Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Head's Up.

I wanted to pop in an write a quick post to say that it will probably be quiet on here for the rest of the month. Not only am I slammed with grading (lots of essays last week and I'm collecting more this week), but I also started 2 classes so I can renew my certificate. The classes are only 4 weeks long, but I'm going 3 nights during the week for 4 hours each session, and an 8-hour session every Saturday. It's not the best, but I'll get all the hours I need to renew. Needless to say, my "free" time will be limited and blogging will have to take a back-seat (not that I've read much recently). I'm sure I'll still pop in, but it will definitely be quiet. :)

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Classics Club March Meme.

Every month, The Classics Club hosts a monthly meme with a question for members to respond to. This month, the question is:

"What is your favorite “classic” literary period and why?"

 I'm going to cheat and narrow it down to 2 periods.

The first period is the Victorian Era. I used to hate the Victorians because of a bad experience with Great Expectations in high school, but I have since matured in my reading tastes and have come to realize that I love this era! So many of my favorites are here-Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, the Brontes...and the list goes on. No matter what kind of mood I'm in, a Victorian novel will usually fit the bill.

Beyond the Victorian era, my other favorite era is that of American realism. Writers like Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, and Theodore Drieser come to mind. I love how these writers capture the American spirit in their own diverse ways! I'm also a fan of how these writers also influenced some of my other favorites (realism blends into a few other American periods) like Henry James and John Steinbeck.

However, I should really be honest and admit that I really love all periods. It's hard to distinguish writers between movements at times, since they blend together and writers tend to experiment with style. So if you're looking to dive in, start anywhere. :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I'm a complete disaster.”

I fell in love with Eleanor and Park when I read it last summer, so I've been eager to read more by Rowell (I just realized I never reviewed E and P...I might need to do so!).

Fangirl is the perfect book for anyone who has been obsessed with a certain franchise of books (Harry Potter definitely came to mind when I read this). Cather is obsessed with a series about a character named Simon Snow, and with her sister, Wren, has built a huge fanbase online writing fanfiction. Now that she is older and in college, awaiting the release of the eighth and final book, the pressure is on to finish her own novel for her own adoring fans.

The only problem is that she's starting her freshman year of college, dealing with a difficult roommate, her roommate's odd boyfriend, trying to understand why her sister is pulling away, avoiding reconnecting her her estranged mother, and worrying about her father who now all alone at home and definitely empty-nesting. 

In one word, I would classify this book as adorable. Because while there are certainly enough negative things going on in Cather's life, the story is heart-warming. Cather undergoes a big transformation from the beginning of the novel to the end. She enters college unsure and scared-afraid to even venture into the cafeteria for fear of being alone or not knowing what to do. Eventually, she finds her place among all the craziness around her and we see real growth in who she is and what she wants.

 “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)”

Some of what I enjoyed most about this book were Cather's little quirks-many of which I have myself. I've also felt a bit of fear about going into a new situation and not knowing what to do. Her fear of being alone and uncertain in the cafeteria is a fear I've felt many times-going to conferences, etc. She is also a bit of a recluse, choosing to stay in and write or read than go to a party. She's also a person who cares for people who ask her for help. First, the boy from her fiction writing class. Then, her roommate's odd duck of a boyfriend.

I was also fascinated by Cather's writing and her devotion to her craft-and props to Rowell for using fanfiction in such a positive light! While I've never written fanfiction (I know I couldn't do justice to someone else's characters), my younger sister did for quite some time. There are so many big communities out there, and for many, it's a great way to extend the life of a well-loved series. In Cather's case, it was also a way for her to play with her words, and push her to trying something else.

However, the thing that I most loved about this was Cather's love interest. Can I say a huge thank you to Rowell for showing a male love interest who is actually a really good guy? Who doesn't do creepy/stalkerish things that are "romantic?" THANK YOU.

In all, this was a sweet book that left me with lots of warm fuzzies and a desire to read more by Rowell in the future.

"Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind (Books I Bought But Haven't Read!)

It's Tuesday and today's Top Ten Tuesday is one of my favorites-Rewind! This topic is for participants to go back and redo a topic that we may have missed, or that we want to do again!

After scouring the list of old topics, I decided to do an oldie based on the books I had to go out and buy....but haven't managed to read yet.

I don't know if you're like me, but I tend to buy books in big batches. And, generally speaking, I don't read through that batch before going out and buying more (as evidenced by my huge TBR list).

For this, you'll see a mix of new releases and classics-all of which I was determined to read when I bought my copy, but have since found their place on my bookshelves.

  1. A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: I'm pretty sure I bought this the week it came out. And I haven't read it. I also bought The Cuckoo's Calling. Haven't read that one either. Whoops.
  2. Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno: I bought this the week it came out, which was perfect since I was teaching The Catcher in the Rye at the time. And...still on the shelf.
  3. Wither, Fever, and Sever by Lauren DeStefano: I bought each of these close to their release and still haven't even read the first one. The covers for these are lovely, which is probably why they came home with me!
  4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: I've heard wonderful things about this one (dragons!), but still haven't found the right moment to start reading it. I might wait until the series is finished...
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: This was one of those hot books that everyone was reading, and since it sounded interesting, I bought a copy too. I even lent it to a few people, but I still haven't given it a chance!
  6. The Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1: I bought this right after its release (notice a trend) and I had the best intentions of settling in and reading it. Since purchasing, volume 2 has come out and this volume is collecting a bit of dust.
  7. The American  by Henry James: After finishing The Portrait of a Lady a couple of years ago, I bought a slew of James novels in hopes of tackling more by him. This was the title I was most excited for....still haven't read it.
  8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This is another one of those titles that was everywhere and it sounds really interesting....just haven't give it a chance yet. Like Gone Girl, it's another title I've lent out a few times!
  9. Beloved by Toni Morrison: Back when I made my 250 list, I was really excited to read my first Morrison novels, and Beloved was at the top of that list. And while I've read Morrison, I haven't touched this one yet.
  10. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin: Technically I've started this one, but this is another that I was anxious to read, but haven't found the time or urge to do so!
 What books did you really want to read, but haven't found the time to pull them off your shelves?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up for February 23, 2014: Done with Winter.

I love the winter. I really do. I love the snow and the cold and the layers of clothing I get to wear. As a teacher, I love the occasional snow day and the excitement of the kids the day before a big snowstorm. I love cuddling up under warm blankets with a cup of hot cocoa and bowls of hot soup.

But I'm done now.

This has been, by far, the worst winter I can remember. From below freezing temperatures, to massive piles of snow, the last two months have been a blur of never-ending snow, cold, and freezing rain. And while I'm not at all ready for the heat and summer months to get here, I'd be okay with slightly warmer temps (it did get up to 40 earlier this week. I actually drove home with my windows cracked to enjoy the "nice" weather).

I'm also quite sick of the snow days. We had Friday off....for "hazardous road conditions." That was our 7th snow day since January. I was actually mad when I got the call at 5 in the morning! Now it's up in the air as to whether we need to make up the day. We get 6 snow days built into our calendar year, so now we might have to stay later in June. And I know our district isn't that bad off-some schools have had 10 or more days!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a change in the weather, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon (more snow this week....yay). I think the kids are looking forward to it too!

The good news is that Spring Break is looming and I'll be heading out to California with Matt and my parents to visit my sister Torrie. She graduated from college back in December and got another internship with Disney (she interned down in Florida a couple years ago). We'll be there for the week (Matt a little less because of work), so we're planning on hitting up the Hollywood area as well. It's dreams of warm California weather that are keeping me going. :)

In reading, I haven't been too focused. I'm still in the middle of a bunch of things, but I have plans to at least start The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata this week. The Classics Club issued a dare to read the novel, so I'm going to tackle it so I can dare others. :) It looks interesting and my copy arrived last week, so it'll be next up. I'm also trying to finish 7 Events that Made America America by Larry Schweikart, but it's going rather slowly....it has a very obvious conservative slant that gets distracting...I'll admit that I've skimmed a few passages. The ideas behind the book are interesting; however, so I'm not ready to declare it as DNF.

I also started the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire a couple weeks ago, and I've been meaning to finish it, so I assume that'll be next up. I ready to dive back in to Westeros after a month or so away from it. I think spacing out those books was a great idea, but now I need to make sure I finish through book 3 by the time the show premieres again in April.

I hope you all have a happy reading week!