July 25, 2017

Dear July

Dear July,
You are a month of memories. Your evening air is warm and glows from the light of hundreds of fireflies and stars. Your sunny days are pure bliss; and your stormy ones so powerful they flood and reform the earth.

Black raspberries and no words. | Central Indiana Life Photographer

You, July, are a month of bounty. Cherries, peaches, and plums abound from local markets, and the secret location of a giant patch of black raspberries is revealed, even if one has to climb fences and get mosquito bites to reach them.

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July, you are a month of farmers markets, of bike rides to the library. You allow stacks of books to be consecutively read on the back porch with a glass of ice tea. You allow Pride and Prejudice to be watched in 2 sittings alone. You encourage spontaneous outings with friends, whether they play tennis, go shopping, see fireworks, drink coffee, visit art museums, or wade in the Great Lakes in dresses, it doesn't matter. The point is, it happens, and the experiences get filed in selfies, journals, and nostalgic areas of the human mind.
So thank you, July. For everything. It's been a great summer.

July 1, 2017

You Might be a Perod Drama Fan...

You might be a period drama fan if.....

Sparking a debate on which Pride and Prejudice is better is a welcome challenge.

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The '95ers discussing the '05 version...

Your DVD shelf looks like this....

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And your bookshelf looks like this...

If you have spent considerable time comparing yourself to Downton Abbey characters,

Daisy and Sybil.

If you've taken a quiz to find out which Downton Abbey character you are...
    You might be a period drama fan.

Madame Bovary (2014), played by Mia Wasikowska, directed by Sophie Barthes, (TO SEE)

You might be a period drama fan if....

You start thinking (maybe even talking!) in a British accent after four hours of TV.

Emily Blunt | The Young Victoria

You regularly check PBS and BBC for show updates.

You can't believe how long it takes for shows to air on American TV when those lucky Brits have had them for months!

Amy - Little Women
And reading the Brit's gushing reviews on them makes the waiting even worse...

If you run to make tea when your show comes on,

And you drink it with the characters on the screen...

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet sipping tea in Pride and Prejudice 1995

         You might be a period drama fan.

June 16, 2017

And We're Back!

Well, that wasn't too long, now was it? I bought a new computer (the keyboard flips and everything!) "for college" , but it's also to hang out with my friends and followers. It feels good to be back, and with somewhat decent amounts of time to write posts and browse Pinterest. :) Plus a bunch of blogging friends have left us for the month or longer (seriously, I think there were at least three "goodbye" posts last week!) so I'm here to fill in the gap in your reading list. ;)

Getting down to business, A Girl With Ideas has tagged me with a Four Fictional Characters Tag, which I shall use as an excuse to gush over some wonderful literary icons.

The Rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. List four fictional characters (use pictures if you want! They can be from movies or books) and, if you like, describe what they're like and why you believe they relate to you
3. Tag a few other blog people! Three, or four, or even twenty. :) Share the fun!
Be sure to let them know you've tagged them!

1. Horatio Hornblower

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Guys I think you know why I like him...but besides outward appearance he's incredibly noble and brave. He fights for his own honor as well as the honor of his friends and country. 

2. Jo March


Jo's got spunk. She's got character. She's got problems but she solves them with her unique wit and personality. Her energy is something special and her goals are like my goals.

3. Felicity Merriman

Illustration de Dan Andreasen

Speaking of spunk, Felicity Merriman has got her fair share of it! Felicity is a character who has stuck with me since I was about seven years old. I've read her books countless times, and though the doll and movie are all great, it's the stories and the way I imagine her that's the best part.

4. Henry Tilney...no wait....

Northanger Abbey- I really like Catherine Morland's powder-blue, navy-inspired overcoat.

I simply cannot decide between this pair. I <3 Mr. Tilney because he is so funny and kind and gentlemanly. And I love Catherine because she is sweet and I see a lot of myself in her. I guess I'll count them as a package deal. ;)
Now what about the Bennet sisters, you might ask? Surely I cannot snub Elizabeth or Jane or (gasp) Mr. Darcy from a spot in the top four? Well I'll tell you why they're not on here...I dunno! Perhaps I'm just not in the mood, or it's a Northanger Abbey phase (though it's been going steady for over a year now...). Pride and Prejudice will always hold a part of my heart, but right now I'm enjoying some less "classic" of the classics. I'll come to my senses someday, I'm sure. ;)

I tag anyone who would like to share their favorite fictional characters! :P You can use the comments section too! 
<3, Abby

June 8, 2017

This Computer Stinks.

Hey, happy summer everyone! And happy freedom! (To me that is, as I am officially graduated from high school.) This is just a quick, sad post to tell you that since I turned my school laptop in, I am using an ancient computer that takes about 2 minutes to scroll down a page. Getting a cursor to turn from an arrow to a little clicky thing on a link takes about 1 minute. So I hope you understand that I simply can't roll out posts like I used to (sigh!), at least until I get a new computer for college. And I know, I know: first I wasn't posting much because of school, and now I'm not posting much because of ancient technology. But hopefully it won't be long until I am free to type and search and find pretty pins to make posts for you all again! Besides, you don't really want to spend your June cooped up reading my blog posts, do you? Go out there, enjoy the world! :) Just come back when I can post more, ok? ;)
Yours truly,

All The Photos Worth Seeing From Pippa Middleton's Wedding:
Here, have a picture from Pippa's wedding. AKA cutest wedding ever, esp. with Princess Charlotte! You're Welcome. :)

May 13, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Review

I don't know if this is true across the globe, but those new theater seats sure are comfy! You know the ones I'm talking about, the big leather recliners that are all plush and somehow aren't sticky with soda and popcorn? Yeah, those are cool!
Anyway, I got to sit in one of those when I saw Beauty and the Beast in a theater in March. It was on an especially large screen, and my family got there fashionably late so we only saw about 5 minutes of ads instead of the usual 20. So there were two pluses right off the bat!

But the movie itself was great too. True to the previous film (except for the giant elephant in the room, we'll touch on that later), beautiful costuming, and amazing technology. The feeling of fairytale France really came through, especially in the village scenes.

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Despite above appearances, this is NOT a remake of The Sound of Music. But based on this picture, you could've fooled me!
I think we all know the basic storyline, but allow me to refresh your memory: The Beast (aka Dan Stevens aka Mathew Crawley) was once a very vain prince who threw ostentatious parties where people put on cringe-worthy amounts of makeup on. At one of these balls, a woman comes in from a storm and asks for some shelter. The prince scoffs at her and throws her out, at which time the tech crew of the movie gleefully show off their first trick: she turns into a beautiful enchantress, who turns him into a beast, cursing him to stay that way until he finds true love. Everybody from the ballroom runs away, proving that he has no true friends. The servants turn into furniture, and the castle fades from memory (part of the spell).

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Meanwhile, Belle is getting tired of village life, and wishes there was more to read. The song she sings in the village is quite the number, and it's one of my favorite scenes. It's not even sung incredibly well, but the amount of things to look at is astounding!

And then there's Gaston. Readers, I must admit that I really almost liked Gaston in the beginning, almost rooting for him. I mean, at the start he's just a confident guy, more interested in being outside and hunting than academia. And he gives her flowers! As confident as he is, I really think he likes Belle in this movie, whereas in the cartoon it seemed more prevalent that he wanted Belle as another "trophy".

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See?? He gives her really nice flowers too! And the Lydia Bennet in me likes his hunting frock, ok?

Belle will not have him, however. Gaston's confidence is somewhat shaken, but not for long. While he forms Plan B, Belle's father takes a business trip which does not end well. At all. After losing his way and being attacked by terrifying wolves, he manages to stumble upon the long-forgotten castle of the Beast, where the Beast finds and imprisons him for trespassing and stealing (a rose). Phillipe, the faithful horse, gallops back to town to find Belle. Together they go back to the castle, where Belle, seeing her father in failing health in a cold dungeon, freely changes places with him. 

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Things can only look up, and they do. It's a long and beautifully detailed story so I won't describe it all to you, but with a lot of help from the furniture, Belle and the Beast slooowly fall in love. Belle does try to escape at first, but the Beast saves her life from the wolves, and Belle nurses him back to health (he got really beaten up from the awful creatures). This is the first point in the movie where Mathew Crawley starts poking through for me. It's kind of hard to see it, seeing as he is a beast and they lowered his voice artificially, but certain mannerisms and inflections start coming through. The Beast is behaving more like a gentleman! 

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Of course, things have been going too well for too long in the story, so it's time to bring trouble back into it. Belle's father comes into the village tavern where everyone is celebrating Gaston's greatness, and begs them to help free Belle from a beast in a castle. Everyone laughs at him, but Gaston decides to help him, thinking he'll get to marry Belle in return for his aid. But the journey to the castle is long and dangerous, and after getting a firm "no" on marrying Belle, Gaston patience is at an end. He ties Belle's father to a tree and drives off. I no longer like Gaston, you see. 

Meanwhile, Belle and the Beast have their iconic dance in the ballroom. (Belle's dress is rather underwhelming if you ask me, but whatever.) The Beast then allows Belle to see the room with the enchanted rose and mirror. The mirror can take them any place in the world, so together they travel to Belle's birthplace, where the audience discovers the sad truth of her mother's fate. Belle then uses the mirror to find her father. When she discovers what happened to him, the Beast, in love, allows her to find him. And that, my friends, is where our heartstrings pull.

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Belle rushes into town and shows the villagers that the Beast is real through the mirror. They don't react the way Belle thought, however. Instead of releasing Maurice, they lock both Belle and him up, and form a hunting party to kill the Beast. Led by (you guessed it) Gaston.
What follows is the climax of the film; Belle and her father escapes, the furniture defends the castle from the villagers, and Gaston seeks out the Beast, who is too sad over losing Belle to care. But then Belle comes back just in time, the Beast wins, and Gaston loses. Big time.

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Now that it is evident that Belle and the Beast love each other, the spell is broken! Right? Not right. Or at least, not right away. By the time the Beast dies, the last petal has fallen on the rose. One by one the enchanted furniture becomes totally lifeless. And it's super sad, because the servants are now presumably dead. Even the beautiful furniture they inhabited is left out in the rain.
But the enchantress has mysteriously appeared, and once she sees that Belle loves the Beast, she reverses the spell, and all is well. Then the castle becomes beautiful again, and all of the enchanted furniture becomes human. This is probably my favorite special effects part of the movie; it's so cool to see the castle be transformed!  I can't find any good pictures of the castle, but here's something else you'll like:
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The last scene is the beautiful wedding dance:
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So there you have it! I definitely think this movie is worth watching, despite what you've probably heard about LeFou being gay. Yeah, it's squirm-worthy at times, and it's not always terribly subtle. But I like to think of it this way: have we seen movies where two straight people have had sex outside of marriage? I have: Downton Abbey and Northanger Abbey are two examples. In fact, I can't think of a single movie where sin hasn't been involved. That would simply be unrealstic! However, does this mean that I watch these movies for the sin, or to see adultery? Absolutely not! So while we may not agree with the values peppered into this film, I believe that we can still see it in good conscience.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast animated or live action? What do you think?
What do you think about the messages in this movie? Is there a reason you're not going to see it? (Don't worry I won't yell at you if you don't like what I said!)

April 21, 2017

Tag Time

6 more weeks of school.
                       6 more weeks of school.
                                                  6 more weeks of school.
This is by far the most prominent thought on my mind right now, and will be for the next..oh..6 weeks? ;)
Anyway, ready for another tag everyone? I've been tagged by Hamlette. It's all about books and reading, and therefore quite fun to fill out! :)

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I've had a lot of books cycle in and out of my shelves over the years, so it's hard to say which is the oldest one. One that has consistently been on the shelf though, is "A is for Abigail" which is nice, 'cause that's my name! :)

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"Abigail" as in "Abigail Adams, who I really like.

I got this book for my 6th birthday. I love it because it has great illustrations and lots of interesting history. It's also pro-women without being whiny or anti-men.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you'll read next?
I picked up a children's book called "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt" from a little free library. It was about a slave girl who learned to sew, and made a quilt that was actually a map for slaves to escape. It was well-written and illustrated, and had a happy ending, so I can't ask for more! :)

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Right now I'm reading "The Penderwicks in Spring" and "The Heirloom Murders". "The Penderwicks in Spring" is more of a kid's novel, but I remember enjoying the first books in the series and couldn't resist seeing how it ended. But honestly it's making me feel kind of sad, because the first book focused on the two oldest sisters (of four) and now they're grown up to be the same age as me and this new book focuses on the youngest, who was four in the first book and now is eleven. It makes me feel all old and grown up, and I miss reading about the older sisters! 
"The Heirloom Murders" is also part of a series, involving a woman who works in historic preservation (like I want to!), and ends up getting involved in murders at living history museums. Think Nancy Drew plus my life plans, and you've got a great series! :) 

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What will I read next? Well, I just bought a book called "The Victoria Letters", so probably that. Unless I get distracted by something else. (I will get distracted by something else.)

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
Given that they're "classic" literature,  I'd say that these books are well-liked (though not many people in my school liked them!): "The Things They Carried", "Of Mice and Men", and "A Streetcar Named Desire". No thank you!

4. What book do you keep on telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
I am still young and naiive enough to believe that I will read every book I want to, so there's no easy answer to this question. :P I'm guessing there will be some classic work of literature that I'll never get to read (books in heaven though?). 

5. What book are you saving for retirement?
I've never thought about this before! Probably a lot of historical biographies and other non-fiction that I'm too "carpe diem" to bother with now. 

6. Last page: read it first, or wait 'til the end?
Wait 'til the end, although I am often a hypocrite on this point. :P Especially if I'm partway through and really love a character and care about their future...as in the last page. 

7. Ackknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
Interesting aside, when the author or story is interesting. I tend to read it last, though.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Catherine Morland of "Northanger Abbey"

Austen Heroines: Felicity Jones, Catherine Morland - Northanger Abbey directed by Jon Jones (TV, 2007) #janeausten:

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?) 
The series I'm reading right now (ie The Heirloom Murders) have a lot of situations that are really relatable and familiar to my work as a historic interpreter. It's so crazy and fun to see specific situations that I've been through pop up in a book! 

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This is the first one I read, and it takes place at Laura Ingall's houses!
10. Name a book that you have acquired in an interesting way.
I won a giveaway on Heather Vogel Frederick's website, who wrote some of my favorite books. I got a signed copy of "Absolutely Truly", which was great! I also got two lovely books from the Jane Austen blog celebration this year. 

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11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
No, I don't recall doing that. Now I feel like a selfish book-hoarder. :/

12. Which book has been with you most places?
Pretty much all my books stay at home with me...I suppose I have taken some to work, but rarely beyond that.

13. Any "required reading" that you hated in high school that wasn't so bad later?
I'm still in high school, so there's nothing I've read here that I've changed my opinion on. I will say that though I've certainly never hated reading the Bible, I've come to enjoy it a lot more in the last year or so, and I get a lot more out of it than before.

14. Used or brand new?
Definitely....both. :P The real question is which smell better: new or used? To which the answer is still a definite "both"!

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
*looks up Dan Brown* Nope!

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
Yeah, probably Little Women. It's a great book, but an even greater movie. Or at least, the story is amplified through the film, and the book is improved when I read it with the film's images in mind.

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17. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks included?
"Pancakes, Pancakes!" by Eric Carle. I haven't read that book since I was like 5, but mmm I still remember wanting pancakes after I read it!

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18. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?
My mom's. :)

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g. out of your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
My normal genres are classic literature and historical fiction, so the thought of reading a book on political theory wasn't on the top of my list. But after I read "The Road to Serfdom", my views on history, government, humanity...pretty much everything either changed or were validated. It's a pretty short book (more like a pamphlet, really), so I highly suggest reading it!

Now the rules say that I have to tag at least four people. Well perhaps I'm a terrible blogger, but let me put it this way: I'm pretty sure more than four people will read this post so...anyone who hasn't been tagged, you're it! If you want to be it, that is. ;) 

April 8, 2017

My Return From Life and a Tag

Hey there! It's been a while, hasn't it? *checks post history* Ok, so more than a while. I guess I've got some explaining to do:

What the authoress has been up to:

. Playing violin in four performances of "On the Town".
. Getting the flu for a week, and missing most of school.
. Fighting an uphill battle with senioritis, made worse by said missed school.
. Getting 4 wisdom teeth pulled out on the first day of spring break
. Having little inspiration/energy to blog, yet watching quite a few movies, such as:

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Florence Foster Jenkins. I have mixed feelings on this one. 
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Beauty and the Beast. Don't approve of everything in there, but still an amazing movie!

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Ever After: so lovely!

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Cinderella: I needed to see this again, and loved it!
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A Little Chaos. Do not be deceived by the picture, I actually didn't like this movie!
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War and Peace: 8 hours in 2 days. This one did something to me, for sure. 
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The Pianist. A Holocaust movie that will change the way you think about the world. 

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Bridge of Spies
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The Bronte Sisters

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The Young Victoria, which I had to see after watching Victoria. ;) 
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Amazing Grace. LOVE this movie!

Now I know you're probably thinking I'm a lazy bum/couch potato who doesn't do homework or even blogging! But I should point out that a. I was an invalid for 2 weeks with my flu and wisdom teeth, and b. now I have a lot of reviews to blog about! ;)

Next time, I'll try to post a literary tag that Hamlette kindly shared with me. Until then, toodle-oo!

Which of these movies have you seen?
Which movie do you especially want a review of?
Have you had your wisdom teeth out?
Are you suffering from senioritis? 

March 14, 2017

A Letter to Pi

Dear π,
While millions compare you to a delicious round of pastry, while so many dedicate a day to you alone, and while crowds idolize you to the point of attempting to memorize your endless swirl of obscure numbers, you ought to know that you are not as special as you suppose to be. So you're an irrational number, so what? So you work with circles, so what? There are hundreds, no thousands (at least!) of other values that are just as important as you, yet you demand an entire day, nay, betimes an entire math unite to you "awe-inspiring" qualities! Well, listen up, π! Your days are numbered! We other numbers demand our share of value and attention! Beware: step down or we will send 7 (who, as you know, ate 9) to you!
√, ∞, etc.

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March 2, 2017

A Prayer in Spring

Last week there were kids in shorts at school. We got to have some of our classes outside. I took a walk outside and saw tulip sprouts and snowdrops in bloom. And that was February.

My life in the woods:

Now that it is March, we have nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and school got out early because of the slippery roads.
Anyway, as life is quite hectic as of now, (my school's musical opens tonight!) I must leave you with a poem. I promise it's a lovely one! :)

A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost

Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today,
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest, keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year.


Oh give us pleasure in the orchard white
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts at night,
And make us happy in the happy bees
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

All Things Shabby and Beautiful:

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

This is a Robin Red Breast. They frequent my garden to enjoy the apple's I put down. They have very good manners with all the other birds.:

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill. 

February 18, 2017

The Jane Austen Handbook: a Review

First of all, greetings from a very cheerful writer! It is unseasonably warm where I live right now: all of the snow is melting and it feels like spring, which I love. We usually don't get much spring around here; just a cold, slowly dying winter that goes straight to summer. After weeks of clouds, the sun is shining, and there's something about sunlight/sudden warm weather that makes one's house smell...like one's house. I'm not sure if it's the particular kind of dust in here or what, but the smell of "home" is strong today. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Anyone at all?

Williamsburg Virginia by Olahs Photography:
My guess is that we'll get a foot of snow after this week and we'll be cold through Easter. :( But my blog is changing to spring for March, no matter the weather!
I know this is the 4th post this week, and with everyone posting so much this time of year, it can seem like there's an information overload! But I am just too excited to share with you The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan. This review is inspired by Hamlette's I Love Austen Week (which if you haven't heard about yet, you have some catching up to do!).

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I got this book for my 15th birthday, and I doubt that even the perils of weeding through/condensing my books for college will convince me to part with it. It is split into four sections that cover status, inheritance, everyday activities, romance, and social gatherings. There is quite a bit of regency history in this book, but it is presented in such a charming way, one has no idea how much one is learning until the end! 

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The writing is witty, and emulates Jane Austen's style without exactly copying her. The titles to each 1-5 page section are often funny, like "How to Marry Off Your Daughter" or "How to Elope to Scotland". There are plenty of references to Jane Austen's books throughout the piece, both obvious and sly. It was fun to catch all the references and match them to the right book.

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This is from a section titled "How to Attend a Ball"

There are dozens of cute pictures and diagrams throughout the book, adding to its plentiful charm. Overall, this is a great book for anyone interested in a light read, laughs, and learning all in one!