Showing posts from 2011

The End of 2011:

As usual, I read my "yearly horoscope" for the coming year. It is sort of a joke for me, because I always like to print one out and see how much goes according to the horoscope and how much doesn't come true. This year, two that I came across said that 2012 will be a year of pain and loss for me. Great. As if I am not already really acquainted with those states.

This year--2011--has been really hard. I have lost. I have felt pain. A lot of it. People and pets have died. Good friends are experiencing illness. My town was half destroyed by a tornado and many lost their lives. My dad's heart condition isn't great. Etc. Etc. Etc. The list could go on and on. So, the odds of me experiencing pain and loss in 2012 are pretty damn good.

This last week and a half has been pretty devastating on its own. A family member died. A friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Another family member may be diagnosed with cancer (added to the two who already have it). My mom is havi…

My favorite quote for today:

"Words had magical powers, they could conjure up an entire beautiful lost world--a richly laid Sabbath table, the winsome loveliness of a Jewish girl, the heady aroma of sweet Palestine wine and raisin cake. It could take just one word to make the men turn pale, make them think, cry, laugh; words lashed them, choked them, made them ache and sweat."
--from "The Seventh Well" (a holocaust novel based on true events), by Fred Wander

I love this quote. Sometimes I think that the only real thing we have that lasts is language. Words have power. They make and unmake us. In the end what we say and do--however we express ourselves in verbal language, body language, or any other way--is what we leave behind. We should make everything count.

Prayers Needed

Please pray for/send good thoughts to my dear friend Elizabeth L., who was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. Love, peace, and light, my dear friend.

Christmas Carols that Originated During the Victorian Era...

Oh, yes. It is time for me--once again--to tell you how much the Victorian era still lives! Here is a list of popular carols that were written during the nineteenth-century. Some originated in other languages before being translated into English during the mid to late nineteenth century. Source for more information: Christmas Carols.

1. Angels We Have Heard on High

2. O Holy Night

3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

4. Good King Wenceslas

5. I Saw Three Ships (origins appear to be unknown, but likely a Victorian carol)

6. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

7. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

8. Silent Night (technically, it was written during the Romantic period, but it is nineteenth century)

9. We Three Kings of Orient Are

If you think about it, each of these songs share similarities in their composition. There are repeated elements, and after a while I started being able to guess which ones were written in the nineteenth century. Anyway, I just thought that this was a fun little thing to have on…

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings to Me!

Again, today's prompt is brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish!

Well, no one actually buys me books, because they don't know what I have and haven't read. So, if someone gives me something book related, it is usually a gift card! So, I should probably amend my list title to read:

Top Ten Books I Hope to Buy with a Gift Card from Santa:
1. Charles Dickens: The Dickens Bicentenary, 1812-2012. I just saw this on the shelf two days ago!! I want it!

2. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. I have wanted to read this one for a while. Actually, people have said some really good things about it, so I think it would be worth the read!

3. All of Ina Garten's cookbooks.  :)

4. Then Again, by Diane Keaton.

5. Mozart's Last Aria, by Matt Rees.

6. Core: A Romance, by Kassten Alonso.

7. The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice, by M. G. Lor…

Yes, I'm still here...

...still slacking on the blogging...I know...but I am really hoping to get a lot of things taken care of before my holiday break begins! I want all of the magazine articles through a first round of edits--and I want to finish a complete revision of my third dissertation chapter. Yes, these are lofty goals, but I am determined to do it! So, until later...have fun for me!


Tonight reminded me why I have been happily single for so long. I like my life drama free! Though my last relationship (over a year ago) had drama at times, at least it wasn't anything like what I witnessed tonight! So happy to be single right now!

Taking a Break

I am taking a short (10 min) break from work right now...I just needed to do something different in the hopes that my concentration will improve! The weather outside: beautiful...sunny...73 degrees...and, yes, it is December! I just feel really restless after such a long year. I haven't really had a true vacation in a long time, so knowing that I will be off starting next Wednesday is making me a little crazy. I am so ready for some down time.

You  know, I am actually okay with the holidays this year. I am feeling a little sad about some things, but overall I am happy that I will be able to enjoy them with the family. I am also a little anxious and irritable right now...again, I think it has to do with knowing a vacation is coming up! I am just ready to relax and read books that I don't have to think about.

Speaking of books: I just published my new "Beyond Retro" column at I am basically just reviewing a collection of nineteenth- and early twentie…

A new favorite site: Dear Author

I just stumbled across this review site today: Dear Author. It covers many genres, and each review is addressed to the author, something that I think is really helpful and clever. Check it out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Give as Gifts's writing prompt is courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish! Check it out!

Top Ten Books I Want To Give As Gifts
(and to who...even if you won't actually give them!)

1. The Secret Garden, by Frances H. Burnett. I would give this toanyone, actually. Still, I guess it is considered a "girl's book," so I would love to give it to Mylee one day. 
2. Augusta Webster's poetry. I gave this to a friend of mine last year, I think. I would probably send it to Jan or Thaao, if I was giving it to someone again.
3. The End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas. I have no idea who would get this gift...but probably Andy, because he likes the multiverse theory.
4. Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh. I would give this to Savannah, because she would love it!!
5. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. I would give this to my mom. Now that she has read Anne Rice and loves her, I think that she would probably enjoy this one.
6. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. This should just be a required…

Favorite Reads of 2011:

Note: some of these weren't published in 2011...I am just giving my favorites!

Favorite nonfiction:

I actually just finished reading Last Days of the Romanovs. Some parts of it were dry, but overall I thought it was a great read.

Favorite Teen/YA:

I loved Nevermore! I really need a sequel to be

Favorite Mystery:

And Only to Deceive is the first of the Lady Emily mysteries...and I love them. Keep them coming, Tasha Alexander!!

Favorite Romance:

I loved How to Seduce a Scoundrel. This has to be one of the funniest and most engaging romance reads I've had in a long time!

Favorite Historical Fiction:

Again...I can't say enough about Into the Wilderness. It takes place during my favorite era of American history, and it gives me a fun time with a Last of the Mohicans flavor. Excellent book! (note: I wasn't as crazy about the others in the series...)

Where have I been????

I don't really know, either! Actually, I decided to devote all of my extra time to finishing up the draft of my dissertation chapter. So, I did finish it and sent it off. I don't plan on working over the holidays, but we will see!

Other than that, I am nursing a nasty case of carpel tunnel in my right wrist. I finally broke down and bought a brace, so hopefully it will help. This isn't fun. I've been dealing with it for about a couple of months, and it is getting progressively worse. So, here I am.

So, anyway, I will try to be better about posting this week! I hope everyone is well!

I love this!

Mr. John Thornton's Blog!! Someone has created a blog for North and South's John Thornton. The author of the blog is in character, and it is so much fun!!

Turns out that I unexpectedly jumped the writer's block!

I didn't need to pretend to write to Kelly at all (see post below). For some reason, I just ended up writing a lot this weekend...not enough, but a lot! If I ever do use the "letter" thing, I will post about it. :)

Dissertation Help

I am always on the lookout for good advice about dissertation writing. Even though I am halfway finished, I still need help getting out of the lethargy every now and then. I rediscovered this article today: UNC Dissertation Help. The last time I looked at it was about a year ago, long before I felt the agonies of lethargy. I don't think that I was interested in the hints near the end of the article at the time, but I found a great one during this read. The page says that if you are having problems motivating yourself to write, you should just start writing out your chapter or ideas in a letter to a friend.

I really like this idea, because my friend Kelly is my sounding board. I always work through my best ideas with her, and I can totally see myself getting out of the dissertation funk if I just pretend that I am talking to her. It isn't formal and could be really creative. I have a feeling that I will be testing out this theory I will let you know how it goes. :…

PS: My trifle!

I forgot to mention that I made my first trifle this year! I made Paula Deen's "Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle" sounds weird...but it is sooo good. If you make it, get in touch with me first. I read through so many reviews and managed to avoid some common pitfalls. (By the way, the reviewers who advise against making two batches of gingerbread are absolutely correct. It would be too much! Also, make sure you use cook and serve pudding. Use whole milk when you make the pudding!! And most importantly: DON'T BUY 100% PUMPKIN. YOU NEED THE PUMPKIN PIE MIX. THESE ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS!! Those who didn't like the recipe used the 100% pumpkin mix...think about has no spices or anything! There are a few other things you should know, too, so if you make it, read reviews or drop me a line!)

NOTE: This is not my trifle. I just put a layer of Cool Whip on top. So good. I also followed the suggestion of a recipe reviewer I saw online. She suggested placing li…

A week ago today, I was preparing for a food coma.

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving was a week ago! I haven't updated a lot since then, so I thought that this post would serve that purpose.

On Thanksgiving, we did the Of course, there were some great family moments, but I didn't take pictures this year. I probably will take pictures at Christmas, so I will have something to post then, I guess! The cleanup wasn't bad at all, but I crashed after it was all said and done.

As for Black Friday: I don't usually go out that much on Black Friday, but this year I did. You can scroll down and see photos of Melanie and Mylee (and the one of me and Mylee). Mom, dad, and I met Melanie and Mylee for lunch on Friday. It was the first time mom had seen Mylee since she was born, and dad had never seen her! It was a great time. Mylee is such a happy baby, and we loved being with her and Melanie so much.

After lunch, mom and I took dad home, and then we decided to brave the crowds. It…

Why am I not hearing more about this? Where is the outrage??

Read link:
UN Accuses Syria of Crimes Against Humanity.

If this happened, as I suspect it must have, people/governments/etc. should not stand for it. This is inexcusable. Who does this to children?

And, since I am spouting off my opinion anyway, I am getting sick of those who are trying to tear apart the case against Sandusky. I realize that the lawyers must try, but the focus still is being taken off of the victimization of the children involved. I don't care about celebrity or sports when it comes to a child being hurt or victimized.

Lunch with Melanie and Mylee!


"Go Now and Live": I love this


Interview with Nora Roberts

I have only read a few of her books, but I have to say that she is an acknowledged phenomenon. Julia Quinn posted on Facebook a link to this interview, and I cheered the entire time I read it. I love what Roberts has to say about the Romance genre, because it is so very true. Cheers to Nora Roberts! I bring you the link to another "In Defense of a Genre" on the link won't regret it. :)


Tuesday Top Ten: Top Ten Authors I Want at My Thanksgiving Dinner

Today's Top Ten is the brainchild of The Broke and the Bookish!

1. Anne Rice. Absolutely, positively. She can talk about anything, and I find her absolutely fascinating. I love listening to her speak--about books, current events, history, anything.

2. Charles Dickens. This is a no brainer. Obviously, we have some issues to work out.

3. Elizabeth Gaskell. I love North and South, and I think my friend Kelly and I would have a blast talking to her about it...if she would answer us.

4. Jane Mendle. My friend Jane is a novelist, and I adore her. So, she is definitely on my list!

5. Vicky Dreiling. She is so much fun on Twitter, and I think it would be a great time to have her at my Thanksgiving feast!

6. Lord Byron. Uh, yeah. Because I would at least try to get him into bed after mercilessly hammering him with questions about his poetry.


7. Percy Shelley. Hey. He's Byron's friend and the two of them together could definitely s…

Really? This is romantic?


Though he smolders well enough (if no longer sparkles), Mr. Pattinson is scarcely any better than his brother in beefcake. If that doesn’t matter, it’s because Mr. Pattinson’s heaviest lifting is over. His character is already well sketched in, and now all that remains is for the actor to play the part of the passionate, potentially dangerous vampire husband, which he — or, rather, his smart director — conveys with the startling image of Edward’s hands clenching the honeymoon bed until it explodes under his powerful touch. This image of sexual rough play is further capped the next morning by bruises now tattooing Bella’s body, branding that — along with her smiles (a private reverie reminiscent of Diane Lane’s postcoital raptures in “Unfaithful”) — shifts the story into another world. (Source: New York Times review. See link below blog post title.)

Hey, I had as much fun reading Twilight as the next person, but I have to tell you that I find the entire series so d…

I didn't make my goal.

I wanted to finish A Child's History of England. I really did. But I got caught up around Henry III. Oh, well.

I needed complete separation from reality, so...

...tonight I read Olivia Parker's Guarding a Notorious Lady. The title is hilarious because the lady is not exactly what I would call notorious! In any event, it was the perfect escape from reality that I needed. And check out the cover:

It is so fantastically old school that I couldn't resist. Yes, I have already discussed my love for romance novels, and when I am ready to completely veg out, nothing is better. The fact that the hero is Scottish? PERFECT. So, yes, the novel is complete fantasy, but who cares? It was a fun and quick read--and just what I wanted.

The book blurb from Amazon:

Exquisite trouble . . .

A woman of pristine breeding, Lady Rosalind Devine is also an unrepentant meddler and snoop— which is why her brother refuses to leave her to her own devices while on his wedding trip. But Rosalind will not make things easy for any unseen, unwanted “nursemaid”—and vows to use her considerable wiles to expose her mystery guardian.

Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winte…

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

The last words on the last page of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer say, "End of Volume One."

And thank goodness, too.

Because I really liked this book a lot. And, the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking, "There is no way that this author can finish this story in the short amount of pages left!"

The rundown of the plot: A sixteen-year-old girl going by the fake name of Mara Dyer starts her story by telling us how she survives a tragic accident that killed three of her friends. Seeking a new life, she and her family move to Miami, and Mara starts to suffer hallucinations. Post-traumatic stress disorder? Ghosts? Who knows? Even Mara tries to ignore the tormenting visions when she becomes the new flame of school bad boy, Noah. But there are things she can't ignore...things like the visions, the fact that other people she comes in contact with start dying, and the strange connection and intensity that keeps building between herself and Noah.

Am I being vague? …

What am I reading? A "W. W. W. Wednesday" post...

W. W. W. Wednesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading's blog. Here are the questions and my answers...

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

1. What are you currently reading? I am about halfway through The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

This one is really hard to put down! I am really enjoying it and will write my review of it soon. :)

2. What did you recently finish reading? I just finished reading Changeless, by Gail Carriger.

It is the second book in "The Parasol Protectorate" series that begins with Soulless. These books are so great! The humor is wonderful, and Carriger is such a quirky writer. I just love her!

3. What do you think you will read next? For fun? I am not sure. But I will be finishing up Charles Dickens's A Child's History of England this weekend.

Dickens Quote of the Day:

The beginning of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (probably my favorite beginning completely dark and disturbing):

An ancient English Cathedral Tower? How can the ancient English Cathedral tower be here! The well-known massive gray square tower of its old Cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenes, and who has set it up? Maybe it is set up by the Sultan’s orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and infinite in number and attendants. Still the Cathedral Tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing figure is on the grim spike. Stay! Is th…

Top Ten Tuesday

"Top Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest But I've Never Read:"

1. The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

3. Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell

4. The Confidence Man, by Herman Melville

5. Mosses from an Old Manse, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

6. Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte

7. Romola, by George Eliot

8. Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer (I know...everyone tells me it is great!)

9. Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens

10. The Victorians, by A. N. Wilson

I vow to read at least one of these books this year!

...for more about "Top Ten Tuesday," see The Broke and the Bookish.

I am still stuffed!

Wow. This weekend was CRAZY--especially in the food department!

On Friday night, the cleaning bug took hold of me, and I cleaned my bedroom from top to bottom--dusting, trashing junk/cleaning out old stuff, etc. It felt so good to get rid of things.

On Saturday, my uncle came over for his birthday lunch (first occasion of the day to eat too much). Then, I went to the Kilgore house (where I work) to open it up for a group of creative writers who were telling made up histories of the house. It was a lot of fun! I raced home and made the cranberry sauce for Lisa's Pre-Thanksgiving feast.

Lisa's dinner was FANTASTIC--as usual! We all ate so much! Gnocchi, brie, champagne, turkey, roast, potatoes, green beans, French onion soup, etc...all topped off with Tuxedo cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Oh. YES...

It was so good...and we were all stuffed...but WOW. AMAZING. Seriously. If you have a chance, you need to try it.

By the time I was able to force myself out of the seat an…

Please Support the MyVampFiction Holiday Food Drive!!

For more information, please click HERE.

It is an excellent project for a great cause!

Priceless! A "Digested Read" of Bleak House:

My favorite passage:

In Chancery, having noted My Lady Dedlock's interest, Mr Tulkinghorn is enquiring about the identity of the scrivener. He is a man called Nemo who has conveniently died in his lodgings. But how? Perhaps young Jo the crossing sweeper can help us. And who is Jo? Why he is the essence of Victorian pathos, the lowest of the low, unnoticed and unloved by society and yet the very symbol of purity and goodness. "He wuz wery good to me," Jo says in a manner some may find endearing. "I don't kno nuffink." And yet if he knows so little why is it that this mysterious woman of very obvious bearing is asking young Jo to show her the unmarked grave where Nemo is buried? Be assured that Mr Tulkinghorn's spies will find out. My, how slow and convoluted the story has become, and still so many minor characters to introduce, for how else can Mr Dickens spin out the serialisation into 20 monthly parts? Yet if you want to hear of Miss Flite, the Snagsby…

Looking forward to the weekend!

I have so much to do, but I am very happy that it is Friday. It is going to be a very busy weekend--birthdays, pre-Thanksgiving feast, readings at the Kilgore house--but at least it is all fun.

I have to say that I am so glad that I will be getting a pre-Thanksgiving dinner this weekend! It will be great and a lot of fun, so I may be too stuffed to to type by Saturday night. :)

Dickens: Quote of the Day

"Some part of the edifice had been a baronial chapel, and here were effigies of warriors stretched upon their beds of stone with folded hands--cross-legged, those who had fought in the Holy Wars-- girded with their swords, and cased in armour as they had lived. Some of these knights had their own weapons, helmets, coats of mail, hanging upon the walls hard by, and dangling from rusty hooks. Broken and dilapidated as they were, they yet retained their ancient form, and something of their ancient aspect. Thus violent deeds live after men upon the earth, and traces of war and bloodshed will survive in mournful shapes long after those who worked the desolation are but atoms of earth themselves." --Chp. 53, The Old Curiosity Shop

Dickens: Quote of the Day

"Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come. If there's been any fault at all to-day, it's mine. You and me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but what is private, and beknown, and understood among friends. It ain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right, as you shall never see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes. I'm wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. You won't find half so much fault in me if you think of me in my forge dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe. You won't find half so much fault in me if, supposing as you should ever wish to see me, you come and put your head in at the forge window and see Joe the blacksmith, there, at the o…

2012: The Year of Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in 1812, so many scholars and fans of the Victorian author are celebrating his 200th birthday with special conferences, events, publications, and new editions of his works.

(Source: Library of Congress)

It is my personal mission to finish reading all of Dickens's novels in 2012 (there are several that I have never read).

I would like to challenge all readers to finish at least one Dickens novel in 2012. If you have never read a book by Charles Dickens, try Great Expectations, The Old Curiosity Shop, or even A Christmas Carol. If you have read all of his novels, commit to reading his short stories or plays, or even pick up a biography (the standard is Peter Ackroyd's Dickens, but Claire Tomalin just published Dickens: A Life).

There is no excuse for not finding his novels! They are always at libraries (public, school, and university), and there are free e-texts in abundance.

A good bibliography: Wikipedia Charles Dickens Bibliography

Totally Random Fact About Me:

My secret ambition (well, one of them, anyway) is to be a translator for the FBI. :)

I don't know why.


I fell asleep at 7:45 last night! And I slept until 6:30 this morning. I actually have energy...I had forgotten this feeling...

Top Ten Tuesday: First for me...

I wandered over to one of my new favorite book blogs, I Swim for Oceans, and I saw that the author has a "Top Ten Tuesday" feature going on. This is what the author says about it:

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

So...I think it is a great idea. And, this we…

Julie came to town!

Julie is probably the friend I have known the longest in my life. We met as six-year-olds, when I visited Indiana to see my great-great uncle for the first time. She and her family lived across the road from him, and I still remember her coming over to ask me to go swimming. As the years passed, we played in fields and barns, talked about toys and boys, and, basically, just grew up together. I would return each year (and we would write letters in between), and each year we picked up exactly where we left off. We have remained friends for nearly 30 years and it is still amazing to us that when we get together it is as if no time has passed at all!

She and her husband, Jason, came through town tonight. They are off to New Orleans in the morning, but we had a great reunion. I miss her already! It has been at least six years since the last time we saw one another, but I wish we could see each other every year again! Thanks for stopping by, Julie! Love ya!

It is back!!!

The holiday season truly has begun!! I look forward to my first gingerbread latte every year! Last year, mom tried it for the first time. She loved the drink, but the experience was bad for her. She doesn't drink many caffeinated beverages...and we had a tall (small) latte at 7:00 p.m. on the evening before Thanksgiving. Well...she was up all night! She likes the lattes, but we have a rule that we will no longer purchase lattes after 4:00 p.m. (It should be noted that my caffeine addicted body did not react at all.)

Today, I purchased my first gingerbread latte of the season right after lunch. I didn't know that they were available yet, so I had settled on splurging on a Pumpkin Spice latter. I almost cried out with happiness when I saw it listed on the menu. Happy day!

Thank you, Hannah!!!

I love my postcard!! I am a horrible person for not writing you yet...but I promise that it is coming. The new Harry Potter DVD comes out in eleven you will be getting a long letter from me.



I am so excited that today is November 1st!! I love, love, love November. It is the beginning of the holiday season (in my mind, anyway), and it is the month that has my most favorite holiday: Thanksgiving.

I love the symbolism of Thanksgiving, and I think it is the best of the holidays because it is just about getting together with friends and family, sharing a meal. There is something deeply spiritual about preparing and sharing food with a group of people, whether they be strangers or people we know. Of course, I love Christmas, too, but it has become so commercialized that there are only two things I like about it: 1) the midnight church service; 2) the crazy fun of having the "this amount of food and combination of drinks" doesn't make sense buffet at my house. You can see a past scene of that here.

I will miss Casey this year, though. :(

But back to Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving now makes me think about a friend I had, Robert (Bobby) Hernandez. Everyone I knew call…

Moving into the future: Girls can now inherit the throne!

One of the most amazing "Dear Sugar" letter responses yet:

From the Oct. 21, 2011, column:

"Countless people have been devastated for reasons that cannot be explained or justified in spiritual terms. To do as you are doing in asking if there were a God why would he let my little girl have to have possibly life threatening surgery?—understandable as that question is—creates a false hierarchy of the blessed and the damned. To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising—the very half that makes rising necessary—is having first been nailed to the cross.....What if you allowed your God to exist in the simple words of compassion others offer to you? What if faith is the way it feels to lay your hand on your daughter’s sacred body? What if the greatest beauty of the day is the shaft of…

Dickens Overload: I am such a nerd. :)

I finally broke down and purchased my subscription to the Dickens Society...which means I get the Dickens Quarterly...and I am so happy. :) The price really isn't bad at all--only $25. I used to subscribe to Victorian Studies and that one cost $75/year. So, I am getting concentrated material on an author I love for a third of the cost of VS! :)

Days of Dickens

Yesterday, I returned from the Charles Dickens conference I attended in Myrtle Beach. We left on Thursday of last week ("we" meaning my dissertation director and I). Even though I became very sick on the trip (yes, this is getting old), I still had a good time and learned a lot. I presented my paper on Saturday, and it went really well. If I had just been feeling better (i.e. not curled up under mountains of covers trying to avoid chills/able to eat without being sick/able to sit through presentations without aching all over), it would have been fantastic. I met some great people and enjoyed what I could.

We stayed at Ocean Creek Resort. It was a nice place, in general, but without a car it was a bit inconvenient. Also, the staff recommended that we try Bennett's Calabash restaurant for fresh This is probably the worst restaurant I have ever been to in my life. It was a buffet, and after my recent food poisoning experience, I don't like those very …

What I am reading now...

I have finished the "pleasure reading" for the month (see earlier post), and I am still reading the stuff for the dissertation. When I was in the bookstore this weekend, however, I found a $3.97 copy of Her Fearful Symmetry. I've been wanting to read this one for a long time. I know a lot of people didn't like it, but that is fine. I didn't read The Time Traveler's Wife, but so far I really like this book. I'll keep you posted!

"Witch's Sister" movie (based on book by P. R. Naylor)

When I was a little kid, this was my most favorite movie EVER. I loved it. I still have the VHS tape of it. (My parents taped it for me off of Showtime, I think.) Anyway, my tape is in horrible shape, and I have searched for it for years. Well, someone finally uploaded it to YouTube!!! It is cheesy and very late 70s/early 80s...but it is just something bizarre from my childhood. Watching it was such an imaginative experience for me, for some reason. The best part of this movie is just that there really is no resolution. And it is just downright creepy. The girl who plays the older sister (Judith) is great at creating mystery. Here is Part 1...


Oh, CRAZY!! Here is a homemade trailer for my other favorite movie as a kid: the movie version of Anna to the Infinite Power!! It was also so creepy and about cloning!! Again: super cheese. But I loved it.

Both of these movies are based on books:

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Witch's Sister and Mildred Ames's Anna to the Infinite…

Thank you, Lisa!

A big thanks to my former student, Lisa, for making me some Halloween cookies! They are so cute and taste wonderful!! Thanks, Lisa!

The rest of the cookies are on a great plate, too...No, my display here isn't so great, but that is only because I am sharing the rest of the plate with my coworkers!

MyVampFiction: Beyond Retro Column

Hi, everyone. My column and review of Le Fanu's Carmilla is up on

Click here, if you want to read it.

For my previous blog post about it, see here.

PS: Yes, my pen name is "Victorian Vamp." I sort of love it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
The summary above …

Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

(Source: Wikipedia commons)

Want a great Halloween read? Check out Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. Written in 1872, this short book is a gem that many people don't read very often. It combines many of the predictable aspects of vampire stories as we know them today, but there are some surprising twists. Though we are never in doubt about what is going on or who the vampire is, Carmilla lets us see origins of the modern vampire story that stretch from Bram Stoker's Dracula to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and many more. I have a full review of the novella coming up on Tuesday in my new column, "Beyond Retro," at The goal of the column is to look at nineteenth century (sometimes older) stories of vampires, werewolves, and any other paranormal event.

Oh, yes. I am completely plugging my column and the site. :)

But, anyway, you really should give Carmilla a read. I was not expecting to be as drawn into this story as I was. I always knew …

I am so tired!!! And my heart rate is crazy!

This morning, I had to take a long walk across campus. It is the first significant exercise I have had since the food poisoning event. When I checked my heart rate upon returning to my office, it was really high but dropped rapidly (it wasn't in a danger zone or anything, but still). I have been sitting at my desk for over an hour now and my heart rate is still a bit high. I hate this. Ugh. So, I am drinking lots of water, just in case I am a bit dehydrated. I am also going to do some meditation breathing tonight and see if that helps, should my heart rate continue to be high.

This is so frustrating!!!! Thank you, food poisoning, for making my body go nuts.

Books for October

I had a great time catching up on all of the blog time I missed while I was sick, and I especially enjoyed looking around Amy's I Ponder the Page. Her blog is much more focused than mine, and I love seeing all of the things she is reading. So, Amy mentioned all of the books she read for the "Southern Belle Challenge" and then mentioned that she was embarking on another reading challenge-- "Fall into Reading 2011." I hope to participate in these one day, but until the dissertation is complete...well, pleasure reading comes and goes.

Inspired by her blog and lists, however, I have decided that I am going to try to list the books I hope to read each month. So, for this month, I am reading (or rereading) the following for the dissertation:

For, I am reviewing:

And, for the book club:

Yes. I spend a huge amount of time reading. But it is fun!

Back to myself...nearly

Hi, everyone! Finally, I am feeling a bit like my old self again. The big change happened on Friday afternoon, around 1:00 (yes, I remember don't forget the ending of days-on-end nausea!). The dizziness remained fairly strong until yesterday. Though it isn't completely gone, it is livable! Thank you for all of your well wishes and support. I really appreciate it. I especially appreciate and love my parents, who were so wonderful through it all, and my cousin Jessica and Uncle Ron, who came to the hospital and stayed with me on Monday evening to give my mom a break. And thank you to everyone else who called or visited. I love you!

So, now that I am feeling better, I am reminded of how much work I have missed and how far behind I am on my dissertation! I missed my book club meeting, and with everything that has happened over the last few weeks, I also didn't finish the book for the book club (the book was The Palace of Illusions). It is a great book, but I am going …