Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

So in my book club, we read a book for a month, then discuss it. There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. I went first, so this next month was someone else’s turn. They choose:

Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World by Rich Wilkerson Jr.

This book is part memoir about Pastor Wilkerson’s life, while mostly instructing how we can stop being sandcastle kings but connect better with God.

Sandcastle Kings, is the term Pastor Wilkerson uses to describe how we are when we try to control our lives instead of allowing God to have the control. We try and build and do all we can, but is like building out of sand; it is only temporary and too easily destroyed by everything. It make me think of the Doughnut Man song about the wise man and the foolish man.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

In his book Pastor Wilkerson analyzes four different interactions with Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

  1. The Faith of the Centurion, Luke 7: 1-10
  2. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, Luke 7: 11-17
  3. Jesus and John the Baptist, Luke 7: 18-35
  4. Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman, Luke 7: 36-50

I thought the book was excellent and two stories really stood out to me:

The first was his interpretation of The Faith of the Centurion. 

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

First we see that the Centurion respected the culture of others and instead of going straight to Jesus, he instead spoke to the Jewish leaders to have them request on his behalf. Then the Centurion sends a servant to tell him that he is unworthy to have him, unworthy to make such a request; this powerful man humbling himself before Christ, asking only for Jesus to say the word and knowing that his servant will be healed.

This spoke to me as how often to we have a cavalier attitude around Jesus and God. Often we don’t humble ourselves or treat Christ with respect, demanding, whining, sometimes only doing things if we will get something out of it. Here he, the Centurion, recognizes the power of God and also that the mercy He gives is not because of anything we do, but because God wants to. We need to remember that too, that God’s love is nothing because of what we do but because of His Love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

In another part, Pastor Wilkerson, shares a story about how people treat things that don’t belong to them. For instance, when one stays in a motel they throw their wet towel on the ground, they don’t make their bed, they make messes, etc. People don’t treat things they don’t own or borrow very well. I’ve talked about that before-

With this it made me think of how we treat ourselves. God created us and we belong to him, but sometimes we forget our worth and treat ourselves horribly.

I thought it was a good, quick read, and of you are interested in developing a better relationship with God, or looking to read at Luke chapter seven in a new way, than this book is for you.

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

For more on Jesus, go to He Has Risen

For more C.S. Lewis quotes, go to Perfectea, A Perfect Cup of Tea or Tea for Two

So Sandcastle Kings is not the only King I am going to talk about. We are going to discuss the King of Kings as today is Palm Sunday.

Just kidding, the Palm Sunday:

We are starting off with the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem from the Florence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

This piece was only created because of a contest. In 1401, Arte di Calimala (Cloth Importers Guild) proposed a contest to create gates for the Florence Baptistry. Originally the doors were going to depict scenes from the old testament, the challenge to show the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). There were seven finalists which included Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Jacopo della Quercia. Out of them Ghiberti won the commission, although later art historians found Brunelleschi’s work to be more impressive with his use of perspective.

They later changed the doors to being from the New Testament and it took Ghiberti twenty-one years to complete the twenty panels of the life of Christ and eight on the saints. He was forty-two when he finished.

Ghiberti, like Duccio, tended to cram his space with figures trying to showcase every one involved. In the center is Christ seated on the donkey mentioned in the text, surrounded by his disciples and the Jewish people praising him. We can see one laying his coat down for Christ to walk over.

In the middle background you can see the temple and to the far right, the fig tree that occurs in the next section of the bible, (Mark 11:12-26)

While this scene is crammed with figures , not as realistic as we would see in later artwork, it still is a beautiful piece that evokes movement (although squeezed) and full of amazing details. Look at the beards and hair on the figures heads, the leaves on the fig trees, the faces, etc. Ghiberti doesn’t have a whole lot of space to work with, as each panel is limited by size, but he creates some amazing pieces.

I also like how the donkey looks out at you, reminding and almost challenging you with the question “what would you do for the son of God?”. Well, what would you?

For more depictions of Jesus’ entry, go to Entry into Jerusalem

For more depictions of Christ, go to The Death of Christ

Never a Lender Be…Because You Might Not Get Your Stuff Back in the Same Condition

Yes, I don’t know about you all but it seems like today’s world that we are living in is missing some crucial morals; such as respect and treating others and their belongings the same way you’d want to be treated.

morals

I mean I work in a library and I see it all the time. People borrow items and when they return them they are in horrible condition!

ew! Gross Yuck

They are written in, dog eared, wrinkled, water damaged, stained, and just beat up.

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It is horrible! When you borrow something you should treat it and the person with respect. Return it in the same condition as the one you borrowed it in.

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Or treat them bad.

It’s like people think because it doesn’t belong to them it is worth nothing and they can just toss it about.

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But just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean it is worthless. It is actually worth more as someone else paid for  it and are trusting you to treat it right.

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Now I know you’re thinking well it is a library, there are too many types of people who are coming and going, too many hands, etc. But it isn’t just them, my friends have been doing it too.

OMG gasp

I lent someone a book I thought they would enjoy, and then I saw that they had open, but laying face down. That is the fastest way to get the spine broken and once that happens you can’t really fix it.

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Another friend returned the book with the pages all bent and folded.

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Someone returned a book to me horribly stained, and the back cover torn off.

The horror!

The horror!

And that is if they return them to you.

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I understand accidents happen, and sometimes you don’t mean to do something: but when did we get so cavalier about borrowing.

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This is not the attitude we should be having!

And it is not just books, clothes, cars, etc.; whatever. We need to stop being so disrespectful and treat others items not as we want our stuff treated, but better!

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For more book-filled posts, go to 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

People Have to Snatch at Happiness When They Can in This World. It is Always Easier to Lose Than to Find: O Pioneers!

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

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O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy #1) by Willa Cather

I was first introduced to the work of Willa Cather when one summer I was trying to read through a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. (The same list that lead me to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.) Of course I never finished it:

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However, two of the book I read during that time were My Antonia and O Pioneers!. I read O Pioneers! second, not knowing it was the first book and while I enjoyed My Antonia I loved O Pioneers! more.

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And it makes me really upset that no one knows about this book.

Say What

I KNOW! It is a fantastic book but no one knows about it. It is hard to even purchase as I wanted to buy a copy for my friend, but amazon didn’t have it or Barnes & Nobles. Crazy! So why is this book fantastic? Let’s take a look.

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So the book is just under 200 pages and divided into three parts.

PART I: THE WILD LAND

The story takes place in Nebraska, the Bergsons are a  Swedish family of seven who immigrated to America for a better life, but found the prairie not as promised. The father, John, went into serious debt, but was finally able to pay it off. He owns six hundred and forty acres of the original homestead, and three hundred and twenty acres given to him by his brother when he pulled out. Just as it seemed he might be able to tame the land, he becomes ill and at age 46, is going to die.

Why?

Why?

For weeks he has been thinking what to do next, when he decides that everything must be left to his daughter Alexandra to control.

Whattheheck

This book was published in 1913, but takes place in 1883. And even though he has two sons who come before Alexandra he recognizes in her his own spirit. While his sons Lou and Oscar are hardworking they just don’t have the business acumen.

“It was Alexandra who read the papers and followed the markets, and who learned by the mistakes of their neighbors. It was Alexandra who could always tell about what it cost to fatten each steer, and who could guess the weight of a hog before it went on the scales closer than John Bergson himself. Lou and Oscar were industrious, but he could never teach them to use their heads about their work.” pg. 15

On his deathbed, John calls all the kids together and makes them promise to keep the land and listen to Alexandra, there will be no quarreling. When each wishes to marry they can divide the land, but until then they must follow Alexandra.

Wecandoit

Even though the boys do not like being put under their sister, they agree to their father’s wishes.

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Six months later, the Bergsons invite their friend and neighbor Carl Linstrum to visit “Crazy” Ivar. Lou and Oscar make fun of him,

I'm crazy

He’s crazy

But Alexandra values his advice and knowledge of animals.

Topthorn War HOrse

Ivar suffers from some kind of mental affliction, one not stated as most likely at that time they had no name for it. Sometimes he spouts wisdom, other days nonsense. He likes to live as far away from people as he can. While he suffers from these eccentricities his knowledge of animals is without competition. He has a pond where all kinds of birds come to visit, as they know he will not shoot them, as he has an aversion to guns.

Now one of the reasons this book is so good is the character of Alexandra. While others see the craziness of Ivan and brush him off, she listens to his advice and follows it, it turning out very well. What a person looks like, or acts like doesn’t matter to her; she values their hard work, their wisdom, and their heart. And she doesn’t care what others think of her.

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After their father’s death, the Bergsons clan did well.

Double double yay

But then the drought came, an with it three years of nothing but failure.

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It is at this time we see a divided family as to what to do next. Many people have left the “promises” of the prairie to follow the “promises” of St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Alaska, etc.

Good-bye

Good-bye

Carl Limstrom comes to tell Alexandra that his family is leaving to St. Louis. This is heartbreaking, as Alexandra and him have fallen in love. Alexandra doesn’t want him to go, but Carl won’t have him and his family be a drag on their finances, after all, Carl is no farmer. But Carl promises that he won’t forget her but will work hard for her.

“I’ll write as long as I live…And I’ll be working for you as much as for myself, Alexandra. I want to do something you’ll like and be proud of. I’m a fool here, but I know I can do something!” pg. 34

you deserve better

This is the first part of what makes this book so sad. Alexandra doesn’t care about that Carl, she just wants you! But Alexandra understands how you feel and how you don’t want to enter a marriage being a drain on your wife, you want to be equal.

And even though you really want Carl to stay with Alexandra, you respect him for not wanting to use her inheritance and enter the relationship having her take care of him. He knows Alexandra is the greatest thing in the world and wants to show her he is worthy of her love.

Fredrick Wentworth

But poor Alexandra

[To Carl’s retreating form] Since you have been here, ten years now, I have never really been lonely.” pg 35

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

The boys are worried about what will happen next with the sweet potatoes seeming to be the only thing really living on. They want to sell out and move to the cities, where opportunity really is. Or trade their land for the river as that land is much better than the kind they have.

We need to get out of here

We need to get out of here

Alexandra of course doesn’t go on feelings, whispers, or what others tell her to do. She thinks on it long and hard, researching into what would be the best decision.

Thinking Hmm

She and her younger brother Emil travel to the river to examine the land. After reviewing everything and thinking on it; she decides that the thing to do is to mortgage their land with the bank and buy up as much land as they can. The boys of course are skeptical of this plan. Six more years of working off a loan? And what if the land prices don’t soar, what if the drought continues on, what if, what if?

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But Alexandra sees the way to go:

“The men in town who are buying up other people’s land don’t try to farm it. They are the men to watch, in a new country. Let’s try to do it like the shrewd ones and not like the stupid fellows.” pg. 43

The boys know this will be going against all the others and they don’t want to be viewed by others as crazy.

But Alexandra is certain, and they follow her. Alexandra is pleased as she watches the land knowing that the future is stirring.

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PART II: NEIGHBORING FIELDS

It has been sixteen years since the death of John Bergson, now being 1899. In the years that have passed, his wife has passed on as well. The land is producing much, telephone wires zig zag the prairie, and the area is thickly populated as more have arrived to stake their home there too.

Emil has achieved Alexandra’s dream and gone on to attending the university and doing well in sports. He is tall, handsome, charming and all the girls in the area wish for a moment with him, as brief as it could be.

swoon dreamy

But he isn’t interested in any of them.

uh-no-gifuhno

Their old friend Marie Tovesky, now Mrs. Shabata, a Bohemian, has moved back to the prairie she used to visit as a young girl now a neighbor to the Bergsons.

And how are the Bergson’s doing? Any one could tell you that they have the richest farm on the Divide, and that was all due to the woman farmer, Alexandra.

Alexandra

Alexandra, that is.

One of the things I like about Alexandra is that Cather created a character that is intelligent, strategical, yet still feminine. With today’s modern works it always feels like an either/or situation. Either they are pretty or smart. They are intelligent and masculine or an airhead and feminine. Alexandra has extreme intelligence but also enjoys doing housework, baking, and as beautiful as she is brainy.

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The older brothers are married and have their own sections of land as they began families, but Alexandra has the most of land and wealth. Emil comes back and forth between Alexandra’s home and school; and there is one more addition.

Carl and her married!!!

Carl and her married!!!

No not Carl.

Oh darn!

Oh darn!

He is still out trying to make his fortune. No, when Ivar lost his land, Alexandra opened her home to him. Such a compassionate person, not caring what others think of him or her for having him live in the home; all that matters that there is a soul in need.

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Ivar comes to Alexandra one day, afraid that people will send him to the asylum for being different, but Alexandra doesn’t care. She knows what it is like to be talked about because you do things differently.

“Don’t come to me again telling me what people say. Let people go on talking as they like, and we will go on living as we think best. ” pg. 60

A lot has changed in the sixteen years with modernity. A lot of the old ways of living and being are no longer accepted. In the family, Oscar’s wife will not allow any Swedish to be spoken in the house, so when they visit the relatives only English can be spoken.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

Alexandra has not married, her heart still pining after the only one who ever truly understood her, but enjoys being an aunt and looking after her brother’s children. But as she is the wealthiest of the whole clan, she often becomes caught in a game between her scheming brothers and sister-in-laws, as they all desire different things.

One day she is with her nieces in the flower garden when a tall, handsome stranger comes on the prairie. It is Carl!

Carl and her married!!!

Carl is on his way to Seattle and then to Alaska to go gold prospecting. He stopped by to say hi and Alexandra is thrilled as she has missed him so much. The brothers aren’t as they are worried that instead of a gold prospector he might be a gold digger and after Alexandra’s wealth.

money money money

Carl admits that he had hoped to present himself as better, worthy of Alexandra, but he has nothing.

“You see…measured by your standards I’m a failure. I couldn’t buy even one of your cornfields. I’ve enjoyed a great many things, but I’ve nothing to show for it all.” pg. 77

That doesn’t matter to Alexandra of course, but Carl must prove himself.

I think Carl and Alexandra are just the cutest couple. Carl is so sweet to her and pretty much understands her (except for the having to prove himself thing because she does not care) and doesn’t find any measure of her odd or not right.

“I wonder whether I should ever be able to tell you all that I was thinking up there. It’s a strange thing, Alexandra; I find it easy to be frank with you about everything under the sun-except yourself!’

‘You are afraid of hurting my feelings, perhaps.’ Alexandra looked at him thoughtfully.

‘No, I’m afraid it would give you a shock. You’ve seen yourself for so long in the dull minds of the people around you, that if I were to tell you how you seem to me, it would startle you. But you must see that you astonish me.” pg. 83

How sweet!

How sweet!

Carl and Alexandra are just perfect:

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I want them to get together!!!!!

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Carl and Alexandra go to Marie’s and spend time with her being interrupted by her husband. No two people could be more horribly matched.  Marie is light and fun, while her husband Frank is jealous, depressing, and unfriendly.

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They meet when Marie was at school and she thought Frank was handsome, brooding, and romantic. Her father did not want them to marry, and nothing makes two people “fall in love” faster than when they are forbidden to.

Not good

Not good

She was sent to a convent, but as soon as she turned 18 left it and married Frank. Her father bought them the farm and they’ve been unhappy ever since. Marie realized that the Frank she thought she loved was one that was not real, but created in her mind.

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Emil and Marie spend lots of time together, as he often helps out with the farm, taking care of things that Frank is too lazy to. But that friendship must end. Emil can’t pretend anymore. He is in love with Marie and wants to be with her, but of course she is married.

Darcy P&P OMG Can't Even

Carl and Emil head off to a Catholic fair, where Emil runs into his newly married friend, Amédéé. While they are gone the brothers come to talk to Alexandra about Carl. They wanted Alexandra’s land to be willed to their children when she dies, but Alexandra will not be bullied and will do what she wants with her land.

I don't think so

You have to read what they try and use to talk her out of it. They tell her things like she’s just a woman, she didn’t really do the work “even though she had the ideas”, the property always belongs too the men, she is too old at 40 to think of marrying, Carl is four years younger than her too young.

Those guys

Those guys

But Alexandra holds her ground. She tells them that she owns her land and, she was the driving force that created their wealth, and they can stuff it or go to their lawyers but nothing will come of it.

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Alexandra tries to talk to Emil about it, but he is too heartsick he begs her to send home far away, to Mexico.

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She agrees and is sad that no one really understands her. She has no one, Marie and Carl being her only friends.

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Meanwhile Lou and Oscar go to talk to Carl and convince him he is worthless.

“What a hopeless position you are in, Alexandra!’ [Carl] exclaimed feverishly. ‘It is your fate to be always surrounded by little men. And I am no better than the rest. I am too little to face the criticism of even such men as Lou and Oscar. Yes, I am going away; to-morrow. I cannot even ask you to give me a promise until I have something to offer you. I thought, perhaps, I could do that; but I find I can’t.’

‘What good comes of offering people things they don’t need?’ Alexandra asked sadly. ‘I don’t need money. But I have needed you for a great many years. I wonder why I have been permitted to prosper, if only to take my friends away from me.

‘I don’t deceive myself,’ Carl said frankly. ‘I know that I am going away on my own account. I must make the usual effort. I must have something to show for myself. To take what you would give me, I should have to be a very large man or a very small one, and I am only in the middle class.’

Alexandra sighed. ‘I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.” pg. 114-115

In one day she loses all the men she cares about.

right in the feels broken heart

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PART III: WINTER MEMORIES

Winter never feels as cold as when you no longer have those you care about. No longer will Alexandra see Oscar or Lou because of how they treated Carl. She gets letters from Emil and Carl, but it is not the same as having them near.

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Mrs. Lee, Lou’s mother-in-law and one of the old timers, loves to visit Alexandra where she can follow in the old ways of living and not be judged. Even though the brothers are no longer welcome, Alexandra still opens her home to the rest of the relatives.

Alexandra brings Emil’s letter for Marie to read, never knowing what interest lies in Marie’s light and happy heart. Marie also gifts Alexandra with a scarf she made for Emil. Little does Alexandra know how Marie really feels on the inside.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

Marie’s life has grown exceedingly unhappy. She realizes that she and Frank are not suited for each other at all. She becomes more and more unhappy and folds into herself.

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PART IV: THE WHITE MULBERRY TREE

Emil has returned from Mexico at last, and just in time for a big carnival at the Catholic church. Emil runs into his old friend Amédéé, now a father. All the girls flutter around Emil, and when he gives one of his turquoise stones to auctioned it starts an even greater flummox.

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Marie is just as crazy about Emil, but he smartly keeps his distance from her.

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Frank is angry as he is jealous and wants someone to blame for Marie not caring for him any longer. But the only one who drove the wedge was him and his cruel nature.

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When the lights go out, every girl is kissed by their sweetheart and Emil does the one thing he has wished for so long, kisses Marie.

OMG gasp

Emil is heartsick  and finally asks Marie what has been on his mind for so long, why would you marry Frank? Marie tells him she loved him. Frank was the same now as then, but as a young girl she saw him differently. And now she pays for her heedlessness, stubbornness, and naivety.  She begs Emil to leave as she doesn’t want them to sin and she can’t go.

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Emil is preparing to leave for Omaha to train as a lawyer, then going on to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Before he departs, he stops by to see his friend Amédéé. Amédéé. is in awful pain, completely sick with appendicitis. The doctor tries to take care of him, but it is to late, Amédéé is gone.

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Emil stays on for the service and is to set off, but goes back to Marie’s to get one thing of hers to hold on to. When he gets there he discovers her lying in the grass.

Frank comes home and sees Emil’s horse in the barn. He then goes into the field and hears something. As he comes closer he sees two figures in the field and shoots. And then streaks off.

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Ivar finds Emil’s mare the next morning all worn out and not taken care of. He knows Emil would never do anything like that unless he was hurt or injured. He goes next door to get help and finds the bodies.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

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PART V: ALEXANDRA

Alexandra has become so sick with grief she cannot do anything without being instructed. Her boy, her best friend…gone.

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

She feels horrible for always throwing them together, never thinking what would happen. She feels so cold and alone.

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Alexandra goes to see Frank Shabata, but feels no anger at him. Only pity.

Strange Sad Have My Pity Toy Story

But one bright spot arrives, as soon as Carl gets Alexandra’s note on the death he hurries over.

He isn’t as important as he would have wished, but he does have a good buisness starting in the West. The two plan to marry, going West but eventually returning home to the prairie. At last, Alexandra will no longer be alone. A bittersweet ending

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I love this book but it is sooo sad. Just full of feelings:

CantWork_emotions

But I love it anyway and read it over and over.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

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For more on Sarah Dessen, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

For more on An Affair to Remember, go to Anything Can Happen: An Affair to Remember (1957)

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For the Christmas Carol I choose Silent Night otherwise known in Bohemian as Tichá noc. This song was written in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr when he was visiting Mariapfarr, Austria.

Two years later, Father Mohr approaches Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist, and asked him to set it to music. Together they performed it during Christmas Eve’s mass.

In 1859, Pastor John Freeman Young translated the song from German to English. Since then the song has been translated into over 140 different languages.

I chose the version by Celtic Woman as I really enjoy that group.

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For more on Celtic Woman, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

For more Christmas Carols, go to Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man

The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Day 15) O is for Ocean: Choose a book that takes place on or in the Ocean

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

This is one of my top favorite books.

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I started reading this book the same way I started reading all the classics, The Great Illustrated Classics collection at my local library.

And this is one of my all-time favorite stories. Just like Doc Brown

Doc Brown: So do I. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, my absolute favorite.

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As I mentioned before I love Jules Verne. I’ve read almost everything by him.

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My favorite thing about this novel is everything they see and all the adventures they go on.

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Another amazing thing was how Verne was so ahead of his time. In his novel Captain Nemo has electric lights on his submarine, it wasn’t until more than thirty years that was possible. He just had all these ideas or improvements that inspired people to create and copy them.

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This book also has some solid math and science, based on current inventions of the time and what was known. It is just a fantastic book!

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The book takes place in 1866. All the countries are agog as something seems to be destroying ships. Something…or some monster!

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They call in the top people to launch an expedition to destroy whatever it is that is doing this to them. One of the people called in is Professor Pierre Aronnax, a marine biologist. He believes that the creature is something from the very depths of the oceans, as it would need incredible strength to survive that and destroy the ships the way it does.

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Maybe a giant sea monster or narwhale?

He takes along his valet, Conseil, and the two meet and become good friends with Canadian Whaler, Ned Land, as they sail the sea searching for the creature.

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They eventually find the creature, which rips apart the ships set after it. The only crew members to survive are Professor Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned. They try to find something to grab onto and drift on, when they grasp the monster and discover it is not a sea creature after all…

Say What

It is a super advanced submarine.

OMG gasp

They are taken inside and saved by the captain, Captain Nemo. He decides to let them live because he greatly appreciates the intellect and things that Professor Aronnax has written.

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But they are forced to remain on the ship forevermore, as they can not be returned to the surface. Saved but not free.

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Conseil enjoys being underwater at first, but begins to wish for home. Ned has never liked being under the water, and from the beginning has been trying to figure out a way to escape their imprisonment. The only one who is thrilled with this arrangement is Professor Aronnax, as being a marine biologist this is the opportunity of a lifetime to learn about what really happens in the deep blue.

What is under the water?

What is under the water?

They travel 20,000 leagues around the world; being the firsts to look upon Antarctica (as it wasn’t officially visited until 1911), battle a squad of sperm whales, visit shipwrecks, walk along the ocean floor, witness all kinds of marine life, fight off cannibal islanders, and are attacked by a giant squid in one of the most harrowing battles in literature.

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As they journey they discover that their Captain has a lot of bitterness and rage; attacking ships because of an old pain.

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For one who is so stone faced and set in his ways, will they ever be able to convince him to set them free? Or will they be stuck under the sea forever?

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Yep just one fantastic read you need to check out for yourself.

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No matter how many times I read this book it is still one wild ride! What can I say?

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

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For more on 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, go to Heaven on Earth

For more Jules Verne, go to I Think I Have Found a Means of Conveyance…An Elephant: Around the World in 80 Days

For more ocean adventures, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

For more marine biologists, go to  You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: Jaws (1975)

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Today’s pick is Carol of the Bells. This song was composed by Mykola Leontovych, and written by Peter J. Wilhousky in 1914.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to Maybe Christmas, He Thought, Doesn’t Come from a Store. Maybe Christmas…Perhaps…Means a Little Bit More: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

So I know I discussed this book back when I talked about being a fan of Sarah Dessen, but I am bringing it back as it contains one of my names. Yes, one of these characters has my first, middle, or last name. Which one? I’m not saying.

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Another reason why I picked this book was because the main character, Auden, took a long time to like her name. She is named after the poet W. H. Auden, and not only do most not know who she is named after, it isn’t really a girl’s name. I know what it is like to not like your name, but at least she was named after a poet; my namesake created lots of teasing growing up. And her name means “old friend”, mine is not pretty.

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I started reading Sarah Dessen back in middle school. This was the last book I read while in my teendom, and I think it is one of her best books and the last truly great one. I didn’t really care for Whatever Happened to Good-bye or The Moon and More, and didn’t even bother to read the next one she came out with. I don’t know if I am too old or if her work isn’t as good as it used to be.

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So Auden West never had a real childhood. Her parents are professors, and her brother Hollis (meaning holly tree) had colic as a baby.

Not good

After him, they expected Auden to be a mini adult, no longer wanting to be “parents”. Hollis had fun and charmed his way through life, going abroad and mooching off his family as he continues to play.

Favorite Lydia Bennet

Auden had to be the serious child: no fun, no play, nothing but academics. This caused her to grow to be a little anti-social as she just couldn’t relate to others.

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She also moved around a lot as no school was seen as right for her parents. This caused her to also make no real connections, as how can you become friends when you are only there for a second.

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 Auden also has insomnia.

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After Hollis left, things got ugly in the house. Her mom came and won awards, great articles, a chair, etc; while her husband went down. They never liked fighting around Auden, so they would wait until she went to sleep. Auden stopped going to sleep, hoping that would keep them from fighting.

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This worked for a while, but eventually they just started fighting again.

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They divorced, her father remarried, and immediately got his new wife pregnant. Auden feels replaced in one life and nothing in her mother’s who spends all her time working or with her graduate students.

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Mostly Auden spends all her free time at an all night diner and reads, drinking coffee.

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Or booth in this case.

She will be heading off to a top college in the summer and has been studying the classes her mother picked out for her.

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Her stepmother, Heidi (meaning noble and kind), recently had their baby, Thisbe (meaning lover of Pyramus) Caroline West, and invites Auden to come out to the beach where they live and spend time there this summer. Heidi always invites Auden and Auden always makes an excuse…

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but this time things change. She just can’t stand another summer of not living.

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Auden decides to take up Heidi’s offer and heads out to the beach in hopes to spend time with her dad and not sure what will happen.

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What she finds is nothing she would have expected. The perfectly coiffed Heidi is a mess, the baby always cries from colic, and while she loves her dad, his selfishness makes her not like him most of the time as all he can do is focus on is his book.

Men?

Men

Auden is asked out by a local boy and heads down to a beach party, a huge mistake as he was a total jerk.

jerk

Auden still has issues sleeping, so she spends her time driving, at a horrible diner, or reading at home. But Thisbe won’t stop crying, so one night she ends up taking her to the boardwalk, walking her up and down.

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There she sees a boy on his bike, doing all kinds of jumps and such, hypnotized by his movements. He spots her watching and approaches her, looking at the baby. Auden explains that it has been a long night, and he agrees with aren’t they all.

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Auden ends up helping Heidi out when there isn’t enough money to cover the UPS delivery at her shop, Clementine’s. The main girl is Maggie (meaning pearl) who turns out to be the girlfriend of the guy she hooked up with the night before.

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Maggie and her friends are upset when they realize that Auden is the girl, but they do come to the conclusion that Auden didn’t know anything, and that Maggie is better off without her loser boyfriend who is cheating on her.

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Things are not very happy in the new West family. Auden’s father and Heidi are fighting constantly, just trade a few words out and it is like living back with mom and dad.

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They are supposed to be having a family dinner, but that is a wash. Thisbe starts crying and Auden takes her out of there. As she is trying to get her to stop she is approached by the same boy from the other night, and he is able to calm the baby.

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Heidi knows him, and introduces him to Auden. He is Eli (most common meaning, my God is Yahweh), who has a younger brother, Jake (supplanter). That Jake was the same guy that was dating Maggie and messing with Auden. Of all the people to mess with.

Just My Luck!

Just My Luck!

Later that night Auden overhears Heidi and her father arguing. Heidi wants him to help her out more around the house, while her father thinks that Auden should just do free babysitting.

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Hurt that Heidi defends her while her father wants to use her, Auden needs something to do and spots Heidi’s accounts she was trying to balance. Auden stays up all night using her anger to work out the issue.

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Heidi is amazed at Auden’s work and instantly offers her a job working the books. Her father tries a power play chastising Heidi for using Auden, but as Auden heard their conversation the night before, she becomes angry and takes the employment, even though it means working with the girl who’s boyfriend she was with.

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Auden grows to really like working at the store. She doesn’t spend a lot of time with Maggie or her friends (the other workers), so that that isn’t as awkward as she thought it would be. One night she becomes bored and heads over to the skate park where everyone hangs out.

Say What

There she runs into Eli, who asks her about riding a bike. Auden is concrete that she knows how to ride a bike, but does she really? She didn’t really have a childhood.

Thinking Hmm

One day her mother visits and just rips on everything; Heidi, her dad, the clothes Auden is wearing, the store, the beach, the restaurants, etc. When Auden defends Heidi as not being a ditz but a pretty astute businesswoman, her mother is rather cruel to Auden, putting her in her dumb category because she no longer is in one hundred percent agreement with her.

ouch Hermione

After work, Auden still hurt, goes off to get a coffee from the nearby shop. Maggie goes after her as she knows what it is like having a difficult mother. She sits with Auden and just helps by being there.

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She ends up going out with the girls, not really expecting anything but just wanting some company.

Girls night!

Girls night!

They head to the Gas/Gro where they pick up some snacks, just in case. After all you never know what the night will hold.

Chocolate makes everything better

Afterwards they head to a party at Belissa’s (lovely one) house, the daughter of the local bakers. They send Auden to get beers, but as she has never partied before she cannot get the keg to work.

I don't know what to do

Eli comes up behind her and tries to help her out. They joke around having fun, but Maggie quickly comes in and tries to get her Auden of there.

Run Away

Before they can get free they run into Belissa and almost get their butts kicked as she is Eli’s ex, yet still thinks they are together. Auden has never dealt with angry exes so she doesn’t have the sane reaction.

Them's fighting words!

Them’s fighting words!

The girls interrogate her about Eli, when they started hanging out, and Auden shares that they talked ever since she saw him on his bike.

OMG gasp

The girls are shocked and reveal Eli’s sad backstory.

Eli and Abel (breath) were the very best of friends, doing everything together. They did competitive biking and were extremely good, so good they had sponsors and everything. Eli was given a scholarship for it to the University and deferred to keep riding. Then one day they were coming back from a competition and the two were in an accident. A drunk driver went through a four way stop and Abel was killed.

After that Eli gave up everything and doesn’t do much as he is grieving.

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Maggie takes Auden back to the shop, and Auden grabs a coffee before she decides to head out. But then she changes her mind as she sees a light on in the bike shop and takes a chance.

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Eli is there and realizes they told her everything. He tells her he used to like hanging out with her because she never felt sorry for him or gave him a pity look.

Stop stop it now!

Auden bypasses that and says she is angry because he left her alone to fight his ex. As Eli doesn’t like to sleep either, they end up spending the night together as they visit the laundromat/coffee shop, the Park Mart warehouse store, etc.

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Eli discover that therre are a lot of of things she missed out on her childhood and decides they need to go on a quest to help her. Food fights, “high school” parties, delivering newspapers, going to a club, kickball, etc.

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Auden finds herself finally allowing her to open up to another person, something she hasn’t been able to do since the dissolution of her parents’ marriage.

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But will this work out or just be a summer romance? Will Auden finally let someone into her heart, or become too afraid she lets it go?

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I loved this book so much!

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First of all Maggie is such an amazing character. She shows how you don’t have to label yourself but be whatever you want. Sporty? Pretty? Intelligent? You can be it all.

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She’s fun, sweet, and the best friend you could ever have.

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And Eli. Eli has gone through so much and is such a strong character. He teaches Auden it is okay to grow up and still have childish parts to her, no matter how old you are.

He makes her Rice Krispie treats when she is sad and crying.

How sweet!

How sweet!

When she freaks out and tries to break it off, he just takes it and when she overcomes her commitment-phobia, he is there waiting.

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He is smart, talented, compassionate, sweet, adorable- and I wish he was real as he is just perfect.

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December 2014

The only flaw I would say this book has is that Eli never really deals with his grief, but buries it in another relationship which is not the right way to do. After working with grieving people, Dessen didn’t quite handle that issue correctly.

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But the rest of the book was fantastic and it is something I read over and over again.

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Now each Sarah Dessen novel connects to all the others, and I’ve listed said connections with Along for the Ride, AFTR.

That Summer:
Haven’s family spends a whole summer at a beach just like Auden does.

Someone Like You:
In Someone Like You, Scarlett and Haley went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while in AFTR.

Keeping the Moon
Auden goes to visit her Dad and Stepmom in Colby. In Keeping the Moon, Colby is where Colie visited for the entire summer.
Auden eats at Last Chance where Colie worked at in Keeping the Moon.
The cashier that takes Auden’s order at Last Chance is a dark haired girl with a lip ring. Colie is dark-haired girl with a lip ring.
Heidi, Auden’s stepmom, two best friends are Morgan and Isabelle. Morgan and Isabelle are Colie’s next door neighbors in Keeping the Moon.
Auden passes a women with long hair in an orange jumpsuit on a bicycle. This is Mira, Colie’s aunt.

Dreamland:
Caitlin went to Jackson High. Auden goes to Jackson High for a bit in AFTR.
Rogerson Biscoe goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit as well.
In Dreamland, Caitlan’s Dad,Boo, and Stewart teach at U. That is the same university where Auden mom teaches as well.
Cass starts reading about Buddhism. In AFTR, Auden is reading about it too.

This Lullaby:
Auden’s mom teaches at the U, the same university where Lissa is going to college.

The Truth About Forever:
Macy went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while in AFTR.
Macy’s ex-boyfriend Jason Talbot was supposed to be Auden’s date for the prom, but he cancels last minute. He is also her date in the prom boardwalk party Heidi throws, but cancels last minute once again.
Macy and Wes are always going to World of Waffles. In AFTR, that is where Maggie, Leah, and Esther go when Esther’s car breaks down.
Jason’s parents are professors just like Auden’s parents.

Just Listen:
Annabelle went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while inAFTR.
Will Cash, Sophie’s boyfriend, the guy who rapes Annabelle goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit in AFTR.
A girl named Esther emcees the poetry and other readings at the coffee shop, Jump Java. Whitney goes her to read her memoir. In Along for the Ride, Auden’s friend Esther, loves to go to coffee shops to hear readings.

Lock and Key:
Ruby dates Nate Cross. Auden talks about awkwardly flirting with him in AFTR
Ruby’s brother-in-law created the website Ume.com. In AFTR Auden goes on it.
Ruby went to Jackson High for a while. Auden went there for a while in AFTR
Ruby goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit in AFTR.
Ruby wears a necklace with a key on it. Harriet makes a ton of these to sell at her kiosk in the mall. In AFTR, Heidi sells the necklaces at her shop Clementine’s.
Ruby, Gervais, and Nate attend U. Cora and Jamie used to go to U. Auden’s mom is a professor at U.
Ruby applies for Defriese but doesn’t get in. Auden and Maggie attend Defriese.

Whatever Happened to Goodbye:
McLean is named after a Defriese University coach; she used to live in Tyler, the town Defriese University is located; and her stepdad is the Defriese University basketball coach. Auden and Maggie go to Defriese University.
Auden and Eli shop at Park Mart. So does Mclean
Guy next door to McLean goes to U; McLean herself attends U. Auden’s mother is a professor at U.
McLean goes to Jackson High like Auden did before she transferred.
Peter bought McLean’s mom a house in Colby. Colby is where Auden spends the summer with her dad and stepmom.
Jason is the chef at Luna Blue. Jason is Jason Talbot, the guy who stood Auden up twice.
Heidi is friends with McLean’s mom. She comes by with Thisbe and a bathing suit from Clementine’s.

The Moon and More:
Auden’s friend Esther film’s Clyde, Ivy, & Emmaline’s party.
Emmaline goes to parties at the Tip. The Tip was were Auden had her embarrassing “hook up”.
Clyde hangs out with Emmaline. Clyde met Auden when she was on her “quest”. He made pie for her too in his laundromat.
Both stories take place in Colby.
Emmaline knows Wallace, who is friends with Auden.
Emmaline is a Gas/Gro fiend, just like Auden & friends.
Emmaline goes to Abe’s Bike, named for Eli’s friend and owned by Clyde.
They talk about Weymor college, where Auden’s dad teaches at.
Emmaline gets an ad for Tallyho, Luke cheats on her there, and they have the art show after party there. Tallyho was the club where Maggie, Esther, and Leah would go.
Emmaline knows Maggie and Auden.
Emmaline’s friend Daisy works for Heidi, Auden’s stepmother, at her shop, Clemetine’s.
Auden goes to visit her Dad and Stepmom in Colby. Emmaline lives in Colby.
Auden eats at Last Chance so does Emmaline.
Auden mom teaches at U. Emmaline will be attending in the fall.
Daisy & Emmaline win best dressed at the Beach Bash. Heidi throws the Beach Bash every year.
Heidi is friends with Emmaline’s mom, Emily.
Auden and Eli shop at Park Mart. So does Emmaline.
Adam and Wallace live down in the beach shacks. Wallace used to live in GULL’S CRY which is where Theo lives after he gets kicked out.

Liveinbooks

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Maybe Christmas, He Thought, Doesn’t Come from a Store. Maybe Christmas…Perhaps…Means a Little Bit More: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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For more on Along for the Ride, go to The Strange Case of a Fangirl and Her Fandoms

For more on Sarah Dessen, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

For more on Anthony Trollope, go to Words to Live By

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So as this takes place on the beach I though none other than the perfect beach, Christmas Carol…the perfect California beach Christmas Carol. Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys.

Yes growing up a Californian, The Beach Boys are a group that whatever part you are from, you just grow up loving.

It was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Wilson said the idea came to him while on a date, he broke it off early, and rushed home to finish working on it. The song released in 1963.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

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Yes it is that time of the year, our new tradition of a 30 Day Challenge. As I am a book lover and just can’t get enough books, I decided this year we will cover that love.

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As any book lover knows, it is difficult to choose a favorite book.

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So this will either fit the category of the book challenge, or will be a book I love. I’m hoping to meld both, but I know that won’t happen for every one of them.  I also ran into a few issues finding 30, so I had to get a tad creative.

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I am also going to skip the Jane Austen novels as I always talk about them on this blog. I’m going to try and do books I haven’t mentioned already, but no promises on that.

I can't help it.

I can’t help it.

Now every time I try to do something in December, it tends to fail. I just get toooo busy.

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But this year I am really going to try.

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So here we go!

30 Day Challenge:

Day 1) A is for Apocalyptical: Choose a book with an Apocalyptic theme

Day 2) B is for Best: Choose a Best-Selling novel

Day 3) C is for Childhood: Choose a book you used to read over and over again when you were a Child.

Day 4) D is for Diary: Choose a novel or memoir in Diary form

Day 5) E is for Elephant: Choose a book with a Elephant on the cover

Day 6) F is for Free: Choose a book you got for Free

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a fairy tale

Day 9) I is for Island: Choose a book that takes place on an Island

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer

Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List

Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Since this 30 Day Challenge is being done in December, let’s pick a favorite book that captures the merry Christmas spirit.

Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

Day 15) O is for Ocean: Choose a book that takes place on or in the Ocean

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a book that is a Retelling of a classic

Day 19) S is for Short Stories: Choose a collection of Short Stories

Day 20) T is for Translated: Choose a book that was Translated from one language to English

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

Day 22) V is for Vanished: Choose a book with a missing person

Day 23) W is for Weather: Choose a book where the Weather plays a major role

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Day 25) Y is for Young: Choose a junior or Young adult book

Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie retelling of a classic novel

Day 27) One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Shoes symbolize wealth. Choose a novel that involves wealth or fashion

Day 28) Three, Four, Shut the Door: Doors symbolize new beginnings. Choose a novel where a character has to start over

Day 29) Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks: Sticks symbolize power, strength, or judicial decisions. Choose a book that revolves around a powerful ruler or ruling.

Day 30) Seven, Eight, Lay Them Straight: Straight means upright. Choose a book with a moral or strong moral character

Additional one to keep the Symmetry

Day 31) Nine, TenA Big Fat Hen: Hens symbolize motherhood. Choose a book that revolves around a family or strong motherly character.

Have Card will Travel

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For more 30 Day challenges check out 30 Day Challenge: All About Me! and 30 Day Challenge: Disney Edition

For more book loving posts, go to Sadly I’m a Stalker

Come With Me and You’ll Be in a World of Pure Imagination: Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl

So today marks the 100th Birthday of Roald Dahl.

Yay!

Yay!

He was such a big part of my childhood. I mean…how do I explain?

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I mean Matilda was the anthem for kids everywhere who loved to read a lot, and were misunderstood by others

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Then there was the wonderful magic and adventure of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. I mean who didn’t want to visit Wonka’s and get a glimpse at all the wonder inside?

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And you might think it weird that I did a pic from the film, but Roald Dahl actually wrote the script for most of it. The parts were rewritten later as the director thought that it was too much like the book, but the heart of the piece is him.

The sequel, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator wasn’t as good as The Chocolate Factory, but still extremely fun. They go into outer space, save astronauts, and have to fight Vermicious Knids.

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The B.F.G. was such a great book about finding a family, as orphan and outcast Sophie finds a kindred soul in the runt of the litter and always picked on, B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant).

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In James & the Giant Peach; dreamer James finds himself the owner of a gigantic peach and sets off to New York City with a crew of insects that range from a spider, to a grasshopper, to a centipede, and more. They have to fight countless obstacles and outwit his cruel aunts.

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In Fantastic Mr. Fox, a hardworking father tries to care for his family and the forest creatures; all the while trying to outwit the farmers of their wares.

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Sometimes he’s “got this” and other times he really doesn’t.

In George’s Marvelous Medicine, George is constantly tired of his grandmother’s abusive remarks. So he cooks her up a “special medicine” to release his anger, one that she actually drinks! It causes her to grow 20 times her size! Will George be able to change her back? And will he be able to remake the recipe to be sold?

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Boy: Tales of Childhood is a memoir and a great read. Dahl sure was a little scallion when he was growing up. These tales are extremely entertaining, especially the rat story.

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Happy Birthday Dahl and thank you for all the wonderful memories and moments you gave me.

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Such an amazing imagination was an inspiration to us all.

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Read a Dahl book today!

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For more on Roald Dahl, go to A Book Only a Reader Could Write

For more book-filled posts, go to It’s Always Tea Time

It’s Always Tea Time

So a while back we had a tea party at our church for an event.

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Different people were given a table, in which we could make our theme whatever we wanted. I was given a table and my theme was books! After all:

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Anyways, I just realized I forgot to post the pics from it. So I thought I would now.

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My centerpiece was a collection of nice hardcover classics stacked on top of each other, with a hollowed book on top that a tree branch came out of. Clipped to the tree was tea bags for each person to choose from.

I then chose six of my favorite classic books in which the characters have tea time or talk about tea. With each table setting I tried to embody the book.

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Setting 1: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, 1814

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So for the first setting I made sure to pair it with a very simple cup, as Fanny is not only a poorer relation, but she is a girl who likes simple things over the grandiose and showy. I laid out a copy of the book cover in front of the table setting, and then had this quote on the table.

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Then the cutlery:

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I put a white bow because Fanny would be the type to have a simple adornment like that, instead of extensive work on her dress.

I also added the gold cross as that is a huge part of the scheming by Maria Crawford to get Henry and Fanny matched up. When Fanny asks to borrow a chain for the gold cross her brother gave her, Maria sneakily gives her one that Henry gave her; so when Henry sees it he thinks that Fanny has decided to embrace his attentions, (i.e. gave him the green light).

For more on Mansfield Park, go to A World of Teas

For more Jane Austen, go to Free, for Lack of a Better Word, is Good

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Setting 2: Emma by Jane Austen, 1815

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The second setting I choose Emma. For this I had a gold and cream cup and saucer; the fanciest one I could find as Emma was rich and from an old family. She would have the finer things.

I laid out the book cover and this quote from the novel:

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For Emma’s cutlery I wanted something a bit showier and fancier. I made a hair clip out of a red flower and gold fan charm. I thought this would encompass the character of Emma.

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For more on Emma, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen Quotes, go to I Can’t Pretend, I Have to Be

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Setting 3: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, 1859

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This was the table setting I choose for myself as I figured I would probably be the only one at the tea party who has read this book. And I was right. I don’t know why people don’t read Wilkie Collins anymore. This one of my favorite mysteries, as our main character comes upon a woman in white who holds a warning, leading him down a very twisted path. As the story continues, different characters become the voice of the book, until we reach the conclusion and discover who this woman in white is and what she is trying to stop.

I set up a copy of the book cover, and in front of it had my absolute favorite tea quote:

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Seriously, if you aren’t here I am starting without you.

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Anyways, the silverware:

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This was the first one I put together going with a magnifying glass as this was a mystery, and adding a cameo afterwards. I thought it would be a great symbol of the time, along with the white silhouette of a women being reminiscent of the woman in white.

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Setting 4: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1865

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The fourth setting was an Alice in Wonderland theme. The cup I choose for this was one designed to be a rose, while the saucer a leaf. This was to symbolize the Garden that Alice has a not so fun time in.

I set up a copy of the book cover, and in front of it had this quote:

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Then I designed the napkins thusly:

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The watch of course for the White Rabbit who is always running late, and the creamer for the Mad Hatter and March Hare’s obsession with tea and their endless tea party.

For more on Alice in Wonderland, go to Disney Lesson

For more on Lewis Carroll, go to Can’t Go Back 

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Setting 5: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, 1911

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Second to last we had Peter Pan. The cup I choose for this one had strawberries on it, and I choose it because I thought it was something that Wendy would have liked.

I laid out the book cover and this quote:

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For the setting I went with something a little more basic, a red feather. This feather was supposed to be the feather Peter wears in his hat.

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For more on Peter Pan, go to My Teaddiction (Tea Addiction)

For more on J. M. Barrie, go to Fan-do or Fan-don’t. There is No Fan-try

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Setting 6: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, 1950

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For the last setting I went a little more modern than the others. This one’s tea cup had a winter scene as the world of Narnia is stuck in a cycle of :

Always winter but never Christmas”

I laid the book cover and this quote:

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This quote is from Mrs. Beaver, but for cutlery design I went with Mr. Tumnus and Lucy’s tea time. I had two tiny tea cups tied to symbolize their tea for two.

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For more on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, go to Simply Fantastic

For more on C. S. Lewis, go to Going on a Treasure Hunt

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drinkteaReadbooks

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For more on my love of tea, go to My Trip to Teavana

For more book-filled posts, go to A Book Only a Reader Could Write

A World of Teas

Recently I was given a collection of five teas; A World of Teas by Tea forté. 

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As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

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You guys ready?

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Tea #1: Bombay Chai from Bombay, India

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This tea was spicy with layers of taste. The first thing that popped in my head was the scene from Sense & Sensibility (1995) when Colonel Brandon says the air is full of spices. This made me think that this book was the perfect pairing.

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Its range of spices and many layers make it just like Colonel Brandon.

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At first glance an average soldier, but as you read you see there are many parts to him. Plus it seemed as if it would be something he would drink after his time abroad.

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

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Tea #2 Moroccan Mint from Morocco

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This tea was refreshing and cool, but also predictable. This was a familiar taste with no real surprises, however that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. For that reason, I choose Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart.

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Death on Demand is the beginning of the series and follows amateur private detective and mystery bookstore owner, Annie Laurence, as she tries to figure out which of the many possible suspects killed an annoying, blackmailing, author. She is racing against the clock as if she cannot find the real killer, she will end up being thrown in jail!

While at times it may be predictable the character and stories always leave me coming back for more.

For more on Death on Demand, go to It’s Fantastico!
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Tea #3 African Solstice from South Africa

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So this one started off good, lots of flavor and taste; but then I had the rooibos. I don’t like rooibos, as for me it has a weird aftertaste that I just don’t agree with. Once those came in, this tea was lost on me. The book I thought would be the best pairing is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart is the story of Nigerian Okonkwo, an Ibo leader. The book chronicles his life, family culture, and ambitions. An accident causes things to derail for Okonkwo, and he is sent away. While he regroups and plans how to re-achieve his prior success, the British arrive with their influence and missionaries changing the structure of the villages. Will Okonkwo be able to adapt? Or will he fall under the British wheel of “progress”?

Like this African tea, I really enjoyed about two-thirds of the novel. The rooiboss of the the novel, for me, was the ending. I thought it built up perfectly, but ended way to soon, with enough falling action. It is like when you bake a cake and open the oven too soon, causing the cake to fall. That’s how the ending of this book and tea were to me, too soon.

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Tea #4: Sencha from Japan

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This tea at first seems simple and plain, but as you drink it you realize there is a whole lot more going on, and it has an incredible flavor. I finished this tea off first of all the others in the collection.

This actually made me think of two books. The first being Mansfield Park:

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At first glance Mansfield Park seems simple and a lot say it is boring. Fanny is a placid girl, often being the tool of others instead of going after what she wants. However, as you continue reading you see that Fanny has a lot more to her character than meets the eye. She is often passive as she is grateful for being pulled out of a bad situation; but when one tries to force her to do something she really does not want to (marriage to Mr. Crawford, a first class rake) she becomes a will of iron and will not be bent. She completely encompasses the old Japanese proverb of being bamboo, willing to bend with the wind but not break.

The second being Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

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Now I don’t want to spend too much time on this book as I am planning on reviewing it in the winter as part of my 30 Day challenge.

However, Hale is a master crafter as she takes the simple fairy tale of Maid Maleen and turns it into this incredible adventure full of bravery, romance, and supernatural elements.

For more on Mansfield Park, go to Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose: Superbowl 50

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Tea #5 Estate Darjeeling from Darjeeling, India.

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I’ve had other Darjeeling but didn’t like them, I thought they were too sweet and didn’t care for them. However, this one was fantastic! It was an amazing surprise.

Originally I thought I would pair this with Emma, but instead I think two other books would be better:

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When I first had read the Jane Austen novels, I had heard of all of them (and seen film adaptions) except these two. Not only had I never heard of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, it appears most fans of Jane Austen also don’t really know much about them. Why is that?

Anyways, when I first read them I was so surprised with how amazingly great they are that they knocked my list of favorites all about. Perfect match with a surprisingly fantastic tea.

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen
For more on Persuasion, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

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After all:

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For more on tea, go to My Trip to Teavana

For more book-filled posts, go to Post Approved

Post Approved

So I was reading through my Emily Post’s Etiquette, the 14th Edition on gift giving.

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I was going to a baby dedication and wanted to see of we are supposed to bring a gift or not. I mean I didn’t want to be rude.

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So I read it, and yes I was supposed to. But then I continued reading the rest of the gift giving as it talked about weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, birthday parties, etc. As I read I noticed that Post kept mentioning one item as a suitable gift. And what was that gift?

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A BOOK!

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Yes, she says that a book is an acceptable gift for any occasion.

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So there everyone! I have been Post approved. My idea of a book as a perfect gift is spot on.

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So that is what everyone will be getting for their gifts. After all:

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For more on how books make the best gifts, go to Crazy Book Lady

For more book-filled posts, go to What Are Your Priorities?