You Should Watch “Pressing On: The Letterpress Film”

This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching Pressing On: The Letterpress Film. This was the result of a Kickstarter campaign and it is a lovely work! I’m a big DIYer and Maker in general, so this film was right up my alley regarding doing something slow and methodical with your hands to get a sense of accomplishment… while also collecting and sharing the history of letterpress.

It’s truly a lovely film and worth your time if you can get access to it. I seriously want a mini letterpress now in my home because of this film. I love paper, and have too many paper journals already.

Anyway, go see this film! I know I’ll be waiting for the DVD distribution!

Also, a lovely review for The Last April was written this past weekend by Emma Lucas, a book blogger and Instagrammer. I’ve included some snippets for fun:

CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 4/5
….It was educational, intriguing, and explained history to me through the eyes of Gretchen. The thoughts and feelings of both sides are exquisitely communicated through the use of dialogue and of newspaper articles, the issues surrounding ‘fake news’ (as often seen today!) were still prevalent all those years ago, with newspaper bias and genuine reporting mistakes, which led to wide struck panic and confusion and something that we can all understand.

….Overall, I would highly recommend this book, both to adults and young adults a like, for those with an interest in war fiction, of historical fiction or as an educational tool to learn. I would strongly suggest the book to any teachers who may be looking to educate students in an engaging way through story telling. Kroll’s writing is crisp and very easy to understand, and when I begrudgingly had to put the book down, it was very easy to pick it back up again.

Adults may find that the story is lacking in terms of gore, details on deaths etc, however as this is set for a younger audience this is more than understandable and did not in anyway impede my enjoyment of the book.

However, although the story is set in the past, unfortunately uncertain political times are a general constant somewhere in the world. The novella raises themes of hope, fear, and looking toward the future during these times, so will always have relevance.

I love following Emma’s book reviews because she always chooses a tea to correlate with her reading.

She suggests you read The Last April with Taylor’s of Harrogate Sour Cherry tea, because it’s “punchy as Gretchen’s attitude with a slight bitterness of Aunt Klegg, with the sweetness of Karl. Perfect accompaniment to this read!”

Reading: The War that Saved My Life

Title: The War That Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Genre: Historical Drama
Length: 316 pages

Summary: Ada’s club foot embarrasses her mother so much, that ten-year-old Ada has never left their one-bedroom London flat. It is 1939, a world war has just begun, and Ada is teaching herself to walk in secret. When Ada’s younger brother returns from school saying all the other children are being sent to the country for their safety, she suddenly sees a way out of her miserable existence…

Excerpt:
“I stared at the paper. I said, “This isn’t reading. This is drawing.”

“Writing,” she corrected. “It’s like buttons and hems. You’ve got to learn those before you can sew on the machine. You’ve got to know your letters before you can read.”

I supposed so, but it was boring. When I said so she got up again and wrote something along the bottom of the paper. “What’s that?” I asked.

“‘Ada is a curmudgeon,’” she replied.

“Ada is a curmudgeon,” I copied at the end of my alphabet. It pleased me.

Why should you read this book?

Ugh. This book was so good! I have to go back and read it again to decipher what made it so compelling… I had a terrible time putting it down. In general, I dislike first person narratives. So many middle grade books are written from this perspective, and this book is no exception. However, the narrative never broke character. The narrator never used words or thought concepts that broke my suspension of disbelief. The historical details weave in and out of the story skillfully. Because Ada has been held captive in her home a la Rapunzel, we learn about the world outside along with her. We learn about horses and trains and taxis. We learn about the changing role of aristocracy. We learn about the importance of the RAF and how terrible their survival rate was. We experience panic attacks when the Germans start bombing.

This book targets middle grade readers, but as an adult, I hardly noticed.

Read this book for an effortless dip into a moment of history told through a unique perspective. A physically disabled, illiterate, but intelligent child. This book really makes you think about how to treat children who are different… How, with the right caretaker, a child can blossom.

Check out Annette Oppenlander’s “Escape from the Past” YA Historical

Escape-from-the-pastToday we’re spotlighting a newly released young adult historical from Annette Oppenlander. She writes historical fiction for teens, like me! When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her dog, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Read to the end to enter her blog tour giveaway!

Escape From the Past: The Duke’s Wrath (YA Historical) 

Content

Some medieval swear words, mild romance, i.e. a few stolen kisses, mild violence

Summary

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that

1) He’s been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player.
2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And
3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever.

Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets’ nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

Praise for the Book

“Fast-paced compelling YA debut.”
Giselle Green, #1 bestselling author of A Sister’s Gift”

“A wonderfully crafted romp to the time of lords, ladies, and knights.”
Lee Ann Ward, author and former Senior Editor of Champagne Books

“Escape from the Past is chock-full of the tiny details that make a story feel realistic and immersive, from the leather ribbons used to fasten shoes to the slimy gruel that formed the bulk of the peasants’ diet….those who love historical fiction or medieval fantasy will certainly enjoy Escape from the Past.”
Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall trilogy

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash (Ends 9/25/2015)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Disclaimer: I have my Amazon Associates ID included with the direct purchase links I’ve provided in this spotlight, which means if you purchase this book, I will earn a couple cents for helping you find it.

Reading: The Wild Child

the wild childTitle: The Wild Child
Author: Mary Jo Putney
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 310 pages

Summary: Meriel’s beauty is more than fey, it is rumored she returned from India after the murder of her parents when she was five-years-old madder than any hatter in all of England. Dominic, though entirely against the idea, has agreed to help his twin brother Kyle to woo the mad, mute heiress. In exchange, Dominic will be awarded land of his own, which is all he has ever wanted his entire life. He never expected to fall in love her. He never expected he would take on the impossible task to make her speak again.

Excerpt:

pg 148 – God knew that he was living proof that, for despite all his warnings to himself, he had fallen in love with her. She elicited tenderness and desire, laughter and wonder, a fierce need to protect her from all threats.

Why should you read this book?

Another book which tackles the aftermath of a traumatic event, this time the raid of a compound while in India which leads to the murder of the heroine’s parents. Meriel returns from India a mute, content to spend her days in her extensive English garden communing with nature and ignoring the pain of the human world. When Dominic arrives, having never been able to stand watching any animal hurt, he finds a kindred spirit in Meriel, despite her silence.

Though the plot is fairly standard for historical fiction, as always, Putney’s characters shine. Meriel has these inklings, a different understanding of the world. She sees beauty in weeds, auras around those who matter, and disregards societal rules. Which made for her seductive pursuit of Dominic rather entertaining. She had watched animals in rut for years, she thinks she understands what is to be done. Poor Dominic, though he had rakish years, is mortified, making for humorous and sensual scenes where he clutches the arms of chairs and refuses to look at Meriel as she pursues him.

I feel as though the treatment of the relationship between the twins Kyle and Dominic could have been explored more. I loved the tender and passionate relationship between Dominic and Meriel. Again, this is a story where the beta hero shines, helping the heroine come out of her shell so they can have a healthy, equal relationship. Read this book for an unconventional heroine, a wonderful beta hero that I’d want to bring home with me, and hints of Putney’s Guardian series through the odd little quirks Meriel exhibits.

Reading: An Abundance of Katherines

abundanceofkatherinesTitle: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: General Fiction
Length: 215 pages

Summary: Colin Singleton is in love with Katherines. The problem with Katherines is that they dump him. Nineteen times, they dump him. Despairing from his latest run-in with a Katherine, the Katherine, Colin takes a road trip so he can concentrate on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he thinks will “predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and win him the girl.”

Excerpt:

pg 7 -Crying adds something: crying is you, plus tears. But the feeling Colin had was some horrible opposite of crying. It was you, minus something. He kept thinking about one word–forever–and felt the burning ache just beneath his rib cage.

pg 33 – Colin had no response to that. But he just didn’t get Hassan’s apathy. What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV.

pg 76 – The act of leaning in to kiss, or asking to kiss them, is fraught with the possibility of rejection, so the person least likely to get rejected should do the leaning in or the asking. And that person, at least in high school heterosexual relationships, is definitely the girl. Think about it: boys, basically, want to kiss girls. Guys want to make out. Always. Hassan aside, there’s rarely a time when a boy is thinking, “Eh, I think I’d rather not kiss a girl today.”

pg 77 – It rather goes without saying that Katherine drank her coffee black. Katherines do, generally. They like their coffee like they like their ex-boyfriends: bitter.

pg 200 – “I feel like, like, how you matter is defined by the things that matter to you. You matter as much as the things that matter to you do. And I got so backwards, trying to make myself matter to him. All this time, there were real things to care about: real, good people who care about me, and this place. It’s so easy to get stuck. You just get caught up in being something, being special or cool or whatever, to the point where you don’t even know why you need it; you just think you do.”

Why should you read this book?

This book had me chuckling on the first page. I follow John Green’s Vlog Brothers, and looked forward to that intellectual snark that keeps me coming back for more, and I was not disappointed. First, let’s address the main character’s name: Colin Singleton.

Any computer programmer or mathematician would recognize the joke at once: here is a young man who is desperate to be known, to be recognized as unique and special. A singleton, in object-oriented programming, is a one-of-a-kind object. You can have a class of an object, say, Car, and then have different objects that belong to the class of Car: Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc. A singleton has only one element in its class or set: it is unique,  special. Nerd!Belinda was ridiculously happy to see the intellectual snark and jokes went this far.

Read this book for a contemporary satire on the road trip story, while at the same time feeling heartfelt and snarky, as we all were in high school. A quick read, followed with an appendix where Green asked his mathematics professor friend to go through the math of Colin’s Underlying Katherine Predictability. With graphs and everything. I’ve never been so happy to see a parabola in my life.

Crossposted from my Goodreads account.

A Month of Ghostly Loved Ones: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir

Ah, October. The month of changing trees, nippy breezes, and hauntings. Last week I told you about the most recent Hamlet production that I saw and loved, starring the lovely David Tennant. This week, I’m pulling out a classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs Muir.

This was one of the first classic movies to really creep me out, make me laugh, and be supremely romantic. The plot is fairly simple.

It’s 1900, and “strong-willed widow” Lucy Muir goes to live in a seaside cottage in Britain, even though it seems to be haunted. She finds out quickly that it is entirely true! Lucy meets the ghost of the cottage’s former owner, Captain Gregg, and decides he will not scare her off. They become friends, and Lucy gets used to a man haunting her bedroom. Lo and behold, a man who happens to be alive comes a-courting, suddenly throwing the feelings between Captain Gregg and Lucy out in the open.

Why you need to watch this movie

If you’ve never watched a movie with Rex Harrison (are you NUTS? Go watch My Fair Lady NOW), you need to see this movie because Harrison is amazing. Handsome, stubborn, charming, crusty sea captain at his finest, he finds a match in pretty, stubborn, witty, funny young widow played by Gene Tierney. ALSO! You get to see itty-bitty Natalie Wood playing Tierney’s daughter, whose character as an adult narrates the story.

The banter in this movie is fantastic. Think Lizzie and Mr. Darcy. Here’s an example:

Captain Gregg: And the way he was smirking at you, like a cat in the fishmonger’s! You should have slapped his face!
Lucy Muir: Why? I found him… rather charming!
Captain Gregg: “Rather charming!” Now you’re starting to talk like him!
Lucy Muir: How in blazes do you want me to talk?
Captain Gregg: That’s better!

Seriously, if you’re looking for a fun haunting movie with some romance and great banter, check out The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Apparently it’s based on a book of the same name by Josephine Leslie. Haven’t read it yet, but I’m adding it to my Halloween reads.

Promotions

By the way, the newly released behind-the-scenes chapter called The Seance from Haunting Miss Trentwood is free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31. It’s a pretty funny chapter that lets us see a bit of the time between when Mary sees her father crawl from his grave and when Hartwell arrives at her front door looking for a blackmailer. She hires someone to perform a seance and send her father back to heaven, and the results are… well, you have to read it.

And! The love-story-not-love-story Mad Maxine is also free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31! A story about a woman who never thought she would fall in love, and when she does, what happens when illness mars the relationship. Same dates. Enjoy!

Please leave reviews, it would be so appreciated.

A Month of Ghostly Loved Ones: Hamlet

It’s October! Wouldn’t it be fun to troll the internet for ghostly loved ones doing their best by the people they left behind, whether they are children, lovers, and the like? I think so. Only because that was the theme for Haunting Miss Trentwood, and there were a lot of influences for that book.

This week I’m talking about my favorite movie version of Hamlet, starring David Tennant of Doctor Who delicious nerd-boy amazingness.

( If you click the image in  this post it will take you directly to the PBS online video showing the entire performance. )

Plot Summary from Cliff’s Notes

William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet follows the young prince Hamlet home to Denmark to attend his father’s funeral. Hamlet is shocked to find his mother already remarried to his Uncle Claudius, the dead king’s brother. And Hamlet is even more surprised when his father’s ghost appears and declares that he was murdered. Exact dates are unknown, but scholars agree that Shakespeare published Hamlet between 1601 and 1603. Many believe that Hamlet is the best of Shakespeare’s work, and the perfect play.

Why you need to watch this movie

So why do I love this version? Mainly because I feel like Tennant does a fantastic job of making me feel like Hamlet has kind of really lost his mind after seeing his father’s ghost. He starts out quiet and rather boring, actually, especially for those of us who obsess about Tennant after his stint on Doctor Who. I mean, really. He says the lines well enough, but without enthusiasm. Without personality.

And then WHAM-O.

Manic David Tennant at his finest, spouting Shakespeare like milk from a bottle, jumping around the stage, exclaiming, pulling at his hair, driving everybody nuts and yet being so adorable at the same time. It’s his interpretation of Hamlet that is different yet similar to his interpretation of The Doctor… so much energy, too difficult to contain, no way to direct it, so desperate for resolution.

Watch it and let me know your thoughts. There are so many versions of Hamlet out there… do you have a favorite?

Promotions

By the way, the newly released behind-the-scenes chapter called The Seance from Haunting Miss Trentwood is free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31. It’s a pretty funny chapter that lets us see a bit of the time between when Mary sees her father crawl from his grave and when Hartwell arrives at her front door looking for a blackmailer. She hires someone to perform a seance and send her father back to heaven, and the results are… well, you have to read it.

And! The love-story-not-love-story Mad Maxine is also free! A story about a woman who never thought she would fall in love, and when she does, what happens when illness mars the relationship. Same dates. Enjoy!

Please leave reviews, it would be so appreciated.

Best,

Belinda