Let’s Go Fly a Kite

untitled-designFor the past several years, it has been a tradition of my family and I to go to the cinema on Christmas Day. Because my father’s family is of Swedish background, we open gifts on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day. This year my family and I went to see Mary Poppins Returns.

Growing up Mary Poppins was one of favorite movies. Scratch that. It is still one of my favorite movies of all times. I do not tire of watching it over and over it again. And I pleased to say that my family owns first movie on DVD and I sort of took the digital copy code so I can watch it on my telly. Anyway, when I heard there was to be a sequel, I was thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. Of course, I was a bit leery of it because sometimes sequels are not as good as the first.

But I am happy to announce that this movie was everything I wanted it to be and then some. The acting was superb. Emily Blunt did an amazing job portraying the character of Mary Poppins. The children are so adorable. The story line was fantastic especially when you realize that the true purpose for Mary Poppins showing up at Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane was not to save/help the children but for someone else. The music was incredible!

If you have not yet seen Mary Poppins Returns, I highly recommend you go see it. I loved every second of the movie and I cannot wait for it to come to DVD. I will definitely be adding it to my movie collection.

A few days later, my family and I continued our Mary Poppins holiday theme and rented the movie Saving Mr. Banks. This movie came out in 2013. It stars Tom Hanks as Mr. Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. The movie revolves around the story of how Disney procured the rights from Travers to create the 1964 movie Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

This movie is both delightful and sad. But I also recommend it. You buy it or rent it via an online video website such as Google Play, Amazon, or Vudu or borrowing it from the local library. You will not be disappointed.

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Best of 2018

I cannot believe today is last day of 2018. Wow! I feel like this year went by way too fast. But at the same time, I feel like it didn’t. If that makes sense. To end the year, I thought I would do my very first “Best of 2018” post. This post will look at my favorite books and movies of 2018. So here we go.

Movies:

I have so many. It is so hard to pick and choose what are my favorites.

  1. Infinity War
  2. Unbroken: Path of Redemption
  3. Mary Poppins Returns

This ranking does not mean that I like one over the other because I don’t think I can. I love them equally. And I in fact own the first two movies. I don’t own Mary Poppins Returns yet because it came out recently. But I will definitely own it once it comes on DVD.

Books:

  1. The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron
  2.  The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin
  3.  A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green
  4.  Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron (I just started this book and I have yet to finish it but I know I will love it)

Nonfiction:

I am reading one nonfiction book at the moment. Okay, technically I am two others but I haven’t picked them up in ages. (Sorry). The one I recently picked up is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I haven’t finished this book yet but I am enjoying it immensely. I have wanted to read this book ever since I watched the movie that came out in 2014. However, at the time the movie came out, I did not own a copy of the book. This year I was able to pick up a copy.

I hope you have a wonderful Happy New Years and a happy 2019!

The Woman on the Orient Express Book Review

Now that I am on break, I have had plenty of time to read books that are not at all school related. My only problem was finding the right book–one that held my attention. I have felt like I have been in a reading slump since finishing Jocelyn Green’s latest novel, A Refuge Assured, back at the beginning of the semester. However, this slump, I am happy to announce, has been conquered. I finally found the perfect book.

The book is The Woman on the Orient Express by British author Lindsay Jayne Ashford. I received this book last year for Christmas and hadn’t had a chance to read it yet.

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This book was not at all what I expected it to be. I knew the book was about Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer. The one who wrote the intelligent Belgian detective Hercule Poirot with his “little grey cells,” the intuitive little old lady, Miss Marple from the cute picturesque town of St. Mary’s Mead, and the married private investigators, Tommy and Tuppence. I figured this book would be feature a murder in which Agatha Christie had to solve. But that wasn’t it at all.

Instead, the book was set right after Agatha’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 and involved her traveling to the Middle East via the train, the Orient Express. This train is very significant because she sets one of her Poirot mysteries onboard. This book is called The Murder on the Orient Express. It is an excellent book. I highly recommend reading it.

Ashford’s book is very interesting and well-written. It was neat reading a novel featuring Agatha Christie because she is one of my favorite authors. I highly recommend it.

My only critique of the book is it could use a little more description, I think.

 

Destination London

Guys! It is finally happening. My dream is coming true. I am going to the country of my dreams.

London.

Gotcha. I am not really physically going to England. But I am transporting myself to this wonderful picturesque country in the pages of these wonderful two books that were given to me by my roommate.

IMG_0674Aren’t these books incredible? They are the perfect edition to my Anglophile collection. Today I decided to venture over to Barnes and Noble. I have been wanting to go there for a while now but because of weather/homework I have not been able to. But today was a nice day and I decided to go. While there, I came across the latest Britain magazine. I hadn’t planned on buying it but when I saw that inside came with Cotswolds: The Official Guide 2018 I couldn’t resist. This edition also happens to be about English Country gardens which is useful for my novel.

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Then in their clearance section I found a small Travel the World Historic Travel Posters for 2018 that includes a vintage London poster.  There is also one for Hawaii. Not sure if I will use it as an actual calendar or cut the ones I want out and put them on a bulletin board once I get one.

I was hoping they had a bookmarker with a Churchill saying on it but I couldn’t find it. Oh well. What does your Anglophile Collection look like? I’d love to see it.

 

~Cheerio

 

 

 

My Latest Anglophile Collection

LaughLadies and Gentlemen, I am proud to announce the first Anglophile Collection to go live on this blog. What is an Anglophile Collection? It is a post that I will write each time I acquire a new London themed item to go into my Anglophile collection. And this week I have acquired a lot.

First up, a London themed giveaway prizes. I am subscribed to author Jacquelyn Middleton’s newsletter and every month she draws names from her subscribers and they win London themed prizes. Jacquelyn writes novels set in England that involve an American named Alex and her friends. I have read the first novel London Belongs to Me. You can find my review of it on Tea, Books, and Britain. I won January’s giveaway and my prizes arrived on Monday.

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In this photo, there are four different bookmarks:

  1. London bridge. This bookmark moves. When you tilt up, London bridge opens. When you tilt down, it is closed.
  2. London, Can You Wait? bookmark
  3. Bookmark of Alex and Keegan holding hands
  4. London Belongs to Me bookmark.

There is also a black tote bag from Broadway Market which is featured in London, Can You Wait? The tote comes all the way from England. Also included is the note she wrote me because there is a really cute London Bus stamped on it.

Then last night I was able to purchase the ebook of London, Can You Wait while it was on sale for 1.99. I signed up for Amazon’s daily rewards which gave me a dollar in free ebook credit which I used for this book. I got it for .99.

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Today  I went to my favorite used bookstore and happened up on two London themed books. The first one I saw was Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn. The cover is so pretty I couldn’t resist buying it.  I have never read anything by Kuhn but the book sounds interesting.

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Here’s the back cover description:

An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn—author of Reading Jackie:  Her Autobiography in BooksMrs Queen Takes the Train wittily imagines the kerfuffle that transpires when a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of the palace in search of a little fun, leaving behind a desperate team of courtiers who must find the missing Windsor before a national scandal erupts. Reminiscent of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, this lively, wonderfully inventive romp takes readers into the mind of the grand matriarch of Britain’s Royal Family, bringing us an endearing runaway Queen Elizabeth on the town—and leading us behind the Buckingham Palace walls and into the upstairs/downstairs spaces of England’s monarchy.

 

The second book I found is Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. This is book one in the Maggie Hope mystery series. It is set in England during the Second World War. I read this book a long time ago right before my first semester of college. I have read all of her books so far. Looking forward to her new ones. I own her latest three novels and now the first book.

Here’s the back cover description:

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I love collecting Anglophile themed gifts!

 

 

Brighton Belle and The Wilson Deception

IMG_0622Graduate school can be very stressful at times. Especially when one of your classes your professor decides to have a group project where each grad student has to supervise their group of undergraduates. To balance out the stress (and hopefully relieve said stress) it is crucial that you find some fun activities to do in between doing homework. Today I decided to go to the local library. I hadn’t been in a while and I wanted to check out their used bookstore, the Book Nook. I also wanted to check out from the library a book called Winston’s War by Max Hastings to see if I need to buy it in the future for my WIP.

I found two lovely mysteries by authors I have not heard of or read before. The first book is Bright Belle by Sara Sheridan and luckily this is the first book in the Mirabelle Bevan Mystery series. Down below you will find the back cover description of the book as well as a photo of the cover.

Brighton Belle

 

 In post-World War II England, former Secret Service operative Mirabelle Bevan becomes embroiled in a new kind of intrigue…
1951: In the popular seaside town of Brighton, it’s time for Mirabelle Bevan to move beyond her tumultuous wartime years and start anew. Accepting a job at a debt collection agency seems a step toward a more tranquil life.

But as she follows up on a routine loan to Romana Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who’s recently come off the train from London, Mirabelle’s instincts for spotting deception are stirred when the woman is reported dead, along with her unborn child.

After encountering a social-climbing doctor with a sudden influx of wealth and Romana’s sister, who seems far from bereaved and doesn’t sound Hungarian, Mirabelle decides to dig deeper into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Aided by her feisty sidekick—a fellow office worker named Vesta Churchill (“no relation to Winston,” as she explains)—Mirabelle unravels a web of evil that stretches from the Brighton beachfront to the darkest corners of Europe. Putting her own life at risk, she must navigate a lethal labyrinth of lies and danger to expose the truth.

If you have read my other posts on my author website History with Flair then you know that Churchill is my hero and I am interested in the Churchills and Britain during WWII. Even if the character is not related to Winston, the description really caught my eye.

The next book that caught my eye is The Wilson Deception by David O Stewart. I have also included the description of the book and a picture of the cover. Sadly, this is book two in the series. Book One is called the The Lincoln Deception and funny enough I checked out book one at my library back home but had to return it because it was due. I never got a chance to read it.

Wilson Deception

Against the backdrop of the Paris Peace Conference that would remake Europe in the wake of World War I, David O. Stewart reunites Dr. Jamie Fraser and Speed Cook, protagonists of the acclaimed The Lincoln Deception, in an intriguing presidential mystery . . .

The Great War has ended, and President Woodrow Wilson’s arrival in Paris unites the city in ecstatic celebration. Major Jamie Fraser, an army physician who has spent ten months tending American soldiers, is among the crowd. As an expert on the Spanish influenza, Fraser is also called in to advise the president’s own doctor on how best to avoid the deadly disease. Despite his robust appearance, Wilson is more frail than the public realizes. And at this pivotal moment in history, the president’s health could decide the fate of nations.

While Fraser investigates Wilson’s maladies, he encounters a man he has not seen for twenty years. Speed Cook—ex-professional ball player and advocate for Negro rights—is desperate to save his son Joshua, an army sergeant wrongly accused of desertion. Pledging to help Cook, Fraser and his friend are soon embroiled in dramatic events unfolding throughout Paris. At stake is not only Joshua Cook’s freedom, but the fragile treaty that may be the only way to stop Europe from plunging into another brutal war.

I can’t wait to sneak my teeth (so to speak) into these books when I am not busy with homework.

What I am Reading

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I know I did. It has been great being home with family relaxing after a stressful first semester of grad school (which I survived. YAY!). The first thing I do when on Christmas break is pick up a book that is not at all related to school. Usually I have some series or new book that I was eagerly waiting to suck my teeth into (not literally of course). This time there really wasn’t a book from a new series waiting for me to pick up. However, there was a biography that my Dad recommended I read.

This biography is of one of my favorite authors. Irish author Clive Staples Lewis or more lovingly known as C.S. Lewis. The author of the biography is Alister McGrath. I love McGrath’s writing style. It is so easy to read and understand. It doesn’t at all feel like a biography.

 

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Here’s a photo in case you were wondering what it looked like. Photo taken from Google images

The second book I decided to pick up and read for the first time is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I know what you are thinking. You haven’t read The Hobbit! Shame on you. I know I should have read it along time ago but I just didn’t get around to it. And before you ask, yes, I have read The Lord of the Rings. In fact, I read Return of the King twice. Once for fun and the other time for my high school senior thesis which was on analyzing two books by no other than Lewis and Tolkien. I find it rather fitting that I am reading a biography on Lewis and a book by Tolkien who happened to be not only friends but were also part of the same literary club known as the Inklings which met at the infamous Oxford Pub, The Bird and the Baby. I just reached chapter 2. I am enjoying it.

On a different note, do you think I should start a Instagram account that is all about books? Also do you think I should join the world of book tubers? Answer in the poll down below.

 

Review of London Belongs to Me

51yzDqPS+ILAs you may know, I am a HUGE Anglophile (if the title of this blog did not give it away, you now know). I adore all things British. And tend to keep an eye out for up coming novels about England. When I  learned of Jacquelyn Middleton’s debut novel London Belongs To Me, I couldn’t wait to get my hand on a copy. I checked my library. No copies. I checked to see if the local Barnes and Noble carried it but no such luck. Because I am a poor university student, I did not necessarily want to buy it. But luckily for me, Amazon gave out 5 dollars towards ebooks. I immediately bought London Belongs to Me.

Back Cover Blurb:

Alex Sinclair couldn’t jump on a plane fast enough. Broken from an unexpected betrayal, she flees sunny Florida for the Britannia cool of London—home of her favourite TV shows, plays, and fangirl heroes. Alex believes London is where she belongs, where she’ll heal old wounds, and chase her dream of writing for the theatre. Staying with her British friend Harry with barely a year’s rent money in her pocket, the clock is ticking.

But when a wealthy rival fueled by ambition and jealousy threatens her career and a fledgling romance, Alex once again questions her self-worth—and is left wondering if London is where she truly belongs.

My Review:

Jacquelyn Middleton is a very talented writer. The plot of this story kept me reading to the very last page. Her characters were well-written and felt very real. I loved how this book was set in England and the fact Alex is a huge nerd. She loves the very same fandoms I do (Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Sherlock). It didn’t hurt either to have a hot sexy Irishman named Mark. If he was real, I’d totally date him.

My only critique of this book is there were a couple of times where a particular phrase was used to describe the main character. All in all, it is a great book and I highly recommend it.

So go out and buy it. Indie authors and any author for that matter need all the help they can get.

You can find Mrs. Middleton at these follow places:

Her website

Facebook

Instagram

My Recent Kindle Purchase

I love to read as the title of this blog would suggest. I have a lot of fiction books at home to the point where my bookshelves are getting full. I also have a lot books through my kindle app. Though I prefer an actual physical book, having digital e-books that show up via my Kindle app both on my Phone and Ipod.

I am subscribed to a couple of different websites that allow me to purchase free e-books. Today I purchased two.

The first one is called Literally Dead. There are three reasons why this book caught my eye. The title, the fact it is a mystery, and the description. Here is the description and cover picture.

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To solve or not to solve?

When a visiting professor is found dead, English major Pepper Brooks is caught in the middle of the investigation. Literally. While the detectives focus on crime scene forensics, Pepper can’t ignore the Shakespearian clues left by the killer.
With the help of a handsome library clerk, a dog named Hamburger, and The Bard himself, this unlikely sleuth might just close the book on this case.

If you anything about me, you will know why this description caught my attention. If not, I will let you know in on a little secret. I have a BA in English literature and I am a huge fan of Shakespeare.

If you love Shakespeare too, here is the link where you can download it for free: Literally Dead

My second purchase is a book on how to write a novel and get it published. The book is written by Book Publishing for Authors: How to Write, Publish, and Market your book to a #1 bestseller in the Next 90 days by Paul Brodie. If you are interested, here is the link to amazon: link.

Do you prefer e-books or physical books? Or both? Let me know in the comments below.

 

New Addition to my Anglophile Collection

After school today, I decided to head back to the Cedar Falls Public library for two reasons. The first reason is, now that I have a library card, I wanted to check out some books. Which I did. I checked out three to be exact. Three books I hope will be useful in researching and plotting one of my story ideas. The second reason is I wanted to stop by the Book Nook again. On Monday I had bought the first season of the TV show Heroes which happens to be one of my favorite TV shows. It was, at one point, on Netflix and was an option for instant streaming. It has now been taken off. So when I saw not only the first season but also the second and third I knew I had to buy them. But since I didn’t have cash on me on Monday I just bought the first season. So I went back today hoping the other two seasons were still there and they were. I now have the complete collection of Heroes.

I also decided to check the history section. I didn’t see anything new in the WWII section but I did look through the British history section. There I found a real gem. I found Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey. I have been wanting to read this book for a very long time! It’s normal price is 16 dollars. I got for two!

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