered. I think of the two I like Mr. Allen just a tad better because in chapter 3 at least he was looking out for Catherine in that he inquired about Mr. Tilney to find out what type of man he was. At least he pulled his head out of wherever long enough to do some type of duty for her. 

3. Has Mr. Tilney already stolen your heart, or are you still forming your opinion of his character? Which of his positive or negative qualities stand out to you most? Do you consider him to be good hero material?
I think once again it is a bit early for me to tell if I am going to like this Mr. Tilney guy. Yes, he is humorous and knows how to flirt well, but is that the whole of his character? Is he also mercenary? Is there any depth to him? I'll reserve judgment on him as well.

So we have read 3 chapters so far of Northanger Abbey. Have you read the book before? I read it years ago, but can't remember much about it. I've also seen a movie of it, but can't remember it. So either it is an unremarkable story or my memory is fading the older I get! I'm going to go with the idea that Northanger Abbey may not be one of the "famous" Austen books like Pride and Prejudice or Emma which tend to be made much over. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the first 3 chapters:

"Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard, and he had never been handsome."
This made me laugh! Once again Austen shows her wit in writing.

"Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion that surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them."
Again, bwahaha! And this is why I would choose liking Mr. Allen over her. ha!

"Catherine feared as she listened to their discourse, that he indulged himself a little too much with the foibles of others."
So is this a flaw in Mr. Tilney we see? Is he a flatterer? Does he have some ulterior motive? Is this just part of his character where he is interested in others and has a knack for relating well with people? I don't know, will have to see as the story progresses.

"..that no young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman's love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her." 
Part of this is a quote from an author of the time I gather, but it amused me.

So far in the 3 chapters I have read I can say this isn't my favorite Austen book. The characters seem to have no character or substance yet. I'm sure my opinions will change as the book goes on because really I don't think there is an Austen book that isn't brilliant! Feel free to weigh in on your opinion of the book and don't forget to head over to Amber's blog and check out the discussion there.

Come back next Thursday for more discussion!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Murder, Handcrafted by Isabella Alan

I'm so sad! This is the last book in the An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. I have enjoyed this series so much. Angie and her dog Ollie have found a place in my reading heart and they will be much missed.

In Murder, Handcrafted Angie is once again pulled into a murder investigation. This time the murder takes place at her parents' home in Holmes County and her best friend Jonah is a suspect. Angie's parents are in the midst of remodeling their kitchen when their electrician is found dead at their home. Jonah refuses to offer an alibi to where he was at the time of the murder and he has never forgiven the man killed for the death of Jonah's cousin. Angie knows Jonah would never hurt a fly and so does her boyfriend Sheriff Mitchell, but the Sheriff is always thorough in his investigations and Angie is determined to prove Jonah is not a murderer. Add to a murder investigation spottings of Bigfoot in the area and once again the reader is entertained by the quirkiness of the townsfolk of Holmes County and the determination of Angie to make all things right for her friends.

I found Murder, Handcrafted to be just as entertaining as the other books in the series. Angie's dog Ollie and her cat Dodger have some great conversations together(yes, Angie talks to her animals, don't you?). Petunia the goat makes an appearance and is just as destructive as ever(I wonder if Angie's mom ever found out who ate her tulips?). I thought the Bigfoot aspect of the story was interesting and it added some entertaining moments to the story. Even though I am sad to say goodbye to Angie and company I thought the murder and the series were wrapped up perfectly and I can rest easy that Angie and her Sheriff will have their "Happily Ever After."