Friday, December 28, 2018

Back to the Classics 2018 Wrap Up Post

I actually got the Back to the Classics challenge done this year! Last year I just missed it so I was excited to complete the challenge this year. I'm also really looking forward to completing it next year!   Be sure to check out the 2019 challenge over at Books and Chocolate HERE.
But back to 2018!
Here's what I was able to complete this year!
1. A 19th century classic - The Way we Live Now by Anthony Trollope
2. A 20th century classic - The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
3. A classic by a woman author- The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
4. A classic in translation- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
5. A classic with a color in the title- The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. A classic by an author that's new to you- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
7. Re-read a favorite classic- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
I'm halfway through Kim which would have counted towards the one word title category but I ran out of time to complete it. Oh well! I did get seven books read in which counted towards one entry in the prize drawing.  It was a fun year of reading and I really enjoyed the books I did get read. War and Peace was obviously my biggest challenge and I actually really enjoyed it. Just So Stories was the easiest and shortest and it was nice to enjoy it again. Overall I loved all of the books I read and was pleasantly surprised by many of them.
I can't wait for a new year of experiencing the classics!
P.S. I can be contacted via my Goodreads account.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Let's Talk about The Paradise

I love period dramas. I grew up on them and I am excited to raise our little Hobbit on them. However, not all period dramas are created equal. Recently I finished watching the first season of the period drama show The Paradise (2012-2013). I enjoyed it for the most part but it really drove me crazy for much of it.
Here's the synopsis from PBS to give you an idea about the show if you haven't watched it.
Denise Lovett may look the part of a country bumpkin when she arrives penniless and in search of work at the doors of The Paradise, Britain’s glamorous first department store. But before long, intoxicated by the potential of the modern world, she will turn her ambitious and inspired eye to the store’s ladieswear department, meanwhile catching the eye of the shop’s dashing and reckless owner, John Moray, a grieving widower with a secret.
Spoilers following.
Historically the show is pretty cool. The contrast between the big fancy department store and the little individual shops that had been the normal for so long was fascinating. It was definitely an era of change. The protagonist, Denise, is enterprising and clever with a vision for the future, much like Moray, the owner of The Paradise, where she works. It's no wonder they are attracted to each other. Moray however has been paying court to Lady Katherine Glendenning, who is quite infatuated with him. Moray however, is unsure if he's ready for a commitment since the death of his wife.
So let me talk about the characters here. Moray annoyed me a lot of the show. I'll admit he's quite attractive and not to mention he's charismatic. It's no wonder everyone loves him. However, he CANNOT make up his mind about Katherine! He goes back and forth, which was really unfair to her and honestly to himself as well. This brings me to Katherine. I did not love her but what he put her through still was not fair. I feel like the show made her more and more unlikable so you could forgive Moray for leaving her at the altar. Sorry, that does not make it ok. They both put each other through a lot of crap and it was annoying. Now Denise definitely tried to stick to the higher ground through all of this but still failed, though not as epically as the other two.
In the end, when Moray runs away from his wedding into Denise arms and kisses her I was happy they ended up together but I felt like it was so bittersweet. Like yay you're together but at what cost? Same for you Katherine! You're plan is you get Moray even though you know he is not in love with you?! Really?! The whole love triangle just drove me crazy.
What drove me the most crazy is that I read the synopsis for the first episode of the second season and Moray and Denise are NOT together at the beginning of it! It makes me not want to watch it since this season ended on a good note. I'll just have to go through a whole other season of drama as they try to get together. This season was bad enough!
Past all of that though the story was fascinating and as I said above the whole world it focuses on is intriguing. The characters are fun and there's many little side plots going on that keep you watching. There were lots of great other characters I haven't even gotten around to mentioning! One of the more interesting charters I found was Katherine's father. If you're a fan of period dramas you'll also see many familiar faces such as David Bamber, (Pride and Prejudice 1995) Matthew McNulty (who plays the only level headed one in the show) (Lark Rise to Candleford), Sarah Lancashire (Lark Rise to Candleford), Ruby Bentall (Lark Rise to Candleford), Arthur Darvill (Little Dorrit, Dr. Who) and Olivia Hallinan (Lark Rise to Candleford). There's probably more familiar names I'm missing.
Interestingly enough the show is based off of a book by Emile Zola. I haven't been in love with what I've read of his books so far but I might be interested in this one.
If you've seen it what did you think? Is it worth it for me to watch the next season or should I leave well enough alone?

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review- The Lost World

For the Classics Club I read The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Synopsis from Goodreads: It's London, 1907. Journalist Edward Malone, rejected by the woman he loves because he is too prosaic, decides to go in search of adventure and fame to prove himself worthy of her. Soon after, he meets Professor George Challenger, a scientist who claims to have discovered a 'lost world' populated by pterodactyls and other prehistoric monsters.
Think Jules Verne or Jurassic Park (which actually has a sequel with this same name) and you've got the gist of The Lost World. Edward Malone takes off on an adventure to impress the love of his life after she rejects him and labels him too boring. With Professor Challenger, a man as full of himself as Doyle's other character Sherlock Holmes, he travels to South America and there discovers the 'lost world'. There are predatory natives, dinosaurs and other horrors and dangers awaiting them. The Lost World is a fun adventure story with plenty of action and surprise to keep you turning the pages. I liked all of the characters, though Professor Challenger definitely got on my nerves quite a bit. I felt bad for Edward Malone in the end that the girl he set out to impress had married someone else by the time he came back. Honestly though, she wasn't that great if she was going to send him off on crazy quests just to impress her. Sot it worked out better for him in the end.
Overall The Lost World is a fun adventure story and I'd recommend it to fans of Jules Verne or Jurassic Park.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Review-Invisible Man

For the Classics Club I read Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man.
Synopsis from Goodreads: First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be. As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.
I knew nothing about this book before reading it and I don't even remember why I added it to my Classics Club back in the day. I am glad I did though. I didn't love it by any means but it was very interesting and you can't help but learn from it and appreciate the cultural significance it has.
Occasionally I was frustrated by the protagonist's (never named) seeming naivety. I do think he got wiser as the story went on. It was unspeakably hard for him though as he was demeaned and brainwashed. I came away from the story feeling sad. It was a very real and truly depressing story.
I would recommend it though as I feel like I learned a lot from it. It does have some language and some innuendos and obviously some degrading comments about African-Americans, which are in context of the story.
If you've read it let me know what you think.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

You, Me and a Cup of Tea

It's been a long time since I've done a post about tea... which is ironic as my blog title has much to do with tea. When I first put this blog together I had no idea really what it would be about. The main concept in my head though was I would write about books, movies, tea, whatever really and you could enjoy a cup of tea while reading my blog. Thus.... You, Me and a Cup of Tea. So if you aren't enjoying a cup of tea while reading my blog you'v ruined it's message! 😉
The cold of the fall and winter months always put me in the mood for a good hot cup of tea. Like myself, my husband has an obsession for buying tea. We have a big basket full of boxes of tea sitting by our Keurig. Honestly, we buy more than we drink. In the winter though we catch up a bit as our tea drinking and tea buying come to a middle.
Recently my church had a English Breakfast for the women's Christmas party. During it we had a book exchange. Everyone brought a wrapped book and we opened them and stole them white elephant gift style. It was tons of fun. As we opened each book the lady who had given it would explain why she had given that particular book. It was wonderful learning why the ladies brought that book and why it was special to them. There was such wide variety of books, which was delightful.
I ended up stealing my book because it was about tea so I couldn't resist! The book I got is called If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes (with gorgeous paintings by Sandy Lynham Clough). I'm only partway through it so far but I'm loving the cozy atmosphere of it as it talks about the long tradition of taking the time to sit down and drink a cup of tea just by yourself, with a friend or at a party. It's definitely getting me in the mood for drinking lots of tea.
One of my friends got a book (that I almost stole from them!) called I'd Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel. The title immediately intrigued me and made me want to read it. So I borrowed it from her and could not put it down! I binged it in one afternoon! It's a delightful little book written by a book lover for book lovers. I'm apparently very out of the loop but apparently Anne Bogel is a pretty big name in the blogging world. She blogs at Modern Mrs Darcy and also has a podcast What Should I Read Next. Check them out and check this book out! It's given me a renewed fervor for reading and is a new favorite.
One thing that Bogel talks about in her book is how books find us at just the right times in life and I think her book found me at just the right time. I've been in a reading slump for a few months now and her book has invigorated me love of reading and reminded me why I love it so much. I can't wait to dive back in to the reading world.
So right now I'm looking forward to diving back into the reading world with a cup of tea in one hand and a good book in the other.

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