maximizing productivity

1: don’t get distracted by your brothers watching movies in the next room. Not even if it’s Paddington. This, I stress, is the most essential. Try to block out distractions! They are the thieves of productivity! (obviously, you can’t get rid of some distractions. If you have smol children, please don’t leave them alone for long periods of time. They may wreck havoc throughout the rest of your home and then you’ll have a real distraction)

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(they’ll probably have fun, though.)

2: I’ve never been able to write with music going in the background (even instrumental tracks are too distracting for me). However, I do like some sort of background noise, and I’ve recently discovered, which helps you create a combination of your own. When I’m not in the mood for a thunderstorm (which isn’t often 🙂 ) I particularly like a mixture of wind, rustling leaves, and a faint train in the distance. My favorite part about noisli is that you can control how loud each element is, so if you want loud ocean waves crashing nearby with just the faintest of birdsong in the background, you can do so.

3: I don’t know about you, but the surest way for me to kill any inspiration is to open a blank word document. I just stare at it for twenty minutes and get nothing done. Dredging up those first few sentences are like pulling teeth. However, one thing that I’ve learned about myself is that it’s always easier to begin writing if I start hand-writing first. I don’t know what it is about putting pencil or pen to paper, but it’s much easier for me if I start that way and then don’t move to the computer until later. When I get frustrated because my fingers simply won’t move fast enough to get down all of my ideas, then I know it’s time to make the switch to my laptop.

4: I read this one on tumblr and thought it was ridiculous, but I decided to try it and…it kind of works? I’ve always known that changing the font of your document helps during the rewriting and especially the editing stage, but writing that first draft in comic sans? Like I did during middle school? But somehow, when everything looks cringy anyway, it unlocks that self-conscious block that can prevent writing–even if it’s terrible–and allows me to move forward.

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5: When I’m in the middle of a scene and I’m struggling with what happens next, I’ve been known to pace. Sometimes, as I walk back and forth, I act out the drama in my head. Or even literally act it out. It helps me set the tone of dialogue, and if I’m acting, what seems natural in the moment usually is. It helps especially in crafting arguments, I’ve noticed.

6. Sometimes–and this is more a school paper-writing habit than a fiction writing one–rewards work. When I get to five hundred words, I’ll have a Hershey’s kiss! One thousand words and I’ll go downstairs and get a snack! Yes, most of my rewards are food. And yes…it does take a bit of discipline to stick with it. But self-discipline is a Good Thing and this helps me practice it and helps me to get work done. (plus, I get food, so wins all around).

And, as always—

-pray ( a lot )

-drink ( a lot of ) water. Or coffee. Or tea.

-relax. You’ve got this.


recently read

Every Jane Austen book, everImage result for jane austen novels

I took a Jane Austen in Literature and Film class this semester, which meant I read through all of her books, including some of her teenage writings that I hadn’t read before. After all of this, I can say that Emma firmly remains my favorite Austen novel, but the big surprise was how much I loved Sense and Sensibility this time around–it’s never been my favorite, but in the five or so years since I first read it, I’ve discovered that it’s so, so much better than my younger self thought.

The Miller’s Girl // Nina Clare34876030

I haven’t read many “Rumpelstiltskin” retellings, so when I was in the mood for a fairy tale and saw this one was free (!) on Kindle, I snatched it up and started reading it immediately. I really liked it; it was pretty true to the original story, but was fleshed out and expanded with distinct characters and political drama. In my Goodreads review I mentioned the feel of it struck me as very reminiscent of the German TV show Sechs auf einen Streich (which is a compliment, because it’s a lovely show). The author has also written a retelling of “King Thrushbeard,” which I’m now very interested in reading!

Goodreads / Amazon

The Beast of Talesend // Kyle Robert ShultzThe Beast of Talesend: After Beauty and the Beast (Beaumont and Beasley Book 1) by [Shultz, Kyle]

I’m honestly embarrassed at how long it took me to get around to reading this book! I follow Kyle Robert Shultz on Twitter and we run in a lot of the same fairy tale-loving circles, so I’ve seen a lot about the Beaumont & Beasley series. It’s basically a 1920s detective story in a world where fairy tales exist, so obviously I’m going to love it, right? I’m pretty conservative when it comes to what magical content I’m “okay” with, so it did walk the line a little bit, but overall it’s an incredibly fun read with with lots of banter and humor, so A+ stuff.

Goodreads / Amazon

306841Old Friends and New Fancies // Sybil G. Brinton

Being in such a Jane Austen mood, I figured it was time to tackle Sybil G. Brinton’s 1914 “imaginary sequel” to Austen’s books. I enjoyed a lot of the connections she made between characters (like connecting William Price to the Wentworths because Navy™ and all that) but there were definitely some things I wasn’t keen on. I took particular offense of her portrayal of Emma and Mr. Knightley; I don’t think Brinton really understood the characters at all (and they’re my favorite, so I’m biased). Also, the decision to cast Mary Crawford as a victim in Mansfield Park was equally puzzling and not to my taste (a reformed Mary would have been an interesting thing; however, this novel didn’t really seem to fully grasp the horridness of some of her actions in MP). However, I liked Brinton’s decision to cast Georgiana as heroine, and it was interesting to see how Jane Austen’s characters were viewed by an author a hundred years ago.

Goodreads / Amazon / Project Gutenberg

YALLFest 2018


All right, despite being in the “writing community” for years, for some reason I didn’t know about YALLFest until LAST YEAR. I suppose I’ve always assumed that major writing events like this just don’t happen in my area. But boy, was I wrong. THIS IS A MAJOR THING THAT HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR LIKE THIRTY MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE.

Anyway, this was my first year attending YALLFest, and it was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I really enjoyed it! For those of you who don’t know, YALLFest is a young adult book festival held every year in Charleston (South Carolina) where there are tons of book signings, author panels, and giveaways. This year I wasn’t familiar with a whole lot of the authors, but I still had a lot of fun (I wasn’t able to attend last year, which I’m still super bummed about because Marissa Meyer, Jennifer Nielsen, and Maggie Stiefvater and several other authors were all there and I WASN’T #stilldevastated)


I went with a couple friends, and pretty much right off the bat we picked up a free book! We got ARCs of Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury (which sounds like it’s basically an Anastasia retelling set in space??? Plus I have read a couple of Jessica Khoury’s books before and enjoyed them) so that was a pretty excellent way to start the day. Then I headed off to the first panel I wanted to hear: “Palaces From Paragraphs, Worldbuilding Done Right.” It was such a fun panel, and all of the authors sounded like they’d created such interesting books that it gave me more to put on my to-read list.


(a terrible photo of (L to R) Adrienne Young, Veronica Roth, Lisa Maxwell, Dhonielle Clayton, and Stephanie Garber. I was one of the last people in the room, so I had a seat on the back row)

I checked out the “Rebellions & Reconciliations” panel next, and then there was a panel/waffle giveaway and it was honestly my favorite part of the whole day because those waffles were amazing. Apparently they came from Sweet Belgium which is where I will be spending all of my money  from now on.



Then, my friends were gracious and followed me as I took a detour to fulfill a geology extra credit assignment that involved tracking down specific buildings downtown and identifying the types of stones they were made from. It was a bit more difficult than anticipated, but I got some lovely (and unexpected) help from the folks at the Francis Marion Hotel when I went inside to ask them what stone their floors are made of (It’s marble, btw).

picture proof for my professor that I did, indeed, go downtown to do the assignment 😉

Then it was off to lunch at Panera, and then back to the ARC tent where we got two more free books, a free tote, and free candy, pins, and lip balm. (yeah…after that first free book it took us like 3 hours to figure out how to get another one)


(“Rebellions and Reconciliations” panel with (L to R) Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard, Danielle Page, Destiny Soria, and Adrienne Young)


(I apologize for another terrible photo! “Myth Making” with (L to R) Jimmy Cajoleas, Alex London, Stephanie Garber, Roshani Chokshi, and Renée Ahdieh)

I didn’t attend any of the signings, since the lines were crazy long and I hadn’t actually read many of the books by these authors. We did attend a couple more panels, though: “Myth Making” and “And We’ll Never Be Royals,” both of which were a lot of fun. Also, it was a little odd but fantastic to just…see the authors walking around? At one point I almost walked into Ally Condie.


(“We’ll Never Be Royals” panel with (L to R) Renée Ahdieh, Danielle Page, Emiko Jean, Robin LaFevers, and Laura Sebastian)

Afterwords, one of the English professors from school invited us over to her house for dinner, which was so kind and lovely and then I went home and probably should have gone to bed, but instead I stayed up and wrote this, except it took me another two days to get around to adding the photos to it so I could post it.

Overall, the day was exhausting, but fun. Even though YA is a genre that can be pretty hit-and-miss with me, I really enjoyed hearing all of the authors speak, and any event that has a chance for free books is good with me. I definitely plan on going next year…but hopefully I’ll be a little more savvy at getting those free books.

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Another November…

…another year not doing NaNo. Guys, I so miss NaNoWriMo so much! I tried doing it my first year of college…and the next…but I had to let it go. I told myself that of course I could carve the time to write everyday. But the thing is, it turns out time isn’t the issue.

It’s my brain.

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Because of my chosen area of study, I have a lot of writing I have to do. And after spending hours and hours a day studying, writing and looking at words…when I get a spare moment to rest…my brain just won’t word anymore.

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For my own mental sanity and health, trying to fit in nearly 2,000 words of extra writing a day just wasn’t going to work. It took me two years to come to terms with this, but I am okay now.


But I am happy this year! Because this is my last NaNo in college, and then I’ll be DONE WITH SCHOOL and can focus on writing!! (and, you know, getting a job, but that’s less exciting)

(Also, I finished writing my Research Prospectus today, so that’s good! I mean, anytime you finish a ten-page paper about what you’re going to write a paper about, that’s cause for celebration right there)

Anyway, even though I’m not NaNo-ing, I love reading about everyone else’s projects! So, if you’re participating, what are you working on? (and if you’re blogging about it, I’d love to check it out!)

Good luck to all of you NaNo-ers, off to create fantabulous stories. May inspiration be plentiful and your goals within reach.

a talk over coffee

I really haven’t updated on here very much, have I?

I’m sitting here, coffee in hand (yes, I drink coffee now and I hate myself for it, thanks) while we prepare for a hurricane that may or may not force us to leave. I’ve got a pile of college assignments to keep me occupied, although if the power goes out I’m in trouble, since most of them are submitted through the internet. Basically this means I’ve spent the last five hours doing every assignment I can, just in case. Yet strangely, this is one of the few moments where I find I actually have a couple minutes to spare to write a blog post.

élégance noire

School was rough last month–the entire first week I was shocked at how hard it was to get back into the swing of things. I was depressed, tired, and cranky, and then just as I finally acclimated to the stress of my final fall semester, I came down with a bad cold that’s only now lessening. I’ve also been incredibly slack with my writing: the entire summer was a struggle. I’ve barely written a word since July and felt drained, as if I didn’t have anything to offer. Also, like a lot of us, I struggle with writer’s guilt, that pesky thing that can motivate but more often just nags at me when I spend my leisure time doing anything that isn’t writing. I knew that January Snow, which I had hoped to release in December or January, would definitely not be ready on time. That’s one announcement I have to make–Jan is pretty much going to be put on hold until after I graduate in the spring. Lord willing, it will still be a Dec/Jan release…only in 2019/20 instead of 2018. I apologize for that, but I feel so relieved about it. I’ve got a lot to handle this year (Senior Thesis time!) but for the past few months I’ve also been feeling hopelessly dull about my writing. In fact, Christine’s most recent post encapsulates a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately.

Legit me right now. My characters are fully developed, my world has been built, I have plot... And nothing.

About a month ago, I came up with a story idea that I really, really liked. It was more contemporary, but had lots of elements taken from a bunch of things that I love. The only problem? It seemed better suited for a comic that a novel. Three days ago I decided, “What the heck- I’m going to plan it out anyway.” I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but since it takes place in a fictional city, I’ve been playing around with it. Naming buildings and my characters’ workplaces, fleshing out my heroes’ backstories and just, frankly, having fun. Brainstorming is always one of my absolute favorite parts of the writing process, and I’m running with it. Today, after I read my allotted chapters of Pride and Prejudice (I’m in a Jane Austen class–yes, be jealous!) I’m going to spend some time mapping out this city. Writing mostly historical fiction, I haven’t done this since my long-abandoned fantasy attempt six years ago, and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed it!

☽p i n t e r e s t : kgfamilyg☾

Dealing with disappointment in my writing, I’ve been watching a lot more TV- perhaps a little too much, but some good has come out of it. I’ve recaptured my love of story. In some ways, my recent TV viewing habits have prompted me into writing again by inspiring through a different medium of storytelling. Instead of dreading writing, I’m looking forward to it–because I’m excited again by the stories I have to tell.

Basically, I’m changing the way I write (or rather, the way I go about writing). I have a bunch of short story ideas I’ve never pursued because I always wanted to finish my “big” projects first. Now? I’m going to tackle them. Additionally, I’m taking a break from the publishing/advertising side of the indie author scene. Instead, I’m going to start writing for enjoyment again, and finish a handful of first drafts that I’ve never completed before entering into the publishing world again. It’s a break I need. It’s not that I’m becoming less motivated or slacking off in the self-discipline department; if anything, I’m getting my act together. But right now, that means focusing on school (and later, getting a “regular” job). In the meantime, I’ll be discovering the joy of writing again.

On the go. Write anywhere & everywhere.
Also on the list? Embracing my tendency to write things down quickly–even if it’s only a sentence–whenever I have a burst of inspiration or a spare moment, instead of trying to wait until a block of designated “writing time.” Because right now, designated writing times waiver between “rare” and “never.”

For instance, the project I’m working on now? I don’t have any snippets for you yet (obviously) but I can share the description for it that I have on my secret Pinterest board…

A tale of science-y conspiracies, heists, and superhero shenanigans. Like if you put the x-files, batman, and leverage in a blender…but added cinnamon rolls. Lots and lots of cinnamon rolls.

(Did I basically just combine a bunch of my favorite things? Of course I did! What else is writing for, after all?)

That’s another change I’m making–to be brave enough to tackle the weird projects I have, not just my historical and fairy tale retellings. To, you know, work on that time-travel spy novel, that fantasy trilogy, even that middle grade book that I abandoned after half the story I’d already written got eaten by my computer.

It’s all got me rather excited XD

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me. And now? Well, now I’ve got a hurricane to protest–er, prepare for.



Sunshine Blogger Tag

A couple weeks ago, Christine Eyre at Overflowing Mind & Pen tagged me! I’m a bit of a slowpoke, so I’m only now getting around to filling it out. I’ve been incredibly busy this week so I didn’t tag anyone myself, for which I hope you’ll all forgive me.

What’s something simple and mundane that you get excited about? Fire and thunderstorms. I really like any excuse to light candles. Also– wind. I get really, really excited about wind.

What’s your newest favorite song? I think my sister is getting annoyed at all the ABBA I’m listening to right now.
Favorite cake flavor? I don’t know if I really have a favorite! Sometimes I’m in the mood for a chocolate-y cake, and sometimes something buttery and vanilla-y. I’m usually up for trying any type of fancy flavored Pinterest-esque cake, so long as it’s not too fruity. (I don’t like fruit.)

Homemade 6 inch funfetti layer cake is filled with sprinkles and decorated with vanilla buttercream flowers! Find the easy recipe and cake decorating video on
What inspired your blog name? (Borrowing this one from Chelsea because it’s a good question!)  Originally this blog was going to be called “Only a Novelist” (inspired by the Jane Austen “only a novel” quote) but I wasn’t sure if it sounded down-to-earth and cozy enough. Then, I was admiring my bookshelf (which I do from time to time 🙂 ) and figuring out which Barnes and Noble Leatherbound classic I wanted to get next. And that’s when it hit me…Leatherbound. Bookish but cozy. And there you go.
What blogger has inspired you the most? (Also borrowing from Chelsea.) A friend recommended K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors blog a few years ago, and it’s been one of the most helpful blogs I’ve ever followed.
Favorite Middle-Earth race? (Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Men, Ents, etc.) I may have to go with hobbits on this one. There are aspects that I like about all the races of Middle Earth, but ultimately, Hobbiton would be my happy place.
What is an art medium or hobby you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t yet? I’ve always wanted to try kickboxing. My college has kickboxing classes, so I’m hoping that when school starts again I can work up the motivation to attend.
What’s an aesthetic that really moves your heart? (E.g. starry skies, or a stack of books with a cup of tea, or a lamppost in a wood. 🙂 ) It depends on my mood, but I’ve actually created a pinterest board literally labeled “aesthetically me” so I think I might be able to show you this one better in pictures than words (although, I do also love stars and outer space, which doesn’t really fit as well on this board? I should make a space aesthetic board. That’s what I should do.)

Favorite color combination? hmmm….I like mossy greens and soft purples, but I also like warm burgundy and gold….and dusty rose with pretty much anything.
What’s an obscure topic you know a lot about? Well, I’m not sure if the topic is obscure, but I probably know more than the average person about Batman. I also keep a mental list of odd history facts to access during awkward silences. (The difficult thing about awkward silences, of course, is that what makes them awkward is that you forget all those facts and just sit there…awkwardly.)
Do you have any relics from your childhood that you’re never throw out? (E.g. plastic horses, an old Winnie-the-Pooh bear, or your first pair of glasses [and yes, these are items I’ve hung on to through the years. 🙂 ) Yes! I have a lot, actually. But the first that comes to mind is my dolls- I still have a bin of all my Barbie dolls, and of course, my American Girl and A Life of Faith Dolls.

In Which I Take a DNA Test

I know that when I first started this blog I mentioned that I wanted to post occasionally about my genealogy research. Which, of course, I haven’t done. A part of this is due to privacy- I mean, do I really want strangers to know all about my family history? Also, would you even care?

And then I go and read other people’s genealogy blog posts which proves that there is at least (1) weirdo who likes prying into other people’s family history. (Seriously, most people who know me understand that once we get to level 2 friendship, the first thing I’m probably going to ask is, “Hey? So where does your family come from? Do you know?”)

Anyway, I’ve been contemplating doing one of those ancestry DNA tests for years. I haven’t before this because 1) they are expensive and 2) do I really want my DNA stuck in a database somewhere? I mean, if I was an evil super-villain, I would attack an ancestry DNA database to get DNA to build clones who could do crimes for me. Wouldn’t you? Image result for young frankenstein gif

But then Ancestry had a sale. I like sales. I like genealogy research. Therefore, my qualms did not stop me from spitting into a vial so a mysterious entity could examine it for profit.

I’m starting to think I would not last long in a sci-fi novel.

A lot of people question the accuracy of these tests, but since I already had a pretty good idea of what my ethnicity is (or should be, according to my research) I thought it would be interesting to see how it would match up. All of my mother’s ancestors came to America no earlier than 1910, and while my dad’s family has been in the U.S. longer, I’ve gone back pretty far on that side of the family, enough to know that he should be about 50% German and 50% Irish/English. So based on that, I was judging that my results would roughly come out around these percentages:

25% Eastern European (Polish)

25% Scandinavian (Danish)

25% Western European (German)

12.5 % Irish

12.5% British

Now, while we get 50% of our DNA from each parent, I know that what we get is shuffled around and not evenly divided (for instance, Mom might give me more Polish DNA than Danish, while Dad might give me more German than Irish. Since I think I look more German and Polish than anything else, that’s what I would have expected.) I also have one ancestor on my paternal grandmother’s side who was possibly Native American (Wampanoag, to be exact); however, short of time travel, there’s not really any way of knowing. Being my 9th great-grandmother, it would be doubtful that I would even share any of her DNA, so while I had a slim hope that something might come up to tell me one way or the other, I wasn’t really counting on it.

And….I got my results back. I AM SO GERMAN. Everything except 2 of my “low confidence” regions were the ethnicities I was expecting, but the percentages –except for the Eastern European, which at 23% is almost on-the-money accurate– was way off. Also, I would need to get my mother tested, because unless she has some western European in her, there’s no way I can really be more than 50% “Europe West.” (as Denmark borders Germany, I’m thinking that some ethnic mixing might possibly be why that category is so high in my DNA- the areas even overlap on ancestry’s map. Meanwhile, since my great-great grandmother on my Danish side was actually Swedish, that may be where the stronger Scandinavian DNA is coming from.)


But where is the British and Irish in me? Where? Poor Nanny. I did not inherit much from her, I’m afraid. Except for the >1% Finnish/Northwest Russia (which was a surprise, and something I assume comes from the Scandinavian side) I think everything in the low confidence region is coming from her. Including the biggest surprise: 2% Iberian Peninsula.


The Iberian Peninsula was even more befuddling that the <1% South Asia! I’ve heard before that sometimes trace amounts of Native American DNA can come up as Asian (though usually East Asian), and more research has also suggested that it might also be evidence of a Romani connection, both of which seem more likely than an ancestor from India, especially because, with my other grandparents’ DNA generally accounted for, my paternal grandmother seems the most likely source. I have her English side going back to early colonial America (early as in the ship they came over from in the 1600s) but the Irish side of the family is the one that’s the most mysterious. I know my great-great grandparents were born in Ireland and came to America sometime around the 1870s. But before that, I have no earthly idea. I don’t even know where in Ireland they were from- I just know they were Quinns and O’Briens.  Apparently, from what I’ve learned after much googling (not always the most reliable method of information gathering, but a very convenient one) there is a genetic connection between Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula and so that’s the only guess I have as to where that ethnicity is coming from.

Additionally, the percentages themselves are a little shaky, as even ancestry admits. All together, each percentage only adds up to 97-98%. When I click for more information, each ethnicity gives me a range. On all the portions of my DNA tested (40 of them in total) I got different percentages. The range is between the lowest and highest percentages they got; the ultimate percentage they give me is the average. For instance, on one portion of DNA, my European West heritage was as low as 34%, on another, as high as 88%.


You can read more about Ancestry’s method of testing here. Some of the ranges for me were quite large; Scandinavia was between 0% and 25%; Europe East between 12% and 33%. In the low confidence regions, Great Britain got up to 7%, while the Iberian Peninsula and Ireland/Scotland/Wales got to 5% and 4% respectively. The two lowest, Asia South and Finland/Northwest Russia, both started at 0% and got as high as 2% and 3%.

Ultimately, I found the whole thing fascinating, but it’s also made me want to get my parents and grandparents tested so I can narrow these ethnicities down a little more. Though I doubt I’ll ever pinpoint which ancestor it’s from, the Finnish/Russian connection was interesting! And it’s made me even more eager to uncover more from my ever-elusive Irish side.

So, if you’ve read through all of this, I think that makes us level 2 friends? Which means I get to ask: what countries are your family from? Have you ever taken a DNA test like this? What did you find out?


Top 5 Favorite Marvel Films

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In honor of Infinity War (which I’ve seen twice, help) I thought I could come back to blogging for a bit to give you all a list of my personal favorite Marvel films. Mainstream it may be now, but I am a huge Marvel fan and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I’m not ranking all of the movies, because the ratings get a bit fuzzy the farther down you go. I definitely have them divided into categories- my very favorites, the pretty good ones, and the ones I don’t particularly like- but the ranking within those categories is never really settled. But my top five? I think I can do that much, at least.

1.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

This movie, in my opinion, is as close to perfect as a Marvel film will ever get. It’s one of only four movies I’ve ever seen in the theater twice, and the tone of the film is so different (less flashy and “superhero-y”) than any of the previous films that it really stands out to me. It’s got a rock-solid theme and message, and I’ve never loved Captain America more than in this movie. The action is intense and flawless. There’s friendship of all kinds. There’s betrayal and corruption. It’s a superhero movie that even people who don’t like superhero movies can enjoy.

2. The Avengers

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Today’s confession is that, as much as I love Marvel Studios, I wasn’t with them on the journey since day one. I “met” them a lot longer down the line, not with Iron Man, but with The Avengers. Maybe that’s backwards, but it was enough to get me hooked. I was floored by how much I loved it. By the the time Thor: The Dark World came out, I and my family had caught up on every Marvel film leading up to The Avengers. We’ve kept up with every subsequent movie since.

I love so many things about this film. While there’s something fun and satisfying just about the mere fact that all of these superheroes and cross-movie characters get to meet each other, the way it’s done is what makes it work. They all come together in a believable way, and if there’s one movie trope I never tire of, it’s when a group of dissimilar and bickering individuals have to learn to work together for a common goal.

3. Thor/ Thor Ragnarok

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Perhaps combining these two is cheating, but there are elements about both that I absolutely love, and elements about both that I…don’t. Thor is great for a variety of reasons: it has a heavy helping of Shakespearean-like drama, a lesson of humility and what makes true leadership, and it introduced one of the best villains Marvel’s ever had. At the same time, the earth characters simply aren’t as interesting (although Darcy amuses me greatly). Still, I’m always surprised by how few people count this as one of the “good” Marvel movies when it checks so many of my own personal boxes.

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Meanwhile, no movie divides my family like Ragnarok. The Wand household is split into two camps: those who love the movie, and those who think it is the stupidest film to exist in the Marvel universe (obviously I’m in the first camp since it’s #3 on my list). Sure, it has its faults. A part of me can’t help but want a tragic epic of the fall of Asgard, not a comedy, and certain characters deserve a much better death than what they got. But the humor, while a bit too heavy in places, never fails to make me laugh. It’s satisfying to see Loki and Thor’s relationship develop into the direction that it does (to see them fighting together instead of against each other!) and one-eyed Thor coming down with all his lightning while Immigrant Song is blaring in the background is one of my hands-down favorite Marvel scenes ever, thanks.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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So The Avengers might have been my first introduction to Marvel Studios film…but my first introduction to Marvel movies was the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. I give those movies (especially Spider-Man 2) a lot of credit in fueling my penchant for superheroes, but I’ve got to admit that Tom Holland is my favorite Spider-Man. He acts like a real teenager (and looks like one too…) but he’s a likeable teen, the kind you’d want for a friend. And I’m not a fan of the Iron Man films, but I always love Tony in all the other Avengers movies…and  Spider-Man: Homecoming is no exception. I love that the conflict is smaller-scale in size, and I’d argue that Vulture, along with Loki and Killmonger, form the trio of “best Marvel Villains” in the pre-Infinity War set.

5. Black Panther

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I love this one for a lot of the same reasons I love The Winter Soldier: because it’s different. I was a little tentative to put this one on the list because, unlike all of the others, I’ve only seen it once. But there’s enough to love about it that I had to put it in my top 5.

Aside from the film being a visual stunner (the Wakanda love is real, people), I love the way African culture informs so much of the movie. And my weakness for royal family drama (as in Thor) is fulfilled here, too. Walking out of the theater I thought, Yep. This makes the top 5. I just feel like I need to watch it again to be able to fully articulate why I liked it.

Coming up with #4 and #5 were difficult! Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy were vying for those spots too, but were bogged down by the mediocrity of their villains and my dislike of some of their crude humor. And even some of the films that are near rock bottom of the list have their redeeming qualities, so that makes ranking hard, too. (Age of Ultron introduced Scarlet Witch and Vision, after all. And while I’m not a huge fan of the Iron Man movies, where would the franchise be without them?)

Of course, we all know the best superhero movie of all time isn’t even a Marvel one. Of course not.

It’s that

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master work

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of cinematic genius

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Sky High

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(if you didn’t get that, it was a joke)


Introducing January Snow

This is how I see January. Accessories shot
pic via pinterest

Ah. January Snow. The story that started on a car ride six years ago during an animated family discussion on our favorite Disney princesses. That story idea went through multiple revisions and complete plot overhauls, and was inches away from being abandoned all together. But January Snow managed, much like its eponymous heroine, to escape death once again.

So here it is, January Snow: Snow White. 1920s. New York. Mobsters, mediums, and miners. Sin and vice and sacrifice and redemption. And even an action scene or two. Here’s the official blurb:

January Snow has blood on her hands.

Never the obedient daughter of her father’s expectations, she nevertheless thinks she’s finally found a way to earn his respect. But when her plan to take down her father’s rival ends in disaster, her stepmother is convinced that the tragedy that ensues is January’s fault- and she might not be wrong. Maria d’Angelo has spent her life communicating with the spirits, and now she’s certain they’re telling her one thing: January needs to die.

David Brendan has been searching for his brother’s killer, but the only witness to Jon’s death is the runaway daughter of one of the city’s most notorious crime bosses. Suddenly thrust from his high society world into one of mob violence, shadowy spiritualism, and political conspiracy, he realizes that he’s not the only one looking for January Snow- and if he doesn’t find her first, she won’t be the only one who ends up dead.

Coming Winter 2018

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Another Period Drama Tag

another period drama tag

About a million years ago (okay, okay- it was like, five years, tops) I did a tag rather similar to this one. So when I saw this one making the rounds I though, well, why not? I mean, other than the fact that no one actually tagged me (I don’t think? My poor blogging friends have probably finally given up on tagging me because I never fill them out. My blogging has been sporadic since I decided to attend college. But I’ve only got 2 1/2 more semesters to go and then I’m freeeeee)

1. What was the most recent period drama you watched? Share what you thought of it.

Love...I want *this* copy.

I actually wanted to do this tag because after a drought of not watching any period dramas, I finished one yesterday! I just finished reading North and South (for the second time) because I’m writing a research paper on it for my Victorian Literature class, so it seemed like an opportune time to watch the film. It’s not my favorite period drama, but I hadn’t seen it for a few years, and it’s been lovely revisiting it after so long. It was actually better than I remembered (My favorite part will forever be in the last episode when Thornton and Higgins begin to become friends).

2. Do you generally prefer period dramas in the form of a movie or a TV series/mini-series? Why?

I don’t mind movies, but if the period drama is based on a book, then I generally prefer a miniseries- you can just pack so much more into it than a movie.

3. What is your favorite musical period drama?

My Fair Lady. Eliza Doolittle. Henry Higgins. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison

This is hard because most of my favorite musicals are historical. My Fair Lady, Singin’ in the Rain, and now The Greatest Showman are definitely at the top.

4. Read the book first or watch the movie first?

I generally prefer to read the book  first, but sometimes watching the movie is useful; when I was first getting into Charles Dickens’s works, for example, there were so many characters that it was helpful to have a face to go with the names (I’m looking at you, Bleak House). Now I’ve gotten used to Dickens enough where that’s not so much an issue, but if my interest in a story is only so-so, I tend to be more willing to watch the movie, since it’s less time consuming.

Bleak House: A dark but humorous Dicken's tale. The best and worst of humanity are featured along with the truly absurd that only Dicken's could depict with such life.

5. What is a valuable life lesson you learned from a period drama?

Don’t try cleaning lace in buttermilk if you have a cat around.

Cranford. Imelda Staunton "there is lace at stake!"

6. Which period drama hero would you be likely to fall in love with in real life?


I’ve always had a soft spot for Professor Bhaer, though? (plus I’m pretty much Jo. In so many ways…)

I've always found Gabriel Byrne oddly hot.  And now I kind of find Professor Bhaer to be oddly hot.

Also Mr. Knightley. I could definitely fall for Mr. Knightley. Or Henry Tilney.

7. Do you ever like to binge-watch a period drama series?

Yes in theory, no in practice. I’m not the best binge watcher (which is probably a good thing) because anything more than 4 hours gives me a headache and I just feel ick. So if something is more than four or five episodes, I generally won’t watch it all at once.

8. What things go best with watching a period drama?

Something hot to drink, a blanket, and snacks (usually something chocolate).

9. Which period drama do you think you would fit into best?

I was made for that Cranford life.  I mean, can’t you just see me with a pajama-wearing cow?

Cranford ~ If I had a cow I would dress her in pajamas too. ~Julia McKenzie as Mrs. Forrester~

No? You think I’d find it too boring? Well, I’d take a jaunt to 1920s Egypt in The Mummy, then. (These movies totally count as period dramas! As does Indiana Jones. Feel free to fight me on it.)

The Mummy Returns, 2001

10. If you could have any period drama character for a best friend, who would it be? And why?

David Suchet. I have such a hard time separating him from Poirot. I see this photo and think, it's so sad Suchet died. But he didn't. !!

I just want to be Poirot’s friend. He might let me come along with him and solve mysteries, and I feel like he’d give good advice, too. (I’d love to be Miss Lemon, honestly. And her outfits are delightful, as well.)

11. Show us a picture of a period drama costume you wish you could wear in real life.

You can call me Agent. (Really, though, all of Peggy’s outfits are fabulous- plus, I totally would wear them in real life.)

Partager Tweeter Épingler E-mail Quelle classe ! Voici les portraits promotionnels de la saison 2 d’Agent Carter : Hayley Atwell est Peggy Carter ; ...


Agent Carter

12. Are there any period dramas you like to watch during a particular season or holiday?

I sometimes wish AG had jointed limbs. I would love to recreate this scene with my dolls.

I know everyone says Little Women at Christmas, but there is something so cozy and Christmas-y about it.

13. Which period drama has your favorite soundtrack?

I love the soundtrack of North and South. Sadly, it’s not available for purchase. Of course, you can always buy yourself a violin and teach yourself how to play for the sole purpose of learning the North and South main theme. Not, of course, that that is anything I would ever do. *nervous laughter*

(In my defense, this was years before I had Spotify, so…)

14. Dream cast your favorite actor and actress in a period drama of your choosing; tell which parts they would play and why.

Natalie mentioned in her answers to this tag that Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (who are married in real life) would make an excellent Barney and Valancy in The Blue Castle….and I can’t stop thinking about how perfect that would be.

15. Are there any period dramas you like more than one version of?

I liked both versions of Sense and Sensibility. Also, though I hated it at first, the newer version of Emma is one that has definitely grown on me and now I like it almost as much as the 1996 one.

Emma in the rain, Romola Garai, 2009'It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!' ~Emma.

16. What are the top three period dramas that you haven’t seen on your to-watch list?

Well, I have seen most of the period dramas that I’m interested in. There are a few that I’ve meaning meaning to watch, though some of them have content issues which is why I’ve been putting them off.

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Far From the Madding Crowd
  3. The new Little Women  (except I’ve heard some things that make me fear I’ll hate it?) and the newest season of Victoria

17. Show a picture of your favorite period drama hairstyle.

Downton Abbey has the best hairstyles. (I love all the flapper ‘dos later in the series, too)

Sybil Crawley my favorite :,,(

18. What was your favorite wedding in a period drama?

Victoria and Albert’s wedding is just so pretty!

A woman in a world built for men

19. What is your favorite biographical period drama?

Y’all…biographical movies are hard! I always get caught up in whether or not they are accurate (well, except in the case of The Greatest Showman…) Honestly, I don’t know. I did like Belle, but that one was more inspired by a true story than strictly biographical.

Actress Gugu in the movie Belle

(although the previous question reminded me of Victoria, so I suppose that one counts? I also like the movie The Young Victoria. And now I’m remembering Amazing Grace. Okay, maybe there are good biographical period dramas out there.)

20. Which historical novel will you forever recommend to anyone and everyone?

I don’t really recommend a single novel to everyone, because everyone has different tastes! BUT I’ll go with something by Rafael Sabatini- either Scaramouche or Captain Blood. They’re just fun. They’ve got adventure and romance and duels and shenanigans.

Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland - Capt. Peter Blood and Arabella Bishop in Captain Blood (1935)

Feel free to take on this tag if you so feel like it!