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The Queen of Babble series (Meg Cabot) is one I’ve had my eye on for awhile and it turned out to be my road trip reading for the summer. Of course, it follows the traditional chick lit pattern. Quirky 20-something with a flaw meets the perfect guy…

My first impression was that some people might be surprised with some of the content of the novels if they’re expecting something more along the lines of The Princess Diaries!

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Queen of Babble was probably the one I enjoyed the most. It was the simplest chick lit plot with our heroine, Lizzie Nichols, a mean girl, the crush (Luke), and a helpful knack for vintage and sewing. Lizzie’s passion for vintage clothes and wedding gown restoration was definitely a fun part of the series. I have to say though that Lizzie is quite a stupid and extremely naive girl in the beginning and while that changes through the series there’s not significant growth. On one hand that’s to be expected from this genre…but you kind of hope that characters grow.

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The Queen of Babble in the Big City drops the “L-word,” as in living together, but let’s just say it’s a little hint at something else to be revealed. Here’s where things went wrong for me. Cabot spends the first novel setting up a romance between Lizzie and Luke, paints Luke as this amazing dream guy who really is quite a good guy, and then in this book he’s not so great anymore and their relationship becomes quite bland. The high point here is the story of Lizzie and her work in wedding gown restoration, and the story there.

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Finally, Queen of Babble in the Big City leaves a bit of a cliffhanger that gets picked up in Queen of Babble Gets Hitched. So, all seems to be going well with Lizzie and Luke and from the title you assume that it’s their wedding the title references. And, it may be…maybe. I did not like how it ended and felt that it was a cop out. I don’t want to give too much away, but Lizzie changes her views and dreams for someone that did not fall in line at all with her character. While sometimes this might be part of a character’s growth this was, I felt, a complete change of character and went against the storyline. So…I didn’t like it. My opinion, obviously, I’m not the author. 😉

What did surprise me is the amount of, I’ll put it bluntly, sex. In the first novel, it seems to be thrown in as a bit of a shocker. The second, it’s part of the background and in the third I don’t even remember at this point…I was kind of reading it just to finish the series. It was weird. Not at all natural. It came across like someone trying to be cooler than they are.

Another thing that I did think was odd throughout the series is that the premise of Lizzie’s fault (and the title of the books) is her big mouth. Usually you would find this quality to be excessive in a chick lit novel (or movie) in someone whose not supposed to be able to keep a secret or hold a discretionary tongue…but Lizzie’s “big mouth” was quite minor. And all the trouble it’s supposed to put her in…where was it?

After this…I’m done with chick lit. At least for awhile.

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Ichildrensclassics read Beatrix Potter as a kid, but I don’t have a strong memory of her stories. What I do remember is a book cover with  Jemima Puddle Duck  and a story about a fox. And, of course, I have read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but with no lasting impressions of her stories.

In December, I saw the movie Miss Potter and found her life interesting, particularly how they painted her as talking to her animals and them stepping out of their paintings. She did come across as cooky as you’d imagine someone who had conversations with drawings would, but lovable. You must felt sorry for her, that these were her few friends…her world. Watching Miss Potter definitely gave me an added interest in her works and made them more personable.

So, I checked out The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (or The Roly-Poly Pudding). It was quite catching. I really enjoyed the illustrations and thought it was funny to find out just exactly what a “roly-poly pudding” is. Quite comical when you see the drawing. I could see her personality in the story. Especially when she referred to herself, beatrixpotter

…he had just finished making a wheel-barrow for Miss Potter, and she had ordered two hen- coops.

And when I was going to the post late in the afternoon–I looked up the lane from the corner, and I saw Mr. Samuel Whiskers and his wife on the run, with  big bundles on a little wheel-barrow, which looked very much like mine. […] I am sure I never gave her leave to borrow my wheel-barrow! (pp. 71-72)

It was funny and enjoyable, even for an adult.

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hi08_janeausten_1I know it sounds cliche, right? Isn’t every other woman’s favorite author (or favorite novel) Jane Austen? Maybe so, but there’s a reason, right?

To put it ever so simply, she’s so good.

The woman just amazes me. The stories, the characters, her life. It’s wonderful and bittersweet all at once.

She’s like the fly on the wall who not only explains all the happenings in the house, but knows the inward thoughts of all. What I love about her is her sense of humor and her intelligence in looking into human race, but not only that she had a great deal of feeling.

She takes normal emotions and explores those that possess them. Then there’s always the question, how could she write such compelling stories of love and never married? Which leads to the questioning of a certain young Irish man’s attentions, Tom Lefroy.

I think what I find so interesting about literature in general is it really is the exploration of the human mind and experiences. It’s an opportunity to look at life in another realm and experience than your own.

For me, it’s almost the study of people and I think Austen did a superb job of that.

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Originally published on October 8, 2008 on my personal blog.

I finally finished reading Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in our Traditions. I thought I would have gotten through it much faster than I did. It is only 105 pages long and I started reading it in the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, I have finished it.

The basic premise is that our traditions can help the next generation (focusing on our children and family) treasure God and give them a taste of His amazing worth. Noel Piper goes about describing how we can do this in our family through everyday traditions in the family, such as mealtime prayers and reading to our children, and the “especially” traditions of birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Easter, Christmas, and even funerals. There are many great ideas for making our traditions not only meaningful, but have an eternal significance.

The question in Treasuring God in our Traditions is, how do we demonstrate that God is at the heart of every celebration? Noel says, “Through him we have birth and life and every thing and every person in our lives. So God is the reason we have anything to celebrate. He is the ultimate source of any of our celebrations.”

Ultimately, our traditions should have God at the center. Noel sums up the book with these points three points,

“Let’s just remind ourselves of what we’re after:
  • Remembering what God did for his people, for us, and
  • giving glory to God for what he’s done,
  • so our children and their children will know him.”

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