Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Let's Bust a Recap : The Taming of the Shrew

As you can see by the title of this post, I decided to go ahead and read The Taming of the Shrew before saying "Adios!" to February. I read this one faster than any of the three previous plays by Shakespeare I've read, and it was, by far, the most outrageous one yet.

As I did with Macbeth, I'm going to reveal the entire plot of the play, so if you are in the dark about this play and want to stay that way, this is your cue to leave.
In The Taming of the Shrew, we meet Baptista Minola and his two daughters, Bianca (the younger one that everyone's in love with) and Katharina (the older one who is the shrew in the title of the play). Baptista has decreed that no one gets Bianca until he can marry off Katharina. This poses a problem for all Bianca's adoring suitors, NOT because Katharina refuses to marry, but because no man alive is crazy enough to ask for Katharina's hand. Enter Petruchio. A man who is just as crazy as Katharina, looking for a wife with a rich father to offer a sizable dowry. He's easily talked into pursuing marriage with Katharina the shrew because he ain't scared and as long as she's easy on the eyes and comes with money, she's as good as the next broad. 

So off he goes to ask Baptista for Katharina's hand in marriage.

In the meantime, we've met Lucentio who has recently arrived in town, instantly fell in love with Bianca (without ever having talked to her, I might add), and has concocted a plan to spend time with her while we all wait for someone to marry Katharina. He has his servant Tranio pretend to be him so that he can pretend to be a tutor for Bianca. 

Back to Petruchio and Katharina. Baptista happily gives his shrewish daughter to Petruchio in marriage, and Petruchio's big plan to tame this crazy chick is to act crazier than her. He starves her, deprives her of sleep, and generally is the biggest nightmare you can imagine until she finally caves and becomes a docile, submissive little wife. Seriously. That's what happens.

So who ends up with Bianca? While Lucentio is pretending to be her tutor and wooing her, his man Tranio (disguised as Lucentio, remember) is vying for her hand in marriage and basically promises Baptista that between him and his father, Vincentio, he can make the best life for Bianca because he's the richest. Like pretty much, Baptista was holding a bidding war for Bianca. Not kidding. He conditionally agrees to give Bianca to Lucentio as long as his father, Vincentio shows up to validate everything that Lucentio has promised. 

Are you still with me? 

Tranio (still pretending to be Lucentio) hires a random old guy to pretend to be his father, Vincentio, and Baptista grants full permission for the wedding to take place. Tranio sends word to Lucentio that all's clear for the wedding at which point, the real Vincentio shows up

Right before Vincentio is about to beat Tranio to death for killing his son (the obvious conclusion when he sees him wearing Lucentio's clothes and lying to everyone), Lucentio and Bianca show up and make peace. Even though Baptista at first is all, "What the devil just happened?!"

So then everyone sits down to a feast together and Petruchio demonstrates just how well he tamed Katharina by making a bet with Lucentio and Hortensio (I know I didn't talk about Hortensio, but didn't you have enough to deal with keeping up with the rest of this story?) that if they all three called their wives, Katharina would be the quickest to obey. And he wins the bet. I'll be sharing Katharina's final words tomorrow in our Word for Wednesday so tune in to see just how completely Petruchio managed to tame the shrew.

My biggest beef with this play is that in the very beginning, a random lord is playing a prank on this drunk guy named Christopher Sly in which he (the lord) has convinced him (Chris Sly) that he's some hoity toity lord himself and The Taming of the Shrew is actually a play being presented to Christopher Sly. And we never find out what happens to him. The end of The Taming of the Shrew, which is actually a play within the play, is the end of the whole thing. What's the deal, Shakespeare??

Other than that, The Taming of the Shrew is outrageously hilarious, and I definitely recommend it. I definitely liked it better than A Midsummer-Night's Dream, but not quite so much as Much Ado About Nothing. Or maybe it's a tie with Much Ado About Nothing. They're both hysterical.

What do you think? Did you follow all that? Have you read The Taming of the Shrew? What is your favorite Shakespearean work?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Casual Fridays

We haven't done a Currently I'm... post in a while and frankly, the Casual Fridays muse has not been with me lately so today we're taking it easy and just having a chatty, catch-up with each other kind of day. Sound good? Good. Let's begin.

... Deuteronomy.

... John Adams by David McCullough and really enjoying it. I was hoping to finish it up in February, but that is definitely not going to happen.


... Bones Season 12. Word on the street is that this is for real the final season. I can't believe it, and I seriously don't know how they're going to tie it up in the next 4 episodes because that's all that's left.

... Parks and Rec. It seems to me that the last time I did a Currently I'm... post I was talking about Parks and Rec. We did finish it and thought it was hilarious and recently decided to re-watch it since I missed Season 1 and half of Season 2 the first time around. I think it's even funnier watching it after you've already seen it and have a feel for the characters. #TeamDonna She's my fav.

... One Tree Hill. Y'all. It pains me to admit this, but I got sucked into One Tree Hill land. I had never seen a single episode in my life, but I was feeling sick or something one day last year sometime and decided to watch an episode just to see what it was all about and lo and behold, I'm now on the final season. Speaking of which, I feel like the show should have ended 3 times, but they just won't quit. Seriously. The series finale on the River Court at the end of high school--should have been the end. The series finale after P. Sawyer has her baby--should have been the end. The series finale with Jamie dribbling the basketball across the bridge--definitely should have been the end. But they just have to wring every last penny out of a show until you hate it, I guess. Don't writers and producers and whoever else has any say in the matter have any sense of pride or integrity in creating a show that tells a story and ends well?? Is it that hard to pull the plug?? End rant. And P.S. this is not an endorsement or a recommendation to watch OTH. That show has more drama than a high school theater club. 


... to Switchfoot's Where the Light Shines Through album. It's their latest, and it's on point per usual.

... to Train's a girl a bottle a boat album. It just came out a couple weeks ago, and it is a feel good record in every way. Train and Switchfoot are my two favorite bands, I always keep up with them, and they have yet to disappoint me.

... my James 5:13 playlist. Part of James 5:13 says, "Is anyone happy? Let him sing praise." This playlist has 100 of my happiest praise songs to Jesus, and I love cranking it up and belting it out.


... for a beach day. This Florida girl starts to get a little restless for some sand and saltwater come February, but the weather hasn't been quite there yet. Soon.

... for cupcakes. I'm not usually a big desserts girl, but lately I have been craving cupcakes. Maybe I should just make a batch and get it over with, but I'm trying to have some self-control here.

... from the flu. It seems like Cody and I have been fighting illness since the beginning of the year and last week, it won. We both went down hard, but this week, I have finally been feeling really good for the first time in weeks. Yay health!

... from Hacksaw Ridge. Cody and I watched this movie Wednesday night, and I'm still feeling sad. War movies always depress me. But if you can handle some pretty gory war violence (I had to cover my eyes a few times), I would recommend this one. It's a true story and one worth telling.

... Psalm 34:4. We're on Verse 4 of SSMT so since February 15th, I've been working on adding "I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears" to verses 1-3 of Psalm 34 which I've got pretty well memorized at this point. (Also, I just typed that from memory and besides missing two commas: #nailedit)


... to keep my house clean. With two energetic puppies and a backyard that is turning into a giant pit of sand because dogs, the struggle is real.

... to decide if i should read The Taming of the Shrew this weekend so that I can complete two books from my list within the month of February. I only have 12 books on my list this year, but I'd like to keep the pace up because March-May always seems to be a difficult time of year for my reading life. Thoughts?

... to work the word "Zamzummims" into my regular vocabulary. I discovered this word yesterday in Deuteronomy 2:20, and I kindof love it. They were giants in the land of Canaan, and doesn't that sound like something Dr. Seuss would call them? Maybe I could use it as a Christian cuss word. Before you come looking to burn me at the stake, watch this video. Imagine stubbing your toe and shouting out "Zamzummims!" I think it could work.

... my thoughtful husband who gave me this beautiful ring for Valentines Day that says "Our Love is Forever" on the inside. He is the sweetest.

... my most recent home pedicure. You guys, I achieved smudge-free status! I waddled around my house like a penguin most of the day Wednesday to accomplish this long sought after dream, but it was worth it! My toenails look so pro. Oh you want to see a picture? Wish granted.
... these sweet dogs because even though they're a total mess, they make up for it by being the most loyal, loving, cuddly little buddies, and I would hate not having them around.

What's currently going on with you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love..."

~from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen~

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Tuesday Confession

I have the worst high school yearbook pictures in the history of the world.
I know that there are many people out there who might think this about themselves, but mine are actually the worst.
I would show you, but it's just too embarrassing.
Okay, fine: I'll show you anyway. What's the point of a Tuesday Confessional if we can't laugh about these things, right?
Oh y'all.
It pains me to look at them.
Hi Ellie Mae (Freshman Hannah) who wore overalls to school on picture day. The tweasers were not your friend freshman year, were they?
Sophomore year: I will never forgive that crock of a photographer whose actual mission was to wait to snap the photograph until he could extract the worst possible facial expression from me. I'm serious. (Mini-rant here: I sat there smiling while he said stupid things like, "Say 'I love hamburgers!' or 'I love peas!' or 'I love my boyfriend!'" And finally, in exasperation, I ground out, "I don't have a boyfriend" at which opportune moment, he finally decides to press the dang button. What a guy.)
Junior Hannah, thanks for forgetting altogether that it was picture day and wearing an oversized t-shirt and doing absolutely nothing with all that long, straight, hippie hair. But on the upside, at least your eyebrows were starting to grow back in.
And Senior Hannah, who were you mad at or contemplating murdering?? Would it have killed you to smile?

Did anyone else hate school picture day?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"'If you knew how great is a mother's love,' Wendy told them triumphantly, 'you would have no fear.'"

~from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie~
Artwork: "Sheltering Arms" by Jules Erbit

Monday, February 13, 2017

Let's Bust a Recap : Jo's Boys

Ah, sadly we have come to the end of our Little Women trilogy. To tell the truth, I kindof just want to forget my book list, and start this set over again. Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys are the absolute sweetest, most wholesome, heartwarming-est books you'll ever read, and I really appreciate how moral and innocent they are. While Little Women has long been a favorite of mine, I have only just completely read Little Men and Jo's Boys for the first time over the past year, but this little trilogy has claimed a corner of my heart, and I will most definitely be revisiting it in future. 

Jo's Boys was published in 1886 and in it, we get to peek back in on life at Plumfield one final time as Louisa May Alcott definitively ends this delightful series. Jo's Boys opens ten years after the close of Little Men, and Plumfield has grown into a thriving co-ed college where we get to catch up with and learn how our favorite boys (and girls, too!) have turned out. 

As with Little Women and Little Men, I couldn't make it through Jo's Boys without my fair share of chuckling and blubbering. My heart ached for the young men struggling through hard life lessons, and soared with the triumphs of others conquering their temptations and discovering love. Louisa May Alcott certainly had the literary genius, in my opinion. These books are a grand-slam. 

What else can I say really? I would recommend this series without reservation to any person, young or old, boy or girl, avid reader or reluctant skimmer. These books have won an uncontested place among my all-time favorites, and it is a crying shame they're not more accessible in book stores. I hunted high and low for Little Men and Jo's Boys in several major bookstores in my area and finally had to resort to ordering them online. You should definitely add them to your collection before they're entirely obsolete. 

Have you read anything by Louisa May Alcott? What books rank in your all-time favorites? Do you get emotional when you read certain favorites or are you stoic and phlegmatic at all times? 

**Today is the last day to enter the giveaway I've got going right now, so don't miss out! Winners will be announced tomorrow morning at the top of the giveaway postGood luck!**

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you to be yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never be quite the same boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness."

~from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie~

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Years Blogging : Two Books You Can Win

Update: The winner of The Three Musketeers is Lyndsey! And the winner of Tess of the d'Urbervilles is Christina! Congrats, ladies! I'll get your books to you as soon as possible. 

It's almost impossible to believe, but here at Read the Best Books First we're still going strong after two whole years. As it turns out, blogging is pretty fun, and I think I'll keep it. And since we've hit another significant milestone, I think it's high time for another giveaway. Stay tuned through the end of this post for how to enter. 

But first, some facts about ye ol' blog from the past couple of years:

- This is my 266th post.

- As of 8:00 last night, we are up to 22,474 pageviews since the blog began. On my first blogiversary, I had accumulated 9,692 pageviews. So if you do the math, that means in this second year of blogging, my blog was viewed 12,782 times. Yay for growth!

- My top referring sites were facebook (by a large margin), google, carrotsformichaelmas.com, and faithbaptistwh.org

- This blog is still being seen all over the world (which is awesome), and the five top countries viewing my blog are the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, in that order.

- I currently have 18 subscribers. If you would like to subscribe to my blog meaning you'll receive any posts I write in your e-mail, all you have to do is enter your e-mail address in that little box over to your right. (If you're viewing on your phone, you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "View Web Version".)

- 1,638 comments have been published since the beginning of the blog. Keep in mind that that number includes my own responses to your comments, but that's still pretty great. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my posts!

My five most popular posts in my second year of blogging were:

- Keep Moving with 531 views. This post also became the most viewed post of all time passing up my first giveaway post.

- The Teachable Moment with 251 views.

- Casual Fridays (June 17) with 213 views.

Y'all, that is awesome. Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and sending me more book recommendations than I know what to do with. You're the best! Feel free to shoot me an e-mail or leave me a comment at any time letting me know what you'd like to see more of...or less of. I'd love to hear your suggestions, and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. I've been working on Cody for some guest posts so maybe Year 3 will be the year. If any of you would be interested in writing a guest post about something you've read, I'd love to hear from you and see if we can make that happen. I've also decided to dispense with the birthday posts from now on. Please don't hold it against me. But anyway, let's get on to what you're most interested in: the giveaway, right?
In honor of two years of blogging, I'm giving away two books from my 2017 book list! So I guess this is actually two giveaways. The books I've chosen to give away are The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I have not read either of these books yet, but they're both classics and I have it on pretty good authority that they're both excellent. They're both used paperback copies--nothing special as far as aesthetics go--but they're complete and unabridged editions so no worries about getting some edited, hacked up mess.

Prize Description

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas : The Three Musketeers tells the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman, D'Artagnan, and his three friends from the regiment of the King's Musketeers--Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honor of the regiment against the guards of Cardinal Richelieu and the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of 17th-century France are vividly played in the background. But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal's spy, Milady, one of literature's most memorable female villains, and Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping and dramatic conclusion.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy : When Tess Durbeyville is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her "cousin" Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, subtitled "A Pure Woman", is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels.

Giveaway Guidelines

1. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years old or older.

2. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with the name of the book you'd like to win. You are welcome to enter both giveaways by leaving a comment with both titles or that simply says "Both." If you're having difficulty leaving a comment, please reference this post, and if you're still having trouble, feel free to send me a message using the "Contact Me" form to your right (once again, if you're viewing this on your phone, you'll need to scroll down to the bottom and click "View web version") or by e-mailing me at hannah.hancock87@gmail.com, and I'll be happy to enter you.

3. For additional entries in the giveaway, you may share this post on any social media site including facebook, twitter, google+, instagram, your personal blog, etc., but for the share to count as an entry into the giveaway, you will need to leave an additional comment on this post stating where you shared it. 

4. The chance to enter this giveaway will be open for one week. Comments left after midnight February 13, 2017 will not be eligible for the giveaway.

5. Two winners will be selected through two random drawings and announced as an update at the top of this post Tuesday, February 14, 2017. The winners will have one week to contact me to claim their respective prizes or a different winner(s) will be chosen.

Once again, thank you for reading my blog. 
I hope you stick around for Year 3 and good luck with the giveaways!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Casual Fridays

It's been a minute since we attempted a Top 10 list around here, and today I'm going to try my hand at one that has almost limitless possibilities. There are hundreds, even thousands, of beautiful hymns of the faith, and the following list contains my absolute favorites. Worshiping God through song is not only a natural response to the mercy He's shown us (Psalm 89:1, Psalm 104:33), it's an obedient response as well (Psalm 105:2, Colossians 3:16). This list was surprisingly easy to compile given the myriad options available. Without further ado, Hannah's Top 10 Favorite Hymns of the Faith.

1. I'd Rather Have Jesus (1922: Text by Rhea F. Miller, Music by George Beverly Shea)

2. Jesus Paid It All (1865: Text by Elvina M. Hall, Music by John T. Grape)

3. I Need Thee Every Hour (1872: Text by Annie S. Hawks, Music by Robert Lowry)

4. Come, Thou Fount (1757: Text by Robert Robinson, Music by John Wyeth)

5. What a Friend We Have in Jesus (1855: Text by Joseph M. Scriven, Music by Charles Crozat  Converse)

6. I'll Fly Away (1929: Text & Music by Albert E. Brumley)

7. 'Tis So Sweet (1882: Text by Louisa M.R. Stead, Music by William J. Kirkpatrick)

8. The Old Rugged Cross (1912: Text & Music by George Bennard)

9. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (1680/1863: Text by Joachim Neander/Catherine Winkworth, old folk melody)

10. Victory in Jesus (1939: Text & Music by Eugene Bartlett)

What are some of your favorite hymns?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for 
Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end."

~from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie~