that blog post about Elsie Dinsmore

Ever since Olivia wrote her rant about the Elsie Dinsmore series, I’ve thought about writing my own post on the same subject.  I don’t know how much of a rant it will be since I wasn’t personally affected by the books (spiritually or emotionally speaking).  I guess this post will be more of a ‘my personal story of Elsie Dinsmore obsession’ mixed with problematic stuff I’ve since discovered in the series.

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I don’t even know where my dad found five antique Elsie Dinsmore books (the first five) but he did.  My mom read the first two or three aloud to me when I was about ten…and I was hooked.  I read and reread those five books a million times. (Well, it was more like four books because the first one went missing for the longest time.  But anyway.)  And then we found the sixth book, Elsie’s Children, and I devoured that one as well.

I would read all six books, wait a few weeks or months, and then read them again.  It was literally an obsession.

Why?  Well, for starters, I found the concept of a series where each book built upon the last one very cool and satisfying. (Up until this point my experience with book series had been Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.)  I honestly felt like the Dinsmores and Travillas were my second family, I had spent so much time with them.  Secondly, the books are super interesting.  New, bad stuff is always happening to Elsie.  Lol.  And thirdly, there are a few (very few) good things about the books. (More on that in a bit.)

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A family friend eventually gifted me all the books (minus one or two later ones).  I remember reading Elsie’s Widowhood on my school lunch break and literally sobbing.  Like, tears streaming down my face sobbing.  MR. TRAVILLA DIED.  IT’S SO SAD.

Which brings me to my first knock against the books.  Mr. Travilla’s relationship with Elsie is creepy.  He’s, like, late twenties (at LEAST) when he first meets her and he moons about her so much.  Always.  Like, from when she’s eight and up until, BOOM, she turns twenty-one and he can suddenly propose.  I didn’t think anything of all that when I was younger, but in hindsight…ew. (Though they were a pretty sweet married couple. *ducks flying tomatoes*  They were!  I still have some good feelings for this series.)

Then there’s the racism.  Yes, the ED books were a product of their time.  But that doesn’t make the racism right.  One of the scenes that sticks out to me the most is that priceless moment when Elsie has another baby and her kids say “I’m so glad it isn’t yellow like the babies down in the Quarter.”



(We won’t get into the whole ‘yellow’ means ‘mulatto’ and there are only, like, two white guys on the place.  That includes Mr. Travilla.)

(Though kudos to Martha Finley for portraying the KKK as wrong.  Though she glossed over the Reconstruction completely.)

And then there’s the character who, like Olivia, I term ‘the literal worst’: Horace Dinsmore, Sr.  He is truly awful!  I was reading some bits from Elsie’s Holidays and he’s so controlling and domineering and horrid.  He improves somewhat after his conversion, but the difference is negligible.  He’s still proud and cold and stern. (Just not in a cute, shy Mr. Darcy way.)  He still banishes Elsie at one point in the series (after his conversion) which is NOT the way you treat someone you ‘love’, regardless of what they’ve done.

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Elsie herself is unbelievable.  She’s a saint of a child, constantly bursting out in ‘an agony of tears and sobs’, and thinks herself the vilest sinner on earth.  She’s also the perfect wife and mother.  And drop-dead gorgeous. (Also, what about that literal resurrection scene???)  The only book where I think she achieves some humanity is Elsie’s Girlhood.  There, Elsie falls in love with a handsome fortune hunter and because of that, she seems real.  Her struggles to not give up on the guy, even when presented with all sorts of evidence of his Badness, shows she isn’t perfect. (Barely.)  I feel that she’s the most relatable in that book.

Like I said, there are a few things I enjoy in the series.  Elsie’s children are actually good characters, probably because they don’t inherit their mom’s perfection.  I also like a few other characters.  And Walter Dinsmore is the best in the series.  He reminds me of Walter Blythe. ❤ 

I think the series gave me a taste for historical fiction, so that’s awesome.

But other than that…no.  I’ll still reread the books for entertainment, nostalgia, and to revisit a few favorite characters and scenes.  But I wouldn’t recommend them (unironically) to anyone.

Have you read the Elsie Dinsmore books?  What do think is the most problematic area in the series?  And who is your favorite character?


P.S. I also had Elsie Dinsmore and Millie Keith paperdolls.  I loved them.

P.P.S. I’d like to read the ‘Life of Faith’ editions of the books.  I’ve heard those are better.


five reasons why I’m super excited for Nadine Brandes’s newest book, ROMANOV

(This post will extremely gushy but it is not paid for/sponsored by Nadine Brandes or her publisher or anything like that.  Nobody knows I’m doing this.  Except, of course, by the time you read this everyone who hops on my blog will know.  But this is all out of my own head.)

It’s Anastasia.  And historical accuracy. (At least more than the animated movie.)  And FANTASY.


I recently became a huge fan of fantasy stories (I think it was because of Fawkes, another one of Nadine’s books) and I’ve always loved historical fiction, so HISTORICAL FANTASY FICTION???  Sign me up!  Right away!  And as much as I adore Animated Anastasia, it’ll be great to get a bit more historical accuracy. (Though I’ve heard that Nadine portrays Rasputin as nice and helpful?  Kinda not sure about that, but we’ll see!)

I can’t wait for my pre-order goodies to arrive.

Before 2018, I had no idea that there were such things as pre-order campaigns where you could get all sorts of cool swag just for pre-ordering a book you were already dying to read. (Again, Fawkes was my guide.)  There’s a completely cool pre-order campaign going on for Romanov and, trust me, you NEED all this stuff. 😉  Every single person who pre-orders the book before May 7th and fills out this form will receive annotated sections of Romanov (really excited about those) and a printable recipe card for Nadine’s borscht recipe.

A limited number of people will also receive physical goodies like an exclusive (gorgeous) bookmark, a quote sticker, and a bookplate.  I don’t know if that number has been filled yet, but it’s worth a try!

You can pre-order Romanov pretty much anywhere, but I’ll leave the Amazon link here for starters.

I like crying over books.

Weird reason, I know.  But the story of Anastasia is so tragic and Romanov’s plot blurb literally says that Anastasia (‘Nastya’) is going to be on the wrong side of a firing squad…with a guy she likes on the other side.  AHHHHH.  Even if some things turn out well, I know this book is going to move me to tears.  Probably more than once.

It’ll be great.

Nadine Brandes has a great track record.

I’ve gushed quite a bit about the Out of Time series and Fawkes.  I’d wanted to read the OoT series for years when a friend unexpectedly (and wonderfully) gifted the set to me.  Those three books challenged me in my spiritual walk and helped me see that Christian dystopias can be done well.  And I know that not everyone loves Fawkes, but I do.  I really do.  It’s book with an intricate plot (spies! rebels! true love!), a beautiful allegory, and a *cough* super emotional ending.  So I have no worries about loving Romanov…I know I’m in good hands.

That cover.

picture taken from Nadine’s author website.

It always comes back to the cover.

But honestly, who wouldn’t want to have that gorgeousness on their shelf?

Are you excited for Romanov’s release?  Have you pre-ordered it yet?  Did you enjoy Fawkes as much as I did?


the five things tag


Stolen from Maribeth. 😉

Five Things You’ll Find In My Purse:

ONE: My wee Moleskine notebook.  It’s crammed full of story ideas and thoughts from years back – and I add to it all the time.  Absolutely indispensable.

TWO: A small, pink Bible.  It’s my church Bible.  I got it for free at a thrift store and it’s very cute.


THREE: My library card. (Plus two other library cards from other places I’ve lived.  I collect them.)

FOUR: A little booklet of Bible verses for memorization.

FIVE: A green tartan-covered compact mirror that I almost never use because I don’t wear makeup.

Five Things You’ll Find In My Bedroom:

(In my bedroom proper, I only have my bed and my clothes. #boring  All the good stuff is in the hallway outside, so I’m going to talk about that.  Though I do have a rather awesome Captain America poster on my bedroom wall.)

ONE: A desk stuffed with mugs, papers, notebooks, headphones, random bric-a-brac, and a WWII-style “Join the Women’s army!” poster.


TWO: Allll my lovely books.  Sometimes I just look at them and sigh with happiness.

THREE: A white (well, grey now) rabbit named ‘Cream’ (lol – I was so imaginative) which has been with me since I was Very Small Indeed.

FOUR: My collection of action figures and Funkos that mean a great deal to me.  I still need to get one of Edmund Pevensie and John from BBC Sherlock…

FIVE: A framed movie still of Henry Fonda. ❤

Five Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do:

ONE: Meet Julie Andrews.

TWO: Have my book, The Darkness is Past, traditionally published.

THREE: Spend the entire day in a library.

Today I bought two books in our local bookstore and later lent four more from the library. I cancelled all my evening plans, because, well, I'm all booked.

FOUR: Own a cat of my very own.

FIVE: Meet all my internet friends in person.

Five Things That Make Me Feel Happy:

ONE: Studio C.  My sister and I tend to binge watch their sketches (catching up on all we missed) and though I think their jokes have a tendency to outstay their welcome, they’re still awesome.  I have so many favorite videos of theirs.

TWO: Earrings.  I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but earrings are quick to put in and there are so many pretty ones.  Just switching them out makes me feel new, in a way.

THREE: Nadine Brandes’ newest book, Romanov, is coming out in less than a month! (May 7th, to be exact.)  And not only that…Finale, the last book in the Caravel trilogy, is releasing on the same day!!!  I cannot wait.

What Happened to Anastasia Romanov Romanov by Nadine Brandes Book Review Romanov is a wonderful read! Nadine Brandes is a storyteller whose prose borders on magical. Brandes weaves a beautiful tale about a princess desperate to save her family at any cost. She brings the historical figure Anastasia Romanov to life. #anastasia #romanov #anastasiaromanov #yabook #yabooks #historicalfiction #fictionbooks #books

FOUR: Celebrating birthdays. (Whether my own or someone else’s.)

FIVE: Running this blog.  I love writing posts, sharing my thoughts with the world, and interacting with all of you.  We’re on track to hitting 400 followers, which is amazing/unbelievable.  Love you guys! (And, yes, there will be an epic giveaway when there’s 400 followers.)

Five Things I’m Currently Into:

ONE: Villains.  Muahahaha.  In all seriousness, I recently watched ‘Maleficent’ for the first time (great movie!) and it got me thinking about all the villains I like and why I like them and why villain-narrated stories appeal to me.  I feel a blog post coming on…

TWO: The soundtrack for ‘Mary Poppins Returns’.  I’ve been humming, singing, and listening to the songs a LOT.  They’re so good.

THREE: Taking pictures of my family’s cat.  Because why wouldn’t I?

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FOUR: Doodling.  I have some great gel pens and whenever I’m bored, I tend to default to drawing houses, women’s faces, and eyes. (Someone needs to psychoanalyze me.)  I also enjoy writing random words in my very best cursive and scribbling down story notes and to-do lists.

FIVE: ‘I Can Only Imagine’, the movie.  I might write a review about the whys and wherefores of my (very unexpected) liking for this movie if y’all are interested.

Five Things On My To-Do List:

ONE: Finish the third draft of The Darkness is Past by June 30th. (I asked one of my friends to give me a deadline + be my alpha reader because otherwise I won’t get the draft finished until next year probably.  Drafting is going well so far.)

TWO: Get back on track with my Goodreads reading challenge.  I’m one book ahead right now but I like a little more of a cushion.  That’s where Trixie Belden books come in handy, lol.

THREE: Write more bookish blog posts.

FOUR: Spend less time wasting my time. *the eternal struggle intensifies*

FIVE: Make myself a coffee as soon as I publish this post.

Black Rifle Coffee Company - Follow our memes instagram for coffee memes daily!   @coffee__memes  #BlackRifleCoffee #AmericasCoffee


Feel free to steal this tag (is it stealing if I give you permission?) to answer on your own blog or in the comments!


mary poppins VS mary poppins returns

I had to.  Watching ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ gave me the itch to re-watch ‘Mary Poppins’ and, well, here I am.

The Story


MP: Mary Poppins comes to London in 1910 to put the Banks family to rights.

MPR: Mary Poppins comes to London in 1935 to put the Banks family to rights.

The Nanny


MP: What more can be said about Julie Andrews?  She is truly, like Mary Poppins herself, ‘practically perfect in every way’.  And the fact that ‘Mary Poppins’ was her first film role is even more impressive.  She brings a sweetness and charm to the character of Mary Poppins that wasn’t in the book.  So, points off for inaccuracy to the book, but points on for what really is a marvelous performance. (And there is a lot of Book Mary Poppins in Julie Andrews’ portrayal.)

MPR: I think everyone was a wee bit skeptical that anyone could step into Julie Andrews’ shoes.  But you know what?  Emily Blunt didn’t even try.  She went back to the books, she conferred with Rob Marshall (and her own fabulous acting instincts) and played Mary Poppins close to the book and close to everyone’s hearts.  There were so many moments through ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ when I was almost crying because “YES.  That’s my Mary Poppins!”

The Other Characters


MP: Everyone is so memorable in this film.  The Banks family, Bert, Admiral Boom (why does every name start with a ‘B’?), Ellen, Cook, Uncle Albert…it’s truly delightful.  Re-watching ‘Mary Poppins’ was like coming back to very old, very dear friends.  Mrs. Banks is an interesting mixture of defiance and decorum, Jane and Michael are The Best Child Actors, and even though I don’t particularly care for Bert, he adds a unique flavor to the film that I couldn’t do without.

MPR: Thank goodness the actors for John, Annabel, and Georgie weren’t awful.  That would have probably (mostly) ruined the movie.  But they were darling.  Michael and Jane are sweethearts, Colin Firth’s character (name?) is a pretty good villain…and then there’s Jack.  I like that they didn’t give him a romance with Mary Poppins (like she had with Bert, kind of) because I believe she’s ‘above’ romance in a way?  I mean, she’s basically immortal and Not Of This World.  But the little sparks between Jack and Jane made me so happy.

The Awful British Accent


MP: This is more a gag category, but…Dick van Dyke’s accent is truly awful.  And it slips up quite a bit, especially when he’s singing.  Definitely not a fan. 😛

MPR: And then there’s Lin.  You can tell he’s faking it, but it’s not as over the top/grating.  So that’s nice.

The Songs


MP: The Sherman brothers outdid themselves with the songs for ‘Mary Poppins’.  It was their first time writing allll the songs for a big Disney musical and they knocked it out of the park.  Pretty much every song in ‘Mary Poppins’ has entered common usage – stuff like “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and “chim chim cher-ee” – and the songs themselves are so catchy you can’t help but love them.  And then, of course, there’s ‘Feed the Birds’, which was one of Walt Disney’s favorite song and which always makes me tear up.

MPR: The songs that I heard from ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ before watching the movie didn’t thrill me. (Except for ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’, which I saw a clip of and was promptly blown away.)  But after seeing them in their proper context and getting the story/emotions behind them…I love almost every one.  ‘The Place Where the Lost Things Go’ is actually more meaningful to me than ‘Feed the Birds’ and I love, love, love ‘A Cover is Not the Book’ (#bookworm).  My little brother’s favorite song is ‘A Conversation’, which I think is a little weird.  But I just go with it.

(Incidentally, HUGE shout-out to Marc Shaiman for creating an Overture that sounds like it came straight from 60’s Disney musical.)

The Adventures


MP: ‘Jolly Holiday’ and ‘I Love to Laugh’ are entwined with two unforgettable Mary Poppins adventures.  Personally, I think that the whole chalk drawing sequence drags on for too long but the song is catchy and the visuals are nice, so I don’t mind it too much.  The tea party on the ceiling (sounds like something out of Wonderland) makes me grin…because everyone else (except Mary Poppins) is laughing so much.

MPR: I really don’t care for the bath adventure or the Cousin Topsy adventure.  They just don’t do anything for me.  What I do like, however, is the whole Royal Doulton sequence.  I think it’s really cool how they’re ‘in China’ (lol) and all the risks that has with it.  And both songs in that sequence are lots of fun and very energetic. (Plus, it adds to the plot because Certain Events help the children to see through Colin Firth’s character later on.)

The Emotional Pull

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Just leaving this screenshot here because no collage I make would be more perfect.

MP: This is going to sound a bit weird, but most of the parts I find emotional in ‘Mary Poppins’ are because of ‘Saving Mr. Banks’.  That movie made me love ‘Mary Poppins’.  It’s kind of hard to admit that I didn’t like it before that, but I watched it so many times as a child that I was sick of it. (Until ‘Saving’.)  That being said, I dare you not to tear up at ‘Feed the Birds’ or ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ (which was the one part I always unequivocally loved).

MPR: *deep breaths* THIS MOVIE.  The nostalgia made me cry, the extremely poignant subplot of Michael grieving for Kate made me cry, ‘Lost Things’ made me cry…I was a mess by the end of the film.  Though there were definitely parts that made me laugh and there were a lot of happy tears (far less than sad tears).  ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ hit a chord inside me.  It’s a part of my heart now and I love that.

The Ending


MP: Mr. Banks MENDS THE KITE.  And starts singing and dancing with his children!  And everyone is so happy and joyful and, uh, kite-flying-y.  ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ is one of the most triumphant, awesome Disney songs ever and it provides the perfect capstone to the story.

MPR: I can see what they were trying to do.  They were trying to capture the wonder and excitement of the first film’s ending.  Having Angela Lansbury there, having everyone floating in the air, Jack following Jane…it was all super sweet.  But I think ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ is the better song and a better scene, overall.

(LOVE how Michael’s like “I’ll start feeding the birds and go fly a kite” because yasssss.)



So, what’s my favorite Mary Poppins film?


‘Saving Mr. Banks’. 


That really is the truest answer I can give you because I can’t choose between ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ (and I like ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ better than both).  They’re each quite perfect in their own way.  So please don’t ask me to choose.

However…do you have a favorite of the two? (Or three, if we’re including ‘Saving Mr. Banks’?)


my top five favorite Saunders-centric episodes of Combat!

While my favorite Combat! character is Doc (played by Conlan Carter, not Steven Rogers) I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow).  And since this post is an entry in the Vic Morrow Blogathon, I’ll be talking about my favorite episodes of Combat! that focus on Saunders.  It was super hard to narrow down my options, especially since Saunders is an integral part of so many episodes.

But here’s my list.

‘Far From the Brave’ (Season 1)


This is one of the Combat! episodes I’ve watched the most – and with good reason.  It’s one of the best in the show, diving into Saunders’ character and the squad’s interactions. Though the banter between Billy and Littlejohn is one of my favorite moments, this really is Saunders’ episode.  One of his best friends, Grady Long, is killed in the episode’s opening and the rest of the story is him (and the squad) dealing with the fallout from that.  Even though Saunders behaves rather badly to the guy who comes to replace Long, you get where he’s coming from.  A poignant episode all around.

‘One for the Road’ (Season 1)


Allll the feelings.  The squad finds a baby and, of course, they have to take it with them because it won’t be safe otherwise. (I mean, it probably isn’t too safe with a bunch of American soldiers in enemy territory, but they can’t just leave it with no one around.)  Saunders is dead-set against the whole idea but he eventually thaws and it honestly does make me cry. :*)  I think this episode is some of Vic Morrow’s finest acting on the show (and that’s saying a lot).

‘The Long Way Home’ (Season 2)


More of a ‘whole squad’ episode, but I believe it focuses on Saunders enough to qualify for this list.  The squad gets captured by and thrown into a POW camp.  Saunders has to keep morale up and figure out a plan of escape while fending off (and enduring) attacks from the camp’s sadistic commandant. (I’ve never been able to trust Richard Baseheart since.)  Saunders has to make some tough decisions; the whole situation adds yet another dimension to his character.

‘Mail Call’ (Season 2)

Saunders get put through the wringer again.  In this episode he receives a letter stating that his brother (who I believe is fighting in the Pacific) is missing in action.  He doesn’t tell anyone about the letter’s contents, though the whole squad knows that something is up.  Saunders is quiet, detached, and abrasive to the new guy who joins the squad. (If this sounds like a rehash of ‘Far From the Brave’, it’s not.  Some of the plot points are similar, but both episodes are unique.)  Us viewers don’t actually know what’s wrong with Saunders until near the end of the episode, which is kind of nice.  It puts us in the squad’s shoes as they try to cheer Saunders up + figure out what’s up with him. (Spoilers: his brother makes it out okay. *happy tears*)

‘A Gift of Hope’ (Season 3)

This episode will always be special to me because Hamlette and I watched it together.  It was an awesome experience (one that I hope can be repeated with other Combat! episodes).  But even if I didn’t have that connection with it, this episode would still be on this list because it’s superb in its own right.  A friend of Saunders, believed to be dead, makes a reappearance and Saunders has to prove that said friend isn’t a deserter (his friend’s name is Avery and he’s the coolest, awesomest side character on Combat!).  There’s so much going on in this episode, character- and action-wise, that I can’t stop re-watching it.


Saunders is a very special character and that’s thanks (in large part) to Vic Morrow.  His spot-on acting skills made Saunders who he is (though the writers played a part in that as well).  I watched ‘Blackboard Jungle’ a few days ago and Morrow’s role in that surprised me all over again because Artie West the polar opposite of Saunders.  It’s a tribute to what a good actor Vic Morrow was…just like this post and the blogathon it’s written for.

Take the point!



‘two suitors’ (or, why fourteen-year-old Eva was a sucky writer)

Yesterday I discovered some of my old writing.


Image result for steve carell cringe

I was fourteen or fifteen when I wrote a certain trilogy of novellas set in Regency England.  At the time I was high-key obsessed with all things Jane Austen and, guys, I plagiarized lines from the books AND the movies in this trilogy.  Also names.  And as I read through the novellas last night, there was a definite Elsie Dinsmore influence as well.  My heroines were forever bursting into tears and some lines of description are almost verbatim from the Elsie Dinsmore books.  And the sad thing is that this isn’t a case of #copypastecris – I didn’t copy and paste lines from Elsie Dinsmore.  I’d just read the books so much that they were ingrained in my brain. (But that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post some excerpts from the cringiest book in the trilogy – The Two Suitors – along with commentary from moi. (The title= #lovetriangle #subtle.)  I might add some stuff from the other two novellas but, honestly, it’s going to be a struggle to leave quotes out from Two Suitors because everything is a joke.  Including my chapter titles (we’ll get to those).  Annnnd you’re probably going to hear variations of ‘cringe’ a lot because, yeah.  It’s unbelievable.

(I recognize that every author has to start somewhere.  And since these novellas were what really set me on the road to a writing career, they do hold a bit of a special place in my heart.  Plus, grammar and spelling are on point.  So that’s nice.  But overall… *shudders*)

So, the title page (#professional) reads Two Suitors: The tale of a girl who knew her place in the world. (At this point, we’re all vaguely alarmed…and it’s just the title page.)

Basic plot (from what I gathered in my skim-through): The main character is named Marianna (totally not based on Marianne Dashwood) who’s really snobbish (totally not based on Emma Woodhouse) and who falls in love with this probably-a-villain guy named John Albertson (totally not based on John Willoughby).  But there’s this other guy named Thomas Hilton who also loves Marianna (heaven knows why – she’s always super rude and snobbish toward him because ‘his family made their fortune in trade’ and doesn’t THAT sound familiar).  Marianna ends up becoming friends with Thomas’s niece, Anna Taylor (I CAN’T), and falls out of love with John super quickly because the plot demands it.  Thomas proposes again (oh, yeah, he proposed after dancing with her, like, one time but she refused) and amid plenty of happy tears, Marianna accepts him.


Now onto the quotes! (I also put a really pretentious ‘introduction’ before the story began but the one for Two Suitors is pretty tame compared to the introductions for the other books so I’m just going to skip it.)

Marianne called Emma her aunt even though she wasn’t quite her aunt. Her mother had been Emma’s cousin. However, Emma had wanted Marianna to call her that so she did. (Lol, wut?  Trying to figure out the familial connection is making my head spin.  And I’ve never heard of someone wanting someone else to call them ‘aunt’.  ‘Mom’ or ‘dad’ maybe, but not aunt.)

She was two years younger than any of his children and was quite used to being the center of her little world. She was the established head of her group of friends and she made sure it stayed that way. (Marianna sounds like a brat, tbh.)

“May I have this dance, Miss Arlington?” [John] asked eagerly.
“You forget…we have already danced our allowed two.”
He frowned. “I’m sure no one will notice,” he said with a smile. (Try to picture that in your mind.  He frowned…he said with a smile. *face-palm* Also, when I read this part out to my sister, she was like, “Flexing your knowledge of Regency customs, eh?”  And, yeah, if there was one fact I knew about Regency customs, it was that a couple couldn’t dance more than two dances together.)

“He has made his fortune in trade,” Marianna replied shortly.
Emma sighed. When would Marianna stop being so…snobbish? she wondered. “But Marianna, he is a true gentleman.”
Marianna did not reply and excused herself. (Head-hopping!  And I was right about Marianna being a brat.)

“Aunt, I am hardly old enough to be thinking about marriage,” Marianna said. (What I meant to put there was “said no eighteen-year-old girl in Regency England ever”.)

She met Mrs. Pratt on her arrival in town. Mrs. Pratt was the widow of a certain Mr. Pratt, the town constable. Mrs. Pratt was the be all and end all of all the town gossip. Every bit of news was weighed and sifted by her. If you wanted to know anything that was going on in the town, she was the one to go to. If you wanted to know something about yourself that you didn’t know about, she was the one to go to. (Nope, nothing stereotypical or cliched about Mrs. Pratt at all.  Also what does that last sentence mean?)

“The assembly ball has been moved up to this Saturday.”
“Ah, now that is good news. I have wanted to go [to] an Assembly for so long.” [Marianna said]
“That’s right…you have never been since you have only just come out. Well, I hope you’ll not be disappointed. But I doubt you will be as the assemblies are very enjoyable. May I secure the privilege of the first two dances?” [John said]
“I’d like that very much.” (I’m sorry but what is this dialogue?)

Miss Arlington,
I write to you on a matter which has become (to me) most urgent. I am, in short, in love with you. Please accept my proposal and make me the happiest of men.
Yours truly,
Thomas Hilton (Hate to break it to you, bro, but there actually wasn’t a proposal of marriage in that whole, very long, very eloquent letter.)

Even though her money was a strong pull, [John] could not be around her often and not be fascinated by her beauty, wit, and charm. However, he constantly reminded himself that if she was poor he would not try to win her. But as she was rich, it was just an added bonus that she had many other attributes besides. (Cue the creepy villain music.  And the ‘if she wasn’t rich, he wouldn’t try to win her’ is totally from when the fortune hunter was trying to marry Elsie Dinsmore.)

“You must try some of this beef,” John said to her, “It is quite delicious.”
“No, thank you,” she said quietly, “I’m not very fond of beef.”
“You mean you don’t want it because I suggested it,” he said teasingly. “I’m sure that if old Dr. Davis asked you to try some you would have.”
“You are impossible!” she said, smiling broadly.
“Maybe my impossibility springs from the fact that I am sitting next to,” here his voice lowered to a whisper, “To a beautiful lady.”
She blushed. “You flatterer!” She struck him playfully with her fan.
“Then tell me what I can do to atone for my flattering (though truthful) words.”
“At present I can think of nothing,” she said striving to hide her smile. But she could. Marry me was in her mind. (IS THIS HOW I THOUGHT RATIONAL PEOPLE FLIRTED???  PLEASE NO.)

Again she felt that something about John was not right. Something bothered her about him. She felt as though she did not quite trust him. (These doubts came out of nowhere.  I obviously just put this bit in so that Thomas could win Marianna’s heart eventually.)

[Context for next quote: Emma tricked Marianna into talking with Thomas’s niece and she actually had fun.] Back in her room she thought hard. Why am I not angry? Why am I not embarrassed that I chatted with Thomas Hilton’s niece? She could not know the answer. (ughhhhhhh – makes no sense)

(Just found a part where John asks Marianna “Will you grant me an interview?” which is snatched directly from the screenplay for ‘Sense & Sensibility’ (1995).  Whyyyyy, Eva?  Whyyyy?)

That night as Marianna lay in bed, she found that she was crying. Why? she asked herself. I’m almost certain that he’s going to propose. I’m sure we will be very happy. I shall be happy. And yet… She could not lay aside her doubts and fears until she fell asleep. (I was such an obvious writer.)

Okay, okay, in my plot summary I forgot that one day, out of the blue, Marianna’s uncle-figure, Edmund, announces that the entire family is ruined.  None of them have any money left.  So they have to move to…Bath.  And Marianna hates Bath and I’m ripping off Persuasion so bad. *cringes into infinity*

Marianna almost never thought of John anymore and when she did, she was almost indifferent. She was quite certain that he had only courted her for her money. Her reason for believing so was this: he had always visited their home whenever he had made a request to do so and was granted a visit. He had never forgotten or had been detained. He had also not come on subsequent days. (What is this ‘logic’?  I literally can’t understand what I was going for here.)

She had always felt slightly uneasy about him and now she felt justified in her doubts. (I don’t know why you feel justified because he’s really done nothing to make you think he’s a fortune hunter.)

“Your uncle and I have been worried about you.”
“How so, aunt?”
“To be frank – you have not spoken of John Albertson lately and we were wondering if you had had a lover’s quarrel before we left. Please correct me if I am wrong but if I am right, tell me that too.” (The quality of the dialogue hurts me.)

(A little later, Marianna finds out that John has just married a girl named Kitty [no originality in the names].  And she’s totally chill with that.)

“He is married,” Marianna declared as she walked into the house. (Way to be dramatic, Marianna.)

Another, sobering thought came to her. She must never flirt and carry on so outrageously with any man, no matter how charming he was. Her infatuation with John had caused her friend and even her aunt and uncle to suspect an understanding between them. From now on, she determined to be more discreet in her admiration of any man. (I’m thinking of deleting this novella.)

After [Thomas] had taken his leave, Edmund and Emma stayed and talked to each other, but Marianna excused herself. She ran to her room, almost in tears. Tears she did not know the reason for.
“He did not even look at me or speak to me,” she sobbed into her pillow. She stayed there for a long time, crying bitterly. (#elsiedinsmorediditbetter)

“What did you think of Thomas Hilton, Marianna?” she asked. “Did you find him very disagreeable?”
“Not at all,” was her short reply.
“Well,” Edmund said, setting down his paper, “I am very glad to hear that. I always thought him a very gentlemanlike person and I’m glad you don’t have any aversion to him.”
“Yes, ever since his…well, you have not been so averse to him for quite some time. Or his niece.” [Emma said]
“Yes, I misjudged him. I believe I’ve misjudged him very much.”
Emma looked at her questioningly, but Marianna resolutely kept her eyes fixed on the pages of her book and Emma did not revive the subject. (ARE THE SHADES OF PRIDE & PREJUDICE TO BE THUS POLLUTED?)

At the mention of Marianna, Thomas glanced over at her. He gave her a strangely, searching look and then turned his attention back to his niece. “Why does he hardly acknowledge me?” Marianna thought, almost miserably. “It must be because I refused him…oh, how I wish I could change the past.” (Angst some more, why don’t you?)  

Marianna sat in her room, looking at the tranquil twilight that was settling over the busy city. The sun was going down, leaving the sky a mixture of pink, yellow, and mauve. A tear trickled down her cheek and landed on the window seat, leaving a spot of brightness in the light dust…She sighed deeply. Was [the reason for her unhappiness]…could it be…Thomas Hilton? At first her mind refused to accept it but she finally admitted that she loved Thomas Hilton and would until the day she died. But it was hopeless. She admitted it. Ever since she had met him in Bath, he had kept aloof and plainly showed he was not and never would be interested in her. (See?  Angst everywhere!  And I doubt I even knew what ‘mauve’ looks like, ’cause I still don’t.)

Thomas looked at her for a moment and then continued. “I came here to tell you that my feelings have not changed. If you still do not feel for me, please tell me at once. I cannot bear to go on, not knowing. But if you do care for me, please tell me. Your words will decide whether I enter this house again.” (ALERT! ALERT! S&S and P&P plagarism!  And Persuasion, too, in that last sentence.)

“I convinced myself that I could conquer my feelings for you if I did not speak to you. But I deceived myself. Every time I looked at you, every time I heard your voice, I fell in love all over again.” [Thomas said] (*muffled groans*)

“Sir, I remember a time when I asked your permission to marry your niece, Miss Arlington. May I ask you again?”
Edmund was astonished. “But I thought she always disliked you,” he said at last.
“Perhaps she did at one time, but she and I have both greatly changed. For the better, I believe.” (Soooo many things.  First of all, does he really have to ask for permission again?  Secondly, the dialogue is vaguely ripping off Mr. Bennet’s concern about Lizzy marrying Mr. Darcy.  And thirdly, Thomas did not change at all.)

Anna, Thomas’s niece, suddenly faints and gets deathly sick at the engagement party.  It comes out of nowhere and adds absolutely nothing to the plot except that this guy comes to visit Anna when she’s sick and they end up having a double wedding with Marianna and Thomas.  Let’s pair those spares!

I always added a cringy ‘Postscript’ to the end of my novellas.  The one for Two Suitors included this interesting development: A few months after their marriage, Thomas fell off the horse he was riding and broke his leg. The doctors were able to set it but he always walked with a limp afterwards.  They had six children.  Why???  The leg breaking bit isn’t important information.  I don’t even know what to think anymore.

And then there’s the chapter titles: ‘Preparations’, ‘Marianna’s History’ [info dump], ‘The Come-Out Ball’, ‘After the Ball’, ‘Visits’, etc.  Only, by the time I hit chapter eleven I was apparently tired of coming up with such fascinating chapter titles and I just called the chapters by number after that.

So, yes.  That’s some of the cringy bits, with commentary.  If you want me to do the same with the other two novellas, I totally can. 🙂

Is this the worst writing you’ve ever read? (Personally, I’ve read worse on Wattpad, but not by much.)



movie review: mary poppins returns

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Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.


Going into ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, I was hopeful but leery (pun not intended, I promise – I only caught that when I was proofreading this post).  The critics weren’t kind to this movie.  They labeled it dull, joyless, boring, and an unworthy successor to the original film.  Even the more positive reviews did little more than bestow faint, somewhat withering praise on the film.

But I had to see for myself.

And, well, I LOVED IT.

Everyone was perfectly cast.  I was pretty excited to see Lin as Jack (it blows my mind that little kids will grow up with Lin the way I grew up with Dick Van Dyke) but it was Emily Blunt that really blew me away.  She’s not imitating Julie Andrews.  She is playing a character – the character.  Mary Poppins herself.  I was on the fence about her performance for about two sec-  Forget that.  I was never on the fence.  From the moment she sailed out of the sky holding onto the kite she was my Mary Poppins.

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Ben Whishaw was another delightful surprise.  He’s rather adorable but he also brought such emotional depth to Michael.  Left me in tears several times.  Jane was AWESOME (following in her mom’s footsteps by fighting for people’s rights).  I ship her and Jack so hard.  And the three children – Annabel, John, and Georgie – were delightful and worthy successors to (of? for?) Jane and Michael.

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Seeing Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, and Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks’s actress from the original movie) was a delight – especially Dick Van Dyke.  I never even really liked him as Bert (the accent!  the horror!) but, man, the nostalgia was real.  Plus, it’s super impressive that he’s in his nineties and still singing and dancing and acting.

And let’s talk about the nostalgia.  It was real.  Very real.  From Karen Dotrice’s character saying “Many thanks, sincerely” to THAT STORY ABOUT MICHAEL’S TUPPENCE I CAN’T EVEN (many tears, you guys) to the kite and “We are still not a codfish”…ahhhhh.  Loved it.  And all the instrumental versions of the original songs on the soundtrack.  I think they hit every song from ‘Mary Poppins’ and it was definitely ‘Feed the Birds’ that I loved the best.

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And speaking of songs…I thought they were perfect.  ‘A Cover is Not the Book’, ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’, and ‘The Place Where the Lost Things Go’ were my favorites but I loved almost all of them.  Except ‘Turning Turtle’.  That whole scene weirded me out.  I didn’t LOVE the songs the first time I watched the movie but they’ve been running through my head since the second viewing.  Which has to mean they’re pretty great.

If I were writing the screenplay I would have cut out the bath sequence entirely.  I would also have cut out ‘Turning Turtle’ and have had Cousin Topsy come along into the Royal Doulton bowl when they took it to her (and that’s when the bowl would have opened up for the children and Jack and Mary Poppins).  I just didn’t like the bathtub scene or ‘Turning Turtle’ – they didn’t add much to the story, in my opinion – and I would have liked the movie better if they’d been cut.

But besides all that, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a fantastic movie.  There were so many delightful, quotable lines.  So many memorable scenes.  So much joy.

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Though it was also very emotional.  I came into the movie with all the emotional baggage of losing a parent and watching ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ (NOT the same level of emotional wounds, but ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ does do things to my heart) so there were several parts that made me cry.  But everything ends in a wonderfully, blissfully happy way so it was all good.

Have you seen ‘Mary Poppins Returns’?  What do you think of it?