Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Library Loot--3/30

Last night I returned three unread books. Now, that makes me a little embarrassed, but I have now acknowledged to myself that I check out too many, and currently can't keep up with the ones I have been given or purchased. Having said that, I'm switching over to checking out more audio & video material for the time being...things I can put on while I grade my online classes (about two hours of grading a night). I know it sounds insane, but I have to have something on while I work. Yes...the hamster on the wheel is running full speed. :)

Last night I picked up the following films, in an effort to cut back, and read more of the books I already own. First, Office Space. My friend Doc about died when I said I hadn't seen it, so I checked it out and will be watching it later this week or weekend when all the snowstorms are supposed to be rolling in.

Second, I picked up Reality Bites. I'm not sure where I was reading about this movie, but it was listed as a "must see" look into the way things are? I'm not sure what that means, but I was intrigued, have never seen it, and thought now was a good time!

Finally, I checked out 1900's House. Let me just admit to being a PBS House series junkie! I own two of their series, and really love watching them. I could never be sent back in time to one of these social experiments, but the history major person in me really loves that side, as well as the voyeuristic side of watching people really try to live that way!

Well, for now, that's all. Now let's hope I can get through more of the books I own. :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mia King

I just wanted to post a shout out to a couple of contests/book giveaways available right now. I have Lenore's book give away posted in the left hand column (from last week), and also Stephanie's Written Word, two book give away posted today. They are awesome for posting these! Go check them out...links on the side.

One really big giveaway is at one of my new favorite adult authors, Mia King's web site. I discovered her this past summer when I did a search on Hawaiian authors. I've posted a book review on each of her two books, and really like the freshness of her writing style. I have to admit that I really loved her first book Good Things, to which there will be a follow up book Table Manners, coming out in August!

Starting April 1st (although I jumped the gun and sent an email in yesterday...oops), she is hosting a HUGE book and Hawaiian, beach read package that includes 8 signed books and 30 gifts. It's an amazing package! She'll also be announcing an ARC of her newest novel Table Manners. Can't wait to hear about that one, and will be making a mad dash to her site when it's offered!

Anyway, let everyone know about this great offer, and head on over to her site! If you post about this on your blog, maybe make a link back to my blog to let them know I've reviewed both of her novels...granted, you would have to really search to go back and find them.

Good luck, and Mahalo!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Assembly Such as This

Well, I finally did it. I finished a book! Why in the world it would take me all week, in Hawaii, to finish one little book is beyond me. Thankfully though, yesterday afternoon, before I flew out, I finished Pamela Aidan's first book An Assembly Such as This. Set as Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective, the first book covers from the beginning, up to the ball at Netherfield and their eventual removal to London. Honestly, I thought it was a sweet book, but moved a bit slow for me. I did love some of the small things that Darcy expressed in his interest for Elizabeth, including the embroidery string momento he pulls from Paradise Lost. Don't we all wish a man was so smitten with us that they had some small momento from us that they kept to remind them of us? I sure do! Overall though, I'm sure that book one was just setting everything up, or it could be that I was really dragging this past week, but at times I felt like I was dozing off during the story. Doc had HIGHLY recommended this trilogy, and many other friends have read them and loved them, so is it the curse of you've-built-this-up-too-much-and-now-it-can't-meet-my-expectation? I kind of think that might be the case, but I'm off to book two to see if I can lift myself out of this reading slump and really LOVE this series the way so many others have! Until then, I'm off to try to stay awake (jet lag...still on Hawaii time...including sun, not this nasty blizzard I came back to), and not freak out about piles of things waiting for me tomorrow. :( For now...Aloha!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Moment of Silence

A moment of silence for the fall of KU this evening to...MICHIGAN. Okay, now I was born in Columbus, Ohio...home of Ohio State. See where I'm going here? Not exactly the same team, but my resentment towards Michigan has now increased. Sigh... By the way, I actually have Pitt. going all the way this year. I know! I love KU, but I knew they had lost a lot of players after last year! I'm still REALLY sad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reading Impaired

Why can't I read??? I feel as though I've been body snatched by some non-reading body snatcher, and find that all I want to do is stare aimlessly at surf, sand, wall, floor, etc. It doesn't matter what it is, I just sleep or stare. I hope this isn't a trend, and that reading comes back to me soon! I feel like Rose in "Titanic"... "Come back!" :)
Okay, that was a really cheesy thing to say. Off to go for a walk and then see if I can't force myself to read and fall into something great. Mahalo!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Yay!!! I made it to Hawaii after a hellish couple of weeks leading up. I literally had spent 12 to 16 hour days at work, preparing lesson plans for this week off, grading projects, and getting my final grades figured out. What a challenge, but now is TOTALLY worth it!

No, I haven't read a SINGLE THING in the midst of all this madness! I am feeling like both Les Miserables and Tess of the D'Urbervilles were a great success. That is a huge relief for me, as I hate making students dread a novel. Neither are perfect, chipper and happy novels, but both have amazing messages about culture and society. So, what could I possibly need to post about, since I haven't yet read a single thing??? Well, I didn't dare read on the plane--since I knew I'd get plane sick and end up freaking out whoever sat next to me--, but the plane from LA to Honolulu was really great, and outfitted with your own video screen filled with TONS of great, new releases. Having followed the Oscars, and it's nominees, I had heard a lot about the film "Doubt," which was offered for free viewing on the plane.

I clicked on it, and have to say that it was pretty engaging. I really liked it, although it's not a feel good film. Set in the 1950's or 60's, it centers around a Catholic school where Meryl Streep is the head principal. The lead actress from "Enchanted," Amy Adams, plays the classroom teacher who becomes suspicious of the attentions the head priest begins to pay one of her young, and only African-American, student. You get where this is headed! Anyway, Meryl Streep plays this amazingly tough-as-nails nun, who demands a type of strict discipline and adherence to a clean lifestyle, that she refuses to sit by and see one of her students suffer at the hands of one of her fellow members of the cloth. Standing up against her own superior, Streep confronts the priest, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and while she has doubts, she puts the welfare of the student first and challenges the priest to be honest about his actions and behavior.

As you can imagine, it is a hard-hitting film. Based on a famous play, the filmography works amazingly well to propel the story, and not distract us from the dialogue and relationship between characters. I don't know if the film was edited for the plane, but it was gritty yet clean. Yes, I still agree that Kate Winslet's performance in "The Reader" was oscar worthy, I have to say that I TOTALLY see why Meryl Streep earned yet another Oscar nod for this performance!

Well, I'm off to finish preparing Sunday dinner! :) Doc went down to the beach to soak in some rays, and I'm sure mom and I will follow suit later this afternoon. I can't wait to sit in a beach chair, the ocean rolling in, and a nice book in my hands. Until later then...Mahalo!

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness...and My Own Madness for Sun!

I know...kill me for counting down, but I have 5 DAYS until I leave for Hawaii!!! I can't remember the last time I was this excited to get out of Dodge...ever. All I'm praying for is a nice hot sun, and lots of rest. Man, do I need it. It's been a great school year, the best yet, but I NEED to take a breather and feel the sun on my face for a little while. I'll deal with skin cancer later. :) (Okay, I realize that's not a laughing matter, but I am being facetious.)March Madness is also on it's way!!! Yes, I switched allegiance from NBA to college ball sometime right after my mission about ***muffle, muffle*** years ago, and haven't gone back since. Last year KU won, and I really thought I'd have a stroke getting them to the NCAA championship. I still have faith in them, but it wavers ever so slightly with the loss of so many players. Sigh..., so I filled in my brackets this morning and have Conn. & Pitt. facing off. We'll see. I know people are saying it will be Louisville this year, but I have to have faith that KU will beat them, and upset that little plan. :) Anyway, let's pray that I find a way to teach on Thursday and Friday. I usually take those two days off (or at least the one that has my favorite teams playing), and watch the first round. With my trip to Hawaii (and yes...I'm FLYING during games on Satuday...BAH!!!), I couldn't get off the first two days of tournament. I'll be OK...right?!? I'll get to watch three days of games in Hawaii. I know that sounds crazy, but what a GREAT vacation. :)

All right, so back to what I normally discuss--books. I actually started and finished Sherman Alexie's National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Doc gave me this book for Christmas, and I'm so glad that I shoved aside all those library books coming due and dove into Alexie's novel. In keeping with the style of several of his other novels, Alexie writes his narrative about the ins and outs of a young Native American teenager on the "rez." Having studied Alexie as part of my Master's thesis, I readily fell back into the world of ideas and philosophies that surround Native American fiction. Filled with ideas about identity, loss of language and culture, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and emotional abuse, lack of education, and mind-numbing poverty, Alexie manages to create this "Ramona Quimby"-like tone with his main teenage character that makes you believe the topic is light and funny. That somehow, this is just another story of teenage angst and coming of age. However, this light-hearted (seemingly), loaded tale, takes on the dual nature of being a native person today, of walking that line between culture and progression. It's a sad idea that one has to feel as if they are abandoning their people by trying to better themselves, but you easily see why in this novel. To try to get ahead feels threatening, as if you want to abandon the people that are like you and want to preserve every last bit of what little they still have. Laced with a certain sadness, Alexie's novel still manages to be a "typical" teenage novel of growth and change, but an amazing, more clear tale that asks the reader to grow as well. Excellent messages and complications introduced in this novel, and I see why Alexie won his award. (Just as a warning. His material is not light, and he openly adresses life in the way I'd expect his character to. Yes, swearing and casual sexual references--not scenes--are part of the character. Still, very raw and emotional, and not gratuitous--at least not in my opinion.)

Well, I need to be doing some grading before I bomb out for the night. Happy March Madness to you all, and happy reading in the meantime! :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Princess in the Spotlight...and NO...I'm Not The Princess!

I need to be heading to the gym, but if I can procrastinate moving my body in any way on a Saturday morning...then I will! :) I recently updated and bought the new BodyBugg. Don't let that fool you though. It's an electronic device that only tells me...once again...how bad I am at the weight loss game!!!

Okay, well I did finally finish Meg Cabot's second Princess Diaries novel Princess in the Spotlight. All of Cabot's stuff is light, fun, and easy to read, so I'm not sure why this took me so long to read?!? I'm actually trying to read all of the series so that I can read the book published by "Mia" called Ransom My Heart, in which all the proceeds are going to GreenPeace...so cool. Anyway, I have been trying to read through the series so that I get Mia's desire to write the book. Honestly, Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors, so reading these should be a delight.

Well, in book two, Princess Mia is just learning the ropes of what it means to represent Genovia. She's madly in love with her best friend's brother, Michael, her mother is pregnant and marrying Mia's math teacher, and Mia's Grandmere is trying in every possible way to turn Mia and her life into princess-quality stuff. Overall, just a fun little read full of teenage angst that's been added to by finding out she's a princess.

Off to the gym now. My house is being inundated by "study group" people...so must leave. Good motivation for going to the gym! One week, and I'll be in Hawaii!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"That's How We Learn"

I've been watching King of Queens from the library, and this clip had me laughing SO hard. I figure I need to download this clip to show at the beginning of the school year. Man this one cracks me up! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Being Pecked to Death?

It's only an hour...yea, right. I was dragging all weekend, as if I had mono or something, and this time change hasn't helped things. Sigh. I'm a "responsible" adult though, so I get up every morning around 5:15 to 5:30...okay, so I don't roll out until after 6 because I feel like I'm bleeding internally when I force myself to get out of bed. I HATE MORNINGS. Does anyone else fantasize about sleep in excess amounts?

Well, I did manage to finish Ana Godbersen's third installment of the Luxe series, Envy. Having enjoyed the first two novels in the series, it shouldn't be any surprise that I really liked the third. I do sense a new trend though in short series, that writers are now writing four book series, and not the three that we used to be so familiar with. In this case, I'm glad (not irritated like I was with the Blue Blood series). Set in New York City, turn of the century, in upperclass society, you literally step into the lives of these young people as they negotiate their lives around the priorities set out for them by their culture and families. Book three immediately picks up where book two left off, but literally, the entire third book only takes place over about two or three months (you'll see why by the last couple of chapters). I can't say much, as it would give away the story that keeps propelling itself from novel to novel, but I have enjoyed watching Godbersen's writing style grow more stylistically sophisticated with each installment. While these are YA novels, they are more mature in theme (not necessarily sexual, just more about that marriage age that is so tricky), and don't have the light-hearted feel that much YA fiction likes to employ in popular fiction. I still say this has a bit of that Gossip Girls sort of flair to it, but the story of riches, courtship, and scandal in NYC are fun and escapist to read! I'm sad I have to wait awhile for book four!

FYI--Our Tess viewing night went really well. I was so tired that evening that I really dreaded heading back to work, but once our nearly 30 student group showed up and we got the film rolling, I found that I really enjoyed listening to their "boo-hiss" routine over the bad guy, their laughter over the delightful scenes, and their "ahhhh"s over the sweet things between Tess and Angel. So fun to watch it with them. Oh, and did I mention that in keeping with my current obession with all things British/Regency/Victorian that I watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice again this past weekend...the last three episodes twice!

Okay, so I fell asleep through them or was grading my online classes, but still...COLIN FIRTH. How can you go wrong?

Well, my exhaustion right now stems partly/mostly from presentations my students are doing. It eliminates a ton of grading I have to do at night, but exponentially increases my "pecked by baby chicks" all day factor that makes me frazzled and tired by the end. (Man, the baby chicks comment brought a flood of warm memories flooding back from my childhood when my dad had baby chicks delivered each spring. I would rush home from school to sit alone in the barn with them, and they would swarm over me, chirping away...how sweet.) Anyway, I love my students. REALLY, I do, but am so looking forward to heading to Hawaii with Doc in a week and a half. Pounders (my favorite beach) is calling my name. Well, that and lots of sunshine (I hope). Oh...and OF COURSE my mom! I can't wait to laugh, talk, read, eat, sleep, and play. Sigh. Can't wait. Oh yes, and the wild chickens just might have fresh little baby chicks for me to smile over. :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Money...What a Fright!

I've been reading Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan, and was sent all in a tither last night. I had so looked forward to going home Thursday night and just relaxing and reading...that is until I read Suze Orman! I thought I'd "leisurely" take in a chapter of her book, but that chapter started outlining the importance this year, more than ever, of getting debt as low as possible because credit ratings are going to fall. Now, I have a pretty good one, but I'm thinking that with a few accounts that are still hanging that debt over my head, that I better get myself squared away.

Well, there went my leisurely night! I ended up going through my financial stuff for over four hours last night, shredding old stuff, putting together receipts and things for taxes, etc. I've known I needed to get things put together so I could go get my taxes done, but haven't had the time or energy to do it. Well...as of 11:30 pm last night, I'm READY to go face the firing squad! :) I actually think I'll be ok, but I'm still a big worry wart. Managing and investing money off of one small paycheck is pretty scary, especially since I'm looking to buy a new car, and would like to buy a place to live...since the market is so good for buying. Sigh...that is, if I'm squared away. Too scary!

Anyone else fretting over this junk?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Second Helpings

The weekend is over. (Moment of silence, please.) It was such a nice weekend, too. Because I had such a bad week last week, I honestly had very little to grade over the weekend...at least compared to all the other weekends thus far this year! :) Oh...and I'm going on three days without a headache!!! MIRACLE! Bad news though...I have no idea why.

Well, I finished Tess of the D'Urbervilles over the weekend, which as before, was a great read. It's tragic, and will make you angry, but has such great messages! Written during the Victorian era, Thomas Hardy pretty much let this be his last novel after being labeled a pornographer for this novel and Jude the Obscure. That bothered him so much, that he stopped writing novels and went back to just writing poetry. At a time when his message of hypocrisy towards women and their virtue was misunderstood, I think he did an amazing job of causing a stir so that people would maybe rethink their cultural viewpoint. Great novel.

I also finished reading Megan McCafferty's second novel in her series, Second Helpings. Like the first novel, I found the teen characters way too obsessed with the status of their virginity; however, I think this novel was able to develop some important relationships between characters that the first struggled to build. As a reminder, the story is basically about a brainiac girl whose best friend moves out of state. As she tries to rebuild her high school life, she finds that the hypocrisy of teens to be just about too much for her, and she tries to be herself...which is ironic, because she spends more time in the novel protecting herself from getting hurt by pretending that nothing bothers her! During the course of the novel, our main character applies for, and gets accepted into college, and falls in love (twice...sort of). The conversations going on are still pretty PG-13/R, and I could see why McCafferty's switch moved from YA with the first novel, to the adult section with her later books. I still wonder if her teen readers will be following her as she moves her character into her college years? I understand that it's hard to market a story about a teenager to adults, but making the cross over into genres part way through the series seems odd to me. Oh well...

In the world of film, I watched The Forsyte Saga, about a British aristocratic family living in London at the turn of the century. Extended branches of the Forsyte's get married, have children, marry for love and not for love, deal with gambling issues, build extravagant country estates, have children, etc. It honestly felt a little bit like Dynasty in the British Victorian to Edwardian era. Netflix recommended it to me because of all the other British dramas I've been watching, so I guess they threw this one my way. While not really what I expected or wanted, still more entertaining than many other things I could have been watching while I finished up my grading!

Well, I have to get ready for the day...so, until next time...bye! :)