Howl's Moving Castle
The Cat in the Hat
Green Eggs and Ham
The Magician's Nephew
The Lord of the Rings
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
The Once and Future King
Flame Of Recca, Volume 1 (Flame of Recca
The Return of the King
The Two Towers
Signet Classics The Inferno
Picture of Dorian Gray
The Book Thief
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Hangman's Daughter
Alice I Have Been

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book #9 Switched by Amanda Hocking

What can I say? I'm on a roll. I needed something a little lighter after my run of classics, so I went for a YA fantasy novel that I downloaded for Kindle for 99 cents. That was money well spent. Switched is about a girl, Wendy, whose mother tried to kill her on her sixth birthday because she believed Wendy was not really her child. Eleven years later, with her mother in a mental hospital and under the care of her older brother and aunt, Wendy finds out she was right.

Wendy is a troll. And I think her reaction to finding out is pretty priceless: "Nothing about me resembled a pink-haired doll with a crystal in its stomach or a creepy little monster that lived under a bridge. Admittedly, I was kind of short, but Finn was at least six feet tall."

That's as much as I'm giving away. It falls somewhere on the drama-o-meter beneath
The Twilight Saga, and I can't quite think of a book to go below it at the moment. It's a lot of fun, drama, and romance, and it was good enough for me to immediately buy the second book in the trilogy, Torn, immediately upon finishing it. Enjoy, fellow YA fiction lovers!

P.S. Amanda Hocking also has a blog! Check it out here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book #8 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

I was in classics mode after reading Dracula and Pride and Prejudice, so I dove right into another -- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I originally became interested in this book because of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the movie. At the time when I first saw the movie, the only characters I was familiar with were Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer. I became fascinated by the literary connections and began searching for more of the novel referenced. Now, I am nearly done with my quest, and plan to read the last two: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Invisible Man at some point during this year.

As for the book at hand, this was easily the fastest read for me so far this year. The basic story was as I knew it, but I felt that the message behind it was deeper than I expected. The story is all about capturing the two sides of an individual, the good and the bad. In the case of Dr. Jekyll, he manages to harness the bad and is consumed by it.

To me, that reeked of the essence of teenage rebellion. We all do it to some degree. We look for that little bit of bad to make ourselves feel free and in control and released from our parents. And then there's some point after that in which we realize that we're out of control and trapped in a different way -- in our need to be bad. Fortunately for most of us, we are able to come back from that with a little effort, but poor Dr. Jekyll succumbs to it and is lost forever. That happens to some too. I see it all the time at school. That kid that's hiding behind the bad he or she has become -- if you really look, you can see that it's not really where they want to be.

I think this story won me over more in lesson than in actual story. Good job for making me think, Robert Louis Stevenson. I commend you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book #7: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I am somewhat ashamed to say that this is not only my first time reading Pride and Prejudice, but also my first time reading Jane Austen. Oh, Jane! Where have you been all my life? I adored it. My friends had all given it such good reviews that I was afraid I would be disappointed. On the contrary, I think I'll pick up more Jane Austen very soon.

I was enthralled with the characters, especially since the descriptions of them are so, well...unhelpful. That seems contradictory, but let me explain what I mean. Too often an author gives away too much in a character description. They tell us what the characters look like, how they act, and all of what they are thinking. In essence, they tell us what they think of their characters and what they intend for us to think. I spent a large portion of this book making up my mind about characters, and often I found myself making discoveries about them at the same time as Elizabeth Bennett.

I also enjoyed having my own mental images of characters rather than being told explicitly what they looked like. It made it much less disappointing to watch a movie (which I did immediately upon finishing the book) that didn't necessarily portray characters the way I had created them myself. Some books that give a lot of description, like Twilight, make the cast of a movie so darn disappointing. Sorry, Robert Pattinson, I really had a better looking Edward in my mind.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the large amount of dialogue. I got a lot more caught up in the story because I had to pay attention to what was said, sort of like watching an episode of Gilmore Girls, which I also love. The love story was breathtaking, and I can now see why so many girls want to be Elizabeth Bennett and find their own dashing Mr. Darcy. It felt real and unplanned and so wonderful. This is my second classic of the year, and I think it may be tied for my favorite classic of all time!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I promise I'm reading!

I'm working on Pride and Prejudice right now, and it's going well, but slow because life keeps getting in my way. I am about a third of the way finished, and I plan on reading a lot more tonight. I'm enjoying it (and yes this is my first Jane Austen).

For the moment, I'm at work, wishing I was on vacation, and wishing the freakish warm weather would return to me! Updates to come...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book #6: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Now, before you say anything, I didn't read this because of all the crazy Twilight vampire hype that has a couple of my students looking suspiciously like Cullen family groupies. It's a classic, and I have decided to devote a significant portion of my book reading this year to reading classics that I have never picked up!

I make it a point not to over-research things before I read them, so I really had no idea what I was getting into with Dracula. And I think that film has actually done a bit of a disservice to this novel. I wholly expected a somewhat graphic and horrific tale of a vampire running rampant around Europe. I am so very glad that I was wrong. It wasn't cheesy or gory, and it actually surprised me in it's thoughtfulness. I loved how many characters' points of view I was able to experience through letters and diary entries, and I enjoyed the complete lack of actual interaction with Dracula himself. Once you have gotten past the initial portion of the book with Jonathan Harker, Dracula himself is just a pleasant plot-driver. I think that mysterious foreboding feeling made the book so much more appealing that that of other novels' blatant and obvious villains.

I imagine that at the time this book was originally published, people squirmed in their seats while reading because they didn't exactly know what to expect, and even with vampires being thrust into the media so heavily these days, I STILL felt that. I think that's a good sign for any novel. It makes me wonder in some ways if a few decades down the road the Twilight Saga will still pack the same punch.

Overall, I was pleased and impressed, and I am so glad I picked this up for my first classic of the year!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'd like to thank the Academy...

I WON AN AWARD!!! This is the first for my blog, and hopefully there will be more to follow. :)

The rules of the award are:

Thank the person who gave the award to you.

I received this award from the fabulous Conscientious Reader! Thank you Stephanie for getting me into blogging and finding another way for me to outlet all my nerdiness. I also love having another common interest to share! :)

Post 7 random things about you.
  1. I could eat a cheeseburger a day for the rest of my life and be completely happy.
  2. I will never ever ever like Rhianna.
  3. I love tv shows on dvd. Lots.
  4. I learned how to use a VCR when I was a little girl by watching The Wizard of Oz over and over and over again.
  5. I'm actually a Louisiana born Southern girl, and oh, how I miss my accent!
  6. I used to "read" books to myself before I could actually read. I had my mom read them so many times that I knew all the words and when to turn the pages.
  7. I used to be really skeptical of eReaders and eBooks, but now I HEART MY KINDLE!
Give the award to 15 other blogs
Sorry, but I don't really know that many yet! Congratulations to...:
Historical Tapestry
Hyperbole and a Half
Polishing Mud Balls
Carly Robinson Crafts
Book Hounds
Smile and Wave
Notes from the North
The Black Sheep Dances
The Bookette

Contact the blogger and let them know they have won.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Books Really Matter To Me

I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a house where my parents encouraged reading. My mom enrolled us in tons of books clubs, so I constantly got new books in the mail. And every night, reading books was our "mommy and daughter time." We'd cozy up in my bed and she'd read a book to me. Sometimes the Bible, sometimes a Little Golden Book, sometimes the same Dr. Seuss book she'd already been forced to read three times that week.

I devoured books, and I'm not ashamed to say that my mother continued reading aloud to me at night until I was a teenager. I remember the last thing we read together was one of the books in the Left Behind series. Then, like all teenagers do, I got too cool for Mom, and we stopped.
But the thing about it is, the books stayed with me. I still read tons, and I read a lot as a teenager too. I still love being read aloud to, which I don't think reoccurred to me until my junior year of college when my boyfriend and I would read books aloud to each other while we cuddled on the couch. Even when it's artificial, like when I turn on my Kindle's text-to-speech feature, I still enjoy it.

Books get stored in my heart the way in a way that other forms of media never will be for me. I love movies, but I don't feel like they're a part of me, no matter how many lines I can quote. Music is more intense, but still doesn't matter to me as much as the things I read. My mom showed me how to make books and reading important, and that time that we spent together reading makes it even more a part of my heart. It's as though when I read, no matter where I am, she can be there reading with me.

Wow, after writing this post I'm glad I'm going to go see my mom this weekend. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Break from Reviews: Thoughts on Monday Morning

For those of you who don't know me, I feel I should begin by saying that I am a teacher, and that I live in a state that just got a ton of snow. A TON. We missed 4 days of school last week, which means this is the first time I have had to work in a week, the first time I've had to be up at a particular time in a week, and the first time I've really had to think about something other than reading books and blogging in a week. WOW.

I had a wonderful lot of fun with all of my free time, including really getting my blog started, redesigning it, joining a bunch of book challenges, and reading book reviews on other blogs. If you haven't looked closely, I'm in 9 book challenges. Last night, in an effort to forget that I had to work today, I planned out what I'm going to read for each of them. That was an interesting endeavor, but it's something I'm glad I did. I figured out where my overlaps were, what I would need to purchase or borrow, and just what sounded interesting. I think I'll edit this post when I get home and show you my choices.

One surprising thing I enjoyed while doing this was looking up the nationalities of authors. For example, Oscar Wilde is a personal favorite of mine, and I had no idea he was Irish! I also realized that I couldn't have named an Australian author or book to save my soul. When I get it posted, check out my list and see what you think!

Book Challenge Planning to Read
Nordic: (written by a Nordic author or taking place in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and/or Sweden)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

British: Books by British authors The White Queen, The Red Queen, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes, Wuthering Heights

Global: (Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, +1 from a "continent" of your choice) Haunting Jasmine (Asia), Like Water for Chocolate (South/Central America), Oscar and Lucinda (Australia), Snow Crash (Seventh Continent), The Yacoubian Building (Africa)

Eastern Europe
: (Croatia, Ukraine, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Belarus, Estonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Rep., Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Moldova, and Kosovo.)
War and Peace, Three Sisters, Crime and Punishment, Dracula,
Historical Fiction: Any historical fiction The White Queen, The Red Queen, The Name of the Rose
Ireland: (written by Irish author or taking place in Ireland) The Irish Princess, Dracula

South Asian
: (written by South Asian author or taking place in South Asia [Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives])
Haunting Jasmine

Memorable Memoirs
: Any memoir

Thin, Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood, Intern

any novel with Gothic characteristics

Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey, The Hound of the Baskervilles (Holmes), Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jane Eyre, The Name of the Rose, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book #5: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

This book was really out of character for me to read. I was drawn in by the historical fiction aspect, which is all that got me past the fact that this is a mystery/thriller -- genres which I normally lack the patience to read and enjoy.

This is a translation, and I personally thought it was very well done. There was only one time in my reading that I thought, "I think that XXXX was the word they really meant to use instead of YYYY."

As for the story, it's captivating. The history of it deals with it's location in Bavaria and the duties and families of hangmen. But what makes this book fascinating is the action that the hangman, Jakob Kuisl, takes to save a supposed criminal and out the right person to save the town. He works with the young town physician, who is in love with Jakob's daughter, Magdalena. Magdalena is a strong character in her own right, but is by no means the main character.

The inward struggles of characters in this story are what give it so much life, and what made me stay up until almost 3am today to finish it. I would definitely recommend this one!