Someone to Wed (Westcott, #3) – Mary Balogh

Westcott-Someone-To-Wed-Mary-Balogh
Source: Goodreads

 

The fallout from the death of the Earl of Riverdale continues in the third installment of the Westcott series. Alexander Westcott, the nephew of the late Earl, has struggled since his own father’s death to bring the family estate up to scratch. With the death of his uncle and the discovery of his half-cousin Anna, Alexander’s young cousin Harry is declared illegitimate, and the family title falls on Alexander’s already heavy shoulders. Not one to give up on the people who rely on him, Alexander resigns himself to attending the marriage market that is the London season in order to catch himself a rich wife to help defray the costs of fixing up two family estates.

Wren Heyden has been a recluse for almost as long as she can remember. Abused and abandoned, she found a loving home with her aunt and uncle in the country. With their passing, however, she is alone in the great house with the servants. All she has is her uncle’s glass company and the estate she grew up in – and lots and lots of money. But all she wants is marriage. At nearly thirty, she decides to buy herself a husband. After researching and meeting with all of the eligible bachelors in the neighborhood, she settles on Alexander. But he will only have her if she agrees to a ‘real’ courtship, which includes meeting his family, attending events, and going back to the one place she hoped to never set foot again: London.

 

I quite enjoyed this book. The conflict of Wren’s veils and her mostly closed-off nature with her wants and desires was fascinating. Alexander, by contrast, was less developed in this, his own book, than in the others. I almost forgot the story was taking place in the Westcott universe except that one or the other or the pair would bring up money and the earldom. This book was mostly about Wren, to be honest. Alexander felt like a vehicle through which we accessed the Westcott family – how Wren got to know them and became one of them, rather than how Alexander hit a home run on the curveball that was dealt him with the death of his uncle. I loved the peek into what Elizabeth, Abby, and Harry were up to, but I really needed more from Alexander. I felt like we only scratched the surface of him as a person.

 

***trigger warnings for child abuse in this one***

 

 

HHC Rating: 3.75 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Someone to Love
Book #2 – Someone to Hold
Book #4 – Someone to Care
Book #5 – Someone to Trust
Book #6 – TBA
Book #7 – TBA
Book #8 – TBA

 

Someone to Hold (Westcott, #2) – Mary Balogh

Westcott-Someone-To-Hold-Mary-Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Camille Westcott had everything – a title, a fiance, a loving family… but when her parents’ marriage is suddenly found to be bigamous, Camille loses everything. Her fiance forces her to call off the wedding. She is deemed a bastard and is no longer welcome in the polite society that only days before she had been sought after to indulge in. She is not even her father’s eldest child. Stunned and heartbroken, Camille flees to her grandmother’s home in Bath with her mother and her sister, where she shuts her self away from any society that might be willing to accept her. After months spent coming to terms with being a middle child of insignificant means, she finds that her frustration with her half-sister Anna haunts her every waking moment. Too scarred still to seek out Anna’s guidance, Camille does the next best thing. She signs up to take on her half-sister’s old job as the teacher at the orphanage where Anna grew up. Exploring her half-sister’s world, Camille is finally able to see life through Anna’s eyes, live in Anna’s shoes, and maybe, just maybe even find love in the places Anna never looked.

Joel Cunningham grew up an orphan. He’s always lived in the same place, teaching art alongside his best friend, Anna. When Anna suddenly finds out her true heritage and leaves for the big city, Joel is crushed. Reading her letters, he hopes for her return until her words turn to those of love for someone else. His daily existence becomes lonely and tiresome despite the children he loves and teaches. Still harboring a sore heart, Joel is outraged when Camille takes on the teaching position that was once Anna’s. The two troubled souls find that their mutual frustration with the ripple effect of Anna’s true parentage binds them together in strange ways, and after a night of unbridled feelings, the blossoming friendship between them turns into something else altogether, just to be thrown into chaos again when Joel receives a strange letter of his own.

I quite enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how Anna flitted in and out of the narrative, sometimes in person, but mostly in the thoughts and hearts of Camille, Joel, and the other occupants of the orphanage. The character building was all there. In fact, the majority of the plot was internal struggles that Camille and Joel had to overcome in order to open their hearts to new opportunities. Watching them grow and mature and understand their new roles in the world was fascinating. That being said, so much of the plot was internal struggle that not a lot actually happened on the outside. Watching the more secondary characters be confused about the developing romance was real and true to the plot, which only made it better in my book.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Someone to Love
Book #3 – Someone to Wed
Book #4 – Someone to Care
Book #5 – Someone to Trust
Book #6 – TBA
Book #7 – TBA
Book #8 – TBA

January/February Update – 2017 Goals Check-In

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Hello!!

It’s been nearly two months, hasn’t it? I’ve been wishing I could hibernate until spring comes, but with the snow piling ever higher I know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Boston is still pretty fantastic, especially now that I’ve re-located the Starbucks I wrote so well in back in November. I may have visited every Starbucks in the city over the last 10 weeks in the course of my search. Which is actually quite a feat considering. #SorryNotSorry

So, snow: Check. Starbucks: Check. I saw Hidden Figures recently and oh my goodness is it amazing. And wonderful. And just positively breathtaking. It’s radical. I loved it. I also made it to the Museum of Fine Art in January to see the Impressionist exhibit and actually cried when I saw all the Monets and Renoirs. My mother loves impressionist artwork, especially by those two, and seeing them in person was magical. I am physically tearing up thinking about it. I also bought a postcard size of Renoir’s Grand Canal and have tacked it up to my storyboard. The colors are so amazing, the water even now seems to ripple in a light wind. Beautiful.

I also made it to the Museum of Fine Art in January to see the Impressionist exhibit and actually cried when I saw all the Monets and Renoirs. My mother loves impressionist artwork, especially by those two, and seeing them in person was magical. I am physically tearing up thinking about it. I also bought a postcard size of Renoir’s Grand Canal and have tacked it up to my storyboard. The colors are so amazing, the water even now seems to ripple in a light wind. Beautiful.

This weekend I am traveling up to the University of Maine, Orono (which I’ve just found out I’ve been spelling wrong for years. I thought it was Orohno, which I found amusing.), for their home meet for Woodsmen’s Team. If you’ve never seen lumberjack sports, you are in for a treat! Despite the deep snow, it promises to be exciting. And cold, as usual. Also, my parents are visiting, so yay, family!

Hopefully, I’ll have time to write individual and more lengthy posts about those three excursions, but I can’t guarantee it right now. Okay, enough chitchat. Onto the goals check-in! I suddenly have a lot of them. Que trying to organize my life.

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day:
Nope. But I did write over 2000 words on Saturday between camping out at the library and writing at Starbucks. So that’s pretty good! December was plain nuts with holidays and visiting family, and January was consumed by my Grad School application and severe writer’s block.

I finally realized that my last chapter and a half from NaNoWriMo went off a cliff because I hadn’t written enough background for the side characters to have personalities. Oops. So Saturday I wrote character backgrounds. Fun times.

Apply to Full Time Jobs: #BabysittingLife

Apply to Grad School: You guys, I did it! I got everything, including essays, references, resumes, and transcripts in before the scholarship/fellowship deadline. And now the waiting begins. *Breathes Deeply*

2017 Goals:
Stick to My Budget: meh. Not terrible, but not great. If you follow Curio Street Reads you’ll notice I have a weakness for books.

Pay Lots of Student Loans: Not so much of a party in my bank account. But I’m getting there. Yay monthly payment plans!

Build Savings Account: Actual party in my bank account.

Spend Less Than $500 on Books This Year: Yes, this is a real, albeit first-world, problem. If only people would actually get me books for my birthday/Christmas… JK, I would still have this problem, I’d just also have MORE BOOKS! Rather than attempt to curtail my book buying habit, I’ve decided to try to buy from sites like Thrift Books and Book Depository, and occasionally Amazon (Okay, there’s actually a lot of Amazon. I have prime specifically for this reason.), rather than Barnes and Noble (to which I have a membership because duh.). LET’S JUST AGREE I HAVE A READING/BOOK BUYING ADDICTION, OKAY? Also, I need more bookshelves. And don’t even get me started on all the independent bookstores in Boston that I haven’t located yet. They exist. There’s one I pass on my way to church. I’ve started going to early church just so I’m out of the area before that store opens. My life is a struggle.

Only Buy New Clothes Seasonally: This is agony because I recently discovered I have Primark and Madewell in Boston, but so far I’m doing okay.

Get 8+ hours of sleep/Go to bed by 10 pm: HAHAHAHAHA self you are silly. There are books to read and Netflix shows like The Crown and Stranger Things to watch. Not to mention they’ve done a spectacular job of keeping my favorite cheesy rom-com, A Christmas Kiss (which I own btw, but that’s not relevant), in the streaming library for days like today when I’m all exhausted because hormones.

Only Watch Three Movies/Five Episodes Per Week: Because the struggle is real. I watched five episodes of The Crown this week and it’s only Wednesday. I want to start Stranger Things but this goal is helping me stop myself. I have writing to do. And reading. Yeah. Reading. And writing.

Finish Craft Projects: I have three projects (Crochet, Latch-Hook, Embroidery) that I started over a year ago (some over 10 years ago) that I never finished. They will be done by the end of the year. Period.

Post Regularly: Oops.

Keep Up With Book Reviews: At this point not posting my weekly book review makes me feel like my life is falling apart. Maybe someday this part of the blog will feel the love too. But not just yet.

Plan Monthly Post Schedules: Did that. Didn’t write the posts. Am sad.

Read 50+ Books: I think I’m a book behind to reach 52. But guys, Elantris (Review out 4/25) was long. SO worth it, but the first 300 pages were slow for me. Argh.

Get In Shape: I’ve been trying to explore the city every weekend, but it’s hard to do anything with all this snow.

Walk 40+ Miles Per Month: So far, so good! Pretty happy about this one.

Finish Everest Draft: I Think I Can, I Think I Can. Ideally, I’ll be done by July, though if I have to keep stopping to write character and country background, it might be November. I just sent the first three chapters to three friends who read some of the very rough versions I wrote originally (think grades 7-10), and am letting them edit/comment/proof those for flow, etc. We’ll see what they think. In the meantime, I want to focus on chapters 4-6 and worldbuilding now that everyone is in roughly the same place.

Write 20,000 Words Per Month: Not in January. We’ll see if I can even hit 10,000 in February.  The child is teething.

Run a 5K in under 30 Minutes: If I ever see the ground again, maybe I’ll actually start running and this goal will be feasible.

January Goals:
Submit Grad School Application: YES!

Order New Computer: After SIX years on the same Dell laptop, I am happy to say I am now the proud owner of a new HP Pavillion laptop (and it’s RED!). You have no idea how exited I am, or how happy my back is to be carrying only 5lbs now, instead of 10lbs. *tears of joy* Also, the storage space is positively luxurious by comparison. MY PRECIOUS.

Read 3+ Books: (* indicates finished)
*Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley,
*Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson,
and Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, which I didn’t finish until February.

Write 4+ Book Reviews: (* indicates finished)
*Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (Screenplay),
*Stone Heart by Luanne Rice,
*Grace, Not Perfction by Emily Ley,
*The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss,
and  *Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

Re-Outline Everest: That’s right, I re-outlined and added a whole new thread to the story because I had a huge dead spot in the second half, and now we’ll see where this takes me. It’s going to be a lot of fun to write at least!

February Goals:
Read 7+ Books: (* indicates finished)
*Elantris by Brandon Sanderson,
*Nancy Drew and the Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene
*Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce,
Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce,
Tris’ Book by Tamora Pierce,
Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce,
A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé and translated from French into English by Alison Anderson,
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald,
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab,
and *Farewell Speeches by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Write 4+ Book Reviews: (* indicates finished)
*Nancy Drew and the Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene (Review out 2/7),
*The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (Review out 2/14),
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Review out 2/21),
A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (Review out 2/28),
*Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce (Review out 4/18),
and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Review out in 2018).

Write 20,000 Words of Everest: We’ll see! Currently: 2513. HA!

Run 12 Miles: Not in this snow, I won’t. I’ll let the people training for the Boston Marathon have the icy roads to themselves, thanks.

 

 

So, that’s me. Plodding along and clearly not hibernating. Oh well, try again next year.

Until Next Time,

Amanda

December Update – 2016 Goals Check-In

december-update

 

Hello hello and welcome back to another update! Let’s jump right in.

Thanksgiving was wonderful, and having already given up on NaNoWriMo the day before, I was able to really relax and enjoy myself and the family that surrounded me. Black Friday in my house is Baking Friday, and my mom and I and whoever we are able to recruit, tackle our annual Christmas Cookies: Spritz, Sugar and Spice, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Russian Tea Cakes, Razzleberries, and more.

At the beginning of the week, I was lucky enough to be able to help out at my Alma Mater, which hosts a telethon every year for Big Brothers Big Sisters. You know, those things you flip past on community TV stations where local musicians, magicians, acting and dance schools perform their hearts out and a group of people tell you how important something is and conduct interviews while in the background people answer telephones to take donations? That. I love that. When I attended the school, I got involved initially for the extra credit, but quickly fell in love with the live broadcasting. Mostly because of the people involved, but going back to help out every year is one of my favorite things. When I lived in the area the past two years, I went back in the weeks leading up to the program because I was executive producing. Not being in the area this year meant I couldn’t do that, but I was able to be a floor director for the day, which was almost as much fun, and much less stressful.

I was also able to stop by and see my lovely ex-coworkers, which was really nice since usually I don’t get the chance to go back to places I’ve worked after I’ve left. Not for bad reasons, but I usually only leave jobs when I move. This time, however, I continue to have friends who live in that area, so I have multiple excuses to drive the hour down there when I’m at my parents and I don’t have to feel bad about using all of that gas because I’m combining the visits into one.

December has been moving along pretty smoothly. I’m only waiting on one more package to arrive, and I have three pictures frames that I need to buy before I’m completely done with my holiday shopping. thank goodness I did my shopping when I did, because I just got a call from the bank that my card needed to be shut off because of some company having a data breach (not my bank having the breach, thank goodness), so now I can’t do anymore shopping until my new card arrives, which won’t be for another week or so. Luckily I have cash for gas to get from MA to NJ for the holidays. This does mean that I can’t go out exploring the city’s Christmas displays though, which I wanted to a post about, because I can’t get any more money out of my account to use for subway tickets, which makes me sad. At the same time though, it’s saving me money, so I really shouldn’t be complaining.

That’s enough of that, let’s take a look at how I’m doing on my goals so far.

 

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day – Except for the book reviews I’ve done in the last month,  I haven’t written a thing. Well, that’s not really true. I made a brief foray into the distant recesses of my book series to hammer out some more plot ideas for my NaNo project from last year, but that was it. Really!

Apply to Full-Time Jobs – COMPLETED!

Apply to Grad School – I think I’m psyching myself out when it comes to this. I can’t even bring myself to pull up the essay requirements or contact my references to ask for letters. I really need to just buckle down and get it done. If I don’t get in, at least I will have tried. If I don’t try, then I fail by default, and I will never forgive myself if I do not try. This is something I really, really want to do, but I don’t know… I almost feel… unworthy? is that the word I’m looking for? I’ve never known what I wanted to do, and I’ve never been the best of the best at anything. I used to think that my calling in life would appear as something that only I could do, but I just don’t believe that anymore. I follow at least 15 travel bloggers on various platforms. If there was one person meant to do it, why would the others even bother? Clearly, someone out there is always going to be better than you. that’s the whole point. It drives you to be your best, rather than half-assing it because you know the people will come anyway. It’s supposed to be a bit of a struggle. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting. Am I giving myself a pep-talk right here and now? Maybe. This whole grad school thing, even though it’s going to cost even more money, and take even more time when I could be working in the field already, is something I need to do for myself. I ‘m not the kind of person who can jump into a business field completely blind. I need to know how the industry works before I can go in and rock the socks off of any potential bosses. Publishing is the only idea that I’ve come back to again and again as a potential job. I’m really blabbering on and on about this, so maybe I should just make a separate post about why I want to go into publishing because this is going to take a while to explain.

 

December Goals:
Read 6 books: So far I’m at three! and working my way through at least two more that will be done by the end of the month. These are part fun reads, and also some prep for reviews coming out next month/year. So far I read Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer, which is the gender swapped retelling of Twilight in honor of that book’s 10th anniversary. I also read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling, which I read in a day and it was phenomenal. I also saw the actual movie twice so far, and it’s something I just want to watch over and over again because I keep noticing new things! Last night I finished a romance, There’s Something in the Heir by Jenny Gardiner, which is the first book in her It’s Reigning Men series, and I am a sucker for punderful romance titles. You just know they’re going to be sweet and cheesy.

Write 5 reviews: I reviewed Life and Death as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, but Life and Death is just chilling in my reserve pile because I have many other things coming your way first!

Write 6 posts: I’m having some trouble downloading my photos from the phone to my PC, as my computer is probably about 6 years old now and I’m quite literally running out of storage space. I desperately need to buy an external hard drive (or, you know, just by a new computer). So I haven’t finished any of the posts I had planned about exploring the city, and those may all have to wait for the new year when I can put some cash towards one of the two solutions. Which of course also means this is the only post I’ve written all month. I have a few more ideas for end-of-the-year stuff, but it remains to be seen how much media I can fit on my computer in order to create something I like.

Write 10,000 words of the Everest Chronicles: Yeah… I’m definitely going to need this break to extend into January. My brain just can’t handle anything when Christmas is on my plate. I’ve been reading as much as humanly possible since I bailed on NaNoWriMo. I think I’ve read six books so far, and I’m in the middle of three more, but on the way out my reading slump I temporarily DNF’d (Did Not Finish) at least two others that I can think of. I love books.

Connect Blog(s) to a Facebook page: This is something I’d really like to be able to do, to have a single, combined feed, so you don’t have to jump back and forth between the two sites to find everything, because after a while that becomes tedious to say the least. Additionally, Facebook makes sharing things significantly easier, which would really up my exposure, which would be nice. I think.

Walk 20 miles: I set this goal at 2/3 of last month because of all the snow and ice and the like that are preventing me for putting my cousin in a stroller and hitting the trails. Still, I’m at about 17 miles thus far, and it’s only halfway through the month. A lot of this is due to the sheer number of stairs in my aunt and uncle’s house (we call it the stairmaster because all we do is walk up and down stairs all day), but anything that helps with fitness during the dead of winter is fine by me.

 

Books to read this month:
Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Grace, Not Perfection – Emily Ley
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
Landline – Rainbow Rowell
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

NaNoWriMo Preparations/Introduction 2016

It’s nearly that time of year again! Today is Halloween, which is all well and great and spectacular in its own right. And while Halloween is one of my favorite holidays ever, the day after is even better. It’s my grandmother’s birthday, yes! She’s turning 80, and she’s pretty fantastic.

November first also marks the start of National Novel Writing Month! Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

The daily writing goal is 1,667 words. Normally, this sounds incredibly intimidating to me. But Thursday night I had a dream that turned out to be more than 3,000 words of a completely new story that I scribbled down during the two hours my cousin was taking his nap, and after that, well, 1,667 doesn’t sound that bad.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant

The story I’ll be writing this year is fantasy/adventure. It will probably end up being a Young Adult novel, but there’s a chance it could go either Middle Grade/Juvenile Fiction or Adult Fiction depending. Mostly likely it’s going to stick to YA.

A brief description of my story would be that a girl in contemporary America wanders into a portal that takes her to another world, where magic and mayhem ensue. Oh, and the whole planet is in the Middle Ages. Super vague, I know, but you get the general idea without me giving anything away.

So far, the majority of my ‘NaNo Prep’ as people have been calling it, has just been organizing all the millions of notes I have for this story. Part of this was made easier by the fact that I moved, so I had re-locate and consolidate into notebooks every scrap of paper I needed before I left New Jersey. This meant that when I arrived in Boston, I already had everything together at least, if not cleanly laid out.

Next, I reformated much of my character list so that I could organize people by place of origin as well as age, and made it easier to figure out who is contemporaries with who. Because when you create a new world, you inevitably end up creating an entire history for that world, and you end up with tens of millions of people. I’m not there yet. I’m only at ~150. But after 12 years, each of those people has a personality and a backstory that I really wish I had the time to tell. It’s an actual difficulty that I have, deciding who’s stories are important enough that they need to be shared with the world.

The hope is that by organizing all of my background information beforehand, I won’t get lost in making it up in the middle of the actual writing, as I did last year when I ended up stalled at close to 5,000 words because I disappeared into writing the history again.

Being that I live in Boston now, where there are actual people, as opposed to on my mountain in the middle of nowhere in New Jersey (which I love, but it’s not NaNoWriMo conducive), I can actually attend write-ins, where NaNoWriMo participants gather together and write in one place. We can bounce ideas off of each other, share snacks, and enjoy some company that understands what we’re up to (aka, commiserate).

Last year I participated in some of the virtual write-ins, but it’s extremely hard to watch the chat screen and listen to the host and actually get any real writing done.

Today was the Boston region’s NaNoWriMo kick-off party, hosted at the Cambridge Public Library. Around 60 of us were able to make it, and I really loved getting to meet everyone. We got goody bags and participated in a raffle, where I won one of this year’s NaNoWriMo posters! I’m pretty excited. We also had lots of snacks, chatted with fellow writers, and raised some money to go towards NaNoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program, which you should definitely check out, especially if you’re a teacher!!

It was a great experience, and I can’t wait for the write-ins to start. While I can’t participate in the weekday write-ins for the most part because I’ll be working, I’m planning to attend the weekend sessions as much as possible.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy (LadyWoods13)! Just comment below before you send the request so I know you came from here! 🙂

Until next time,

Amanda

I’m Moving!

Not to worry, this website isn’t going anywhere. However I, physically, literally, am moving! If you read my September Update a couple weeks ago you already know this, but if you didn’t, now you do! I’m sure you have some questions, so allow me to start off by answering the big ones.

Why are you moving?

I found a job I love better than the one I currently have, and it requires me to relocate. It’s not in retail, which I have enjoyed, but am not looking to make my career in, and it’s full-time! I do love the job I have now, especially the people, but the job I am going to is beyond rewarding, and something I’ve always wanted to do. It will also help me save up for graduate school if I decide to go that route.

What will you be doing that you’re so excited about?

I’m going to be a live-in nanny! And I don’t have to worry about not getting along with the family or anything like that because I’ll be nannying for my aunt and uncle. They will both be working full-time, and they need someone to watch my six-month-old cousin. He’s the one I was babysitting last month who’s super adorable and happy all the time (cross your fingers he stays that way!). This means no more hour-long commutes, but also some quiet time in the evenings for reading/writing, and weekends off!

So… Where are you moving to?

I will be moving to Boston, Massachusetts! It’s a city I’ve always been interested in living in (despite being a die-hard fan of the New York Yankees), and I’m super excited to finally have the chance to explore it!

When are you moving?

The plan is to make the move near the end of the month since my uncle starts his new job in November. I’ll be sure to share photos and tidbits as I move in!

What are you most excited about checking out in your new city?

The Boston Public Library, obviously. Besides that, I’d like to explore Boston Commons, the local bookstores, the downtown restaurants, the publishing houses in the city, the waterfront area, the local bookstores, Emerson College (where I’m thinking about going to grad school), the community Quidditch Teams (because Harry Potter rules, duh),  Harvard, BU, MIT, the city ballet, and the local bookstores. If you have any recommendations of places I should check out, let me know on Twitter! I’ll try to post once a month or so about the places I discover in and around the city.

Overall, I’m PUMPED about the move. I can’t wait to explore my new city. And just to sweeten the deal, I’m moving just before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts! This means I’ll be able to attend meet-ups IRL, something that was impossible where I live now in the middle-of-nowhere, NJ. I love New Jersey, but it’s not all that conducive to making writing and bookish friends. I’m thrilled to be able to meet and get to know Boston’s NaNoWriMo participants. I’m hoping to be able to read and write more once I’m up there and no longer community an hour to my part-time job. This move is going to be so good for me.

 

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

Let’s Talk Patronuses

Pottermore, that wonderful place built in the name of J.K. Rowling for all of the Harry Potter fans out there, launched it’s Patronus quiz today! As it firmly states that the quiz may only be taken once, I naturally took it six times, as I did with the Sorting Hat Quizzes.

Pottermore seems to be only sharing what a general Patronus is, rather than background on the what the specific conjurings mean (if they mean anything), so here are my results along with what I’ve found out about each of them, and the symbolism regarding each of the animals I was assigned to better understand how they might possibly represent me as my Patronus.

First of all, each Patronus was different. I had no doubles. Part of that is because the quiz doesn’t always ask the same questions, and part of that is because the whole thing is timed, so if you do get a question you’ve already seen it takes less time to answer it than it did when you had to read the question through. Unless you’re a robot and you got exactly the same questions, I don’t believe there is a way to get the same Patronus twice.

Second of all, any sites I used for researching this post will be linked at the bottom. Photo links are located below each picture for easy sourcing.

Now, on to the Patronuses! 🙂

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Source: Britannica

1. The Stoat
Also known as an Ermine, in the winter its coat turns completely white. Related to the weasel, marten, fisher, and otter.

The stoat has a vast range, seen everywhere from North America to across Eurasia. You could call them global citizens. They symbolize royalty, purity, and strong morals mostly. There’s a myth about a queen in Brittany who was hunting a stoat and when they reached a mud pit, rather than cross it and ruin its fur, the stoat turned to fight in the face of certain death. The queen was so inspired by the animal that she kept it as a pet and made it the symbol of the royal family, their motto being ‘death over defilement’, meaning something along the lines of they would die before they would lower their standards, besmirch their good name, etc.

The stoat also symbolizes the spiritual journey to enlightenment; something or someone who has gone through all 4 spiritual seasons, including a dark night of the soul and being born again into a new dawn.

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Ragdoll Source: Kids Britannica                 Ocicat Source: Kids Britannica

2. The Cat(s)
General Cat Symbolism
There is no specific symbolism for either the Ragdoll or the Ocicat, probably because they’re both specific breeds and symbolism tends to a generalized study. Cats are known to symbolize a bridge to the spirit world, communication, unpredictability, independence, and creativity.

a) Ragdoll Cat
The Ragdoll cat is a long haired domestic cat with blue eyes and mostly white fur except for bits of brown, especially on its face and paws. It loves people and tends to follow them about doglike. It loves to be picked up and gets its name from the way it goes limp when you do pick it up.

b) Ocicat
The Ocicat is a fairly new breed of domestic cat that looks like a tiny cheetah. They are known for being extremely sociable, affectionate, and intelligent.

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Source: Britannica

4. The Black Swan
Much of the symbolism for black swans is the same as your average white swan, but there is a myth about how it got its dark color.

The story goes that in the aboriginal tribes of Australia, there were only a couple of women who knew the secret to making boomerangs. A group of men decided to steal the boomerangs, and to distract the women two of the men decide to turn themselves into swans and land on the nearby lake. The women were distracted by the birds’ beauty for a time, but they caught the men in the end. The women shoo the swans off the lake and they settle on another lake where some eagles live. The eagles attack and rip all of the swans’ feathers out, leaving them for dead. To spite their enemies the eagles, a murder of crows offer the swans some of their own feathers to create new coats.

Because of the trial that the black swans went through, they symbolize the spiritual journey, especially suffering and faith. Swans, in general, symbolize the journey to purity and perfection, as well as the balanced life. In Astronomy, the constellation of the Northern Cross is also known as Cygnus the swan.

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Source: Britannica

5. The Osprey
Also known as a fish-hawk and a sea-eagle, the osprey is the only known bird in the eagle family that lives not just in the air, but in the water. Other eagles may grab fish near the surface or those that jump with their claws, but ospreys are known for diving under the water in search of food. Much of the fish that other birds eat are in fact stolen from ospreys.

The osprey symbolizes the guardian in much of Native American folklore. It also symbolizes acuity of sight, abundance, salvation, redemption, resurrection, the sun, nobility, deep creativity, good timing, respect, communication, vigilance, the soul, and a beacon. In myth, the osprey was the animal symbol for Hermes, the messenger. It is also known as a guide of souls, as it is the only animal that moves seamlessly between air, symbolizing the mind and the conscious as well as the land of the living, and water, symbolizing emotions and the unconscious as well as the land of the dead.

The osprey is known for going after what it wants rather than staying back and waiting for an opportunity. It is known for building strong boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others.

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Source: Britannica

6. The Fox
The fox is known for persistence and patience, as well as creative, out-of-the-box solutions that often make it seem eccentric, if quick minded. The fox symbolizes loyalty, wit and quick thinking, longevity, protection from evil, fortune, luck, opportunity, the jack-of-all-trades, and the arrival of solutions. Foxes are known to adapt and ‘blend in’ to their environments. They can be tricksters as well as teachers, and they possess an uncanny ability to find their way around. They are often respected as guides and honored for their wisdom.

So there you have it, the six Patronuses I was assigned: Stoat, Ragdoll Cat, Ocicat, Black Swan, Osprey, and Fox. When I first got each one, I thought they were all completely different and didn’t really understand how they related to me or could possibly be my Patronus. After doing the research and better understanding the symbolism of each animal, however, I can see how they relate to me. As a proud Gryffinclaw Hornedwudgie with some Hufflepuff and Wampus tendencies, I can see how the strong morals of the Stoat, the communication skills of the Ragdoll Cat and the sociability of the Ocicat, as well as the faith of Black Swan, the vigilance of the Osprey, and the persistence of the Fox, could all represent me in some way. Even if I could cast a real Patronus charm and none of these animals came out of my wand, I am pretty grateful I had the chance to learn about them. They are daring and smart, loyal and cunning, just like the heraldry animals of Hogwarts, and I am proud to be associated with all of them.

30th September 2016 –  EDIT: I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking me what I say when people ask what my Patronus is since I took the quiz multiple times. For all intents and purposes, I’ve been saying the Stoat, since that’s what I got the first time when I took the quiz the way a normal user would, not knowing what type of questions to expect.

What animal or fantastic beast is your Patronus? Head on over to Pottermore.com/Patronus to find out. You just need a Pottermore account to take the quiz. Let me know over on Twitter, and I’ll see y’all next time!

~Amanda

Further Reading/Where I Did My Research:
Stoats in Folklore
Ragdoll
Ocicat
Cats as Spirit Animals
Swan Symbolism
Swans as Spirit Animals
Osprey as a Power Animal
Ospreys as Spirit Animals
Ospreys – Guide of Lovers and the Heartsick
Osprey as a Totem Animal
Foxes as Spirit Animals
Animal Symbolism – Meaning of the Fox
Spirit Animals and Animal Totems – Fox Symbolism
Universe of Symbolism – Symbolic Meaning of Fox