Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: Graphic Novel Overload!

What's New:
Not a whole lot! I'm enjoying not having any homework, and ignoring the few school related things I need to accomplish over the summer in the hopes that they will go away (they won't). I'm trying to get myself to read more, but it seems I'm always busy even though I'm not doing anything! But I got a large stack of graphic novels from the library (more on those below) so I'm hoping I will wiz through those.

What I Got from the Library:
I went on a graphic novel spree at my library this week! I'm hoping to read some to catch up on my reading challenge, and I have been waiting for Summer so I could use my hometown library again. So, here's what I picked up and will be reading and reviewing very soon.

Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by Wilson Alphona

Vincent by Barbara Stok 

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Wonder Woman Vol 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins

Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

What I Posted:
Monday- I reviewed Maas' new novel A Court of Thorns and Roses
Tuesday- I shared Ten Books From my Beach Bag
Wednesday- I asked for your opinion on the things in my Amazon Cart
Thursday- I posted another installment in my Literary Look Series, this one on European Romanticism

Last Week's Wrap-Up

What's Next: 
Lots of graphic novel reviews! That shouldn't be a surprise! Then, I would love to do more Literary Look Posts, now that I have the time to put them together, and I'm thinking about starting a new series where I showcase some of my favorite old editions of books I own; what do you guys think? 

Stacking the Shelves Hosted by: Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by: The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Literary Look: European Romanticism

Today's Literary Look post is on European Romanticism. Admittedly, this is a movement that I haven't read much from myself, so I hoped that in doing this post I myself would learn more about the movement and the works and I certainly have. As always, this will be a very long post, so thanks in advance for sticking with me, and please let me know your thoughts on the movement, the works mentioned in this post, or any thing important I forgot.

Links go to the pieces of work themselves, or more information
on a topic or subject.

General Information:
Romanticism was an intellectual movement that moved through out all of Europe in the late 1700's and early 1800's, and the movement impacted all areas of intellectual thinking including art, theology, science, and even politics. The movement was a response to the Neoclassicism movement which included a return to Classical Greek and Roman influences with emphasis on logic, wit, technical precision and order. The Neoclassicism movement was full of satires, essays, and parodies.(Authors such as Alexander Pope and Jonathon Swift were a part of this movement.) The movement has also been said to have been a response to the Industrial Revolution. Romanticism placed an emphasis on feeling and emotion especially feelings of horror, terror, or awe. As you can see, Romanticism is quite the opposite of Neoclassicism, and the feelings of awe and terror were quite often depicted with the help of nature and religious imagery.

The German poet Friedrich Schlegel was the first to apply the term Romanticism to this movement, and he defined it as, "Literature depicting emotional matter in an imaginative form." American Literature also experienced a Romantic movement that I will discuss in a separate post. 
This website  has a couple of really great definitions of Romanticism and Neoclassicism if you would like to read more.    

The below group of poets are considered to be the key figures in the romantic movement. Romantic poetry can be very difficult to read and extremely lengthy. Poems usually consist of elevated language and mythological and religious allusions that can add to the difficulty of reading these poets.
William Wordsworth- Wordsworth's and Coleridge's collection of poems titled Lyrical Ballads (1798) is widely considered to be the launch of the Romantic Era. Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850. His major works include "I wondered Lonely as a Cloud" and his semi-autobiographical (and very lengthy poem) "The Prelude" is considered his masterpiece.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge- As mentioned above, he aided in the founding of this movement along with Wordsworth, but Coleridge was also a literary critic and philosopher. He published very important critical works on Shakespeare, as well as the poems, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner " and "Kubla Khan." Coleridge's critical works are responsible for many literary terms used today, such as 'the suspension of disbelief'.
Lord Byron- Lord Byron is a very interesting character. He was very well traveled, and was known for his flamboyancy and love of excess, large outstanding debts, and self-imposed exile. He had many love affairs with both genders, fathered a number of children with different women, and there was even rumors of scandalous liaisons with his half-sister. He fought in the Greek War for Independence and died at the age of thirty-six as a result of fever contracted from his time in the war. Byron spent a lot of time with the Shelleys (more on them in a minute) and had an affair with Marry Shelley's stepsister. The Greeks were in anguish over the death of Lord Byron, and it is rumored that his heart remains in Greece, while the rest of his body is buried in England. (Westminster Abbey tuned his body away because of his "questionable moralities,") His most well-known works include, "She Walks in Beauty" and "Don Juan."

Percy Bysshe Shelley- Shelley was considered a radical in both his poetry and political views and did not achieve high recognition until after his death. Many publication were afraid to post his works because of how radical they were. He was married to Marry Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and was an influential poet in the founding of the Romanticism literary movement. Shelley is listed as influential to many writers and poets. Shelley drowned a month before his thirtieth birthday, and there has been much suspicion and speculation surrounding his death. His major works include, "Ozymandias" and "Ode to the West Wind"   
William Blake- Blake was much older than his counterparts in the Romanticism circle, and was a painter, poet, and print-maker. Blake was highly influenced by religion and highly religious himself, although he didn't like organized religion and was hostile towards The Church of England; his works tend to focus on "The body of God and human existence itself." He was influenced by both the French and the American Revolutions. One of his most well-known collections is Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience .

John Keats- Keats is the romantic poet that I am most familiar with. His poetry and letters are notoriously romantic (romantic with a little 'r' refers to love and romance, Romantic with a big 'R' refers to the movement and overall idea of the movement). Keats died very young, at the age of twenty-five, of tuberculous and the letters he wrote to his beloved Fanny Brawne when he knew he was dying are quite touching and arguably some of the best love letters ever written. Keats is well-known for his Odes (a lyrical poem addressed to a particular subject, usually an object or animal, that often has an elevated style and no regular meter) from 1819 which include, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" "Ode on Indolence" Ode on Melancholy" Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode to Psyche." Interestingly, Keats poetry was not well received until after his death, and he is now one of the most widely studied English poets. I recommend checking out his love letters, and his two most widely read Odes: "On a Grecian Urn" and "To a Nightingale." Keats was also very much loved by my favorite person in history: Oscar Wilde.    

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- Mary Shelley (wife of Percy who is mentioned above) wrote Frankenstein, one the most well-known English novels, and one of the first science fiction novels, at the age of nineteen. The novel started as a short story that was composed over a short span of a few weeks while Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Mary Shelley (Godwin), and her step sister Claire (who was pregnant with Lord Byron's baby) were stuck inside because of the heavy rains in Geneva. The novel has a really interesting origin story, that includes Shelley's "Walking dream" of a student looking over the "Thing" he had created. Although I have not yet read the original novel, I have read this beautiful Graphic Novel Adaptation, and I understand that the novel is a very complex and powerful piece of writing, that touches on enormous themes. John Green's Crash Course video on this novel is fantastic and I highly recommend you check it out.   

Alexandre Dumas- Dumas is a French author, whom I am rather unfamiliar with besides vague details. I have not read any of his works, but they are of course infamous and highly praised. His life work amounts to approximately 100,000 pages of writing, as he wrote fiction, plays, magazine articles, and travel books. His well known novels include: The Three Musketeers, and The Count of Monte Cristo. In the style of wealthy French-Men, Dumas had many affairs and children out of wedlock. His son, also named Alexandre Dumas would become a well-known and praised author himself.

Wander Above the Sea of Fog by Capar David Friedrich
This image often accompanies the text of Shelley's Frankenstein and the Romantic Movement.

Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix 
The French Revolution inspired those who were not witnessing it first hand more than those who were, and the English poets mentioned above were especially influence by the Revolution. This is the painting of the French Revelation and I am sure you recognize it, at least from the Cold Play album if nothing else!  

The Wikipedia page on Romanticism  gives a great overview of the movement and links to each author, plus lots of examples of visual art from the movement.

There is so much more from this movement that I would like to cover, but I highly encourage you to do more research on what interests you, and let me know what you find out!

My American Romanticism Post

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's in my Amazon Cart?

Here's what is currently sitting in my Amazon cart, waiting to be purchased. What did you guys think of these reads? Should I buy them, get them from the library, or skip them altogether?

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My Beach Bag is Full of Books

I love reading at the beach or while floating in the pool! I live about thirty minutes away from a cute little lake beach, and I'm hoping to go a couple of times this summer, and I have a pool in my back yard where I will hopefully get a lot of reading and sunning done, if the weather cooperates that is. So here are ten books on my TBR that I think would be great to take to the pool or beach.


1. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
My first beach read of the summer was Christie's And Then There Were None which I really enjoyed. I love Christie's mysteries and think they make great beach reads because they are so entertaining and hard to put down, I just get totally engrossed in them which is the kind of read you need at the beach.

2. The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
I'll Give You the Sun is my favorite book of the year so far, so I am really eager to read Nelson's first novel. I know it will be emotional, but I think summer is a great time to read emotional books.

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sanenz
I tend to read more contemporaries in the summer than the fall and winter, and I have been hearing great things about this one for a very long time.

4. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster 
This is a classic coming of age and self-discovery story that I think would be perfect for the summer. The story takes place during an over-seas vacation, and there is a romance- perfect for summer.

5. Just One Day, Gayle Forman
Another coming of age/self-discovery novel that takes places in Europe. Since I'm not doing any major traveling this summer, I will have to read about it to get my fill. 

6. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Yet another adventure novel, I think this one will be perfect to read at the beach, or anywhere outside, as it is all about breaking out of the confines of society and material life and living in the wild. 


7. Juliet Immortal, Stacey Jay
I bought this one as a summer read last year, but never got to it. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling and the first in a dualology. This one sounds full of tragic romance and seems like it will be a quick, light read.

8. Travels with my Aunt, Graham Greene
Another traveling classic that begs to be read in the summer. This one is supposed to be rather funny, and is a memoir. I loved The End of the Affair by Greene so I am eager to read more of his works.  

9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future for You, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Joss Whedon
I picked this one up used at my library for like fifty cents! I plan to read a lot of graphic novels this summer as I like to get them from my library, and I am home for the summer and once again close to my library. I love Buffy, and I think graphic novels are perfect summer pool or beach reading, as you can read them in an hour or less usually. 

10. Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock, Caroline Keene 
I think this series would be a great reread for pool reading, as they are engaging mysteries and quite quick to get through. I recently picked up a couple of the new Nancy Drew covers so I am hoping to give them a reread this summer by the pool. 

What's in your beach bag? What books are you drawn too in the summer? 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Recently Read: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/ Retelling
Status: First in trilogy or series (If you know which one, please let me know!)
Publication Date: 2015
Page Count: 416
Rating: 5/5

Also by Sarah J. Maas:
The Assassin's Blade
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire

Feyre is providing for her crippled father and two older sisters at the age of nineteen. She teaches herself to hunt after her family's fall from riches to poverty and the death of her mother in a world where fairies and humans both exist but are now separated. The fairies killed and owned the humans for years, and Feyre and the other humans have a deep dislike of them. One day Feyre finds herself at the mercy of a fairy and is forced to live in their world, but soon Feyre discovers there is more to her captor than she thought, and his world and her world are in trouble. 

Of course I was super excited to pick this one up as soon as it came out because I love Maas' Throne of Glass Series and I love Beauty and the Beast which this is a loose retelling of, and of course I loved this book. It was so addicting and had the perfect amount of action, emotion, romance, and suspense. My favorite thing about the  Throne of Glass Series and Maas' writing in general, is how real and raw her characters are, and this book is no exception. I am obviously more attached to  the TOG characters because I have read more about them and know them better, but I think these characters have the potential to be just as important to me. 

Feyre is another strong, kick-ass female character, and although I was a little afraid she would be too similar to Celaena, she was her own character with her own strong voice. I loved the Beauty and the Beast retelling elements in the story and the new twists on the fairy tale. The villain is viscous and so hate-able, and I'm sensing an even more evil and more hate-able villain will appear later in the series. 

I'm not sure how long this series will be, but I do think it has great potential. The world and characters are rich and so intriguing, and I'm not sure where this series will end up. The romance in this one is quite steamy, but not over-the-top. I'm hoping to get more character development out of the love interest in the next book in the series, but I really liked him in this book (although I couldn't help but picture him as the prince from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.) Maas is forever on my auto-buy authors list!

What did you think of this one? Are you as excited as I am for Queen of Shadows

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: T.G.I.S. (Thank God it's Summer!)

What's New:
It's finally summer break! I am so excited to be done with this semester of school, as it was my busiest one to date, and so ready to get as much reading and lounging in as I can before school starts up again. I was so busy with the end of the semester, and then I went on vacation the day after I took my last final, so it's been like a month since my last wrap-up! So this is going to be a catch-up wrap-up. 

Reading Update:
Since it has been so long since I have done a wrap-up, I thought I would just share the books I have reviewed lately, and then fill you in on what I am currently reading. 

Tracks by Louise Edrich (This one was a total surprise love for me)
Mosquitoland by David Arnold (I would love to hear your thoughts on this one)

Currently Reading and What's Next
I'm currently reading and loving (naturally) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I found this one at my local independent bookstore for 50% off on it's release date, and you best bet I scooped that sucker up! Next, I really want to read The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski, which came out during the busy crunch time of the semester; I'm really eager to get to it! 

What I Bought:
I've been relativity good with my book buying lately, I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses for half off, like I mentioned above, and then I picked up Burial Rites by Hannah Kent in the bargain section of my grocery store. 

What I Posted:
Highlights from the past month include:

Monday- I reviewed White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. I love this guy; he is a genius. 
Tuesday- I recommend my Top Ten Favorite Classic Movies that I could watch over-and-over (and believe me, I have seen them all a million times.)
Wednesday- I reviewed my first summer read of this year, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

What's Next: 
I'm not sure... as usual. I want to spend this weekend working on some posts now that I have more time to blog. I'm really looking forward to writing up posts that take a little bit longer to compose, like my Literary Look posts and my Poetry Spotlight posts. I also hope to get a good number of reviews up this summer and catch up on my Goodreads challenge since I am like eight books behind! 

Stacking the Shelves Hosted by: Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by: The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

What have you been up to lately? Is it summer for you yet? How are your reading challenges going?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Theme Spotlight: Spirituality and Faith in Classics

A while ago I did this Theme Spotlight: Gender in Young Adult post, and decided to do another one of these. Lately, I have read a couple of books that deal with the concepts of religion, faith, and spirituality, so I thought I would highlight a few of them here. Now, I'm not a very religious person myself, but I enjoyed all of these novels and the comments they made about religion, and the bigger component that all religions share: faith, and found them very though provoking and interesting, as well as just enjoyable reads.

Tracks by Louise Erdrich is a novel I read for my American Literature class last semester, and before being assigned it, I had never heard of it or the author. This book was really great, and I'm really glad I found this author. The characters in this novel are Native American, and the novel examines Native American spirituality as well as the Catholic religion. The magical realism that accompanies the Native American spirituality in this novel are quite beautiful.

I also read Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut for my American Lit class. This was my first Vonnegut, and I loved it. Vonnegut created his own religion for this novel, and it's so realistic and poetic. This novel is a satire of religion and faith and how humans turn to these concepts to help them deal with sadness and fear. Vonnegut is quite brilliant, and this book sparks so much discussion on human nature, and although it does satire human nature, it never crosses the line to become offensive.

The End of the Affair was my first Graham Greene novel, and I was really surprised by how much I loved it. The writing was beautiful and the characters so flawed and real. The religious aspects of this novel surprised me while I was reading it, as I didn't expect religious faith to be a huge theme in this novel, but I loved the way it was done. This novel pits religious faith and duty against personal wishes. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Recently Read: And Then There Were None

Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Classic- Mystery
Status: Stand Alone
Publication Date: 1940
Page Count: 234
Rating: 4/5

Ten strangers are summoned to Solider Island for various reasons by various acquaintances, and one by one they start dying. Trapped on the island by a storm, will they be able to find out who the killer is and stop them before they are all dead?

This is my second Christie mystery I have read, and her most well-known mystery. It has sold over 100 million copies and is the world's best selling mystery. I have been wanting to read this forever, and I finally picked up a copy in a box set of Christie's most well-known works, and now that its summer (YAY!!) I decided to take this one on vacation with me and read it on the beach. This was a great beach read and a great way to start off my summer reading.

The mystery was so entertaining and clever! I had a hard time putting this one down because I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. I loved how Christie used the nursery rhyme to guide the mystery, and even with that outline, the book was still suspenseful and surprising. The characters are developed the perfect amount, and the setting of the novel adds to the mystery and creepy atmosphere.  

The beginning of my edition has a note from Christie's autobiography regarding the challenge of writing this novel. She says,
"I had written this book because it was so difficult to do that the idea fascinated me... I wrote this book after a tremendous amount of planning, and I was very pleased with what I had made of it.. It was well received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been."
 I really admire Christie. She was so accomplished; she is third in book sales world-wide to only Shakespeare and the Bible, and on top of writing sixty-six mysteries, she wrote fourteen short story collections and the world's longest running play, The Mousetrap. What is so great about Christie is that she accomplished all of this while writing under her own (obviously female) name. (Side note: Christie also wrote six romance novels under the pen-name Mary Westmacott.)  

I'm really eager to pick up more Christie this summer, and I have a few on my TBR shelf right now, but I would love for you to leave me your favorite Christie novels (or any other mystery novels) below so I can check them out. I'm also interested in picking up her autobiography, so let me know if you have read that as well!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Classic Movies

Movies aren't something I talk about a lot on the blog, but I really love watching them,especially old films. They are just so comfortable for me; I'm not a fan of action movies or violence in movies and special effects usually don't blow me away, so this era of movies is perfect for me. The actors and actresses are all so beautiful and I love the humor. So here is a list of ten of my favorite classic movies, that I highly recommend you check out this summer. 


1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes-- Staring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell
This is a hilarious movie with great music, and Monroe is absolutely stunning in this film, it is impossible to take your eyes off of her. 

2. Breakfast at Tiffany's-- Staring Audrey Hepburn
Duh! I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. 

3. The Seven Year Itch-- Staring Marilyn Monroe
Another super funny movie- and so iconic! 


4. Rear Window-- Starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly 
This is one of my favorite Hitchcock's and its really thrilling. Plus I love Jimmy Stewart.

5. Charade-- Staring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant
This is thrilling, suspenseful, unpredictable, funny and has the most beautiful man in all of history in it, Cary Grant.  

6. Casablanca-- Staring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
Again. duh! I will never tire of this movie


7. It's a Wonderful Life-- Staring Jimmy Stewart
My mom and I watch this one every Christmas, and I still cry. I just love this movie so much! 

8. Some Like it Hot- Staring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon, and Tony Curtis
This movie always cracks me up. Monroe is a great comedy actress. 

9. Barefoot in the Park-- Staring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda
Do you remember the show Dharma and Greg? He was an uptight lawyer and she was a hippie and they got married? Well this is the movie that the show is based off of. Plus, Robert Redford is too beautiful for this world.  

10. The Big Sleep-- Staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall 
The over-the-top drama of this one sucked me in, and I loved every minute of this crime noir film. I want to watch more crime films for this era, and Bogart is a great actor for these tough guy roles. 

So, what are some of your favorite classics movies?