Top Ten Tuesday | Let’s Travel Back in Time (aka Top Shelf Reads for Historical Aficionados)

Choosing a topic that’s not exactly my forte is unusual for me. But on the other hand, I looked at it as a chance to gain some insight, recommendations and chat up a genre that I am, by and large, lacking in. Before going into more detail about this, let’s have a look at what today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is all about.

Broke and Bookish November 1st

Top Ten Books To Read If Your Book Club Likes _______________
- Broke and Bookish

I haven’t ever been a part of an official book club, but I am a part of an awards programs (the INSPYs), which to me, is very much like a book club. We get to talk about all the books, which is the best task ever. So today I chose to focus on Historical Fiction because I’m seriously lacking when it comes to reading this genre. It takes a lot for me to love historical fiction, and the “why” of this puzzles me. I adore period dramas and history in general, but for some reason with fiction, I’m super picky.

Below I’ve collected ten books that had no challenge drawing me into their story which are each brimming with their own brand of awesome. There’s no shortage romance on this list (because when it comes to my fiction, I’m a romantic at heart), but what my list is short on are YA novels. When all is said and done, I’d love to know what YA fiction picks you love best in the historical genre!

1. The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof | If you like Water Like Elephants or Kristy Cambron’s The Ringmaster’s Wife, then this beautiful novel is recommended for you. The story has shades of an authentic fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast) and the writing is on point. Amazon | Goodreads

FILM REVIEW | Water for Elephants (2011)

2. Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown | Those of us who like BBC mysteries like The Lady Vanishes or Grantchester, this fun WWI young adult novel is sure to be your cup of tea. Amazon | Goodreads

FILM REVIEW | The Lady Vanishes (2013)

3. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron | If you like Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and theLionheart or any historical fiction based on fact, this is one for you. The atmosphere, writing and setting are wonderful. Amazon | Goodreads

4. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden | Ioan Gruffudd once starred in the miniseries Horatio Hornblower. Though different, this seafaring adventure is a must read for fans of the A&E series. Plus, its hero, Bane? Yeah, he still one of my most loved men of literature. Amazon | Goodreads

5. The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz | If you like period dramas set in the same era as Belle or The Patriot (although this story is drastically different), don’t miss this book. It’s expertly written and the romance off the charts beautiful. Amazon | Goodreads

6. An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund | Fans of Princess of Thieves or fairytales with feisty female protagonists will adore this charming YA novel. Amazon | Goodreads

7. No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig | Brooklyn fans must read this novel. It’s been a long time since I read it, but everything I remember of it was compliment after compliment. Amazon | Goodreads

8. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan | If you like the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson canon or Murdoch’s Mysteries reading Rachel’s series is, without question, a must. Trust me. Amazon | Goodreads

9. Through Waters Deep by Susan Sundin | Any WWII buff a-la the stylings of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or The Rocketeer will discover a gem inside these pages – one with plenty of swoony romance. Amazon | Goodreads

10. Heiress by Susan May Warren | If you were an avid fan (*raises hand*) of Downton Abbey, you’ll adore Susan’s complicated, glitzy and romantic familial series. Amazon | Goodreads


That’s a wrap on today’s Top Ten Tuesday. Tell me, what did you use for your list today? Or which historical reads do YOU recommend (my young adult historical fiction experience is really lacking!), let me know down below what you recommend. I look forward to chatting with you all.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland. 

Fangirl Confessions | My Disdain for All Things Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies. And That One Time A Zombie Left Me Starry-Eyed.

Over ten years ago, a cultural phenomenon swept our pop culture. This little wonder was a novel called Twilight. At its debut, I was probably within the age of its target audience, but instead of being pulled into its tidal wave, I gave it a bookish brush off. My reaction was probably something like that of a Violet Crawley-ism. In other words, I probably stuck my nose in the air and kept my attentions affixed on all things Jane Austen.

Then something strange happened. A little film called Warm Bodies caught my attention circa 2013.

If I hadn’t known a zombie acted as its hero, I viewed its trailer as a sweet romantic-comedy that spoke to my romantic fangirl heart language. Alas, it did feature a zombie, and so, I probably (in poor taste) brushed it off. But fortunately for me, the little gem kept pestering me through the attraction of friends’ blogging about it, and even email conversations I was party to.

FILM REVIEW | Warm Bodies (2013)

The supernatural phenomenon that celebrates these undead creatures baffles me. What is the attraction to an immortal, pale-faced guy (vampire) who proves a danger to anyone? Then there are the flesh-eaters (zombies) that don’t hesitate to feed their hunger. So the appeal is what? Sometimes the best stories come in quiet pictures of salvation. This is what I discovered with Warm Bodies. I didn’t want to be curious or actively invested in a story about the undead just the same I had to face facts: I was – and maybe, just maybe, the experience woldn't be so bad.

As a point of introduction, in Warm Bodies, we’re introduced to R, a zombie. Like any of the undead, he is a creature of his cursed circumstances. He does what comes natural, and feeds off the human brain in order to survive lest he evolve to the point of no return. But at least he has the decency to feel bad about this. Whether or not R knows it, he’s fighting against doing what he naturally cannot help. Then he meets Julie. Julie is the daughter of the rebel leader, the last of the human race who are fighting to survive the zombie apocalypse. This human contact changes R, and he’s going to protect Julie; he’s not going to let anyone hurt her.

Minimally, if you watch this quirky dramedy, you’re likely to be left smiling. At its best, Warm Bodies is a warm-hearted romance that doesn’t implement safety nets to tell its story. It isolates its characters, presents us with a murderous hero, and a whip-smart narration that not only entices laughter, but tugs at our heartstrings. Paying homage to the Romeo & Juliet tragedy may have been the outlying intention yet underneath it all, the threads holding it together there beats a heart of gold.

Striping away the speculative angles and imagery, within these frames is a story of hope. R was dead, without feelings or the capability to show compassion or love. Until he locks eyes with Julie. In that moment, time stands still. She stirs something foreign in his cold body. Unknowingly she inpires in him a desire to protect. That sprig of hope is just the beginning; that connection slowly begins to redeem him, to pump life and a beating heart back into his cold soul. Contrary to what this may suggest, there is nothing ordinary about this story. Love isn’t just one dimensional in this film – it takes many forms.

ROMANTIC MOMENT | Col. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet

Warm Bodies looks beyond the typical human behavior; it’s pure. Julie’s love for R is unconditional. She puts no limits on its price. Like the story, R isn’t just a paper cut-out character; the character is both protagonist and antagonist. His nature is to destroy, to rob the gift of life. Then Julie walks into his life, his saving grace.What’s more compelling about this story isn’t found in the pseudo happy ever after kiss. R’s reawakening comes in the unintentional persuasion of Julie. By her accepting R as he is (not who he was or could be), he was given a second chance.

Warm Bodies challenges our view of the superficial. It’s a twist on the Beauty and the Beast fable in some ways. In others, it’s completely, uniquely its own DNA. From this sweet and complicated relationship, we learn something precious. Julie and R colored “outside the lines” of their burgeoning relationship. At the end of the day, life could use a little more kindness. R and Julie are a perfect example of what that looks like.🖤

*Note: I wrote an article on Warm Bodies for a 2013 issue of Femnista. It wasn’t very good. Here’s hoping this attempt and the resulting article is a great improvement. While portions of that article are kept intact with what you just read, 97% of this is completely new.

** More recently I also read and then watched the film adaptation known as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This brings us back, full circle to my opening. In this Austen spoof, we are regaled with the classic Pride and Prejudice story only in this version we meet Col. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet. Both of whom can kick some serious zombie butt. 

Photos: Summit

Month in Review | October 2016 Of Books, Bookstagram and Period Dramas

Say what!? Another month in 2016 is “in the books.” I’m beginning to think there is some sort of sieve that draws the past 10 months into some kind of “time oblivion.” Or maybe it’s a portal. Who knows. I have no answers, but do know thing: November first is knocking on our door.

Another month’s close means another “month in review” here on Finding Wonderland. Let’s take a look.

« Favorites from October 2016 »

1. BookstagramChallenge | Our first #WishfulWonder Instagram challenge is nearly at its end. And it was a fun success! Shout out and thanks to everyone who joined in with Tressa and I. Our November challenge begins - when else!? *grin* - November 1st! Read all the details in our introductory post.

2. Booktube | My Booktube endevors continued this past month with new "What Readers are Saying" videos, more Top Ten Tuesday fun, and today? Today, I share my October Book Haul video. In which I ramble on (and on) about the books I read and/or added to my bookshelf. 

3. Dancing with the Stars | Still enjoying this, my "guilty pleasure" reality TV. Let's go, Laurie, James and Calvin! 

4. The Legend of Tarzan | Finally saw this, and since I gushed enough about it in exhibit A and exhibit B, I'll just say this: It will probably be one of my favorites of 2016!

« Favorite Blog Posts »
(Blog posts that, while not necessarily the most popular, were fun to write)

1. Conviction - Hayley Atewell's Second Chance | The pilot of this show was strong. Here's hoping it continues. 

2. Jericho - ITV's Lush and Romantic Western Period Drama | LOVE(lovelove) this now-cancelled ITV drama. It's pure magic in a more realistic kind of way. 

3. No Tomorrow - CW's Charming and Zany Romantic Comedy | I DID enjoy this... or to be more specific, the pilot I enjoyed. Sadly, I felt a "disconnect" in the second episode. Plus, some of the humor is "off." Still, I enjoyed writing about this one!

4. Seasons of Blogging | On Why I don't Discuss Politics - I enjoyed (or perhaps that's not quite the right word!?) discussing why I don't discuss things like politics on Finding Wonderland. For me, it was an interseting thing to think about and make discoveries even I did realize as I put words to paper. 

5. Unblemished by Sara Ella - A Mark that Signifies Power. A Girl Caught in the Middle | An excellent urban fantasy and fairytale (lots of Beauty and the Beast) debut by booktube-r Sara Ella! Go read it. 

« Monthly Popular Posts »
(October 2016)

« Popular Posts the Week of October 23rd-30th »

« Books Read | October 2016 » 


* If you want the technical talk of the "books read" this month, I haven't quite finish 
*positive thinking*    

« Around the Interwebs »

Silver Petticoat | The fun of contributing to the fabulous Silver Petticoat website continued in October. For me, it was a wonderful month. I wrote some articles that I really enjoyed putting together plus loving the topic helped. Here’s what I contributed to the archives.

Articles and Lists | I absolutely LOVED putting together a list of 20 Period Dramas Perfect for All Hollow's Eve. Even NOT being a Halloween fan, I still enjoyed looking up Gothic period dramas, and even discovering one or two new titles to interest me. (This "job" is tough, but someone's gotta' do it, right!? *smile*) 

I previewed Hallmark Channel's Fall Harvest. Then, straight from fall to winter, went into the Christmas movies! Since there are over 20 new premieres as part of Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas campaign, I put together a "part 1" list of the upcoming new originals

One of my best surprise movies of this month (which I discuss earlier on this page) was The Legend of Tarzan. Naturally I turned that love into an article with a Romantic Moment of the Week between Jane and John.

Film and TV Reviews | Jericho was my big "discovery" of the month, sadly ITV has since cancelled it; After years of it being on DVD, and praised by friends like Amber (of Seasons of Humilty), one of my recent watches was Kate and Leopold; Finally saw and reviewed The Legend of Tarzan; The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is an Australian mystery that, in my opinion, is really quite good.

The one novel I reviewed was Kiera Cass' The Siren

TV Recaps | None this month. (The plan is to recap a period drama come January.)

As always, thanks to the editors of Silver Petticoat and my fellow contributors! Working with you all is always fun.
That’s a wrap on the month here at #FindingWonderlandBlog. What was your bookish, blogging or life like this past month? Did you discover any new (and amazing) authors or reads? How about new bloggers? Or must-try new finds? Comment down below with your thoughts! As always, I’d love to chat with you.

Wishing you a splendid rest of this autumn season.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland.

Previewing Hallmark Channel’s 2016 Countdown to Christmas

A few days ago, I shared some perfect period dramas to enjoy for the Halloween weekend. Today I’m switching gears and diving into the tinsel. Impossible though it seems, our favorite Christmas festivities are just around the corner. It won’t be long before we can indulge in favored holiday pastimes without feeling guilty. For me, one of those activities is blaring Christmas music at unreasonable decibels. Something I don’t allow myself until Thanksgiving weekend. Another of these festive joys is the annual Countdown to Christmas campaign Hallmark Channel launches.

The list features familiar Hallmark faces and romantic-comedies, Christmas cheer and even a time-travelling romance. 

Previewing Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, Part 1
Listed by Premiere Dates

1. A Wish for Christmas | Premieres on Hallmark Channel October 29, 2016

Starring Lacey Chabert (of Mean Girls fame), the story follows Sara, a woman normally content to sit on the sidelines until her marketing idea is stolen.

2. Mistletoe Promise | Premieres on Hallmark Channel November 5, 2016

Based on the novel by Richard Paul Evans about two people who share a mutual disdain for the Christmas holiday. The film features Jaime King from Hart of Dixie and one of my favorite leading men, Luke MacFarlane (The Memory Book). 

Which of these are you most anticipating? Comment down below with your favorites. I’d love to know which of these you’ve already marked as “must watch” on your calendars. And before I sign off, keep an eye out for the second part of this list. It will arrive here at the end of November and will preview December’s originals.

Photos: Hallmark

This article first appeared on Silver Petticoat.

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) – Unabashedly Romantic and Beautiful Period Drama Adventure

When the promotional material (trailer and poster) first appeared for this film, I was not (at all) interested in seeing The Legend of Tarzan. Sure I assumed I eventually would because, after all, it is a period drama, but there was nothing about the idea of this film that appealed to me. Perhaps my mind was too firmly affixed on the cheesy animated film or more likely, I "worried" over the balance between Tarzan's lives (that as a wild man and gentleman). 

A snippet of my official review and link to read it in full is down below. My conclusions might surprise you. 

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) Review 

If there is one thing the Box Office likes more than sequels, it’s a retelling. Re-imagining a legend or fable seems one of Hollywood’s greatest hobbies. This 2016 film follows in these footsteps by looking past a pure origin story to introduce us to their version of the legend that is Tarzan. Continue Reading on Silver Petticoat →

He is no normal man. He was thought to be an evil spirit, a ghost in the trees. They speak of his power over the animals in the jungle. No man ever started with less.

Is this a film that left you with so-so first impressions? Did you see it, like it or detest it? Comment down below with your thoughts. I'd love to chat with you about The Legend of Tarzan.

Content Note: There is one scene of sensuality (close up shots of lovers) and some violent deaths (usually out of camera frame). There is an instance of crude humor. The film is rated PG-13.

Photos: WB

This review first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review.

Romantic Movie Scene Feature | John and Jane Clayton from 'The Legend of Tarzan'

THE FILM: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
THE PAIRING: John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) and Jane (Porter) Clayton (Margot Robbie)
THE MOMENT: The Reunion

This past week, I took advantage of the DVD release of The Legend of Tarzan, and bought a copy. As I hit the play button on my remote, I anticipated good things, but a sliver of doubt lingered. How would the script spin its wild hero, Tarzan? Would his wildness be a strength or barrier to character development? It was with this trepidation that I settled in to discover what was to come of this re-imagining.

Fortunately, this turned out to be one of the most memorable films I’ve seen in 2016! To be fair, I’ll confess part of its appeal is the beautiful romance. The Legend of Tarzan tells the story of Tarzan, who meets and falls in love with Jane Clayton, an American raised in the jungle where her father taught English. Read this Article in its entirety on Silver Petticoat Review →

In the meantime, enjoy this look at the romantic moment between John and Jane!

The Love Story of John and Jane Clayton (Spoilers)

The Romantic Moment

If you've seen this romantic period drama, let me know what you thought. Of it as an entire production, this moment or anything. Comment down below with all those feels, good or bad!

Photos: WB

This article first appeared on Silver Petticoat Review.

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon - A Satisfying Conclusion to the McGregor Brother's Saga

About the Book:
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell Books
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Goodreads | Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Men of Valor, book 3
Genre: Fiction; Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5

Recuperating from a traumatic event is all Dana wants out of her off-the-grid haven. An editor by trade, her refuge – a cabin left to her by her grandfather, is soon the target of vandalism. Furthermore, her life is disrupted by the arrival of Finn McGregor; a seasoned Army Ranger recovering from scars (both physical and emotional) of his own. Though she didn’t plan for it, before long Finn becomes the person she relies most on. Similarly, Dana in Finn’s life becomes the person who helps him open up and heal. But with two such different paths before them, their separate lives and the danger that lurks, what does fate have in store for them?

Every book I read by Irene impresses. This one is no different. The final in her Men of Valor series, which chronicles the lives of three brothers, Tangled Webs tells Finn McGregor's tale, the youngest. Though I don’t think I’ve read the first book (Buried Secrets) of the series, this book continues with the jovial, good-natured teasing between the brothers. The close-knit relationship Hannon establishes between the siblings is what threads each of the stories together which otherwise operate as singular mysteries.

This one is less about twisty fears because it's a mystery that reveals itself to us, the reader, early on. It then shifts the case as an “outside” view as we expereience Finn and Dana puzzle over it. In that way, there’s very little suspense building throughout the 300+ pages. Regardless, this is no way hampers the writing or storytelling. In fact, depending on the kind of reader you are, this may be a plus considering this allows for greater development with the characters. Their lives and romantic relationship doesn’t feel as if it takes a backseat to the mystery, which I appreciated. So many mysteries focus on the danger over the believability of a strong romantic connection.   

What mystery is incorporated is enough. It will suit our desire for something to puzzle out while doubling as a great study in character. With every mystery her name graces, Hannon writes about new challenges and new characters sure to intrigue. If you like books with this impressive balance of two genres, check this one out. If you’re a fan of authors like Lynette Eason or Dani Petrrey, don’t miss Tangled Webs. It’s going to be an ideal for your next weekend read.

Synopsis: After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own.

Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not. 

Bestselling author Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Irene Hannon: Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has zero time for romance--but the handsome ex-con she enlists to help her with a wayward teen may convince her to make time for love. - Goodreads, April 2017

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

Review text is © Copyright 2011-2016 Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon),

Spooky, Gothic and Romantic Costume Dramas for All Hallow’s Eve | 20 Dramas to Enjoy!

Halloween isn’t a holiday I personally pay any attention to nor has it been one I’ve celebrated. That said, one way I acknowledge the day is by indulging in Gothic or spooky period dramas. This is a pastime I am familiar with and very fond of.

Below I’ve listed 20 of them for your reading pleasure in one neat little collection. See this List in its Entirety on Silver Petticoat Review →

20 Period Dramas Perfect for All Hallow’s Eve
Listed in Alphabetical Order

1. And Then There Were None (2015)

Photo: BBC

Stream And Then There Were None on Acorn TV.

3. Crimson Peak

Photo: Legendary

Rent Crimson Peak Amazon Video.

4. Death Comes to Pemberley

Photo: BBC

Rent Death Comes to Pemberley on Amazon Video.

TV SERIES REVIEW | Death Comes to Pemberley

5. Dracula Untold

Photo: Universal Pictures

Rent Dracula Untold on Amazon Video.

7. The Illusionist

Photo: 20th Century Fox 

Buy The Illusionist on DVD.

10. The Lady Vanishes

Photo: BBC

Buy The Lady Vanishes on Amazon Video.

11. The Making of a Lady

Photo: ITV

Rent The Making of a Lady on Amazon Video.

14. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab*

Photo: Burberry Productions / ABC

FILM REVIEW | The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2012) - A Gothic Romance Set in Australia!

Purchase The Mystery of a Hansom Cab on DVD.

16. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Photo: Sony Pictures

17. Red Riding Hood

Photo: Warner Bros.

FILM REVIEW | Red Riding Hood

20. Van Helsing**

Photo: Universal

Rent Van Helsing on Amazon Video.

What spooky, Gothic, dramatic or romantic films do you enjoy watching over All Hallow's Eve?? I'd love to read your recommendations! Comment down below with your thoughts.

*Review coming later this week!
**UPDATE: Since its original publication, I've watched this film, and am conflicted. It's a "fun" sci-fi film that's mostly humorous but it quickly dips into a dark "darkness" (does this make sense!?) that doesn't fit the tone. Someday I might review it. Or I might not. Thoughts!?

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