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What I Read in February

This was NOT a good reading month.

The Elusive Pimpernel. Okay, well Marguerite is one of the most obnoxious, stereotyped, selfish, stupid, and one-dimensional characters in literature. I was really struggling with most of this book; I almost put it down. I’m glad finished, all the good happens at the end even though we still get too large a dose of Marguerite. The best writing involves the Chauvlin and Percy scenes. The prose and plot in these books are SO tedious, but glimmers of decent writing appear in the aforementioned best scenes. I think the author could have been a decent writer if she valued quality over quantity (she has so many Pimpernel books) and left out romance which she clearly cannot do well.

The Ordinary Princess. I adore this book, you can read more about my thoughts here.

New Reads
Old Town in the Green Groves: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Lost Little House Years. This I read for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge. It was okay, I haven’t read the originals (just the draft Pioneer Girl) in ages, so I don’t know if I’m right, but this didn’t feel as charming as the originals.

The Problim Children. I didn’t like this near as well as Lloyd’s other books although I do want to read the rest of the series. I feel that less effort went into this, certainly less charm. And the scatological humor, people, please!

Farewell to the Island and Return to the Island. I HATE love triangles. This is so clearly a ploy to add drama and spin out the series. Wow, the main character really turns into a shallow, self-serving brat in these.

Leave it to Psmith. This is funny although a bit more subtle than the Jeeves and Wooster stories. I thought that it dragged a bit, but I also was in suspense and cannot bear that, so that is probably why I felt that way.

More Explanations of the Sources of My More Obscure Couples

I intentionally mentioned a lot of obscure couples for my posts for Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party because I wanted to share some new books (I LOVE finding new books to read on blogs, in fact it’s how I found some of these). I thought I’d give more explanations for the more obscure sources (i.e.not the lesser known works from well-known authors).

1. Marcus and Cottia from The Eagle of the Ninth, Aquila and Nell from Lantern Bearers, and Owain and Regina from Dawn Wind. All these books are part of a loose series by Rosemary Sutcliff. The series is The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, The Lantern Bearers, (#5 is blank because it is an adult one with content and little to do with Marcus’ descendants, it only occasionally mentions Aquila and Flavian), Dawn Wind, Sword Song, and The Shield Ring. The series traces the line of an Italian soldier in Roman Britain all the way to his Norse descendants in the last Viking stronghold in Norman England. I just love the obscure time period and the lovely understated prose, and Sutcliff uses such lovely descriptive languages, for example, colors aren’t merely red or tan or yellow but crimson and tawny and saffron. I adore much of Sutcliff’s other historical fiction as well but be sure to check Wikipedia and make sure you are only reading those novels marked for children, the ones for adults can have some graphic issues.

2. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a fantasy novel that includes a melodramatic, spoilt-childish wizard; a girl stuck in an old woman’s body; the titular wonky moving castle; a quirky tone; travel between worlds; and of course, romance. If that doesn’t sound fun, I don’t know what does. This is book one of a trilogy, but I didn’t much like the other two.

3. Spiller and Arietty are from The Borrowers series by Mary Norton. This series is about teeny, tiny people that live under the floor boards. They live off and create their homes from food scraps and objects “borrowed” from “human beans.” They live in fear of being “SEEN” by said “human beans” and if “SEEN” feel compelled to move immediately. I grew up on these charming stories and re-read them a couple years ago. They end rather abruptly though, almost as if there was supposed to have been at least one more book.

4. Azalea and Lord Bradford are from Entwined by Heather Dixon which is a re-telling of the fairytale “Twelve Dancing Princesses.” The tone of the book is spooky and mysterious, closer in this respect to older fairytales than Disney retellings (if you prefer a more Disney-esque re-telling, I also enjoyed Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George). I loved this retelling and the three romances, but Azalea and Lord Bradford are my favorite couple.

5. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane are from Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. This couple doesn’t exactly have mutual feelings from their first extremely unromantic meeting (she is being tried for a murder that he decides to investigate). But Wimsey persistently, obstinately, provokingly, and hilariously pursues her through several years and novels until she discovers that she loves him back. Lord Peter is what makes these novels for me, I couldn’t speak as to the quality of the mysteries, they are quite different from Agatha Christie mysteries, and rather dark I think (although so are some of Christie’s).

6. Jamie and Molly are from Keeper of the Bees and Philip and Elnora are from Girl of the Limberlost by Gene(va) Stratton-Porter. She was a naturalist who imbued her novels with a rich wealth of flora and fauna. Freckles is the prequel to Girl of the Limberlost although both can stand alone. I’m set to re-read both novels which are romances set in a forest called the Limberlost (a real place in Indiana although I don’t know how much is left). Keeper of the Bees is about a (seemingly) mortally ill WWI soldier who runs away from the military sanitarium and takes on a job as a beekeeper from a man he meets by chance. He then impulsively weds a girl to save her character and befriends a wild child. Things are not as they seem, and chaos ensues. I’d also recommend Laddie and The Harvester by Stratton-Porter.

7. Martin and Ivy are from Swift and Nomad and Rob and Linden from Rebel by R. J. Anderson. The Faery Rebels are Knife (Spell Hunter in the U.S.), Rebel (Wayfarer in the U.S.), and Arrow. These are followed by the duology of Swift and Nomad. The first two are the only ones available in the U.S. (I borrowed the first four from an acquaintance), but I bought all of them through, so they would all match. These novels are about faeries (the ancient mythology type, not the cutesy Victorian or Disney type, and you can read more about Celtic mythology in Faeries of the Celtic Lands by Nigel Suckling) in the modern U.K. This concept of faeries and this type of story was new to me, and I found it mesmerizing. There are about four romances in these books, but my favorite couple is Martin and Ivy followed by Rob and Linden.

8. Creel and Luka are from Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers Trilogy. These are middle grade fantasies, and I found them adorable when I read them years ago (I’m probably due for a re-read), and I loved that the heroine made magnificent embroideries for a living.

A Miniature Review of The Ordinary Princess

I’m posting this review as part of Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party.

The Ordinary Princess is a sweet little story that is part a blend of fairy-tales and part a fairytale in its own right. I don’t want to have too many spoilers, so I will keep it short, sweet, and general. The basic plot is this: Princess Amethyst receives an odd gift at her christening and goes on an adventure under an assumed name and meets a young man. Of course the story has tons of delightful details, but like I said, I don’t want to spoil things in my synopsis (although there are spoilers at the end of the post relating to my comparison of this book with Cinderella (2015) which you can avoid).

This princess story has some similarities with a few fairytale re-tellings including the basic Sleeping Beauty story and the 2015 live action Cinderella. It has of course, the proper fairytale elements which includes everything from obscure kingdoms to woodland wanderings to animal friends. This fairytale elements are sometimes exaggerated for comedic effect. This story also has an intentional overlay of the modern and mundane that, when juxtaposed with the exaggerated fairytale extravagances, makes for a quirky, humorous, tone. For example, an absurd amount of bureaucracy is involved in inviting fairies to a christening . . . who would have thought of the words “fairy” and “committee” in conjunction?!

***********SPOILER WARNING***********

Because of a few noticeable similarities I have The Ordinary Princess and Cinderella (2015) together in my mind. Both stories include:

~The leitmotif of the folk song Lavender’s Blue

~The couple meeting under assumed names and positions

~Said positions are the same or similar: Cinderella and Amy are servants, and Kit and Peregrine are an apprentice and man-of-all-work, respectively

~The genuine sweetness and candidness of the members of the couple

~Quaint, tiny, happy kingdoms

~An overall magical loveliness, brightness, and joy

And I just know that Phantasmagoria is as beautiful and charming and quaint as Kit and Cinderella’s kingdom in the movie

A Lovely Blog Party Tag

I’m joining up here.

Jo and Laurie: Name a couple that should have stayed friends…or did stay friends…
I disagree . . . most emphatically on the Jo and Laurie friendship point. And I’m not coming up with anything; I feel that I usually agree with couples or I dislike a first couple but they break up/don’t work out, and I like the next couple (you know like Roger and Cynthia changes to Roger and Molly or Charlie and Rose changes to Mac and Rose). Or I feel that if I don’t like a couple I don’t like the book. I mean there may be ones that fit this question, but I cannot think of any right now.

Jane and Mr. Rochester: Name a couple that looked like the chances of a happily ever after were next to none!
Owain and Regina in Dawn Wind. Paul and Knife in Knife.

Jane and Mr. Bingley: Name a couple that is just sooo happy!
Creel and Luka in the Dragon Slippers Trilogy.

Mattie and Guard from Friendly Persuasion (a favorite).

Kit and Ella: Name your favorite fairytale couple
Um, Kit and Ella or their literary doppelgängers, Peregrine and Amethyst from An Ordinary Princess.

Azalea and Lord Bradford from Entwined.

Molly Gibson and Roger Hamley: Name a couple where the woman is basically ignored by the suitor until the end of the story (frustration at it’s finest!! 😛 :P)
Well, Tom doesn’t exactly ignore Polly in An Old-Fashioned Girl, but he is stuck and oblivious to his and her feelings until the very end.

Philip is totally clueless as to Elnora’s feelings (and stellar comparison to his idiot girl) in Girl of the Limberlost.

Sarah and Jacob Witting: Name a couple that found love later in life
Sir Tristram Shield and Sarah Thane from The Talisman Ring. Well at least HE is old and decrepit according to HER. They were the best part of this book.

Lucy Snow and her French professer in Villette.

Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon: Name a couple from a musical
Margy and Pat from State Fair.

Adam and Millie in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (one of my favorites).

Phil and Judy in White Christmas (oh, yes, they ARE a couple).

Anne and Gilbert: Name a couple that didn’t start out on the right foot
Jamie and Molly from Keeper of the Bees started in a very odd way, and then had a quite a bad time for their first “real” moment.

Anna and Declan in Leap Year. Oh, my word do they get off on the wrong foot . . . and remain off-kilter for quite a while which of course leads to a TON of funny moments.

And of course, Simon and Nicole in How to Steal a Million (one of my favorites). Shooting and meeting a burglar, that doesn’t sound like a great start.

Faramir and Eowyn: Name a couple with the sweetest love story
Ray and Livvy in the Magic of Ordinary Days. A couple that wasn’t supposed to be real, that wasn’t supposed to work.

Ivanhoe and Rebecca: Name a couple that should have been together
Laurie and Jo!

Jo and Anya from Roman Holiday (another favorite).

Max and Liesel from Book Thief.

Spiller and Arietty from The Borrowers series (wow, those books left off in a very unsatisfactory way; I’m not sure that was supposed to be the end or that is how bad it felt).

Ten Lesser Known/Lesser Loved Couples from Books

I’m joining in with Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party here. I love this, its basically a couples freebie for all of February, so low pressure. I’m going to include my Top Ten Tuesday post, write another one of these for movies, and do the tag Cordy made. And anything else that I feel like doing (I might do a small post on The Ordinary Princess and how it reminds me of the live-action Cinderella). I love learning about new stories, so if you have any unknown/under-appreciated couples to add, let me know in the comments.

  1. Martin and Ivy from Swift and Nomad. I loved Martin when he appeared in the first trilogy (Faerie Rebels), and Ivy is the perfect girl for him. I love their relationship and its complexity and progression. Martin doesn’t woo her (he isn’t like that and they have far more serious issues to think about), but he waits until she “gets” it. Rob and Linden from Rebel (the second Faerie Rebels book) are in second.
  2. Azalea and Lord Bradford from Entwined (I also love her next two sisters and their suitors; I’m trying to spoil too much here). Simple sweetness.
  3. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really care for sappy romances in which one or both characters are soppy, weak, and gushy. No thanks, that isn’t real romance. I need humor. And this is hilarious.
  4. The ordinary princess and her apprentice from An Ordinary Princess. I LOVED that connection to Cinderella although it is probably accidental. Friendship first, the romance, and then the revelations (actually this reminds me a LOT of the live-action Cinderella).
  5. Nell and Aquila from Lantern Bearers. My sister said they did not love each other. I’m sorry but yes, yes they did. I just love understated and intense. Their story is small in the huge picture of Aquila’s tortured life, but it is important. Another of my favorite elements to romance is intense and understated, and Rosemary Sutcliff does this well.
  6. Perry and Ilse from the Emily of New Moon trilogy (I cannot be happy about Teddy and Emily because I want to strangle them, mostly Teddy for his unmanly cowardice and weakness; that last book HURTS unbearably, I had to put it down for my last reread). I just love a child-hood based romance and besides these two are HILARIOUS individually and together.
  7. Marcus and Cottia from the Eagle of the Ninth. In the beginning Marcus is grown-up (although barely) and Cottia just a girl, so he takes a friendly interest at first, and I love that their friendship is the foundation for their romance. When he gets back, they are both thinking, “yes.” And that’s that.
  8. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Oh, my stars how I love them. His persistent wooing, her persistent resistance makes for a multitude of hilarious, and later, romantic scenes. Their romance combines intensity with laughter.
  9. Peter and Donna from A Tangled Web. From their absurd love at first site, to their awesome breakup to Donna’s illness and Peter’s absurd reaction, I love these two together. I also, in a quieter way like the quieter romance between Roger and Gay and their sweet little love scene after her realization.
  10. Judy Abbot and Jervis Pendleton from Daddy Long-Legs. The build-up. The unreasoning and hilarious jealously exhibited (unbeknownst to Judy) by Daddy Long-Legs. The reveal.

Top Ten Tuesday: Significant Moments of Romantic Tension or Realization

Happy Valentine’s Day, The Top Ten Tuesday topic for today is a romance freebie, so I went with some interesting moments.

1. John Brooke’s proposal to Meg in Little Women. This is so classically funny.

2. Polly and Tommy’s love scene at the very end of An Old-Fashioned Girl. It is so absurd and so completely them. And “stopping for refreshments,” ha!

3. In Nomad, when Ivy finally “gets” it after Martin’s patience waiting (he didn’t woo or press her, just waited).

4. Marcus sweet, simple, proposal to Cottia. They know, they knew when he came back and saw her (Eagle of the Ninth).

5. Philippa Gorden’s letter to Anne regarding Jonas with the telling postscript (Anne of the Island). Peoples, that is the right way to do triangles. If the girl (or guy if it is guy, two girls which is unusual in my reading experience, I cannot think of one off the top of my head), cannot choose between two guys, she doesn’t care enough for either, duh. An entrance of a true love demonstrates that.

6. The throbbing-ly intense romantic scene at the end of North and South. Read between the lines for those not so subtle hints people. This is WAAAAY more romantic than the movie which is short, rushed, unromantic, and has Henry Lennox’s jealous snake face smashed right in the middle.

7. Whenever Mac catches Rose unawares with his absurd and persistent wooing, and she cannot remain dignified (Rose in Bloom).

8. Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion. Oh, my what intensity and passion without any gushing or grossnesss. He is mainly and to the point as always, and WOW.

9. When Gay realizes she loves Roger and when he sees it (A Tangled Web).

10. The burglar in the library hullabaloo that gets Jim and Nora together thanks to Anne’s meddling in Anne of Windy Poplars.

What I Read: January

I read nine light and or easy reads this month, two of them rereads. I omitted a December post because I only read three books of less than stellar impact which were On Tyranny (least said soonest mended), We Have Always Lived in this Castle (disturbing because I wasn’t disturbed enough until the end and because I was fooled), and How to Think (I want to reread and will post more thoughts after that).


Blue Castle. What a breath of fresh air.

The Scarlet Pimpernel. Classic story, terrible writing and character development.

Light Fiction

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Incredibly silly although rather funny in parts. I opted to skim (shouldn’t even have wasted that much time) on the last two (which were rather gross).

Miss Fortune and Miss Match. If I had known these were Christian fiction, I’d probably not have ordered them, I realized it after I started, but these aren’t that typical level of terrible (although quite silly still, but they are more interesting and probably more historically correct). You’ll definitely know they are Christian fiction when you get to the pukey romantic episodes, blegh. And the author leaves you hanging; there is no third novel. She devoted most of the second book to the less interesting couple, and the book ends with a tantalizing taste of a reunion for the cool couple.

Light Nonfiction

Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I thought he had very helpful, inspiring advice on investing and a few interesting points on personal finance. I thought he was a bit ignorant about basic economics and taxation (and some of his information is probably outdated), and I think anyone who reads or considers some of his advice should remember that just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethical.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0. I sped through this as I was out of renewals, and I intend to either borrow it again or buy it and possibly take the recommended test.

Decent Fiction

Calico Captive. I disliked every single main character. And the writing wasn’t good enough to cover up that. The Johnsons were flat, boring, goody-goodies, Mirriam was a flake, Phineas was a (probably boring) shadow, and Pierre was a absolute louse.

Once on this Island. A lovely quick historical fiction read. I quickly ordered the next two installments from the library.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books from My TBR List

Well, I have a ton of TBR lists on my library site because I organized my lists by category (to help me pick an assortment when I order). Plus I have two separate lists of interlibrary loan (or possibly some other option) possibilities (for the books not in my library system). The Top Ten Tuesday (yes, I know its Wednesday) is specifically for books that have been on my list the longest. I just remembered my old Classics Club list (I didn’t necessarily want to abandon all the books, I just didn’t want to HAVE to read them in a certain time frame), so I can pull most from there. I really don’t know for sure what I’ve had in mind the longest because I changed the Classics Club list often plus I’m picking by my likelihood of my actually reading.

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (technically I’m reading this now, but I haven’t picked it up in awhile)
  4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  5. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
  6. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (the last two Dickens novels I have left!!!!!)
  7. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  8. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  9. The Wimsey Papers by Dorothy Sayers
  10. Coriolanus by William Shakespeare (I have all Shakespeare’s plays that I haven’t yet read on my TBR list, but this I want to read so that I can watch Tom Hiddleston’s performance).


Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge

I discovered this challenge from this blog.

I have a book of my own (or Mom’s; I think she let me have it or I pulled it from a give-away box? Probably should check on that, lol) that I wanted to read as part of my attempt to read all the books I own. This book is Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler: The Rediscovered Writings.

I will probably also see about reading some books from this list the challenge hostess provided. I’ve already read Pioneer Girl (the original manuscript for the Little House books). I’d also like to read some of the books Rose Wilder Lane wrote (questionably) utilizing her mother’s manuscript.

I grew up a “pioneer girl.” I loved the Little House books (the shorter children’s illustrated versions first) from a small age. I dressed up in what I considered “pioneer” fashion and sewed sunbonnets from The Little House Sewing Book. I played the computer game “Oregon Trail” over and over. I read the Kirsten books and used the cookbook and play book and poured over the craft book (the first named is on my shelf, I’m not sure what happened to the other two, should find that out).

A couple years ago we visited Laura, Almanzo, and Rose Wilder’s house in the Ozarks, and one day I’d love to visit all these places this blogger mentions as well as all the other sites.

Note: the hostess is offering a giveaway as well, one option is a Laura Ingalls Wilder cookbook!!!!!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can’t Believe I Read (or that I’m embarrassed I read or feel stupid that I read)

I’m linking up for Top Ten Tuesday on this blog.

1. The Uglies (I’m pretty sure I lost half my I.Q. points for not putting this down immediately)
2. Eragon (plagiarization from every fantasy and science fiction cult universe and terribly written)
3. The Unwanteds (similar to above and so juvenile in the silly way)
4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (or rather I can’t believe how I reacted)
5. Some of the Pixie Hollow series (yeah, well below middle grade)
6. Some of the Princess Diaries series (can we say ditsy and shallow and rather vulgar?)
7. The Selection trilogy (decadent, superficial, desperate, embarrassing, shallow, fickle, etc.; I didn’t finish all of them but I shouldn’t even have skimmed)
8. So Much More (bizarre)
9. Leatherstocking Tales (I didn’t finish these; this is more, “I can’t believe these are classics.”)
10. Les Mis (I can’t believe I had that much discipline with a little, “Why is this a classic?”)

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions/Goals

I am linking up here for Top Ten Tuesday. Here is a shortened version of my wildly unrealistic reading goals (for an even more absurd list see my tab above).

1. Read some massive Russian novels (hopefully at least Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace)
2. Read globally
3. Read on U.S. history (keep plodding through my study)
4. Read different writing types (poetry, essays, etc.)
5. Find some more well-loved books (I feel like this year was mostly mediocre on new-to-me authors)
6. Read serious nonfiction more intensively
7. Take better notes (maybe I should have a prompt page?)
8. Develop better reading discipline
9. Read my unread books (mostly Christian devotional stuff)
10. Read all my borrowed books (mostly from Mom/our basement)