Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Plot Bunny Challenge

Hello everyone!  Just popping in to inform you all that I'm going to be doing the Plot Bunny Challenge over at Anne-girl's blog!  It looks like tons of fun and I'm hoping it'll help me get back to writing.
To participate in the Challenge, you must write a back-cover blurb and the first scene of at least eight plot bunnies during the month of June.  I generally ignore/forget about plot bunnies, so this is going to be a new experience for me and I'm really looking forward to it.
For more information, go here. Anyone else doing it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ring Out The Bells...

Today is a very auspicious day for me and this blog.  Some of you may have already figured it out, but if you haven't--this is the first anniversary of Classic Ramblings!

I remember when I first started Ramblings, I was really excited for my first anniversary, planning out posts for it and thinking about how much I'd know about the blogging world by the time I'd been doing this for a year.  But really, I honestly didn't think I'd make it.  I figured that it would be a summer project, and then my interest would fade away as it generally does when starting new projects.

Well, that certainly didn't happen.

At first, it seemed that I was going exactly that direction.  I started out by posting every day, being absolutely over-the-moon thrilled when I got a comment, and pestering...erm, introducing myself to all those Bigger Blogs.

Then something happened.  Looking back, I'm honestly not sure what it was, or whether it was a combination of things, but I began to love blogging.  It wasn't just an experiment anymore--it was a journal of sorts, and a way for me to get to know other people who loved the same things I did.

And so now, starting on my second year of blogging, I'd like to say thank-you to every follower or commenter--you really do make my day sometimes.  Thanks especially to the early ones; I can't imagine what it was that you saw in my first several posts (seriously, just...don't read them), but your kind words were enough to make me want to do better.

I also have a thank-you to extend to the people who inspired me to blog in the first place--I cannot express the impact you've had on me, Amy and Melody.

And of course, this wouldn't be complete without some mention of the friendships I've formed over the past year.  They've become incredibly precious to me, and I consider it a great privilege to get to personally know some other Janeites over the internet--I'm so excited to continue my journeys with them over the next year!

Do I have any Big Plans for Classic Ramblings now that it's a year old?  Well, the short answer is no.  In the beginning, I aspired to be an Enormous and Influential blog, but that's another thing that's changed: I'm content just blogging in my little corner of the world, writing about anything that pops into my little head and totally disregarding the fact that this was supposed to be a Jane Austen/classic books blog. :P

All that said, I'm going to share some stats to end this post, because they're fun and I'm awful at endings...

Posts: 131 (this one included)
Followers: 40
Total Pageviews: 15,412,s,FFFFFF00&chxl=1:|May+2006|May+2008|May+2010|May+2012|May+2014&chxp=0,1500,3000|1,0,25,50,75,100&chxr=0,0,3000&chxs=0,676767,11.5,0,t,676767|1,6AA9E6,12,0,l,676767&chxt=y,x&chs=416x180&cht=lc&chco=6AA9E6&chd=s:AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGNKPWZYrdfllW&chls=3&chm=B,6AA9E664,0,0,0|h,E7E7E7,0,0.5,1,-1|h,AAAAAA,0,0,1,1|h,AAAAAA,0,1,1,1|V,E7E7E7,0,0,1,-1|V,E7E7E7,0,12,1,-1|V,E7E7E7,0,24,1,-1|V,E7E7E7,0,36,1,-1|V,E7E7E7,0,49,1,-1
Events Hosted: A Short-Cut To Mushrooms (with Eowyn)
Three Most Popular Posts: Defending Enjolras (530 pageviews), Guest Post! (241 pageviews), Celebrated Musicals Week: The Songs of Les Misérables (176 pageviews)
Most Popular Search Keyword: "enjonine fanfiction"

Also, I'm going to blatantly copy dear Miss Woodhouse here and ask a question: how do you remember finding my blog?
And now that's over with...THANK YOUUUU again to everyone who's reading this, and I hope this next year will be an amazing one!

-Miss Jane Bennet

Monday, May 19, 2014

Are All Jane Austen's Works Created Equal?

Recently, a friend asked me whether I could rank the heroines, heroes, and novels of Austen.  After giving it some thought, I decided that the question merited a post of its own, so here are my approximate rankings of the aforementioned characters and books (from favorite to least-favorite).
Note that I'm only "counting" her six finished novels, to simplify things.  Also, I consider both Marianne and Elinor to be heroines and Colonel Brandon and Edward Ferrars to be heroes. 


1. Emma
Emma was the first Austen novel that I read, and therefore automatically earns the top spot. ;P  But seriously, the fact that it was my introduction to the Regency world plays a large part in my liking of it, because otherwise I'd never be able to choose a favorite.  That's obviously not the only reason for it being #1, however; I personally think it's one of her best works and after seven readings I can still get extremely invested in it.

2. Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice, of course, goes near the top.  It's so vivacious and witty, as well as being the book that completed my conversion to Janeite-ness.  I'll admit, part of the reason that it isn't my favorite is because everyone likes it and that can get a little annoying, but it completely merits its popularity.

3. Northanger Abbey
Ahhhh...this book is just such FUN.  It's a novel for any occasion, being by turns funny, deep, romantic, and perilous (yes, perilous.  General Tilney is scary. :P).  Despite being, well, exaggeratedly normal, it has a real-life feel and the characters are always enjoyable.

4. Sense and Sensibility
How to describe Sense and Sensibility?  It was the second book I read of Jane's, and it's definitely the most emotional. (Seriously, did Charlotte Brontë even read S&S?? :P)  I'll admit that sometimes it just gets a bit too much for me, what with all the misery everyone (every sympathetic person, anyway) goes through and the general dark tone, which is why it's not higher up on my list.  But I still enjoy it, and the Marianne/Colonel Brandon romance is actually one of my favorites.

5. Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park, I find, has grown on me with each successive reading.  The first time I read it, I came as near to hating an Austen novel as is possible for a Janeite book-lover.  I found it dull, the characters annoying, and the plot too convoluted.  But now, I really, really like it (keep in mind, I still love the ones at the bottom of my list.  Just...not as much.).

6. Persuasion 
Persuasion...this book has actually been lowered in my estimation in subsequent rereadings.  It used to be higher than Mansfield Park.  I do enjoy it; the romance is sweet, and Anne Elliot is an estimable heroine, but most of the other characters are just!  That's the point JA was trying to make, maybe, but I don't especially enjoy reading about such things. :P


1. Elinor Dashwood
Elinor Dashwood is not up here because I would most enjoy her society, nor because I particularly
identify with her, but rather because she's a role model for me.  When I first read S&S, I really just thought she was a machine, but on subsequent read-throughs, I've really admired her self-control and love. 

2. Elizabeth Bennet
Ahhhh, Lizzy!  Who wouldn't love her?  I mean, she's witty, she's courageous, she's friendly, popular, sensible, responsible...the list goes on.  Of course, she has flaws as well, but she's willing to recognize them.  Eliza Bennet is always an enjoyable character to read about.

3. Anne Elliot
I generally get Anne on personality quizzes, which I suppose makes sense--she's quiet, loyal,
bookish, easily persuadable, and introverted.  This, combined with the fact that she's another role model of mine, puts her high up on my list.  Sometimes, though, she can be over-perfect, which is why she's not higher. ;)

4. Catherine Morland
Catherine is the other heroine I generally get on quizzes, which I certainly don't mind--Catherine is sweet, trusting, innocent, and tries to do what's right.  Unfortunately, I also identify with her in the matter of making everything in life novel-ish, but Catherine is altogether a worthy heroine.

5. Marianne Dashwood
Marianne is such an interesting character--"born to an extraordinary fate," and all that--that I can't
help but be intrigued by her.  I wouldn't say I particularly like her as much as some of the other heroines, and sometimes she can be extremely frustrating, but her reactions are just so interesting and she's so complex that I never tire of reading about her.

6. Fanny Price
I am DEFINITELY not of the group who would call Fanny a doormat.  Indeed, she's quite courageous, especially considering her circumstances and natural temperament.  But I'm not going to rant about that now.  Fanny, as with everything else in MP, improved upon re-reading and I think she's one of those heroines that you either "get" or you don't (in the paraphrased words of Melody).

7. Emma Woodhouse
I suppose that putting Emma at the bottom of my list sort of lives Jane Austen's description of her as
"a heroine whom no one but myself will much like".  Then again, I'm not everyone. :P
Anyways.  Emma is quite possibly the most lifelike heroine, but she can be so annoying that I don't like her quite as much as Fanny.  (Though I DO like all JA's heroines.)


1. Henry Tilney
THIS GUY IS AMAZING.  So few people actually like him, which I think is a huge shame.  I mean, he stands up to his father!  He was willing to talk about muslin and novels!  He provides witty quotes!  He's tactful!  He loves his sister!  He raises puppies!
...Need I go on?  I could, you know.  For hours.

2. George Knightley
Of course, Mr Knightley goes near the top of my list.  I mean, he's seriously SUCH a gentleman. 
He's so honorable and polite and he's willing to sacrifice Emma's love for him if it means her betterment.  I really, really admire him.

3. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Ah, Mr Darcy.  The epitome of a hero, the one that everyone likes.  Well, I do too!  I'll admit that part of the reason I don't like him as much as Knightley ("Never seen him before in her life and she calls him KNIGHTLEY!") or Tilney is because he's too mainstream (*adjusts hipster glasses*), but also, he truly is Proud and Prickly and I think he'd scare me if I ever actually met him.  Even if I met him after Lizzy married him.

4. Colonel Brandon
D'awwww, Colonel Brandon.  I always feel so sorry for the guy throughout S&S--I mean, he's
had a lot of grief in his life, and then he has to go and fall in love with a girl who not only disapproves of second attachments, also considers him Ancient and ends up nearly dying.  But he always acts gently and honorably, and I really love that about him.

5. Edmund Bertram
Do I like Edmund Bertram?...Well.  I guesssss I do.  I mean, aside from the whole marrying-the-cousin thing, he's actually a pretty nice guy.  But for all the popular opinion that Fanny is a doormat, I think the REAL doormat here is Edmund.  He falls in love with a girl because she plays a harp next to a window, and then goes about completely oblivious to everything but her until there are five pages left in the novel, at which he abruptly switches to Fanny.  Why?  Because...he needs solace for his tormented heart? :P
But after all that ranting, I really do like him through most of MP. 

6. Captain Wentworth
Meh. :P  That's the best way to describe him, I think.  I really don't like the way he acted--I mean,
he's almost worse than Edward Ferrars (ALMOST).  He gets offended because a girl is persuaded by the closest thing she has to a mother to refusing him and then refuses contact for years.  Then, when he's forced to come back, he makes sure to rub it in and courts another girl so vigorously that he considers himself nearly engaged, and dreads it.
...Howevah, I do like his letter.  And he DOES have some good points.

7. Edward Ferrars
Yeeeks, and now we come to Edward Ferrars, who irritates and angers me every time I open S&S.  Seriously.  He's cowardly, very oblivious (though really, I suppose I shouldn't criticize him for being blind to the world sometimes...), persists in speaking with Elinor even after she knows about the engagement, and then ends up with a happy ending simply because the girl he fell in love with has no finer feelings.
I will admit, though, that he can be honorable and the part where he refuses to break off the engagement partly redeems him for me.

What do you think of my rankings?  Which are your favorite of the books and hero/heroines?

Monday, May 5, 2014

On Fad Novels

I've been reading a lot of modern literature lately--actually, mostly pop culture books.  It started with The Book Thief and Divergent and then I got a lot of, "Well, if you're reading modern stuff you might as well read The Hunger Games," and it just went from there.
In any case, I've decided to just review them all at one go, since I don't really like/dislike most of the books enough to do full posts on all of them.

The Book Thief
I loved, loved, loved this book.  It made me cry harder than practically any other book (the obvious exception being Les Misérables :P), but it made me think and it wasn't all sad.  The characters were well-developed, the story well-told, and it made me think.  The only problem I had was the language; I could have done without that. :P  Definitely one of the best modern novels I've ever read. 

Ehhhh, these were okay. :P  Now I know that this is an extremely popular series, but...I just couldn't get into it.  Most of the characters were flat and unlikeable (except for Four; he was awesome), the dystopian world was kind of unbelievable, and the romance was meh.  I did enjoy it all right, but I don't plan on reading the rest of the series.

The Uglies series
Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras.  These books were pretty cool.  Admittedly they weren't extremely well-written, but they were engaging.  The premise was unique and well-followed-through, and the characters were, for the most part, relate-able and likeable. 

The Hunger Games
I liked these books better than Divergent--the characters were more developed, the plot and world made sense, and they actually didn't disturb me as much for whatever reason.  But it was very violent and dark, and from what I hear they only get darker as the series goes on.  I've read the first and second books and do plan to read the third one, but I'm definitely not a fan.

What are your thoughts on fad novels?  Do you like any of these books?