Thursday, February 28, 2013

Movie: Fellowship of the Ring

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 10

Genre: Adventure, fantasy

Series or set: Lord of the Rings

Number in series: 1st

Primary actors: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler

Length: About three hours

Based on: Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

Time period: Fantasy

Year it came out: 2001

My overall opinion: Well, I’ve reviewed this before, way back in early 2011 when I first watched this trilogy, and when I had just started Austenitis. Back then, I reviewed much differently than I do now. I was still learning so much…still am, but I know more now than then! So, having now seen the movies four or five times, I figured it was time for a complete review – of a length that only true devotees would actually read the entire thing. This time, as I watched, I kept notes…and each movie took a full notebook page, with ROTK taking 1 and 2/3. Really. That review will be exceptionally long. Well, so is this one...over 2000 words (with this addition). But for now…here we go! I’m doing everything mostly chronologically here, in order of my notes.

WARNING: There is no attempt to avoid spoilers. None whatsoever. So...if you haven't seen it and you want some things to stay mysterious, don't read this. But if you have seen it...HERE WE GO!

Hobbiton: I love the cheerful hobbit scenes that are filling the beginning of this first movie. They are so light and happy and easy-going…the scenes and the hobbits (perhaps not so much the light part ;). I am a girl who loves happy things, so these scenes are a refresher to me, since I know how dark the rest of the movies get. It’s especially nice to see Frodo still healthy and cheerful and clean and smiling. He changes a lot over the movies.

Gandalf: Oh I love that guy! Sir Ian McKellen makes the perfect Gandalf! I love his hat. He is awesome and stunning as ever.

Bilbo: Well, now that Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out, this is the wrong Bilbo, of course. But still…he does well enough.

Soundtrack: This soundtrack is so stunning! I’m listening to it as I write…inspiration, you know. Howard Shore did an unbelievable job with it, giving places and characters their own themes, but not so many that you can’t keep them apart. I’ve listened to this soundtrack dozens of times, and there are songs that (played loudly enough) still give me goose-bumps. :)

Pippin and Merry: Everyone loves these two! I confess, I’ve never been able to tell them apart…or rather, remember which is which. I know all the classic ways of keeping them apart…I just can’t remember them. HOWEVER, I think I’m getting better with each viewing. :D They are so hilarious with the firecrackers in the beginning scenes! I do love their friendship, and they’re pretty cute little guys.

Ring: It’s so menacing, even at the beginning! However, I must admit to being very glad that they included its history like they did. Of course, it’s sprinkled throughout the three movies (especially in the opening of the third…disgusting, but that is for another review). But seeing the history is so much clearer than reading it…I’m really glad Peter Jackson included that.

Quotes: These movies are unbelievably quotable. Probably a couple of quotes will crop up yet in this review…but I’m going to try not to use too many, and perhaps later do a post on them. For now, I just have to throw in one… “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” – Galadriel

Black Riders and Saruman: They are both so frightfully creepy! The Black Riders are menacing, same as the Ring…hidden faces, ragged clothes…you know they’re bad. Even the bugs know…remember the scene where one of them hunches over the edge of a little dell where Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry are hiding, and all these creatures (creepy crawlies!) come oozing out? Yeah. It’s gross. And Saruman…how anyone could trust him is beyond me, but dislike of him is well-ingrained in me, so I don’t suppose I can judge. Christopher Lee does amazing as Saruman – truly creepy. Oh, one thing that just occurred to me…at least in the normal length editions, you never see what happens to him, do you? I don’t think so. That’s a problem.

Special effects: There are some amazing ones! I’m not sure what scene we were on when I wrote that note, but there are so many throughout all three of the films that I’m sure you won’t have any trouble remembering some. These movies are stunning with those!

Peter Jackson: FINALLY! I spotted him in Bree! He looked quite like himself too, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen him before. I think I maybe also saw him in the third movie (we’ll see once I get to that review) but not in the second. But it made my day to spot him! Here, a picture.

Aragorn: All I wrote here was “ARAGORN! LOVE.” Yeah…that pretty much sums it up. He’s so handsome, so awesome, so great with a sword, so amazing, so brave, and he says “If by my life or death I can protect you, I will.” Simply lovely! And yes…I do love his relationship with Arwen as well. He’s simply great, definitely a favorite part of the movies for me. Which makes me sound totally fan-girl…I just might be. Viggo Mortensen rocks here!

Weathertop: It’s such an interesting place, perched on top of a hill like it is. All fallen buildings and dark crevasses. And then getting encircled by the fearsome Black Riders! Oh, it’s a stirring scene. Frodo and the hobbits attacked by the Black Riders! And my favorite part? Aragorn rides in and does a fiery rescue. Ha, those Black Riders set on fire! Ah, it’s a wonderful thing.

Trolls: I spotted them! Success! And they looked just like the ones from HAUJ. Score, Peter Jackson!

Rivendell: It’s so lovely in Rivendell – these scenes always feel peaceful. Of course, here we have
Elrond’s Council – great music. And I love seeing all the races of people gathered – men, dwarves, elves. And of course, it’s at Rivendell that we really meet Elrond and Boromir and Gimli and Legolas and somewhat Arwen, though technically she’s just before Rivendell (to be met, in a part inaccurate to the book). And I love the scene at the council where Sam runs in to accompany Frodo and then Merry and Pippin pop out too. So funny! Oh, and we see Bilbo again. And he has a freaky Gollum moment…ugh.

Legolas and Gimli: Yes, I had to give these (super cool) guys their own section. Because they’re such a wonderful part of all three movies! Of course, I’ll mention them more later. But for now…suffice to say that Legolas is simply smashing. And so is Gimli. Both so stalwart and strong and, well, handsome. Love them both!'s not just me thinking Legolas' eyes switch color, is it? Cause I'm convinced that in at least one scene they were definitely brown or at least a very dark color. And in other scenes, distinctly blue! Your thoughts?

Boromir: Oh Boromir. This was actually my first time to watch and not cry over the end of this film. It took some intense concentration. He’s got the right things at heart, the well-being of Minas Tirith, but pursues them in the wrong way. You know you should absolutely hate him, and there are definitely some times when you dislike him, but when he dies, his death is so noble…you (usually) can’t help but cry. Poor Boromir. Kind of a villain you can’t quite hate, like Javert in Les Mis. And after all, he’s the one who says “One does not simply walk into Mordor.”

Passage of Caradhras: And so the Fellowship travels on, finally coming the mountains. Oh, the Passage of Caradhras…yikes! It’s one scary cold scene. So much deep snow and so much wind. I was indescribably glad I wasn’t with them right there. Truly miserable. And Saruman controlling the weather…that’s just freaky.

Watcher in the Water: What is it anyway, some sort of overgrown prehistoric octopus? Definitely something I would like to encounter. It’s…huge and slimy and so many legs. But in the book, if I remember right, it’s an intelligent creature (or perhaps…no, I don’t think so, but maybe Saruman controls it?) and goes straight for Frodo. It obviously has enormous strength as well, because it absolutely walls them into…

Mines of Moria: You may think me strange. But? This is my favorite scene sequence in any of the three movies, with the possible exception of the entire 30 minutes or so at the end of ROTK (beginning with A’s crowning). Mines are amazing, and these are certainly no exception. Gigantic, dark, echoic, scary, monumental, impressive. I’ve oohed and aahed my way through these scenes time after time. So excuse me if I’m a little exuberant. Oh, and we get our very first glimpse of Gollum here too! (Incidentally, there is a severe lack of Moria pictures on the web, which is where I get all my pictures....just video game pix, which don't work, so excuse a lack of Moria photos).

Cave troll scene: You remember the cave troll, of course. Have you ever noticed that Aragorn uses a bow and arrows there? My question…where did he get them? He is very proficient and good with them…but he uses that instead of his sword. Random observation. And of course, the whole fight is quite fascinating. Such a slow troll, very dim witted obviously, but very heavy and strong. Dangerous. I do love it when Pippin and Merry rescue Frodo! YAY! They’re so awesome together. :D

Moria in general: There’s a ton of gray…really makes the fiery reds and oranges stand out when they reach those immense stairs. Of course, some of this whole scene isn’t accurate to the book…but I’m used to it and like it just as well. :) Their whole race along those perilous steps is unbelievable. In an amazing way. So dangerous and fast! I did wonder this last time through tho…what in the world is burning down there? Is it like a volcano or something way down deep? I don’t know. And the whole collapsing steps -- *heart-pounding scenes.* But remember…”Nobody tosses a dwarf.” Until the next movie, at least. ;)

Balrog: And then, despite that fast and dangerous race…they encounter the balrog on the bridge. Ah, the balrog is indeed a fearful creature…can you imagine fighting several, like back in the earlier Ages? Nearly invincible. But they all make it across the bridge and then Gandalf stands there… “You shall not pass!” And then! Oh great joy, the balrog falls and all is well…until the whip snakes back up and down goes Gandalf. After harshly whispering “Fly, you fools!” Oh, that scene is a tear-jerker for sure if you don’t know the books/movies...and maybe even if you do. (And yes, that picture isn't straight from the movie...close enough though.)

Lothlorien: On to Lothlorien. Such an amazing structure! I can’t imagine the work it took to build these sets, though no doubt much of it is in miniature. And here we meet Galadriel, and less importantly, Celeborn. And Haldir too, right? That bowl that Galadriel has Frodo look in is freaky…but then Galadriel resists the temptation to take the Ring! That too is a freaky scene. And here it is that Galadriel says “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

Boromir’s betrayal and death: I’ve already covered this a bit up in the Boromir paragraph. Poor Boromir. He’s so awful and fully despicable and despisable (and yes, I’m making that a word). And then he turns around and dies defending two hobbits. *sob* I’m going to cry just thinking about it. SO sad and SO good. He is so brave and noble there at the end. Oh my.

Aragorn’s stand: As Frodo runs away, Aragorn fights off how many orcs? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. And maybe they’re Uruk Hai. Either way, it’s a lot of nasty beasts all against him…and he triumphs! And then Pippin and Merry also fighting and trying so hard to distract them from Frodo…which they do, only to have Boromir come rescue them. They’re such stupid brave little hobbits – did I mention I love them?

Sam: Sam has never been a favorite LOTR character for me, and neither has Frodo. But Sam chasing Frodo there at the end is great. He’s going along and there’s no stopping him. It’s a good thing too! But I love how he chases after, and then Frodo saves him from drowning. It’s good. Yup. Good.
Aragorn take 3: “Let’s hunt some orc.”

THERE! Did you read it all? If so, fist-bump! Very few people will actually read the entire thing, but even if you didn’t…hope you enjoyed what you did read. Now comment and tell me…

Do you agree with my takes on characters?

What scenes are your favorites?

Did I point out anything you hadn’t noticed before?

P.S. Go to my Spotlights page (click here) to find spotlights on several of my favorite LOTR characters!

Where Treasure Hides

Author: Johnnie Alexander Donley

Genre: Suspense, adventure

Series: I hear that Johnnie is working on the sequel…

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: I read it as a PDF.

Time period: 1930s, 1940s, World War II

My overall opinion: Wow. Was I ever impressed! See, I requested this book from the author without a lot of research about it first. I knew I loved the cover, and the story sounded interesting enough. So I didn’t realize it was a digital book until Johnnie wrote back asking what kind of file I wanted to read it from. My hopes for it immediately dropped, I admit. My automatic reaction to a digital book is that they’re just digital for a reason…hate to say it, but they’ve usually got inferior writing. However! That was most decidedly not the case here. This book deserves to be in a physical paperback form! The cover and the story are both worth it. It’s set, as you saw, in World War II. Fascinating era. I read it mostly in the evening, and was so excited to come back to it every night. It’s an unforgettable story! Absolutely packed with intrigue and excitement – trust me, you won’t be able to stop if you’re trying to limit yourself. It’s not overly romantic, but enough to keep you reading. If you can get this one, or see a giveaway for it, definitely do. It’s a page turner…in a digital way. Thrilling, intense, heart-warming – all in one book. I highly recommend it especially for anyone who likes historical fiction!

**The author sent me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I have reviewed it honestly. I wasn’t required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ring of Secrets

Author: Roseanna M. White

Genre: Mystery, adventure, suspense

Series: Culper Ring series

Number in series: 1st

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5 high

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 337

Time period: 1700s (specifically, Revolutionary War)

My overall opinion: What a wonderful opening to a new series by Roseanna M. White! I haven’t read just a whole lot of books set in the Revolutionary War, so I was looking forward immensely to the this book and to the upcoming ones. While I did end up preferring Roseanna’s Biblical fiction (the only one I’ve read is Jewel of Persia [click on title to read my review], and I loved it!), this book was very enjoyable as well. It’s a spy story through and through, with suspense and mystery blended seamlessly. The heroine, a girl named Winter, was someone easy to identify and empathize with, and the story felt very real and accurate. It was clear the Roseanna must have done some serious research for this book, and no doubt, series! However, just because a book is historically accurate doesn’t mean it’s boring, right? Avid readers know this. The historical accuracy and realistic characters didn’t detract from the story in the least. There were even a few real historical characters too! Always a good thing. This is a delightful story that will make the Culper Ring (the spy ring the story centers on and is named after) ever memorable.

**I received this book from Harvest House Publishers in return for an honest review. I was not obligated to post a positive review, nor was I recompensed for this review in any way. All opinions and thoughts are my own.**

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Austenitis' Facebook

Well, everyone, here it is: the official announcement. Austenitis has a Facebook! In fact, it has for several weeks now, and 34 of you have already gone and liked it (many thanks -- y'all are awesome!). Now, there are a couple things I want to mention before giving you the big link.

1. When it reaches 51 likes (50 people other than me), I'll be giving away a book. Not entirely sure which one, but possible The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow or Unbreakable. This giveaway will be for Facebook followers/likers only.

2. What will you find there? The condensed, highlighted, and enhanced version of this blog. I link to reviews, both book and movie (and probably music). I ask questions (anyone know anything about a new version of Scarlet Pimpernel?). I occasionally talk about giveaways. I may talk about things related to period dramas, favorite books, upcoming soundtracks (yay for the Deluxe version of the Les Mis one!), and, among other things, I post pictures that Austenitis loves but doesn't want to post on the blog. And speaking of pictures...

3. I've created albums containing (thus far) pictures from Les Miserables and Hobbit! I'm also working on getting all my Doubles pictures into albums there as well.

4. Austenitis' Facebook will also be the place to keep up most with what's upcoming on the blog. It's kind of a less formal, more friendly version. Not to say this blog isn't friendly...oh dear. I'm digging a hole for myself. But understand what I mean? Oh good.

So, want this best Austenitis experience? Here's your link to go and like the page! Feel free to poke around first and make sure you want to. :) See you there!

Movie: Return to Cranford

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8.5 (or 9 - .5 less than I gave Cranford)

Genre: Life

Series or set: Sequel to Cranford – incidentally, in the UK this part is known as the Christmas Special

Primary actors: Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Deborah Findlay

Length: About three hours, with two 1 ½ hour episodes.

Based on: Cranford, The Moorland Cottage, The Cage at Cranford all by Elizabeth Gaskell

Time period: 1800s

Year it came out: 2010

My overall opinion: Fun, though (like most people say) not as good as the original Cranford. It was so delightful to see all my old character friends again, and of course, to hear the soundtrack again as well! It continues the adventures of the characters you know, and adds in some new characters (and adventures), making for an altogether charming show. Some of it was a little melo-dramatic, but not in a bad way – and everything was okay in the end. Good overall, though Cranford itself is better.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Garden of Madness

Author: Tracy L. Higley

Genre: Life, adventure

Series: This might be hard of Tracy’s Seven Wonders of the Ancient World series, but I’m not sure.

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Historical fiction

Number of pages: 387

Time period: Bible times (600s b.c.)

My overall opinion: Oh, it was very good! I found it to be fast-paced and almost impossible to put down. Absolutely full of mystery, suspense, and excitement! There’s not a slow minute in it. A few of the fascinating people/places in this one include Daniel (the Biblical one), Nebuchadnezzar (likewise), the Hanging Gardens, and the captive Israelites. The main character is actually Nebuchadnezzar’s fictional daughter, Tiamat or Tia. This is a memorable story…I haven’t a doubt that you’ll find it intense and thrilling, a book that entwines Biblical, historical, and fictional facts to a T. It seemed very well-researched. As fellow author Tosca Lee says on the cover, it is “rich with all the flavors of ancient Babylon.” Delightful book and one I’m glad I bought.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: Unbreakable

Author: Nancy Mehl

Genre: Amish, life, mystery

Series: Road to Kingdom

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 330

Time period: Present

My overall opinion: Nancy Mehl masterfully present the struggles of an Amish community who are being harassed. This book contained some very exciting and thrilling passages, and a good ribbon on suspense was woven throughout. The first person method of writing didn’t really work for me, though…it felt a little forced at times, with more “telling” than “showing” (and everyone knows a fundamental rule of writing is show, don’t tell). So I didn’t love this book like I’d hoped to. It’s probably most enjoyable if you read the first book in the series, Inescapable, first – I haven’t had opportunity to yet, but would like to someday. I’m certainly not opposed to giving Mehl another try! All in all – this book wasn’t for me, but it had a good concept behind the story, and I don’t doubt that some people would love it.
**Litfuse Publicity Group supplied me with this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to post a positive review, nor was I paid in any way other than the book.**
Celebrate the release of Unbreakable with Nancy Mehl by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to the March 5th Author Chat Party on Facebook!

Unbreakable Kindle Fire Giveaway

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Books one & two in Nancy's Road to Kingdom series (Inescapable and Unbreakable)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the "Unbreakable" Author Chat Party on March 5th. Connect with Nancy, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books, and fun Mennonite-themed giveaways.

Grab your copy of Unbreakable and join Nancy on the evening of the March 5th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Healer’s Apprentice

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Genre: Fairy tale, adventure

Series: It’s not part of a series, but at least The Fairest Beauty is set in the same location and with a few recurring characters.

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 261

Time period: 1300s

My overall opinion: Melanie Dickerson is my newest favorite author. I so enjoyed this book! It had a definite grown-up fairy-tale feel that I loved – that sounds kind of bad. I don’t mean that there was mature content or anything inappropriate…merely that it’s written for adults, as opposed to kids. No particular fairy-tale stood out to me as being the one it was modelled on – a touch of Cinderella though, for sure. In the afterword, Melanie mentioned modeling it on Sleeping Beauty…which I caught after thinking about it for a while. This book was enjoyable and memorable, laced with mystery and suspense and a lovable element. This is a sweet tale sure to capture any reader’s heart!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Suitor for Jenny

Author: Margaret Brownley

Genre: Romance, life

Series: Rocky Creek Romance

Number in series: 2nd

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9

Type: Fiction

Number of pages: 315

Time period: 1800s

My overall opinion: I’m giving it a 9 just for the humor. Didn’t enjoy the actual story like I’d hoped to, but the irony and humor were awesome! I loved those. It was a good story with very colorful characters…Margaret does a great job with them. This book is fun, light, and romantic! Each chapter is opened with a quote from The Compleat and Authoritative Manual for Attracting and Procuring a Husband by Miss Abigail Jenkins in 1875. Incidentally, this book plays a part in the story as well! But I had to share a few of the quotes with you. :)

“Charm and composure must prevail at all times. If a gunfight erupts, exit the scene with grace and

“A lady, if promenading, must avoid seeking the attention of the opposite sex. Looking over one’s shoulder to gauge a man’s interest is never permitted.”

“Flirting is permitted, but only after mutual interest is shown.”

“A man who presumes to know a young woman’s mind is woefully misguided and should be scrupulously shunned.”

“Never show affection in public. Love may be blind but the townspeople are not.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Upcoming Book Reviews

I haven't been reviewing as many books lately, but it's not because I'm not reading! So Sandra Byrd's contest inspired me to blog real quick and give you a sneak peek at a few reviews and blog tours that are coming soon. :) Here we go!

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd
This is my current Kindle read...I just started it yesterday after getting it free from Amazon. Having only read the Ladies in Waiting series by Sandra, I was delighted to find that this series promises to be just as good! The characters are delightful and easy to identify with, and the story is true to life so far, and also very easy to get into. Definitely recommending so far!

Ellie's Haven by Sharlene MacLaren
Finally! I was so excited to buy this book and start reading it! While I think I still like Livvie's Kitchen better, this book is wonderful as well, and worth my money.

Shattered by Dani Pettrey
I wasn't sure what to expect of this book, but so many of my favorite authors had endorsed it that I knew it deserved a try. It was very good!

Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley
Finally! I had anticipated this book for sooooo long! And it was as good as I could have hoped for. Worth every penny I paid, and riveting as well!

Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
A delightful fairy tale that I thoroughly enjoyed! :)

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes
While I didn't love it as much as I had hoped to, it was a good book and has a lovely cover. I did read it on my Kindle app, and I've found I don't usually enjoy those books as much as physical factor that in.
There you go, a small peek at my recent/current books! Full book reviews are in the works for all of them, never fear. :)


Guest Post By Eva - Les Miserables {the barricade boys}

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"They declared themselves the friends of the ABC..."

{note: most of this post will be referring to Les Miserables, the book.  just want to make that clear so that somebody who has seen the movie but not read the book will know that I know what I'm talking about :)} 

They are known as the Les Amis de ABC. Or 'the students'. Or 'the insurgents/rebels'. Or the barricade boys. Enjolras. Combeferre. Courfeyrac. Je(h)an Prouvaire. Bossuet. Bahorel. Joly. Feuilly. Grantaire. These are, in my opinion, the true heroes of Les Mis...and I'm here today to discuss my favorites (although, really, I love them all).

Enjolras comes first on the list. Naturally. He's amazingly awesome and also, as a friend of mine said, the Master Of Epicness. Even his name is epic :) And there are lots and lots of reasons why he's my favorite...he pulls all these different boys together, all with different interests and skills, into one group (in fact, Victor Hugo refers to the Amis as a family). He bears a huge responsibility on his shoulders - starting a revolution is never easy.

One of the times I really admired him was near the end of the last battle, when all the defenders are making a last stand and he lets the other volunteers make it to 'safety' inside a wine shop (actually, it wasn't safe at all but it did gain them a few more minutes). He covers all of them with only a short, cut off, broken sword and still makes it in there. And once he's inside, he said, "We must sell our lives dearly" and I broke down (not that I wasn't crying already).

Enjolras is also incredibly handsome (not a requirement for a hero, but it certainly doesn't hurt). And the fact that he dies in an epic way is heartbreaking and awesome at the same time..."Enjolras, pierced by eight bullets, remained leaning against the wall, as though the balls had nailed him there. Only his head was bowed." *bursts into tears for the umpteenth time* Of course, in the movie, he falls backwards out of the window, red flag streaming down.
Pinned ImageNow we get to my personal favorite (after Enjolras, of course) - Je(h)an Prouvaire.  Just let me explain about his name first.  His real name is Jean Prouvaire but all his friends call him Jehan so that's what I'll be doing throughout this post :)  Since I consider myself a friend.
Jehan writes poetry. He's in love (although we never find out who he's in love with). He likes flowers and being outdoors and he dresses badly.  He's a really sweet guy who doesn't like violence but he's not a fact, Victor Hugo describes him as fearless and I'll be getting to that in a moment.  He's also really shy and he knows four different languages.
But Jehan is fearless.  How do I know this?  His death scene, peoples.  It's just as heroic and heartbreaking as Enjolras' death.  After the first attack, Enjo takes the roll call and Jehan is missing - but he's not among the dead or wounded so they conclude (rightly) that he's been taken prisoner.  By this time, the students have captured Javert so Combeferre goes up to Enjolras and says, "How set are you on the death of this spy?" and Enjolras answers, "Very...but not so much as on the death of Prouvaire."  Combeferre says that he'll go and bargain with the soldiers - Jehan for Javert...and then they hear the rattle of guns coming from the end of the alleyway and Jehan calls out "Long live France!  Long live the future!" and then they cut him down.
The first couple of times I skimmed through read the book, I didn't know that Jehan was one of the main body of the barricade boys so I didn't get what was so important about his death.  But then I backtracked and read all about him and then I understood.  A friend of mine told me that he gets bayoneted in the back in the movie.  And who can forget the heartwrenching scene when Combeferre tries to get Jehan to safety but the people inside the houses close their doors to them?
That's Jehan.  This picture breaks my heart.  In about a hundred places.
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And here's Jehan again...only he's fighting this time :)  I can't tell you how excited I am to see him on screen.  Um, am I just using this post as an excuse to put up Jehan pictures?  No.  I am not.  Well...maybe a little ;)

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In the film, Combeferre is
played by Killian Donelly
who played
Enjolras on the West End.
 He was an amazing Enjolras.
Combeferre is almost tied with Jehan for my second favorite Les Amis.  He's Enjo's right hand man and is spoken of as being 'the guide' and he really does guide all the other students.  I always like to think of him as a father figure to the entire group and this is really brought out in the film in the way he tries to protect the other boys, even in his final moments (more on that in a little bit).

Combeferre is a bookworm (like me!) and he's constantly think of ways to make the world a better place.  He's always open to new ideas and I think one of the reasons he and Enjolras are such good friends is because he complements Enjolras.  Enjo has a passionate fighting spirit and high ideals while Combeferre is more down to earth and compassionate.

There's a scene in the book where Enjolras is telling everybody that some of them should go home, that they shouldn't stay...but everyone wants to stay.  And Combeferre stands up and gives a tear-your-heart-out speech in which he reminds the men about their families and friends that are waiting for them.  And the book mentions that he has a mother waiting for him to come back...and he never did.

In the book, the final battle is winding down to a dramatic, horrible close.  All the students have been killed.  Except Combeferre, Grantaire and Enjolras (if you're wondering why I haven't mentioned Marius at all in this post, the reason is - he's not one of the students  but just so you know, he's still alive when this scene comes around).  Combeferre is helping a wounded soldier, one of the enemy, to safety.  His reward?  He's stabbed three times through with a bayonet and dies.  I hated Victor Hugo when I read that.

In the film, Enjolras, Combeferre, Courfeyrac and Joly are in a room and the guns crack...and they all fall except Enjolras.  When saw a screencap of the moment just before the guns go off, I cried.  Why?  Look at the way Combeferre has his arm in front of Joly.  He's trying to protect the other students even when he knows they're about to die.

Look at their faces...especially Combeferre's.  He's really, really scared and hurt.  It makes me hurt inside.

And here's Courfeyrac right after Gavroche is shot and Combeferre is comforting him.

Pinned ImageCourfeyrac.  He's at the heart of the barricade boys, their centre, their rock.  He befriends Marius, even though he knows virtually nothing about him and offers to lend him money (which Marius refuses), helps him get a job, a place to stay, etc.  He's also an invaluable friend to Enjolras and basically to all the others students as well.

No details are given about his death...merely the sentence, "Courfeyrac died." but something happens much later on in the book.  A rough paraphrase...

"You had a friend, didn't you?" Marius' grandfather asked.
"Well...there was Courfeyrac."
"What happened to him."
"He's dead."
"Ah, well."

And that is all.  But the loss of Courfeyrac can never be fully explained and certainly not by those few words.  In the film, he and Gavroche have an adorable friendship - sort of like father and son - and his reaction to Gavroche's death (I saw little clip) is the most gutwrenching thing I have ever seen.  And the way he tries to scramble over the barricade to rescue Gavroche while he's being shot words.

His face...

Pinned ImageAnd finally...a few words about Grantaire.  I don't even know why I like Grantaire.  He's ugly (at least in the book - casting seems to have ignored the book in this matter).  He drinks (a lot), he annoys Enjolras (to put it lightly) and he sleeps through the entire barricade attack (because he's so drunk).  But his biggest face palm moment was probably this...
Enjolras sent each student to a different place to rouse up the people.  There was one place that he had no one that could go because Marius had stopped coming around to the Cafe Musian.  So Grantaire offered his services and after a short time, Enjolras agreed to give him a trial.  Grantaire left.  A little while later, Enjolras, walking back from where he had given his speech, decided to drop by the place where Grantaire was supposed to be rousing up the people and found him...gambling and drinking.  Enjolras didn't say anything and Grantaire didn't notice him but...that is my least favorite Grantaire moment.
But he redeems himself by the end of the final battle by dying with Enjolras.  He might have been able to make it out of there alive but instead he choose to sacrifice himself to the cause and die with Enjolras.  And that is one reason why I like him so much.  And also, in the musical he really has a great relationship with Gavroche (not the movie, the musical).  Oh, and I forgot to mention that he hero-worships Enjolras.  Big time.  Enjo is not very impressed however and I must say, I don't quite like the way he treats Grantaire at times...anyway.  Moving on...(don't worry, I'm almost finished ;)
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the four other barricade boys who I love but didn't quite make it onto my list.  Joly (a hypochondriac), Feuilly (to whom I give major kudos for teaching himself how to read and write), Bahorel (always ready for a fight) and Bousset (the oldest of the Les Amis - 25 - and completely bald.  He's my brother's favorite character).
Pinned Image
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men.
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!


Hi there!  My name is Eva and I'm so glad that Charity invited me to guest post today - I can tell you that it's been a lot of fun :)  I'm a daughter of the King and a homeschooled student. Living life to the fullest as a proud Janeite, avid reader, aspiring author, Les Miserables fan, and computer geek.  Be sure to check out my blog, Ramblings Of A Janeite...until next time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Official Movie Guide

Author: Brian Sibley

Genre: Movie guide, companion

Series: A companion to HAUJ that came out in December

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9.5

Type: Non-fiction about a fictional movie…?

Number of pages: 168

My overall opinion: There have been a few movie guides over the years that have disappointed me, but this wasn’t one of them. It was PACKED with hundreds of full-color photos on glossy pages, and filled in with plenty of text to explain them all. There were interesting facts to be learned about everything. Each dwarf got a full spread to himself…and then there were sections about weapons and makeup and locations. Wizards and hobbits and dwarves. Clothes and casting and high definition. And, of course, Gollum and goblins and wargs. And SO much more! This is a must-have companion for any HAUJ fan. Worth buying!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Jill Eileen Smith!

Readers, I am delighted to be introducing you again to Jill Eileen Smith! She's been a favorite author of mine for over a year now. As you'll discover from reading this, she's written several Biblical fiction books about a variety of Biblical women: three Wives of King David, and currently two Wives of the Patriarchs. Enjoy this interview...and there's a giveaway at the end as well.

Jill, welcome back to Austenitis! We did an interview a few months ago when Sarai came out, but here we are back again for the most recent book in the Wives of the Patriarchs series, Rebekah. Could you give us a quick blurb about it?

Rebekah is a story of relationships – between husband and wife and parent to child. It deals with topics of barrenness, sacrifice, favoritism, and miscommunication. Here’s the back cover copy:

Can love heal the rift between two souls?

When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. When she is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, Rebekah’s hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.

As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve will be tested. When the rift between her and Isaac grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?

It was such a good book. You’ve written several (five published so far?) Biblical fiction books. Is it hard to write while sticking to the Biblical facts?

I suppose in some ways it can seem restrictive, but I actually like the restrictions. Knowing the framework of what did happen lets me explore the “how” and “why” behind the “what.” I like to try to figure people out, and the biblical account lets me get to know the character in some small way, but their actions challenge me to understand the deeper person. Who were they? Why did they make the choices they did? In figuring out those answers, I have to keep referring back to the Scripture as a whole to make sure their actions were plausible and don’t take us away from the truth of God’s Word.

And you do a great job with exploring the “how” and the “why” – I’ve really been impressed by that in each of the books I’ve read by you so far. And I’d also say that you do an amazing job sticking with Scripture for both the story and the “morals,” so to speak. Now, I’ve seen you mention in several places that Rebekah was your hardest book to write yet. Would you tell us a little about what made this one extra difficult?

If you read through Genesis, you get a good sense of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. But Isaac is like an afterthought, a pause, if you will, between the greater narratives of his father and son. And the only time Rebekah is mentioned is the scene of her betrothal and when God spoke to her about the twins. But a lot of years go by between those two events, with little said of them.
Who were these people? What defined them? And what led to the favoritism that later divided their household? With so little in Scripture, even in the New Testament, to give clarity, I did a lot of praying!

It’s true…I hadn’t realized how little she was in there! If Rebekah were being made into a movie, which actors would you like to take the main characters?

I can’t really answer that as far as acting ability goes because I would prefer to trust the director to make those choices. But I will tell you that Rachel Weisz was the actress I “cast” for my Idea Board. And David Strathairn is my Isaac.

Perfect. :) What is the biggest thing you’d like a reader to take away from Rebekah?
I’d like them to see Isaac as more heroic than we tend to see him just from the Genesis account. He is suggested to be a type of Christ, and if you compare their sacrifices, you just might see Isaac in a different light. Abraham obeyed God’s command, but Isaac must have allowed his father to do what he did. (Most commentators think Isaac was at least 15 at the time of his binding.) Think of Jesus’ submission to His Father and then compare Isaac’s to his. Gives a different perspective, I think. And I’d like them to see Rebekah through the eyes of one who knows the truth but is just too impatient to wait on God to bring His promise to pass. (Sounds a bit like Sarai where Hagar is concerned, doesn’t it?) I wonder what would have happened if Rebekah had waited on God to bless Jacob, rather than resorting to deceit. Their stories give us much to ponder.

You’re right, remarkably similar to Sarai. There is indeed much to ponder! So your next book, Rachel, will complete the Wives of the Patriarchs series, correct? And it also includes Leah’s story? When does Rachel come out, and can you tell us anything about what you’ll be doing after that?

Yes, Rachel is the final book in the Patriarchs series and will likely release around Feb. 1, 2014. I don’t have a firm release date yet. Yes, Leah’s story is well represented in Rachel’s story. The book is as much about the sisters as it is about Jacob and Rachel. I recently turned in to my editor the first-to-e-book novella in the Loves of King Solomon series.

Next up is to complete the first draft of Rahab, book one in the Brides of the Promised Land series. There are four books in that series – Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, and Hannah. In August, after my son’s wedding, I plan to start work on the next Solomon novella - Abishag. (There are four novellas and one compilation print book in that series.) So I am writing one full-length novel and one novella per year.

Oh wow! That new series will feature some really amazing women! I can’t wait. Moving on… Your biggest fan and supporter is…

My family. My husband, Randy, my sons, my mom, (my dad used to be), my brother and sister…I’m not sure there is only one!

I’ve always thought that question seemed hard. What’s a book you’ve recently enjoyed reading?

I’m actually reading several books at once. Fiction: I just finished Love in Disguise by Carol Cox. That was a fun read. I’m now reading Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander.

Non-fiction: Nearing Home by Billy Graham; Jesus Calling by Sarah Young; and Heaven by Randy Alcorn.

All books I’ve heard of, but I’ve only read Starflower so far. What’s a random fact about you that most people wouldn’t know?

When I was in my early teens, my dad took my mom and I (I was the only kid left at home) on a 3000-mile trip from Michigan to California and back again, making a giant loop of the states. When our kids were about the same age as I had been then, Randy and I took them on a similar trip. One of my favorite memories!

What fun. :) I’m so glad you were able to come by, Jill! It has once again been a joy to have you and awesome to learn more about you and your books! Where can fans find you on the internet?

My website and blog:
(For Ten Things You Might Not Know About Rebekah) click here, then click the .pdf file:
If that doesn’t work, try this link:  
Pinterest: (I have a Rebekah board you can see here:

Thanks again, Jill!

Oh you lucky readers...look! Jill offered to give away a copy of Rebekah! The winner will receive the book -- it'll be either signed or will come with a personalized bookplate! US residents only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jill Smith will be the featured guest on a Live interactive Video Chat Session sponsored by “Shindig” on Tuesday February 19th at 7:00 pm EST!!  It’s free to attend, and you can meet Jill and ask any questions you have for her!  Go here to RSVP and find out more details about this event. 
Join best-selling author Jill Eileen Smith as she presents ten facts and/or possibilities you might not know about the Patriarch Isaac's wife Rebekah. Do you have a question about the people in the Bible you've always wanted to ask? Jill will take questions about biblical characters, biblical fiction, and about any of her books in the Wives of the Patriarchs or Wives of King David series. So please, plan to join us!