Saturday, June 28, 2014

Recently Read: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Year Published: 2014
Status: Dualology, only book released
Page Count: 283
Rating: 4/5

I read To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han from my top ten books on my summer tbr list. I picked this one up on my Nook for $2.99, I was super excited to see this book in the bargain section. This was my first Jenny Han book, though I have heard good things about her other books too. The is the first book in a dualology, which I'm excited about. I thought the ending was good enough to be the end of the story, but I love that this book has a sequel.

This book is about Lara Jean who is the middle sister. Her older sister Margret is about to go to Scotland for college, and is dating the boy next door, who Lara Jean happens to have been in love with for many years. Her younger sister Kitty is nine and the baby of the family. Lara Jean has wrote letters to every boy she has been in love with over the years and stored them in a hat box, until one day the letters get sent out and Lara Jean finds herself dealing with the aftermath.

At first, Lara Jean's voice sounded really young. She is a Junior in high school in the book but for some reason she sounded so much younger to me and it was a little annoying until I got used to it. It could be because I read this after Bridget Jones's Diary which is narrated by a thirty-something woman, which could have made the teenage voice seem young. But after I got used to the voice I couldn't put this book down! It was funny and adorable. I was laughing at some of the situations Lara Jean got herself into and the dialogue was great.

This book has put me in the mood for YA contemporary, which is a genre that I usually don't buy, so I would love some suggestions.

This is a great summer read, and I'm excited for the sequel, Ps. I Still Love You which is set to release in 2015. I am also looking forward to checking out Han's other books, such as The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy and Burn for Burn which she co-wrote.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recently Read and Watched: Bridget Jones's Diary

Author: Helen Fielding
Genre: Adult Fiction
Year Published: 1996
Status: First in series, three books released
Page Count: 271
Rating: 5/5

I read Bridget Jones's Diary by Helene Fielding recently and loved it. I had never seen the movie, but I knew the book was a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I have also watched the movie since finishing the book and am here to share my thoughts on both.


The Book 
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the diary format, and the way it allowed the reader to really get to know Bridget's character. Bridget is a thirty-something single girl living in London who is under constant pressure from everyone to get married. She has a lovable group of friends, and a few romantic prospects. This book was so funny, the last scene of the book that takes place at Christmas had me laughing out loud. Bridget is so real and endearing. This book reminded me of Sex and the City which is one of my favorite shows. Both are full of funny, strong-willed women.

I liked the connection to P&P. I thought Bridget's mother was just as annoying and over-the-top as Mrs. Darcy. And the gentlemen lined up greatly as well. I don't want to say too much about the men and give it away, but if you are familiar with P&P it will be easy for you to place everyone with their parallel character.

Bridget is a great woman character, and she really is relateable. This book would make a great summer read. I am planing of picking up the sequel, Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason after I finish the book I am currently reading, and then I'm sure I will pick up the third book, which is a more recent release soon after.

The Film 
I had high expectations for this film because while reading the book I could so easily see it as a funny movie. The film is an entirely different story than the book! A few major similarities exist, but everything was in a different order, and the ending was completely different than the book. I was disappointed about the changed ending because I was looking forward to seeing that scene. With that said, I still enjoyed the movie. I thought the casting for the main characters was great. Collin Firth and Hugh Grant were perfect as Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver, and Renee Zellweger was a great Bridget. I would have liked to see Tom play a bigger part in the movie because he was quite funny in the book.

If you have seen this movie you should read the book, they are way different but both enjoyable. If you liked the tone and humor of the movie, you will enjoy the book as well. Also, reading the book and being able to picture Collin Firth as Mark Darcy is a plus! I plan on watching the second film after I read the second book.

What's your thoughts on this book-to-movie adaptation?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoughts on A Room of One's Own Part Two

Author: Virginia Woolf
Genre: Essay, Women's fiction
Year Published: 1920
Page Count: 114
Rating: 5/5

I finished Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own and am here with my thoughts on the second half of this essay.
Thoughts Part One

Overall, I really enjoyed this essay. It is very readable and approachable. Woolf makes a lot of great points about well known women authors such as the Brontes, Austen, and Elliot, but if you have not read any of their works you will still understand and get a lot out of this essay. In fact, you could read this essay with zero knowledge of literature at all and still understand the themes and concepts. In the second half of this essay, the narrator's tone develops a little sass, which I really enjoyed and some of her statements made me laugh because of the sass that was behind them. This essay never feels like a rant though, despite the sass. It stays professional and factual based. It is always fair and never bashes the male sex or pedestals the female sex above the male sex.

If you are a women writer, please read this book. If you are a woman, please read this book. It is worth your time.

Chapter Four 
Woolf states that the emergence of the middle class woman author, such as the Brontes, Austen, and Elliot, should be more important in history books than the Crusades. She also states that women's lack of life experience hinders them when they are trying to write fiction. Women also feel that they must defend or prove themselves when they write which leads to anger that is then visible in their fiction. 

Woolf makes a lot of great points about how the brain and soul is made of both male and female parts and that when one writes they should try to write a sexless work. Which is something that I agree with. Women should not try to write as a man, they should not try to write as a women, they should just write. 

Chapter Five
Woolf proposes that if we give womenkind another one hundred years they will come into their own. This piece was published in 1929, which is eighty-five years ago, and I can confidently say that women have made great progress in fiction as well as all other areas. 

Here's a sassy line:
"The poet was forced to be passionate or bitter, unless indeed he chose to "hate women," which meant more often than not that he was unattractive to them" (pg 88). 

Chapter Six
This essay ends with a call to action for women. Woolf abandons her narrator and speaks as herself. She is realistic and honest about the blockades women face and the fact that they will have to try harder if they wish to succeed in fiction. The last few paragraphs of this essay were excellent and if you read an part of this essay, read the last chapter. 

I'm looking forward to reading some of Woolf's fiction. I am planning to start with To the Lighthouse before I tackle her most well known work, Mrs. Dalloway . 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Trends

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is top ten cover trends I like or dislike, so I thought I would show some covers that I like and covers that I don't like.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Cover trends that I like:

1. Gorgeous Font 


2. Space 


3. One Main Image 


4. Just words, no images 


5. Beautiful Dresses 


6. Illustrated 


7. Winter


Cover Trends that I don't Like: 

8. Random People 


9. Cover Changes!!


What cover trends do you love? Which ones do you hate? Let me know, along with your thoughts on any of these books if you have read them. Some I've read and some I haven't.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thoughts on A Room of One's Own Part One

I have read the first three chapters of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. This is an essay which started as a series of lectures and was first published in 1929. In this essay Woolf explores the ideas of women and fiction.

Woolf's thesis is pretty simple; a women must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Woolf looks at women as writers of fiction and women as subjects of fiction throughout the essay. This is a rather short piece, my copy is one hundred and fifteen pages, but it is very powerful and full of truths. I find myself nodding my head in agreement with what Woolf's fictional narrator, Mary, is saying as I read.

Chapter One
Woolf speaks of the differences between women's and men's colleges. Women's colleges are poor, and therefore the education they receive is not up to par with the men's colleges. Woolf also speaks of a resentment towards past generations of women, in a very interesting passage. The women students feel that if their mothers and grandmothers had been able to earn some money the schools would not be so poor, but this feeling of resentment fades away with the knowledge that the past generations of women could not have raised money and children; any money they did earn would be property of their husbands just as they were. Woolf makes the importance of a stable income of your own very clear, as well as the idea that many women will never have the security of their own income. I had never really had a concrete answer for the why there are so many more male authors in the literary cannon than women authors, but this essay has lead to think that one of the main reasons is that women have always had to rely on others for their livelihood and when one is worried about food and clothes, one does not have much time for writing poetry or fiction.   

After being turned away from a men's library the narrator states:
"...And I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in; and, thinking of the safety and prosperity of one sex and of the poverty and insecurity of the other and of the effect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind of a writer" (pg 24). 

Woolf makes great points about the lack of tradition and examples women who wish to write fiction had to follow or look to at the time. 

Chapter Two
In the second chapter our narrator continues her research of these topics and finds that many men of knowledge and power that are speaking ill of women's abilities seem to have an underlying tone of anger, and she questions the reason for this anger. This chapter brings up some great theories on why the gender gap has survived as long as it has. This chapter also has a great section on how men use women as mirrors and magnifying glasses in order to build and maintain the patriarchy. 

Chapter Three 
This chapter started by pointing out the gap between how women are portrayed in fiction and how real women were treated at the time the fiction was wrote. Here Woolf creates perhaps the most well known symbol from this essay, Shakespeare's fictional sister; she is just as brilliant as her brother but dies by her own hand because she is unable to express her genius. This chapter's tone gets a little sassy when Woolf responds to a well known professor's statement that a women could/would never create anything as genius as Shakespeare, and I had to laugh when she brought out her sassy retort. 

"Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a women" (pg 49). 
Woolf at age 20
I will be sure to share my final thoughts on this essay once I finish it, but in the meantime I highly recommend checking this out if you are a women, a writer, a women writer, or a lover of Woolf and classical lit. I really just recommend this to everyone!  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Recently Read: These Broken Stars

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Year Published: 2013
Status: First in Trilogy, only book released
Page Count: 374
Rating: 4/5

I recently finished These Broken Stars by Amy Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This the first in a young adult sci-fy trilogy that is made up of companion novels, meaning each book takes place in the same universe but follows different characters. I'm not sure if the characters from the first book will appear in the second book or not, but I am eager to find out.

These Broken Stars starts out on the Titanic of spaceships which is named the Icarus. Tarvar is a war hero who has been invited on the ship because of his new fame and he feels out of place with the rich people on the ship. Lilac is the heiress of the galaxies richest company and daughter to the man who started the company. She is used to a life of luxury and never letting people get too close to her. The two meet and share a flirtation before disaster strikes and the ship suddenly falls out of hyper space. Lilac and Tarver crash land on another planet and are forced to survive and attempt to get themselves rescued.

The cover of this book caught my attention, and then I had heard it described as Titanic in space and  I decided to pick it up. This book does have a Titanic feel in the beginning, but the plot of this book is so much more involved. This book quickly developed into way more than I thought it would be. The survival aspect to this book was exciting and the twists and the surprises in the plot were page-turning. The relationship between the two characters develops realistically. There are really only two characters in this book, but yet it's not boring. Tarver and Lilac are both very well developed and realistic characters. Their relationship is sweet and selfless, but it didn't take over the whole book. The plot was intricate beyond their relationship.

This book is told  in dual perspectives alternating between Tarver and Lilac. Another element to this book that  I really liked was a little side plot that consisted of dialogue between Tarver and someone questioning him about their time on the planet. I'm excited for the next book in the series which is entitled This Shattered World and is being released in December, 2014. This book also has a beautiful cover.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Currently Reading: Update

I'm currently reading two books, but I haven't done much reading the past week or so. I'm trying to get back into the previous schedule I was on where I was finishing a book every two or three days.

The first book I'm reading is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. This is an essay Woolf wrote in 1929 regarding women authors and the challenges they face and things that hinder their creativity. I am only twenty five pages in, but I already have some thoughts on this piece and the piece has already made some powerful points. I think I might share my thoughts on this piece in two or more parts, but I am not sure yet. This piece is shorter, at one hundred and fifteen pages, but it is a slower scholarly read.


In order to break up A Room of One's Own, I have also started These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is a sci-fy young adult novel, that takes place in space. From what I can gather and from what I have heard about this book, it is like Titantic but in space. I'm about fifty pages in and the action is starting to pick up and I am enjoying it so far. This is the first book in a trilogy, but I believe the next two books are companion novels that take place within the same world but follow different characters which sounds interesting. The cover for the second book, which is set to release in December of this year, is just as gorgeous as this book's cover.

I plan to share my thoughts on these books when I finish them, as well as sharing my thoughts on some of the poems for Sylvia Plath's Ariel soon.

What are you reading?  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR

I have a huge list of books I want to read right now, and it's a little over whelming. Here's the top ten books I would love to read this summer. This list is in no particular order.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


1. On the Road, Jack Kerouac I am very eager to get into the Beat Nic scene and I think this is a good place to start. Plus its a classic road trip novel, what better's than a road trip novel in the summer?

2. Winger, Andrew Smith Contemporaries are great for the summer and this one promises to have a lot of heart, plus I hear it is the first in a series. I am interested in reading a contemporary series, as I never have before.

3. The Winner's Curse, Marie Rutkoski I have seen this one around since its release and I have been very intrigued. Then I saw it on multiple Top Ten books I have read so far this year lists and I decided I should move it up on my TBR list.


4. Choke, Chuck Palahniuk This will be my first Palahniuk, although I have seen the Fight Club movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am so eager to dive into his work. This one is about a man who makes his living by dining and pretending to choke in fancy restaurants.

5. Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi This is a nonfiction title I picked up extremely cheap at my local Goodwill. This is a memoir in books, about a female teacher in Tehran who has secret meetings with her students to read and discuss forbidden Western classics.

6. Bridget Jones' Diary, Helen Fielding I have never read this, and recently came across a used copy of the first and second in this series and decided to pick it up. It looks to be an entertaining read.


7. Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King This will be my first King book. I have heard great things about her books, which seem to have magical realism which I'm eager to experience.

8. To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Jenny Hann This is another summer time perfect contemporary.

9. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster I have owned this classic for a very long time, and this summer I feel myself drawn to books about self-discovery and self-empowerment. And look how gorgeous that Vintage publishing edition is!

10. Ariel, Sylvia Plath I am currently about half way through this collection of Plath poems and am enjoying it tremendously. I'm taking my time with each poem and have been enjoying listening to Plath read the poems herself via Youtube. I will be posting some thoughts on this collection soon.

What's on your summer TBR? What should I add to mine?       

Recently Read: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I just finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. This was the last of John Green's books that I had not read, and my third David Levithan book. I enjoy both author's writing and have large amounts of respect for them, so I knew I would enjoy this book. I really enjoy the ideas these two authors present in their books, as well as the way they present them. I never feel like I am reading a book for teenagers when I read their books, instead I just feel that I am reading a book with heart and high levels of thought.

This book is about Will Grayson, and Will Grayson. Both boys lead separate lives until their paths cross accidentally in Chicago, and their lives continue to cross from there. John Green writes from the prespective of one Will and David Levithan writes from the perspective of the other Will. 

This book has a cast of memorable characters and Tiny, Will Grayson #1's enormous and enormously gay best friend, steals the show. (Quite literally as there is a musical involved) This book was laugh out loud funny and quite touching as well. As always with Green and Levithan's books, this book makes great and thought provoking comments on the ideas of friendship, self-identity, and self-acceptance.Tiny and Will have a great friendship, which is cemented in this book. I enjoyed that romance was a smaller part of this book to the ideas of self-identity and friendship. It is also quite refreshing to read about a young gay character who is proud of who they are, and doesn't even give the idea that they are different a second thought. Because they aren't different and when this idea is presented in books along with characters who are fully accepting of themselves and refuse to see their sexuality as something they should ever struggle to hide or find acceptance from others about, this idea of there being two groups of people, homosexuals and heterosexuals, with start to dissipate. Levithan's characters meet this persona in many of his books and it is one of the reasons I enjoy them as much as I do. 

This book was a quick read and I picked it up because I didn't know what I was in the mood to read, but I knew this would be a pick that I was sure to enjoy. Please read this book, and check out John Green and David Levithan's other books as well. Specifically:

Also, has anyone heard any news on when we can expect the next new John Green book?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Recently Read: Macbeth No Fear Shakespeare Graphic novel

In my Thoughts on Shakespeare post I mentioned wanting to find a form of reading Shakespeare that incorporated visuals with the text in order to marry the modern Shakespeare experience to the original Shakespeare experience. Teaching and reading Shakespeare is a challenge and I was excited to see that No Fear Shakespeare, a sector of fully dedicated to Shakespeare's works, had come out with graphic novel adaptations of some of The Bard's plays. I picked up three, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. This post is my thoughts on the first of the graphic novels I have read, Macbeth.

The basic plot of Macbeth can be boiled down to this: Macbeth murders someone in order to become king and then continues to murder everyone he comes across.

Thoughts on the graphic novel:
Macbeth is illustrated by Ken Hoshine, each graphic novel in this series is illustrated by a different person which gives each novel a unique feel. The illustrations are black and white, and accompany the play very well. This graphic novel is written in modern English, which is helpful for understanding the plot and reading quickly, but I would love to find a graphic novel that uses the original Shakespearean language, so if you know of any let me know! I have never read the original Macbeth, though I was familiar with the famous lines and the basic plot of the play. One thing about reading Shakespeare in this form is it can be a little difficult to keep up with the characters. In Macbeth there are a lot of men who are fairly similar and can be easily confused. The book does give you a list of characters and their portraits to refer to in the front of the book which I thought was great. I really enjoyed the visual's of this graphic novel and would highly recommend it  in combination with Shakespeare's original work, or for a Shakespeare lover.

Thoughts on Macbeth:
I would have loved to see this play preformed in Elizabethan England! I would love to see how they would have done the scenes with the three witches on stage. Though to be honest I would love to see any Shakespeare piece in Elizabethan England. I find it interesting that the protagonist of this play is essentially the villain and would love to read the original play to read Macbeth's thoughts after he has gone crazy, as well as Lady Macbeth, because she is one crazy lady!
I am seeking out a well done film adaption of this play so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Famous Lines:
Out, damned spot; out, I say. One, two,—why, then ’tis time to do’t.--Lady Macbeth

Something wicked this way comes--Three Witches

Double double toil and trouble--Three Witches

Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.--Macbeth


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Literature Lover and Future English Teacher's Thoughts on Shakespeare

As you may know, I am a true lover of literature. I love literature in all forms and love to take the time to appreciate its worth and beauty. I am also attending college to earn a degree in Secondary English Education so I can become a high school English teacher. These two factors affect the way  I read and view Shakespeare. As a literature lover I am in awe of his talent and powerful themes, but as a future teacher I see him as a challenge and a difficult objective for students to conquer. Whenever I read something, I can't help myself but to view it as possible future teachable material. So I thought I would share my experience with The Bard and ask for you to share your thoughts and ideas about him as well.

How much Shakespeare have I read?
As of now I have only read three plays, and a handful of sonnets. My freshman year of high school I read Romeo and Juliet which is my favorite Shakespeare play I have read so far. My sophomore year of high school I read A Midsummer's Nights Dream which I did not enjoy at all. The last play I read was Othello which I read last semester in my college English class. I also read a handful of his more popular sonnets in my college poetry class last semester as well. I would of course like to read more so leave me your favorites. (Update: I have now taken an entire college course dedicated to Shakespeare. While I have read more of his works now, I still feel the same allure by his mysteriousness and awe at the timelessness of this themes and characters.)

Why is Shakespeare so difficult?
Of course the poetic and old English language used in his plays and poetry make Shakespeare less approachable for the modern reader, but I also believe that the medium in which we study Shakespeare makes his work less approachable. Plays are of course meant to be preformed and seen as a visual, not read as words on a page. When I teach Shakespeare in my classroom I want to incorporate as many visuals of the work as possible to help readers get the full Shakespeare experience.

One way I would love to do this is by incorporating graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare's works into the classroom. I am currently reading a graphic novel of Macbeth which was published by No Fear Shakespeare which is a part of Sparknotes and a really great resource for help with Shakespeare's plays. I highly recommend you check out both Sparknotes and their No Fear Shakespeare section. I would like to read a variety of different adaptions in order to find the best options. I would love to find one that keeps the original Shakespeare language but adds visuals to aid in the understanding of the language.

Tips for reading Shakespeare
Before reading a play, I would suggest looking up the very basic plot line on Sparknotes. Knowing where the story is heading and who the characters are will help you keep track of the plot once you are thrown into the lofty Shakespearean language. Also don't be afraid to utilize Sparknotes to check your understanding and to make sure you are catching the bigger ideas at work within the play.
If you are new to Shakespeare I would suggest starting with one of his comedies, or Romeo and Juliet, they will serve as a great introduction to Shakespeare. And of course, remember to appreciate his perfect iambic pentameter and thought provoking monologues and soliloquies.

Shakespeare's works take a great effort to read, but the benefits are truly rewarding. Look out for my review of the Macbeth graphic novel within the next few days as well as leaving your thoughts down below, I would love to hear them!      

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books I have read so far this year

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is the top ten books I have read so far this year. I have read a lot of great books this year and have read a lot of book in general. June marks the half-way point for 2014 and I am quiet pleased with my reading so far for this year. My list is in no particular order.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


1. Elanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell This book was so sweet and filled me with huge amounts of nostalgia. I reviewed it here.

2. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak This book was suspenseful and very substantial, Zusak is a really great writer. I reviewed this novel  here.

3. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare I read all three book of the Infernal Devices trilogy back-to-back and loved them all, but the final book in the trilogy was my favorite. This is such a great trilogy and Clockwork Princess was a great conclusion to the trilogy.


4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas  I read this back in March and throughly enjoyed it, as well as the sequel and prequel. I am eagerly awaiting the third novel's release in September. This series has got me really excited, which hasn't happened with a series in a long time. My review is  here.

5. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson I read this book for a paper I had to write in my children's literature class. I just picked this book up on a whim because it fit the category of book I needed, and was so impressed by it. The writing style is so unique.

6. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan I just read this book last month, and really loved it. Levithan is such a heartfelt writer and his books are so powerful and funny. My review is here.


7. Hopless by Colleen Hoover This book was the biggest surprise for me this year, I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. My review is here.

8. Obsidian by Jenifer L. Armount This is the first book in the Lux series, which is by far the most addicting series I have read this year. I have read the first three books, and I am planning on reading the fourth book before the final book's release in August. My review for the first two books is here.

9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde This is my favorite classic I have read so far this year. I love Oscar Wilde and I think he is brilliant. My in-depth review is here.

10. How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan This is a collection of short stories about the start of new relationships or self discovery. I really enjoyed everyone one of these stories and loved the diversity of couples that was in this collection.