Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014!

2013: A Year in Review.

The most exciting thing that has happened to me this past year is the spiritual growth I have gone through. One of last years goals for 2013 was to grow in my faith in God and wow! has that come true! God is faithful, God listens, and God is awesome. I made decisions at the beginning of the year to eliminate certain youtube shows and sitcoms from my life. They were polluting my mind and going against Philippians 4:8 (whatever is pure, right, wise, etc... think on these things). I believe that this will be a lifelong problem but with God on my side, who can be against me?
As well as this, I went through two "studies" (one was a Bible study and the other our pastor's sermon series) on modern day idols. As a result, I'm very very careful around sci-fi shows, British television, books and certain actors. It is my goal not to make them an idol in my life - not to place them above my commitment to God, his word, and his commission.

The other goals which I posted on my blog for 2013 are as follows:

Continue to study hard. I think I did a relatively good job on this... until October. The past three or four months have been really hard on my studying. Editing/publishing my book, NaNoWriMo, and many musical recitals wiped me out. I'm looking forward to starting school again, though!

Write three novels. I wrote two, taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, and regular NaNoWriMo in November.

Read at least 40 books (later, in my mind, I changed this to 50). Check! 69 books this year! Wow! I think that's the most "grown-up" books that I've ever read in my life! (When I was little, we would go to the library and pick up 50 picture books each week. They'd all be done by the time we went back the next week. But those don't count in 'the most books ever in one year' category.)

What else did I accomplish this year?

The biggest thing was publishing my book... After the Twelfth Night. I am SO glad that it's over and done with.

My musical abilities really soared. In piano, I just started my first ten page song, and I've learned to use my voice properly.

I learned that there were Prisoners of War in America during World War Two (see the post Algona, Iowa).

I attended several conferences with members of my youth group and did some fun stuff with other youth groups as well.

I finished reading The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien! That is a feat indeed.

My future has solidified. After my senior year next year I will go off to college to study youth ministry, music ministry, literature, and English.

Top Tuesdays started (I think I started that this year... now I'm not sure) and after six+ months, mysteriously stopped.

As well as continuing to watch Doctor Who, I was introduced into the Marvel franchise, and also in the Harry Potter franchise (by watching the first movie on TV the other night).

So what's in store for the new year?
Here are my plans...

Continue to get to know God, study his word, and make him first and foremost in my life. Read my Bible, pray everyday, and I'll grow... grow... grow...

Continue to study studiously. Finish my Algebra book!!! And get through Algebra II if possible...

Continue growing is my musical pursuits.

Visit my friend's college and start looking into which colleges would best fit God's plan for my life.

Witness to people about the love of God.

Do NaNoWriMo and win! Write a short story a day. Or, just write every day. Especially in my new story idea... (Last year my new story idea was a Defenders of the Realm which fell through. But this new story... well, I think it will stick around for awhile. At least, I'd really like it to.)

I'd really like to catch up on Doctor Who... if that's possible.

Read 100 books! Scary... I don't know if I'll be able to complete that one.

Get more geeky clothes.

Re-watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

EDIT: Read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

How about you all? Did you complete any goals you had made last year? What about goals for this upcoming 2014?

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Unto Us a Child is Born

video

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son in given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:1-8

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hermitage

Six choir concerts,
Three parties,
Two voice recitals (one rehearsal and one recital)
Two youth group events,
One Christmas program,
and one piano recital later...
(all in the last 16 days...)

I am officially tired of people.

I am not an introvert. I am not even an antisocial homeschooler.
But there is only so much performing/socializing that I can take. And I'm drained. All I want to do is go to my place (everyone has one... that one special place that you go when you want to be alone) and lock and door and becoming a hermit.
Unfortunately I can't do that.
So I'm doing the next best thing. I'm becoming a hermit on the internet. From now until the near future, don't expect me to be posting/commenting/answering emails (unless, of course, I feel so inclined in my hermitage). That doesn't mean I won't be around...


I'll still be reading people's blog posts. You just won't see me. Probably.


So, farewell for now.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow!

Remember this post?


It snowed!


Yay!

So what does Abbey do when there's snow?
She builds things! But not normal things. Oh no. Normal people make snowmen. I make... well... just take a look:


They are a nice family of snow people that my mom and I made in 2002. We made them while my dad was at work, so when he came home, he could barely get his car into the driveway.

Perhaps some of you remember this guy from last year?


This year I was going to recreate this (from Calvin and Hobbes):


But then I decided, why stick at that?
So I decided to create the scene from The Old Man And The Sea where Santiago is losing the fish to the sharks.
Behold!

 
 
I wrote out a scene from The Old Man And The Sea to hang above it.
I was going to add a scene from Moby Dick in the background... but then it started raining.
 
 
Live long and prosper!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Minute Waltz

I don't play it in a minute, though.

video

Live long and prosper!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

I'm watching the very first episode of Doctor Who ever! I thought it would be kind of fun to write a blog post while watching it...
Oh, there's the TARDIS! By the way, can I say how amazing the old theme song is? It's pretty cool.
Now we're in Coal Hill School. Aw, poor Susan... she's the teacher's problem because she knows so much.
Haha... The Doctor doesn't like strangers. "He's a doctor isn't he? Kind of strange."
Ah, so the guy's name is Ian.
Oh, there's Susan!
Her teachers are following her home. Though she's not there yet... so she's following them to her home.
Oh Ian, dropping his torch. At least it didn't end up in Narnia.
"It's alive!" (about the TARDIS)
There's the Doctor! Numero uno!
Haha, regular Doctor attitude showing. Some of his expressions remind me of clips that I've seen of Four.
Oh, they got into the TARDIS! Cool, a switch on the panel opens and closes the door.
Ian: "I walked all around it! It was just a police box!" They think it's ridiculous that it can go anywhere in time and space... the fourth and fifth dimensions.
Aw, poor Doctor and Susan, cut off from Gallifrey!
Hmmm... Susan knows more about humans than the Doctor. That changes eventually.
Haha, I think the TARDIS just took off and the Doctor is off chuckling while the two teachers are getting all angry.
Oh, now they're talking off - oh that familiar sound! It hasn't changed one bit in 50 years! I wonder what makes that sound anyway...
Through the time vortex.... Hmm, where are they now, I wonder?
Oh! Over already! Episodes are only 30 minutes long! At least this episode was...
On to The Cave of Skulls!
Well, I see a caveman. And he has a skull... and there's a whole bunch of cavepeople. They all have skulls too. They're trying to make fire... Without fire, they DIE.
Ian is on the floor, he just woke up from being passed out. The Doctor looks at him and says: "What are you doing down there?"
A bird is screaming. Some sort of strange Dalek bird? They're coming for me!
"It's still a police box. Why hasn't it changed? Dear, dear... how very disturbing!" says the Doctor. So that's when the chameleon circuit broke. Perhaps it was because Susan and the Doctor stayed in London for five months...?
"Doctor who?" asks Ian for the second time.
Hm, the Doctor smokes a pipe? The caveman snatched him for the fire. He forgot his hat. It's not a fez... but still, he left his hat! It's like when Carreidis loses his hat in Tintin.
xD It's so cheesy. But I love cheesy.
Now the Doc, Susan, Ian, and Barbara are in trouble! They are in the cave of skulls - it's a cave, full of skulls that have been split open.
The next episode is called The Forest of Fear, but I think I'll save it for another day.

Live long and prosper!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A bookish linkup!

Cait and Mime, over at the Notebook Sisters (which looks like a rather fantabulous blog, by the way, even though I haven't full explored it yet) are having an end-of-the-year bookish linkup!


Basically you have to answer the following questions and then link up your own post to their post. I'm doing the reading one... but there's a writing link-up too, which I might or might not do. I haven't decided yet.
Without further ado... the questions!

1. What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)
Hmmm... I'm going to go with Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I really, really enjoyed that one.

 2. Favourite debut(s)? (Author must have been first published in 2013.)
Can I pick myself? :P Because I haven't read any books by newly published (in 2013) authors. I can get close, though! Miss Jack Lewis Baillot was first published December 14 of last year.

 3. Which books did you reread this year?
A lot.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (actually, I'm hoping to start this one again soon because IT'S AMAZING).
Ruby Holler, Replay, and Bloomability by Sharon Creech.
The American Girl Samantha series (which is technically 6 books, but I'm counting them as one, since they're so short).
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (also an amazing book - and movie).
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (does this count? 'Cause I read it... and then a few days later re-read it).
A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (x2. I re-read them twice this year).
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (though I don't really remember the first time...).
Ecclesiastes by Solomon (?).
The Penderwicks, the Penderwicks on Gardam Street, and the Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards.
The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson (I love this book).
and
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Phew!

 4. Favourite cover(s) this year!
I'm guessing this is favorite covers of the books I've read this year...?



 5. Worst cover(s)?
I don't really have any worst covers... If I have to pick, though, I guess I could go with the cover of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. It's an alright cover, but I prefer the one with the gears. And the Canterbury Tales Penguin classics version. That one has the author on the cover (to be fair, though, he is in the book as well).




 6. What self-published books did you read this year?
Kat and Kadet by J. Hammond (AKA Hailey Jenkins).
A Stretch of Loyalty by Miss Jack Lewis Baillot.
Abolished Impracticality by Miss Jack Lewis Baillot.
Sew, It's a Quest? by Kendra E. Ardnek.
and
Do You Take This Quest by Kendra E. Ardnek.

 7. Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?
I'm not really familiar with book hangovers (or any hangovers for that matter...) but Abolished Impracticality left me going:

 
(I'm the one on the right. The one on the left is The Author, who can't comprehend my frustration)

 8. Best standalone you read?
I read a lot of great standalones. I'll go with one I haven't mentioned yet... Crater by Homer Hickam.

 9. Biggest book(s) you've read this year?
Moby Dick by Herman Melville is a clear winner! Followed up by Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and the Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

 10. Book(s) you followed the hype for and then loved!
The books my friends write I eagerly follow the hype of, and then love their books.

 11. Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?
The No Place Like Holmes books I was expecting more from.

 12. Favourite leading-female character?
Fanny Price from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. You can read why on my review of Mansfield Park a few posts back.

 13. Favourite leading-male character?
Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Beware future-firstborn-son-that-I-will-have-eventually—your name will be Atticus. It will!
I also really like Bilbo from The Hobbit by Tolkien... and Mr. Satterthwaite from The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie was pretty cool too.

 14. Best romance(s)?
Alek and Deryn from the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld!

 15. What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish)
Hmmm... lots, probably. The only one I can remember, though, is The Princetta by a French lady. I started it when we were visiting family across the country, and then never finished it when we came home.

 16. What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?
I'll say Heist Society by Ally Carter. I don't normally read YA books and I tend to be a little wary of them...

 17. Which author did you read the most from?
Agatha Christie! I started reading her in the spring and have read seven of her books now. Second place is J.R.R. Tolkien, of whom I have read five books this year (The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Father Christmas Letters, The Hobbit, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

 18. Top 5 books you'd recommend from all the books you've read this year?
Oooo, hard question!
Probably...
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - because I love love love that book.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman - because I also love love love that book and any fan of the movie will be equally impressed with the book.
Crater by Homer Hickam - this is a great space adventure with amazing world building.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - every fan of mystery should read this. Any fan of amazing writing should read this. Only, don't do it while you're camping on an island.
aaaannndd...
The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby - this was a really fun adventure-read. I really enjoyed it.

 19. How many books did you read this year all up?
66, so far! That's amazing! I don't know if I've read that many books in a year before. And I know for a fact that I will be finished one or two more before the year is up.

 20. What's a book you're hugely excited for coming out in 2014?!
The fourth Penderwicks book!

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Problem with blogger?

Is anyone else having a problem with their blogger dashboard? I keep getting a message that says:


And instead of the lovely orange encompassing the "blogger" "new post" and "publish" buttons, it is instead surrounded by white, like the buttons have been blotted out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mansfield Park: A Review

Or, if you want to read the title differently-
Mansfield Park: Abbey's thoughts and comments. (P.S. Major spoilers coming up. Pretty much everything is a spoiler. Not only for Mansfield Park, but other Austen works as well. Tread carefully.)

Title and author: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

My rating: Hovering somewhere between nine and ten stars out of ten.

Synopsis: Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. (Taken from Goodreads.)

My ramblings: Mansfield Park is very understated and underrated in my opinion. It is not many people's favorite. Not many people enjoy reading this book. It lacks a witty, fun, main character. It lacks the scoundrel man (well, it does have a scoundrel, but more on him later). It lacks the Mr. Darcy or the Mr. Knightley - the dashing hero. It lacks the comic relief character - the Mr. Collins or Mrs. Jennings. In all reality, it even lacks the love-story focus. The story is about love, but it's not about getting married. It's not a very funny story. It's rather depressing in some parts. It's sad in others.
But I think it's brilliant.
I love Mansfield Park.
I think it's my favorite Jane Austen novel.
After watching the movies for all of Austen's novels (before reading any of the books), Mansfield Park stood out to me, and I'm not sure why.
After finishing Emma a few months ago, I knew that Mansfield Park was the Austen novel that I wanted to read next.
Sometime in the beginning of November, I picked it up and started reading. I couldn't put it down. Though nothing really exciting happens in the book (no explosions, no treasure-stealing dragons, no big fight scenes), it is the first book in months that had me wanted to read more, to find out what happens next. This rarely happens when I read, so it was a pretty exciting feeling.
So what exactly makes this book so endearing to me?
I think it the characters.

Let's talk about Fanny Price first.
Fanny is the "heroine" of the novel (though as someone on Goodreads pointed out, the novel is not entitled "Fanny" or "Fanny Price;" it is entitled "Mansfield Park" and that's what it's about. The goings-on at Mansfield Park. We just happen to be seeing things through Fanny Price's eyes).
Even though Fanny is the heroine, she really doesn't seem like it. She has none of the characteristics of Austen's other heroines. She is not out-going. She is not funny. She is not smart or witty. She can't play the pianoforte, she doesn't sing, she can't paint, and she doesn't know her geography.
Fanny is timid, shy, nervous, and weak (health-wise). Austen describes her thusly: "extremely timid and shy, shrinking from notice." All of Fanny's education comes from reading, and discussing the books she read with her cousin Edmund. Edmund is to be a clergyman, and therefore instructs Fanny in what is right, proper, and moral. She is, therefore, a very moral character.
When Henry Crawford comes to Mansfield and flirts with Fanny's engaged cousin Maria (as also her unengaged cousin Julia), Fanny can't like him. She believes his actions wrong. Later, when Henry starts paying his attentions to Fanny, Fanny still can't like him. His opinion grows slightly in her mind when his attentions don't stop and he genuinely seems to love her. But she still cannot like him enough to marry him, due to her belief that he is prone to flirtation and is not capable of a steady, constant love. She ends up being right in the end, though that rightness comes at a great cost to everyone's happiness around her.
Many people have a problem with Fanny's morality, which I don't understand. They think she's too perfect. I don't think that at all. I think that considering the times, and how she grew up, who influenced her (cousin, clergyman Edmund), and her personality, her morality isn't to be wondered at. She's a girl with convictions, and she's willing to stick to those convictions to the very end. That's a rare thing now, which is why I think people have a problem with it.
So why do I like Fanny so much? Well, for one, I LOVE her convictions. I love that even though Henry Crawford truly did love her, and even though her marrying him would have elevated her SO much in society, and even though they would have been a good match, and even though all her family were of the opinion that they should marry... and even though her uncle got very upset at her for not marrying Henry, and even though Henry got Fanny's brother a promotion... even though Aunt Norris was very angry about Fanny not marrying Henry... even though Fanny felt horrid and cried and cried because of all the disappointment she was giving to the family that had taken her in... even through all of that, she still stayed true to herself and to her conviction that she shouldn't marry Henry. It caused her a lot of pain, but she stayed true to what she believed. Even though she is shy, nervous, timid, scared, and of weak health... she was strong enough to continue to refuse Henry's attentions, even though they continued for months.
That's admirable.
Another reason I like Fanny? Edmund.
One of the reasons that Fanny refuses Henry (along with not liking his character), is that her heart is already someone elses. She's in love with her cousin Edmund. Unfortunately, Edmund is in love with another girl - Henry's sister Mary. Fanny sees that Mary is just as wrong in character as her brother, but Edmund doesn't see it. He's too blinded by what he thinks Mary is... And because he and Fanny are such good friends, he tells her everything. Fanny endures listening to the man she loves, talk about another woman. She endures him pouring out all of Mary's amiable qualities. How gracefully she walks, talks... Yet Fanny is able to listen, and she able to be Mary's friend and correspondent (though it pains her). She still loves Edmund through all of it. And when Henry wants to marry Fanny, she doesn't even for a second think about marrying him, because her heart is Edmund's and will be forever (though Austen does hint that if a certain thing concerning Henry and Fanny's cousin Maria didn't occur, and if Edmund had married Mary, eventually Fanny might've married Henry and been content and happy with him).
That's admirable too. I hope that I have that much constancy. Not just to my husband, but to my friends and family.
Another reason I like Fanny is because I'm so much like her. And it's not just because we both don't know where Asia Minor is.
In one way, I'm not so much like Fanny, as I am inclined to be like her.
My tendency is to be shy, to be timid, to look at the floor when people are all around talking. I've never been popular and don't want to be. When people are having a party around me, I generally find a place to sit and spend the time trying not to make eye contact with people, so that I won't have to talk. This happened just this past weekend when we were celebrating my dad's birthday in Canada. Instead of joining the rest of the people in the living room/dining room for dinner, I hid away in the kitchen, so that I wouldn't have to be talked to.
(As a side note: I'm SO SORRY to my cousin. I feel like I kind of abandoned you to the relatives and I'm very sorry about that.
Another side note: Thank you to the uncle who came and talked to me about my book. =) I appreciated that. Though I'm not sure he'll ever know, since I'm pretty sure he doesn't read my blog...)

This aversion to people is something I'm trying to get over. I see it as a flaw. God created people to be in relationship with one another, not to be loners. I will never make the friends that I ache for if I'm not getting out there and talking to people. I can't have good, meaningful relationships if your always staring at the floor!
Fanny also, is rather shy around people. She often looks at the floor, instead of joining in on conversation.
The mix of Fanny's timidity and morality makes her alienated from all the rest of the young people. Add to this that Fanny has never been properly "out" in society, and the fact that most of the time she is running errands for her Aunt Bertram, while her Aunt Norris takes every opportunity to scorn her, and it is no wonder that, while her bright, pretty cousins Maria and Julia are in the room, no one ever talks to Fanny!
While I don't have a scorning aunt, and don't have an aunt to run errands for all the time, and I don't have any popular people always taking the spotlight, I do feel like my own strong morals and convictions set me apart from others. It's hard to be a Christian. It's hard to stay pure, and it's hard to stay focused on what's right and noble, when the whole rest of the world is wearing skin-tight, revealing clothes. Or when the whole rest of the world is watching that One TV Show that you don't want to watch because it dirties your mind. It's hard when everyone around you talks about trivial things, or when everyone around you is fangirling about Such and Such a show, and you're stuck in the middle going "THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO LIFE!" Knowing that God fulfills, that he's the best way, but still having a little wishful thinking in your heart... wanting to fangirl, to fit in with the others, because that TV show really is so brilliant, and the actors so amazing... But I don't. I won't let those things get in the way of God. I won't let them become an idol in my life.
Fanny struggles with some of the same things, though she does it more in the name of Rightness and Morality, that in the name of God. In the beginning of the book, when the Henry and Mary Crawford first arrive, a scheme is presented to pass the time: Acting. Only, the play that is chosen is inappropriate and shocking and surely something that Uncle Bertram would NOT approve of, were he at home (he was away in Antigua dealing with some business). Only Fanny refuses to participate in the play, because she knows it's immoral, and that her uncle wouldn't approve. Yet there is a point where Fanny has her heart tugged a little bit... Everyone else is having so much fun with learning lines and rehearsing and everyone is such good friends. And there is still one part, even if it is small... But then the part is taken by the Crawford's half-sister and the temptation is taken away.
I know how hard it is to deal with stuff like that... it's difficult to say 'no.' It's difficult to take the straight and narrow path.
“We have all been more or less to blame,” said he, “every one of us, excepting Fanny. Fanny is the only one who has judged rightly throughout; who has been consistent. Her feelings have been steadily against it from first to last. She never ceased to think of what was due to you. You will find Fanny everything you could wish.” (Chapter 20. Edmund to his father, when his father returns unexpectedly from Antigua, to find the house in disarray, and the acting in full swing.)
I love Fanny's convictions and her consistency on those convictions.

Now, I want to talk about Henry Crawford and how brilliantly well-written he is.
Henry is a silver-tongued, flirtatious man from London. He's not out-of-this-world handsome, but he has pleasing manners, and a family estate. He reads beautifully.
He also likes to make girls fall in love with him, only to break their hearts because it's only a game to him.
He makes Fanny's two cousins, Maria and Julia fall in love with him. It's alright for Julia, because she's unattached. But Maria is engaged to Mr. Rushworth. Eventually, after Henry leaves, Maria marries Mr. Rushworth for his money. Truly, he's an idiot, and Maria can't get Henry Crawford out of her mind.
After Maria and Mr. Rushworth leave on their honeymoon, and take Julia with them, Henry returns.
He says to his sister: "What do you think I shall do during to occupy myself during the next few weeks? I am going to make Fanny Price fall in love with me. She needs to have her heart broken just a little."
Mary urges him not to do it, but he will have his fun.
It turns out not to be so much fun when Henry actually falls in love with Fanny himself, and Fanny won't have him.
Everyone tells him to be patient and wait for Fanny, though, because she often needs to have a few months to get used to the idea (after all, Henry is her first suitor). So Henry is content to wait for a few months. But then, when he's in London later, he meets again with Maria. She acts very coldly towards him, because he broke her heart. This upsets Henry. The woman he had so much control over not six months before now totally ignores him! So he starts to flirt, and tries to make Maria fall back in love with him. He succeeds of course, and starts an affair with her. If they are careful enough, Fanny will never have to know about it and he can have his fun, and marry the woman he loves. But, of course, it all comes out, and gives Fanny even more reason not to marry him. Both he and Maria are disgraced.
But the way that Jane Austen portrays him! Oh, it's genius on paper. When Henry first shows up, he is detestable. He is as much a scoundrel as Willoughby and Wickam. And then he says that he's going to try make Fanny - innocent, modest Fanny! - fall in love with him! At that moment, he is the most detestable scoundrel ever! But then he falls in love with Fanny... He shows his devotion to her. He becomes good friends with her brother and even gets him a promotion. When Fanny goes home to her parent's house for a three-month visit, he even comes for a few days expressly to see her. I almost started to like Henry Crawford. He certainly was changing. He is everything honorable and right for a little while. You almost start to root for HenryxFanny. And then he starts the affair with Maria and you're thinking, "Henry! What are you doing! If only you had waited, man! You would have eventually had the woman you loved! Now you totally scrapped your chances!"
All the conflicting emotions! It takes a genius to write such a character - that makes you detest him, then love him, then detest him again; that makes you almost wish that he had stayed good...
This is one of very few books - perhaps even the first since I can't remember any others at present - that have made me feel this way towards a character.

Henry Crawford is not the only example I have of Austen's genius, however. She is able to portray different sides of the same coin beautifully. What I mean is that she can take a social position and portray it in a good light, a bad light, and a 'eh, whatever' light. She has done this in several different books, though I have only noticed after reading Mansfield Park.
Take the office of clergyman for example...
In Pride and Prejudice (and also Emma) the clergymen characters are complete buffoons. You have Mr. Collins, whose sole purpose in life is to marry a respectable lady, and please his patron Lady Catherine de Bourgh. In Emma, Mr. Elton is a selfish man, whose better-than-thou attitude gains him a horrid wife.
Yet in Sense and Sensibility, Edward, who wants to be a clergyman, but is deterred from that line of work by his mother, is to be felt for. His line of work seems perfect for him. You want him to be a clergyman. You know he'll be good at it.
In Mansfield Park, it's taken a step further. Actually, it's a topic of debate between several of the characters several different times.
Edmund wants to be a clergyman. He has always wanted to be a clergyman. Not because of the pay, or because of his patron, or because of selfish reasons... but because he genuinely wants to help people and make people better. He also wants to marry Mary Crawford, who is totally against clergyman in general. There is a clash of opinions and several debates follow, where you get to see Mary's reasoning, and Edmund's. It's quite amazing, because you can truly see the different sides and can feel for both sides.
She does this with others characters as well. Take Elizabeth Bennet and Mary Crawford, for example: They are both witty and pretty, with lovely dark eyes. They are both lively and easy-going and fun to be around. The difference is that Elizabeth is the main character in Pride and Prejudice, and Mary Crawford is not the main character in Mansfield Park. (Of course there is also difference in situation... Mary has 20,000 pounds, while Elizabeth is basically penniless.)
How different would Mansfield Park had been if it had been from Mary's point of view? Would we see more similarities to P+P? What about the whole clergy issue? Would we have agreed with Mary if it had been from her point of view, or would we still had agreed with what Edmund had to say?

Even though Mansfield Park lacks elements from Jane Austen's other novels, I believe that this is most certainly NOT her worst work. In fact, I think it's one of her best. It shows her genius with characters.
And it shows Jane Austen's diversity as a writer. It shows that she's capable of writing vastly different works. She can write lighthearted, almost "fluffy," books like Pride and Prejudice, and she can write the darker, deeper books like Mansfield Park.
People don't like Mansfield Park because of it's deeper, darker side. They want another Pride and Prejudice love story.
But is an actor who played a sociopath brilliantly once, and from then on was just cast as sociopaths because that's what he's good at, really a good actor?
Is a hit musician who keeps writing songs about the same types of things, only changing a chord here or there to make the song different enough to keep people interested, really a great musician?
Is a best-selling author really so amazing, when all her works are fluffy romances (even if the names of the characters, and the settings are changed)? Or if all his works are spy thrillers, with different endings, but the same way of getting to that ending, is he really so brilliant? (I should do a post on this... because I feel like Agatha Christie does this. Her endings are always a surprise, but I believe that's because she always gives the reader SO many suspects, and they ALL have motives and things in favor of or against them. There are some exceptions, of course... *cough cough* And Then There Were None.)

I believe that Mansfield Park proves that Jane Austen is a very talented, diverse author. Every time I read a book of hers, I hold her in higher esteem.

So there you have my rambling review of Mansfield Park. =) This book isn't for everyone. If you're a fan of adventure and intrigue and comic relief characters and explosions, this book probably is not for you. But if you enjoy books about people, and enjoy appreciating/thinking about/analyzing great writing, then you would probably like this book. Also if you like somewhat sad books that give you lots of feelings. Also if you like books that make you think.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I thankful for? The usual things... what Jesus did on the cross, enough food, enough money, a nice house, great friends and family, books, a car (not my own - my mom's), clean water, blankets, Rosey, music, piano, chocolate...
What am I especially thankful for this Thanksgiving?

FINISHING NANOWRIMO!


So that I can do this:


And this:


I am so thankful to have both After the Twelfth Night finished (and published!) and to have this year's NaNoWriMo over and done with. My novel-writing juices are all but spent and I'm looking forward to not writing anything big for a few months. It's time to take a well-needed break.


A quick update-y thingy on After the Twelfth Night as long as I'm thinking about it...
1st thing: It's on Goodreads now! Huzzah!
2nd thing: I'm not sure when the eBook will be out... I had really hoped to get it out before Christmas, but now it's looking like that won't be possible. November and December are always the busiest months out of the year for me, what with NaNoWriMo, choir concerts, and other recitals.
We're headed to grandparents for Christmas, and I hope, while there, to work with my dad on the eBook. It will most definitely be out before the end of January, and most like be out earlier than that, unless other things get in the way.
So there is my little update-y thingy.

 
(Ironically, the one person who would get this joke doesn't check my blog very often. xD)
 
 
What are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving? And are you doing anything special today?
 
Live long and prosper.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy 50th anniversary Doctor Who!

50 years ago Doctor Who, one of the best and most popular sci-fi shows, was created.


They had a special episode called The Day of the Doctor which played on BBC America, as well as in select theaters around the world. Since we don't have BBC America, my dad and I went to see it in theaters.
OH. MY. GOODNESS!
I won't post any spoilers because some out there have not seen it yet.
My advice to you is: go find it now and watch it. Go to England if you have to. (Okay, maybe not)
It was fantastic! Brilliant! And Moffat has gained major points with me.

The experience at the theater was SO cool. It was like a mini comic-con in there! You look around and there's the Doctor. You turn the other way, there's the Doctor! There were too many Eleven's and Four's to count. (Not enough Nine's and Ten's in my opinion.) There were TARDIS' and Daleks, and even a Weeping Angel! (Seriously, that girl would have won a Best Costume award if there had been one. She looked frightening like a Weeping Angel. When she came in, everyone went 'don't blink! Oh, I guess we can't blink anymore.') There was a Martha, a, Captain Jack, a Rose (in her Idiot's Lantern costume)


several Amy Pond's, and even a Wilf! That was hilarious.


Antlers and all.
Everyone not in costume was wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt (although several boring people were dressed as regular people).
OH OH! There was also someone dressed as this guy (from Gridlock):


She had done a really amazing face paint job!

Anyway, it was SO. FUN. And the episode was SO. GOOD! Go watch it now!

Also at the theater were huge posters of the characters from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug! That was cool.
Speaking of the Desolation of Smaug... What's up with Thranduil in this picture from the official Hobbit blog?


He's like, "I'm fabulous."
AH! Speaking of The Hobbit, we got the extended edition and watched it! It was great! I loved the extra scenes they had in Hobbiton and Rivendell. Those were fun.

Anyway, I had a hard time quelling my inner fangirl today. Especially because when I got home I saw that they have a SHERLOCK SEASON THREE TRAILER OUT! And I may have giggle-snorted at the close-up of John's upper lip...

Live long and prosper! (Speaking of which, only two-ish years to wait until Star Trek's 50th anniversary!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Update-y thingy?

Gah! I keep trying to film an update because I don't actually want to type out everything but I keep failing! So, we'll see...
Whether in video or in writing, sometime in the next fortnight, you will be seeing posts about the following topics:

Canterbury Tales (by Chaucer) review, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (translated by J.R.R. Tolkien) review, After the Twelfth Night update, and possibly some stuff regarding NaNoWriMo and what I'm reading. Also a post on God vs. Egypt's gods. Aaaand maybe a post about short stories. And possibly one about God "giving people over to their sins" (see Romans 1:24) in regard to the current state of the United States and where we're headed. I dunno. It's something I've been thinking about, something that has made me very very sad, but also anxious to DO something about it!



The truth. =) Unfortunately my animal doesn't like to be hugged. Fortunately, there are stuffed animals to cover when the Dog doesn't want to be loved.

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Another!"

After watching Thor with my friend tonight...
"I like these movies. Another!"

I can thank my friend for getting me into this mindset. Her enthusiasm for the Avengers fandom/franchise is contagious and I'm just glad that she's taking me along for the ride. =D So long we've seen Avengers and Thor together... with hopes to watch Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor 2 together.

Now what I'd like to see is a Hawkeye movie... What's his back story? Does he have a back story that's explained somewhere that I just missed? He's very curious.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cover reveal for Miss Jack!

Miss Jack Lewis Baillot over at However Improbable is coming out with the second book in her Haphazardly Implausible series in a month! Huzzah! I had the pleasure of editing for her... and let me tell you, this book is really, really good.

Summary: The enemy draws close. Cities will fall. And few can stand in Morcoft's way.
Peter Jones has been betrayed by the man he trusted as his own father. Now he is forced to question everything he has ever been told, and learn the truth of his past.
Isidore Thaddeus Reichmann has finally found the person he has hunted all over England for. Yet, not all is as it seems and he begins to fear he might be on the wrong side.
Singur faces down his worst fear and comes out a victor, but the price of his triumph may put the last member of his family in grave danger.
Choices now stand before all three young men and the paths they take will not only change their lives, but the whole world.
Battles are coming. Enemies are made. Friendships are questioned. When the only world you've ever known is a lie, where do you go?

DUN DUN DUN!!!
Here is the wonderful cover!


Author Bio:
Jack Lewis Baillot is Spartacus! She also likes to believe she's an author. She likes to write books, while drinking tea, and likes to read while eating cookies, but she doesn't like to do Math, even while drinking tea and eating cookies.
 

Live long and prosper!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Green Bears.

The typo for today:

"You're as skinny as a green bear!" (I meant bean, for the record...)

I really need to not listen to stupid Star Trek songs while doing NaNo. As long as we're stating things for the record, this wasn't technically a Star Trek song - it was worse. A Monty Python song with a Star Trek video to go along with it.


I couldn't think of what to give my characters for dinner, so I gave them ham and spam an jam (a lot).
By the way... I rewatched The Hobbit the other day for the first time since seeing it in theaters in December (GASP, I know! It was too long!) and Martin Freeman mentions jam. The fandoms online have decided that Martin Freeman is made of jam and kittens and I was wondering if P. Jackson put that line in because he knew that... or maybe Martin Freeman just made it up.
Also, do you think Sylvestor McCoy (the 7th Doctor) was made Radagast the Brown on purpose?


After all, P. Jackson is a Doctor Who fan and I believe that the above episode was filmed before The Hobbit...


He owns two Daleks... OH OH! Speaking of Daleks, did anyone see the Daleks in the background in the newest Emma Approved episode? It's in the background of Charlie's video appointment with Emma.

Well, I'm off to write ten or so more words before heading off for the night (I'm at 22,090. I can't leave it that close to 22,100! I just can't!)

How is NaNoWriMo going for all of you?

Live long and prosper!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The typo of the day.

"Do you think we've been had?" Varina asked.
"Nom," said Daniel.

NaNoWriMo is going pretty well... I was a little down the past few days, but now I'm feeling better about the story again and can continue. I just passed  20,000 words! Yay!

I'm reading three good books... Which is a problem, because I don't know which to read at night! The Hobbit, The Hound of Baskervilles, or Mansfield Park?

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hee hee hee...

Sorry for the double post... but I just had to share:

Google is celebrating the birthday of some doctor person... doing some sort of therapy thing.


Um, that looks like a lip. It's a lip. It's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip lip lip, it's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip lip lip, it's a lip, it's a lip, it's a lip lip lip. LIIIIIP lips lips lips!
They turned blue, what could I do, she had a beard, and it felt weird, my friends all laughed, OOSTA!

Live long and prosper.

The past seven days...

...of NaNoWriMo have passed in a blur.
I'm currently 63 words away from 14,000 words and I'm finally starting to enjoy my novel.
It's titled A Pretty Face Can Hide An Evil Mind. It's a line that comes from this song:


Daniel and Varina, my heroes from my two previous NaNo projects (NaNoWriMo 2012, and Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2013) have to go undercover to stop a dastardly plot to destroy the government.

The first 8,000 words or so were very painful to write. Not because of anything evil... It's just I'm so burned out from all the work on After the Twelfth Night that my writing has fallen to a very low quality. Finally, though, things are starting to warm up. I'm starting to enjoy my characters more. There's more description (the first 8,000 words or so are almost all primary dialogue) and my writing has finally gotten to a level where I feel comfortable sharing snippets!
Here, have the one good piece of writing in all 14,000 words (and it's a very raw "good" piece of writing):


Varina lovingly pulled out Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and settled down to read, forgetting her tiredness for the moment.
Daniel chose a shorter book to read – if, indeed it could even be called a book. He had to search through the bag carefully, but finally he found what he was looking for… Down on the very bottom was a collection of Beethoven sonatas, which he took out and began studying intently, occasionally breaking out in a spurt of humming, while his fingers exuberantly played an invisible keyboard on the bed in front of him.
Mansfield Park because I just started reading it last night and I'm really enjoying it so far! Though I do feel sorry for Fanny.

While my story has started warming up... my character's have decided to turn on me. Alright, maybe not all of them at once... But Daniel has given me two pieces of information - one helpful, and one not-so-much.
The helpful one is that he finally told me his middle name(s)! Lots of ideas and two books later... he finally told me his middle name(s).
Here, have the only other piece of goodish writing from the first 14k:

“So, names,” said the Big Boss. “We were thinking of Rupert for you, Daniel.”
“Sorry,” said Daniel. “Rupert is my middle name.”
“I thought Charles was your middle name?” asked the Big Boss. “That’s what the file says…” he started digging around for Daniel’s file.
“Charles is my middle name, sir…” said Daniel, turning a little red. “But Rupert is my middle name too. Daniel Charles Rupert Adams.”
“The Third?” asked Varina.
“No, but I have high hopes for my first born son,” said Daniel.
As well as giving me his middle names... Daniel has also decided to spring on me that he went to Juilliard for a year in his late teens. Juilliard is one of the foremost music school in the world (I believe... I actually don't know too much about it). I was thinking, okay, that's fine. Just so long as Juilliard isn't in New York. I looked it up. It's in New York! This is a problem, Daniel! Why? Because Daniel is from England and before the first book in my series, he had never been to New York... so I thought. Even now, he's cowering in a corner and apologizing in an adorable stammer. He didn't think it was relevant until now... he's sorry...
Yeah, well, you should have thought about telling me before I started writing this series, Daniel Adams!


I'm not crazy, I promise. Okay, maybe a little crazy.

Anyway, I've been listening to quite a bit of Vivaldi and Paul McCartney. And a song called Weep You No More, Sad Fountains, which I would really like to sing in voice lessons. And I've been listening to a few of the songs from The Great Train Robbery movie. It has a super cool soundtrack.

Well, back to writing! I want to get at least 150 more words before updating my word count and doing something else.

Look forwards to a review of Canterbury Tales coming soon... I finally finished it! Huzzah! That was a painful book to get through.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sink meh, I've been watching movies!

The first is Rise of Guardians.


This is a great movie based off of a series of books, I believe. The movie is about a group of legends... Santa Claus, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Jack Frost. The first four are Guardians - they make sure children are happy, and that they believe in the legends. Jack Frost is a mischievous guy who doesn't remember his past, and who wishes to be seen.
When Pitch, the author of nightmares, starts making the world black, the Guardians must join together and save the children of the world!
I really, really enjoyed this movie. It was very sweet and well done.

Second movie: The Avengers!


This one I can talk more about since I saw it last night, as opposed to two weeks ago (when I saw Rise of the Guardians).
Eep! It's as good as everyone says! I really enjoyed it! I can see how many people love this franchise so much - it's so intertwined! Especially with all it's prequel movies and stuff. And I know I'm not the only one out there wondering what happened in Budapest.
I was really impressed that the movie could be such a perfect mix of character, plot, action, and funny lines. For example, the funny lines helped the plot along, rather than taking over. "I'm listening."
So who is my favorite Avenger? That's a hard question. Let's look at each one...
Captain America: Because he's just cool. He's from WW2. Which is cool. But, he's not my favorite.
Thor: He's from a different planet, has a super cool hammer thing that comes to him when he uses the force, and wears his mother's drapes for Shakespeare in the park. Plus he's Captain Kirk's dad in Star Trek 2009 and he has a cool accent. But he's not my favorite either.
Iron Man: He holds a special place in my heart, I must admit. Mostly because the first Marvel movie I saw (about a month ago) was Iron Man 2. Plus, I just think it's cool that he has a cool circle-heard thingy in his chest. And he has his own tower. He's not my favorite either, though he comes close.
Black Widow: She is sooo cool. I love her interrogation tactics. And she has amazing hair. And it seems like she has a really cool backstory. Is that ever explored anywhere else? If not, I think she needs her own movie. But she's not my favorite either.
Hawkeye: Oh my goodness he's so cool! I loved his character. He rocks. But, he's not my favorite. He comes close, though...
So who is my favorite? Well, without seeing his movie and basing it only on my knowledge of him from this movie...
Bruce Banner - the Hulk. His backstory and introduction were my favorite (other than Black Widow's... her intro was pretty cool. But Banner's was tied for first). Plus, the actor did an AMAZING job portraying the inner turmoil Bruce Banner must be feeling.
Anyway, as a friend pointed out, this is kind of the big kid version of Rise of the Guardians. Both movies were wonderful, some of the best coming out of recent years. Go see them!

The next two movies are older... Both from the 1980's, I believe.
The first I saw on Saturday morning... very early. Both my mom and I couldn't sleep to we go up to watch TV and The First Great Train Robbery was on. It stars Sean Connery (Indiana Jones' dad) and Donald Sutherland (another distinguished actor). They, along with a woman, decide to make the first train robbery England has ever seen in the 1850's. They devise a plan and over the course of a year, put it into play.


Oh my goodness... This movie was so hilarious! In order to break into the safe (which is on the train) to get the gold bars, the two guys have to steal four keys, kept in three different places. And then they have to get on the train. How do they do it? Well, there's a dead cat and a very Tintin-like stunt of running on top of a moving train involved, I'll tell you that much.
This is a great movie. And the music really adds to it. Jerry Goldsmith was the composer; he also did music for Star Trek.
There is, of course, some bad stuff... Mostly references to females who sell themselves.

The final movie is one that I have seen before... The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews!



Sink meh, if it isn't Sir Percy!
I watched this movie awhile back, after hearing so many great things about it on multiple blogs. I really, really enjoyed it the first time around. And now on second viewing, I am finding even more to appreciate. This time around, I'm noticing how amazing an actor Anthony Andrews is.
The story is wonderful - set during the French Revolution. The Scarlet Pimpernel rescues French aristocrats who are being beheaded by Madame Guillotine.
Not only do we get to see Sir Percy rescue several aristocrats, and devise a plan to save the Crown Prince, but we get to see the troubled state of Sir Percy's marriage. He believes his wife has sent a family to the guillotine - she must not know the he is the Pimpernel. It drives them apart.
It's wonderful to see both storylines intertwine, and to see the inner turmoil Sir Percy feels.
This movie also, is based off of a book (actually, the Great Train Robbery is based off of a book by the same man who wrote Jurassic Park), though I've heard it's different than the book. It makes me wary to read the book, in case It spoils the movie... Yet, I can't help but want to read the book, for the story is so wonderful! Not to mention, Sir Percy is quite the hero.
Also, this movie has Gandalf in it, only he's 30 years younger, and the evil bad guy.

I've talk long enough! Odd's fish m'dear, it's time for me to be off!

Live long and prosper!

Friday, November 1, 2013

After the Twelfth Night avaliable now...

...from an online bookstore near you!

Eep! I'm a (self)published author!
Here's After the Twelfth Night's page on Lulu.com:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ag-werff/after-the-twelfth-night/paperback/product-21279474.html

 

Antonio was a pirate, and now he's in jail for that long ago sea fight with the Duke. His friend, Sebastian, was supposed to bail him out of jail, but Sebastian has been kidnapped! Antonio promises Sebastian's wife that he will find her missing husband, but first he must get out of jail...

Four years of my life and it's finally finished! Huzzah! Huzzah!


So what's the next step? Well, in a few weeks, my book should be available on Amazon as well as Lulu.com. Also, sometime before Christmas I hope to have eBook versions available for eReaders (Nook... whatever the other one is. xD iPads and such. Apple products.)
Until then, I shall bask in the loveliness of a finished project, and start NaNoWriMo.

Huzzah!

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Come Along, Pond.

Even though I've stayed at home all day, I still wanted to dress up as someone for Halloween. So I chose an easy costume, that doesn't even look like a costume!
Today I was dressed as Amy Pond from Doctor Who. I kind of mitchmatched two of her more popular outfits... Jean skirt, with a plaid long-sleeved top, and leggings.

 
(Sorry it's sideways... I can't fix it!)

You can see my new haircut too! On Saturday I got my long hair chopped off shorter than it's ever been!
Before:


After:


(Yes, I did turn into Geordi LaForge for this blog post.)
 
 
Anyway... I've been busy editing and formatting and doing After the Twelfth Nightish things today. If all goes well, I will self-publish tomorrow! I'm not sure whether that will be in the morning or evening... or even if it will happen at all. So far, we're on schedule, but you never know what will happen.
 
NANOWIRIMO! It starts TOMORROW! I can't decide if I'm excited or nervous. I am excited about Saturday when I'll hopefully be able to a regional event nearby! AKA, go write with a bunch of other NaNoers.
So what is my NaNo project?
The second book in my spy series. The plot for this one is that Daniel and Varina must go undercover and uncover a diabolical plot to destroy the government (though, personally, I think the government is doing a pretty good job of destroying themselves. They don't need anyone else... But hey, maybe in Daniel and Varina's alternate universe, America is headed in a better direction? You never know!)
More on it later... Tomorrow, or Saturday... or some other time during November.
 
Live long and prosper!