Monday, February 16, 2015

Sandra Byrd's "Mist of Midnight"--a Gothic Victorian treat

I've become a slightly more impatient reader in recent years.  If a book doesn't grab me fairly soon after I open it, I have trouble making myself keep reading.

Mist of Midnight, by Sandra Byrd, offered no such problem. As soon as the reader meets Rebecca Ravenshaw, then finds out her extraordinary quandary, you're in.

This from Amazon.com:

"In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

"Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes."
Rebecca is a likable heroine, and I kept turning pages to find out how she would deal with her plight and her growing attraction to Captain Luke Whitfield, who has taken over her family's estate. In true Gothic novel fashion, we have to question whether the handsome captain is friend or foe. (We're hoping it's friend, because we're a little in love with him ourselves.)

In fact, the entire story has that Gothic atmosphere that I used to enjoy in writers like Victoria Holt.

About Sandra Byrd


Sandra Byrd


Sandra Byrd first drew me in with her contemporary French Twist  series about a young woman who becomes a pastry chef in France,  Then I loved her Tudor series, Ladies in Waiting.  I'm not surprised that her Victorian series, Daughters of Hampshire, should be any different.

I've read dozens, if not hundreds, of Christian fiction books.  Sandra Byrd has that something extra that makes a writer stand out in the genre.  Faith is naturally infused into her books in, as she once told me in an interview, an "organic" way.

Most of all, her books have the quality I ask for of any writer:  Make me care about the story and characters.  Give me the sheer enjoyment of reading that makes me keep turning the pages.  Sandra Byrd does that, in spades.

Disclosure: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.  This is my honest review.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Most Famous Lovers of all Time in History and Literature

Digging into the archives to repeat one of my most-pinned-on-Pinterest posts ever...

In honor of Valentine's Day! From listafterlist.com, the most famous lovers in literature and history.

OK, so unless you're extremely erudite or well-versed in literature and mythology, you may not have even heard of some of these.  Others you'll know from famous movies.  Here we go:


1. Romeo and Juliet--portrayed by Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Franco Zeffirelli's movie adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play.





2. Cleopatra and Mark Antony-portrayed by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor 





3. Lancelot and Guinevere


Source


4. Layla and Majnun--OK, this one I admit I had never heard of, but you can read about them here


5. Tristan and Iseult (Isolde)--pictured portrayed by James Franco and Sophia Myles in the 2006 movie adaptation









6. Eloise and Abelard




7. Paris and Helena--portrayed by Orlando Bloom and Diane Krueger





8. Orpheus and Eurydike


9. Napoleon and Josephine--portrayed by Armand Assante and Jacqueline Bisset




10. Cyrano and Roxane


11. Pyramus and Thisbe


12. Werther and Lotte


13. Odysseus and Penelope



14. Jane Eyre and Rochester--(portrayed by Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska) The romance from my favorite novel of all time! It gives hope to every young girl who isn't beautiful that the man of her dreams can still fall madly, passionately in love with her. Who can forget Jane's impassioned speech to Rochester, just before he declares his love for her:



"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."


15. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler--(famously played by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable) From one of my favorite books and movies, Gone With the Wind.







Got any favorites here?--or couples that you think should be added to the list? Let me know in my comments section!

What does love mean to you?

Here's my reply...

 Love is meeting the needs of another.

 Love's not a feeling--it's an action!

The best expression of what love is all about comes from I Corinthians chapter 13 in the Bible: 
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails...
...13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The woman who never smiles (and why that's so wrong)

I recently read about Tess Christian, a 50 year old woman who claims she hasn't smiled in 40 years in order to avoid wrinkles.

Never.  Not even on the most joyful occasions, like when she got married or when her daughter was born.

Apparently it's second nature to her now; she has just trained herself to keep her features neutral. She just never smiles.

Tess Christian


The result? Yeah, she looks pretty good for 50.  But she's not going to delay the aging process forever, and meantime she has deprived herself and others around her of so many happy moments.

How sad.

The power of a smile

Not only that, but Christian has denied herself the many benefits of smiling.

According to this article, "Studies suggest that smiling, forced or not, can have a positive effect on your mood, decrease stress levels, and even make everyone around you feel better."

Studies also suggest that smiling releases endorphins, strengthens your immune system, and makes you look more attractive to others.

As I age, I have found that a smile is an instant "youthener." (Yes, I made that up.)  Some people even say it's an instant face lift.

Non-smiling features drag your face down.  A smile lights up your face.

Christie Brinkley is 60 plus, and lets her smile light up her face
I wouldn't trade places with Tess Christian for the world, even if it saved me a few laugh lines.  I don't think I could live without smiling!

What do you think? Let me know in my comments section.


I'm partipating today in Thursday Favorite Things, hosted by Katherine's Corner!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Go to sleepy, little baby: the backstory of a lullaby (from the archives)

Rocking my baby grandson to sleep



Since my three children and two grandsons were tiny, I’ve been singing them a lullaby:

Go to sleepy, little baby
Go to sleepy, little baby
When you wake, we'll patty patty cake
And ride a shiny little pony

That was all I knew of the lullaby, which I could vaguely remember my mom singing to her own children and grandchildren. I found myself personalizing it:
Mommy loves her little Jonny (or Jussy, or Lizzie)
Mommy loves her little Jonny Mommy loves, she kisses and she hugs
Oh, Mommy loves her little Jonny…
I did the same with my grandchildren. I never thought they paid much attention to what I was singing as I rocked them to sleep.

But one time I was rocking Josiah, when he was very young, and I started singing the personalized verse. Suddenly, Payton, who was just a toddler, joined in, “Nana loves her little J.D. (our nickname for Josiah),” and sang it word perfect!

Obviously it had sunk in during the many times I rocked him to sleep. I loved it. :)


Where did it come from?


Well, the other day I got curious. Where had this lullaby originated? There was a “Go to sleepy little baby” in the movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, but it wasn’t the version I knew.

It took me just minutes to discover that the lullaby I know originated with TV host Judy Canova. It was the song she sang just before signing off of her show, back in the 1940's and early 50's. I even found some mp3s of the song…and lyrics! There are a lot more lyrics, and I plan to learn them.

If you're curious, here's a little clip of me singing a few lines of the song...


For me, this lullaby is the essence of my mother’s love for her children, and my own love for my children and grandchildren. As long as there’s a little one to rock to sleep, I’ll be singing it.


Friday, January 30, 2015

LungLeavin' Day: Putting a face to a big, scary word

If you're like me, the word "mesothelioma" was just something you heard in attorney's commercials on television and radio.

I knew that it was a cancer commonly assoicated with exposure to asbestos, but that was about it.

Then I got an e-mail the other day from a man named Cameron Von St. James, whose wife Heather (pictured left), actually has mesothelioma.

Cameron asked me and other bloggers to help publicize Lung Leavin' Day, coming up February 2nd.

In Heather's words:

"Nine years ago, I had my lung removed. I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my life. To try and lighten the situation, my sister nicknamed my surgery Lung Leavin’ Day. The name stuck, and now we celebrate it every year."

The celebration has become an opportunity to raise money to raise awareness about mesothelioma.  Over $7000 has been raised so far.

Says Cameron: "The purpose of this holiday is to encourage others to face their fears. Each year, we gather around a fire in our backyard with our friends and family, write our biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. We celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life!"




When Cameron reached out to me and many other bloggers to help, it was my chance to put a face to a word I'd only heard in passing before.  I hope this post will do the same for you.

Heather's not out of the woods.  She lives with fears about what mesothelioma will ultimately mean for her and her family, but she's a survivor and obviously a strong, determined woman with a deep faith in God.

To find out more about Heather's journey, go here and here.

For more about mesothelioma, go here,

"Frankly, God is the one who gives me tremendous peace. I find that prayer and reading His word, writing scriptures that speak to me, and keeping them in a little notebook for my use is a way for me to keep grounded.
With Lungleavin Day coming up, the opportunity is here to write our fears on a plate and smash them into the fire, I’m going to once again take control of my emotions and overcome. I know I have the power to do it; sometimes it is just making the choice to do so."--Heather Von St. James



Thursday, January 29, 2015

I love big fat magazines (from the archives)

No, this isn't a real magazine, but isn't it funny?
My love affair with magazines


via


My love affair with magazines actually began when I was a little girl and my parents were missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon.

My mom subscribed to several children's magazines for us, including Jack & Jill, Calling All Girls (later titled Young Miss and then YM), and a small Christian magazine I loved called Young Pilot.

When we returned to the states in 1967, I was just about to enter puberty, and was already beginning an avid interest in fashion and beauty (although I looked a mess.  The junior high years were NOT kind to me!)

Seventeen magazine was 50 cents then, and I remember cleaning the kitchen for my newly-married sister in exchange for a copy of the magazine!

I think at one point my mom even let me subscribe to Ingenue, and I bought Teen  Magazine with whatever pocket money I could earn or plead for.

via


I still love magazines, but....

What is it about fashion magazines that I love so much?

Some may complain that they're mostly ads, but that's one of the main things I love about them?  I look at every ad.  I love the slick pages with the gorgeous ladies and handsome men, and sometimes I don't even notice what product they're touting.

Here's the deal, though.  For a person on a budget, magazines aren't a terrific investment.

They're expensive.  And honestly, after I read whatever articles I want to read, I'm pretty much done with them.  Then you have the problem of whether to store them, try to give them away or junk them.

Not only that, but you can get most of the info online.

So I try to avoid the temptation at the grocery store register to buy another magazine.

I content myself with a subscription to InStyle Magazine.  Not only do I get the glossy ads, but there are fashions I would actually wear (as opposed to the high-fashion couture which is often more than slightly bizarre), and the magazine remains politically neutral--a trait I value.

There are even practical articles about skin care, hair, decorating tips and recipes.

P.S. Note that both these vintage magazine covers feature the beautiful Colleen Corby.  She was a top print model during my childhood.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm a voice-over artist! Hire me! (a blatant plug)


As I've mentioned many times here, I am a free-lance voice-over artist.

Right now my main form of VO work is recording phone surveys.  If you've ever taken a phone survey for anything from Jason's Deli to Comcast to Auto Zone, you've heard my voice.

However, I'm experienced in many more genres of VO work, and I want very much to expand my career.  I would love to get an agent to help me get my voice out there.

I now finally have a good quality website to point people to for my VO work.  It's Cindy's Voice.

If you're out there and you need a female voice for a project...or if you're an agent...please do check out my site and hire me!
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