Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Rather Lovely Soirée – Regency Desserts


A Rather Lovely Soirée
Talk like Jane Austen Day
Event production by
Random Magic Tour
Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Oct. 30, 2012

Welcome, dear guests! You've arrived at a rather lovely soirée in honour of Talk like Jane Austen Day. Talk like Jane Austen Day is an annual event, marking the anniversary of the first printing of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Austen's first published novel.

In honour of the day, we've assembled a delightful collection of interesting features on all things Jane Austen and her times. Feel free to stop in at any blog below to enjoy something interesting, and to leave your calling card (link to your blog) in the comments section of any blog, if you've particularly enjoyed your visit.

Just browse below for a delightful Austen-related tidbit offered to you by the co-hosts of A Rather Lovely Soirée for Talk like Jane Austen Day.

And here is my treat for you:

Who doesn't enjoy an apple pie this time of year? Jane Austen certainly did. She wrote to her sister Cassandra:

"I am glad the new cook begins so well. Good Apple Pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." (17 October, 1815)

I'm sure she enjoyed an apple pie baked by this 18th century recipe kept by her sister-in-law, Martha Lloyd:

"A Baked Apple Pudding (with Pastry)
Take a dozen of pippens, pulp them through your cullender, take six eggs, sugar enough to make sweet, the rind of two lemons grated, a 1/4 of a lb of butter (melted with flour or water). Squeeze the juice of the two lemons, let the apples be cold before the ingredients are put together. Make a puff paste in the bottom of the dish, half an hour bakes it."

If you are tempted to make one for yourself, here is a modern version:

Marlborough Pie
1 1/2 cup applesauce
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon rind, grated
4 eggs, slightly beaten

Blend all ingredients thoroughly and pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake another hour until consistency of custard.


Photo found here.

You can find more about this and other regency desserts Jane Austen enjoyed on this site.

Shown below, we've assembled a delightful collection of interesting tidbits on all things Jane Austen and her times. Feel free to stop in at any blog below to enjoy a sweet treat.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat! – My Top Five Favourite Paranormal TV Shows


Welcome to Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat!

On each blog stop from now through Halloween, a blogger or vlogger will have a handpicked Halloween treat to share with you - it might be a video clip, or a feature about great spooky films, a playlist of great, creepy songs, a recipe for treats, or a gallery of witches.

It might be anything! But it's sure to be something fun, so feel free to drop by each day from October 23-31, to pick up some cute treats to put you in the Halloween mood. All the treats will be added into the linky at the end of this post, so feel free to browse.

My treat for you is:
My Top Five Favourite Paranormal TV Shows


As many of you may already know, or at least suspect, I love reading and watching about all things paranormal, so here is a Halloween-appropriate list of five TV shows I was (or still am) addicted to at some part over the last decade and a half (listed in order of airing):

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    I was in high school, so about the same age as the main characters, when it first aired and this series was one of the first things that made me fall in love with paranormal genre, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
  2. Charmed
    Three witch sisters, ghosts, demons, and angels were something I just couldn't miss.
  3. Angel
    Naturally, I equally loved this Buffy spin-off, though I still haven't seen the last two seasons. But I'm planning to have a re-watch of both series some day and then finally catch up.
  4. Supernatural
    Although I saw some episodes at its beginning, I actually only got fully caught up and addicted to it this spring. There's every monster and other paranormal entity you can imagine (and those you can't), together with an abundance of mythology, so it just doesn't get more supernatural than Supernatural.
  5. The Vampire Diaries
    And so much more than just vampire diaries. I'm pretty sure I've already raved about TVD on this blog and elsewhere quite enough, so I'm just going to shut up. Do I need to say I love it?


Photo credit: CW, edits found here and here.

Have you watched any of the shows or read the mentioned books? If so, what did you think of them?

Also, if there is any other paranormal show/book/ book series you enjoy, please let me know, I'm always looking for recommendations in this area.

Feel welcome to express your thoughts in the comments!

About Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat!: The first blog hop was a Bookie Brunch special event for Halloween, and it was a lot of fun, so we're just continuing the tradition. Bookie Brunch was a weekly book discussion founded by Sasha Soren, the author of Random Magic. Browse archive.

Video Week: 'Random Magic' by Sasha Soren

Also this month - drop by for Video Week: Random Magic, from Oct. 21-30, featuring an entertaining week of cool reviews and creative features from vloggers around the world. They're featuring the book Random Magic by Sasha Soren. Visit the YouTube page for the schedule in infobox.

If I had to choose a Random Magic character for Halloween, I would definitely be Winnie, because she's brave and resourceful and never gives up, no matter how tough the situation is. Also, what better costume than a quirky doodle witch can you imagine?


Credit: Photo found here.

Find Random Magic Print | Kindle

If you stopped by for Halloween, here's what you'd find in your treats bag:


Credit: Photo found here.

Roasted chestnuts may seem boring but this is the delicacy that makes me look forward to autumn every year. Yum!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Chapters IX - XIX

This post is more of a reflection than a review, and it contains mild SPOILERS for The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. These are my thoughts on the second half of The Hobbit, you can read my review of the first eight chapters here.

hobbit_thumbSUMMARY (from Goodreads): Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.


In the second half of The Hobbit, Bilbo becomes more proactive, instead of just tagging along. After helping the dwarves out a few times, he becomes aware of his abilities, he realises he is more resilient than he thought, and consequently he gains a lot of self-confidence. Instead of depending on others, he becomes self-reliant.

The Ring certainly plays a part in it with its powers. It is true that the Ring corrupts people. But, as we see it in LOTR (for example, in Boromir's case) it does that through initially enhancing a person's inherent traits which it twists to its own purpose.

However, as Bilbo is essentially a good person, the Ring's power does not corrupt him as it would if he was not. Hence, Bilbo is not enslaved by the Ring's power. On the contrary, all the things that Bilbo does have only little to do with the Ring's power, only as much as it helps Bilbo reveal and put to good use the best of his features: courage, adventurousness, intelligence (common sense), and the wish to help others. Thus the Ring is 'degraded' into a sort of a placebo device – just as some people take a placebo and stop feeling pain because they think the pill helped, Bilbo, having the Ring, stops being afraid and passive, because he thinks he has the Ring to back him up (although not really).

Even though at this point, the true nature and power of the Ring remain hidden (to Bilbo and co., as well as to a first-time reader), I really like how Bilbo manages to avoid being corrupted by it. In spite of the fame and wealth he acquires, he remains modest and is happy to return to living a simple hobbit life in the Shire.

Anyway, I should stop this one-person discussion, although when I start on the concepts of good and evil and Tolkien I could go on for days.

In the end, the final outcome of The Hobbit is remarkably beneficial for the subsequent events in LOTR. Thus, The Hobbit is much more than a prequel to LOTR or a children's book. It is a vital part of Tolkien's world, perfectly incorporated into the whole.

Let me finish with some inspiring, funny, or otherwise interesting quotes I like:

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

“His rage passes description-the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted”

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

“I may be a burglar...but I'm an honest one, I hope, more or less.”

“Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

RECOMMENDATION: The Hobbit makes me feel good every time I read it. It is entertaining and suspenseful, and it makes me laugh (but not cry, though parts of it are touching). If you like fantasy, this beautifully written door into Tolkien's universe is a must-read. 

5 stars

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fangs, Fur and Fey Giveaway Winner

We were giving away a keepsake tin of pretty art cards featuring fantasy characters. (sponsored by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic).


And the winner is:

Marthalynn Rodriguez

Congratulations! You have been notified via email.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Chapters I - VIII

Note: This post is more of a reflection than a review, and it contains mild SPOILERS for The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings and The Silmarillion.

hobbitSUMMARY (from Goodreads): Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.


It has been a few years since I last read The Hobbit, so I decided to reread it again for the third or the fourth time or something like that. The Hobbit was the first Tolkien's book I read and I think it is a prefect introduction to the world of The Lord of the Rings.

To me, The Hobbit is a comfort read. A big reason for this is Tolkien's writing style – as eloquent and intricate as ever, but with a difference from his other works in the fact that Tolkien often directly addresses the reader. This always makes me feel as if the story was being told by a grandpa to the kids gathered around a fireplace during long cold winter evenings (of course, I'm one of the kids, ha-ha).

Bilbo is a character torn between wanting adventure on one hand and safety on the other. These are the things most people, not only children but also adults, want – to go out there and see the world and experience interesting events, but at the same time we all want to be safe and comfortable. This makes Bilbo easy to relate to.

Bilbo's adventures are scary, and funny, and astonishing. But what amazes me the most now, after numerous rereads of Tolkien's works, is that right here in The Hobbit, Tolkien already lays out all the basics of his world of Middle Earth and beyond.

As some of you might not know, The Lord of the Rings and related works initially served Tolkien 'only' as a background for the languages he invented (chiefly Elvish), and The Hobbit is a prefect evidence for it. It is all there. All the essential components, from the peoples, to lands, and history are already outlined in The Hobbit.

Let me mention just some bits of Tolkien's world I'm especially fond of and which appear in the first eight chapters of The Hobbit (here SPOILERS begin):

  • the first mention of "the Necromancer" who "is an enemy far beyond the powers of all the dwarves put together"


  • vivid descriptions of settings, for example of:

    "…dreary hills, rising higher and higher, dark with trees. On some of them were old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people…" where "They have seldom even heard of the king…"

    See that mention of "the king"? So subtle, but so important.


  • the encounter with the three trolls – no matter how many times I read it, this part always makes me laugh out loud. It is a also a crucial event on a larger scale, for it is among troll's stolen possessions where Bilbo's sword, Sting, comes from.


  • Elrond and Rivendell: "The Master of the house was an elf-friend - one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories before History, the wars of the evil goblins and the elves and the first men of the North. In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North as their ancestors, and Elrond the master of the house was their chief. He was noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as  wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking, best, or a pleasant mixture of them all."


  • all the hints at an earlier history, for instance the Battles of Beleriand, the fall of Gondolin and Doriath, the battle of Dimrill Dale, and the lineage of weapons, such as Glamdring and Orcrist


  • Gollum: already in The Hobbit Tolkien reveals his complexity – one of an evil creature but with the trails of being, if not good, at lest less evil. Also, Gollum's manner of speaking is the best ever. I love, love it.


  • the portrayal of Sauron's power through the depiction of Mirkwood, and the parallels between Mirkwood spiders and Shelob and the enchanted forest river and Morgulduin


  • and last, but not the least important: the Ring, which promptly reveals it's treacherous nature, but, by 'helping' Bilbo seals its own and its Master's fates.

And it just gets more and more complex (and better) from here on.

All in all, Tolkien never ceases to amaze me with his craftsmanship. The way he includes all the key elements of the greater scheme of his world in The Hobbit without making it even a tiny bit confusing or boring is simply fascinating.

And so I fall in love with his genius all over again every time I read any of his works.

5 stars

A side note
: expect my thoughts on the second half some time next week.

If you have read The Hobbit, have you noticed all the connections to his other works? What are you favourite things from the Hobbit? And are you excited about the movie?

Update: You can read my thoughts on the second half of The Hobbit HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday #20: The Hobbit

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


hobbit"There he lay, a vast red-golden dragon; fast asleep; thrumming came from his jaws and nostrils, and wisps of smoke, but his fires were low in slumber. Beneath him, under all his limbs and his huge coiled tail, and about him on all sides stretching away across the unseen floors, lay countless piles of precious things, gold wrought and unwrought, gems and jewels, and silver red-stained in the ruddy light."

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, p. 201

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Book Nook #28

Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Show us something pretty!


Commentary: It's a reading heaven! Such a lovely bright room and all that shelf-space, and I love the blue upholstery. The only thing missing is perhaps a small table for refreshments.

Details: Location and artist unknown, not given in the original post.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Happened to Me Actually Posting Reviews

I guess I owe you some explanation what's going on, since I haven't posted a review in two weeks. (Two weeks?! I'm appalled at myself)

Obviously, I've been in a kind of a reading rut, again. It's not that I don't read, I do, but very slowly, just a few pages or a chapter a day. Then there are also some days when I'm so busy with life and things that they just pass by without reading. So, I'm not sure when I'll post another review.

I'm currently rereading The Hobbit, it's my 3rd or 4th reread, and I really enjoy it (duh, it's Tolkien). This is definitely the book I could read fast, but I don't want to rush it because I don't need to as I already know the story and I want to enjoy Tolkien's beautiful writing.


I was thinking, maybe I could review The Hobbit in parts (not more than three), or just post my thoughts on it, in any case, with my favourite quotes and such. Would you like reading that?

Also, if you haven't read Tolkien yet, I think The Hobbit is a good place to start, especially now with the movie coming out soon. By the way, I'm so excited about it, although a bit sceptic (I mean, how on earth have they stretched 300 pages into three movies?). Are you planning on seeing The Hobbit? Are you excited or a little sceptic about it?

Anyway, I hope I can bring reviews and other more interesting content back soon . Until then, thank you all so much for being patient and still reading my blog.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

REWIND: Top Ten Posts On My Blog That Might Give The BEST Picture of Me

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

I missed this prompt in August, so I decided to choose it for today's Top Ten Tuesday Rewind topic. I tried to pick the 10 best posts/reviews that I wish every potential reader of my blog would see to get the best picture of who I am.

  1. About Me page is a good place to start. I'm a very private person, but i do try to share some things to let you get to know me better.
  2. Cat Diary can be your next stop. My cat is a big part of my life and I share some things that are going on in my life there, hopefully in a funny manner.
  3. I watch way to much TV and/or films so the Film/TV page might give you a further insight in my tastes. (Also, if you really want to see what I'm obsessing about these days, feel free to visit my Tumblr, where I also occasionally post my philosophical ramblings or rants.)
  4. My view on the kind of writing I find acceptable and enjoyable is expressed in What Makes a Poorly Written Book?
  5. If you want to know where I stand when it comes to Fantasy vs. Realism, my answer in the last part of the post.
  6. Books and Moods tells you all about what kind of books suit me when I'm in a certain mood.
  7. I answered some questions about me in this tag.
  8. More or less seriously, this LOTR read-along post reflects some of my values/ways of thinking, and especially reveals my love of The Lord of the Rings (which is, as many of you probably already know, my favourite book)
  9. This post tells all about my opinion on tolerance and everybody's right to read/like whatever they want.
  10. Now, i could link some of my reviews, but I find it hard to choose, although you are welcome to visit my Reviews by Rating or Reviews by Author pages and click on some links if you are interested.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cat Diary (22): Photos

This is an occasional Sunday feature where my cat, pardon, Her Majesty the Cat, offers her more or less gracious insight into my (and her) life.


i know you haven't heard about me for a while, so to make up for that, here are some things I've been up to, backed up with photographic evidence:


Plant-hugging. You know, like tree-hugging, but instead I hug plans. They grow better, trust me.


Hiding in inspecting the hallway wardrobe.


Sitting like a human. Just to prove I can.


Dealing with an intruder a.k.a. the neighbour's cat who marched over acting like he owns the place. Who does he think he is?

Business as usual, what can I say. Luckily, autumn is already in full swing which means a whole lot of interesting things to do for me, like chasing fallen leaves and banishing stray spiders who think they can come inside to weather the winter, and such.

i hope you enjoy these lovely (and hopefully not too rainy) autumn days!

Till next time,

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fangs, Fur and Fey Giveaway Hop

Fangs, Fur and Fey
October 2-8, 2012


The book Random Magic features plenty of creatures with fangs and fur, with an occasional appearance by one of the good folk from the unseen realm of faerie.

So, for this hop, we'd like to offer a charming box of blank cards featuring fantasy art depicting spooky creatures with fangs and fur, and enigmatic members of the fae.



About: Noteables cards are in a class of their own. Each tin contains 12 illustrated cards, four each of three designs. Elegant raised embossing on the reusable tin, which can be also be used as a keepsake frame. Cards measure 4 x 6 inches (10.16 x 15.24 centimeters). - Manufacturer description



Here's a peek at the artwork you'll find on the cards inside the tin:















...and Fae




a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to enter: Just pick out the items you'd like to complete, then check them off in the Rafflecopter.

Available ways to enter: YouTube, Twitter, commenting

More about Random Magic:

Shown above: Book trailer, Random Magic

* If you enjoy browsing interesting booktuber channels, feel free to join us for Video Week: Random Magic (Oct. 21-31), video preview shown above. This video tour will feature an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland related prize bundle.

* If you love browsing boards on Pinterest, feel free to browse some of the pins at Pins + Magic, a Random Magic read-along: Browse.

You might also enjoy...

Shown above: Preview of the booktubers you'll meet during Video Week: Random Magic

You might also enjoy...


Please feel free to join us for the Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat hop, from October 23-31, 2012. 

A group of cool bloggers will be posting together - each blogger will have a Halloween treat for visitors to enjoy, with a new treat posting each day. 

There are some giveaways planned, too, so feel free to join us for sweets and treats this Halloween. Have a cool Halloween link to share? Feel free to add it to the Halloween linky! Browse schedule | Add a Halloween link

Don't forget to stop by on October 28 when I'll be treating you with a Bookie Brunch: Trick or Treat post about my favourite paranormal TV shows and more!