February 3, 2017

Back in the Saddle again

Posted in Blogging, Books, Humor, Just Life at 11:22 am by catsinboxes

boot-449044_960_720I mean figuratively.  —It’s been quite a while since I blogged regularly.  But since I love horses and riding, why not add a picture?

It’s not the start of 2017, it’s not even quite the start of a month.  But I’ve been meaning to blog, so here’s to a start!

I have half an hour before work —one eye half on the clock.  What to write about?

Books.  I’ve started off the year reading quite a lot.  Favorites from January?  Hmm . . . I’d have to say Dianne Wynne Jones’ fantasy has been a new favorite.  I really enjoy her tongue-in-cheek humor and Year of the Griffin was a pleasant fantasy adventure.  In a sentence: a plucky young griffin is off to college to study magic, but the university’s methods are archaic, and she and her friends realize there is much more to magic than they are learning in the classroom.

On audiobook, P. G. Wodehouse remains a favorite.  I met Psmith for the first time, thanks to Leave it to Psmith.  Since I love Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle series, I had to enjoy this one!  Meanwhile, Uneasy Money was great fun to revisit, especially with Nigel Lambert’s excellent narration.  And if you are completely lost now, I apologize.  Remedy the solution by going out and getting The Most of P. G. Wodehouse.  As I wrote a couple years ago,

Combining understatement and literary allusions, slapstick humor and serious butlers, imperious aunts and impoverished aristocracy, The Most of P. G. Wodehouse should provide hours of entertainment to any Anglophile in need of a humorous read.  

On the biography front, I’m loving Ian Murray’s The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  There is much more I could say, and would like to say, about this book in particular and books in general, but the clock reminds me of my time constraint.  So, I will wrap up for the present.  I know this hasn’t been the most interesting of posts, but one has to start somewhere!

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February 28, 2015

Literary Heroine Blog Party

Posted in Bible, Blogging, Books, Jane Austen, Just Life tagged at 6:35 pm by catsinboxes

Q.  Introduce yourself! Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

 My name is Hayley, and I’m a book-loving, Bible-reading, midwest girl transplanted to Louisville, Kentucky, and working on a degree in Humanities at Boyce College.  

Q.  What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?

At risk of sounding like Caroline Bingley extolling the merits of a true lady, a true heroine must have common sense and back-bone.  She must possess a sense of humor and, if at all possible, she must like books!  Even more importantly, she must be empathetic and care about others —not everyone, we can’t all be Jane Bennets— but she must have some connection with other people.   

Q.  Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

  • Elinor Dashwood —Definitely number one!  
  • Emma Woodhouse —I plead guilty of being all too like Emma at times
  • Emily of Deep Valley —I’ve had a lot of waiting periods in my life, especially —like Emily— not going on to college right away.  (Here’s a review written much closer to that time in my life.)  
  • Anne Elliot —I’m not as quiet as Anne, but I do hope that as I grow older, I emulate Jane Austen’s most mature of heroines.

Q.  Five of your favorite historical novels?

  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. Emma
  3. The Hobbit
  4. Persuasion
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird

Q.  Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why?

Elinor Dashwood . . . I understand her!

Q.  Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Mr. Knightley —he feels the most “real” of all Jane Austen’s men.  He is a friend first and not afraid to call Emma out on her short-comings.  

Q.  If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there?

I’d travel to the United Kingdom and visit battlefields, bookstores, castles, cathedrals, and museums —as many literary and historical places as I could cram into my vacation.  (Fun fact, I lived in London for 6 weeks when I was 12.  I can’t wait to go back someday!)

Q.  What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?

Ooh, hard!  Right now it would be Regency England, but I love Homefront Britain during WWII, and Pre-Revolutionary War Boston.  

Q.  You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of?

I love poetry, so I’d be happy to recite something, and then I’d finish with a piano solo, probably this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UaHl3d8Rlg 

Q.  If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?

Hermione Granger; I have both the character and the bushy brown hair! 

Q.  Favorite author(s)?

Besides Jane Austen: Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Goudge, C. S. Lewis, Angie Sage, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, J. R. R. Tolkien and P. G. Wodehouse. . . to name a few  

Q.  In which century were most of the books you read written?

20th century with several notable exceptions!

Q.  In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is…

Lord Peter Wimsey, my first literary crush 

Q.  In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is…

Moriarty is a classic but, really?  Lord Voldemort!

Q.  Describe your ideal dwelling place.

Bag End, or a quiet farm in the country 

Q.  Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.

Classic but relaxed: I love dressing up, but I also love my jeans!

Q.  Three favorite Non-fiction books?

Taking the Bible as a given:

  1. Oxford Companion to English Literature (I love reading this reference book!)
  2. Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore (Wonderful, theological book)
  3. At Home with Beatrix Potter (Beautiful coffee-table book with gorgeous pictures)

Q.  Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?

Yup, an Indiana Jones hat for me!

I’m imagining a summer day back home in Wisconsin —Kentucky summer days are far too hot!  I’d go walking with Mom, then, after my walk, walk out to the barn to see the horses and go out in the pasture barefoot to socialize (being very careful to mind my feet!)  After that I’d head inside, grab a glass of iced tea mixed with lemonade, and find a nice spot outside to read a book or catch up on journaling.  

Q.  Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat – in such a way as will best portray your true character.

While I’d love a beautiful hat, I’m on the adventurous side, so I’ll go for a Australian oilskin hat or a fedora.  If I didn’t wear a helmet horseback riding, that is what I’d be wearing!

Q.  Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

Joining Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville; I am so thankful for my new “home” church.

Q.  Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

I love how the psalms are filled with the idea and admonition to wait on the Lord.  Psalm 33:20-22 so clearly ties this waiting with joy and hope in the Lord.  I’m learning to live this daily.

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.   For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.   Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. 

February 20, 2015

When a Book Lover meets a Book Lover

Posted in Books, Humor, Just Life, Singleness tagged , , , at 4:08 pm by catsinboxes

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I stepped into a bookstore today.  Being a book lover and also a C. S. Lewis lover, I noticed a C. S. Lewis book in the recent releases and was headed toward it, when an employee distracted me,

“How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. . . . How are you?”  Polite platitudes.

Then, the unexpected.  “Doing well, doing well . . . living the dream.”

Distracted, I really looked at him: young with a beard that Spurgeon wouldn’t be ashamed of . . . . He was putting some finishing touches on a display area.  (40% off commentaries, or some such theological deal!)

“What?  Working in a bookstore?”

“Yes, I love books!”

“Oh, I love books too, but I’ve never worked in a bookstore.”

He proceeded to say, with enthusiasm, that it was really interesting.  I may, or might not, upon leaving a few moments later have glanced to see if he was wearing a ring.  And on that note, if you’re a book-loving girl, you should definitely see this Instagram page!

February 19, 2015

Snowbound with Station Eleven and Jane Austen

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Dystopia, England, Favorite Quotes, Jane Austen, Movie Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:53 pm by catsinboxes

It snowed this week, quite impressively for Louisville, blanketing the city and wreaking havoc on roads, schools, and schedules.

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;

I didn’t complain when my quiet weekend was extended by one day. (Though I did frown at my nearly-empty carton of eggs.)

As the snow fell outside, I made hot tea and settled down to read Station Eleven. (While the library has over a hundred people on the waiting list for this National Book Award Finalist, I lucked out and was lent a copy by a fellow reader.) Another book-loving friend had described Station Eleven as an absorbing page-turner, and it was a fun.

Resembling Dickens in its cast of characters and twisting story lines, Station Eleven darts back and forth, weaving the tale of a group of people across a number of years who are bound together by one man. Just after the book begins a pandemic sweeps across the world. It was almost eerie, reading about civilization crumbling in Station Eleven‘s world while —outside— the city ground to a halt, immobilized by snow.

I wouldn’t recommend Station Eleven unreservedly, but it is definitely an engaging book.

Another highlight of my quiet week was watching the 1995 BBC version of Persuasion with a fellow British drama lover. I. Love. That. Story.

Persuasion falls into my top three Jane Austen novels. It was my last to discover. . . . I was an early teen at the library and, locating Jane Austen in the fiction section, realized that here was one story of hers that I had not read. That was soon remedied!

Anne Elliot, the last heroine completed by Jane Austen, has depth. (And Amanda Root does a lovely job of displaying this in the movie!)

The movie is a wonderful adaption —my favorite for Persuasion. The casting is great and though I didn’t catch it last time, Harry Potter lovers, did you realize AUNT PETUNIA is Mrs. Croft?! It’s so funny to see her as a good character for a change, and actress Fiona Shaw does a lovely job.

I love the Crofts in both the movie and the book, and I’ve never forgotten Anne’s observations regarding the Crofts as they are out driving in their carriage. Mrs. Croft exclaims:

My dear Admiral, that post! we shall certainly take that post.”

But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the Cottage.

So, that’s part of what I enjoyed during this snowy week. How about you? Please do leave a comment; I love people chiming in!

August 7, 2014

Beginning Again

Posted in Blogging, Books, Favorite Quotes, Just Life tagged , , at 8:38 pm by catsinboxes

It has been a long summer. There has been so much to write about . . . I have started to compose blog posts in my head. Then I have stopped.

What is the point? I love to write, but I have been busy, and working. But there is another reason I have not been writing, the reason for my last post:

Granddaddy. I miss him. Memories come back and catch me, sometimes unexpected.

Making coffee in the French press yesterday, I suddenly remembered his detailed instructions last year, when I was visiting. He showed me how to use a French press, explaining carefully just how to manipulate the plunger.

So I smile, and catch my breath, and blink before I can cry, but it hurts. And then, with that memory, comes another.

That is the funny thing about memories, how they flow together. For some reason, I keep thinking of a time, probably over a decade ago, when he visited Wisconsin. We went for a walk in our woods, just the two of us.

Fall

The path was rough, it was a new path then –not the beaten old path it is today. I think it was fall because the woods were bare, but the weather was perfect for a walk. As he walked along, he gave me a lecture about the correct use of words. He told me how many words today are not used properly, like effect versus affect. He told me about the sometimes comical misuse of some words in advertising. (Illustrating this with a story about a restaurant though I cannot remember which word was misused!)

P1080293And then, just as quickly, comes one, final memory. Why? I do not know, but I am so thankful. My grandfather was a soldier. He was gruff, yet he loved us so much, and he did not mind showing affection. He would give me hugs, and I remember them, brisk and slightly awkward, and then I –being female and affectionate– would finish by kissing his cheek -rather dry and slightly rough. And I remember the kiss.

Why? I don’t know. But I am so thankful that I have that memory.

What does all of this have to do with blogging? Because in the past couple years, I was so busy, and I blogged for him. He was so darn proud of this blog. He would remind me that people read it, so it was important I updated it. He was proud of all I have done as a writer, and he liked to see my writing. And so I would write, and I would write for him. Because I knew, in the faceless blogosphere, that hardly anyone would see my work . . . except that one person. I had one faithful reader, and that was reason enough to write.

I know other friends read this blog, and I am so thankful for you. But I know your lives are busy, I know you do not have time to catch every post. But he did. And he cared. And so I would write. Or I would intend to write. Sometimes a post became an email, sent off to him.

And now he is gone. And why should I write? Oh yes, I write for other things. I write letters, and I love writing for Redeemed Reader, but this blog is different.

Yet, as the summer concludes, and as fall stares me in the face with a daunting schedule, I need to write. And I need to write here. It is time to begin again. I pray I will be more consistent, especially now that I do not have a loyal reader (who never really understood blogging!) there to remind me, mournfully, that I have not posted for months.

In Out of the Silent Planet, there’s a beautiful line that I have been thinking about this summer:

And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back -if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?

There is a place for sadness, that is why I cried as I wrote this post, but there is today and tomorrow and the beauty and glory of everyday grace . . . and how can I help but write?

December 5, 2013

A Book Lover’s Christmas Gift

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Favorite Quotes, WWII tagged , , , , , at 6:49 pm by catsinboxes

Looking for a good Christmas gift for a history, aviation, and/or WWII lover?  Look no farther, for I have a perfect suggestion!

A Higher Call: The Incredible Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World   War II, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, 2012, 371 pages

This has made the New York Times bestseller list for good reason.  On December 20, 1943, a  remarkable incident occurred in the skies over Oldenburg, Germany.  It was an event that would not be told to the public until decades after the war.

A Higher Call traces the lives of the two men who ultimately would encounter each other that day.  The book is highly readable and incredibly interesting.    Unlike many books, it focuses more on the German side of the war.  Through the eyes of Franz Stigler, readers will learn about Germany’s elite class of fighter pilots.  The perspective is fascinating and well-researched.  It is also a poignant reminder of a nation’s folly:

“When Franz looked at Mellman [young pilot], he knew he was looking at Germany’s great tragedy –a generation of innocents too young to have seen the rise of Hitler or The Party who now were forced to pay for their leaders’ sins.”

June 10, 2013

Mention it Monday, Mississippi Version

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Favorite Quotes, Fiction, Freebies, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Travel at 10:10 am by catsinboxes

Greetings from Mississippi!

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Though to be more accurate, it looks a bit more like this today:

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I woke up this morning to thunder rumbling and pretty soon a torrential downpour was ensuring that 1) I didn’t take the dog out for a walk and 2) Bible time on the porch was out of the question!

I must admit that I had hoped to do more blogging on this vacation, but that is not how it worked out, and that’s okay. Still, no reason I can’t do some before I head home. So, here’s another Mention-it Monday!

Red to Black -by Alex Dryen

After reading World Magazine’s review of Dryden’s latest novel, I checked out all three of his books to date and started reading the first. I’m not usually one to read thrillers; Joel Rosenburg’s Last Jihad and Last Days are the extent of my reading in this genre! Still, having just travelled to Eastern Europe, I was intrigued by the Russian side of this novel. So, I started to read. And I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a thriller, but it’s also a fascinating look at modern Russia that is written by an author who knows his facts. The book is told in a series of flashbacks which I normally find annoying, but this time it absolutely worked! The story was engaging and kept me interested and reading. The main storyteller, Anna, –a Russian KGB agent caught up in an intricate plot involving a British spy– is interesting and well-developed. What’s more, she is likable, and you definitely find yourself pulling for her! There is occasional language, but I appreciated the fact that it was used sparingly and wasn’t gratuitous. There are also some sexual references: the KGB is happy to use Anna’s sexuality in getting what they want, but nothing was explicit. All in all, it was quite a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Alex Dryden.

Merlin’s Blade -by Robert Treskillard

I won’t say much here because this book deserves a whole review and post in itself. In fact, I probably will be reviewing it for Redeemed Reader this summer. I started this book on the plane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthurian aficionados, you should read this! Right now it’s only $2.99, Kindle version, on Amazon. What’s it about? I love how the cover puts it:

Before the Round Table . . . Before Arthur was Crowned . . . There was Merlin.

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The Explicit Gospel -by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

This is my theological vacation read, and so far, I haven’t made much progress though I have enjoyed everything that I’ve read.  Having heard Matt Chandler speak, I appreciate that his unique voice is very clear in this book.  Chandler is passionate about the gospel; that is very evident.  From a mere evangelistic point, I love the title of this book.  It’s eye-catching: a good book to read at the airport!  (If you’re like me, you do your best, via casual glances, to figure out what your fellow passengers are reading . . . This title is provocative enough to get more than one glance.  They’re reading the explicit what???)  As it happens, The Explicit Gospel is Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month, so I might be finishing it via audiobook.  If you’re looking for a theological read or audiobook this summer, I’d highly recommend this.  (And you can get the audiobook for free this month, remember!)  In closing, here is a quote from The Explicit Gospel that I quite enjoyed and is very applicable to this post:

How deep is the wisdom and the knowledge of God?  God knows every word in every language in every sentence in every paragraph in every chapter of every book ever written.

May 24, 2013

Forget Pinterest

Posted in Blogging, Books, Culture, Humor, Just Life at 7:58 pm by catsinboxes

Until two weeks ago, I held aloof.  I watched others get involved with Pinterest.  I chuckled over Facebook laments by husbands who had lost their wives to its charms.  I did sometimes look at it, but the looks never went farther than a few clicks.  Simply put, I didn’t want to get sucked in.  I like my time, thank you, and I already don’t have enough of it!  There might have been a pride factor too, that I hadn’t hopped on that bandwagon.

But, considering I work with a blog –not this one, Redeemed Reader— that is seeking to grow via social media, and because I wouldn’t mind my own blog growing, I thought it would be good to get a little more connected.  So, I first rekindled my Twitter account and then took the plunge for Pinterest.

And you know what?  I haven’t spent much time on it!  Sure, it’s nice.  Sure, it’s full of neat ideas.  But aside from using it to hunt up an occasional image for my blog, I’m not hooked.  Trust me, I like it that way!

Then, today, I discovered something.  It’s not Pinterest, but it’s something else, something that I’ve accessed before, something that I’ve enjoyed.  Occasionally, I thought about getting an account, getting official, but I never got around to it . . . until today.

In a few simple steps, I got an account.  And oh, joy, it was amazing!  I loved every moment of the set-up, I got absorbed in building my profile, I could have spent all morning, but I realized it and conquered the urge.  The laptop was closed and stowed downstairs –beyond temptation’s reach.

What is it, you ask, that is better than Pinterest?  I would argue right now –and I think into the foreseeable future– that goodreads is much, much better than Pinterest!

As I write, the browser tab is open, and it is calling me.  I’ll probably succumb to a little more by the end of evening.

A picture on Pinterest might be worth a thousand words, but not in my book!

Do you have a favorite social media site –beyond the biggies?  And which would you rather have: Twitter or Facebook?   I love the social connection on Facebook, but as a writer I really like Twitter.  There’s a lot less room for rambling and more opportunity for cleverness.  #andhashtagsaregreat     

May 21, 2013

This is so true!

Posted in Books, Favorite Quotes at 9:08 pm by catsinboxes

May 17, 2013

Friday Finds

Posted in Blogging, Books, Favorite Quotes, Just Life at 10:22 pm by catsinboxes

It’s the end of the day, I’m another day older.  And I’m tired.  But oh do I have some new books!  You see, there was . . .

A Library Book Sale Today

And it was a good one.  I have two tote-bags of books to prove that, and I’m already thinking how library booksales themselves deserve a post.  But that is for later.  For now, let me show you five books that I got today and am excited to read.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

-Word nerd that I am, this looks very intriguing!  Also, it’s relatively thin, so it should be a quick read.

Dictionary of Chivalry by Grant Uden  

-I know, you’re thinking, “whaaat?”  I glanced at it in passing and thought “Oh, that’d be interesting.  I don’t need it.”  –Told you I was a word nerd.–  And then I saw the illustrator: Pauline Baynes.  Mean anything to you?  (For the uninformed or forgetful of names, she illustrated The Chronicles of Narnia.)  Narnia fans, be jealous, it’s got lots of pictures!!!

Unbroken by Laura Hllenbrand

-I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’m excited to have a beautiful, brand-new hardback w/dust jacket.  Only a dollar; I LOVE the prices at booksales!

Not The End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean

-I really enjoy Geraldine McCaughrean’s classic adaptations; she’s a name I know and respect.  This book has the potential to be brilliant or blasphemous since it’s a fictitious account of the flood which seems to take some artistic license: adding a daughter of Noah to the mix.  We’ll see . . . it was 50 cents.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

-After reading Redeemed Reader’s review of this, I was intrigued.  A dystopian future where cities are mechanized and move across barren wastelands.  I love the first sentence: “It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

This quote says it all!

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