Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday Salon: A Challenge Wrap Up & Reading?

With some sadness, I post knowing that I head back to work on Monday. (Although, I get fun visits from past students who wander home from college!) This break has been really nice, and while busy, I was able to do a lot of good things around my new house to put things in order. In fact, Thanksgiving night I put up my Christmas tree and decorated the house. It looks so nice! I actually don't know why I didn't do it sooner.

On this Sunday, I have lots of good intentions (now that the house is cleaned and all the errands have been taken care of) to do a little cooking for next week, grade a few reports, and to sit back and read a bit.

I still haven't finished a book yet, but would like to carve out several hours in the afternoon to finish White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner, and possibly dig into a few others I have kicking around here. I'm crossing my fingers that strange things don't pop up to throw the day off, as is normal!

As mentioned in my last post, I finished the Everything Austen Challenge. It was a fun challenge, and I have to say, the easiest based on the types of books I tend to read! It was funny that I hadn't noticed how many "Austen-esque" books I tend to read, but boy did this challenge show me. :) Below is a quick run down of what I read:
  1. Darcy and Anne by Judith Brocklehurst (7/24)
  2. The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview (9/29)
  3. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard (11/4)
  4. Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe (11/11)
  5. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (11/27)
  6. Pride and Prejudice by THE Jane Austen (11/27)
I actually have several more Austen genre novels coming up, so I could add to my list here! Thankfully though, I have managed to complete my first ever reading challenge. Thanks to Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word for this great challenge!

Also, don't forget to stop in to enter for my giveaway of a hardback copy of Sherman Alexie's newest, War Dances!

What are you going to be reading today, to wrap up this last week?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Double Review: Everything Austen Wrap-Up Double Feature

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I have much to be thankful for this year, and all year round. I had a great visit and houseful with my aunt & uncle's family in from Idaho. We had a great time the night before Thanksgiving eating lasagna (because the food HAS TO be vastly different from what we were about to pig out on), playing games, and chatting all night. It was a really nice time. That next day they headed to their son's house, and I headed to another aunt and uncle's home. It was a leisurely day, and delightful as such!

As for my reading, wow, has it suffered in the last week! It's okay, because I've had many great and wonderful things going on, but it still feels strange to not have read a single book in the past week! I'll be remedying that over the next several days, as I pick through a stack of over 24 books I have checked out for just this occasion. I did, earlier this month, finish the Everything Austen Challenge. This challenge made me realize that I'm quite an Austen aficionado. :) I still have several more books coming up that would fit this challenge. For my final two picks for the challenge, I read Jane Austen's most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, and also Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler.

What is there to say about Pride and Prejudice that hasn't been said in a million different ways, by a million different devoted fans and readers? I'll resist giving a synopsis of this most famous novel, not only by Austen, but also by just about any author. There really is something that we readers love about Elizabeth Bennett, with her spunky ability to zing a proud Mr. Darcy, and the brooding compassion and love demonstrated by Mr. Darcy for Elizabeth. We love this novel. I really think that our love and appreciation for Mr. Darcy comes from an observation made by Anne in the series Anne of Green Gables when she remarks that it's not that we want a man that is bad, but could, but chooses not to be. It's somewhere in the fact that they KNOW about the badness, but show you their fortitude not to embrace it. While I think that the book takes awhile to get into completely, the plot builds in such a way that you get sucked in and have to keep reading...even if you already know what's going to happen. (For more information, see: Pride and Prejudice.)

I also read this book on my Kindle, which satisfies my 5th in the E-Book Reader Challenge.

Synopsis: In this second novel by Laurie Viera Rigler (not a follow up to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict), we travel forward in time, not back to the Victorian Era. In Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict we find that Jane Mansfield has woken in our modern times as L.A. girl Courtney Stone. Not only must she navigate the fact that she is a completely different person, but also that she is in a time period where people can randomly talk through a handheld device, watch stories acted out in a box with a glass screen, and travel at excessive speeds in a metal object not pulled by horses! It all might seem overwhelming and is, when Jane learns that she has broken up with a scoundrel fiance, and is being comforted by a "friend" who her supposed friends also dislike. What's a girl to do?

Review: Out of the two books written by Rigler, this version was actually my favorite. I listened to this book on CD, and have to say that this was another audio book that I would actually recommend. I thought that the acting and reading voices were believable and engaging. Besides liking the audio version of this story, I also just really liked the story. Although time travel stories are getting old (at least in my opinion), I liked Jane Mansfield, and I wanted to see her happy and settled in our modern day. In the end, isn't that what's most important in a story, that you care about the characters? Overall, I really did enjoy the escape factor of this story. I may not read this over and over again, but it was a fun escape and a fun way to wrap up the challenge. (For more information, see: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.)

***These complete the Everything Austen Challenge. Pride and Prejudice was my own copy, and Rigler's audio book was checked out from the library.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Triple Movie Review: Three Films in Review

I actually have had an opportunity to watch three different "period" pieces for the "Period Drama Challenge" that I'm involved with. Each of these films posed a different time, location, and dilemma, but were each very similar in their quest for some sort of growth. I hope you'll pardon me while I share three films for review, from different countries, and each for your consideration!

Moliere was an interesting film about a French man who traveled across France performing in various stage performances and theatricals. At the main juncture in the film, he is asked to tutor an aristocrat and help him create a play for a woman he is in love with (who is not his wife). Therein begins the "drama" and deceipt that also creates some serious humor in places. I can't say that I saw the historical connections between the historical figure Moliere, and the character in the film, but having said that, I didn't know that much about him other than that he was a playwright. I did find it interesting how the film played with the philosophies of life, questioning the position of "serious" drama versus comedies, as well as ones ethics. Much of the play was filled with broken relationships, bribery, and mistaken identity, which created an interesting film (with subtitles), but maybe not one I would readily return to. I did enjoy having exposure, yet again, to the themes and ideas of this time in French history. (For more information see: Moliere.)

I next skipped over to the British Isles, to see Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens. It didn't take me long into this BBC version of the film to quickly remember seeing another version of the film last year, which I actually liked better than this longer version. Both films center on the tragic life of Nicholas Nickleby, who is forced to serve as the teacher for a "boarding school" for boys during the Victorian Era. The deplorable conditions, and the reasons behind his forced service there, all boil down to social status and money; his mother and sister need support, his uncle doesn't want him around, and there is another big secret about his uncle that Nicholas will uncover while serving as the teacher. I don't want to reveal too much here, but will say that there are various plot lines to keep you engaged in the story. This version is not my favorite, and actually prefer the 2003 film; however, you do get a bit more of the story from this longer BBC version. (For more information see: Nicholas Nickleby.)

The final film I watched took place in the United States, The Inheritance, based off of a book by Louisa May Alcott. The main character, Edith Adelon is raised as the paid companion to her cousin, being an orphan that was saved from an orphanage in Italy. As the family awaits a trio of visitors for a local horse race, ideals of social standing and money come into play as the girls each begin to interact with the young men who arrive, as suitors. The two main young men fall for Edith, and jealousy ensues. Edith, however, shows herself of good breeding and character, hoping to help her cousin and create proper social etiquette among all her peers. The "inheritance" portion of the story comes into play later in the film, when Edith learns some shocking news that changes how she views the world, herself, and the men she has come to befriend. This was a cute film, although I will admit to being distracted through much of the movie. As for period pieces, this was a nice depiction of upper class society in the United States during (what I suspect) is the mid to late 1800's. (For more information see: The Inheritance.)

For this holiday weekend here in the United States, here are a few period dramas that might give you a bit of history and background on three different, unique times and places in history. These three reviews all are part of my "Period Drama Challenge" and bring me to 8 of 12 films by 1/7/2010.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: A Pre-Thanksgiving Thank You

Happy Sunday! Although I have a slew of reviews to write, and a bunch of reading I'd like to do, I also just feel like chit-chatting. Many of us readers seem to be in the same boat, right? We read something, and then we want to share it or tell someone about it. Although reading closes everyone and everything else off, we end up wanting to share great books we love with our friends, acquaintances, and the world. When a student loves a book they've just read, they'll come into my room and say, "Have you read this book?" If I haven't, they insist I do so IMMEDIATELY. It's pretty funny, but so true. When we really love a book, we want to share the feeling and spread it around!

So, if you read a lot, how do you talk about what you join a book club, you take literature classes, you review books online, or you book blog. I love the chance to talk about what I'm reading, books I love, or even why I read, with a community of other people who also love books and reading. On this Sunday before our American Thanksgiving holiday, I wish to say thanks to all my book-enthusiast friends; thank you for all your wonderful conversations, suggestions, and ideas on books and reading. You all really are the best and I hope this week is the best for you and yours!

This week I have a stack that's falling over, and includes a few of the books in my last post. Today I'm reading essays, not books, but come Tuesday night the books are all mine!

Don't forget to enter the War Dances, hardback book giveaway. Sherman Alexie's newest release really is fantastic!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The W's of Reading: What We Read?

The other day on Twitter, I sat in on a great conversation about what books people associate us with. What types of books do we choose, and why? Have you ever found yourself liking an author or genre for awhile, and then losing interest or simply burning out? Are there books that you just don't enjoy and never read? Have you ever tried something you don't usually like and found you actually enjoyed the experience?

I don't know what books readers would associate me with, although I have a good idea, but I do know what I like to read for pleasure and what I don't. Here is my list of what I read, and what I just can't get into or don't like:
  • I'm always reading classics, plays, and poetry that I haven't read yet for my AP literature classes, and for the pleasure factor of reading them. I would still like to conquer Russian Literature, but haven't been able to yet read anything other than Doctor Zhivago.
  • I enjoy YA literature and think that many of the novels coming out now are written with a wide, engaged audience in mind.
  • Yes, I still really love "chick lit" for its relation to my own life. Since we read to relate in a lot of cases, I still love to sit down and escape into a good novel by Kinsella, Cabot, or Evans.
  • I'm NOT a fan of horror. I don't think that The Stand counts as horror, but I did read this famous novel by Stephen King and actually really enjoyed it. That came after a list of recommendations from a student though, so I think I have to have suggestions if I'm going to read this genre.
  • Believe it or not, I don't enjoy mysteries. I can't put my finger on it, but they bore me to tears!
  • I love fantasy novels, but struggle with science fiction. I will admit to struggling with some fantasy though as well, because I think I'm hindered by my ability to picture the characters, locations, and situations set up in these novels.
  • I'm getting sick of paranormal novels. I love the mixing of genres and am excited to see what's coming next, but I'm growing tired of shape shifters, wolves, etc.
  • I still really enjoy anything to do with Jane Austen. I can feel a break coming soon, but for now, I still have a pretty solid Darcy love that keeps me reading!
Thankfully, and I love that word and how appropriate is for this time of year, I have a stack of books waiting for me for Thanksgiving Break. In fact, I have 24 books checked out from the library, along with all in my Mt. TBR to choose from. Because I'm heading to Hawaii for Christmas, and most of my family and friends have other plans, I'm staying home & will just be dropping in at my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. No, it won't be a busy holiday, and I'm actually really looking forward to it! Some of the books I'm excited to get started on include:

What are you going to be reading for the holiday? What would people say you usually read? What won't you read or are about sick to death of reading?

(I tried to attach a copy of my AP reading list, for those who have been curious and asked about it, but Blogger doesn't have a document attachment? If someone has a suggestion, let me know, and I'd be happy to share that reading list.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review & Giveaway: War Dances by Sherman Alexie

As a follow up to my previous author highlight post, I wanted to review Sherman Alexie's newest release War Dances. This particular book is filled with short stories and poetry, and to be quite honest, helped pull me through a few of those last hours of the 24-hour Readathon last month. As I started to get drowsy, I flipped through a few pages of War Dances until my eyes fell on a couple of poems, and soon found myself chortling a few times over the irony and humor Alexie portrayed in these short pieces.

While I usually give a synopsis, followed by a review, I really must blend the two in this particular review. Put quite simply, Alexie's newest publication is filled with a mixture of short stories, prose, and poems. His topics often feel autobiographical in nature, although I realized that they were not necessarily about Alexie, but might have come from experiences he has had. His pieces ranged from a short story about an encounter with an intruder who had broken into a writer/editor's home, to a father dying in a hospital and needing a blanket to cover him with. His poems were often what had me laughing the most often, and are staggered next to longer stories and prose. Some of the poems talked about young love, and talked about the agony of keeping track of someone by roadside payphone to making a mixed tape. In these cases, part of the humor and irony was embedded in the fact that things have been made so much easier for us today. Alexie seems to pose the idea that things are too easy, and don't show one's true dedication to another person.

I really can't say how delightful this reading experience was for me. Already a huge fan of Sherman Alexie, this varied collection only solidified my respect for the depth, irony, and humor he used in looking at our crazy world. Much of his work highlighted the Native American experience, but also felt like such universal stories about life, that anyone could relate to his pieces.

Giveaway: As part of my attendance at Sherman Alexie's reading, I purchased an extra, hardback copy of his newest release and would like to pass it along as a giveaway. In order to participate...
  • Post a comment telling me if you've read something by Alexie before, and why you're interested in his newest piece. Please make sure to include your email address.
  • Earn an extra point by being a follower of the blog. Post another comment, letting me know this.
  • Earn another point by letting others know through Twitter or by posting an announcement on your own blog. Post another comment, letting me know and giving me the link.
Good luck, and let me know if you have also read this book. I'd love to hear other reader's experience with the novel. This giveaway will end at midnight, MST on Monday, 11/30.

For more information about the novel, see: War Dances.

This review is also part of the "Book Review Party Wednesday" over at Cym Lowell's blog. You can stop by there to see many other book reviews posted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Author Highlight: Sherman Alexie

This is one of those posts that I've stewed about for over a month, mulling over the details and information I wanted to share. You see, last month I had the wonderful opportunity to go hear Sherman Alexie, famed author, speak at King's English Bookstore in Salt Lake City. Alexie made a comment/joke about graduate students that approach him with reverential awe, and even though my grad schools days are a handful of years behind me now, I will admit to a certain reverential excitement to my attendance that night. Even I laugh at myself, but I can't begin to say how excited I was to be able to attend his reading and signing.

In graduate school, I actually focused my research on Native American & ethnic literatures (more specifically, the teaching of such texts). Through my time studying these texts, my major professor at the time gave me the wonderful opportunity to go with him into his undergraduate, ethinic literature course and teach Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. In preparation, I poured over his work, reading his essays and poems, and marking the discussion points from the novel that I wanted the students to grasp. It was in this process, that I stumbled across his essay, "Superman and Me," which I still frequently take into the classroom so that I can discuss sentence construction and language. Was I a huge fan going into his visit here? Um...considering how many hours I spent studying, writing, and teaching his texts, I'd say that's a big YES!

Alexie was born in 1966, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, and grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He was born with water on the brain, and had to have surgery for it at the age of six months. In his appearances, and in books such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (which I read and reviewed this summer), discuss or include his experiences with hydrocephalus. Alexie attended high school off of the reservation, and later went on to Gonzaga University, later transferring to Washington State University.

Alexie first began his writing career by writing poetry. His first two volumes of poetry, The Business of Fancydancing and I Would Steal Horses, were both published, and are heralded by many authors, teachers, and readers. He has since worked on film, Smoke Signals, and published a lengthy list of novels that have received much notice and acclaim. Some of the novels he has written include: Reservation Blues, Indian Killer, and Flight, not to mention his books of short stories and poetry, The Toughest Indian in the World, Ten Little Indians, and War Dances, to name a few.

Much of Alexie's work is filled with an irony and humor that can't be passed up without asking someone nearby to, "listen to what I just read." I've literally been known to call up friends and family while I'm in the middle of reading one of his poems or narratives, to share something I thought was poignant or downright hilarious. More often than not, it was the amazing humor and depth of understanding in explaining cultural difference that has me always coming back for more. Literally, I can't get enough of his work.

At the book signing, I will say that his humor was colorful, and had me blushing a couple of times and looking around to see other people's response to his insights and jokes. He is a great speaker, and doesn't shy away from politics, culture, or gender. In short, I found him captivating in his honesty, and I will admit to laughing A LOT during his reading and introduction. (Below is the one picture I was able to salvage from the book signing. I had the person behind me in line snap the picture with my iPhone, and as happens, the camera moved while snapping the photo, so we're all blurry and crazy looking. Fun, but not good enough to post!)

For more information on Sherman Alexie, to read his essays or poems, or to get more information on his published works, see his official website for details. Also, for prices on his books, see Sherman Alexie's Amazon Page.

Soon to follow, I will be posting my review of his most recent collection of short stories and poems in War Dances. I even have an extra copy and will be hosting a giveaway, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: Good Luck by Whitney Gaskell

Ever since I first read True Love (and Other Lies), I have loved the escape that can be found in Whitney Gaskell's novels. True Love (and Other Lies) was such an enjoyable read for me, that I've reached out to find her other novels, which led me to Good Luck.

I actually purchased Good Luck on its release date, but never had time to read it through. It wasn't until I was on my way to Hawaii for the summer that I finally picked it up. In fact, I was on a plane ride to my summer conference for my online job, when I sat to read it all the way through. Well, that ended disastrously! As I hit page 130, every other page was BLANK! Yes, BLANK! I was horrified. I was on a roll, I was enjoying the story, I was all into it and wanted to see what happened...and nothing.

To wrap up the story, I contacted the company and they sent me another book a couple of weeks later. By that point, I'd moved on to other books, and just didn't have time...again. However, during the readathon, I picked it up and finished it, much to my pleasure and enjoyment!

Synopsis: Lucy Parker is a prep school teacher, plagued by the normal woes of teaching. After giving a student a bad grade, he claims sexual harassment and gets her fired. In the end, how can she disprove him? Not only is she left without a job, but her car also breaks down, and she returns home to find her long-time boyfriend in bed with another woman. As far as bad times are concerned, this just might be the worst. In a fit of bad luck and hurt feelings and emotions, Lucy purchases and lottery ticket...and WINS.

With her millions, Lucy disappears, picking up in a new location with a close friend of hers until she can piece together her life again. In doing so, she begins to learn about her own weaknesses, the mean-spirited qualities that come out in others because of money, and about judging others based on shallow perceptions.

Review: Lucy reminded me so much of myself...minus the boyfriend I could walk in on...because she is a teacher fighting the fight. I was initially snagged by the claim of sexual harassment, and was horrified to consider how devastating such a claim might be to one's career! Not only is the burden of proof left on Lucy, but she also has to figure out a way to support herself in the meantime. Horrifying.

Through the simple portrayal of her misery, you really want to see how she pulls out of it all, and winning the lottery sure seems to be the ticket! It was fun to watch someone else try to think about what to do with so much money, and I enjoyed watching Lucy learn more about the people around her. Really, I hated seeing the selfish and greedy things that people who were supposed to "love" Lucy would do to get to her money. It almost made me glad that I wasn't in that position, to watch the people I love disappoint me.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. While there was romance involved, and read like a chick-lit novel, the interesting story and complex relationships made it interesting to read and consider. There are some scenes of sensuality in the story. Overall though, I thought the novel was a great escape read, with a plot I felt I hadn't 100% seen before. It was agonizing having so many interruptions while I read it, from the missing pages, but I was glad that I was finally able to get through it and enjoy!

Here's a question for you all though...after getting that first copy of the novel, with all of its missing pages, it took me way too long to actually get through the novel. Have you ever had to return or get a new copy of a book because there were pages missing or destroyed?

For more information on the novel, see: Good Luck.

***Book purchased by owner, for review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review: Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe

Here it is midweek, and I feel like I was just staring down the week on Sunday night! Where do the days fly off to, and how can I keep up? When I head off to school in the mornings, I always sigh and pray for the day to go smoothly and find me back home again soon. It's not that I don't enjoy teaching, because I do, but it is work (with teens no less)! So here I am, amazed that we have almost tackled yet another work week.

This week I wanted to review another great Jane Austen sequel that was just released on the first of this month, by Jane Odiwe, Willoughby's Return. Although I've often reviewed Pride and Prejudice sequels and remakes, this particular novel takes a second look at Sense and Sensibility and allows us to consider "what if" in following the Dashwoods out of those final pages of Austen's original novel.

Synopsis: In this sequel to Sense and Sensibility we find Marianne Dashwood Brandon married to Colonel Brandon, and now turning her sights on matchmaking for her younger sister Margaret. Although Marianne dearly loves her husband, the Colonel often leaves to take care of his young charge (a young child fathered by his first love's daughter & none other than Willoughby), which leaves Marianne feeling insecure about her relationship. As she frequently watches as the Colonel, rather honorably, takes off to care for his charge, Marianne secretly wonders if he does so out of a continued love that he can't quite get over.

To complicate things further, Willoughby returns, only to stir up old feelings that Marianne thought she'd stamped out. Both characters are married, but it soon becomes apparent that there is unfinished business, and Marianne must decide if her love and relationship with the Colonel trumps that of her first love. Besides, isn't he also still harboring feelings for his first love?

Review: Let me begin by saying that I really did enjoy this novel. I did, however, have a pretty emotional response to the story. Having "loved and lost" in a pretty intense way myself, I hated the thought that this first love might haunt you throughout your days. This wasn't the only reason for my response. I also felt that Marianne and the Colonel kept dancing around the subject of their insecurities. Maybe it's a modern concept, but a simple conversation or two might have proved invaluable in clearing the air on their relationship and how they felt; passages of a romantic nature (not graphic or even stated at all) did not mend the initial problem, and left me feeling anxious for all that went unsaid between the two. Let me not mention how dastardly Willoughby appears in this story as well. While dashing, the fact that he could overlook a wife of his own, to once again reconsider Marianne, even after crushing and humiliating her, was frustrating. Why should Marianne even give him a second glance? Oh, but am I bringing up more of what I would do in this situation, with my fantasies of slamming a door in my own first real love's face...nah...right?

The only real quibble I have with the story came in the narration. The style was in keeping with the time, but watching as the story switched back and forth from Marianne to Margaret was sometimes confusing and I sometimes had to backtrack to see who I was following. Because of the impact Willoughby was having on the story, each time it switched to Margaret, I really felt like skimming forward. It's not that Margaret was an insignificant element to the story, but just now what I was wanting to learn more about. This is a good story and entertaining follow up to Sense and Sensibility, and one that allows the reader to explore the "what if" factor of a love lost.

This is my fourth of six in the Everything Austen Challenge. Also, for more information about the novel, see:Willoughby's Return.

***This review based off of an Advanced Release Copy sent to me by Sourcebooks.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Movie Challenge Review: Dancing in Lughnasa

Who doesn't love Meryl Streep? Okay, now that I've said that, those people will all step forward. Well, it just so happens that I love Meryl Streep's versatility, and really fell in love with her acting ability when I saw her in Mama Mia one summer, and then that next year in the critically acclaimed Doubt. These two parts couldn't have been more different in character and style, yet Streep played them both with amazing sincerity and heart. In Dancing in Lughnasa, I can say that once again Streep wowed me by her versatility.

Synopsis: Adapted from a Tony Award wining stage play by Brian Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa is mainly a character story. We are introduced to five unmarried sisters, the youngest of which has an eight year old son from a relationship with a man who occasionally comes back into their lives. Streep plays the eldest sister, and a teacher at the local school in 1936, rural Ireland. Scenes of the countryside with its animals and turf cutting seem to play another character in the film, reminding us of the repressed ideals and expectations of those that lived there.

We come to learn that the sisters each have their own back story, some of love lost, but each with a grown up ideal of doing what is right, as led by their eldest sister. With the return of their clergyman brother from Africa, the sisters discover that their brother has turned pagan in his actions and behaviors, and seems unwell mentally. Now the town not only is disconcerted by this household of unmarried women and child born out of wedlock, but now they must also deal with a brother who is anything but the ideal clergyman.

Review: While not the cheeriest film, nor plot driven, the movie was engaging and well acted. I found the array of characters and their behaviors to be fascinating, and helped you to get a feel for why they had made the choices that they had, and how that led to who they were at present. Although the play builds on itself, much of the action is based on the interrelationships between characters and how they will react to the circumstances thrown in their way. Now I realize that most films deal with relationship stories, but this one felt almost like a Tennessee Williams style of play writing, in that it was heavy on character relations, and less on locations and actions.

I did enjoy this film. If you are looking for a storyline that contains classic plot points, this movie might not quite fit the bill, but it does deal heavily with the complicated, inner relationships between a family, and how they learn to work together. This won't be the first film I run to for an escape, but I thought the concept and family interesting, and Meryl Streep more than convincing in her role.

This film review fulfills my 5th of 12 time period dramas for the Period Drama Challenge.

For more information on the film, see: Dancing at Lughnasa.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Salon: A Stack Too Big to Conquer

Happy Sunday to all. I'm sitting back at my lovely desktop, that I've not used for over five months. I LOVE this computer, but it was in storage all summer while I was in Hawaii, then sat unused in the "office" of my new home, and now that I have internet again, it is now up and running. In fact, I forgot how much I loved this computer and have been sitting it at it updating my iTunes library and generally familiarizing myself with all the wonderful bookmarks I loaded earlier this year. In some ways, it's as if I have a brand new computer again!

I actually have many posts and reviews to write, but today I'm going to post my Sunday Salon, which I have not done in ages! There's been a bit of a reading slump in my world, thanks to the ending of one term and moving into a new term. Thankfully, I feel myself pulling back out of it again. For this Sunday Salon I'd like to go over the challenges I'm involved in, and say that I'd love to participate in more, but I don't know how people do it!

e-Book Reader Challenge: I've read The Stand by Stephen King, Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan, Club Dead and Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. As you can see, I've only read 4 of the 10 that I need, so I need to hop to before year end!

Everything Austen Challenge: This challenge will be a breeze for me finish! I have several reviews waiting in the wings, and I think I'll be going over the required number of reads. No worries on this one! I've read Darcy and Anne by Judith Brocklehurst, The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview, and Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard. This challenge only requires six Austen-related items, and I'm just finishing up a Sense and Sensibility follow up, as well as finishing up the original Pride and Prejudice. For now, I have read 3 of the 6 required by 1/1/10.

Period Drama Challenge: This isn't actually related to books, other than I really enjoy watching films based around time periods other authors have written in or about, or based on famous novels. For this challenge, I've viewed The Affair of the Necklace, Moll Flanders, Schindler's List, and Bright Star. I actually have two or three reviews waiting in the wings on this one, and might have to do some double posting to fit them all in before the challenge ends. This one I signed on as "Undoubtedly Obsessed," and therefore have to view 12 movies by 1/7/10, of which I've reviewed 4. I better hop to on those reviews!

1% Well Read Challenge: I've read The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, and Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai. That makes 3 of the 13 I need by 3/31/10.

Harry Potter Challenge: This is one I desperately want to get going on, but haven't made any progress on at all!!! I have the British, adult collection of the series in hard back, so I'll be reading these between now and 7/31/10.

I've also been participating in the ongoing Banned Book Challenge over at The Biblio Blogazine. This is a given, but fun to check in and see what others are reading! For this I finally go around to seeing what the deal was with Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume.

I have to say that I really like challenges, but had to put a major hold on them. There are so many I want to join, but I'm just not capable of juggling them all!!! Besides, in the time I spent moving into my new house, with intermittent internet connection, I missed a few new challenges that popped up. I hope that as the year closes, that I can finish some of these challenges and then join some new ones.

Honestly, I so appreciate each person who is hosting a challenge. This is a great community of readers, and there are such great opportunities for us as readers to discover something new out there in reading. If you're interested in finding out about other great reading challenges out there, check out "A Novel Challenge," which is a blog dedicated to posting challenges going on. Good luck!

What challenges are you picking away at, and do you have one you're sure you'll finish and one you're scared will never make it?