Period Days are Reading Days

Ugh, I’m on my period:

No joke this enters my mind every month

And we women all know what that feels like:

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Being on your period is no fun at all, you don’t want to do anything.

Everything hurts, you hate everything, feel bad, etc. All you want to do is check out from life.

So the best thing to do is grab your blanket, ice cream:

Hot tea:

And a good book to read. After all:

Yep, there is no better way to ride out the storm of pain than with a good book

Period days are reading days.

For more period stories, go to Something’s Scratching at the Window

For more book posts, go to Hot Humid Days are Reading Days

For more Jane Smiley quotes, go to A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

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When You Don’t Want to Deal With Other’s Feelings

At least once in their life every body has had somebody like them who they don’t like back. I know I have had quite a few.

Usually the first thing I do is just play dumb to it.

Or I try to ignore it:

And of course try to make sure you aren’t alone together:

But then inevitable will happen. The feelings will be said and you will have to try and deal with them, whether you want to or not.

One time I had a guy tell me he liked me, and I told him…you know what:

And then the conversation went like this:

“Him: Did you hear what I said?

Me: Yes.

Him: We need to talk about this!

Me: Well we could be talking about pepperoni and sausage, but find then.”

Sometimes guys take the rejection/let’s just be friends well:

And other times they don’t:

But hey, that’s life.

For more on awkward situations with “feelings”, go to I Call A Do-Over

For more musings of me, go to T-I-E-R-D…Tired

I Started a Book Club

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So you all know how I enjoy reading:

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For years I’ve been trying to start a book club. I thought about doing one where we read a book, than watch the film version:

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But did that happen?

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Then I wanted to do a Jane Austen book club, where we read the books and the adaptations.

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But did I do that?

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Then I thought about doing a book club where we read the book and then do something like in the book; in essence “living” the book or acting it out. Like in Daring Chloe

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But did I do that?

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So finally I started one, but this one is simple. We read one book a month, each member having a month where they choose the book (any type), and then we meet and discuss it with good food.

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I don’t know how it will turn out, but if we make it to next year I’m planning on choosing Northanger Abbey or Persuasion to honor their 100th anniversaries.

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Right now the book we are reading is The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. I’ll post after our meeting to see how it turns out!

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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.

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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.

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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

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

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

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about this book. However, as I was trying to think of books I like that were originally in another language, I couldn’t think of anything but this book and Jules Verne’s novels.

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I already reviewed two Verne books, so with nothing else coming to mind, I decided to review The Phantom of the Opera.

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Gaston Leroux studied to be a lawyer, but when his father died, he found himself a millionaire. He immediately quit school and went on a big spending/gambling spree losing everything.

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Afterwards, he began to work for a newspaper, doubling as a court reporter and a drama critic. As he toured the opera, ballets, plays, etc.; and heard different stories about what went on in the theaters, it gave him an idea.

ooh!

With that he published The Phantom of the Opera as a serial from 1909-1910, being translated and published in English in 1911. The story is told from the viewpoint of an interviewer as he researches his subject and tries to tell the history of this Phantom.

Phantom of the Opera

Growing up I just loved this book so much. I used to check out the children’s version again and again; graduating to the unabridged when I grew older.

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So here I am going to do a slightly different post, I am going to focus on one character: the Phantom.

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I just love him:

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Erik is a wanderer. After being hurt by so many he no longer considers him as having an nationality or family.

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His pain originates from when he was a child and his own parents were too disgusted to see his “true form.”

“When my own father never saw me and when my mother, so as not to see me, made me a present of my first mask.” (pg. 130)

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

He is so often used to being considered as death, that he has even prepared him room as such. All in black and even sleeps in a coffin. How sad is that? Poor guy!

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But even in that ugliness and sadness there is beauty. He is a musical genius with a voice like no other.

“He heard a very captivating voice…Raoul had never heard anything more absolutely and heroically sweet, more gloriously insidious, more delicate, more powerful, in short, more irresistibly triumphant…nothing could describe the passion with which the voice sang…” (pg. 98)

Erik is very intelligent and has done many things before coming to the opera house and meeting Christine.

“You must not think, Raoul, that he [Erik] is simply a man who amuses himself by living underground. He does things that no man could do; he knows things which nobody in the world knows.” (pg. 135)

I mean he built THAT opera house and created numerous trap doors, spring sets, his own secret underground home. And that’s not the only thing he has created. He built palaces for Sultans and Kings; but always being betrayed by them as they want him dead so that they alone can posses his genius.

right in the feels broken heart

One day the Phantom comes upon Christine and decides to help assist her to become a fantastic singer.

“From that time onward, the voice and I became great friends.” (pg. 116)

They spend years together as the Phantom puts his all into teaching her and helping her. Then one day Christine spots Raoul and tells the phantom all about seeing him. And the voice disappears. Christine is anxious and scared. She knows she is nothing without him, she will shrivel up into a has-been.

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The next day the Phantom comes and tells her he has to leave her.

“The voice was there, spoke to me with great sadness and told me plainly that, if I must bestow my heart on earth, there was nothing for the voice to do but go back to heaven.” (pg. 117)

You see, no threats. No harsh words. The Phantom would have simply backed off if she loved another. He would be heartbroken, but that would be the end of it. Except…

“I swore to the voice that you were no more than a brother to me nor ever would be and that my heart was incapable of any earthly love.” (pg. 117)

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You see that!!!! You see that!!! She purposely leads on the Phantom because she just wants to use him. She doesn’t love him, she doesn’t care for him, as she has stated before:

“[to Raoul] And that, dear, first revealed to me that I loved you.” (pg. 117)

you're evil

She knew, but she had a good thing and didn’t want to see it disappear. Now she tells Raoul that she “lied only because she thought she had no chance with Raoul.” But is that even the truth? She already admitted to playing the Phantom, she’s probably playing Raoul too. He’s rich and interested, and now she’s going to play the little helpless victim to catch him.

hate her

So you know what, I never feel sorry for her. She created this whole mess as she only cared about herself and not what her false declarations did to people. She almost kills hundreds because of her selfishness. I feel bad for the Phantom. Poor guy, who is completely crushed by her. He picked the wrong woman.

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Then the Phantom carries her off underground into his home.

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Now I admit, his carrying her off wasn’t the right thing to do. He should have asked her instead of just carrying her like that. But what does he do next? He confesses that he isn’t an angel or teacher but that he is the Phantom of the Opera, its architect, etc.

“He [Erik] feels me with horror and I do not hate him. How can I hate him Raoul? Think of Erik at my feet…he accuses himself, he curses himself, he implores my forgiveness!…He loves me! He lays at my feet an immense and tragic love…He has carried me off for love!” (pg. 125)

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He treats her wonderfully. He respects her as a thing of beauty and doesn’t harm her or touch her. And when she is upset and wants to leave?

“And, when I stood up, Raoul, and told him that I could only despise him if he did not, then and there, give me my liberty…he offered it…” (pg. 125)

See he isn’t a crazy killer or psychotic (yet). He loves her and respects her wishes. She’s the viper, she’s evil as she chooses to stay there even though she doesn’t love him, she just wants to use him.

“For he sang. And I listened…and stayed!” (pg. 125)

She falls asleep and then wakes up in a whole different room, properly freaked. BUT then spots a note left to her by the Phantom.

“My dear Christine, you need have no concern as to your fate. You have no better nor more respectful friend in the world than myself.” (pg. 126)

He just let her alone, as he sees her as the kindest and most divine woman; respecting her. He also purchases tons of things for her in order to make the place truly home.

How sweet!

How sweet!

But Christine is not happy. She wants out. She is angry with the Phantom, even though he has given her everything! All she wants is to see his face as “no honest man would wear a mask.” But that is the one place Erik won’t give.

No thank youhowaboutno

Then Erik mentions how most of her time with him will be musical practice. She is angry as he wants her to stay five days, then he will let her go again as she will either love him (hope) or pity him. But Christine is now upset that he won’t let her go now, but hey he offered you before.

She cannot make up her mind.

She cannot make up her mind.

The real issue Christine has with the Phantom is his skull-like face. This is what breaks her and makes her horrified and disgusted. She can’t leave well enough alone, and asks him to play for her, plotting her deception. When he is too worked up in the music she snatches the mask off.

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Now she thinks he is disgusting, and here is where he makes his first incredibly bad decision.

big mistake

He tells Christine that he can’t let her go. He knows that she sees him only as a monster, and if returned to the surface would tell others of the “monster”, causing them to be riled up, create a mob, and set out to kill him.

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Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Christine, the little actress she is, starts playing to the areas he has been insecure. She tells him that he is genius, his music causes her to forget his looks. She even burns his mask to symbolize that she is “above” such things. In reality she is playing him  from every angle, earning his trust so that he is willing to believe she actually loves him and won’t harm him. Letting her go.

you're evil

Christine acts as if he is a true monster, but the Phantom has a compassionate heart. She asks if she can pretend to “be engaged”, playacting, with Raoul and the Phantom agrees.

“He said, ‘I trust you, Christine. M. de Chagny [Raoul] is in love with you and going abroad. Before he goes, I want him to be as happy as I am.” (pg. 134)

How can someone be unfeeling when they consider what their arch rival’s feelings?

How sweet!

How sweet!

Eventually, the Phantom figures out the truth, that this was all a set up and steals Christine away; that final act of betrayal being the straw that broke the camels back.

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I mean he really believed that someone had fallen in love with him.

“It is my wish…my wish to let her go; and she will come again…for she loves me!…All this will end in marriage…” (pg. 206)

He thinks his dream and true love is in his grasp!

“…Now I want to live like everybody else. I want a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody…All I have ever wanted was to be loved for myself…” (214)

The thing I really hate about the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is how the changed the relationship between Christine and the Phantom with her thinking if him as her father and making Raoul less of the pansy he was. But most of all they make the Phantom a total psychi and murderer. He doesn’t really kill people in the book, unless it is for self-preservation. We only witness three: two were out trying to get him, and the third he accidentally kills Raoul’s brother, who when searching for him falls into a trap. The Phantom really regrets having killed him. And he also does bring the chandelier down, which injures and kills. How many, we don’t know.

Phantom of the Opera chandelier

He then gives Christina an option. She can choose Raoul and the Opera house will be blown up (as Erik has hidden dynamite under the floor when he built it) or she can choose him and save everyone. I have to admit that forcing her to choose marrying him was not right or what she should do, but people who have been betrayed often do not think logically but just want to heart the person who hurt them.

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But in the end he let’s Christine go, because she finally gave him the one thing he has most wanted: companionship and love:

“I tell you I kissed her just like that, on her forehead…and she did not draw back her forehead from my lips! (pg. 247)

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Poor Erik!

“Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be “some one,” like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must pity the opera ghost.” (pg. 259)

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

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 I think what resonates the most with this story is how relatable the Phantom was. Who of us hasn’t at one time hated how we looked?

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Had our heart broken:

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Been betrayed by someone we thought cared about us?

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Or felt we hadn’t received the recognition we deserved?

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What else can I say?

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Why yes I do!

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Starting in 2015, I decided to dress up “Jane Austen” in Halloween costumes. Check her out as the Bride of Frankenstein.

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Stupid Not to Read Jane Austen Quote

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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 Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to How to Meet the Perfect Guy

For more on Gaston Leroux, go to Fantom of the Opera

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Silverstein, go to The End by Silverstein

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Today’s carol is The First White Christmas from the claymation, The First Christmas:The Story of the First Christmas Snow.

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I couldn’t find any info on the song, but they play it in the opening and ending credits. I always thought it was cute, and it tends to get stuck in my head.

I couldn’t find a video unfortunately, or a good link to watch the film (as they took down the best one).

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For more on The First Christmas:The Story of the First Christmas Snow, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

For more Christmas Carols, go to She Struck Him as a Fixer-Upper, a Block of Clay Ready for Pygmalion’s Chisel: The Overnight Socialite

So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 1852 this book was published and created a phenomena. It became the highest selling book of the 19th century, just behind the Bible. The first year it sold over 300,000 copies in the United States and three years later over a million in the U.K.

keanu Whoa

This book is credited with, like The Jungle, being a revolutionary change in the actual world.

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In fact the political change they believe it started, was the helping bring about more awareness of slavery in the South and promoting abolitionism that sparked the Civil War.

Wow

Wow

In fact, Stowe’s family claims that when Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln, he greeted her with “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Whether or not this is true has been disputed for years with no one really certain whether it happened or not.

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Stowe was the daughter of minister Lyman Beecher, and wrote this novel to depict slavery, along with showing Christianity and being an allegory of Christ.

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I started reading this book when I was going down a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. As I borrowed the book from the library my mom spotted it and said she loved the book, it was one of her favorites.

I wasn’t thrilled to read it at first as I had heard it was a “bad book”, you know making fun of those of African-American descent.

I don't know...

I don’t know…

I started reading it and became sucked in:

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I was surprised as it was AMAZING! I couldn’t understand why people hated it. It was fantasticly written and such a great story.

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So many people today view the novel negatively; the way it uses “sentiment” to pull at heart strings, how all the slaves “had” to be helped by white men and women, and the fact that Tom never ran away but chose to honor the “contract” of his masters.

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But what they fail to see is that it is a powerful story, has some truly great African and white characters, and that Tom is supposed to represent Christ and the things he went through to save our souls.

Wow

Wow

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So the book focuses on six main characters: Tom (called Uncle Tom by others), Eliza, Augustine St. Clare, Eva St. Claire, Ophelia, and Cassey; and their views, interactions, and how they are changed or shaped by slavery.

Tom is a strong, middle aged, African-American slave. He is also a devout Christian and tries to embody the scriptures and live his life for the Lord.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” 1 Timothy 6:1

Tom has been a part of the Shelby family for a long time, and has a family and children. As Tom knows how to read, his cabin is the place for the other slaves to go and hear about Christ along with getting individual instructions. George Shelby is the young “master” of the house and spends all his time with his “Uncle Tom”. In fact Tom is more of a father to him then his own father, and also his religious instructor.

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However, the Shelby’s have debts and they have to sell somethings…or in this case some people. They choose Tom as his height and strength will get a lot and we have the incredible sadness of seeing a family torn apart because of an archaic principle.

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Another slave, Mrs. Shelby’s maid, Eliza is married to a slave from another plantation. After a series of miscarriages, the two were finally able to give birth to a boy, Harry. While the Shelbys are a kind people, George’s master is cruel and he can’t stand it anymore.

“My master! and who made him my master? That’s what I think of–what right has he to me? I’m a man as much as he is. I’m a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,–and I’ve learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,–I’ve learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?–to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do…he puts me to just the hardest, meanest, and dirtiest work, on purpose!”

George decides to flee to Canada, earn enough money, and then return to purchase his wife and son. After he takes off, Eliza gets the news that she will be sold as well to pay the debts.

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Afraid to be separated from her child, she too tries to take the long road to freedom.

Not good

As Tom is taken away, George vows to one day buy his friend back and free him.

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Tom is sold to a trader and being transported on a riverboat when he spots a little girl, Eva St. Clare. He misses his own children, so he begins amuses her, and she begs her father to buy him. Augustine St. Clare loves his little girl and gives in to her every whim. He buys Tom and takes him to his plantation.

Here Tom and Eva share their love of Christ as they both have a strong faith and relationship with the Lord. We also meet St. Clare’s sister Ophelia, who is from the North, who has moved to help take care of the house. Now here we have a great critique on the North’s treatment of African Americans. Ophelia is an aggressive abolitionist, constantly lecturing St. Clare and talking about the evils of slavery, yet she can’t stand to be around those of African-American descent. She is a complete racist, but can’t even admit it to herself.

“Well!” said Miss Ophelia, “you southern children can do something that I couldn’t.”
“What, now, pray?” said St. Clare.
“Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn’t have anything hurt; but as to kissing – ”
“N*****,” said St. Clare, “that you’re not up to, – hey?”
“Yes, that’s it. How can she?”

St. Clare, tired of her constant lecturing, buys her a slave girl, Topsy, and bets she won’t be able to help her. At first Ophelia does poorly, having to instead be lead by Eva in showing kindness.

one word kind change day

Eva and Topsy become best of friends, even though they “should” be separated buy race and class, it doesn’t matter to Eva as all she sees is someone who needs love.

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Augustine is another interesting character as he isn’t a fan of slavery, but won’t do anything. He sees the way Christianity is, how his daughter lives but won’t commit to it. He is supposed to represent the people who were against slavery but never took a stand against it, waiting for future people to decide or others to fight. When his daughter dies, he is utterly heartbroken.

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He promised Eva on her deathbed to release the slaves and become an abolitionist for his daughter, but waits too long and is killed before he can do it.

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Meanwhile, Eliza has been running for her life and from slave catchers, and she actually manages to find her husband. After they go through horrible hardships they manage to make it to Canada and freedom.

Tom is sold by St. Clare’s wife, while Ophelia returns to the North with Topsy, taking what she learned with her, as Topsy does the same.

Tom is sold again, this time to the incredibly cruel owner Simon Legree. He rapes and beats his slaves. He begins to hate Tom and treat him in unspeakable ways. He has a slave, Cassy, who is his unwilling mistress. He has stolen her children from her and sold them, beat her, and just given her a horrible life. She is bitter and in pain.

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She is a quadroon, one quarter black, so she has a strange place in society. She is better educated than most, but is a sex slave, representing the harsh lives of female slaves and how they are at the whim of their master more than the men. Simon is planning on replacing Cassy with a young girl he just bought, Emmiline.

One day as they are picking cotton, Tom sees a woman struggling to fill her sack and looking at horribly beaten or worse. He helps her, aided by Cassy, and is then ordered to whip the women by Legree. When Tom refuses, Legree whips him and Tom has earned a permanent spot on his hit list.

This movie

Tom’s pain makes him consider turning back on his faith, but he sees a vision and remains true.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

Cassy knows the life that Emmeline will have and decides to run away with her. When Simon finds them gone he tries to beat the answer out of Tom, but he will not reveal anything. He is so horribly treated that he begins to die.

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George arrives to buy him, but is too late. He fights with Simon and takes Tom’s body, giving him a proper burial.

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

Cassy and Emmeline reach Canada and find themselves with George Harris and Eliza. It turns out that Eliza is Cassy’s daughter, and the two are finally reunited.

Double double yay

In the end George goes home and decides to honor Tom and free all his slaves:

“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it is possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”

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So this story is an amazing thing. Why would people call it horrible?

Why not?

Why?

Well what I personally feel has caused this shift from honoring Uncle Tom and all the other characters to having their names now be used as derogatory terms was the over-popularity of the novel.

Say What

As this book became so sought after and was selling millions of copies; everyone wanted a piece of the pie; but when there such a wide amount of people madly grabbing to make their fortunes, they tend to forget about what the book actually stood for and was trying to change. Plays and films were being made based on the story, but instead of honoring and revealing the social issues that Harriet Beecher Stowe was writing about, these pieces became all about entertainment and cheap laughs. No longer are we shown the characters going through different trials to reveal the hypocrisies and social injustices of the time, but instead are given pure comedy or in extreme cases sexual innuendo.

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Too few people actually read the novel and understood how the characters and situations can be easily relatable.

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Uncle Tom is more than a slave toiling in the United States waiting for his freedom, but is a figurehead for any oppressed people. As David Reynolds writes in his book, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Fight for America, Tom easily connected to the Russian serfs; the Chinese peasants, the Chinese immigrants in America, Jews all over the world, black slaves in Brazil, black slaves in Cuba, etc. Tom’s passive resistance to Simon Legree, as he does not listen to Legree’s warning but continues to stand up for what he believes in and aids Cassy, and Emmeline; can even connect to passive resistance done by Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the South, and Cesar Chavez here in California. While the unjust situations may never be the same as those that Tom or the other slaves faced, wherever trouble arises and people are suffering Uncle Tom is there struggling alongside and encouraging the oppressed that everything will be alright in the end.

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Another way that Tom’s character is still so relatable and present in today’s time is how loving and willing he is to protect others. Tom lives by the mantra “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”; causing him to be the type of person we all want to be. The way Tom lays down his life so that the rest of the Shelby slaves could be spared and in the end dying to protect Cassy and Emmeline; is behavior we all admire and hope would imitate in such situations; as no one wants to imagine themselves being a Sambo or Quimbo character; betraying their fellow man to protect their own interests. We all recognize the value and honor of self-sacrifice for a person or a cause.

In Stowe’s novel she hit upon so many issues, and attempted (and in some cases succeeded) in trying to make a difference in how African-Americans were treated. While she did not completely change the way the United States worked, or resolved every issue; her novel did bring awareness and start people talking and thinking about abolition, integration, education, religion, politics, etc. This initial jolt eventually set America on a path to striving for change.

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

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For more Harriet Beecher Stowe, go to If It Means A Lot to You

For more on the Civil War, go to Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

For more Frank Peretti, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

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Today’s song is O Holy Night. In 1843 Roquemaure, France; the church organ was renovated. The priest asked wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the event. Four years later it was turned into a Christmas carol by compser, Adolphe Adam.

In 1855, minister John Sullivan Dwight translated and created the version that most sing today.

I choose the version by Josh Groban.

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For more Josh Groban, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Christmas Carols, 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

I Finally Read Moby-Dick

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

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Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

So reading lists. It feels like they will never end.

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And every time I read a book, it feels as if I add ten more.

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To help keep track of that, I have a Goodreads account and I try and work through it. But then I have another problem:

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Yes, so even though I have too many books that I own and haven’t read; and too many on my to-read list, I keep getting more.

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My shelves are stuffed:

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And I have boxes full of them everywhere:

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So I tried to figure out what book to review, and settled on Moby-Dick. 

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Moby-Dick or The Whale was published by Herman Melville in 1851. At the time it wasn’t received, and by the time of his death the book was out of print and hadn’t generated that much money.

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However, readers are fickle and in the 20th century, the book became so popular it was given the title of one of the Great American Novels. William Faulkner was known to have wished he was the one who wrote it and D. H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”, and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.”

Wow

Wow

I had started The Great Illustrated Classic version when I was much younger, but never finished the book. I had to return it to the library and I’m not sure why I didn’t recheck it out, but I never read, or finished reading it, ever again.

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This book has been on my to-read list since I’ve joined Goodreads, and my friend even gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday, but I had still not read it. Leaving it buried under all the other to-read books.

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But this year I decided to read it!

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So what did I think after all this time?

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I didn’t like it.

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I know, I feel horrible for even uttering those words…

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But it is the truth.

It's how I feel.

It’s how I feel.

So let’s go over what the story is about, and then I will share why I didn’t like it.

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Plot Synopsis:

Ishmael signs up to a whaling ship, having to share his room with a Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg. At first Ishmael is afraid of him, but the two end up becoming extremely good friends.

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The ship they go on is the Pequod, which is led by Captain Ahab. Now Captain Ahab has lost his leg to a mighty white whale, Moby-Dick, and he is incensed with revenge, planning on finding him and killing him on their journeys.

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The ship sails, and while the crew hunt for the whales to bring back their blubber; Ishmael shares his philosophies of whaling, his idea of the British, the different whales they meet, etc. The novel ends in a bitter battle as Ahab finds his prey; but will he be able to destroy it or just himself?

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So Why Didn’t I Like It?

The biggest problem for me is that this novel is a little bit of everything and moves from topic to topic instead of being one concise story. I mean Ishmael’s thoughts seem to wander everywhere as he will switch from the adventure on the whale ship to his thoughts of religion, how the color white is evil, that the British snootily look down on the Americans but need them, etc. This random philosophizing I could definitely do without, especially as there is no segway but a real rattling on.

Blah, blah

Blah, blah

I mean I really enjoyed the adventures in whaling and anything with Captain Ahab, I thought he was a great character, but sadly there wasn’t more of him.

Why not?

Why not?

What also struck me was how hard Melville was trying to make a “great American novel.” We know people from England looked down at America at this time, and you can see how hard Melville is trying to prove that American writers are just on par as the British.

“But where this superioty in the English whalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say, seeing that the Yankees in one day, collectively, kill more whales than all the English, collectively, in ten years.”

Yeah, I don’t think he is just talking about whales, it seems there is a deeper meaning under there…

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So I didn’t really care for it, but at least I finally read it! Now I can cross it off my list and move onto the next item.

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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 Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

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

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Today I choose the Christmas Carol, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It was written by Pastor Edmund Sears in 1849. At the time he was depressed and saddened by the war with Mexico and the strife that hung in the air. His friend, Pastor William Parsons Lunt, asked him to write a poem and this was what Sears came up with.

A year later, composer Richard Storrs Willis, wrote the music that the poem goes with.

I choose the version done by Celtic Woman as they are a fantastic group.

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For more Celtic Woman, go to You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

For more Christmas Carols, go to Midnight in Austenland

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

A Book Only a Reader Could Write

So I wanted to publish this post yesterday, but my computer and I weren’t on the best speaking terms. We have since resolved that issue.

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And the computer has since then come along to my way of thinking. So sorry if I’m a day behind, but better late than never!

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Some books you read and you just know that there was no way this book could ever exist unless the author grew up as a huge fan of reading.

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Such as Matilda by Roald Dahl. Only someone who grew up reading could create a character that gave a voice to all us bibliophiles out there.

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Or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Only someone who truly loved to read could create the most dismal future, a time when books are outlawed and destroyed. The book is full of glimpses into what might actually happen, unless we take the time to read and value the thoughts and creations found between the pages.

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Well The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, is definitely one of those books.

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The book was first published in 1979 and then translated into English in 1983. As this is it anniversary, thankfully pointed out by Google, I thought it deserved no less than a post by me.

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The story was such a big part of my childhood, with book and film.

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So the book begins with young Bastian Balthazar Bux; a shy, awkward, introvert:

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Who has been grieving over the loss of his mother and feels disconnected from his father.

Aw, man.

Aw.

He doesn’t really have any friends and is bullied at school. The one thing that Bastian does have is his books.

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With their help he is able to escape reality:

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And here is reason number one why this book is awesome and proof, author Ende must have been a reader; he just understands us so well. I mean even today I still like to escape my reality with a good book:

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Anyways, so Bastian is being chased by bullies when he runs into a bookstore owned by Carl Conrad Coreander. While hiding out, he spots the book The Neverending Story.

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Bastian just has to have the book, but the ornery shop owner doesn’t seem interested in the idea of selling, and such a book that would be far too expensive. So Bastian does something he has never done before, he steals it.

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He runs up to school, deciding to hide away in the attic, reading the story and being thrust into the world of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film).

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Fantastica is falling apart. The dark nothing is destroying it, piece by piece until it will fade away and there will be nothing left. Only one thing can save them; the childlike empress has chosen Atreyu, a native of the plains, to search throughout Fantastica to discover what can be done. As Bastian reads, he becomes more and more involved with the characters. So wrapped up in the book he stays throughout all his periods, in the cold, all the while starving.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

But that’s silly. They aren’t real people.

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But yet, the characters do seem real. And it almost seems as if they know he exists and is part of the journey with them.

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When Atreyu is traveling he hears what the salvation of Fantastica is:

Born of the Word, the children of man,

Or humans, as they’re sometimes called,

Have had the gift of giving names

Ever since the worlds began,

In every age it’s they who gave

The Childlike Empress life,

For wondrous new names have the power to save.

But now for many and many a day,

No human has visited Fantastica,

For they no longer know the way.

They have forgotten how real we are,

They don’t believe in us anymore.

Oh, if only one child of man would come,

Oh, then at last the thing would be done.”

But where to find such a human child?

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Atreyu continues on his journeys, getting help from Falkor, the luck dragon.

One of the best parts of the book, at least I think so, is when Atreyu faces Gmork, the werewolf. Gmork has become an agent of the Nothing, trying to destroy Fantastica and along with it the human world. Without Fantastica, the world is filled with lies instead of truth, despair instead of hope, destruction instead of creation; pretty much containing nothing.

I love this part as it shows why stories and books are so important. They help us create, they give us hope, dreams, ideas, etc. We need stories, we need hope, we need it as much as we need life.

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And we need to start reading at a young age; so we can have the foundations to fight against all the darkness we will face as we grew older.

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So Atreyu returns to the Empress, defeated. He has no way to stop the nothing. He has failed.

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But the empress is not upset at all. In fact, she says that Atreyu has fulfilled his mission. He has brought a human child here through all his adventures. And she is talking about Bastian!

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The reader has been called into the story? And not just called, but the hero! How cool is that! And how awesome if that could happen. Can you just imagine if the characters started talking to you in the middle of your favorite story?

So cool, I want it to be true.

So cool, I want it to be true.

This is my favorite part of the book, the second half isn’t as strong (in my opinion) as the first half. But still one great book.

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The movie was just as amazing. Now they did make changes, but I thought it kept the soul and heart of the book. I used to watch it over and over.

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Even now I cannot think or say the words “Neverending Story” without singing them like in the film’s song.

I recently showed the film to my niece and realized I am not only like Bastian, but Coreander. Yes, I have the soul of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like the youth’s fascination with technology rather than books.

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The rest of the story is just as beautiful, fascinating, adventurous, and powerful. And don’t forget the end of the film when the childlike Empress is talking right to you.  Shivers run up and down my spine, it is so good.

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I mean I feel like she is talking right to me!

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The other movies I didn’t really enjoy, but that first one was a true winner.

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So there you have it. One amazing book that I am glad existed to become a part of my childhood, in both print and on the screen.

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And you can bet your boots I will most definitely be checking out the film Sunday when they rerelease it in theaters. Don’t worry childlike Empress, Fantastic/Fantasia will always exist as long as I am alive!

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For more on The Neverending Story, go to The Neverending Story

For more anniversary posts, go to Here’s to Another Year

For more book-filled posts, go to A World of Teas

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For more Roald Dahl, go to We Shall Rule the World!

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Ernest Hemingway, go to Fiction or Reality? I Choose Fiction

For more Markus Zusak, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more Richard Marek, go to Crazy Book Lady

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:

blanceTea&Books

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For more on tea, go to My Trip to Teavana

For more book-filled posts, go to Post Approved