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Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-SeedHag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some of you may remember that this time last year I made a New Year’s Resolution to read every Shakespeare play by the time 2016 was done. I hate to admit it but I met my match this year. 2016 brought with it too much chaos and upheaval, both personally and in the world in general, and it seriously cut into my reading time. So now I am heading into 2017 with my head bowed and many Shakespeare plays still on the to-read pile. But even if I didn’t meet my reading goals for the year, I am very glad that I made time for Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed.

SYNOPSIS: A modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Hag-Seed was a fascinating story of loss, revenge, and letting go of the past. Theatre director, Felix Phillips, grieving the loss of his infant daughter, Miranda, and obsessed with the production of The Tempest that he is planning as a tribute to her, is devastated when his right-hand man betrays him. Exiled from his job, powerless and bitter, he retreats from the world and plots his revenge. All alone, except for a vision of his daughter that keeps him company, he waits for his opportunity to strike back at his enemies and regain his rightful place. Eventually he gets a job at a prison, teaching Shakespeare and producing plays with the inmates there. When he learns that his enemies, now powerful government officials, will be attending the prison’s production of The Tempest, he sees his opportunity for revenge at last.

MY THOUGHTS: Ask anyone who’s read The Handmaid’s Tale and you’ll know that Margaret Atwood is a master story-teller in her own right so it should come as no surprise that an Atwood and Shakespeare partnership is simply spellbinding. Atwood added a play within a play aspect to the story that was interesting. It was fascinating to watch some of the characters shift roles as the book progressed, especially Felix’s Miranda who drifted back and forth from Prospero’s daughter to the spritely Ariel in a way that reinforced the dreamlike fantasy of the original story. I also loved how Atwood used the prisoners turned actors to add depth, context, and sympathy for the Hag-Seed, Caliban and to explore the deeper themes of the play.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the upcoming adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale that is coming to Hulu in 2017 but I would also love to see a film version of Hag-Seed. With extremely visual, almost cinematic descriptions, and passages of the play adapted into rap music and dance, Hag-Seed, and especially the Fletcher Correctional Player’s production of The Tempest would translate beautifully to film.

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A Poetic Christmas

The Rain in Portugal: New PoemsThe Rain in Portugal: New Poems by Billy Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The holiday season is a crazy time with gifts to buy and wrap, holiday meals to prepare, and Christmas parties to attend so it can be a little hard to find a lot of time to read. When this happens, I like to pull out a book of poems. Poetry is perfect for hectic times because it can be consumed in small bites and because it reminds us to slow down and experience the moment rather than rushing through it. This year my poetry book was Billy Collin’s latest collection, The Rain in Portugal. I am never disappointed when I pick up a Billy Collin’s book but I particularly enjoyed this one because I had the opportunity to hear the poet read a few of the poems at a poetry reading a while back. (As a side note, I just want to mention that Billy Collins is a wonderful reader and speaker, as well as a wonderful poet, and if you have the opportunity to see him read in person, I highly recommend you go!)

Ask anyone who knows me and they will you tell that I have an obsession with T. S. Eliot’s The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock so it comes as no surprise that my favorite poem in the collection was “Note to J. Alfred Prufrock.” And “Note to Prufrock” wasn’t the only allusion to great poems and poets in this collection. One of my favorites things about Collins as a poet is that his poetry reads as a love letter to poetry, which makes it a poetry lover’s dream come true.

The Rain in Portugal also contains a playful look at rhymes, a wistful meeting between the poet and the sister he never had, and a interesting take on the cosmology of the universe involving Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. All in all, The Rain in Portugal will make a wonderful addition to my poetry book collection and would make a lovely holiday gift for a poetry lover.

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Looking for more holiday gifts for poetry lovers? Check out this lovely gift guide: 15 Gifts That Poetry Readers Will Be Overjoyed To Unwrap This Holiday by bustle.com or visit the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop for handmade jewelry inspired  by your favorite poems and poetry.

Need more Christmas gift ideas for book lovers? These holiday gift guides have some great suggestions:

That’s it for me today but I would love to hear from you. What’s your favorite collection of poetry to read when life gets crazy? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time, take care and happy reading!!

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A Winter’s Ball at Netherfield

A Winter’s Ball at Netherfield

Turn your next holiday party into a winter’s ball at Netherfield with this lovely party outfit inspired by your favorite Jane Austen novels. I paired a pastel blue party dress and silver pashmina with a pair of handmade Pride and Prejudice earrings from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop and a lovely Jane Austen book purse from Novel Creations to create a lovely holiday look for a lady with exquisite taste and a fondness for reading. Perfect for elegant evenings out or Christmas celebrations with friends and relations, this Jane Austen inspired outfit is the next best thing to slipping under the mistletoe with Mr. Darcy!

 

A Winter's Ball at Netherfield

 

 

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Warm and Cosy Winter Look for Book Lovers

Warm and Cosy Winter Look for Book Lovers

There’s no better way to spend a cold winter’s day than to stay inside and read. That’s why I put together this warm and cosy winter outfit for book lovers. I combined a pair of red and white fair isle leggings with a matching Nordic style snowflake sweater for a look that is both festive and comfy. A Jane Eyre Heart Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop adds just the right amount of bookish charm for long afternoons spent reading your favorite books. A thick pair of hand-knit socks would be perfect here but if you don’t know a knitter, you can always use these cabled knit slippers to keep your toes toasty and warm while you read.  Add a warm blanket, a couple of pillows, a cup of tea, and something yummy to snack on and enjoy!

 

Cosy and Warm

 

What do you think, book lovers? What’s your favorite book to curl up with on a cold, winter’s day? Let me know in the comments!

And if you like what you see, you can also:

 

holiday-saleSale Ends Dec. 31st

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Thanks for visiting and until next time, happy reading!

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Book Review – Letters From Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

Letters from Father ChristmasLetters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are many books and stories that I think of when I think of Christmas reading. There’s Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, of course, and O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, which is one of my favorite Christmas stories! The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has always had a very Christmas-y feel to me, especially considering that iconic image of the lamp-post beaming in the middle of a snowy wood and a personal appearance by Father Christmas, himself. But I must admit that, until now, J. R. R. Tolkien never featured heavily in my Christmas reading. And then I discovered Letters From Father Christmas.

A charming collection of letters that Tolkien wrote for his children each year, Letters From Father Christmas, is simply a delight to read! Each letter features the adventures of Father Christmas and the other inhabitants of the North Pool, most notably the North Polar Bear. From the mishaps of the well-intentioned but accident-prone Polar Bear to fighting off incursions by wicked goblins, each letter is filled with the latest news from the North Pole and is accompanied by images of the letters themselves, with the text in Father Christmas’ shaky handwriting and fun little illustrations that Tolkien drew as part of the letters.

My only complaint is that, since the letters were written to the Tolkien children, they sometimes include references to people, places, or pets that they knew well, but that the reader wouldn’t necessarily understand. A couple of well-placed footnotes would go a long way in these instances, but otherwise, I enjoyed Letters From Father Christmas very much and will definitely add it to my list of favorite holiday books!

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Of Children’s Books and Birthdays

Of Children’s Books and Birthdays

Not many people realize it but November is a magical time for book lovers, particularly book lovers with a fondness for classic children’s books. It tends to get overlooked because of the holiday bustle and rush but this past week is chock full of literary birthdays, including some of my all-time favorite authors. Today we celebrate the births of Lucy Maud Montgomery, (author of the Anne of Green Gables books) and Mark Twain, (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and much more).  Yesterday I wished a very happy birthday to C. S. Lewis (the Narnia books), Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), and Madeline L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden) celebrated her birthday on Thanksgiving.

There’s a chapter in Anne of Avonlea when Anne’s friends gather to celebrate her birthday with her. There’s only one problem. It’s not her birthday.

 “I was just on my way over to invite you to help me celebrate my birthday on Saturday,” said Anne.

“Your birthday? But your birthday was in March!”

“That wasn’t my fault,” laughed Anne. “If my parents had consulted me it would never have happened then. I should have chosen to be born in spring, of course. It must be delightful to come into the world with the mayflowers and violets. You would always feel that you were their foster sister. But since I didn’t, the next best thing is to celebrate my birthday in the spring.

I almost wish I could do the same thing with all these wonderful birthdays – just move them to another time of year where they can get the attention they so richly deserve! Many of these authors wrote some of my favorite books and created characters that became life-long friends and it seems a shame that their birthdays should get drowned simply because they fall on or around Thanksgiving. But since that seems a little silly, I am simply going to mark the occasion with a cup of tea, a slice of cake, and by reading one or two of my favorite passages. It’s a busy time of year for me, with lots of orders to make up and ship out, but this is one of the joys of re-reading stories that I know so well. I can open to almost any part of the book, read a page or two and then get back to the rest of my day without wondering what will happen next. It’s like a quick little visit to an old friend who is always glad to see you!

You can also celebrate your favorite children’s book with a piece of C. S. Literary Jewelry inspired by Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, the Narnia books, and more.

Children's Book JewelryVisit the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy Shop.

Thanks for visiting, book lovers! Until next time, happy reading!!

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Shop Small at C. S. Literary Jewelry

It’s Small Business Saturday, the day we celebrate and support the local mom and pop shops in our community and independent creative entrepreneurs (like me!).  I hope you’ll celebrate the occasion by making a purchase from a small business today. Your support and patronage makes a HUGE difference in a small businesses’ ability to survive and thrive and, speaking on behalf of all small business owners, we appreciate it more than we can say.

If you are looking for some wonderful small businesses to support today, may I suggest some of my favorite Etsy shops, including:

 

(Speaking of Papuan Lass, have you entered my Winter Giveaway yet? You can win a gorgeous Papuan Lass Narnia Ornament for your Christmas tree! Click here to enter)

And of course, feel free to visit my Etsy shop, C. S. Literary Jewelry for beautiful, one of a kind holiday gifts for book lovers. As a thank you for shopping small at CSLJ, I am offering up to 30% off your order and free holiday gift wrap for the rest of the weekend.  Thanks for visiting and happy reading!!!!

 

Don’t miss the C. S. Literary Jewelry #smallbusinesssaturday sale. From now until Monday, Nov. 28th, you can save up to 30% on #handmadegifts 🎁🎁for #booklovers 📚 when you #shopsmall 🛍 in the CSLJ #etsyshop (link in my bio). You’ll find unique #holidaygifts 🎄🎁inspired by your favorite #books, #poetry, and #literature, 📚📖 including: #aliceinwonderland ♥️♣️#thesecretgarden 🗝🌿 #anneofgreengables, #thelionthewitchandthewardrobe from the #narnia series and J. M. Barrie’s #peterpan. 🐊 I’ll even wrap your #gifts so you can fit in another chapter (or two). . . #thankyouforshoppingsmall #smallbizsat #supportsmallbusiness #creativeentrepeneur #readingtogether #bookwormlife #booksmakegreatgifts #bookjewelry #bookholic #bookgifts #thebookishlife #christmasshopping

A photo posted by CS Literary Jewelry (@csljewelry) on

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A Bookish Thanksgiving…

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