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). :)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
P.S. I started a book last night called Good Things by Mia King, and kind of got sucked into it. It was on my list because the author is from Hawaii, and I made myself a list of Hawaiian authors to check out. Anyway, it's not for everyone...more for those of us that like chick lit, but since I'm only about 60 pages into it, I can only say I like it so far. While I have tons of papers to grade, I can't say that it's a good idea for me to finish it by the weekend, but I think there's a pretty good chance that I will. Until then!