Monday, September 12, 2016

One of the best books I have ever read...


I hope everyone has had an amazing summer!! My deepest condolences to those of you who have started school again...

My summer was alright. I read several really good books. One of those in particular has stood out to me. Not only is it the best book I read this summer, but it is also one of the books I have EVER read!! It's one of those books that is going to stick with me for a while. I keep thinking about it. I haven't begun to read a new book since finishing it. I haven't even put it back on the shelf yet. I just keep moving it from my desk to my nightstand. And I'm just aching to talk about it...

Where I received this book and what my interest in it is:

The title of the book is The Dancing Master written by Julie Klassen. I first became interested in the book when I went to the bookstore for my 21st birthday. I know what you're thinking, that I'm like, the coolest 21-year-old out there. :D
At first, it was just the cover that caught my eye, sad to say. The colors (green, which is my favorite color), the fact that it looked like a romance novel, AND the title (which sounded magical to me) all struck me as the kind of book I would enjoy reading. Anyway, at the time, I wasn't able to purchase The Dancing Master for uh, reasons.
In January of this year, my sister wanted to go to the bookstore to purchase The Phantom Of The Opera. I can't go into a bookstore and not purchase something, I mean I'm only human. Obviously, I bought it. January 29th, 2016. Don't ask me why I remember the exact date.

Type of book:

Regency/Historical Fiction / Christian Fiction

Ideas expressed/message and/or plot:

Though The Dancing Master is told in the 3rd person point of view, it switches every so often from being told from Julia Midwinter's perspective, to Alec Valcourt's perspective, and to Lady Amalia Midwinter's as well.
Alec Valcourt was a renowned dancing master in London. After an unfortunate incident, he takes his sister and mother and moves to Beaworthy, Devonshire, England to live with his uncle. Alec soon learns that the matriarch, Lady Amelia, has prohibited all dancing.
Julia Midwinter and her mother, Lady Amelia do not have the best relationship with one another. Julia is somewhat reckless, extremely defensive, and a dangerous flirt. Her mother is the exact opposite.
Though Lady Amelia is clearly not fond of Alec nor his former profession, she eventually hires him to work for her as clerk, warning him to stay away from her daughter Julia because he is not her social equal. Of course, a romance of sorts begins to form between Alec and Julia, even though she is expected to marry another.
Alec begins teaching a few private dancing lessons with the hope to open a dancing academy in Beaworthy. He is soon dismissed from working for Lady Amelia after she uncovers secrets about his past and why he and his family left London.
Lady Amelia, though elegant and refined, seems very bitter and unhappy. Though much of the seemingly quiet and uneventful town of Beaworthy circles around Lady Amelia's past, she does not speak of it.
Julia, having grown up without the love of a father, seeks the love of any man.
Eventually, Lady Amelia and Julia realize their mistakes and wrongdoings, and come to find that God is a God of forgiveness, love and grace.
The focus of the book was hardly just a romance story about Alec and Julia. It had many stories awaiting to unfold by the end of the book.

*SPOILERS*

I'm not going to give anything away that's too drastic, but if you don't want a tiny spoiler, then skip down to the next section. XD
I have nothing negative to say about The Dancing Master. However, the end left me wondering about a few things. While we learn the eventual outcome of our hero and heroine, I wondered how those outcomes came to be. The biggest question I had was, how did Lady Amelia come to accept Alec?? Based off the end of chapter 30, we may think everything was fine after that. But in the Epilogue, Julia tells us that her mother was still trying to get her with a more suitable man. Like I said before, I just wonder how that last event came to pass.

My favorite characters:

Alec Valcourt is my favorite by far. He's charming, funny, kind, and just seemed like a really caring person. He's really what I'd call a "perfect gentleman." Next, I pick Julia Midwinter. I really appreciated how her flirtatious and defensive exterior hid her vulnerable soul. She was a really sweet person when she let her guard down. Next I'd choose Walter Allen. He didn't have a huge part in the book, but his awkward shyness/clumsiness was fun and just added some overall lightheartedness and humor to the book. I really liked Mr. Barlow as well. 

Favorite scenes/quotes/lines:

I'm not going to say every scene I liked for the sake of you who may not have read this book. But I think some of my absolute favorite scenes appeared in Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 14, 24, 27, 29, and 30. Not to mention every chapter in between!! :D
There were a lot of really well written lines throughout the book, but the one quote that I keep thinking about is:
"Don't allow any man to treat you less than you are." (Chapter 12).

The Dancing Master

Other books to read by Julie Klassen:
Prior to reading The Dancing Master, I didn't know who Julie Klassen was. Now I am extremely eager to read her other works as well, such as: The Tutor's Daughter, The Secret Of Pembrooke Park, The Painter's DaughterLady Of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl In The Gatehouse, and The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall.

Additional Notes:

As I said before, The Dancing Master is one of the best books I have ever read. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the ending. I loved the genre. I especially loved the writing style. It was beautiful, passionate, and just extremely well written. The dialogue made you feel like you were living in that time era, as it felt very proper. Certain parts of the story were more intimate than so many other books I've read, and it felt really nice and refreshing.
Days after I finished the book, I began thinking that it would be kind of nice if I had a movie to watch next. I had a very serious discussion with my sister and a friend of mine about this. We put a lot of thought into it. If the novel was ever made into a movie and I couldn't have the models on the cover to play the parts, it was decided either Chris Pine or Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be able to pull off the character of Alec Valcourt, while Teresa Palmer, Julianne Hough, or Claire Julien could play the part of Julia Midwinter. Now all we need is someone to want to make the movie, and have me choose the cast. XD
Anyhow, this book felt like it was written for me. It has just about every quality in a story that I cherish. It's the kind of story I wish I could live in. Being in that world, with those people, in that society, learning how to dance...it sounds magical. I definitely rate The Dancing Master ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars!!! Thank you Julie Klassen for an amazing journey, and thank YOU for reading!! ;) 

Yours truly,

Me

P.S. click here to view the book trailer, and here to get a copy of The Dancing Master.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Marionettes - Angels, Fairies and Elves.


So, I know some of you are already aware of this, but for those of you who maybe stumbled onto my blog just today, reading and telling stories aren't the only things I enjoy. I absolutely adore puppets; marionettes being my favorite. Come to think of it, I guess puppetry is sort of another form of story telling... o.0 but that's beside the point.
Over the past few years I have acquired 6 marionettes, my first being a Disney's Collector Edition of Pinocchio and most recently, a pink poodle. Pinocchio typically stays at home, while every other puppet I own (with the exception of the new one), has been used in little skits my sister and I have put on in the church for children's ministry.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about one of my favorite marionette companies. I don't know about you, but I absolutely loved that post!! Not only that, it's currently my most viewed post to date. Apparently my dear viewers (that's you guys) find puppets more interesting than me... 🤔
There is another marionette company that I really really love (my mom says I spend too much time looking at the site). It's called AXA Marionettes. It's also based in the Czech Republic.

AXA Marionettes was started about 5 years ago by Xenie Axamitová, though she has been creating puppets for about 26 years. Though she has made puppets for theater purposes and TV shows, most of the puppets go to people in their homes. The website displays puppets by several different artists, including Tonda - one of the best carvers in the Czech Republic (he actually made the vampire marionette shown in the other puppet post).
Years ago when I began searching for marionette/puppet companies online, AXA was one of the first I ever stumbled across. They sell wooden marionettes, plaster marionettes, and marionettes made out of ceramics and clay.



Even though the White Angel marionette is one of the more popular puppets, the first puppet that caught my eye from AXA was the Fairy marionette. Her curly hair, the flowers and leaves - this puppet screams meeeee!! She's such a beautiful puppet. I loved her sort of sad expression. I could picture her story and the things she had gone through that maybe made her look that way. My sister and I even wrote several skits together befitting for a marionette with her appearance. Both of these puppets have wooden bodies with plaster faces, hands, and feet. They are mostly for decoration use only.


Some of the other puppets I like include the Butterfly Fairy marionette and the Partly Sad Angel. I can't even imagine how strenuous carving the Angel's wings must be...I'm quite mesmerized with her.



The Birthday Elf and the Home Elf are really cute and fun looking. With their crazy brightly colored hair and attire, they seem like they'd definitely be the life and light of a party. Who knows, they might even cause some mischief.... You can't say that these 2 don't bring a smile to your face. I mean, how could they not? XD



But my absolute favorites from AXA are, currently, the Cemetery Fairy made of wood, and the Elf. Notice the vibrant, almost iridescent harmonious colors on both of these puppets. I love the carving detail, especially on the elf. I admire his smooth facial expression. I love his boots too. The fairy is quite mesmerizing in her way as well. Personally, I love the red hair on the fairy. Both her and the elf look so beautiful, graceful and elegant. They're extremely beauteous works of art.

Someday I'm going to own one of these. Someday... 😌
I highly suggest you guys check out  AXAmarionettes to explore "all things possible, impossible, kings, princesses, dragons, fairies..." (AXA Marionettes Homepage).
Thank you to AXA for letting me do this post, and thank YOU for reading!! Please leave comments or email me through the contact form, I always look forward to hearing from you. ;)

Yours truly,
Me