The Ambitious, But Not Impossible Reading Plan…

Hello again dear Readers!

I’m actually here, doing an update on a Sunday…go figure!

Today marks the first day of October and the start of the best time of year! In my opinion, the stretch from the beginning of October to the end of December is the loveliest time because of the perfect, crisp Fall weather and the anticipation of Christmas and the New Year. As you all know already, this Christmas is going to be particularly exciting for me, and so I am already counting down the days until 2017 wraps up.

With that being said, I was recently thinking about how I want to end my reading year. How many more books do I hope to finish before 2017 is up? Which book do I want to be reading the week before my wedding? Do I have time to finish another series before then? This all led me to make a list of the books I currently own and hope to have read by the time January rolls around. This is somewhat ambitious because last minute wedding planning is ramping up, but I am confident that I can at least get most of this list done.

What do you think – can I do it? Are there any books you would recommend I swap into this list?

The Books I Want To Finish Before January:

(in the order that I would like to read them)

  1. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  3. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  4. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  5. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
  6. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
  7. Jane Eyre by (the queen) Charlotte Brontë

Notes:

If I can manage to finish all 7 of these books before the end of 2017, that will bring me to a grand total of 52 finished books for the year… MUCH higher than my Goodreads goal of 18 books which in hindsight was very low. (I’m thinking of setting a goal of 52 books for next year, but we’ll see how that goes!)

As you can probably tell, I’m going for a Jane Eyre theme leading up to my wedding. I definitely want to be rereading Jane Eyre right before I get married (I’ll explain why closer to the date), and I thought it would be cool to lead up to this reread with some newer adaptations of my most beloved story.

So, here we go – let’s finish off 2017 with a bang!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

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Paper Princess ~ #JNGReads

❥❥❥.5 (out of 5)

Paper Princess by Erin Watt is a hopelessly flawed but utterly addictive novel. It is the ultimate contradiction, both extremely entertaining and borderline offensive and over-the-top. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, and although I have a lot of experience reading and reviewing romance novels (many of the more steamy variety), Paper Princess is a story that I struggled with and felt very unsure about.

The plot centers on the life of Ella Harper, a seventeen year old high school student who has been through enough tragedy and turmoil to last a lifetime. She loses her single mother at a very young age and is forced to become a stripper just to put a roof over her own head and attempt to finish school. One day, her deceased father’s best friend, Callum Royal, enters her life as her legal guardian, plucks her out of poverty, and makes her a part of his filthy rich family of five sons. Ella is Cinderella in every way and she eventually adapts to her new fortunes, all the while navigating stormy relationships with her pseudo-step brothers.

This main plot was right up my alley in every way – girl of misfortune becomes a princess. Sign me up. The structure of a great romance was all there and I was ready to dive right in. What didn’t work for me and what gave me pause in enjoying Paper Princess was the age of the main characters and the fact that I found far too many elements of the story and the relationship problematic and unrealistic. Let me break it down for further…

I was totally innocent in high school, and for much of university. I’ll be the first to admit it – no shame here, but I didn’t have much experience in the ways of the heart and body until I was well into my early twenties. Having said that, I went to a high school that reminded me very much of Astor Park, the one Ella and the Royal brothers attend, and it had its fair share of wealthy, athletic and attractive guys. I fancied myself really fond of one in particular. He was your stereotypical pretty boy in every way: rich, athletic, gorgeous, every girl wanted him. Blah blah blah, same old story. Needless to say, he isn’t the man I’m getting married to in just under three months and there’s a 90% chance I would punch him in the face if I saw him on the street right now…I’m a woman scorned, what can I say! But, despite all of that, he never once acted like an outright dick to me during high school and he was, relatively speaking, genuinely nice and kind to me. I was surrounded by a lot of jocks and guys who loved partying, and although I was innocent and pretty aloof like I said, I had female friends that were into all of those things too…but I have never ever encountered any teenagers who act and talk the way those in Paper Princess do. Honestly, there were moments in this novel when even I had to blush, and that is saying a lot considering that I saw and heard a lot of things in high school I’d like to forget, and also when taking into account the fact that I’ve read an impressive number of romance novels in my day. Paper Princess was over-the-top and outlandish in so many ways though, and I am really trying to think if I ever even heard my younger brother telling me stories like the ones that go down in this novel. Hitting a guy over the head with a candlestick and tying him up naked like a pig in a glassed pool house? No, I can’t say I ever did that in high school. Shooting a girl up with a syringe of molly at a house party? Ummm, no, I’m pretty sure no one I ever went to high school with would ever do anything like that because it’s, well, illegal and absolutely absurd and dangerous. Having sex with your much younger girlfriend at the dinner table in front of your teenager daughter? Yeah, so I definitely do NOT know any fathers who would do that because…fuck…just eww.

These are literally some of the scenes that transpire in Paper Princess and I was just reading them thinking to myself, What in the actual fuck? (Excuse the harsh language, but it’s kind of hard to talk about this book without using it.) I spoke to my fiancé about some of these events to see if maybe he encountered anything at all like this at his high school and all he could say was that the novel sounded very “try hard” to him. And that is exactly it – I feel like Erin Watt (who is actually two popular romance authors, collaborating) tried so hard to write an engaging and unique romance story that most of the plot points verged on the impossible and absolutely outlandish! It was so hard to believe that any of these sorts of things would happen to or between seventeen year olds, and although I wasn’t very experienced in high school, I’m still pretty sure that most high school students do not speak in such ridiculously graphic terms. It was just all a little too much for me in the end – my enjoyment of the story was severely hindered by the fact that I felt scummy and disgusting for picturing teenagers doing these super steamy things, and it simply did not vibe well with me whatsoever. If the characters were a bit older, in their early twenties and university, fine – the events were still a bit extreme, but at least I could believe that they might be at that sort of maturity and experience level. But high school students? No, it just felt so weird and wrong and…impossible, like I said.

Further to all of that, I was very frustrated by Ella’s relationship with Reed Royal, the main love interest. Never mind the fact that they’re supposed to be treating each other like siblings, Reed is pretty much a huge ass. And like, yes, I had a crush on a guy just like him, but as I said, he wasn’t a total ass and was, for the most part, a relatively decent guy. It’s one thing to be a bad boy and have a bit of a cocky edge to your personality – it’s not ideal, but I can deal with that from a teenage boy who doesn’t have the insight or sophistication level to not be so entitled. But Reed is too over-the-top, much like the rest of the novel, and I’ve read reviews that called him abusive. I don’t know that I would go that far, but it was very annoying to see this strong and defiant character, Ella, who had been through so much and overcome a lot in her short life, bend to Reed’s every command. I wanted to be on her side because she seemed to be conscious of the risks of her attraction to him in the beginning of the novel, but then she became all too willing to please him and do everything he said. It’s one thing to have certain sexual preferences, and I have no desire to judge or even comment on that because I truly believe each person should be able to do exactly what it is they enjoy, but it does start to grate on my nerves when a confident female character allows a man to dictate her every move and preference. It is one thing to like a man who is tough and powerful, but it is quite another to let him quite literally order you around like you are a slave. That is not okay, and Ella bordered too much, particularly toward the end of the story, toward obeying Reed rather than being his equal.

“I fight it at first, sure. I always fight, but he always wins.

“It’s like he has a hold on me and I’m not sure I like it. But I’m helpless to stop it.”

“‘Maybe this says something about me, but I think it’s hot when you go all caveman on me.’”

What bothers me about the three quotes above is the fact that Ella has doubts…she isn’t 100% sure that she likes how Reed controls her or makes her feel submissive, and yet she goes along with it despite her uncertainties and hesitancy. That is what I disagree with in the representation of this relationship – we have come too far in this day and age to represent women, or worse girls/young adults, who do not stand up for themselves and are not introspective enough to take the time to figure out what it is they want and like. If a woman decides that she likes that sort of relationship, more power to her, but I am troubled by portrayals that show a woman who struggles, who isn’t fully happy in her submissive role, and yet shies away from internal reflection and from pushing herself to investigate why she might be uncomfortable and unhappy. We should be teaching our daughters to explore their passions and desires, most certainly, but to do so in a way that is respectful to as well as open and honest with themselves. If there is even a tiny bit of hesitation or reluctance, then that should be a No, or at the very least a No for now. When Ella does say, toward the conclusion of the story, that she likes when Reed acts like a “caveman”, it’s very unsettling because we, as readers, know that she has tried to put up a fight and we don’t see any points of her reflecting on this instinct to escape from the situation and deciding that she does in fact like to be controlled in that way. If she had done some careful self-reflection of her desires, that is one thing, but Ella does not do that and instead it seems like she is giving into Reed’s will and totally abandoning and ignoring her own. This is the 21st century, and I think we are way past this sort of romantic representation – if Mr. Rochester didn’t control Jane Eyre, if Mr. Darcy didn’t act like a caveman toward Lizzie Bennet, then no 21st century hero has any right to do that with a 21st century heroine…unless she specifically consents and asks. If there is even a hint of fight or resistance in her, then that must win out, every single time. No exceptions.

Why then, you might ask, would I give Paper Princess a 3.5-star rating? It was flawed in many crucial ways and as I reflect more on it, I see it as more troubling than ever before. Having said that, it was addictive, a true page-turner. I don’t know if that has solely to do with Erin Watt’s writing style, or if it is because Ella’s narrative voice is very endearing and distinct, but I couldn’t actually put the book down. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have huge issues with it, but it was entertaining and thought provoking, and so it was more successful for me than a lot of books I’ve read recently.

This is a very hard one to recommend. I would be extremely wary about handing it to my child if they were in high school, but I also feel like adult readers will find it difficult to connect to the young main characters. I don’t know where this graphic novel fits whatsoever, and so I would mainly just recommend it to readers who have heard something about it, whether good or bad, and are curious about it. That is why I picked it up, because of the totally polarizing opinions I had seen of it, and I am glad that I did if only because now I know firsthand what everyone was talking about.

A tough one to review, no question!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

High Lady

High Lady

“Night Triumphant – and the Stars Eternal.” ~ A Court of Wings and Ruin Sometimes you get so obsessed with a book that it starts to slowly take over aspects of your entire life. Welcome to my world. These obsessions … Continue reading

My Literary Maidens

Apologies are in order…big time!

I am so so sorry that I have been MIA on the blog for almost a month. Trust me, I get it – this is no way to show my appreciation for all you lovely readers!

However, allow me to promise you that a giant, mammoth of a book review is on its way VERY soon. If you follow along with me on Goodreads, or if you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I’ve been buried deep in the world of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series for quite a while now. That’s the reason for my lack of posts – I’ve been so enthralled with my reading, so eager to delve into my book and not put it down for the entire night, that I haven’t actually had anything else to review (although I know this is no excuse, considering I could’ve offered you some lifestyle posts in the meantime – massive apologies again!). I even chose to skip right past writing a review for the second novel in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, because I just wanted to blaze right into the third book instead. And, I did exactly that – I am about two hundred pages away from completing A Court of Wings and Ruin, and my heart is already breaking at the thought. I have so enjoyed living in this world, with Feyre and all of her friends, and I simply do not want it to end. Hence why I have been reading extremely slooowly, savoring every last sentence and image and adventure.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time – and I swear, a book review of the entire ACOTAR series is on its way.

Having said that, when I realized a few days ago that I haven’t posted anything here in almost a month, I was horrified! I knew I had to get something out to you, and I also knew that I needed to exercise my writing muscles again, lest they get out of practice. So, on to a bit of a different topic… Here is another wedding-related post for you all…

“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated.”

~ Pygmalion

Left to right: Lady Camille, JNG, Lady Courtney and Lady Kailah ❥

I count myself well and truly lucky to have some of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for. My three best friends, my maidens, my bridesmaids, are among the most inspiring, beautiful and kind women I have ever known, and not only are they a constant source of pride for me, they also treat me with this unwavering respect and love. At times it is overwhelming to fully comprehend how loyal and dedicated they are to me and to our friendships, and they have each been the most incredible helpers throughout my wedding planning experience so far. To borrow from the idea presented in the quote above, my bridesmaids treat me like an absolute queen and make me feel so remarkably special, and I will forever be grateful for that. I cannot wait to return the favour at each of their own weddings! (Note: You can read a detailed post introducing and describing each one of my bridesmaids here.)

Not a single thing in the world could persuade me to change the three women I selected as my bridesmaids because they are the most perfect women that ever walked the planet. Having said that, there is one thing that could persuade me to increase their number – to add a few more ladies to my maiden fold – and that would be if my three favourite females from literature could jump out of the pages of their individual works and become real-life women. I recently found myself thinking about this, wondering which three heroines I would select to join myself and my bridesmaids in all of the wedding planning and events. And, there was absolutely no question – three literary heroines popped into my mind without hesitation, and I truly believe each of these women would fit in so well with my three best friends because they are all quite alike. I like to think I keep very good company, and I believe that even these women of the fictional world would adore my real-life bridesmaids instantly, and vice versa.

~ So, here we have it, my selections for My Literary Maidens (in no particular order, of course). ~

Jane Eyre

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien—I forgave him all…”

Was there any doubt that Jane Eyre was going to be on this list? Well, there shouldn’t have been. Jane Eyre is the one literary character that I will always owe so much of my personality, my morals and my convictions to. If I wasn’t such a chicken, I’d already have this Charlotte Brontë inspired tattoo on my skin that I’ve been dreaming up for years now, because that authoress is someone I will forever be indebted to. Jane Eyre, and the novel named after her, taught me so much about love, about soul mates, and about sacrifice. She presented a strong and dignified example to me at the most critical time in my life, when I was just leaving high school, and her story emphasized to me that it is possible to find an all-encompassing love that consumes but does not overcome you. Jane Eyre taught me that love is not an easy road, that there are countless obstacles on the way to finding it and also within a relationship, but that True Love means forgiveness, it means being strong enough to stand up for your love, to fight for it. To have Jane Eyre stand beside me on my wedding day would mean having a true role model in my midst, it would mean acknowledging that fortitude is an aspect of True Love that I will always apply in my own life.

Clare Abshire

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?”

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel that I also read when I was finishing up high school, and it is without doubt on par with Jane Eyre in my green heart. Clare Abshire is a source of undeniable inspiration in that novel, if only because she is constantly waiting for her love (time traveler, Henry DeTamble) to come home to her. Clare puts up with a lot of turmoil and tragedy in her relationship with Henry, and she faces every obstacle with unfailing resolve and impenetrable will. She is the very definition of a strong woman, and she has always been a model for me of how to overcome jealousy, uncertainty and insecurity. Clare is so confident in Henry’s love for her that she doesn’t let the little things, like ex-girlfriends in his life, or even the big things, like his regular absence, to get to her. She has a lot to face and get through in loving Henry, but she tackles each situation with a calm that is utterly remarkable. Clare Abshire taught me that love means being patient, it means waiting for The One and then hanging onto him through thick and thin, being his rock, his anchor. To have Clare Abshire stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love really can conquer all, and that the right love will survive all obstacles of time and distance.

Eliza Doolittle

“Aha! Now I know how to deal with you. What a fool I was not to think of it before! You can’t take away the knowledge you gave me….Oh, when I think of myself crawling under your feet and being trampled on and called names, when all the time I had only to lift up my finger to be as good as you, I could just kick myself.”

I admit, it was a bit trickier for me to come up with my third literary bridesmaid…but only for about two seconds. Then, it dawned on me, what better bridesmaid to have than the original flower girl, Eliza Doolittle of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Eliza isn’t your classic romantic heroine whatsoever, and that’s what makes her a character that taught me so very much about love and relationships. I read Pygmalion for the first time after starting university, but I’ve been a fan of My Fair Lady since I was something like 6 years old, so Eliza Doolittle has always been a mentor to me. And what a remarkable and unique woman she is – Eliza Doolittle is a woman who does not stand down, who is not flattened or trampled on by any of the men around her. Although she is fond of her professor Henry Higgins, she refuses to have her personality muddled or diluted by him, and she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her main objective throughout the entire play is to better herself, to lift herself up in society, and while her pseudo-partner Higgins assists her on her journey and gives her the tools to be a better version of herself, she is the one who gets down and dirty, who battles every day with society’s expectations and uses her indomitable will and strength to get ahead and make a name for herself. Eliza Doolittle is one of the strongest female characters that exists in literature, and that comes from her defiance of societal norms and her desire to question and interrogate the social structures around her. To have Eliza Doolittle stand beside me on my wedding day would mean acknowledging that True Love does NOT mean losing your identity or becoming a mere domestic goddess. It would mean acknowledging that being a woman in love, being a wife, does NOT mean giving up on your dreams or stifling your passions. It would mean proclaiming that the right husband, the right partner, will give you wings to fly and build your own name, for yourself.

With friends like these, how could a girl go wrong? My three real-life best friends and my three fictional ones are the pillars of my personality, the puzzle pieces that go together perfectly to make me into the woman I am today, the one that my fiancé fell in love with. Without each of them, I would be nowhere close to who I am at this moment, and I am so honoured that each of them will play a part in my Big Day…because believe me, I plan to make Jane and Clare and Eliza a real presence on my wedding day, even if they can’t be there in person…so stay tuned for posts about that in the future!

See you all again very soon, I promise!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

The Hating Game – #JNGReads

January 18, 2017

I’m lying in my bed at 9:38pm and all I can think of is The Hating Game.

I’m not actually reading it because I’m just over halfway through…and I never ever EVER want it to end!

You know that heart eye emoji? Yeah, that emoji is exactly what I feel about this book! I am OBSESSED with this book…I have a damn crush on this book! Not just on Joshua Templeman (okay, I have a crush on him too), but on every single sentence of this 300-plus page masterpiece. True, I’m only halfway through, but trust me, it’s going to be a frontrunner for favourite chick lit. story of all time!

*sigh* I love you, The Hating Game! G’night!

January 19, 2017

It’s lunchtime at work (finally) and I’m spending my hour in Starbucks with my green tea and The Hating Game. Sitting here, with my book and my hot tea, I feel more like myself than I have all week! I am truly comfortable.

And this little chick lit. book, this story that was supposed to be so fun and light, is about to make me cry. It all comes down to this: The Hating Game is all about chemistry, that zing between two people who are unbearably attracted to each other, but who also want to curl up into each other, hold each other tight. The very definition of lovers…a word that does, of course, involve love.

This book is making me tingle and I don’t want it to end. It is keeping me warm during a cold and barren week. It is reminding me of the chemistry I have with my special person and also of the spark I want to keep in my life forever. I seriously never want this book to end!

January 19, 2017 ~ 1 hour later

Leaving Starbucks to go back to work. Very sad to leave my book. Like very VERY sad! As in, sad the way I was when I had to leave Jane Eyre in my locker and head to grade 12 Advanced Functions. As in, sad the way I was when my crush got into his car at the end of a long school day, blazing home without even a wave goodbye. As in, sad the way I am every time my fiancé gets on a bus or a subway and rides away from me. Damn…I have a crush on a book. I might even be in love with a book. Damn.

The End

The Hating Game. This book destroyed me. It has ruined me for all other books and I know it will be a long time before I feel this way about a story again. This book made me feel the way I did when I first read The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I see now that it will go down as an all-time favourite.  *Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire, meet Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman. Shake hands, make friends, get comfortable. I know you’re going to love each other!*

This book is good. Not good like, give it 3 stars on Goodreads and be done with it. Good as in…okay…like you meet a guy at a party on a Saturday night and he whispers something in your ear that is so flirtatious but also strangely sweet and gentlemanly. And he asks for your number and you hand it over rapidly. And then, on Monday, you’re sitting in class, staring into space, twirling your hair around your finger, and all you can see is his eyes. You think, “Wow, that guy is good!” (Do people even think or say this anymore? I don’t know. Apparently I’ve been engaged for a long time and am out of the loop.)

The Hating Game is about love, but more than that, it’s about real love. It’s about the love you don’t even know you have until it smacks you across the face with its blinding ferocity. I’ve had this love. I have to be honest, I didn’t love, or even really like, my fiancé when I first met him. Three months into dating him, I knew I wanted to marry him and I told him so…but three weeks into it, all I could think was, Sure, this guy is my first boyfriend but that doesn’t mean he has to be my last. I’m embarrassed even remembering this now because he is the most incredible man, physically, mentally and emotionally, but when I met him I was so nonchalant, mainly because I had a crush on some other guy who was sooo not my type and my fiancé was just this other, random guy who was taking my mind off my crush-induced misery. And then, very quickly, he became my whole world and overnight I developed both a crush on him and fell madly in love with him. That’s what The Hating Game is all about: the love that creeps up on you, literally when you least expect it. My favourite type of love.

It would be easy to say I loved The Hating Game because of the sexy main character, Joshua Templeman, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. I love The Hating Game for everything it is, every last dot on every last page.  Just thinking about this book is going to make me cry silly tears. The kind of tears you cry when the guy says to the girl that he’s loved her from the moment he first saw her, just like Josh says to Lucy. And you think, That’s the stuff of fiction, that doesn’t happen in real-life, until it happens to you. It did to me, and maybe I’m so grossly sentimental about this book because it reminded me of what I have and of what I think every person on this Earth deserves.

The Hating Game is not only about real love, it’s also about being someone’s person. It’s about loving someone so much that you understand them better than anyone else, that you get inside them. It’s a love that is so big and all-encompassing that at first you don’t quite know what it is. When Lucy and Josh finally get together physically (I’m still a big baby who needs to use euphemisms for this sort of thing) towards the end of the book, there is the perfect moment of realizing just how important love is, of understanding how the right kind of physical connection can speak emotional volumes.

You matter. You’re important to me. This matters.

You’re who I want. You’re always beautiful. This really matters.

There is a profound moment in that passage, one that overwhelms and overcomes the erotic and transforms it into something beautiful and profound.

But there is so much that is written and articulated beautifully in this novel, this little slice of rom-com that took me by surprise and blew me out of the water. There are so many gorgeous phrases and ways of expressing the simplest emotions, and Thorne is truly gifted when it comes to manipulating and making art out of language.

“Books were, and always would be, something a little magic and something to respect.”

“It’s like sunshine.  I’d forgotten that other people are warm.”

“He taught me things in the space of two minutes that the span of my lifetime did not.”

All I want to do is kiss you until I fall asleep…I want to make a fool of myself for you.

“‘Lucy,’ is all he can seem to say. ‘Lucy. How am I going to walk away from tonight? Seriously. How?’”

There were so many moments about this novel that could’ve been cliché, such as when Josh becomes jealous of Danny’s attentions toward Lucy, or when Lucy becomes hopelessly obsessed with Josh.  But none of them were, none of them tipped into dangerous, unbelievable or unrealistic territory.  It all comes down to how expertly Thorne told the story and how likeable and complex she made her characters.

Is it possible to be in love with a book? I’ve known since I was a child that the answer is Yes. But it’s a polygamous sort of relationship for me, and I am happy to make The Hating Game one of my multiple book husbands.

I can’t get enough of it! Lucy talks so much about how addicted she is to Josh, and that is how I feel about Josh AND her AND this entire story. I think I’m going to carry it around with me for the next few days so I can reread several of my favourite sections.  I know I have to give it to my mom to read at some point soon, because I know she’s going to absolutely love it, but it actually makes me sad to think of handing it over to her right now and not having it in my room with me every night.

You’ve caught me…I’m a book freak, and this particular one, well, I’ve fallen in love with it!

“If only I could hold onto this moment.  I already feel the sadness that will hollow me out when it ends.”

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5 – and all in robin’s egg blue!)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 7: The Engine of Change

Hello again dear Readers!

Today marks my second to last review of ITV’s new series Victoria.

I watched this episode a few days ago, but I didn’t have a chance to post my thoughts at any point throughout the week. I also thought it might be a good idea to save my review to post this weekend, and make it sort of a Victoria Extravaganza Event!

I am going to miss this queen more than I can express. I can’t explain quite how soothing it is to watch her story every Sunday before gearing up for the week ahead. Like Jane Eyre, Clare Abshire and so many characters before her, Queen Victoria (specifically as portrayed by Jenna Coleman) has given me another model of strength, force and courage to carry around in my green heart. From the costumes, to the sets, everything about this series has been absolutely exquisite, and I am so relieved that it has been renewed for a second season. I know that, after tomorrow night’s episode, I won’t be seeing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for quite awhile, but I am very grateful that these new dear friends will be returning to me soon.

Here are my thoughts on the second last episode of Victoria…

Episode #7: The Engine of Change

Sidenote: The title credits are still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!!! ❥

– Sick Queen V = Uh oh! Is her fear coming true? She wants kids in theory, but certainly not now!

– Albert likes Sir Robert Peele, but Queen V still does not. He’s no Lord M.

– A is progressive, business-like…he wants change and advancement (ex – the railway).

– Queen V is bored by manufacturing and the Industrial Revolution.

– This Francatelli guy is actually growing on me! His romance with Miss Skerrett is cute!

– Queen V telling Prince A she is pregnant is the most sad thing I’ve ever seen…she looks miserable! But A is sooo excited and it is adorable! She is clearly terrified though!

– “Drina’s” mother wants her to sit around and not work = although it is right to protect the baby, V is still a queen with duties…and a STRONG one at that! Her mother implies that her only “function” is to have an heir.

– V is in love and fears A will think her hideous when pregnant = so cute!

“A love like ours can burn down the city.”

– Queen V names Prince A potential regent; politicians vehemently rebel! Duke of Wellington is kind of mean…why did Charlotte Brontë like him so much?

– A and V flirting in bed is amazing! It gives me life! They are truly in love!

– Queen V’s mother says laughing is bad for the baby. What on Earth?!?!

– A still wants some power! But Queen V must compromise and let him use power through her.

~ “But I’m not a German woman. I am Queen of England.” ~

– Queen V kind of treats her mother terribly, BUT, my mom and I both agree that her mother is quite annoying and a pest.

❥ “Just be your darling self. They will adore you.” ❥

– V and A exchanging looks at dinner is another prime example of how in tune they are! They are a formidable couple!

– Sir Robert Peele is actually kind of sweet. He could be a real ally if he and Queen V worked together.

– “Now, lunch.” I wish I could command people like that! haha

– “You count as alone.” Lehzen is like a mother to Queen V; she wants her around always.

– The politics is complicated, but what I do know is that the Tories and Queen V must get on the same footing.

– Queen V is spooning Prince A! Aww! heehee

– Queen V needs to “guide the conversation” and maintain authority so that her and A can tread carefully and people will not resent Prince A.

– Sooo…naturally Prince A goes off to see the train on his own, even though V specifically asked him not to. Damn it!

– The fact that they all find the train so incredible just goes to show how much we now take for granted…and how far our society has come. So much happened, so much progress was made in the Victorian era.

~ “This is the future.” ~

– Queen V is depressed because she doesn’t know where Prince A is = not so easy when you can’t text someone, eh? 😉

❥ I’m pretty sure the scenes at Sir Piers’ house were filmed at Haddon Hall – aka Thornfield Hall. I can’t be 100% sure because I’ve never personally be there, and have only seen it in the Jane Eyre film adaptations, but the scenery is GORGEOUS and I recognize it! It is one of my favourite sets on Earth! A perfect choice!

~ “…condone or condemn…” ~

– Prince A and Sir Robert Peele are now friends, which is a huge advancement.

~ “I decide what is the future!” ~

– Queen V and Prince A are in a peculiar place: Queen V must maintain her authority, but Prince A wants to help her. He wants to guide the English people too. “This is my country!”

– Queen V goes to see the train. Her and A can discover things together! This is the future of not just England, but the whole world!

– Okay, this Francatelli guy is smooth!

~ “The Prince has no power to be solicited.

“Oh, you’re wrong!” ~

– V: “I am frightened of the pain.” A: “Childbirth is surely an ordeal, but you are equal to it. You have such fortitude.” Queen V is terrified and she admits it to Prince A. He is unfailingly supportive and he wants to share her burden!

– Peele backs Prince A as regent. Nice! He is so firm and I love it – he is actually amazing in this scene!

❥ Queen V at her desk, surrounded by candles is such a gorgeous Victorian image!

– V subtly, and without calling attention to it, lets A help her with her work. The moment when he takes her pen is symbolic of the fact that they are now working as one.

Sidenote: Jenna Coleman truly acts like a queen, right down to her subtlest gesture of leaning her hand on her neck and her small smile.

Speak to you about the finale soon,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

One Way – #JNGReads

I have to apologize, dear Readers.  Last week was incredibly busy for me, in terms of both work and life, so I didn’t have too much time to read, write blog posts, or even (*gasp*) to watch Victoria.  So, I’m back today to make amends for neglecting my duties to you all, and to promise that I will be back in full force this weekend, reviewing the final two episodes of this season of Victoria.  I also come with a peace offering: a belated #JNGReads post.

I haven’t had too much time to read recently, as I said, and have only just started my newest book, Havisham by Ronald Frame.  It is a prequel to one of Dickens’ most famous novels (I’m sure you can all guess which one), but I haven’t had a real chance to delve into it, so I don’t have any quotes to share from it at the moment.  What I do have, though, is another quote from my favourite novel, from the story that lifts me up when I’ve fallen down, that inspires me to be passionate and fearless.

“‘All is changed about me, sir; I must change too—there is no doubt of that; and to avoid fluctuations of feeling, and continual combats with recollections and associations, there is only one way—Adèle must have a new governess, sir.’”

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

I’ve been supremely lucky lately to have gained a few new followers over here on my modest blog, and that is something that brings me indescribable joy.  There is nothing quite like waking up to comments on my posts, either on my blog directly or through Twitter or Instagram, and these little notes from fellow readers truly make me feel like what I’m thinking and feeling about literature matters a little.  I appreciate you all more than words can express!

Having said that, we all fall into ruts sometimes, and I think I might be in one of those.  I’ve had a few major sources of stress lately, and while books are a wonderful reprieve from everyday life, I unfortunately can’t spend 24 hours a day reading (if only I could).  In the moments when I’m not reading and life is being more difficult than usual, I do tend to remind myself of scenes and passages from my favourite novels, however, if only because they remind me of simpler times when I spent hours reading and also encourage me to act as my fictional idols would.  For that reason, this past week the one specific line from Jane Eyre that I quoted above has been repeating in my mind.  Jane is, in a word, courageous.  She suffers so much in her life, but she faces every single setback and challenge with a firm resolution and absolute strength.  Although she may be anxious inwardly, she is totally unafraid in her actions and convictions.  When she makes a decision, she is decided and unwavering.  When Mr. Rochester puts her in a precarious position, one in which she feels disrespected and uncomfortable, she is honest about her feelings and she speaks up.  Jane is proper and appropriate, yes, but she is never silent.

A lovely new follower and fellow reader I had the chance to speak to last week asked me if I ever read Jane Eyre when I’m feeling down and need motivation and comfort.  The answer is yes.  Jane Eyre is the one character in the world who has always made me feel stronger, who has helped me to walk taller and be bolder.  I always know that I can turn to her story for respite, but also for guidance.  So, thank you to this fellow reader for reminding me that all the strength I need lies in the pages of Charlotte Brontë’s novel, where I turned to find this quote and feel like myself again!

Speak to you all again soon (I promise!),

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

“I want a wife…” – #JNGReads and #JNGWatches

“Jane, I want a wife. I want a wife, not a nursemaid to look after me. I want a wife to share my bed every night. All day if we wish. If I can’t have that, I’d rather die. We’re not the platonic sort, Jane.”

– Jane Eyre, 2006 BBC Miniseries

“Her entire world ceased to exist except to study Richard’s face…”

“She reached deep into herself for her control.”

The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell

the-three-colonels-2

Soon enough, I will be finished my current read, my rescue book, The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell. Given the fact that I unexpectedly stumbled across the book in the Dollar Store, I wasn’t at all anticipating that I would become quite so attached to the story and the characters. My expectations were not at all lifted by the fact that the plot centers on three rather unpopular female characters from Jane Austen’s novels, Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility. I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (it’s the only Austen novel I have left to conquer), but my own experience of Pride and Prejudice and my discussion of it with several other readers have made me convinced that no one really likes or is at all interested in Caroline Bingley or Anne de Bourgh. If anything, the presence of these two women in the plot is mostly just a nuisance to the main, beloved characters.

Having said that, I have grown to really like and enjoy my time with Caroline, Anne and Marianne (who I admittedly don’t know very much about). I have found Caldwell’s story to be very lovely, peaceful and calming to read. I have become thoroughly engrossed in it during my lunch breaks and my long bus rides home, and I have found myself looking forward to reading it throughout my day. I am dreading finishing these next 50 or so pages (hence the fact that I’m writing this post rather than reading) because I don’t want to give up living in the comfortable and warm world that Caldwell, with much help from Miss Austen, has created. This world has been a source of solace and escape for me.

More than that though, I have been taken in by the marital and domestic bliss that Caldwell portrays in his Austen adaptation. As you all know already, especially since I can’t seem to stop talking about it, I am recently engaged. I am also in the midst of planning a Christmas wedding inspired by my favourite literary characters and Victorian time period. This is undoubtedly the most exciting, fun and wonderful time of my life, and I cannot wait until my wedding day in just under 15 months. However, wedding someone is so much more than having a party, feasting for hours and dancing the night away. There are vows to be said and promises to be made, and these precious moments cannot be overlooked.

For me specifically, wedding my fiancé SS means becoming a wife. This is something that I have always fantasized and dreamed of. The concept of being a wife first started to truly intrigue me in high school, when I opened the pages of Jane Eyre and beheld a love unlike any other. A love between two equals who lived and breathed entirely for each other, this romance began to serve as a guideline for me, as a goal for what I hoped to achieve in my own life. At the same time as I wanted passionate love, I also craved the comfort and security that Jane felt with her Rochester. When I watched the 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation for the first time, and heard Edward Rochester declare in the final scene that he wanted a wife to be his companion and helpmate as well as his passionate romantic partner, I was immediately swept up by the idea. Being a wife would mean, I began to understand, desiring someone, wanting them, but also supporting and encouraging them under all circumstances. It would mean giving my life for them in all capacities.

Now that I am a fiancée, this idea of being a wife has taken on new meaning and significance. What will it mean for me to become SS’s wife? Will it mean losing my identity? Certainly not – my Victorian role models would never allow that. But, it will mean taking on a new identity, among the many identities I now possess. It will mean becoming the person (even more than I am now) on whom SS consistently relies. That is a thought that makes my heart soar.

I have many examples of happily married couples all around me, starting with my own parents. I am a reader, though, and so I always like to look to literature to present models for my every day life. And, this is the very reason I have grown so fond of Jack Caldwell’s The Three Colonels. In it, I have found three models for being a wife, and they have provided me with an image of married life that is at once exhilarating and safe.

In The Three Colonels

Being a wife means loving and idolizing and respecting your partner above all others. Anne de Bourgh is taken by Richard Fitzwilliam, although society may not find him conventionally handsome or extraordinary. She is overcome by his intelligence, his kindness and his impressive work ethic. She is proud of his military accomplishments and his reputation. She is attracted to his personality, his manner of speaking to her, his inclination to ask for her advice and give her the power to form her own opinions. She grows to love how he looks because of who he is, and he becomes the most handsome man in the world to her. Her eyes look on him with love, and he becomes the only person she can ever imagine being with. She is devoted only to him.

Being a wife means being strong and supporting your partner, despite your own fears and anxieties. I have learned, particularly recently, that being part of a couple means facing stressful situations together. Sometimes it also means staying firm and having the confidence that your partner lacks. Marianne, Caroline and Anne must each watch as their beloved men go off to fight a war against Napoleon. They must wait at home as their men work diligently to protect not just their loved ones, but their entire country. It is not easy to be the one sitting at home, or to be the one who supports from the sidelines, but it is one of the most important functions that a wife (or any partner for that matter) has. Being a constant source of strength is essential, and these three women are able to dispel their husbands’ fears even when their own hearts and minds are racing. They put their own nervousness aside and bear so much burden so that the men they love can have but a little relief from their anxieties. They are the pillars that hold their husbands up.

Being a wife means never, ever losing your own identity and sense of self. Caroline Bingley becomes Caroline Buford, but she never stops being the woman she always was. She is far too feisty for that. Anne de Bourgh is the mistress of Rosings; it is her property and her relationship with Fitzwilliam does not call that into question, but rather encourages her to be even more forceful about her powers and her responsibilities. She takes on the finances and the politics with class and intellect, and she is truly a match for her politically-inclined beloved. Rather than becoming quiet through her love for him, she becomes louder and more confident in herself. She is anything but sickly and silent.

Being a wife sometimes means being a mother. It means creating a family, a home base. It means creating a life for your husband that will be mutually pleasurable and peaceful.

Of course, being a husband has its own challenges and responsibilities too…but I’ll leave that to SS to discover! 😉

I am hesitating to finish The Three Colonels because I have so enjoyed witnessing three women become accustomed to married life. I have easily identified with all three women, in their different stages of marital bliss, and I have recognized aspects of myself in them and traits that I would like to assume and apply to my own life.

I would highly recommend Caldwell’s novel to any reader that enjoys becoming a part of Miss Austen’s world. You will get sucked into the story, I promise you that!

The Future Wife,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 2: Ladies in Waiting

Just yesterday, I posted my review of the first episode of ITV’s new drama, Victoria. I was able to get my hands on both of the first two episodes this past weekend, and I plan to continue my Victoria Series by posting the immediate, point form thoughts that I documented while watching the episodes. Here are my thoughts on the second episode

Episode 2: Ladies in Waiting

– Mrs. Melbourne = scandal and rumour surround her memory.

– rumours/gossip that Victoria is mad/not “of sound mind”.

– politics = abolition of slavery in the Caribbean = Victoria is vehemently against slavery.

– the shots of the landscape of England during the day and at night are exquisite!

Victoria does seem a bit self-absorbed and not sensitive to Lord M’s stresses. She is human and flawed. She loses control when Lord M resigns and this makes her vulnerable. She needs to become more resilient and self-reliant/less dependant on him.

– Victoria’s violet dress with the white lace collar = ❥❥❥

– Melbourne is trying to force Victoria to be impartial and unbiased politically, but she is not yet experienced enough to be diplomatic. She is learning to be a monarch and a political figure.

flirting = men underestimate women and reduce them to figures merely wanting affection, doting and attention.

– Is Victoria simply being immature in refusing to align with Sir Robert Peele as new Prime Minister? Or does she have a plan?

– she is a bit childish in always summoning Lord M. She is struggling to stand alone; she lets her heart and her emotions get in the way.

~ “I am not a piece of clay to be molded by any hand.” ~

– everyone is conspiring against Queen V at all sides = her grandfather was mad and so people are accusing Queen V of being so. They are creating rumours about hallucinations of rats; Queen V is powerless to contradict gossip and what people say.

– Duke of Wellington = fascinating to see a historical figure I know very much about (he was a favourite of Charlotte Brontë) come to life;  he seems true, honest and noble as far as I can see.

Stay tuned for my review of the third episode, coming very soon!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 1: Doll no. 123

This past weekend I was able to get my hands on the first two episodes of ITV’s new drama, Victoria. Based on the life of Queen Victoria, from the start of her reign in 1837 when she was just 18 years old, the miniseries explores the character of one of the most significant monarchs of all time.

You all already know what a HUGE fan I am of Queen V, and I was beyond excited to hear that a television show was finally being made about not only a woman who was remarkable for her time, but also about an era that has had such a profound impact on our current society in so many ways that people don’t expect. When the trailer for Victoria was released not too long ago, I immediately wrote a blog review of it, and when I was watching the two first episodes yesterday, I had the idea that I should write down my thoughts about the show while watching and share them with you all in separate blog posts. Today begins this series of Victoria posts, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the first episode of the miniseries. These are merely point form notes that I jotted down while watching, to give you a sense of my viewing experience, but I will be posting a detailed review once the entire series comes to an end. So here we are…enjoy!

Episode 1: Doll no. 123

1837 ~ Victoria = 18 years old.

– born Alexandrina Victoria, the niece of King William IV.

– opening credits are GORGEOUS! Jenna Coleman is every inch a queen with her crown amid the Victorian wallpaper background.

~ “Victoria is hardly the name for a queen.”

– Victoria is already defiant from the start.

~ “I intend to see all my ministers alone.”

– a slow process with a learning curve = perfectly articulated that Victoria is belittled and must assert her powers.

– England and its scenery look gorgeous as well!

– men are trying not to “overburden” Victoria, but she is not to be underestimated.

~ “Nevertheless, I will meet him alone.” = she will face Prime Minister Lord Melbourne as a true monarch; she will rebel against Sir John Conroy (the villain!); she does not want to be “run”.

~ “When I require assistance, I will ask for it.”

– when Lord Melbourne called her “Queen Victoria”, it gave me chills! Their relationship is going to be complex and I can tell that Melbourne is going to be hugely important to her.

– I ADORE how strong Victoria is, while still being innocent (she runs places a lot, which is quite childish but cute) and wary; she is figuring out her way, but she will do it herself!

~ “To me, you are every inch a queen.” = Lord M will be a true match for Queen V. I’m interested to see how Prince Albert will factor in.

– Conroy is watching for errors, scrutinizing Victoria.

– crushes up note with suggestions for maids of honour = YES!

– Lord M stands up for Victoria and attests to the fact that her age is irrelevant.

– costumes = simply gorgeous! The outfit Victoria wears when she meets the military is so unique and fashionable. All her dresses are opulent but still simple, in accordance with the prudence of the time period.

– scrutiny and gossip about V’s relationship with Lord M = is it romantic? Sexual?

– Lord M’s wife ran away with Lord Byron = so fascinating from a literature perspective!

– wonderful moment when Victoria gets drunk at the ball = this shows real depth to her character because she is still young, inexperienced and foolish = she is strong and firm, but she still has a lot to learn.

– Lord M has some sort of emotional past and struggle; what are the details of Lord M’s scandal?

❥ the chemistry between Lord M and Queen V.

– every scene featuring Queen V is like a painting = they frame her exquisitely, especially during the Coronation.

– incident of accusing Lady Flora of being pregnant = proves that Victoria can be wrong, act rashly, make mistakes = she does intend to learn from every mistake, because as Lord M says, she has “courage”.

– she is learning to act like a queen, and it is so powerful that Lady Flora is the one who teaches her that she has a responsibility for her subjects.

~ “They are not dolls to be played with.”

~ “I’ve had enough of principle.” ~

– gorgeous moment at end between Lord M and Queen V. Lord M reveals that he had a son who died and he pledges himself to Queen V. She gives him reason to go on and he dispels her doubt and makes her strong. She can do this!

~ “Smile and wave and never show them how hard it is to bear.” ~

Stay tuned for my review of Episode 2 coming very soon!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart