Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Emma GIVEAWAY- Jane Austen Bookmarks

This week's next giveaway are six Jane Austen bookmarks with the front pieces and first page of three of her novels (P&P, S&S and Emma). See more info on Etsy HERE.

There will be one more giveaway this week so stay tuned for it!
Participation in the read-along is not a qualifier for participation in this giveaway but it does win you bonus points.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enjoy the giveaway and be sure to share!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Books if you like J.R.R. Tolkien

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is the top ten books to read if you like a certain popular author or book that would be similar.
Tolkien is the greatest fantasy writer. I think few would argue this. I was looking up what the first fantasy novels were and it talked about how it was difficult to define when the genre first began as people believed in the wonders depicted in works like Midsummer Night's Dream or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. However they said that modern fantasy began with George McDonald who re-created the genre. George McDonald, who wrote books such as The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind, directly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. So Tolkien was also one of the first fantasy writers and directly influenced by the person who re-created the genre.
If you read my blog you'll know how much I love Tolkien's books. The world building he did with his books is incredible. So I though for this top ten Tuesday theme I would go with the top ten books to read if you like J.R.R. Tolkien. These will of course all be fantasy. None of them in my opinion measure up to the greatness of Tolkien but they are still good.

  1. The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald- Speaking of which! ;) 
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  4. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander 
  5. The Dragon King series and others by Stephen R. Lawhead- Those are the only books of his I've read but I think he's more famous for others of his fantasy series. 
  6. Binding of the Blade series by L.B. Graham 
  7. Redwall series by Brian Jacques 
  8. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini- These aren't my favorite but I do think Paolini did a great job with world building and he had a good start with his first but then in my opinion they went downhill after that. 
  9. The Wingfeather saga by Andrew Peterson 
  10. The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper 

Now a disclaimer. I know that George R.R. Martin and his Song of Fire and Ice series is widely acclaimed and considered great fantasy but I haven't read them and I won't read them because however good his books may be, he decided to also include inappropriate content in them.

So, any great fantasy novels you would include on this list? Comment and let me know!
ALSO.... be sure to check out my GIVEAWAY!!!

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Emma GIVEAWAY- 200th Anniversary Annotated Edition

The 200th Anniversary Read-along is over! :( It was so much fun to do and I learned so much from the discussion and I can now say that Emma is far higher than my estimation than it used to be. Thank you everyone who participated. The discussion was awesome! If you haven't checked out the movie reviews that I posted last week be sure to check them out. I'll link to them here. 
Also, everything posted to do with the 200th Anniversary read-along can be found under the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along tag. 

So to the giveaway!
For the first giveaway of the 200th Anniversary Emma Read-along is the actual book Emma! Singular thought eh?
Penguins Classics is releasing a special annotated version of Emma for it's 200th Anniversary on September 29th (aka tomorrow)! Whoever wins this giveaway will get their very own brand new copy of it!
Participation in the read-along is not a qualifier for participation in this giveaway but it does win you bonus points!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have fun and join in! This giveaway is open until next Monday!
And yes, there will be more giveaways this week for the read-along! Stay tuned

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Movie Review- Emma (1996- Gwenyth Paltrow)

Though this was not the version of Emma I grew up watching I still do enjoy it. It's a very light version of the story that's perfectly accurate to the book but is enjoyable.


The screenplay is okay. Not perfect and it does stray from the book in some areas but I've actually found this to be just a light enjoyable version of Emma that I don't think we're really supposed to take seriously. However, I still can complain about it's accuracies to the book. ;) 


Emma- I think Gwenyth Paltrow was a great pick for Emma. I really like Kate Beckinsale as Emma but I think Gwenyth Paltrow does an awesome job as well. She gets the pride (not quite to the extant Kate did), she's elegant and refined and she does the controlling very well.
Mr. Knightley- Jeremy Northam is a decent Mr. Knightley but not my favorite. While he does get on Emma's case often enough, he does it in a far too good humored manner. The only time I ever felt like he was truly frustrated with Emma was at Box Hill. As eBeth said, he's a little too tall dark and handsome for the role. Besides that I think he's good. :)

Mr. Woodhouse- Not bad not good. Just there. And, might I say it is nigh near impossible to find a picture of this Mr. Woodhouse!

Mrs. Weston (aka Poor Miss Taylor)- A good Mrs. Weston but not my favorite. I really do like her in the role though.
Miss Bates- I like this Miss Bates she prattles on delightfully and really my only complaint is that they make her far too young. Besides that well done!

Frank Churchill- I can't ever quite wrap my head around Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill but that's probably more due to the fact that I'm used to him being a jedi. Plus his long hair annoys me.... this is the only version where Frank doesn't go get a haircut in London.... and he actually needed one! He wasn't bad in the role but he wasn't great.

Jane Fairfax- An elegant and beautiful Jane. Not real complaint with her.

Harriet Smith- A good Harriet but I think they almost make her too stupid in this version. She's good humored and pretty though. Not bad. :)

Mr. Elton- A fine Mr. Elton but something about him just doesn't seem right to me. Not sure what it is though.

Mrs. Elton- A well done Mrs. Elton. No complaints. In fact I would say this is the character every movie consistently gets right for some reason.


Lovely! Already added to my repertoire! I love listening to it on repeat. 


Lovely. No complaints

Overall an enjoyable but not perfect adaptation. 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie Review- Emma (1996- Kate Beckinsale)

This is the version of Emma I grew up with and because of that, and because I think it's the best version anyways, this is my favorite version of Emma.


Well done for the short time frame it had to work with. Obviously there were parts left out though. A couple ones I noticed were the party at the Coles and the riddle that Mr. Elton wrote for "Harriet" (aka Emma). However I think it keeps well with the spirit of Austen and works Austen's lines in effectively into the movie. 


Emma- I love Kate Beckinsale as Emma. She captures the haughtiness and pride of Emma at the beginning but makes an effective change into a kinder more compassionate person. I don't think any other version has really captured the pride of Emma that is such an important part of character as evidenced in the book. I've heard a few people complain that Emma is supposed to be blonde but as Jane Austen didn't give her a hair color I think you people just need to get over it. ;)

Mr. Knightley- Mark Strong is a great Mr. Knightley. I think he spends too much time getting angry though. Chill! ;)

Mr. Woodhouse- I think my favorite casting of Mr. Woodhouse though I would say they make him too old. They perfectly capture his worries and his hypochondriac nature!

Mrs. Weston (aka Poor Miss Taylor)- I think my favorite casting of Mrs. Weston. She's dignified and ladylike. She ends up defending Emma far too much of course as she does in the book.

Miss Bates- My favorite Miss Bates... though maybe a trifle too old. She prattles on ceaselessly and drives us all crazy as she's supposed to.

Frank Churchill- I like the casting in the 2009 version a lot but I think this is the best portrayal. He's handsome, charming and of course a total jerk in the end!

Jane Fairfax- My favorite portrayal of Jane. She's beautiful and very elegant. She has great poise in this version and really pulls off the character so well.

Harriet Smith- A good portrayal but not the best. They do a good job of showing her sweetness but I don't think they show her ignorance as well... I think that partly maybe be due to the fact that they leave out the riddle.

Mr. Elton- The best version of Mr. Elton. He gets the pride and snobbery of Mr. Elton that's shown in the book very well as well as the "devotedness" to Emma.

Mrs. Elton- My personal favorite for Mrs. Elton but I do like the 2009 version a lot too. She's perfectly vulgar and annoying.


There really isn't any soundtrack to mention for this film which is a disappointment! 


No complaints.

As I said overall it's my favorite version but I did grow up with it. I just think they get most of the characters so perfectly in this version and stick gorgeously to what Jane Austen was trying to write in her book. 

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guest post- Movie Review- Emma (1972- Doran Godwin)

This is a guest post from the lovely Heidi at Along the Brandywine. Check out her blog! You will love it! Also be sure to check out her original post HERE

I was quite curious about this adaptation as it was the only (available) Emma I hadn’t yet seen—and as I was finding it hard to gather much concrete information on it. Imagine my excitement when I found our library did indeed have it!

To begin with, the theme music is sprightly and light-hearted (in fact, my sisters and I agreed it would be fun to add to our piano repertoire). As a whole the film is very 70’s, but if you’re willing to overlook some things (and know what to expect in that regard), it definitely has its merits.

On the dress, the main item I wasn’t sure about was why Emma—and Harriet—often wore caps (as my understanding has always been that women would don caps after marriage). I was looking at some portraits, however—principally by Joshua Reynolds and Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin (both in the 1700’s/early 1800’s)—and the young girls there are occasionally wearing indoor caps. Emma takes place about 1803 and the pictures I found were also mostly of nursery age children (excepting the married women, of course) and maids (who may or may not have been married)—so I’m not sure my research was conclusive, but it was interesting.

Simplicity: A Portrait of Miss Theophilia Ghatkin, 1785
by Joshua Reynolds

But back to Emma! Several of the costumes reappear in later films (a number of them in the BBC 1985 P&P) so—along with the dresses—it was fun to see Emma in Jane Bennet’s pelisse and Jane Fairfax wearing Lizzy’s (or rather the other way round).

Emma herself does appear older in this version. But she does also have a dignity, a warm enunciation, and a collected liveliness of manner for an Emma. (In her turns of expression, she actually sometimes reminded us of Gwyneth Paltrow.) Occasionally, I think she does seem a bit more like a governess, a bit schoolmarm-ish (particularly with Harriet and when she’s trying to be especially calm), but she did quite all right with the part.

And Mr. Knightley! Mr. Knightley is Sir Nigel!!! (Do pardon my excitement, but we love the b/w Richard Green Robin Hood tv show—and it’s always thrilling to discover a friend from there elsewhere. :))

So yes, (ahem!) Sir Nigel was very good as Mr. Knightley. With dry flashes of humor, he managed his entire role (including his management of Emma) most excellently well.

Mr. Woodhouse is quite good.

Mr. Weston was open and friendly, and Mrs. Weston certainly gentle and ladylike. (And they have a real baby at the end…well done, indeed!)

Mr. Elton was always eager, smiling, and obliging—if awkward—and I thought it easy to see how Emma could misinterpret his character.

Mrs. Elton is quite adequately rude, vulgar, and funny.

Harriet is very sweet, pretty, and perfectly naïve.

We get to see Robert Martin in a conversation at the end, which is very nice.

And also a lot of Miss Fairfax! Miss Fairfax I very much liked. Gentle and soft, maddeningly reserved, elegant and fascinating—I think she was just about perfect.

And Frank Churchill is high-spirited and engaging—playing his part quite well.

The John Knightleys visit for Christmas…

Isabella is fine.

While John Knightley is quite perfectly John Knightley-ish (and has one of my favorite lines in the film). Referring to Elton, “With men he can be quite simple and rational, but with ladies…ha! I confess he makes my boot itch.”

And now some more particulars: at 270 minutes, this is the longest Emma and oddly enough, I felt to be the one with the most alterations. (There will be some spoilers ahead.) A number of scenes—along with some both major and minor details—are changed (rather unaccountably so due to the length of time). For a few instances: Emma sends the apples to Miss Bates (thus weakening the Knightley-Fairfax puzzle a bit), the Dixons become a completely unrelated couple wanting to hire Jane as a governess, and Jane (and Mr. Elton) are not present at the Box Hill picnic. The John Knightley’s are to end up moving into Donwell and Jane breaks off her engagement not because of Frank’s behavior to Emma—but apparently because of his long absences waiting upon his aunt.

The script was changed quite a fair amount—in general softening or abridging some of the lines (particularly Mr. Knightley’s). I felt those changes did weaken the theme and even some plot connections—creating less tension and a much calmer tone. Looking at it, I’ve decided they were trying to emphasize the danger of flattery. To illustrate, near the beginning Mr. Knightley is concerned about Emma keeping company with Harriet mostly because she is inadvertently a flatterer—and there is a following emphasis on the lines referring to flattery at both the ball and the end proposal scene. There is also a line change at Box Hill. When confronting Emma about her speech to Miss Bates he says, “Emma! Emma! That you—of all people—should allow the flattery of a moment to cloud your judgment so!” At the same time, Emma is never quite as taken in by Frank and since his influence is less, Mr. Knightley never gets particularly jealous of him.

Overall, I don’t think they twisted the story, but I do think that by emphasizing the flattery lines they missed some stronger unifying threads.

As to a few more particulars on certain scenes (and this example is a bit of a side note), but this version has the distinction of having the most forward Mr. E. proposal of any (not the most dramatic, but quite possibly the most mushily romantic—if you can so call the Elton experience). It’s entirely easy to enter into Emma’s feelings on the occasion!

And as I mentioned earlier, you get to see a delightful amount of Jane Fairfax, especially near the end (and including the scene with Emma calling on Miss Bates where Mrs. E. is also present, dutifully awaiting her lord and master).

It’s delightful to see Jane’s gracious warmth and civility, and to see her and Emma laying the foundation for a friendship. Quite satisfying!

Thank you so much for this great guest post Heidi!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Movie Review- Emma (2009- Romola Garai)

Okay, so I know I've already written a review of this Emma a couple years ago but with my re-reading Emma I decided to re-watch it and with a second viewing in mind I want to write a new movie review. Now my opinions haven't changed terribly much since the first viewing but I think I need to expand on them.
So to start out I want to look at the writing as that is where I have a good deal of my problems. I have a variety of problems with the casting too but I think I can be fair and say that if the writing hadn't been as it was the characters probably could have carried out their part fairly well.

The Screenplay

To put it bluntly I think a too modern version was written of Emma. While some of Austen's actual lines were used, they were in the minority and the screenwriters added in many of their own lines... some of them were okay... some of them were not. Stick with the source. However, please don't sit there and quote a book to me in the movie but use the lines from the book when it flows well.... just look at Pride and Prejudice '95 to see a beautiful example of how to do it right. However I will say that the movie managed to get a majority of the story in the miniseries thanks to it being an actual miniseries! I'm all about including everything in the book. ;) It was interesting how it focused on how the lives of Emma, Jane and Frank intertwined but I think they almost focused on it too much. 

The Casting

Let me just go down the list of the characters. 
Emma- My biggest qualm is with the casting of Romola Garai as Emma. Okay... I'll be fair, if they'd written her differently she might have worked but still. Emma comes off as dreadfully immature and unladylike. She was giggling every five seconds! Okay... not every five seconds but definitely every five minutes!  Now Emma has her immaturities... that's obvious from the book. She's proud and snobbish, she thinks she can control peoples' lives and make them act how she wants them to. She can be rude to Miss Bates but never in front of her until Box Hill. Romola Garai just runs wild with this childish version of Emma. She's openly rude and unladylike something the Emma in the book would not have stooped to. Emma has her pride. I mean, if Emma is going to complain about how Robert Martin and his family is unrefined I think this version may need to turn around and take a look at herself. This Emma is quite unrefined! Now Romola Garai is not all bad as Emma. When she's not acting like a teenager she's fine in her role. I could really see a well done change at the end as she realizes her errors so maybe there's hope. ;) Now you may think I'm to harsh with her but it's just when I wast watching it at a certain point I paused and looked at my sister and said "If I acted like Emma does here can you imagine what mom and dad would say? I would be in big trouble!" Now that's me as a 21st century young woman (Who's the same age as Emma was) saying that. Emma as a 18th century GENTLEwoman would be scandalizing everyone if she acted like that. Poor Mr. Knightley has a 24/7 case with her! Okay... actually rant not over yet... a new thought just struck me. I wasn't going to complain about how she flirts with Frank Churchill because in the book she does somewhat and them overdoing it in this movie isn't the end of the world BUT then I when searching pictures I saw side by side pictures of this Emma and Lydia Bennett and I was struck by how accurate it was! So I have to complain about that too now! Of course it's not a perfect analogy by any means but it is still something to think about!

This is how I see her though. 

Mr. Knightley- I love Johnny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley. I think... think.... he's probably the best Mr. Knightley. I had one person say that him and Emma look too close in age. I don't think they look any closer in age than any of the other Knightleys and Emmas and I looked it up and the actual actor and actress are nine years apart so while not sixteen it is a pretty good gap nonetheless. I think he perfectly balances the sternness and brotherly love of Mr. Knightley portrayed in the book. 
Mr. Woodhouse- Michael Gambon is a great actor there is no denying. I'm not sure he was perfect for this role though. Don't get me wrong, I liked him, but wasn't blown away by him. Part of this had to do with how they kind of changed his character giving him the reason of his wife's death for why he is a hypochondriac and worries so much. I don't mind giving a reason and it works alright but then overall I just feel like it wasn't necessary and detracted too much from the story. My two cents.

Mrs. Weston (aka Poor Miss Taylor)- Okay, I don't have a problem with the casting of Mrs. Weston in fact I think it was good. She looks like she could pull off the role well. However, again, screenwriting. As Emma's governess she just seemed too indulging of Emma and too giggly. Now I know that in the book she is too indulging of Emma but she doesn't sit there and giggle at Emma's antics. That's ridiculous! Besides that though she does a fine job.

Miss Bates- Again, casting seemed fine but they didn't seem to make her talk enough! She just wasn't annoying enough! She gets the fast talking and the inane prattling but she doesn't talk long enough. In the books there are paragraphs of Miss Bates going on and on! I just don't feel like they bring that to the screen well enough.

Frank Churchill- Casting was great here. No major complaint. I did think it was odd he spent a lot of time being grouchy and complaining at the heat at Box Hill. Those complaints in the book were secluded to the strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey and he's supposed to be far more cheerful at Box Hill in contrast. Besides that though good job with the part.

Jane Fairfax- I'm not in love with the casting of Jane. She didn't have the dignified elegance others that have played her carried out. She's sweet and meek but then again she actually shouts at Mrs. Elton a few times! Also I hate that bonnet they put on her. It scrunches her face! She has simply lovely dresses though!

See how that bonnet scrunches her face! 

Harriet Smith- I think the casting for Harriet was perfect and I actually think she was written really well. No complaints there. In fact, I'd say she probably is my favorite Harriet.

Mr. Elton- Blake Ritson was fine as Mr. Elton but not my favorite. He didn't show off the pride of Mr. Elton well enough for me. I did think it was far more obvious in this version than in others that he liked Emma not Harriet but maybe that's just me. Overall okay.

Mrs. Elton- Fine job I'd say. Not my favorite portrayal of her but still good. I know it's not in the book but I think it's pretty funny how they have her actually ride a donkey to the strawberry picking.

All of the rest of the casting is fine and too minor for me to write a paragraph on. ;)


Lovely! I added it to my repertoire already! 


Gorgeous! No complaints. 

And one other complaint.... THEY LEFT OUT THE "BROTHER AND SISTER? NO!" LINE!!!!!! I LOVE that line! End rant.

So that is kind of my opinion on this Emma. I'm not in love with it but I don't hate it. If they had recast Emma or rewrote how they portrayed Emma I think it could have been a great version. 
What are your thoughts on this Emma? I know my opinion on it is an uncommon and unpopular opinion but hey... that's me! ;)
Also, be sure to check out Heidi's review of this version of Emma HERE

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