Countdown to Christmas: Tea Advent Calendar Swap 2019

So last year on Instagram I saw that @TeaisforTravel was starting an Advent Calendar Tea Swap. When I first saw it I was extremely interested and totally wanted to join:

But then I thought about it…a few years ago I did a book swap and sent my books off to the people I was assigned and was supposed to receive some, but I never did. I decided to skip it as I didn’t really want to get involved in something, have my hopes up, and then have nothing arrive.

Not okay.

Then I saw @teaandme blog was going to do it, and it looked like so much fun…plus I had almost 25 teas I just needed a few more…I figured aw, why not?!

So I signed up to do it. But then I was like how do I make an advent calendar? Whenever we did an Advent Calendar/Christmas countdown growing up, we always did paper chains. I never had one that had things in it. Thank goodness for the internet-I googled and searched pinterest to try and find some ideas.

So the concept I really wanted to do, didn’t work with mailing it to my person. I had a few ideas but I needed to finish it up between all the other holiday things I needed to do + get it out in the mail before December 1st, so I ended up doing a very simple envelope style.

I actually had so much fun making my advent calendar I didn’t even care if I ended up not getting one. With mine I chose certain teas for certain days and every pod had a tea and a letter about why I picked it to be a part of the calendar or to be had on a certain day.

I can’t remember what I wrote for everything, just a few-but I do remember the teas I used. They were:

December 1st-Lifestyle Awareness Serene Slumber Soothing Lavender: As Sunday was the first day of Advent I chose a “purple” tea (I did for every Sunday of Advent). Purple is a symbol of Advent as in ancient times purple was extremely expensive and used for royalty. As Advent is awaiting the “coming of the King”, its color became purple as well. The first Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope and the first candle lit is the “prophecy candle” in remembrance of the prophets, such as Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ.  I also wanted to start off with a soothing tea as Christmas can be super stressful for people.

December 2nd-Stash Earl Grey

December 3rd-Tiesta Tea Maui Mango

December 4th- Lipton Black Tea

December 5th- Stash Chai Spice

December 6th- Tiesta Tea Fruity Pebbles

December 7th- Good Earth Sweet & Spicy

December 8th- Stash Wild Raspberry Hibiscus: The second Sunday of Advent is also a purple candle and represents faith. This one is called the Bethlehem candle and is a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

December 9th- Sencha Naturals Organic Matcha: Just in case I included in my letter how to make a matcha latte.

December 10th- Bigelow Pumpkin Spice Tea

December 11th- Stash Premium Green Tea

December 12th- Oliver Pluff & Company Jasmine Green Tea: I had won this tea in a giveaway from Regency Marketplace

December 13th- Panera Ginger Peach Tea: Our library hosted a parent event every month. Right before I put the advent calendar together, they canceled their meeting but forgot to cancel their order at Panera. So we enjoyed a bunch of breakfast sweets, coffee, and tea.

December 14th- Stash English Breakfast Tea

December 15th- Tiesta Tea Nutty Almond Tea: This sunday of Advent you use the pink candle, so I chose a tea that is pink after it steeps. This candle symbolizes joy and is the Shepherd’s candle-representing the joy they and the world had with the birth of Christ.

December 16th- Twinings Earl Grey: December 16th is Jane Austen’s birthday so I chose a Tea that Jane Austen would have had. In one of her letters she wrote she purchased Twinings tea, because it was unadulterated -unlike other tea that was blended with anything.

December 17th- Tiesta Tea Royal Breakfast

December 18th- Stash Chamomile: Being halfway through the month I thought it was a good time to have some more relaxing tea.

December 19th- Tea Bar and Fusion Cafe Octavia Tea Company Earl GreyI love this place and wish it wasn’t an hour away but in my city.

December 20th- Stash Peppermint

December 21st- Bigelow Pomegranate Pizazz

December 22nd- Tiesta Tea Lavender Chamomile: This is the last Sunday of Advent. This candle represents peace and is called the “Angel’s Candle”. I thought it was perfect for today as this close to Christmas chamomile is perfect to give one peace as they finish any last minute anything they need to do.

December 23rd- Stash Lemon Ginger: December 23rd is my sister’s birthday and she loves Lemon Ginger Tea.

December 24th- Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea: When I was a kid I had such a hard time trying to sleep on the night before Christmas as I would be too wired. My mom used to always have us drink Sleepytime Tea to ehlp us sleep, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t-but I still drink it every December 24th.

December 25th- Tiesta Tea Victorian Earl Grey: When I think of Christmas I of course think of A Christmas Carol and so what would be better than Victorian Earl Grey? 

In fact I had so much fun making this, that I ended up creating and sending one to my niece as part of her Christmas gift.

So it turned out that the person who was making my Advent calender was @TeaisforTravel, the creator of the swap. I tried to use a different cup each day and have the pictures be different or about what I was doing that day. Some days I combined it with my 25 Days of Christmas Movies or with my reading Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane AustenNow I like different types of tea, but I tend to only buy/drink one: Tiesta Tea Victorian Earl Grey.

So it was nice trying out different teas, some of them being ones I had never heard of before. And while I may not have loved all of them, I loved having this experience of trying all these different teas.

So I am sharing the pics I really liked/thought turned out great. If interested in seeing all of them, just head over to my instagram @janeaustenrunsmylife

December 1st- Old Barrel Tea LavenderberryThis was a very delicious tea that made me think of relaxing in a field of flowers.

December 2nd- Tazo Prickly Pear Cactus TeaPraying With Jane. This tea was beyond good. I gave one of the tea bags to my niece who also loved it.

December 3rd- David’s Tea Seaberry SpaThis was a fruity and relaxing tea. I gave this to my niece to try and she LOVED it.

December 4th-Good Earth Rosa de Jamaica: This was my first time having Rosa de Jamaica hot as I had only ever had it as a cold brew and I really enjoyed it.

December 5th- Encore Chocolate & Tea Candy AppleThis tea wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t for me. I gave this to my niece who loved it.

December 6th- Whittard Earl Grey– I loved this tea and drank it while reading my Book Club’s Pick monthly pick, Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale.

December 7th- Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Earl Grey: I’d never had this tea before but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this variation on my favorite type of tea.

December 8th- David’s Tea Nutty & Spice

December 9th- Teatime Scottsdale Royal TeaA very sweet tea that is in no need of sugar.

December 10th- Stash Chai SpiceIs it really winter if you haven’t had a cup of Chai tea? A delicious tea for a cold winter’s day.

December 11th- Teatopia Yellow Mudan Praying with Jane: This was a tea I had never heard of but it was really good.

December 12th- Bigelow Lean and Fit Citrus Oolong Tea: I was so tired I needed to drink a whole pint.

December 13th- Artful Tea Purple Lychee: This was a Friday the 13th so of course I needed to wear my Ghostbusters T-Shirt, use my Ghostbusters mug, eat pizza, and watch horror films. This Purple Lychee was really good as I am not a big fan of lychee but enjoyed this.

December 14- Whittard English Breakfast: I’m really picky about my English Breakfast, but LOVED this tea. I also really love cats and Audrey Hepburn movies (if you couldn’t tell lol).

December 15th- Nobilitea Pina Power: I didn’t think I would like this as I don’t care for pineapple, but I enjoyed it. I also gave this to my niece.

December 16th- Nobilitea Prima Donna: This was a nice tea, but not for me. I also gave this one away to a friend. I paired this with my viewing of Star Wars: A New Hope as part of my 25 Days of Christmas. I know most will say it isn’t a Christmas film, but my family watches it every year at Christmastime.

December 17th- Steepologie Sour Patch TeaThis tea surprised me as it was better than I thought it would be. This day we decorated our family Christmas tree, our family tradition is to have an ornament that represents important events that occurred in the year.

December 18th- Buyulu Bohca Green Tea with Jasmine FlowersI drank this to relax after wrapping gifts.

December 19th- Nobilitea Regal PlumDrank this while wrapping more Christmas gifts.

December 20th- Crafted Leaf Teas Golden Tip Lapsang Souchong: I LOVED this tea so much that I ended up buying my own bag. It is so good and worth every penny of the price.

December 21st- Steep by Bigelow Organic Oolong and Jasmine Green Tea: A delicious tea and perfect for starting off a day in which one has a lot to do.

December 22nd- Nobilitea Cinnamon Blondie Praying with Jane: I really loved this tea as it smelled and tasted like Christmas, just like gingerbread cookies.

December 23rd- David’s Tea Lemon SmashThis tea was perfect for today as it was my sister’s birthday and she loves anything lemon. This tea was delicious and we both had a cup.

December 24th- Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey Holiday Mix TapeI loved this tea and drank it as I edited my review of Holiday Mix Tape, a modern Christmas Persuasion.

December 25th- Nobilitea Banana Pancakes: I wasn’t sure if I would like this as banana flavored things aren’t really my thing, but I really enjoyed it.

This was so much fun, that I was excited to do it again this year. I wasn’t sure if @teaisfortravel was going to do it again (with COVID19), so this year I put together a tea swap with some friends and family members.

If you are interested in doing it, contact her or try to do it with your friends or family. It is a lot of fun and a great way to stop and take some moments to relax during the holiday season.

For more tea posts, go to The Picture of Earl Grey Tea Cookies

For more Christmas posts, go to Holiday Mix Tape

You Are My Fantasy: Austenland (2013)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

So today is Valentine’s Day and the end of our postings. I always find this fun to do as we just focus on a romantic moment, which could be found in almost any film. Tradition is to end on an Austen themed film (I broke it once and I’m going to try to never do it again), so here we go with our last one on Austenland (which I have started watching every Valentine’s Day.

Most Romantic Moment #14

Austenland (2013)

I LOVE this movie. It is based on the books Austenland and Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale:

I LOVED these books, so when I saw they were making a movie I was so excited!

FangirledWhenSeeingPreview

One day I will review the whole movie, but not today-today we are just focusing on moment.

Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is a giant Jane Austen fan.

She decides to get out of the grayness of her life (and love life) and go to Austenland- a Regency inspired getaway where you can pretend to be in an Austen novel, go to a ball, and find you own Mr. Darcy ending.

Things however, do not go as planned. She ends up having the cheaper package and getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

She starts to fall for Martin, one of the handymen at the resort, but he ends up dumping her because she is enjoying “their world” too much. (Seriously dude? I’m paying for this vacation-of course I’m going to enjoy it.) Anyways…she decides she is going to take charge of her story and be the best Austen heroine she can be! Will she get her Mr. Darcy? Will she have the vacation of her dreams?

Or will she decide she needs to stop her Jane Austen fascination?

****Spoiler Alert****

So this moment comes at the end of the film. Jane took back her vacation, and had fun, gained confidence, and fell for Mr. Nobley (J.J. Feild). However, Martin returned (urgh!) and convinced her to join “reality” and she turns down Mr. Nobley’s declaration of love.

She ends her vacation and when she is speaking to Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the resort owner, she discovers that Martin was the actor, not Mr. Nobley. Mr. Nobley was brought in to fill some time while they waited for another actor to finish his series-Nobley was never scripted for Jane, he wasn’t scripted for anyone.

What?

It turns out that what Mr. Nobley said was real, but Jane is so upset with Mrs. Wattlesbrook manipulations (and the fact that she wasn’t even seen as worthy to be paired with a gentleman) she can’t focus on that-made even more so when Martin and Nobley follow her to the airport.

Jane thanks Mr. Nobley and says good-bye, ready to head home and give up on her Jane Austen interest.

When she gets home she expects her friend to be over soon to talk about the trip, a knock does come-but when she opens the door it isn’t her friend-but Mr. Nobley!

He traveled all the way from England to give her-her sketchbook and tell her how much he loves her! OMGoodness!!!

He tells her that he is in love with her! “Could someone like me make you happy?”, and then says the line that makes my heart melt and brain turn to goo-“You are my fantasy”! Aw, it is just so romantic!!! Jane and Mr. Nobley both get their happy fairy tale ending!

Squee! I loved it!

Even more so, I love that this mimics Northanger Abbey, when Mr. Tilney comes after Catherine and tells her that he loves her:

Ad with both characters being played by the same actor, J.J. Feild? It makes my heart go into overtime.

For more on Austenland, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

For more J.J. Feild, go to The Jewel Carries a Curse: Ruby in the Smoke (2006)

For more on Jane Hayes and Mr. Nobley, go to Austenland

If you missed a post here are all the films and TV episodes I chose moments from:

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

I’m With Lucy (2002)

Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

“Valley Girls” from Gossip Girl (2009)

Beauty Pageant” from Parks and Recreation (2009)

The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

The Decision” from The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl (2012)

Austenland (2013)

Catching Fire (2013)

Before I Fall (2017)

Episode 14” from Strong Women Bong Soon (2017)

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle (2018)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

So I asked this question on Instagram and got a zero response. I feel that this had a lot of potential so I’m going to answer it myself.

So I haven’t read every adaptation yet, I plan to, but haven’t yet. Out of the ones I have read these are one that I would love to see as a film or TV Show.

5) Jane Austen Academy Series by Cecilia Gray

So in this Jane Austen inspired work, Cecilia Gray takes the characters of Jane Austen’s novels and puts them in a boarding school high school together, pairing up who would be friends and having them live in modern times. She chose the characters Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland, and Anne Elliot.

The drama comes when this boarding school goes co-ed! Gasp! Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham, and Captain Wentworth are coming and bringing all their dramas and the new owners want to change everything. Elizabeth has to save the school, help Anne get back with her love Wentworth, and deal with ugh Darcy.

So I have only read the first book (and need to continue the series, but just haven’t had a chance) and I like the idea-although there were a few things I didn’t agree with (like deleting Marianne Dashwood, why?) that would need to be fixed. I think this would be a good TV show-all the Austen characters as teenagers going to school together and unlike Austentatious, this book if turned show would actually keep the themes from the books instead of making it random nonsense.

For more on The Jane Austen Academy Series, go to Fall For You

4) Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries by Carrie Bebris

So Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are married and happen upon stranger supernatural occurrences and start investigating-well, Elizabeth does and Darcy starts off along for the ride but joins in. In the first book they deal with the question of an insane or possessed Caroline Bingley. Has she gone mad? Is her husband gaslighting her? Or could she be posessed? In book two, Elizabeth’s sister, Kitty Bennet, is planning on marrying Henry Dashwood (John and Fanny’s son) but then he starts acting weird. Was he just pretending to be a nice guy and always a jerk? Or is he possessed by some malignant creature?

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy are crimesolvers? I’d watch it hands down. It would be something for those who loved Death Comes to Pemberley and Supernatural. Sounds like a win-win and can fill a new hole on TV.

For more Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

3) The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know edited by Christina Boyd and et. al

So in The Darcy Monologues you have Pride and Prejudice envisioned fourteen different ways. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues is eleven different stories on the “bad boys” of Jane Austen.

So I still have to read Rational Creatures (I know shame on me, time just seems to slip away), but I think these would both be fun as a TV show, each story an episode. As The Darcy Monologues is about one subject you could do an episode from it and Dangerous to Know, to break it up, or just do a miniseries. I would love to see Mr. Darcy as the “Beast”, Pride and Prejudice as a Western, and of course Mr. Darcy Strikes Out as I LOVED Dandy Darcy and would love-love-love to see that. For Dangerous to Know I loved Henry Tilney’s older brother finding love and needing help from Catherine Morland, and when Colonel Fitzwilliam strikes a deal with an heiress to pretend to be interested in her so she can gain her inheritance.

For more Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency and The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

For more on Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD, Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE, and Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

 

2) Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I Love, Love, Love, Love, Love this book. We all loved the film Austenland, so why not turn the sequel into a film as well!! You have a broken hearted woman who loves Jane Austen and heads to Austenland to get over her troubles. There she sees characters from the previous book along with getting mired in a mystery!!!

It is a love story, a mystery, comedy, etc and so much fun. It wouldn’t quite work with how they ended the film Austenland, but you could always have Mrs. Wattlesbrook make a new one and try again. It would be FANTASTIC!! Please make it happen.

For more, go to Midnight in Austenland

1)Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Kelly Doornebos

Chloe Parker enters a contest to compete in a documentary about Austenites. Each contestant will live in a Regency-esque world where they will compete in answering Austen Trivia-the winner receiving $100,000. It’s easy right? Wrong! It turns out that this is a Bachelor Reality Show in Regency Flair, all constants competing to win a “Mr. Darcy”.

I could see this being a movie, but even better as a TV Show. You make it in the style of a reality show, but all fake. It would be hilarious as they try and complete the Austen challenges while poking fun at real celebrity dating TV Shows.

For more go to, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Is there something out there you would love to see as a TV show or Film? Comment below to let me know!

In Celebration of Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey? I’m sure there are many of you out there who have no clue what I am talking about.

Huh?

Its one of Jane Austen’s last novels, published by her brother after her death. It is also an amazing book that hardly anyone knows.

It really is sad

So we are here to spread some Northanger Abbey around as this year marks its 200th anniversary!

Like what I did with Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibilityand EmmaI will be going through Northanger Abbey and sharing with you everything about it.

The book is a parody of romantic fiction and gothic novels.

It has a great main character, Catherine Morland (which my pseudonym comes from) who we can easily connect to. We all feel like Catherine at times in our lives, hoping that we will have an adventure and meet a dashing hero.

And it has a great leading man in Mr. Tilney. I mean it! Once you read about him, he is a real contender for the number one Austen hero.

Yep a great book that I can’t wait to start celebrating and spreading!

Besides going through the book I will be also reviewing things that are referenced in it, inspirational to the book, and those inspired by it.

Books:

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

North by Northanger: Or the Shades of Pemberley (Mr. &  Mrs. Darcy #3) by Carrie Bebris

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd

Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan by Christina Boyd

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

The Necromancer or The Tale of the Black Forest by Karl Friedrich Kahler

Jet Set by Carrie Doyle Karasyov and Jill Kargman

Henry Tilney’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes #6) by Amanda Grange

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

Northanger Alibi (The Jane Austen Diaries #2) by Jenni James

North by Northanger by Rebecca H. Jamison

Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom

The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons (Supernatural Jane Austen Series #2) by Vera Nazarian & Jane Austen

The Castle of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons

 The Mysterious Warnings by Eliza Parsons

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Clermont by Regina Maria Roche

Northpointe Chalet (Austen Series #4) by Debra White Smith

Film:

American Dreamer (1984)

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Northanger Abbey (1986)

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Northanger Abbey (2007)

Other:

Pup Fiction, Wishbone (1995)

Northanger Abbey Audiobook Narrated by Anna Massey

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Catherine Morland, go to You Put the Jedi in Pride & PreJEDIce

For more Mr. Tilney, go to Midnight in Austenland

Midnight in Austenland

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

So I know I said I wasn’t going to review one of Austen’s works as that isn’t really fair as I talk about her books all the time.

reading Jane Austen

But I never said anything about a retelling!

Go on...

Go on…

So I’m going to review my absolute favorite out of all the books I have read so far.

Austenland

Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

So I one day I was going through Goodreads and looking at if any authors I liked had published anything new. I really enjoyed reading Shannon Hale, and thought Austenland was pretty good except for a few things, so when I saw that she did a sequel I decided to check it out.

library

I got the book and started reading it…but then I couldn’t stop.

100pgs

I became so invested, I actually snuck it into my History of American Music class and read it instead of listening to the jazz music.

RealLifeVSBook

This book was AMAZING!!!!!

Iloveit love

It had Austen and mystery, both things I love!

Put my crime-solving cap on.

Putting on my crime-solving cap on.

I just adored every page of it and didn’t want it to end.

SadBookEndedfinishedover

So the book is a sequel, but you don’t have to read them together or in sequence. While the place they visit, Pembrook Park, is the same; the characters and story lines are new and different.

While the other book focused on Pride and Prejudice this one went more Northanger Abbey; something I appreciate as it just doesn’t get enough love.

Bruce-Almighty-Love-Me

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

Charlotte Constance Kinder is a nice woman. So nice no one thought she would live an interesting or adventurous life. But you know what Austen says about that.

adventures

Charlotte went to school, met a nice man named James, married him and had two kids; and then did the unexpected. She created a website, sold it for an outrageous profit, and started another one.

Wow

Wow

She bought nice things for her, her husband, their kids. Everything seemed fine, but then it turned out her husband was cheating on her and wanted to leave her for another woman.

heartbroken

Fast-forward, he is remarried and living with his new wife receiving alimony from Charlotte. And Charlotte is alone, left to pick up the pieces of her life.wantYoutoStay

She starts dating A LOT!. Anyone and everyone her friends and friends’ husbands toss her way; but nothing feels good or right.

hitonyourefuseyouareanonowayNo

Besides being worried about her own self and issues, she starts to worry about her daughter. Will she make all kinds of horrible mistakes, have “Daddy issues,” or go looking for love in all the wrong places?

Not good

Not good

She makes a really bad decision to have a private investigator follow her daughter’s boyfriend around, and even tries it herself; convinced that he is going to hurt her. After her daughter says she she doesn’t remember what it was like being her age, Charlotte decides that her daughter is right.

I'm crazy

I’m crazy

That Easter she goes home and digs through her old items that her mom saved and tries to look into her teenage mind. She finds a diary and on the first page is a list she made.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE I’M 30

  • Get married [✓]
  • Have a baby [✓✓]
  • Walk in high heels without wobbling [✓]
  • Climb Kilimanjaro…
  • Understand Physics [✓ish]
  • Help save the whales or other animals in danger [✓]
  • Read Jane Austen…?

Charlotte couldn’t remember why she wanted to read Jane Austen, but the next weekend the kids are with their father, and Charlotte devotes the weekend to reading

JaneAusten

And she reads and reads and reads. And before you know it, she is a hardcore fan.

AnatomyofaJaneite

And caught in the Austen cycle like us all.

austendisiilouisionmetcycle

Charlotte’s sister-in-law Shelby convinces her to take a vacation when the kids are with their dad for the summer. The only place Charlotte wants to go is into Austen’s books

escaperealityreadbooks

And luckily we have just the thing…Austenland.

heartPemberly

Yes, for a few weeks Charlotte will leave, breathe, and be Regency woman. And at the end of her time there is a big ball.

ball-in-emma-300x291

And possibly a proposal…

marrymeKnightly proposel28o7_250

Charlotte is sold on it, packs up her stuff, and flies out ready to dive into her fantasy.

Let'sdothis

As Charlotte is a “quality guest”, i.e. rich, she gets the best treatment and the gold standard in clothes, transportation, etc. Charlotte takes on the character “Mrs. Charlotte Cordial”, a widow with two kids. In this story, Charlotte doesn’t have to go it alone but has a “brother”, Edmund Grey.

northangerabbeyeleanorhenrytilney

Besides him there are two other ladies, Miss Elizabeth Charming (from the previous book) and Miss Lydia Gardenside. And then there are two other men who will come to call on them: Colonel Andrews and Mr. Thomas Mallery who is…

TallDarkBrooding

Charlotte meets the ladies and enjoys Miss Charming, but is shocked to see that Miss Gardenside is none other than the famous pop sensation, Alisha. What is she doing here?

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

So their days at Austenland begin and one of the reasons I like Charlotte better than Jane Hayes, the heroine of the last book, is that Charlotte embraces her love of Austen and goes full force into it.

the-grady-twinsPride&Prejudice Elizabeth Jane come play with us the shining

That day the Colonel has a surprise, they are going on a trip to an old crumbling abbey! What mysteries await them?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

As they journey in twos, the phaeton holds only that umber, with Charlotte with Mr. Mallery. Mr. Mallery is very intense and lives and breathes being the Regency gentleman. When two backpackers come upon them he isn’t threatening but so forceful that he causes the pair to run off like frightened rabbits.

And run fast

And run fast

When they reach the Abbey it turns out there us a dark tale that goes with the old ruins:

Three hundred years ago (~1520) the abbey was home to twenty-one nuns, an abbess, and one novice. They worked in the kitchen garden, growing healing herbs, kept goats and chickens; everything was peaceful until one January night.

shiver

The sisters made dinner as usual and sat down to eat. The abbess was getting older and not feeling well, so after she made the tea she blessed the meal and went to lie down. She rose an hour later to do chapel prayers, but found all the nuns dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The abbess went through trying to find one that was alive. There were no wounds on the body, but all’s pulses had ceased. All except Mary Francis, the novice.

The next morning, the abbess awoke to find that Mary Francis had cleaned up from dinner, and laid all the nuns out, covering them with blankets.

No one was ever hanged for the deaths…the bodies were buried, the abbey abandoned, and the abbess went to live with a niece and succumbed to dementia. But she was known to cry out: “Either she saw who did it or she did it herself.”

Mary Francis was an orphan and after the deaths wandered from house to house as a trying to work as a servant, but the suspicion around her past always pushed her on. Some believe ghosts still haunt the area….

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The last place she went she worked for a few years, and they say uncanny things happened. The place she worked? Pembroke Park.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At first they don’t believe the house is old enough for the story to be true, but Mr. Mallery corrects them. He is second cousin to the Wattlesbrooks and says that parts of the houses go back that far. Sadly he would have inherited the grand old house, but his grandfather lost it in a card game.

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

Colonel Andrews says that that isn’t the end of the story, he has an old text that they may read and reveal all.

I love it!

I love it!

Charlotte is enjoying Pembrooke Park because she doesn’t have the strain of having to do the work. As her “brother” Edmund pointed out, she is here to have fun and relax, Mr. Mallery and the others have to work to impress her. It is a nice feeling after all those blind dates and trying to put on a show that you are okay; all you have to be is yourself or your character and the others have to do the real work.

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The group has a picnic in which Colonel Andrews reads from the diary of Mrs. Kerchief, the housekeeper three hundred years ago, and supervisor of the newly arrived servant, Mary Francis.

(I’m just going to paraphrase as it would take to long to write word for word)

“Hired the new scullery maid, Mary. No one else will hire her because what happened. I don’t care what happened in her past as long as she is ready to work.

Coal is running low and they seem to be burning more and more these past weeks. Simon says that it is Mary, she bring the cold with her. Nonsense. Still…she sleeps in the room next to mine and at night I hear noises I have never heard before. It wakes me up”

Gilmore girls creep

Mr. Mallery “Regency” flirts with her and Charlotte finds herself surprisingly enjoying every minute of it.

When they return to the house, Miss Gardenside retires as she is suffering from “consumption” (is it really or something else? Maybe withdrawal?). Miss Charming and Charlotte are still psyched from the mystery and decide to search the house.

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However, the only thing they stumble upon is a maid dressing. No clues, no bodies, no nothing.

Before Divorce: When Charlotte first started her website it was just to be a hobby. She liked growing plants, she often helped others, and decides that it would be nice to have a place people could go for inexpensive custom residential landscaping. They weren’t as grand as those who would visit the place and see it, but her designs based off a questionnaire they answered were cheaper and still beautiful. People loved it. She had to hire employees, and revenue increased crazily, and she made her first million.

That night they are having dinner toasting to each other when who should walk in, Sir John.

That guy!

That guy!

This is the only thing that enhances if you read the previous book, but like I said it is not necessary. You quickly learn why we hate this guy. Sir John is Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s husband and he doesn’t care about the park or their home. All he does is drink, gamble, and take any of Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s money away. He also tries to hit on the women, and doesn’t take no for an answer. In the last book, they had to cart him off as he was causing problems.

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This time he goes by Mr. Wattlesbrook instead of Sir John, and is dressed in modern day clothing instead of Regency wear. It unsettles everyone, but Colonel Andrews tries to bring them back to 1820.

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That night they are interrupted of their sleep. As they go outside they see firetrucks and that Pembrooke Cottage, (the one Miss Amelia Heartwright stayed in, in the last book) has been burned. Mr. Wattlesbrook has no remorse even though he started the fire.

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Mr. Mallery has a bucket by his feet, as he was trying to put out the fires. He is furious that the cottage went as it was his inheritance. Now that is the character’s motivation, but he seems as if he is really upset, the man behind the character.

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The next day Charlotte continues her search of the house. She really has become invested in the mystery and wants to find clues.  After a finding nothing and a game of croquet, she goes to Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s office to call her children.

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This does not go well at all. Her daughter finds out she had hired a private detective to follow her boyfriend.

ouch Hermione

Her son doesn’t want to talk to her.

Not good

Not good

She finds out from Justice, the new wife, that her son called her mom.

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Not a good call at all.

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Charlotte decides to snoop through the office and discovers that Windy Nook and Bertram Hall properties were sold off, foreclosed, and contained a series list of debts. She sees the former casts and notices that Mr. Mallery used to be in all of them. Mrs. Wattlesbrook is a very smart businesswoman, so it is clear that the one who caused the trouble is Mr. Wattlesbrook.

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The next day rained all night and morning. The group play charades and a card game that involves running about.

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But after the men leave to do whatever they do, maybe a break room, the women are embroidering.

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They are interrupted by the return of Mr. Wattlesbrook, who once again is dressed in modern clothes and tries to get in with Charlotte.

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The men come and try to carry him off. Miss Charming thinks it is a part of the “experience”, but Charlotte doesn’t think that Mrs. Wattlesbrook would do such a “messy” plot.

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Hmm…

That night is stormy, spooky, gray…

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Just perfect for reading more about the mystery of the nuns, the diary of Mrs. Kerchief!

I hear sounds in Mary’s room at night. It sounds like a pacing or scraping. It is unnerving and I want to talk to her, but in the morning Mary Francis is so tired I can’t say a word. The girl Betsy who used to room with her took off and never came back to get her money. The cook says she feels a cold wind around her…

The lights go out and all they have are firelight. They decide to play a game called Bloody Murder, with Mrs. Wattlesbrook going off to bed.

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They decide to play the game: the murderer has to hide in the house somewhere, after a count of fifty the rest hunt him out. The first to discover the murderer shouts, “bloody murder”, and all run after him. After that they all run off, and the murderer chases them. If he catches them, they fall down and the last one to “die” is the next murderer.

They draw straws and the short one leads Mr. Mallery to be the murderer.

One of the characters I love is Charlotte’s “brother”, Edmund. He is just so fun and fantastic, a real Mr. Tilney.

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Charlotte finds Mr. Mallery and ends up being the only one who has been touched. Now she is the next murderer.

She doesn’t want to walk and go around the house on her own. She is extremely scared and as she roams the dark halls she accidentally goes into a secret room. As she is searching the room for a way out, she finds a person laying on a chaise. She goes to touch them, feels the hand…they are dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She goes running out and finds the group telling them everything. They don’t believe her and can’t find the room. Charlotte is so incredibly freaked out, that Miss Charming can see that she needs a little care and asks if she wants to sleep in her bed for comfort.

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The next day, she starts questioning people trying to find out who the dead person was. Eddie goes to help her and they find the room but nothing but a fencing foil.

They leave for breakfast and run into Mary, Charlotte’s maid. Mary is really strange, always jumpy, and acting weird.

strange things are afoot at the circle k

She tries to tell Mrs. Wattlesbrook about the dead body, but she doesn’t believe her. She thinks it is just part of a game.

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Charlotte deduces that the dead body must be Miss Gardenside’s nurse or Mr. Wattlesbrook as they are the only two missing; and that it must be a part of the Colonel Andrews mystery as no one seems to care.

Eddie, Edmund, doesn’t believe that the murder is real, but helps Charlotte investigate. He is hilarious and I just love him. Forget Mr. Mallery with his brooding, smirking is so much better.

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After Divorce: Justice, James’ mistress, sends Charlotte an invite, can you believe that? An invite!!!

Charlotte worries about how the divorce affects the kids but James doesn’t care. He says that 50% of marriage end in divorce. Here are statistics that matter to Charlotte.

-James saw the children 75% less than before

-He missed 85% of their afterschool woes

-He was absent for 99% of their family dinners

-100% of Charlotte’s marriage ended

That night they read the diary:

Mary and I were shelling peas. Mary has been here for three months and doesn’t seem as if she can settle down. All the other hands treat her horribly but all Mary does is pray. Why does she pray so much? For other or her own soul?

The next day Charlotte picks up her search with Eddie. They go back to the room, but find nothing but a glove, a washing dishes type of glove. Is that part of it?

suspicious Hmm

Charlotte drops it as she thinks it is nothing. Eddie picks up fencing foils and the two duel before lunch.

You're so cute

Even though everyone has forgotten the game, Charlotte still thinks that someone might be after her, but who?

Gilmore girls creep

The next day Charlotte goes riding with Mr. Mallery. They stop a while so Charlotte can call her kids, but no answer. She tries her husband, no answer. Charlotte spends the rest of the night worried about them and that something happened. The next day she finds out their phones were dead.

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The next day Charlotte decides to write her kids a letter. Eddie joins her and consoles her over her missing her kids. He shares about his daughter and that he misses her as he hardly gets to see her. They start writing and Charlotte wonders if Julia exists, but Eddie is writing a long letter to someone.

letter

After the letter writing, Eddie goes over the dances, as “their mother” was a dance instructor. They have such fun, with Mallery interrupts them. They go for a walk, but are found by Colonel Andrews who tells them he has a great passage for tonight.

Everyone is mean to Mary. They start chanting “What do you know of our Mary? Twenty-one nuns did she bury.” We were working outside when there was a howl and they saw something white and filmy, floating. It had a horrible screeching voice that shouted “Leave innocent Mary alone. The nuns cannot rest when folk stain Mary’s name with lies.” Mary was the only one who wasn’t afraid, but continued her work.

Right after they read that, they see a ghost outside!

GHostFantasia

They all run after it and try to find it, but the ghosts disappear.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

Charlotte is the only one who notices tire tracks on the ground, as if someone drove their car.

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The next morning, Charlotte takes Miss Charming and Miss Gardenside aside and tries to have them help her find the missing clue. They come across a painting of Saint Francis. Miss Charming spots it as a fake and they rip it open, finding a note written in lemon juice:

Among the dusty tomes stands

The work of the saint

And one girl’s confessions

Penned without constraints

They run to the library and find a book on St. Francis, in it is Mary’s tale. The nuns died accidentally. The abbess eyesight and memory was failing and she accidentally boiled yew, poisoning them.

OMG gasp

That answers one question, but what about everything else? What about the secomd mystery with the dead body? Then Charlotte gets a few more realizations:

  1. The Murderer approached the victim and had to lure them into that room, with an intent to kill.
  2. The victim was killed in a secret room and the body abandoned on the sofa, as whoever had to leave, and then return to move the body at a more convenient time.
  3. Charlotte finds the body in the room. The body was not smelly; so they were killed recently.
  4. Charlotte announces the find, but all claim to know zero about the room.
  5. Charlotte hears a thud in the middle of the night, below the secret room. Maybe someone tossed the body out the window?
  6. The next morning the body was gone.

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

Before Divorce: Late nights “working”, phone calls from unlisted numbers, caller hangups, James never touching her, James staying out of town but spotted by a friend, lingerie in the closet not her size…etc. It is easier to solve someone else’s mystery than your own. Sometimes we see only what we want to see.

They only have three more days, only three more days to solve the case. Charlotte sees that Mrs. Hatchet, Miss Gardenside’s nurse, has returns and deduces that Mr. Wattlesbrook must be the murdered one. She questions the men about the night they removed him and they say that they put him in a room out of the way as he was incredibly wasted, Edmund punched him after he spoke nastily about the women, and the next day he was gone.

suspicious Hmm

Later Charlotte looks after Miss Charming as she seems out of sorts. Miss Charming was unhappy thinking of her former husband. She had married and helped her husband build up the business into millions, as she was the brains of the operation. She found him with a salesclerk, divorced him, and took off with the staggering alimony. She’s been running as she can’t go home and and face that she was dumped.

Broken Heart

Afterwards, Charlotte decides that with the limited time left, she can’t be messing around. She has searched everywhere for the body and there is only one place left, She and Eddie, the Watson to her Sherlock, head to the pond. She goes swimming to see what it may hold and finds a car submerged.

OMG gasp

They convince Mrs. Wattlesbrook to call the police and it turns out that Mr. Wattlesbrook is dead. Now the question is, which one of the guests is a killer!

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Could Mrs. Wattlesbrook have done it? Eddie? Colonel Andrews? Thomas Mallery? Miss Charming? Miss Gardenside? One of the staff?

WhoDoneItMystery?whodunit

Charlotte realizes she doesn’t really know any of these people and any one of them could be a killer. And they may be after her next!

tumblr_dr.jekyllhydemirrorsneakupbehindscareaah!

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So I won’t reveal the ending, as it was amazing. Shannon Hale just did a fantastic job.

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And that through the rest of her trip Charlotte learns her own worthiness.

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And is able to pick up to the strong person she used to be.

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I also just loved Eddie and thought he was just an amazing character. A real Mr. Tilney!

find mr.tilney

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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 I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to Austenland

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Candy Girls

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more mysteries, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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As this is a book that goes to the past but is also modern, I thought the best carol would be What Child is This?

In 1865, William Chatterton Dix was an insurance company manager and became seriously ill. During this time he gave his life to Christ, writing this carol. He set it to the song Greensleeves which has been registered in 1580 by Richard Jones.

I have never been a fan of this song, I’m not sure why, until I heard the Josh Groban version, so that’s the one I went with.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted