Well, January Is Done–How Did That Happen?

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Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s already February! Can you believe it? Nope, me either. So I’m going to update you today on how my January went.

~Writing~

Well, hum…er…

So remember how I was going to completely rewrite Jihi during the school holidays? I started. I wrote a thousand words, and then I realised that I didn’t want to write it anymore. It’s an old story, I’ve continually thought about it, rewriting and rewriting it, sometimes mentally and sometimes literally. And it had lost all its freshness. The story will always be with me as one of my first serious novels, but I feel it’s time to move on from it. I want to put it aside to focus on Rose Mask, The Stars Fill Infinity and the sequels.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing! If you’ve been following my posts over the last few weeks, you’ll have seen a few of my projects which I hope to focus more on in the coming year! And you’ll know that I’ve been outlining the sequel to The Stars Fill Infinity, *cue excited fangirling and squealing*.

~Reading~

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I’ve read some really good books this year already!

The Bamboo Cross by Homer E. Dowdy. Really interesting! I was reading this as part of my devotionals, but I took it with me when we went on holidays, and I found the second half so gripping that I read it in a day. It was about the mountain tribes of Vietnam during the Communist upheavals. I was expecting “Just” a missionary book, but this book’s focus was on two of the native pastors, Sau and Kar and their ministry among their own people, rather than the white missionaries. Five stars.

The Lost Sapphire by Belinda Murrell. I had mixed feelings on this book. For one thing, it was a historical novel set in an era which I don’t usually see written about–Australia during the ’20s, focussing particularly on the Russian refugees who flooded into Melbourne after the revolutions in Russia. On the other hand, it was lacking in life, and the characters could have used more depth. There was also a plot twist concerning the main male lead, Nikolai–a young Russian chauffeur, which I saw coming from a mile away, so it could have used some originality. Three stars.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. *Squeals* I feel that most people already know my feelings on this book. If you’re still unsure, I wrote a whole review on it! Five hundred thousand stars.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Odd, is the only word to describe this book! I liked it, but it was super strange sometimes. Hopefully, I’ll put up a post this month concerning the book, musical and movie! Three and a half stars.

Phantom of the Opera

The Fall of the Blade by Sue Reid. In my opinion, this was really badly written. It was a French Revolution story, which was why I picked it up, but it was written in a diary format, which I usually find really annoying. That aspect turned out exactly as I thought it would. The characters also felt flat and unoriginal. And then it just…ended. There was no closure whatsoever. It had a lot of potential, but it ultimately disappointed. Two stars.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I loved this! I listened to the whole thing as an audiobook in one day, fell in love and then…realised that it was abridged. This would never do! I never read abridged books, so I got the unabridged version out from the library. I’m over half way through it now and loving it still :). Four and a half stars. (I think the half star that I retracted was because Mr. Rochester is in it, and I don’t like Mr Rochester all that much, but Jane deserves every little bit of that four and a half stars).

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I Will Repay by Baroness Orczy. This is another one of Orczy’s books concerning the Scarlet Pimpernel. I liked this one a lot, but not quite as much as The Elusive Pimpernel. This one was focussed on one of Marguerite’s friends who appears in The Elusive Pimpernel, namely Julliet de Marny. It was interesting to have a different storyline and different characters (even though Percy did, of course, make an appearance in order to save everyone from untimely deaths at the guillotine). Four stars.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Again, this was abridged and left me totally and utterly confused. I’m choosing to believe that this was because of bad abridging, so I have the unabridged version ready to read after I finish Jane Eyre.

Cress by Marissa Meyer. My favourite of the Lunar Chronicles yet!!! I loved this book. Cinder was good, Scarlet was a bit ‘meh’, but Cress was brilliant. And Thorne and Cress are the sweetest things ever. My absolute favourite line from any of the books was this one:

 

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Isn’t he literally the sweetest? I didn’t like Thorne much in Scarlet, but he’s now my second favourite character

Five stars for Cress!

 

Once and Then by Morris Gleitzman. My reaction on finishing these two books was “Well, I didn’t need a heart anyway”. Once tells the story of Felix, a Jewish boy in Nazi-Occupied Poland, and Zelda, the daughter of a Polish Nazi murdered by the Polish resistance. It was funny and tragic at the same time. Then continued their story, and it just shattered my heart. Five stars for both of them.

The Russian Revolution by Jessica E. Piper. This was research for When Infinity is Empty, it was fairly interesting, but a lot of the political aspects went over my head, and there were so many names to remember. It was a bit hard to keep track of who betrayed whom, and who liked whom and who was allied with whom. Still, it was informative and I learnt a lot. Four stars.

So, twelve books altogether, not a bad reading month.

I also managed to tick four books off my Great Classic QuestThe Phantom of the Opera; A Tale of Two Cities; Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre (though both of these were abridged and I am reading the unabridged versions as well). I was originally planning to read A Christmas Carol and The Three Musketeers this month, but I never got around to it.

Next month I’m hoping to read A Christmas Carol; The Three Musketeers; Northanger Abbey and Anna Karenina (already half way through Anna Karenina actually, so I’m doing well!)

~Watching~

Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version). Very pretty adaption, and the costumes were stunning. I though Knightley’s acting was very good and I really loved the portrayal of Bingley (my favourite scene was Mr Bingley practicing his proposal! I love Mr Bingley 🙂 ). I felt that Matthew MacFadyen didn’t really get Mr Darcy right though. It’s not secret that I’m no a fan of Mr Darcy, but this particular portrayal of him just didn’t fit, he seemed too soppy and not…brisk enough. I don’t think that’s an accurate way of putting it, but I can’t think of any other way to put it right now. Three stars.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I know that the Hobbit franchise has been much criticised, but I actually quite enjoy the first film in the trilogy. This was a rewatch with my mum and brother. I really like Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo Baggins, because I think he gets it exactly right. I’ve always been of the opinion that Thorin behaves too much like Aragorn, and yet fails to be Aragorn in these movies. He’s not “Thorin-ish” anymore, which I think is a shame. I do like Balin though, and they way they’ve expanded his character a bit more. Four stars.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This suffers a few more faults than An Unexpected Journey, there’s just so much added material which I feel weakened the plot lines. Fighting in barrels, elves everywhere, Legolas and Tauriel, neither of whom are in the book, dwarf/elf romance, etc. However, the scenes in which Bilbo attempts recover the Arkenstone are really suspenseful and chilling, and I decided when watching them the other night, that they were some of my favourite scenes in all three movies. I also like the way it explored Gandalf going to Dol Guldur, which is mentioned briefly in the books, but never expanded upon. Three and a half stars.

Jane Eyre (2011 version). I really loved Jane Eyre, as mentioned above, but I found this movie quite dull. I don’t think it was bad, it was, like Pride and Prejudice, really beautiful and it had a good atmosphere, and I thought Michael Fassbender made a good Mr Rochester. I didn’t think Mia Wasikowska really represented Jane to me, she just seemed too severe and grave, and while Jane might appear severe and grave, she isn’t really, and I don’t think that was adequately portrayed. My main issue was that one of the paradoxes of my entertainment life is that I’m happy to spend hours reading “Boring” books, with lengthy descriptions and lots of romance, but a two hour length movie of the same thing is just too much. Three stars.

~Listening~

To musicals of course, because I listen to nothing else.

Anastasia: The Original Broadway Cast. Because it awesome. Nothing else need be said.

Les Miserables. Same as above, I’ll never ever get tired of Les Mis. I shudder to think how much of my life has been spent listening to varying versions of this particular musical. Still, I love it’s themes, it’s music, it’s lyrics, it’s general aesthetic!

Les Miserables, French Concept Album. I’ve been branching out into French musicals. Which is strange, since my French is very rudimentary. Still, I really enjoy listening to this

Elisabeth. This is a German musical which is MyMusicalTheatreLife’s favourite musical, so I thought I would give it a go, even though my German is not very good. I’ve really enjoyed listening to it so far, and I quite like the music!

A Tale of Two Cities. Yes, I brought the international cast recording and I love it, it’s one of my favourite musicals!

Alas, my sister has been away for the past week and a half, and I have no one to squeal about musicals and Ramin Karimloo with. Super depressing.

~Doing~

Not much, because, hey, it was school holidays! However, we did do a few exciting things. Like, we visited an arboretum (and saw a lot of beautiful bonsai), which was amazing. Here, let me photo dump you.

 

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Do you recognise this? If you scroll up to the banner, you might recognise it then. If you’re interested, the writing says “Wide Brown Land”, and it is in the poet Dorethea MacKeller’s handwriting. 

 

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An Australian Fresh Water Paperbark tree, in miniature!

 

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A fig, which I think is a Port Jackson Fig

 

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Can’t remember what this is, but it’s pretty.

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This, I believe, is called penjing. Basically it’s an ancient Chinese art form involves bonsai trees and landscapes. Also very pretty.

 

 

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More penjing

 

 

I actually have been here before, with a group of 80 high school girls, about two years ago. They were all incredibly bored by a place full of trees, but I honestly rated it higher than the trip to the massive shopping mall. I guess that’s the kind of girl I am.

For New Year’s, we visited grandparents and hung out there and I read a lot and it was very hot. By the way, the temperatures have been awful lately, though for the first couple days of February we’ve had a sort of cold spell.

 

 

 

 

St John Cadets went back, and I spent Australia Day hanging out with them on duty.

Had coffee with a dear friend (that’s not literal coffee, since neither of us are coffee drinkers).

Missed hanging out with my sisters and watching Les Mis.

Started on an epic Hobbit/Lord of the Rings movie marathon with my mum and brother.

Dancing hasn’t started back yet, but I’m eagerly waiting! I’ve also spent a good amount of time this month strengthening my legs and ankles and improving my flexibility.

Other than that, it’s been a quiet month, which is really good since December was crazy and school starts back for me on Monday.

How was your January? What did you get up to? Do you like bonsai? Have you ever visited an arboretum?

28 thoughts on “Well, January Is Done–How Did That Happen?

  1. Although I’ve never visited an arboretum, I LOVE bonsai. 😀 The Penjing was like a miniature forest.

    As for January, not too much happened to me. I got about a million story ideas *groan ( I have to finish this one first, because I can’t write more than one book at a time.) 😛 I finished a novel…. I found your blog. I made a blog.

    And food. I also had some food. 😉

    Love your posts!

    D.G. Snapper | silverphoenixwriter.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you like bonsai, an arboretum is definitely the place to go! At least the one we went to had a really large collection of bonsai, I only put in a fraction of the photos I actually took there!
      I understand! I have so many ideas and stuff floating around and I get so impatient and want to do them ALL at once. But I really can only focus on one thing at a time.
      That’s good. Food is like, helpful, for surviving 😛
      By the way, I was poking around on your blog the other day, but I couldn’t comment on anything, even once I’d made a Google+ account like it was telling me. Just so you know, I haven’t been commenting, but I have been enjoying your posts!
      Thanks for commenting 😀

      Like

      • Hmm… That’s odd. I think I might have fixed it though, if you want to try that again… I had comments on registered users, and I think Blogger only counted registered users as people with Blogger.

        *sigh* Must be an internet bias or something. JK XD

        -Snapper

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I had two snow days in January: one of those days me and two friends went sledding. My suite mates or I did not have a sled so we used cushions from my suite’s common area and put them in garbage bags. Not only did those bags protect them, but it also allowed them to slide more easily. A lot of January was school-related. I still listened to musicals like I always do.

    February- I love how the beginning of February started. Just yesterday, watched Greatest Showman at this place in Gaffney called the Big E. At 11:00 at night, only Gardner Webb students can come and the movie started at 11:55 and reviewed it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read Sense and Sensibility once and I don’t remember much about it 😬 I’ve seen the 2007 BBC adaptation a million times (it’s my dad’s favorite 😄), but I honestly can’t remember much about the book.

    Northanger Abbey, on the other hand, I LOVE. it’s fairly short, which keeps it interesting and Mr. Tilney is one of my favorite Austen men 😊

    and I honestly can’t believe you read twelve books this month. I used to read a lot and I’m trying to get back into it, but that is still astonishing.

    ah yes, the Hobbit franchise. not Peter Jackson’s best work, in my opinion. An Unexpected Journey is my favorite one, and the other two are okay, but I feel like as a collective whole, the movies are pretty … horrible. to take a funny, enjoyable children’s book and turn it into … what it is – a bunch of fights and flights and people and situations that didn’t even exist – I’m just n

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really should stop trying to so this on my phone

      I was trying to say ‘I’m not a fan’. however, I agree that Martin Freeman did an AMAZING job as Bilbo and the whole ‘unexpected party’ scene is my favorite and one of the best in the series.

      the Lord of the Rings , though, will forever hold a special place in my heart as my favorite (if not the best) movies ever made 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly, I can’t even tell you what it was about because I was so confused. In fact, the only bit I really got was that Marianne tripped over, sprained her ankle and Willoughby carried her home!
        I thought that Northanger Abbey would probably be the Austen novel I would most likely enjoy, seeing I think a satirical/gothic novel would be fun 😀 Once I’ve finished my current audiobook I’m going to listen to it.
        I don’t usually read that much, but it’s school holidays, and I honestly haven’t had much to do, because I haven’t even been writing a novel, so I’ve had plenty of reading time.
        Yeah, I definitely agree. In my opinion the first one was quite good, the second one is okay and the last one is terrible. I think that it would have been better if they’d kept it to two films, or even just one, and stuck to the book, instead of adding all the gore and mindless action. Yes, the unexpected party is so funny 😀 I honestly think Martin Freeman just nailed Bilbo.
        Yes, I’m rewatching them now 😀 (By the way, I was watching Boromir specially last night when we were watching The Fellowship of the Ring, and when the Fellowship spot Saruman’s crows, the very first thing Boromir does is shout for Merry and make sure that both he and Pippin are safe :D)
        Thanks for commenting!

        Liked by 1 person

      • my parents always said that they didn’t like Northanger Abbey a lot because it was ‘so dark’, to quote my dad, but I really liked it. I guess those things don’t affect me as much (thank goodness, considering I’m a writer 😛)

        Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mind “Dark” books, so long as they aren’t graphically violent, in fact, I kind of like the gothic sort of genre 😀
      And he also recues Pippin, rather than Frodo, from the monster/kraken/thing outside of Moria. Not to mention how completely distraught Merry and Pippin look when he get shot at the end. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • same

        he caught Frodo when he was falling on that bridge thing in Moria with Aragorn, and he held him back when he would have run to Gandalf and potentially been killed. are we just going to keep listing all the things that Boromir did? 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never seen the Keira Knightley P&P. I love the BBC one too much…I’ve just never been motivated to watch the 2005 one from anything that I’ve heard. If you haven’t watched the BBC one, you should! It’s a perfect interpretation, or at least I think so. They stay very true to the book, and it’s a mini-series, which means they don’t have to shorten things as much as a movie would have to.

    Cress is so good!! Cress and Thorne are definitely my favorite couple in TLC and I love the character development that they both go through. Once sounds really, really good…I’m going to have to check those books out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My friend suggested it to me, which was why I watched it, and because it was shorter too ;). I saw the BBC version way back when I was about seven or eight, when my mum watched it.
      I know, they’re very cute! And Cress is probably my favourite character in the whole series. Yes, Once was very good. My mum tells me that Gleitzman is mostly known for silly humour, and there was definitely a lot of humour in Once and Then, but it was also so tragic and very short, but heavy. I was very impressed.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  5. Sounds like you had a pretty good January! Cress is also my favorite of the Lunar Chronicles that I’ve read so far–I haven’t gotten around to reading Winter quite yet. I’ve found that there are a lot of varying opinions on the Hobbit movies. I personally really liked them and have just kind of grown to view them as entirely separate from the book mostly because of some of the weird developments that come out of the last two movies! I’m glad that you’re enjoying Elisabeth! It’s a pretty crazy musical but I love it a lot! I hope that you have a great February!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess if you can separate the Hobbit movies from the book, then they’re probably quite good. I really liked the first one, and thought it was a promising start to the trilogy, but in the end I think that they tried to stretch it out too far, particularly since The Hobbit is only a small book.
      😀 Thanks for getting me onto it, I’d never heard of it before I stumbled across your blog!

      Like

      • I agree, I do wish that they’d stuck better to the book. Have you seen the animated movie of the Hobbit? It’s actually very book-accurate and I think it holds true to the general feel of the book!
        And no problem! It’s always a pleasure for me to talk about Elisabeth!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m impressed by all the reading you got done!! I’m like…a super slow reader and it drives me nuts!!
    Oooo, a Hobbit marathon sounds like fun! Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get through even one of the movies in one sitting. I have problems, haha!
    I spent most of January reading (and dying) A Time to Die, and then trying to decide what to do next writing wise. In the last few days, I did a read through of a first draft and made some comments.
    ~ riley aline

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess I’ve always been a fast reader, but it’s mostly because I’ll literally read anywhere–in the car, when I’m supposed to be writing, when I’m supposed to be paying attention to something, at the dinner table (if I can do it without my mother realising 😛 ).
      Well, I don’t mean an actual proper marathon, as in all in one night, because that’s just way too much Hobbit to digest all at once. I usually watch the Lord of the Rings movies in two parts because they’re just so long!
      Oh, I read a Time to Die in December and it was really good! Are you enjoying it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yeah, that seems to be the only way to get any reading done anymore!
        Yesss, that’s me. I can’t watch one of them in one day…they’re just too long!
        I’m loving it! I’m almost done with A Time to Speak. I love the theme so much…it’s awesome.

        Like

  7. sounds like you had a good month! dare I yell again – A TALE OF TWO CITIES IS FANTASTIC AND I DIDn’T KNOW THERE WAS A MUSICAL!! Thank you for blessing me with this knowledge x

    Like

  8. Pingback: Summer is Over and Now It’s Autumn: February Happenings | An Ordinary Pen

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