A letter to Jane Austen, on the 200th anniversary of her death

Dear Miss Austen,

I hope you will forgive my tardiness in writing to you. This week’s business caught me unawares. I’m sure you will forgive me when I tell you I was tending a library.

I feel the need to mark this occasion, though it is a sad one. You have been such a tremendous friend to me and to millions of others, and though I wasn’t a thought in anyone’s mind when your funeral was held 200 years ago, I will eulogize you now.

Though I never did and never could meet you when you were alive, I feel as though I know you through your stories. My mother bought me Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was thirteen. I received the rest of your books for my subsequent birthday. It took me a while (I am a terribly slow reader when it comes to the classics), but I grew to love your stories and, through them, you. In your works, I found ladies who understand what it’s like to deal with the challenges of growing up, of finding love and losing it, and of learning how to go after your desires. These ladies quickly became friends and role models. I still aspire to be as selfless as Anne Elliot, as witty as Lizzie, and as determined as Emma.

In your stories, I also found something that I didn’t know I was looking for. I discovered the sense of human continuity that only stories can bring, the knowledge that though people’s circumstances and social and political climates change, human nature remains the same. It is so lovely to pick up a book and read that a heroine from two hundred years ago had the same hopes and fears that a somewhat awkward heroine, such as myself, now has. That sense of continuity, of belonging not just to my time and place, but to a greater family called humanity, is such a gift. And you gave that to me and I’ll always be thankful.

Miss Austen, you worked so hard and received so little success during your brief time on this earth. But I am happy to tell you that things have changed. Women can now be and are recognized as great writers and contributors and storytellers. You helped pave the way for the rest of us and I can never thank you enough for that as well. Your determination in continuing to put pen to paper has helped me and so many others take up our own pens and write our own stories. Your struggles have borne much fruit. I hope that you know that and that you are proud of all of us.

God rest you gently, Miss Austen. May your stories and your legacy always live on.

Infinities of love,

Elizabeth

Four-sentence book reviews #2

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a great day! I recently counted up the books I’ve read so far this year and I’ve already read more books than it took me all of last year to read. So I thought I’d write more four-sentence reviews.

1. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Peregrine, or Perry for short, fights to earn her parents’ affection by being the model of a Latki warrior maid, though she ultimately cannot, for reasons she cannot expect. As you may remember, the book this is a prequel to, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, is one of my favorites and I was thrilled to return to this world. This is an incredibly faithful prequel and it was absolutely fascinating to see the origins of Bamarrian society and its traditions. Wonderful characters and a thrilling story, this is definitely one middle-grade story you don’t want to miss!

Lost Kingdom

Credited to goodreads.

2. Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly.

This story looks at the time Belle was entrapped by the Beast, their friendship, and an escape she finds through a book in the castle’s library, which contains a story that seems deceptively perfect. As much as I love the story of Beauty and the Beast, I’ve never thought about the time where they lived together in the castle and this book is an interesting window into that time. Belle and the crew are well thought-out and portrayed very well. This book was released by Disney in conjunction with the remake of the 1991 film that came out in March, but Donnelly takes the story and the characters and makes it completely her own.

3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Isn’t this cover gorgeous? It’s even better in person. Credited to goodreads.

Orphan Lazlo Strange has always dreamed of the famed city that has come to be known only as Weep and, when a band of strangers from Weep come to town, he has the opportunity to make that dream come true. This is my first foray into Laini Taylor’s writing and what a foray it was. I just finished reading it this morning and all I can say is that the characters, the writing, and the world are all so well-developed that it makes me green with envy. If you think the world of YA fantasy is full of unreadable drek, then read this book and prepare to enter a dream.

 

4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

This is the beginning of the Chronicles of Narnia series, need I say more? Learning how Narnia was formed and getting to see Digory and Polly go on adventure after adventure was just wonderful. I’d never read this before and all I wanted to do was go back in time and thrust it into the hands of didn’t-like-to-read-eight-year-old-me. Truly a great start to a series that deserves its classic status.

That is all for now, loves! In slightly related news, the first round of revisions are soon to commence on my book, which I am both excited and slightly terrified for. I will probably be writing about that at some point, but I am wondering, is there a specific part of the revision process you would like me to talk about? Or any part of the writing process, really? Let me know and I’ll do my best for you! Thanks for reading and I will see ya’ll soon.

A wee little story

Ahoy, everyone. Today’s post is just a tiny one to tell you that I’ve got a new story out! The marvelous folks at 101 Words published one of my stories and you can read it here. Theirs is a fantastic website full of amazing, bite-sized stories. A huge thank you to them for publishing a story about a struggle of mine.

Do let me know what you think about it! I will see ya’ll soon!

2016 Reading round-up

Hello, everyone! So it’s almost 2017 and like many, I am reflecting on this year and all it has had in store for me. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting on the reading I’ve done this year. It’s been a bit uneven. I began this year reading more canonical, more academic, and theological works for the first few months of the year. I barely read for fun, yet a few days after I returned home after graduating from college, I began binge reading novels to my heart’s content. Then, toward the end of the summer, I didn’t really want to read much of anything, though I continued to read now and then. Regardless of its ups and downs, 2016 was a pretty good reading year all around. I managed to read a tidy total of 25 books. I thought I’d share my thoughts about some of those books in a question and answer format. Let’s get to it.

1.Which of the books you read this year was the biggest disappointment?

This one is fairly easy. It’s And I Darken by Kiersten White. I read this a little over a month after it came out and while I initially enjoyed it since the story started off really well, it quickly grew slower in terms of pace. It’s basically a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler story. The characters were incredibly complex and interesting and were the only reason I made myself push through my reluctant reading feelings and finish the book. Maybe it’s because I don’t know that much about Vlad the Impaler, I don’t know. It had some wonderful elements and could have been a truly fantastic book if it was paced a little bit better. Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, it was still an okay read.

2. Most unusual book you read this year?

That would have to be To Stay Alive by Skila Brown. It’s a novel written in verse about the Donner Party’s tragic journey west in 1846. Let me just reiterate that. It’s a novel written in verse. About the Donner Party. I just finished this novel today and while I’m fairly sure it’ll be the last one I finish this year, I will definitely be thinking about it well into 2017. It tells the story of Mary Ann Graves, who’s 17 when her family sets out to settle in California. I can’t really say more than that without spoiling anything. It’s a gut-wrenching, gripping read where the land they traverse becomes a character in and of itself that challenges them and pushes to their limits.

Image result for to stay alive skila brown

Courtesy of skilabrown.com

3. Which book was the biggest surprise?

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. I’ve never read anything by Kendare Blake before, but I heard quite a bit about this book when it came out in September and I loved the cover when I first saw it on the book shelf at the library where I work. It’s a story about three sisters who are all princesses of a diverse island and they will have to battle each other in order to see which of them will be crowned queen. This story was surprising in that while it wasn’t well-written, I couldn’t put it down. The characters didn’t change much and some of the characters were completely unnecessary. The setting descriptions were pretty good but nothing too special. What really had me turning the pages was the premise of this story. It’s incredibly rare that a book’s premise will keep me invested in a story, yet it was that yearning to know who would eventually become queen that kept me reading. And of course the book ended on a total cliffhanger. I’m fairly sure it’s going to be a trilogy, so hopefully the books will only keep getting better as the story progresses.

4. Which book are you likely to reread next year?

I read so many books this year that I might be tempted to pick up again in 2017, but the one that tops that list is A Torch Against the Night  by Sabaa Tahir. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to a book release more than this one. That’s a lie, the seventh Harry Potter book probably has this beat. This book is a follow-up to the smash hit An Ember in the Ashes  that came out in 2015 and takes up Laia and Elias’s story as they flee Blackliff and head north to rescue Laia’s brother from Kauf prison. I read this story in three days, breezing through it because I just HAD to know if they made it in and out of Kauf alive. In reading it so quickly, I feel that I missed quite a bit of the nuances that the story has to offer. I’m already wanting to reread this, but I should probably finish some of the books I’m currently reading.

5. Top three books you read this year?

It was hard to whittle it down to these three but here we go.

3.Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. This is an adorable graphic novel about a teen artist who moves from Virginia to New York City with her family and has to undergo the highs and lows of a new school and finding new friends. The art in this graphic novel is amazing and the artistic struggles that Paige undergoes are incredibly real and not romanticized in any way. Even if you’re not a fan of graphic novels, check this one out. You won’t be sorry you did.

2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This was my first Gaiman novel that I’ve ever read (I’ve read a few of his short stories and am amazed that you can be that awesome within the confines of a short story). I tried reading this last year and got about 30 pages into it and decided to return it to the library. I picked it up again early on in the summer, began reading, and couldn’t stop until the last page was turned. This is the story of a man who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral and, as he wanders down to a house at the end of the lane, starts to recall what happened there when he was little. A truly fantastical tale, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one book you definitely should read. I’m only sad that it took me so long to do so.

1. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. This book wrecked my heart in every way. It’s the story of four teenagers who find themselves aboard the doomed ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Everything in this book is so well done. The characters, the pacing, the descriptions, and the historical detail all make this a stunning story that will break your heart, only to glue it back together to make it bigger. There are two things that I found especially chilling and important about this book. The first is that it’s about refugees. The narrative of the refugee is incredibly necessary right now because of the millions of refugees that are crying out for help right now. The second is, astonishingly, the character Alfred. He truly is an amazing character in how bad he is and how strange he is. And while his perspective is difficult to read, it’s important to not only consider the stories of those who rebelled against the Nazi mentality but the stories of those who went along with it or embraced it. Sepetys tackles this subtly and through Alfred, explores not only the sick and twisted Nazi mentality, but how sick and twisted people could become by adopting that mentality. It’s just a truly fantastic work and completely deserves the Goodreads award it won. Please read it.

Image result for salt to the sea

Photo credited to goodreads.com. 

So that’s the best of my 2016 reading. What were your favorite books of 2016? Do let me know in the comments and if you’d like a recommendation, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will write again soon! Bye for now!

 

 

Ten first sentences story challenge

Hello to one and all! So I came up with a challenge idea that’s probably been done before, but what the heck, let’s do it anyway! As the title of this post implies, the challenge I thought of is simple: create a story with the first sentences of books. Feel free to use any books you like, but I’m choosing to use books that I either have read, am currently reading, or want to read. So don’t take the books I use as a formula, go crazy with your own creations! Let’s go.

“This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. To begin with the rigmarole of childhood. Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf’s cloak.  It was a very distinct sound, the quite scraping of steel on stone, that first told him that his visitors had arrived, followed by a strange sort of tapping and the shuffling of feet. Autumn had come too swiftly.

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. Those who can, do. They’re out there. True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am! It’s finished.”

Whew! That was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m so pleased with the result! Feel free to take on this challenge yourself and let me know how it goes! To keep copyright and attributions straight, here are the books I borrowed from, in order: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, Here there be Dragons by James A. Owens, The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, and To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this experiment! God bless!

The Old Man/A promise for tomorrow

I met an old man once

and he’s been haunting me ever since.

His clothes are black, cut in sharp,

Puritanical lines that slice the skin.

His beard slavers down his mouth and his jaws,

like Walt Whitman with rabies.

His eyes, though, are the worst.

Two pieces of the dullest aquamarine

and as hard as the stones

he throws at me.

“Dance, you bitch!” He cries, pummeling me

left, right,

front and back.

He has an endless supply

of stones in his coat pockets,

as I have been quick to learn.

Nothing can halt his relentless rain,

so I do what he wants.

I waltz, swing my hips,

pirouette, and fox trot

until breath is a memory

my lungs are holding onto

even though they know

it’s never coming back.

He doesn’t stop until I think he wouldn’t

ever tire of my hideous dancing.

Even then he doesn’t quit.

Breath and my lungs could

reunite for a moment

and he’d be back.

I’d look away from his eyes

and be caught in his avalanche again.

He’s over my shoulder now,

in my gut, in my head,

pounding and scratching and kicking

over everything

I’ve tried to safety pin back together

since he last intruded.

He thinks he’s won

but he doesn’t realize

that my feeble arms

aren’t just made for dancing.

He knows me, this old man,

and I pray

he’ll never know you.

 

Someday I will see

the road I’ve traveled

falls, pit stops, U-turns,

tire marks, and lost fluids

all included

and not be ashamed

or unafraid.

Until then,

my grip will never loosen

on this steering wheel

though my shoulders ache

and my hands

are so very tired.

 

Yesterday was my highest percentage of likes in one day. Thanks to everyone who’s been on this poetic journey with me so far. Ya’ll rock and I hope you stick around for what’s to come.

 

Ruler of Books tag

Hello, everyone! I thought we’d switch it up today by talking about books. I love books and will no doubt be talking quite a bit about them in the future. I also love Booktube, which is the section of Youtube dedicated to discussing, sharing, and just generally being enthusiastic about books. I have many favorite book Youtubers that I like to watch and they have tag videos, in which they answer different questions. One of them came out recently that I knew I wanted to do (I’ll put the original video down below). It’s the Ruler of Books tag. So here it is!

1. What book would you make everyone read?

I would have to say The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. This isn’t my favorite book but it’s definitely one of my favorites. It’s such a beautiful story full of memorable characters that grow and change so much throughout the story. It’s also an incredible tale of courage during adversity. It’s helped me so much throughout different times in my life and I think the world would be a better place if everyone read that story.

2. What would you abolish in book construction?

Honestly, this is a difficult one. I’ve been fixing books as part of my library jobs for a year and half now and I can honestly say that there are very few elements in book construction that are not there on purpose. However, I would like to abolish the idea of putting something over the description on the back of the book. Every time I see this at a book store or a library, I internally cringe. So yeah, let’s abolish that. Freedom from the tyranny of labels!

3. What author would you commission to write you any book?

Again, this is so hard! But I’ve managed to narrow this down to three way tie between Juliet Marillier, Ruta Sepetys, and Jennifer Donnelly. These three ladies, though they write in different genres and with different styles, all have the beautiful ability to combine fascinating, round characters, beautifully described settings, and compelling plots. Though if I was forced to pick, it would be Jennifer Donnelly.

Jennifer Donnelly

This is a quote from possibly my favorite Jennifer Donnelly book, Revolution, which is about a two girls living through two revolutions and are connected through love of music. Photo attributed to:yalitquotes.tumblr.com

4. What book would you demote to the library basement to make room for new books?

Probably cook books. Not all of them, of course. While I understand that there are thousands upon thousands of types of cuisine and ways to cook said cuisine, but I just don’t understand why there need to be so many cook books. So, sorry, but they’re getting bumped. Also the House of Night series. I read up through Awakened  in that series (my friends insisted I read them). Those books aren’t that good, plain and simple. So they’re getting demoted,too.

5. What cover artist would you commission to make a mural?

Kinuko Y. Craft, who designed the fabulous cover for Juliet Marillier’s first young adult novel, Wildwood Dancing.  It’s so gorgeous and there’s so much to look at and the colors are so beautiful and OH MY GOODNESS, JUST LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY!

Wildwood.jpg

As you can probably tell from this choice, I’m a big fan of the pre-Raphaelite style, which Craft emulates here. Photo credited to: goodreads.com.

6. What characters face would you put on a coin?

I’d have to say Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. Simply because I think he’d like that idea.

Kaz quote

One of the more interesting quotes of Kaz’s. Photo credited to: pinterest.com

7. What book would you award the “Ruler of Books” 2016 Prize to?

I would have to say Leigh Bardugo, author of the aforementioned Six of Crows. I checked Six of Crows out of the library and, though I didn’t quite understand the story at first, quickly fell in love with all the characters and the setting. I’m about halfway through the Grisha Trilogy, which she wrote before Six of Crows and am loving it. Bardugo has a gift for establishing varied settings and for creating interesting, flawed characters. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Crooked Kingdom at the end of September. If you haven’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo, you should definitely check her out.

So I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the world of tag posts. This was fun and I’ll probably do more of these in the future. What would your answers be to these puzzling questions? Do let me know! The original video is down below. Have a wonderful day and for those of you who have already read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I hope you enjoyed it and no spoilers!

I’d like to think this is true…

Hey, everyone! I’ve been doing a lot of writing today, so it’s just a short post today. I found this hilarious flowchart that says why you should be friends with a writer. And, being a writer myself and knowing many more writers, I can say that most of these are true, especially number 7. Here’s the link:

https://geediting.com/blog/why-writers-make-incredible-friends/

If I’m not mistaken, this is my last post of my more than a week-long blogging challenge. It’s been fun and I will definitely blog more in the future. Have a great day!