Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As my year ends, I do have one last piece I read. I finished Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. I wish I could discuss the amazing insights on human nature and the American Dream set forth here by Miller, especially since this is such a famous American play..., but I can't. In the end, main character, and father Willy, was just too obnoxious in his desperation for me to handle. I got the fact that his son Biff was disillusioned with his father's imperfections, failures, and expectations, but don't all children (to some degree) come the the conclusion that their parents are fallable and even failures at times? I'm glad I've read the play to get it under my literary belt (so to say), but I can't see myself teaching this play. I think I'm off to read one of the two others I purchases so that I can see if there's something out there I feel more connected to and passionate about, otherwise teaching it will be all for naught!
In closing, I wanted to give a high two thumbs up for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I was sad to see that one of my favs, Meg Cabot, hated it and felt that Brad Pitt's character failed to learn anything through his experiences. Although I can see why she felt that way after watching this old child continually move backwards and grow younger as he got older and not stick out his own life experiences, I appreciated his insights and what it taught me about embracing life (regardless of age). I thought the movie was beautiful, and I have to say that I thought it's concept was unique and thought-provoking. Sorry Meg...I love you in every way, but I have to say that I really liked this film!
Anyway, for all who are now in 2009, let me give my best, Mahalo, and Happy New Year!
Monday, December 29, 2008
With the craziness of the wind and weather, we've spent more time inside than you might think. Having said that, I finally finished Melissa De La Cruz's third book in the Blue Blood series, Revelations. I wanted to say how much I liked it, but found that I was dragging myself through it like a chore. So sad! The first two books had at least caught my attention, but this one left me feeling like no matter what I guessed about who was a "Silver Blood" or a bad guy was just beyond the point. The story would twist around and change, no matter what I guessed or thought. You would think that would make a good story, but for me it just felt a little distracting.
Since this is the third book in the series, I don't want to say much, but can say that it follow Schuyler Van Allen and her turmoil as she learns how to become the vampire that she was born to be. Unlike other "vampire" books I've read, this one really talks more about the community of vampires than just Schuyler, but you definitely follow her to see how she deals with the challenges she encounters. This is not a humorous book in any way, and takes a pretty serious bent throughout, but is still on the YA/Adult border. I'm pretty bored with them at this point, but will probably read the 4th book just to see how it works out.
Well, off to finish reading Death of a Salesman. I know, can you believe I've never actually "read" the silly thing?!? I actually realized about a month ago that I'm pretty uneducated when it comes to plays. That bothered me, so I did a bunch of research one day at work about plays that my AP students might want to know, and then went to Barnes and Nobles and bought three plays I've never read. I love teaching plays, so I'm excited to add to my limited knowledge of plays (other than Tennessee Williams, who I fell in love with at BYU). Anyway, I'm off to do some reading! Finally...I'm getting into a little reading. Sigh...
Saturday, December 27, 2008
What should have been an easy little trip home turned into a really quite scary drive. I tried to stay in the outside lane, but realized that with the slope and the way the water was pooling, that the lane tended to be under water in places. Once we got off in Wahiawa, I just gripped the steering wheel and prayed we could get through this one last traffic spot. You have to drive through the middle of the town before going down a slope, over a bridge, and up on your way towards the Dole Plantation. SCARY. I knew "down" was not cool, but knew the bridge would allow the water to run over the bridge into the gulley below. Thankfully, I was right, and we made it all right. It was darker than death, and our GPS quit working, but we made it along the north shore in relative safety. By the time we hit Turtle Bay, it was only mom and I and a couple of other cars riding my tail (just like in a blizzard, following someone else is way easier than leading the way and braving the wet road!). By the time we turned off on Temple Drive, I finally sighed and let the muscles in my neck relax a bit. Talk about a headache from that drive!!!
I have to say how much I love the people here in Laie. Our neighbors up and down the road were outside visiting, children out lighting fireworks, etc. Mom and I just hauled our stuff in our cave-like apartment, found flashlights, and got the emergency radio on. It wasn't long after being home that we heard that it was going to be over 12 hours to get electricity back!!! Sigh. We sat in the living room for a little while, listening to the reports and callers until a little after 10 pm. Oh, and let me say that some man from Akron, Ohio called in and griped about how Hawaii Electric needed to take a lesson from the mainland in getting electricity up a little faster. ***Oh no he didn't!*** The broadcaster hung up, then proceeded to get really pissed (his words) and tried to explain over the radio how when you fly here, you cross thousands of mile of OCEAN between here and California that prevent hooking in to anyone else when the power goes out. Hello, if the President elect didn't have power, then how would these people expect anyone else to? DUH!
Okay, well mom and I hit the bed early. I actually took a sleeping pill, but still woke up because of the rain pounding outside at around 2am (I'm still nervous mom's place will flood again), turned on the radio, and still got the gist of the fact that we were all still down. By morning the broadcasters were announcing power back up where President Obama and his family are, and in other places down by the power plants, but most of the island would still be out until past noon. We had several huge rainstorms throughout the day, and mom and I had to go for a walk after awhile because the apartment was so hot and muggy, and it was just too dark! Thankfully, the lights came on 20 HOURS after they went out, at about 2:30 pm. Sigh. The last time this happened here was some earthquake of '06. The last tsunami was back in the 40s, and the last hurricane (mild) back in the 90s? Hmm...mom's been through a flood last week, and now this blackout the day after Christmas. Please say we or she's not due for anything else! :)
Regardless of it all, I love Hawaii. With all good and beautiful things, you do seem to have to take the opposite to balance it out. The people here are like family, and while I about went out of my mind (yes, this technology junkie suffered), I'm thankful that it was only an inconvenience and not something really dangerous! Mahalo!
Here's the news report from the Associated Press: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081227/ap_on_re_us/hawaii_power_16
Friday, December 26, 2008
Merry Christmas all. I could have posted yesterday, but because I've been so LAZY, figured I had nothing exciting to say so why do it. It's been very nice here in Hawaii, and much sunnier than I remember it being last year. It's not quite like it was over the summer, but that's fine, as you sleep better with a little "chill" (is 75 degrees a chill?) in the air. We did the PCC again, the luau and the evening show. It was really nice, and once again amazing that they can keep up the kind of professionalism that they do day in and day out. It was a nice Christmas Eve though.
So, while I've been too lazy to actually read (can you believe it), I've really only been watching tons of TV and movies in my down time. Last night we watched the cutest movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I HAD TO post something about it because I found it so enchanting. It's not necessarily a movie I'd watch over and over again, as the first go at it is spent keeping up with the characters and fast paced dialogue. Overall though, it was a charming, fun film to watch, and different enough from what I've seen come out of Hollywood, that it really just grabbed me. In a way, Miss Pettigrew is a Cinderella story for the over 40 crowd. It was really quite charming, and I give it a high two thumbs up to anyone looking for something with a different feel to it.
Well, we're off to go do a little after Christmas shopping. I have some "Hawaiian" things I want to pick up while I'm here, so we're going to go see if there are any sales today. Until I actually have something to write about...Mahalo!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Anyway...let me stop whining (impossible, I know, but I'll try). Yesterday I finished two books: Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews, and Papa Married a Mormon from our November book club choice. I'm just thankful I finished one of our book club choices so far! :)
Blue Christmas was actually a book I listened to on CD while driving to and from work. I finished the previous book to this follow up last month, also listened to in the car. Both books are about Weezie Foley's adventures as an antique dealer in Savannah. As a follow up to her previous book, she now owns her own store, she is still dating Daniel--who she hopes to marry but who is also a big scrooge because of family baggage, and she is trying to prepare for Christmas so she can bring together all the people she loves. It's a cute little story, despite the non-stop, frantic preparations she makes for Christmas, i.e. decorating her store window, decorating her house, throwing a party, buying presents for Daniel, and preparing a huge Christmas feast for her family. As with her previous book, Andrews likes to throw in a bit of mystery, so throughout this novel someone seems to keep getting in Weezie's house and stealing food, in her vehicle to sleep one night, and even in her store front to sleep in the antique bed in the display. Overall, it was a fun story to listen to, and since it's so short, it took no time at all to get through it. While not my favorite Christmas-set novel, it was still fun.
As for Papa Married a Mormon, it ended up better than it started. I guess I didn't care for hearing about the two "apostate" boys who moved out to Utah to settle among the Mormons, being ostracized for being outsiders, and all of that set up. Once the marriage happens between the Mormon girl and the "apostate" Catholic, the story picks up and I really enjoyed hearing all the anecdotes and stories the author recounts about his childhood. It struck me though how sad it was/is that people avoided his family, even though he and his brothers and sister went to Sunday School as children. While some people were open and interacted with his family, most seemed to say, without saying it, that the mom chose to marry outside her faith, therefore she was no longer "true" and in the club. I don't know, it just really struck me. It kind of made me sad, and makes me hope that I'm open and loving to all people that cross my path, regardless of background or choice. I realize this book was more of a man's memoir about his family, but it did leave me thinking about a few things. Not really a fast read, but in the end, I did like it.
Well, I need to head off and get more grading done! Two more days...
Monday, December 15, 2008
Well, to wrap up, this novel has an interesting, yet realistic feeling to it about a 30-ish girl trying to figure out what matters most to her and how to attain it. Yes, there's a boyfriend in the book that she's actually living with, but for some reason, even he felt secondary to the journey she was taking. There are plenty of cliche's along the way, but I still kind of like the thought process this novel took me on, which at least got me away from work and grading for a little while!
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to family and friends. Surprisingly, I'm not much in the Christmas spirit this year and it hasn't dawned on me to be alarmed by it. Should I be? I leave for Hawaii on Saturday, but I worry about what I find when I get there with the flash flooding they've been having and all the flood damage to mom's apartment. I guess it gives me reason, once again, to focus on those things that are most important. (Am I bad for just praying I have a bed and a TV to overuse while I'm there, to catch up on much needed R&R?!?) Well, until next time, all my best!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Well, let me just say that the author has written for Cosmo, which is not exactly ideal reading material for teens. Now I'm not a big prude, but will say that this novel had me floored (not in a positive way...) by all of the sexual references. I may not realize, completely, how rampant sexual experimentation is for my students, but I KNOW that it's not as flagrant, nor as common, as written about in this novel. The story is basically about a girl whose best friend moves away, becomes friends or is forced to hang out with a new group of girls (who she detests and find shallow), and who tells the story chronologically by month during her sophomore/junior years. It has your typical angst over boys (more about sex & drugs actually), disconnection from parents and siblings, and a snarky view of the world--feeling they are somehow the unique one in a pond full of copycat goldfish (when in reality, most teens think this is them).
Honestly, I wasn't okay with the gratuitous nature of the story--obsessed with losing one's virginity--and wondered at times if there was a point??? HOWEVER...you're left with a huge cliff hanger at the end of the novel that has forced me to put book two on hold so that I can see what happens. I have a feeling I'll be ticked at myself for spending time on this when I have so many others I need to be reading, but I at least want to know what happens!
On another note...our book club choice was in MY hands this month! :) I wanted something fun, and possibly Christmas-like, but have to admit that the choices for "Christmas" books out there left little to be desired. Having said that, I decided I'm ready to dive into my "Adult" British versions of Harry Potter, so I chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone--British, adult version--as our read of the month.
I've actually been pretty excited about reading this version ever since one of my favorite professors at K-State mentioned in a grad class that we should read the British versions for the differences in language. So, if you're a Harry Potter fan at all (hurrah, as am I!), then enjoy your dive into this magical story. (I have a feeling I'll be reading well beyond book 1 though!) Too bad these aren't available yet on my Kindle!!! :(
Also, don't forget to pick up your copy of the new Tales of the Beedle Bard by J.K. Rowling, that came out last Thursday. My copy arrived on my doorstep yesterday evening, and I'm excited to read these "children's tales" as something new.
Anyway, until then...Happy Holidays to all, and to all happy reading!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Well, at the end of the break, I'd started The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I'd read about it somewhere--can't remember where now--and picked it up at the library. At the end of Thanksgiving Break, I was watching a Book Award show on CNN and noticed that this novel won an award for young adult fiction, so thought I'd better get to reading it.
Frankie is the central, female, teenage character of the novel, who attends boarding school with multiple other teenage characters who come from wealthy families. As a prestigious boarding school, it is rife with the typical academic banter and study groups, but is the secret society element that seems to be central to the novel. Early on, Frankie begins dating a popular young man, who allows Frankie to be part of the "gang" of boys that all hang together--and each has a girlfriend more as a "rite" than anything else. Frankie quickly notices that she is constantly discounted because she is a girl, and as a teenager who is riddled with angst, she always second guesses her role with her boyfriend and his friends. Eventually, Frankie gets somewhat fed up of being a second class citizen in her relationship and begins tagging her boyfriend to his "secret" meetings and soon find herself in the middle of a secret society, armed with a secret weapon, and able to wield a little bit of power behind everyone's back.
I'm still not 100% sure if I like this novel or not. The feminist bent to the story grated on my nerves a little, and that's hard to do with me!!! I think it was the fact that it was so blatantly stated or shown, over and over again, that annoyed me. This is my question though. Did the author do that as a way of focusing her young readers in on an issue that they might not acknowledge--gender discrepancy. I'm not sure. I did cheer Frankie on through those last 100 pages, but will have to stew on this one a little longer to decide how I feel about the novel as a whole.
Off to grade and get more work done! Mahalo!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I've been spending my hours searching through Kindle accessories, books, magazines, and blogs--not to mention the hours I've spent READING from its celestial screen. Do I recommend it? What do you think? :)
Other than my new love affair with Kindle, I've also had a chance to do some "book" reading and a little movie watching. Not a lot, but enough to refuel the battery. Shopping, eating, and sleeping have filled the remaining hours, so what else could one want?!? So yes, I went to see Twilight last weekend, and I really liked it.
I've heard a lot of criticisms about it, but I don't really care--I liked it and won't apologize for it! Can I also say that I also think Robert Pattinson is a great Edward. Minus a few weird, unwashed hair moments that I've seen of him on TV, I think this Cedric Diggory Brit (how could you not like the Harry Potter/Brit tie in here?!?) is pretty hot and makes for a good choice.
While it was cheesy, so were the books, so how could you not insert that into the films? Who doesn't like cheese??? As I've learned in teaching, you can't please everyone, so oh well if this blockbuster film didn't strike a chord with all its viewers. This viewer thoroughly enjoyed the escape that it provided.
Okay, so last but not least, I read a novel that I had to end my post with because it BORED me to tears! Let me acknowledge something clearly and up front. I HATE long drawn out mysteries. There have been a few "action" sorts that I've made exceptions for (i.e. Da Vinci Code), but in general, putting clues together over pages and pages of a novel bore me to tears. Listen, I've tried, but I just don't like them...along with SciFi. Yes, I've said it out loud. I don't like certain types of books. Line me out and shoot me by first light, but I had to get that off my chest. So, after getting about 100 pages into Playing James by Sarah Mason, I wanted to shoot MYSELF by first light! I thought it would be a catchy, chick read (as recommended by Amazon's "recommendations for you"), but it veered off into some mystery that I ended up skimming for another 200 pages. I got through the book, because I'm just masochistic enough to usually have to finish a book, but have to say that my own personal dislike for mysteries (crime and medical ones in particular) made it pretty hard to muddle through.
Let me say that it's not a horrid book, but please be a mystery lover if you dive into this faux-romantic drama. If not, avoid and move on to the next in the pile--or mountainous load of undending "to-be-read" books that yawn before you as I have. Anyway, either way, enjoy whatever you're reading! Share what you're into right now if you get a chance. I'm always curious!
Much love, Happy Thanksgiving, and happy reading! Until next time.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I finally finished book two in the Blue Blood series late last night. It wasn't stellar, but does continue the story of Schuyler Van Allen, a mixed blood vampire living among the upper echelons of New York society. It picks up with Schuyler looking for help to figure out who or what is attacking and killing vampires (who are supposed to be immortal). This installment seemed to incorporate what felt like magic, which was strange in some ways, but interesting to consider. I'm not always good with suspension of belief, so I've had my moments of puzzlement. I still think the premise of a private school filled with "blue blood" vampires is pretty interesting, and while I'm more interested in what happens in the next book, it was still a good read.
Well, my mom flies in tomorrow morning. I can't wait! :) Until I can get back on here, or until I get another book read, Adios! One more week until my long Thanksgiving week off!!!
7 Days to Thanksgiving Break!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Well, I'm off today, but not really. I volunteered to go to the State Office today to help with textbook adoption. I have a little tredipation over what the day will entail, but I'm hoping it will include some free teaching SWAG! :)
Okay, I better go start getting ready. I'm crossing my fingers that I can get home at a decent hour so that I can...yes...you guessed it...GRADE. My mom flies in on Saturday morning, so I don't know how much reading or grading I'll be cramming in, but I have a major "overdue" fine on the second book in the Blue Blood series and need to get it finished!!! Wish me luck. Until then...Aloha!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Anyway, that's all for now. I haven't gotten through anything other than a stack of AP essays...so I guess I'll update later! Aloha!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Before I post, let there be a moment of silence for Bachelorette couple Deanna and Jesse... Yea, I actually got really into the show again with these guys, so I got suckered into thinking they might actually pull through. Hmm...guess I shouldn't be so optimistic (although I thought I was pretty much a pessimist as it was). I'm just a little sad. :( Make fun of me if you will, but I hoped she'd put aside her diva ways to keep this nice guy!
So, on to our book choice for this month. We're going to be reading a book by an author that Doc really loves. It's called Papa Married a Mormon by John Dennis Fitzgerald.
I guess Fitzgerald is the author of the Great Brain series, which Doc owns multiple copies of (so that her future children can enjoy), but she picked our current pick as a good overview of Fitzgerald's style. If anyone chooses to join us, let us know and post a comment if you have anything to add! Thanks, and let's hope poor Jesse (hey, that's my dad's name...so I have to feel for the guy!) finds a great, down to earth girl!
Oh, and don't forget to VOTE tomorrow! :) I stood in line last Thursday for an hour and a half to place my vote (with a book in my hands, since it's pretty hard to write all over essays when you're standing), but I did it and saved my sticker to wear on the 4th. Until then, all my best!!!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Now off to what I've either picked away at over the last week, or tore through today out of a desperate need to do what I wanted. Well, first off I have to say how completely enamored I am again with Friends!
They saved my sanity these past couple of weeks, as I have kept them running in the background as I've graded papers, and as an escape from stress at night. I love them!
Last week I finally got my hands on a new BBC set of mini-stories based on four of Shakespeare's famous plays, Shakespeare Retold. I watched the Much Ado About Nothing modernization last weekend, but didn't get a chance to watch the three others until Saturday morning (because I had to take it back to the library). Admittedly, I'm not a huge Shakespeare fan (before you freak out...I DO know he's a genius of language), and since I was in a hurry to return this to the library, I sort of fast forwarded through the remaining tales on the discs. My favorite one though was Taming of the Shrew, which starred that one girl ghost in the Harry Potter films as the Shrew. It was actually pretty good!
I also woke early (6am!) this morning, so I grabbed a nice bowl of Fiber One Cereal (YUCK), and watched BBC's adaptation of Elizabeth Glaskell's novel Wives and Daughters.
Okay, so it was good...but...I HATED THE ENDING!!! Sigh. Why watch four hours of a movie if the ending can't match the tension created in the first 99% of the film!?! Yes, it made me a bit crazy. I won't say I didn't like it, but would it kill these uptight characters to lock lips for even the minutest, most congenial kiss!!!
So, the last thing on my list then is a quick review of a book I've been TRYING to pull myself through for over six weeks (I've renewed it three times, and it's due tomorrow!), The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen.
A student had recommended it to me last school year, and I had meant to read it over the summer, but selfishly read mass amounts of my favorite MEG CABOT. :) Well, as several people can tell you, when pushed repeatedly to read a book, I sometimes get stubborn as a mule and decide I don't want to read it. Now it's all subconscious...I promise, but I just balk and feel like I'm somehow not choosing the book. This book happened to fall into the category of, "I'm forcing you to read this and will pull my student-who-wants-your-feedback card if I have to!" I've seen a million girls (yes, I exaggerate) packing around Sarah Dessen novels, and maybe it's the pastel colors and sweet titles that made me vomit slightly into my mouth, but I'd made a promise, and I was bound by my oath as an English teacher that makes too many promises to read the thing. Guess what? It was pretty good. I'm not big on the "my dad died and now I have to get over it" plots (as too close to home and make me roll my eyes at the emotional manipulation), but once I sat down today (sorry...lounged in a nice bubble bath) to finish the last half of the book that I'd been picking at for weeks, it wasn't half bad. The story is engaging, and while not surprising, it still made me care about her. She packs her nerdy, genius boyfriend off to "Brain Camp" for the summer, to work his boring job at the library. He basically dumps her, and she picks up the pieces by kind of finding herself. Yes, there are other love interests who pop up, but that's all I'll say.
While a little sweetsy at times, I had to smile and think about how much I would have loved this story if it were the 16 year old version of myself. I would have probably started packing around every pastel-colored copy of a Sarah Dessen book on the planet. They are relatively clean, have characters who value their insides over their outsides, and have connections to their families. Overall, I'm happy to say I can go back to my student and tell her I read it, and actually kind of liked it.
Well, back to grading essays! From one book-sex-love-entertainment-free time-time off starved single gal to another...Mahalo, and I'll be back baby. :)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I don't know why, but I always thought I'd love to tackle Eliot's famous novel Middlemarch. I realize that in a way Eliot's work tends to have characters that seem to be almost inhuman in their moral fortitude, which can be nice to see in fiction, but this particular story depressed me a little. Maybe I'm alone in feeling this way, but because the story was so long, and the number of characters that showed themselves to be corrupt or weak, really started to grate on my nerves. Yes, I get it...their bad behavior and weaknesses make her look like a real angel of mercy! Should I mention that I've gotten very little sleep over the past several days because I've been up grading for end of term??? Maybe I'm a bit cranky?!? Yes, I think that might be it! :) I watched the film while I have been grading, and maybe that's the problem, but I'm not sure if I'll be revisiting this particular story, nor reading it anytime soon. Well, back to finishing my literary term quizzes for my AP classes...sigh.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I just finished the novel Rumors after thinking I would just read for about 30 minutes and then get to my grading. Is there a way to insert mad screaming here? If I could find a sound effect that would start sobbing and screaming, I'd do it!!! To top it all off, I can't discuss WHY I want to sob and scream! Sigh... Yes, I finished the sequel to The Luxe, which I both liked, but felt a little confused by its YA stamp. Once again, I wouldn't necessarily say this follow-up is much of a YA novel, but seems more geared towards an adult audience that understands the nuances of social stupidity...wait, I mean "mores." (Gag...) Don't get me wrong, I obviously really liked this book and am quite angry that I have to wait for the third in the installment, but it's just that I have a stomach ache over the twist at the end and wonder what this author won't do to tell her story?
The story picks up where the first book left off, with Diana taking her sister Elizabeth's place as the main character in the story. We, once again, are privy to the inner workings of upper New York society at the turn of the century, and find that relationships and behaviors are as guarded and judged as any I can think of. Very much reminiscent of my viewing of "The Duchess" this weekend, it's all about money and social standing, and nothing about personal happiness. In the end, it seems like happiness falls to the wayside of what some deem "necessity" for someone else. Sounds familiar, and nauseating. I really did like this book though, and found it be a quick read. Now I just need to wait for book three! For now, I think I need to go watch "Jon and Kate Plus 8" or "Friends" to get me out of this little slump that I've put myself into. Real life can seem so sad sometimes, you know? Do I really think that grading papers is going to make that any better?!? :)
Above is the trailer for "The Duchess" if you're interested.
Say goodbye to my fall break. :( :( :( Do you hear my heart rending into a million little pieces?!? The break has been really nice, even though I didn't touch all the papers I needed to grade. I did get a lot of reading done, ran a lot of errands that needed taken care of, and had lots of opportunity for rest and relaxation. I don't actually even know where the first two days of the break went, but Friday night Doc came down and we went out to dinner and the world's worst facade for an Italian restaurant! Seriously...horrid. I did finish off a book that night, as Doc immersed herself in a good book in the chair nearby.
Before I dive into a book review, I have to take a second to review "The Duchess," which Doc and I went to see Saturday night. We both love a good period drama, and were both really looking forward to this one, so we battled the soccer game mania on the streets of town (we have a new professional soccer stadium across the street from the theater), to go see this film. Well...what can I say? The costumes, hair, locations, homes, etc. were all breathtaking, and of course make you wish you could slip into that time period for a day or two, just to see what it's like; however, that's where the enjoyment all came to a screeching (and I mean screeching) halt. The premise of the entire film is basically about the life of a Duchess whose only purpose in life was to produce a male heir, regardless of the state of her marriage to the Duke, or should I say regardless of his relationship with every other maid or maiden on the planet? Gag! At this point in my life, and to all those who know my backstory, any culture that forces marriage on two people is pure CRAP. Once again, this film reiterated in my mind the pure evil nature of looking at marriage as some sort of business transaction, leaving its two bartered goods feeling empty and unable to find joy in anything except what they find outside their own home. I ramble. Anyway, it was depressing...to say the least. Doc and I left the theater convinced that marriage is impossible, and that love and happiness are even more of a fairytale than we had previously thought. Sigh...let's hope the next "period drama" I watch doesn't leave me quite so depressed!
Having said that...let me segway into a book review that I debated whether I'd admit to or not...as yes, it was a trashy romance! Okay, but here's the back story. So I follow a bunch of author and Jane Austen blogs. On one of the Austenite blogs they've been discussing how horrid all the fiction is that's been created about Pride and Prejudice. In my mind, it's a fine line, as one of my favorites Bridget Jones' Diary would not exist had it not lifted the plot from Austen. Well, one of the sites posted a brand new "romance" novel titled Seducing Mr. Darcy.
I happened to be heading to the library that night, so as I walked through to get my books on hold, I noticed that it was sitting on the "New Releases" shelf and picked it up. It sat here at my house for quite awhile until I picked it up on Friday, and finished it that same day. Yes, it's "trashy" and filled with innuendo (and not so innuendo), but I found myself laughing out loud and unable to put it down until I'd finished it later that night. The basic plot is that Flip, the main character, finds herself thinking she's dreamed herself a liason with Mr. Darcy, only to find that her "dream" has completely changed the plotline in the original novel. She then must solicit help from the resident scholar on loan from Cornell, British hottie and Austen know it all. As with any "bodice ripper," she and Mr. Knightley (yes, that's the scholar's name...and yes, it's a throwback to Mr. Knightley from Emma) have an undeniable chemistry. So, together they must try to right the storyline from the novel.
Overall, I thought the plot of the story was pretty funny, and a great approach to take towards the novel. Attempting to touch on such an iconic novel as Pride and Prejudice is pretty nervy, so I have to give Cready some credit at having done so without really putting the characters into the original too much.
Whew...what a mouthful for a blog entry! I'm actually hoping to finish Ana Godbersen's second novel Rumors today (the follow up to The Luxe) before I dive back into school to the point of insanity. Also, I'm about 50 pages into Dracula. If you're reading, tell me what you're thinking about it so far? I kind of like the writing style of Stoker and mentioned to the others that I like seeing good sentence construction. I know I'm crazy, but I think all those student essays have left me hungry for good writing and structure. Anyway, if you're reading, let me/us know!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
So I finished another teen novel. I know, when will I get back to the hard-hitting stuff that will help turn my brain into a savvy PhD candidate?!? P-A-L-ease! I'm enjoying myself for now. :) Actually, I noticed that several of my library books were coming due and wouldn't allow me to renew, so I thought I'd better tear through them. Well, the first was the novel I could have read in one sitting had I not had all those stupid essays to grade! Sunday night I started reading Melissa de la Cruz's novel Blue Bloods, which is another teen vampire novel. At first it had me a little lost as it bounced from character to character, but before I knew it, I was completely hooked and couldn't put it down. Once again, I have to say that this is yet another teen novel that I'm a little surprised is so gritty at times, but won't lie when I say I really liked the story and writing overall. In fact, I jumped onto the library site and reserved the next book in the series!
In this particular vampire series, we find that a bunch of priviledged rich kids from NYC are all part of a coven of vampires that have been around since the beginning of time. The novel starts with these diary clips from the early American settlers, and you soon figure out that they are clips from these same vampires. Come to find out, they continue to be reborn over and over again, but retain their memories from lives before. The bad things is that they don't blossom into their vampirism until they are in their teens, and must be introduced to who they are, and their blood-lust impulses. Having said that, you get really attached to some of these vampires and learn that there is a danger to them which keeps you reading to find out more. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it's a pretty quick read, and a good one for this time of year. :)
Well, it's after midnight, and while I'd love to say I want to stay up and kick it awhile...I really don't. My bed and a good book will be putting me sleep in about ten minutes from now, so until later...best reading!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
So, Lucky is about a bunch of really rich, snobby girls, and Phoebe's family goes through "financial trouble" (but still manage to live in a mansion with a maid/nanny, but can't afford a $445 dress...hmm). It pretty much circles around this story of angst that Phoebe has over her family's trouble, her relationship with a psychotic girlfriend who's a complete biddy (in my opinion), and her anxiety over some boy she liked since 6th grade. WHY did I read this? This is one case where it's solely meant for a non-brain-functioning preteen, and not a full grown adult who merely wanders in and out of teen fiction to keep up with what her students are reading. I'm not saying it's awful, in fact, I think Vail probably did a pretty genius job of depicting 14 year olds, but as for me...I want to now scream and go pull out my copy of War and Peace so that I can get my sluggish brain cells up and running again!
By the way, it's supposed to snow like a maniac today and tomorrow, but the sun is pouring through my bedroom window. Loser forecasters! I was going to use the snow as a reason to hunker down and read, but now I feel obligated and must go put on my exercise clothes and head to the gym. That will for sure bring on the snow and make it impossible for me to drive home! Also, I had my birthday this last week, which was actually really nice. I finally feel like I've made a home and family for myself here, which is saying a lot for a single gal. People stopped in and wished me Happy Birthday, I had my door decorated, students sang, cards were left on my desk, etc. It's funny though. I dreaded this birthday more than I've dreaded a birthday in a very long time, and so these wishes reminded me of what I had...and not what I didn't and don't have. Let's hope that the "biological clock" and fears of needing something like "eHarmony" will fade in my panic stricken heart for another year!
P.S. Maybe I'll talk a bit later about my GRE, doctorate program dilemnas. Yes, this PhD thing is still haunting me, which makes me think that it's really something I'm supposed to do. SCARY! I'd love to go to school, just to have all of that great, academic stimulation again, but holy cow...what work! We'll see, but I'll definitely say that it's a very real possibility for me at this point.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Okay, well I did manage over the last week to finish Good Things by Mia King. I stumbled across her novel this summer when I did a little research on Hawaiian authors. Interestingly enough, her novel isn't even remotely flavored with the culture or aspects of Hawaii, but is set in Seattle and a small town named Jacob's Point.
I actually really enjoyed the book, as it blended cooking (recipes in the back) with the struggles of a 40 year old single woman struggling to start over after losing her job as a Martha Stewart figure of Seattle. It has it's typical adult themes (not a PG book), but they didn't feel central to the novel. For a debut novel, I think that Mia King managed to write in a style and with a voice that is really admirable. Her writing style is clean and clear, and somehow felt refreshing and light to the discerning eye. The happy ending made me happy too. Right now, along with many of us, I just wanted a happy ending. :)
I haven't yet begun Dracula, and don't even have a copy yet, but will be starting it soon. Hope to be discussing it soon! Adios...
Monday, October 6, 2008
Since I posted the announcement about the little book club we've thrown together, for fun mind you, I've heard back about our first selection. Sari is starting off, and we're going to begin with Bram Stoker's Dracula. You have the month of October to read, so good luck! :)
Here are a few sites that hand interesting information about Stoker or the novel itself:
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I thought I'd actually finish reading Good Things this weekend, but after a fairly busy (in a good way) weekend, I just couldn't get it all finished up. I'm about to crawl into bed, forget the craziness that is ahead tomorrow, and will read until I doze off.
Having said that, the only thing I've accomplished in the way of literature, etc. was watching Masterpiece Theater's remake of Jane Eyre. I'd heard so much hubub about this most recent, rather lengthy version, but hadn't felt any real interest. Well, after getting it through Netflix, I've SLOWLY gotten through the movie, and can say that it's definitely good. I love classics made into film adaptations, and I really quite liked this version. (SPOILER ALERT ahead...) There is one particular scene where Rochester says to Jane, "I want you to pass through life as my second self, my best earthly companion...I love you like my own flesh." Holy cow! How stinking romantic!?! (SPOILER OVER) Maybe not the wisest choice of films to watch at the cusp of my 34th birthday, but there you have it. Sigh... What can I say other than it's a very good adaptation. Why am I such a sucker for period dramas and classic novels made into film? Aren't I a postmodern, contemporary fiction, ethnic literature, cultural studies nut? Well, I guess I'm just a true English major...with all that means. Yes, I have given up money in the pursuit of the lessons and ideals expressed and taught in literature.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
With this being Banned Book Week, I've been thinking a lot about what censorship means today. I guess because I'm such a book nut, the idea of taking someone's opinions in reading and forcing them on someone else just seems so wrong! Granted, I have books I don't suggest reading, but taking away people's freedom of choice over one's own perception of right and wrong seems downright evil. Playing judge and jury for another human being, without it being your position is pretty scary ground to tread.
Anyway, enough of my soapbox! One of the blogs I follow posted this list and I thought it might be interesting/fun for you to consider. Many of these books have also appeared on the banned book list. Anyway, I hope you're all finding more time to read than I am as of late, but I do see more reading in my near future! :) I'm still trying to decide if I want to watch the VP debates between Biden and Palin tonight...scary.
"The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them! :)"
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
And so there you have it--49 read. As I've mentioned before, I've concluded that I can never die if only because I have too much to read...oh, and of course, do (I felt obligated to include the "do" portion). :)