Saturday, July 30, 2016

Women, A History: Lydia Litvyak - Hero of The Soviet Union

Lydia Litvyak 
 Hero of The Soviet Union 
(August 18, 1921 - August 1, 1943)

     There is no denial that women definitely played their part in WWII. Working in factories, signing up as nurses, and of course the WACs (Women's Air Corps) and the WAVEs (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service - a Women's Navel Reserve). In England they had their own branching for Women's Service to the country that was cleverly designed to look like real army work, however, women in the U.S. and Great Britain never actually saw combat. It was a very different story in Russia, though.

      Due to Communist thought, men and women were considered on equal levels with each other in many areas, especially when it came to service to one's country. No one defined service better than fighter ace, Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak or Lilya Litviak. During her time in the war, she flew 66 combat missions, had twelve solo victories and four shared wins. Lydia was quick and precise with her flying and showed talent at a young age when she joined a flying club at fourteen. She then joined the Kherson military school and after graduation, she became on instructor at the Kalinin Air Club and instructed forty-five pilots.

      When the war broke out in 1939, Lydia (who was 18) was turned down from the Air Force due to her lack of experience, but she soon accepted by the all-female 586th Fighter Regiment of Air Defense Force and was trained in the Yakolev Yak-1 aircraft. Afterwards Lydia and several other female pilots were moved to a men's regiment where all the women, but Lydia especially, earned the respect of their male counterparts with their intense and aggressive fighting. Eventually Lydia and her friends were moved to the 9th Guards Fighter Regiment are were under the commandment of Lev Shestakov, Hero of the Soviet Union (that's our equivalent of the Medal of Honor).

     Despite being a male heavy environment, Lydia was known to be very feminine and oftentimes bleached her hair till it was white blonde. She loved flowers, especially lilies and roses and would keep them in the cockpit of her plane. Lydia also loved brightly colored clothes and made her own scarves out of left over parachute material. Not much is known about her personal life, except that she may have been engaged to a fellow pilot, Solomatin, but that was never confirmed or denied. However, when he was killed on a mission, Lydia took his death very hard and wrote to her mother, "I may meet anyone like him again."

     As a pilot, Lydia was aggressive and had a rebellious nature. She was not above taking risks and oftentimes was called out by her superiors. Yet, her daredevil nature is the only way she enjoyed flying. By 1943 Lydia was a senior lieutenant and had earn the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Star, and two Orders of the Patriotic War and was only twenty-one. In August of 1943, Lydia was flying at Orel during the Battle of Kursk when she was tracked and gunned down by two German fighter pilots. She was never seen again. It took years for people to find and recognize her remains, but it was eventually confirmed that she was killed in battle.

      The Soviet press releases named Lydia the "Lily of Stalingrad" and in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev awarded Lydia the Hero of the Soviet Union. Over the last several years, Litvyak has gotten a good deal of recognition and several books have been written about her life. In 1985, there was a play called the White Rose which is about Lydia's life as a pilot.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Downton Abbey Tag

Ruth from Amongst Spring Blossoms has tagged me for her Downton Abbey Tag!
Thank you so much!


Past the button.
Answer the questions.
If you want you can tag someone else too.

1. Who is your favourite couple from Downton Abbey?
     -Matthew and Lady Mary Crawley

2. Do you know without looking it up who is the director of this series?
     -Julian Fellows

3. Who is your favourite character?
     -That's hard! It's a tie between Matthew Crawley and Tom Branson.

4. Which is your less favourite character?
     -Sarah O'Brian. I HATED her!

5. What is your favourite Dowager Countess quote?
     - "I am a woman Mary, I can be as contrary as I please."

6. Which of the children do you like most?
     -Sybbie Branson.

7. When did you feel sadder, when Sybil died or Matthew?
     -Really, when Matthew died. Sybil's story was somewhat over, but Matthew had so much more to do with his life.

8. Which character would you want to be in more?
     -Charles Blake. I loved him and he was a good match for Mary too.

9. Which character would you rather do not have in this series?
     - Lady Susan MacClare, Rose's mother, she was terrible.

10. What was the nicest moment in Downton Abbey?
     -Edith's well deserved happy ending!

Tag is open for anyone who wants to do it! 


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Character Sketch: Obi-Wan Kenobi

This GIF is so cute! I could watch it for hours!!!
     At one point in time, a little girl may have dreamed of a knight in shining armor. I know I did, but my knight had a shiny lightsaber instead of armor. Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most beloved characters in the entire Star Wars franchise. Gifted with great integrity, compassion, wisdom and above all, courage, Obi-Wan is the friend, mentor, soldier (and love interest) that creates the stuff of true heroes. While there is nothing really extraordinary about Obi-Wan Kenobi, his legend lies in the fact that he was truly a good and honorable person. His whole life was dedicated to the bettering of the galaxy, the continual learning of the Jedi Way and the never ending will to end corruption and injustice.

     Due to the way the movies were written, Obi-Wan's storyline works backwards; first meeting him as an old hermit in Tatooine who lives under the name Ben Kenobi. He meets and trains Luke Skywalker in the Jedi Way before he is murdered by his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader. Afterwards, Ben Kenobi returns to Luke as a Jedi ghost who continues to mentor and train him. Even for what small time Ben had in the story, he was fundamental in the guidance of Luke Skywalker and preparing him for the trials he was to face as a Jedi and a man.

      Several years later, we go back in time and are introduced again to Obi-Wan Kenobi, but this time as a young padawan who is under the guidance of Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan is a gifted and obedient padawan, but at times can be rash and outspoken. However, Qui-Gon Jinn sees great potential in his student and believes that Obi-Wan will be an even greater Jedi than himself. After his master's death, Obi-Wan is tasked with the training of young Anakin Skywalker, a task that will change his life forever and test him in every way imaginable.

Obi-Wan Kenobi throughout the years.
     We seem to live in a culture where evil is glorified. It's fun to be bad and the villains are just misunderstood people with tragic lives. And yet, Obi-Wan Kenobi is still loved and revered as one of the greatest fictional heroes in movie history. Other characters such as Captain America and Superman are tossed by the wayside because their morals are boring. However, one is an alien and the other a super-soldier, therefore, as characters, they are unrealistic and their high moral standards are unattainable. Obi-Wan Kenobi is neither an alien or a super-solider. He is completely human and his human nature to embrace goodness and do good is what has made him as iconic legend. Which is also why I consider him my favorite hero.

      Obi-Wan was not a prophesied Messiah, he did not conquer great kingdoms, he didn't have a tragic love story (that we know of), he didn't play on the fence between the dark side and the light side. He was genuinely good his whole life long. He was fearless and bold to do what was right. He cared deeply for other people and was gifted with incredible compassion. He lived by the rules and was obedient to the authority he was under.  He could admit that he was afraid and then go out and face what he feared. Obi-Wan Kenobi never compromised no matter the situation and truly lived the life he believed in until his dying day.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Victory of Souls

     Upon finally finishing season 6 of Game of Thrones (which was amazing!!), I was going to do an overview of the season, talk about the characters, who I liked, who I didn't like, the aspects of the show and so on. However, I began to think on the fact that season 6 was a remarkable season was because it finally brought many of  our heroes out of the dark and into the light. Although Game of Thrones has a plethora of varied characters, good, bad and indifferent, the primary characters have been Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister,  and Daenerys Targaryn. All three started as the major underdogs of the story and through trial and error, love and loss, pain and healing, all three have taken their rightful places in the story as leaders.

Where we begin...

      Jon Snow is the bastard child of Ned Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. Most of Jon's life has been spent being known as 'Ned's bastard.' Although he is loved by his brothers and his sister Arya, Jon has been raised to believe that he will never be one of them. He is hated by his stepmother, Catelyn, who is harsh, cruel and spiteful toward her husband's illegitimate son. All Jon has wanted is love.

     Tyrion Lannister is the youngest son of Lord Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock. His mother died giving birth to him and his family blamed him for her death. The fact that he is a dwarf, misshapen and ugly has caused his father to all but disown him and he is the bane of his older sister's existence. Known as 'the Imp' Tyrion has led a lonely life with only his wits and street smarts to survive.

     Daenerys Targaryn is the lastborn of the Targaryn royal family. Her mother also died in childbirth with her and she never knew her father King Aerys, who was removed from the Iron Throne after the people rebelled against him. Daenerys has spent her life traveling with her abusive older brother Viserys who has sold her off into marriage to the powerful Dothraki lord, Khal Drogo. Pretty, but painfully shy, Daenerys is only a pawn for power and control. 

     As their stories' progress, our unlikely heroes grown and mature, but they certainly don't do it on their own. Sometimes it takes one person to believe in you. One person that can see the potential that no one else can. For all three, there was at least one person to help them on their paths. For Jon it was the Wildling leader, Mance, for Tyrion it was his older brother, Jaime and for Daenerys it was her own husband, Khal Drogo. To have one person say, you're better than what people think, you're stronger, smarter, you can prove people wrong can make all the difference in the world.

     Mance taught Jon how to be leader and to stand for what is right even if you're standing alone. Mance also taught Jon the importance of family loyalty and the bonds of brotherhood that should always remain strong. Jaime was there for Tyrion when no one else was. He defended him constantly and believed that there was so much more to his brother than met the eye. Drogo brought Dany out of her world of fear and gave her the love and compassion she craved. He showed her how to be a strong and even ruthless leader and to listen to wise and just counsel. 

     Once the heroes are removed from their mentors, they now must face trials that will test them in every way imaginable. Tyrion is accused of murder and has to flee for his life. Jon Snow must unite the Wildlings with the rest of the world, even at the cost of losing his new family. Dany makes many mistakes as she tries to be the Queen she believes she was born to be.  

     At the end of season 5, Tyrion is Dany's counselor, but they are wary and untrusting of one another. Dany herself has made many unwise decisions as a ruler and begins to collect no small shortage of enemies. Jon Snow has become a leader, but does the unthinkable when he gives aid to the Wildling people and is killed by several men in the Night's Watch. At the beginning of season 6, Jon Snow is resurrected and must now fight for his home Winterfell, Dany is taken as a slave by the Dothraki and Tyrion is left to rule in her stead. 

      When season 6 ends, Jon Snow has reclaimed Winterfell and is proclaimed King of The North. Dany has learned a great deal in her short time as a slave and realizes that she is capable of caring for herself. She returns to Mereen stronger than ever and is ready to rise to the Iron Throne. Tyrion is made the Queen's Hand and finally has found a place where he truly belongs. 

     Why do I love Game of Thrones? For the same reason I love any good story. Because the characters are ordinary people, thrown in extraordinary circumstances that will either break or build them. What makes these heroes remarkable is that they are real, they are flawed and broken, but they are also strong and remain standing when others around them fall. While these three all fight for the rightful thrones, they have won something infinitely better. The values of their souls and the everyday victories (and defeats) that can truly created a king from a bastard.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Five Magic Spindles Giveaway

      Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy just had her book "Five Magic Spindles" published today and she's celebrating with a bookmark giveaway and the bookmarks are beautiful! All of the instructions are on Rachel's site (click on the highlighted link above and it will take you to the giveaway page)

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Phoenix - Chapter Five

Chapter Five.

     The next morning, Marcella woke up before dawn.  She fed the pigs and the chickens and then gathered their eggs. She then went and started the fires in the rooms of her brother, stepmother and stepsisters. However, Andre wasn’t even in his room. After supper last night, he left for town and obviously decided to spend the night drunk in some whore’s bed. Well, that was one less fire she had to make.

     Then Marcella went down into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She had just finished the bread when Ysobella and the girls were just taking their places at the main table. Marcella would eat in the kitchen from the small bread loaf she made for herself and several apples. She stopped eating with the family years ago.

     “Where is your brother?” asked Ysobella when Marcella brought them their bread.

    “I do not know, Milady,” Marcella said, “He’s probably at the tavern. Would you like me to fetch him?”

     “If you would,” said Ysobella in a bored tone, “and do it soon. I don’t want you getting behind on your chores.”

     “Yes, Milady,” Marcella said. Ever obedient, ever a good servant.

~ ~ ~

     It was almost noon before Marcella was able to get out of the estate and make the ten mile walk into town, but certainly didn’t mind the walk. It was wonderful to be outside and in the fresh early fall air. She wrapped her cloak tighter around her shoulders.

     “Once consolation to Andre being gone is at least I have an excuse for getting off the grounds,” she thought.

     Marcella walked up the road and passed little cottages with children chasing chickens and women doing their laundry. She smiled and waved and they waved back. Oftentimes she wondered if that might be her one day; a farmer’s wife and mother to four maybe five children. Would any man want a leper for a wife? She shook her head at the thought and focused on her mission to get her brother back to the estate as soon and as quickly as she could.

     Finally, Marcella made it into the bustling market town. Animal noises were mixed in with yells and calls from all over. Surprisingly enough, Marcella knew very few people in town. She knew several of the street vendors, but she kept to herself and didn’t waste time in talking. She hoped she never came off as rude or inconsiderate though. Ysobella was insistent that Marcella not waste time in town.

     The tavern and whorehouse, however, she knew quite well. If Andre wasn’t at home, he could normally be found there.

     “Looking for you brother?” asked Alais, one of the prostitutes at the door.

      Marcella smiled, “That obvious?”

     “Come on,” said Alais pulling her inside, “I’ll take you to him.”
     For a second Marcella was apprehensive. There were a lot of men in there…she didn’t them to get the wrong idea.

     Alais sensed her fear, “Don’t fret, sweet one,” she said kindly, “No man will hurt you.”

     True to her word, Alais kept her arm wrapped tightly around Marcella as they walked through the tavern filled with drunken men and tired looking prostitutes. She couldn’t imagine such a job, being in such desperation. At that moment she realized how so much better her life was. She was servant in her own house, but at least her dignity and honor were still intact.

God forgive me for thinking that my life was so lowly.”

     Although the prostitutes were despised, hated and rejected, many of them were quite kind and Marcella always tried to repay their kindness to her. Alais made it to the top of the stairs and knocked on one of the doors.

     “Andre!” she yelled, “Andre! Your sister is here to collect you. Again.”

     There was no answer.

     “Andre!” Alais yelled louder, “Get your worthless self out here NOW!

      The door finally opened and Andre looked out. Clearly drunk and obviously had no sleep at all.”

    “Get dressed and get downstairs,” Alais commanded, “This girl shouldn’t even have to step foot in here.”

     “Well, given the state she is at home, I wouldn’t be surprised if she started coming here more often. At least she’ll get paid for her work.

     Alais backhanded him in the mouth so fast that Marcella definitely did not see it coming nor did she have time to react to, what was now, the worst of Andre’s cruel taunts.

    “Don’t you ever, ever, talk about her like that again, you worthless, cowardly bastard! Now get downstairs!”

     She took Marcella back under her wing and hurriedly got her out the door.

     “That was cruel what he said,” remarked Alais as they waited outside.

     “It’s nothing I’m not already use to,” Marcella reassured her.

     “He’s better off shooting off that mouth to the Muslims in the Holy Lands,” said Alais.

     “What?” Marcella asked

     “You don’t know? The Crusades have started again! That’s why there are so many men here today. Last night they celebrated at the fact that we are returning to war. Every able bodied man is signing up to go to Jerusalem.”

     Marcella couldn’t believe it. Another Crusade? What did these kings honestly hope to achieve by trying to take back a city that wasn’t even theirs? What Muslims and Jews did was their own affair. Why did France have to be dragged back in?

     Finally Andre staggered out, still not sober at all.

     Alais looked him dead in the eye, “Sometimes I cannot stand the sight of you.”

    “In the daylight perhaps,” Andre said.

     She rolled her eyes and gave Marcella’s shoulders one more squeeze and walked back inside. As Andre and Marcella walked through town silently, the buzz of the Crusades was all over in the air. Marcella couldn’t believe she hadn’t picked up on it before. Excitement for a war? It didn’t make any sense.

     The brother and sister got out of the town and made their way down the dusty road that led to their estate.

     “Are you going to the Crusades?” Marcella asked, finally breaking the silence.

     “Not sure yet,” said Andre, sounding much more sober.

     “Well, I think you should.”

     Andre stopped and stared at her, but said nothing.

     “Well,” Marcella continued, “It’s what you always wanted. To be a soldier and fight in many wars.”

     Andre scoffed, “You have no idea what I want.”

     “No!” Marcella said with more force than she had intended, “You don’t know what you want! At least if you travel to Jerusalem you’ll have done something with your life. Because what do you do here, except get drunk and whore around? And that does us no good. You’ve never been asset to this family; just a liability that never carries’s their own weight.”

     She paused for a second and then continued, “I want you gone.”

     Now, Andre actually looked surprised, “Excuse me?”

     “You heard me. I want you gone by tonight. And…and I don’t care if I ever…see you again.”

     “You don’t mean that,” Andre said.

     Marcella smiled, “Just like you don’t mean that I’m responsible for Mother’s death? Believe me, Andre; I have never been more serious in my life. You need to leave and do something with you life.”

     “So you really don’t care if you never see me again?” asked Andre

     “My brother is gone and all you are is just an adult shell of what he once was. You abandoned me when I needed you the most and now, I really do not care what happens to you, because you really are…nothing to me anymore.”

     For once Andre said nothing.

     “So just go. Leave, go to war, have your adventures, get drunk, whore around, do whatever you want, just do it away from me and away from our home!”

      With that, Marcella turned her back to him and walked back by herself, leaving her brother alone to contemplate what she just said. 

~ ~ ~

     Later that evening, Andre announced at the supper table that he was signing up for war and that he was leaving that night. Ysobella secretly seemed happy at this while the girls looked somewhat disappointed. For Meg’s part, she probably wanted to go and Constance would miss him harassing Marcella who was in the kitchen when she heard this news. For once, she and Ysobella actually agreed on something and that realization terrified her.

     Once Andre had everything packed, he didn’t bother saying goodbye to his Ysobella or Constance, but Meg did say her farewell and asked him to bring her back something from the Holy Lands. Andre couldn’t help but smile and said he would try to find an item fitting for her.

     As he walked down the path, he saw Marcella outside gathering the evening eggs. The chickens all squawked around her bare feet as she smiled and talked to them all by their names. So intent she was on her work that she didn’t look up to see her brother standing at a distance watching her.

     You’re just a shell of what my brother once was. You mean nothing to me now.

     Her words rang through his head. And in his heart, he knew she was right. So he continued walking down the road and didn’t look back.

The Phoenix - Chapter Four

Chapter Four.

Two Years Later - 1189

     “I’m not here!” came Meg’s voice in hushed tone

     Marcella looked behind from washing the dishes and saw her step-sister dive into the pantry. She didn’t have to guess too hard that Meg and Constance were in another fight again.

     As Marcella was drying the last dish she heard Constance storming down the hall, screeching her sister’s name.

     “Marguerite!” she screamed, “You come out right now!”

     Constance stomped into the kitchen, her face as red as her hair and her eyes looked deadly.

     “Where is she?” she asked in a harsh whisper, “You had better not be hiding her again!”

     Marcella could do nothing but laugh at Constance’s stupidity.

     “Or you’ll do what?” she asked, “Flog me, take away my food, put rats in my bed? Honestly, Constance.”

     Just as Marcella was about to turn her back to her step-sister, Constance grabbed her roughly by her arm, spinning her around to face her. Despite being only fourteen months apart in age, Constance was already a head taller than Marcella.

     “I’m going to ask you one more time,” she said in a deadly tone, “Where is Meg?”

     Marcella could feel Constance’s fingers and nails pressing into her arms causing intense pain; however, she wouldn’t give her step-sister the benefit of seeing her weak.

     Constance’s back was turned to the pantry and Meg’s head peer out from behind the pantry door; a worried look on her face as she saw Constance hurting their sister. Meg was about to move and step out, but Marcella shot her a warning glance to stay inside.

     “She went outside to the stables…Milady,” Marcella said bitterly.

Constance held on to her arm a second longer and then there it down as if it had turned into a snake.

     “That wasn’t so difficult now was it, Cendrella.” She smirked as she drew at the last word, her nickname for her sister who now did most of the chores since many of the servants were let go due to financial problems.

     Marcella gritted her teeth in seething anger. How she hated that name! Degrading and yet, so very true. She was dirty all the time from having to clean all of the fireplaces as well as mucking out the stables, working in the garden, feeding the chickens and pigs and having to walk back and forth into town because her step-mother wouldn’t let her take the cart. Her once beautiful clothes were given to Meg, who rarely wore them and all Marcella had were a couple of plain dresses and aprons that were worn by the poorest of peasant girls.

     Constance turned on her heel and swished out of the room, her long red hair trailing behind her with dramatic effect. Marcella lifted up the sleeve of her dress and saw several bruises left by Constance’s fingers.

     “Oh, Marcy,” said Meg, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t think she would hurt you! She’s so cruel! You’re a much better sister than her!”

     Marcella smiled. That helped a little bit.

     “So why are you hiding?” she asked.

     “Oh,” groaned Meg, “It’s ridiculous. I was trying on one of her hair combs and she walked in and just went…”

     “Like only Constance can go?” finished Marcella.

     “Yes, exactly.”

     “Well, go outside and play and I’ll keep an eye on you in case she comes back.”

     Meg threw her arms around her step-sister, gave her soft kiss on the cheek and bounded out of the kitchen. Marcella leaned over the sink and watched Meg play happily, but her mind began to wander as the exhaustion of the day or more like the last two years began to catch up with her.

      She was fourteen and yet, she felt like she was forty at times. She was carrying a daily workload that was normally done by five or six servants. Ever since Father died, Marcella could feel her soul beginning to slip into some dark place that she never thought she could possess. Ysobella seemed to be punishing her in some way. It was Marcella’s fault that she was Philippe’s blood daughter and she should pay for such a crime.

     Constance…was well, Constance. The older she got, the more spoiled, petty, arrogant and cruel she became. She bullied Meg unmercifully and never ran out of abuses (both verbal and physical) to harass Marcella with. While she was strikingly beautiful, her hatefulness was not masked and she revealed it to both of her sisters on a consistent and daily basis.

     Meg was really the only happiness that Marcella had. She had just turned ten, but still had the graces of a wild colt. She was lively, opinioned, and at times a little saucy. Yet, no matter how terrible Constance was, Meg just seemed immune to it. While she despised her sister, Meg worshipped Marcella and was her shadow. Marcella didn’t mind, either. Meg reminded her of herself in many ways.

     The young girl let out a deep breath and pulled her tired legs up on the bench. She was in more pain than ever on a consistent basis. Marcella checked her legs. The red sores from her illness so many years before were still there. She ran her arm down her legs trying to soothe the muscles, but when she got to her feet, there was still no feeling at all, just like in her hands. Brother Luke had told her that she would never have feeling in her hands and feet again.

     Marcella couldn’t remember the last time she had actually felt the coldness of water, the heat of a flame or the softness of a blanket in her hand or the feeling of the cold earth underneath her feet. It had been so long ago since she had gotten sick and then Mother became sick.

     Something wet fell down her cheek. She felt that. Warm and almost freeing. Several more tears began to fall. Why was she crying? She still had more chores to do before she started supper. However, this was one of those moments where she felt so defeated, so worn out, so battle worn. Ever since her father died,

     Marcella had felt certain emotions that she had as a young girl beginning to fade into nonexistence and her spirit was strained and her soul was becoming numb and she was losing all feeling, just like in her hands and feet. How much longer before she no longer felt happiness, compassion, or even fear and sorrow? Then what would she be?

     Be brave and good to people.

     How long until she could no longer keep her mother’s promise?

     “Oh, poor, poor, little Cendrella,” came a cold voice from behind. It was a voice that was becoming worse than Constance’s threats or Ysobella’s scolding’s; a voice that Marcella was beginning to despise.

     She turned around and saw her brother, now seventeen, leaning up against the wall, a bored look on his handsome, but arrogant face. Marcella wiped her eyes and pulled her dress back down.

     “Oh, don’t worry,” said Andre as he staggered in. He was probably drunk; Andre was always drunk, “I mean it’s no secret to me what you are.” He turned to face her, a cruel smile played at his lips.

     “A little leper girl,” he said slowly.

     Marcella’s back bristled. Little filthy leper girl. Her secret for so long, but how long would it remain a secret? What if Andre said something in one of his drunken antics? Then what? Ysobella may kick her out. She wasn’t diseased anymore and was certainly no danger to anyone, but there were still people that avoided lepers with fear.

     “And,” Andre continued, “Not just any little leper girl, but one that also killed her own mother.”

Marcella looked up at him, her eyes almost blinded with tears.

     “I did not kill our mother,” she said defiantly, “Mother didn’t want me to go to a lazar house and so she kept me here. She risked her own health to save me.

     “Yes,” said Andre, “You see that’s the part that confuses me. Mother thought for some reason that your life was so much more important to save than hers. And yet, what have we gotten from her sacrifice for you? A stepmother who hates us, two spoiled stepsisters, a dead father, an estate that is almost in ruins, I’m really not seeing any benefit to you still being here…well, except for the fact that you are a fairly decent servant. Maybe’s this is finally penance for you crime of matricide.

Marcella could take no more. She leaped to her feet and with all her strength pushed her brother back.

“Get out, now!” she cried, “I have work to do!”

     Andre just laughed and staggered back, “Of course you do, Cendrella. You certainly now have a name to live up to.”

     As soon as he walked out of the kitchen, all of the feelings welling up in Marcella came to a breaking point. Sadness, rage, fear, despair, even hatred came pouring out in a torrent of tears. She collapsed to the ground and buried her face in her hands.

     Why?! WHY?! Andre what happened to you!? Why have you abandoned me!? Why do you hate me? Mother, Father! I need you both so much! I need to know what to do, how to continue on! How to keep Meg safe from her mother and sister, how to protect my secret from the rest of the world!!!

     Marcella believed that when her father died, a part of Andre died with him. Even before, Andre had started to become distant, but Father’s death was the final straw. Andre treated his blood sister like she was an animal for his own cruel abuses. Although he never physically hurt her, he taunted and teased her constantly. He never defended her when Ysobella and Constance mistreated her and sometimes her even seemed to enjoy watching them hurt her. 

     It was Andre, not Constance, that gave Marcella her new name Cendrella and unfortunately for Marcella, her step-sister used it to her full advantage whenever she saw her working.

     Andre was rarely ever home. He was usually at the tavern, drinking, gambling or whoring around. He cared nothing for his father’s estate and his work as a merchant. Andre didn’t really care for anyone. It was as if his heart had become like stone and he was simply a shell of the real Andre de Bourde.

     After a minute, Marcella got herself under control, wiped her face and started to prepare supper. Andre was right about one thing, she was a good servant. When supper and the evening melded into night, everyone had gone to sleep, but Marcella was up till late into the night doing chores.

     Finally she finished just after midnight and was worn to the bone. Marcella was too tired and too cold to walk all the way up to the attic where she now slept. Ysobella had sent her up there the year before, claiming that Constance and Meg needed separate rooms and now Constance had Marcella’s room.

     Marcella now slept in the cold attic on a rickety mattress with old blankets, but lately the house had been getting colder and she hated making the walk in the dark. For the last several nights, she had just been sleeping in the kitchen, by the dying fire embers on a pillow and wrapped up in her old cloak. It didn’t take her long to fall asleep, either. 

     Sleep was the only real freedom she had.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Five Favorite Couples Tag

As a continuation to the two previous Five Favorites tags that I did last year, I'm now creating the Five Favorite Couples Tag! Same rules apply as with the other two.


Pick one couple from each category

Tagging is optional

Link back to my site.

~ ~ ~


1.) Period Drama Couple

2.) Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couple

3.) Superhero Couple

4.) Preferred Couple (from a love triangle)

5.) Couple Ended Too Soon

~ ~ ~

If there is a couple you like, but they seem to fit more than one category, that's fine.

Such as Robin Hood and Marian fit the categories period drama. couple ended too soon and preferred couple. You can pick them for one category or all of them!

Your favorites, your opinions, your choice! Several of my choices fit more than one 
category as well.

~ ~ ~

1.) Period Drama Couple

Ross & Demelza Poldark
from Poldark (2015)

     By far the most difficult category for me! I have so many favorite period drama couples, but Ross and Demelza Poldark have taken the top spot...for now : ) What I love about their relationship was that it in the beginning of the story it was more convenient than conventional. A gentleman marrying a servant was unheard of, but Ross had long since stopped caring about what people thought about him and was desperate to rid himself of his feelings for Elizabeth.

      Demelza is the ultimate Cinderella, starting out as a raggedy waif, running away from her terrible family and finding unexpected love. Ross and Demelza have a very rocky relationship that overtime blossoms in true and devotional love. They both have to face a great deal, whether it's practical abject poverty, unfeeling relatives, long lost loves, scandal and the even the loss of their baby. Ross and Demelza soldier through and continue to come out from all of it stronger than before.

~ ~ ~

2.) Sci-fi/Fantasy Couple

Arthur & Guinevere
from BBC's Merlin

      There have been many retellings of King Arthur and his beautiful enigmatic queen, Guinevere, but BBC's Merlin, I believe. was the first time that Gwen was created as a servant. A rather fresh and more romantic take on their legendary love story. While sweet and sacrificial Gwen is terribly overshadowed by cruel and rebellious Morgana, I found her to be a wonderful heroine that deserves more praise than what she has received. 

     In the story, Arthur who starts out as a rash and spoiled prince who slowly begins to find himself falling in love with the beautiful lady in waiting. Gwen is honest and loyal and will never back down even when she is wrongfully accused. Arthur grows as a young prince as he witnesses her incredible courage and honor that is displayed every single day with random acts of kindness and generosity. And Gwen sees the king that Arthur is capable of becoming even when he cannot see it himself. Their road to love is hardly a fairy tale, but their story is bittersweet that brings both laughter and tears. 

~ ~ ~

3.) Superhero Couple

Clark Kent & Lois Lane 
from Smallville

      As with Arthur and Guinevere, there have been many takes on the love story between the Man of Steel and his love, Lois Lane. Smallville's rendition, by far, is my absolute favorite. What I enjoye the most is the fact that we meet them when they are both and unsure about their futures. They both go through a great deal of trial in their own personal love lives, as well as dealing with family, friends, work and no small amount of weird and unexplained alien encounters. However, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger in life and in love. 

     Lois' storyarch was beautifully written as she starts out as a rebellious former army brat who just wants to party and have fun. A major tare away from the usual by-the-book, all business Daily Planet journalist. Overtime she grows and matures and with growth comes pain and heartbreak, but it also brings her closer and closer to Clark Kent. By the time Lois and Clark fall in love, they're already best friends with each other and that is the sweetest part of the story, their friendship built from many years of hardship and happiness eventually became love. 

~ ~ ~

4.) Preferred Couple (from a love triangle)

Stefan Salvatore & Elena Gilbert
from The Vampire Diaries

      Those awful, sentimental, sappy love triangles that I try to avoid, but always end up getting sucked into. I've made it no secret that I will always prefer good and honorable Stefan Salvatore over his dangerous and illusive brother Damon and that applies with his relationship with Elena.What Elena had for Stefan, I believe, was real love. A love that was strong enough to risk everything (even her life) to rescue him from destruction. At the same time, Elena is led by lust for Damon a bad boy who refuses to be good. 

     However, you may want to spell it out, for the time the Elena and Stefan were together on the show, I loved their early love story. Stefan loves Elena and protects her fiercely, but also respects her decisions (Damon did not). When Elena discovers that Stefan is a vampire, she demands she stays away and he complies without complaint. Yet, they are still brought back together over all the death and pain, and find a much needed peace and joy with one other. 

~ ~ ~

5.) Couple Ended Too Soon

Jack Bauer & Audrey Raines
from 24

      It's a truth universally accepted that Jack Bauer can never hold on to anything and whatever he touches dies. At least that's whats been told to him by his daughter and the former secretary of defense. Yet, you are either a patriot trying to save the world or a man trying live a normal life, you can't have both and sadly, in Jack's case, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Nobody understands that better than Audrey Raines who became Jack's most serious love relationship in the series. Both Jack and Audrey have governmental jobs and former tumultuous love relationships and it's those two understandings that make them a great couple.

     Of course, Jack and Audrey become separated for good at the end of season 6 (thanks to Audrey's ungrateful father), but Audrey really was the most perfect person for Jack; probably because there were many similarities to his first wife. While combating two difficult love triangle, believing that each other is dead, taking on terrorists and both becoming victims of the Chinese government, Jack and Audrey were a love story that brought a sense of completion to Jack's complicated life. 

I Tag:

(That's the most people I've ever tagged!)

Downton Abbey Week!

Naomi Sarah at Wonderland Creek is hosting Downton Abbey Week from the 21st of August to the 27th! No such thing as too much Downton Abbey love : )

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Little Things #12

1.) Finnick Odair: Favorite character!

2.) Doing puzzles: puzzles...

3.) Thick soft bath towels: Especially after they've come out of the dryer.

4.) I hate talking on the phone: Those awkward silences between conversation...terrible.

5.) Swinging: You're never too old for it, right?

6.) I want to inspire others: There seems to back a lack of people doing so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Layout!

The 4th of July layout was only a temporary layout and so I thought it was time for something new! My idea was queens, not necessarily as women who sit on a throne, but rather queens in mind and spirit. From my favorite fandoms I chose Rebekah Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals (she's not really a queen...exactly, but she deserves to be!), Gwen from BBC's Merlin and of course, Cinderella! And their representation in flowers. So, Rebekah's is white ash oak flowers (white ash oak was a fundamental element in the creation of vampires), Gwen is English wildflowers; if you notice she always had flowers with her and Cinderella has lavender blue flowers.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Premiering Tonight...

The second season of AMC's The Making of The Mob series premieres tonight. This time is taking place in Chicago and documenting the rise and fall of the notorious gangster, Al Capone.

My family and I are so excited!!! 

Movie review for Making of The Mob: New York

Movie review for The Untouchables

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Grantchester: Seasons 1-2

Grantchester: Seasons 1 and 2
      British drama does so many genres right, but most especially their period dramas. Pair the period drama with a mystery genre and you usually get a masterpiece, such as ITV's Grantchester which premiered in 2014 and has two successful seasons and is gearing up for a third. While there have been a few other mystery shows involving a crime solving priest, what make Grantchester different is that the crime plot is only a small part of the story. 

     The crime aspect is what brings all the characters together, but more often than not, the story lies in other areas. The story about a war-torn soldier who has turned his life to God, the story of a loving father and husband who must split his time between work and family, the story of a young woman who doesn't know where her heart truly is, the story of a community that is close in nature, but also distant at heart. All of these stories are united by whatever crime is committed and must be solved by a young Anglican priest who struggles with the God he wants to serve and a detective who will uphold the law no matter the cost.

Grantchester: Season 1
      Season 1: After serving in the Royal Scots Guard in WWII, handsome Sydney Chambers made the unexpected decision to serve God and become a vicar, but his time during the war still continues to haunt him. In 1953, he is serving in the small village of Grantchester in Cambridge where he enjoys his work and his parishioners admire and respect him. A rather unorthodox clergyman who would rather drink whiskey than sherry, loves listening to Jazz music and has the worst luck with women. 

     After a murder takes place in Grantchester, Sydney meets Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, a who is gruff and by the book while on the job, but is completely devoted to his wife and four children. Sydney finds himself drawn to the crimes in the stories and has an unusual talent of getting himself involved when he doesn't mean to. At first, Geordie is put off by this, but eventually sees the young priest as a great asset and an unlikely friend, something they both lack. 

     When not helping Geordie solve crimes, Sydney finds himself in a constant state of heartbreak with the women in his life. Most especially with his friend Amanda who is beautiful, wealthy, intelligent and out of the blue she tells him that she's engaged to a man her father has arranged for her. Shocked by this, Sydney has no choice but to step back and watch as Amanda leaves him for another man, but it doesn't necessarily mean she's gone forever.

Grantchester: Season 2
     Season 2: Roughly a year after Amanda's marriage and Sydney and Geordie are back to solving crimes in Grantchester. When a heinous crime involving the death of a pregnant teenage girl is committed, the whole town of Grantchester is in an uproar and demand justice. A young boy is accused of killing her and while Sydney believes that is was assisted suicide and the boy may be more innocent, Geordie (who has three little girls) wants complete and absolute punishment. This puts a strain on Sydney and his relationship with the community as well as a wedge between Sydney and Geordie's friendship.

      Meanwhile, Amanda is miserable in her marriage and continues to find Sydney when she feels that she is at her breaking point. Sydney wants to help Amanda, but doesn't want to interfere with her marriage. Soon, he finds himself attracted to Margaret a beautiful secretary who works at the police precinct with Geordie. Margaret is lively and charming, but soon begins to realize that she is not what Sydney needs as a wife, especially a vicar's wife. 

     Eventually, Sydney, Geordie and Amanda are all put on the balancing points of their relationships with one another. Who will break and who will build? What is absolute justice, true love, and overwhelming forgiveness?   

~ ~ ~ 

Sydney and Geordie, at work and at play.
      To say that my mom and I love this show would be something of an understatement! It's very quickly becoming a favorite, but with only twelve episodes, you don't get a lot. However, what you do get is wonderful! The acting on all fronts is fantastic, especially from the leads, James Norton who plays Sydney and Robson Greene who plays Geordie. They both have a great chemistry together and there is a real and believable friendship in the story. (I could go on about how I currently so in love with James Norton right now, but I'll save it for another post).

       This show is slowly starting to gain momentous popularity and deservedly so. Like I said in the introduction, Grantchester is not just about the mystery and the crime. It really is about the wide array of vastly different and personable characters and how they contribute to the story and the life of Sydney Chambers. Grantchester is beautiful and heartbreaking, written and acted with great depth and emotion. Normally, I'm not crazy about a murder mystery show, but Grantchester is worth all of the praise it has received.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Red Dawn (1984)

      Several years prior to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey working it on the dance floor, shortly before Lea Thompson made her Hollywood mark as Loraine Baines McFly, and way back when Charlie Sheen was an adorable dead ringer to Harry Potter, these were four relatively unknown actors who took the world by storm in the 1984 pro-American film, Red Dawn. This movie was made at the height of the Cold War and the idea of a bunch of young teenagers who stood against Communism and adversity may have seem laughable and maybe even unrealistic, however, Red Dawn has the universal message of how a handful people can change the world when they are willing to fight and lay down their lives for what is right. 

      In a sleepy little Colorado town, Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze), his brother Matt (Charlie Sheen) and their friends think it's going to be a regular school and work day. That changes quickly when Soviet forces land outside the local high school and start destroying everything around them. Jed and the rest of the boys rush out of town and stock up on supplies, believing that the mountains are the safest hiding place. The Eckert brothers grew up hunting, fishing and camping in the mountains with their father and they know how to survive for weeks and even months. While the boys are safe, the town is under siege by the united Russian and Cuban Soviets and inevitably start WWIII with the little Colorado town forty miles away from the free zone.

     After a month in the mountains Jed and Matt return to town to look for their father and are shocked at the hellish and controlling conditions. Most of the men have been taken to a re-education camp and that's where the boys find their dad who clearly has refused to break under the Communist regime. Unable to save their father, Jed and Matt promise to avenge him and rescue their small community.

     Eventually joined by two sisters, Toni (Jennifer Grey) and Erica (Lea Thompson), the Eckert brothers and their friends become The Wolverines (their school mascot) and begin to fight back with stolen weapons and artillery. They travel through the mountains and forests, living in tents, surviving off of rationed food and listening for incoming Soviet calls. Soon Jed and The Wolverines begin to make a name for themselves all over Colorado and the rest of the U.S., but became public enemies to the Soviet generals in charge; especially after The Wolverines give shelter to a seasoned pilot, Andrew Tanner (Powers Boothe) who helps them with their mission. 

      In a Hunger Games-like style of kill or be killed, several of The Wolverines find themselves becoming as ruthless as the Soviets and soon their humanity and strained hope are called into questioning. Do they stay and fight for their town or do the unthinkable and try to escape to the free zone? Some live and some die, but all become national heroes when the war ends. 

     There is a strange power that this movie, despite its age, holds. While it's a story of bravery and survival, it's also a story mankind's ability to survive the extremities of evil and dissolution. There is almost a Hunger Games feel to Red Dawn and how power can control even the most honorable of hearts and one must be willing to break or build in order to bring about change. Considered an 80's classic, Red Dawn has the real-life action of war and the heartbreaking emotion of seven coming of age stories that together create a message of good people who challenged power, government and ultimate fear with hope, courage and sacrifice. 

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