Sunday, July 28, 2013


Cleopatra VII has always interested me. I find women who have stretched the boundaries of their time to be quite fascinating and inspiring. Last summer, I read Cleopatra A Life by Stacy Schiff. This is a biography of the Queen of Egypt and covers her whole life. The book of course thoroughly covers Cleopatra's relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, which I found to best the most interesting part of the book. I like the way the book was written it was not boring or drab by any means.
The other night I finally watched Cleopatra staring Elizabeth Taylor (you know, the four hour long movie which made Liz Taylor the first female actress to be paid a million dollars for a role). I was a little unsure of how I would feel about the movie, and I was expecting it to be very inaccurate. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was dramatic, but drama is good. The costumes and  locations used in the movie were exquisite, and Liz looked amazing as the Queen of Egypt. I found the movie to be more accurate than I was expecting, but of course some details were left out or changed but that is to be expected. I enjoyed both the biography and the movie version of Cleopatra's story, and both have fueled my interest in her and her place in time and history.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Recently Read: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness has been on my reading list for a very long time. I finally decided to pick it up from the library and read it, and I'm so glad I did. This was another quickly finished book with many nights of staying up way too late to read it. This is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second book, Shadow of Night is the next book I plan on reading and I can't wait to start it.

Diana Bishop is a Yale professor who is working at Oxford for the summer. She has a PHD in the history of science and her specialty is alchemy. Dianna Bishop is also a witch with magical powers, but she seldom uses her powers because of her fear of them and how magic played a hand in her parents’ death. While taking notes in the library, Dianna recalls a book, Ashmole 782, from the shelves. This book has been lost for centuries and is rumored to hold the history and purpose of the three groups of creatures that exist in the world: witches, daemons, and vampires, but of course Diana does not know this. 

Matthew Clairmont, who is a colleague of Oxford and a vampire, witnesses Dianna use magic in the library, and knows that she has been able to recall the much sought after Ashmole 782. The two embark on a forbidden love affair and Matthew vows to protect Dianna from the other creatures trying to reach the manuscript through her powers.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was fast paced with the right amount of action, suspense, and romance. Matthew has reawakened my love for attractive, protective vampires. The novel contains references to history (told by a very old vampire who has lived through some of the world's largest events) and the second book promises to contain even more historical interest. I would recommend this book, even if you think magic isn't your genre of reading. I don't want to give too much away, but the second book promises to be just as exciting as the first.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thoughts on Myself as a Reader

I heard someone talking on the internet the other day about how they had developed as a reader over time and how their taste in books have changed and stayed the same. This got me thinking about what I used to enjoy reading when I was younger, and what I enjoy reading now. I have come to discover that my tastes have not changed as much as I would have expected them to have changed.

Before I could read, I always begged my parents to read to me, and it didn't matter what they read. One of my favorite stories to read was the story of Persephone from Greek Mythology. What a weird thing for a four year kid to love reading right? It was in a larger book of myths and legends and it was my favorite one, I could open up to the story automatically without searching for it. Today, I still love stories that have survived the test of time, and come from years ago. I love classic novels; I am always up for the challenge of completing one.  

When I started to read on my own, I enjoyed the Magic Tree House series and the American Girl Doll series, the start of my love for historical fiction.

As I grew older, I held a few books in very high regards. I read Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo at least three times, and read Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan multiple times. The School Story, as well as everything else Andrew Clements wrote, and Deenie by Judy Blume were also among my favorite books. When I grouped all these books together, I realized their common theme: a strong female character. I still love reading books with strong female characters, and my favorite books contain a strong female lead.

I was surprised to see that my twelve year old self could predict the reader I would be at almost twenty years old.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Recently Read: An Abundance of Katherines

I just finished my first John Green novel. I was looking for something light and quick that I could finish in a short amount of time. I usually go for large and serious novels when book shopping, and I sometimes find myself in the mood for something light and quick but no options on my shelf. I picked this one up because I like Green's YouTube channels and have heard a lot of great things about his novels. "The Fault in our Stars" seemed to be a little to heavy for my light mood so I went with this one that I had never heard of before.
The main character Collin has dated, and been dumped by nineteen girls in his life, all named Katherine. He is a child prodigy with one best friend, who is overweight, Muslim, and hilarious. After Collin's heart is broken by Katherine XIX, he embarks on a road trip with his best bud. They end up in a small town in Tennessee named Gutshot, where Collin tries to work on his mathematical theorem that will predict how long relationships will last and who will be the dumper and who the dumpee.
I finished this book in three days. It was laugh out loud funny, but yet had so much heart. Collin is afraid of becoming a washed up child prodigy, who never turns into a genius and who will never be remember. His overwhelming fear of not mattering to the world is very relatable and real. I enjoy John Green's sense of humor in real life and in his writing. I am anxious to read some of his other novels after this. I am very pleased with the way Green can write a light and funny story that still makes an impact on the reader and evokes thought.    

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Riddle of the Sphinx

"She had a passion for secrecy, but she herself was merely a sphinx without a secret."
-Oscar Wilde
The Sphinx Without a Secret  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Recently Read: Juliet

Just yesterday I finished Juliet by Anne Fortier. I picked up this book a while ago, and knew nothing about it before reading the back and decided it sounded good. I love books about other books or authors (I'm going to call this genre literary fiction because I don't know if it has a real name, or what that name would be). Recently, everything I have bought or read has belonged to this genre.

The main character of the book is Julie Jacobs. She has a twin sister, Janice, who she does not get along with and the girls live with their Aunt Rose. Neither of the girls remember their parents, or their life in Italy before both of their parents died and they went to live in the States with Aunt Rose. Their aunt passes away and Julie embarks on a journey to Italy to find a mysterious treasure her mother was looking for when she died. Julie finds out some shocking facts on her journey, for example her real name and her famous ancestor who is believed to be the basis for Shakespeare's Juliet. The book also tells the story of Giulietta and Romeo, going back and forth between 1340 and the present as Julie discovers the story of her ancestors and an ancient curse her mother believed was still harming the ancestors of all involved with the young lover's deaths.
I really liked this book. The characters are funny and relatable, and the author's creation of the original Romeo and Juliet is intriguing and romantic. The book has so many twists and surprises that keep you excited, but it is easy to follow. Even if you are not a fan of the Shakespeare play, I would recommend this book. Julie is a strong main character, as well as Giulietta. I believe they are just as strong as Juliet in Shakespeare's version.    

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Herosim Defined

"Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth and it is just. It is generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations and scornful of being scorned.  It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness and of a fortitude not to be wearied out. Its jest is the littleness of common life. That false prudence which dotes on health and wealth is the foil, the butt and merriment of heroism"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Emerson can take any infinite topic and present it in a way that allows humanity to wrap their heads around it. His way of thinking is entirely his own, but yet it is easy to understand and agree with. When you read his work, you get the warm and satisfying feeling that he would agree with whatever is going through your head that day, even if you think you are the only one to ever think or feel that way. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Best Tragic Love Stories

I must say, I enjoy a good tragic love story now and again. Sometimes they seem more real, and easier to relate to than the dime a dozen romance novel. Shakespeare once said, "Expectation is the root of all disappointment." Okay, he probably never said that, but the tumblr Shakespeare did, and I think it's a good point. Moral of the story, lower your expectations and in turn lower your disappointment by reading a good tragic love story to keep your romantic day dreaming in check.

1. Romeo and Juliet- Shakespeare --Could I make this list and not include it?--

2. Tristan and Iseult-This is an old legend but I have the version translated by Joseph Bedier --The original tragic love story.--

3. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte --So, so good, the characters are amazing.--

4. The Time Travelers Wife- Audrey Niffengger -- There is no argument, this is the saddest book I have ever read, but yet it is one of the best too. The movie was awful, so read it even if you have already seen it.--

5. Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy -- I haven't read this one, but I would like to. I may just settle for watching the new movie version with Keria Knightly and Jude Law instead though.--