Joan of Arc, The Maid of Orléans (Women’s History Month Post #3)

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For my third entry for Cupcakes & Machetes’ Women’s History Month Blog Event I’ve decided to go with none other than Joan of Arc. (Be sure, if you haven’t already, to check out C&M’s posts here and here to see all the amazing posts about women people have been posting for the month!)

Joan of Arc is a woman who became many things despite her life ultimately being cut so short. She was born a French peasant, but would go on to become a military leader and a hero to her people. Sadly, she also ended up becoming a martyr. Eventually she would be deemed a saint and go down in history, her name and her legend living on for centuries.

Joan outlined military strategies for the French army against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, and directed troops in several victories, including breaking the siege the English had been holding over the city of Orléans for months. She became a hero to her country, and helped lead Charles VII of France to the crown.

Reputation has always been something of importance, and it was Joan’s very reputation in 1429, upon her victory at Orléans, that inspired what is known as the Bloodless March. This historic military campaign was one that stretched through English occupied territory from Gien to the Reims Cathedral (where Joan would witness the coronation of Charles VII). Along the way, Joan captured every English occupied city and fortress that barred the road, and she did it all without shedding a single drop of blood and relying only on her reputation.

Although she ultimately met a tragic end, being burned at the stake for multiple charges including witchcraft, heresy, and wearing men’s clothing, her strength and courage still lives on and inspires others to this day.

JOAN OF ARC QUOTES:

“I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”

“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.

“The poor folk gladly came to me, for I did them no unkindness, but helped them as much as I could.”

 

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Harriet Tubman (Women’s History Month Post #2)

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For my second Women’s History Month illustration, I chose to draw the ever-inspiring Harriet Tubman. I’ll be continuing to post drawings I’ve done of women who have helped shape history throughout the month as part of Cupcake & Machetes’ Women’s History Month Blog Event. (Be sure to check out her post to learn all about it and maybe even join in on the fun if you haven’t already!) 😉

If you’re familiar with U.S. History, you’ve no doubt heard this heroic woman’s name. If you haven’t, or even if you just want to possibly learn more about her, let me fill you in a little on Harriet Tubman and her amazing legacy.

Harriet Tubman cemented her place in American history by fighting back against slavery and freeing not only herself, but many other enslaved people through her work with the Underground Railroad. Her awesomeness does not stop there, though. She even became an armed scout, recruiter, and Union spy during the American Civil War. She became the first woman in United States history to lead a military expedition. And she managed to do all of this after being born into slavery in 1822, in a time when not only her race, but also her gender, were things that would be exploited and used against her.

She was a leading abolitionist, and devoted her entire life to fighting for the freedom of others. Her work was far from done upon the end of the Civil War. She then proceeded to put all she had into helping former slaves, as well as the elderly. Seriously, is it even possible for this woman to get any more inspiring? ❤

HARRIET TUBMAN QUOTES:

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t cay; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”

The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls (No-Spoiler) Review

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This was such an interesting story, and it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time. It had been hard to find (and pretty pricey!) but with the recent (and much more reasonably priced) addition of The Asylum to the kindle, there was no way I could resist snatching that baby up! Emilie Autumn has never shied away from discussing topics like mental illness and the history of abuse women have suffered throughout history in her songs and poems, and her book The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls sure as hell doesn’t shy away from it, either.

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“Fight Like A Girl”

It’s hard to categorize this book into any one genre since it is written in a way that reflects the author’s actual time spent in a psych ward, but also tells the fictional and horrific (but sometimes darkly magical) tale of a fictional girl named Emily living in a Victorian era asylum. In the book, our author Emilie learns the tale of the Victorian Emily “with a Y” through mysterious letters she finds during her stay in the psych ward. I guess “Historical Magic Realism with a dash of Nonfiction thrown in for good measure” would be my best attempt at categorizing it? No matter, though, it’s just a really interesting story that discusses things most people choose to ignore concerning mental illness and the Victorian “polite society” so many people are quick to romanticize.

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If you’re already a fan of Emilie Autumn’s music, I’m sure you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect within the pages of this story. She’s got a dark and witty sense of humor, and she can weave words in a way that will both enchant you and disturb you. This story definitely reflects that. It has moments that will warm your heart and others that will rip it right out of you again.

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I really enjoyed this book and by the time I reached the second half of it I pretty much devoured the remainder of the story in one sitting, refusing to pry myself away until I’d finished. I would definitely recommend it, but will warn readers that it does discuss dark subject matter concerning suicide, rape, the horrific treatment people were subjected to in asylums like lobotomies and forced-hysterectomies, all manners of abuse, etc. It definitely takes some artistic liberties, but that’s part of Miss Autumn’s storytelling I’ve always enjoyed, so I embraced the fantasy-like elements along with the more gritty and realistic ones. Definitely glad I finally got to read this one. 🙂

And just for fun, here’s a lyric video of one of Emilie Autumn’s songs that serves as a satire about the treatment of women back in the Victorian era when it came to mental illness (please keep in mind that women could be institutionalized for all manner of things including masturbation, domestic troubles with their husband or family, and other ridiculous reasons back then.) A lot of things in this song might sound far-fetched by today’s standards, but treating those in asylums like zoo animals for the public to behold was a very real and messed up thing back in those days. History definitely isn’t always pleasant, but it is something we can (and should) learn from so we can better treat our fellow man and learn from our past ignorance.

Writing Inspiration: Laini Taylor Style

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Sound writing advice from the pink-haired badass author that is none other than Laini Taylor.

Definitely gonna try to keep these words in mind as I continue my 30 day writing binge. So far I’m off to a good start. I hoped to achieve 3,336 words by the end of day two and I did it! I even went for extra credit points with an additional 143 words! 😛

 

The Nightingale- No Spoiler Book Review

As Book lovers, many of us are well acquainted with those nights when we know we should get to bed, but we just can’t put down the book we’re reading until we’ve finished it. This was me last night while reading the last quarter of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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I don’t even know how to do this book justice in a review, but I’m going to try my best just the same. This novel is a great example of what historical fiction as a genre can accomplish. It takes what we know of history but gives us as readers the ability to step into the shoes of the characters who are living through the events that happened before many of us were even born. It shows us parts of day to day life that we might otherwise not consider while reading about the overall big picture presented in our history books.

The Nightingale follows the lives of two very different sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they must to survive in France during WWII. Vianne is the older of the two, a wife whose husband is being held prisoner in a Nazi war camp, but also a mother who wants more than anything to keep her daughter as safe as she can while struggling just to keep them fed. Isabelle is the young and impulsive sister with a rebel’s spirit, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. In German occupied France, these are dangerous times. Throughout the story the two sisters are forced to make choices time and time again that could be the difference between life and death, not only for themselves, but for those around them.

Several times while reading this I thought back to people I’ve met and cared for who were there in the thick of things during WWII. In previous jobs I’ve had I have taken care of people from different walks of life, born in different countries, but who all had lived during the same war. Soldiers, civilians, holocaust survivors. I’ve seen firsthand the numbers that were forcibly tattooed onto a person’s arm in their youth that they had to carry with them into their old age long after the war was over. I’ve seen how something seemingly as simple as helping someone to undress and take a shower even decades later can trigger a horrible flashback that mentally takes them right back to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. As I read The Nightingale I couldn’t help but be reminded of these people I once knew. I was moved to tears several times as I read this book.

There is a quote from the book that I think is very relevant now, much as it would have been back then. “What good is safety if she has to grow up in a world where people disappear without a trace because they pray to a different God?” Wars like WWII don’t happen overnight, and I think this book illustrates that very point. Hate, ignorance, and intolerance are all ugly things that can only build in momentum if we let them. This happened then, and one can’t help but feel it happening now. It makes another, older quote come to mind: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is a disturbing thing to consider, but we as people have to learn from the mistakes of the past if there is ever to be any hope of us moving forward. As another quote from the book explains, “love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale shines a light on the ugliest parts of humanity as well as the beauty and compassion we are capable of if only we choose to do the right thing and be there for one another. It shows that love comes in many forms, not all of them perfect or easy.  This book gets a solid 5/5 stars from me.

Happy 125th Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

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An entire century (and a quarter of another) have now passed since the birth of this fantastic man, and his works are still spreading the love of fantasy to new readers, and inspiring writers, each and every year.

In his 81 years on this planet he accomplished a lot, and left an impact that still thrives even in his absence. Widely considered to be the “father” of modern fantasy literature, he left behind one hell of a legacy. So, Happy Birthday, Mr. Tolkien. You may not have surpassed the Old Took in age like Bilbo did, but your works continue to live on and bring joy to countless readers, so in that way, you truly are immortal.

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