Monday, August 31, 2015

Recently Reread: Midwinterblood

Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Young Adult
Status: Stand-Alone
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 262
Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts after the first read First read September 2014

Midwinterblood was the Printz Award winner for 2014

Because this is a reread for me, I thought I would do a spoiler free section of this review and another section that gives away a few plot points, because I really want to get my thoughts about this one down. So the first section will be spoiler free, and the second section will contain more in depth thoughts. If you have read this, I would love to discuss it with you in the comments. My first read review linked above is also spoiler free. 

This book doesn't really have a synopsis on it any where. I went into it totally blind when I read it for the first time, and I'm really glad I did. This book is really hard to summarize, but if you have read Sedgwick before, this is definitely his style; if you liked his other works, you will like this one. This book plays with time, fate, mythology, magic, and the unique form aides in the mysterious atmosphere of the novel. The novel is made up of seven short stories that connect to one another, but take place over a thousand years or so. Sedgwick is a master of controlling time, and has earned his spot on my list of favorite authors. This book is really unique and universal; it would appeal to readers of all ages and many reading tastes.

In-Depth Thoughts (some plot points may be discussed) 
I loved this book the first time I read it, and knew immediately it would be a book that I would reread every year; I loved this one so much more the second time around. I loved being able to pick up on little hints and motifs throughout the stories that I missed the first time, and I was completely sucked in while reading and couldn't put it down, even though I knew how it ended. Everything connects so beautifully in this novel, and it left me in awe once I finished it; Sedgwick's writing is beautiful and elegant, but yet simple. Even though each story is only thirty- fifty pages long, they are full of such story and development; each short story could easily be expanded into a novel that I would love to read, but they are also the perfect length within the novel. I'm telling you Sedgwick is a genius and reading his novels can only be described as an experience (a bit of a magical one at that.)  

While there are many other books that contain the idea of souls finding each other in many lives, this one is very unique. The two souls in this novel- Eric and Merle- experience love in many forms. They are not just lovers, but mother and son, best friends, or they impact each other's lives without even directly meeting each other. The lives that these two souls live and their connection in each life is full and meaningful. The small touches of magic that are weaved into Sedgwick's novels are always so believable and well done. 

I also took some time to research the painting that Sedgwick said inspired this novel: Midvinterblot by Carl Larsson. It is one of Sweden's most talked about paintings, and has quite an interesting story behind it. The title translates to "Mid-Winter Sacrifice" and I didn't realize this until I spent some time looking at the painting, but the UK cover of the novel is taken from the painting. I really wish this would have been the US cover as well, because the US cover has nothing to do with the novel, and I think the girl on the cover will make some male readers hesitate to pick it up. 

Here's more info. on the painting if you are interested, or if you want to see the painting in a larger size. If you've read the book, I highly recommend at least looking at the painting, if not reading about it. It's so interesting and really makes the book come alive. 


The executioner figure from the Midvinterblood painting 

The UK (I think) Cover of the book

Have your read this? What did you think? What's your favorite Sedgwick novel? 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: Last Week of Summer

What's New:
Well, summer has come to an end. I start classes again on Monday, and I know I won't be able to do much reading this semester, just like last semester, and that has me bummed out. I haven't done much reading in the past two weeks, I just haven't been in the mood. I did start watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again on Netflix, after taking a little break. I'm now on season six, so I'm hoping to finish the series soon, but at the same time, I don't want it to end.

What I Read:
Still working on The Blood of Olympus. I'm hoping to get it done this weekend before school starts up again, but who knows. I'm enjoying it so far, I just have a hard time convincing myself to pick it up!

What I Posted:
Monday- I reviewed Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein which was excellent!
Tuesday- I posted my syllabus for Adult Fiction 101
Wednesday- I posted my Literary Look on the Gothic Novel
Thursday- I posted Which Adaptation is Right for You? Romeo and Juliet edition

Last Week's Wrap-Up  (which features a couple amazing book deals!)

What's Next: 
Monday- Reread review for MidWinterblood
Tuesday- Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters I didn't Click With
Wednesday-  On my TBR (3)
Thursday-  August Goals Wrap-Up

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Which Adaptation is Right for You?- Romeo and Juliet

It's always exciting to finish a book you've been meaning to read forever just so you can watch the adaptations! But sometimes the adaptation options can be overwhelming. So, with this series I'm hoping I will be able to assist in finding the right adaptation for you, whether you have read the book or not. 

Previous Which Adaptation is Right For You:
Pride and Prejudice

Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespeare play. I know that's not a very out-of-the-box answer, but it is true. I love the drama and the more political themes that can be found in the play. I have read the play and seen the adaptations so many times that I have most of the play memorized. Therefore, I'm a little hard to please when it comes to adaptations, but I've got a few to recommend to you, and I hope to help you find the one that is right for you. 

Romeo and Juliet (1968)  
Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli 
Romeo: Leonard Whiting
Juliet: Olivia Hussey
Run Time: 138 minutes
I remember watching this in black and white, but it look like it has sense been redone in color.

Watch the original trailer here

This is the first adaptation of R&J that I watched. I remember renting it from the library and watching it with my mom. I was a freshman in high school and had just read the play in school for the first time. This one is a little dated, but it's a great and faithful adaptation of the play. 

Both Romeo and Juliet are beautiful; the tight pants and puffy shirts are ridiculous (as they should be), and the teen angst is intense. This adaptation was very popular when it was released because it was one of the first film adaptation to use actors close to the real ages of the characters.

I have really fond memories of watching this movie, and I would really love to watch it again, but this might not be the best version to start with if you are unfamiliar with Shakespeare or this play. I could see how those who are not already Shakespeare fans could find this version a little boring and outdated, but if you are a fan of R&J and Shakespeare, I highly recommend it.

The balcony scence

Act V

Juliet and her Romeo 

Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Directed by: Baz Luhrman
Romeo: Leonardo DiCaprio <3 <3
Juliet: Clare Danes
Paris: Paul Rudd
Run Time: 120 minutes
Watch the trailer here

This is one of my favorite movies of all-time, so it's obviously my favorite R&J adaptation. I am in love with Leo (like for real, marry me already) so that gives this adaptation bonus points, but I really love the over-the-top and outrageous style of this movie. Luhrman mixes Shakespeare's original script with modern (well 90's) California beach. There are gun fights, Romeo and his buds play pool, and a church choir sings Prince while Leonardo DiCaprio runs around in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. What more could you ask for?

Clare Danes and Leo have great chemistry, and Paul Rudd comes out of left-field to be the perfect, dorky and undesirable Paris. I love all of the religious imagery and intense colors that are in this movie; it is such a visual experience. It's so modern but faithful to the original play, and the characters are extremely developed and the acting is phenomenal. It can be a little jarring to hear Elizabethan English with guns and cars, but it's such a cool idea, and Lurmen pulls it off greatly! The drama of the play is captured really well, as well as the emotion and infamous lines. I recommend watching the trailer to see if it's your taste before watching the movie. (But really it has Leo in it, so trust me, it's your style)

If you are a Shakespeare newbie, or aren't usually a fan, you may enjoy this one because it's not as "boring" as the more traditional adaptations. I promise it is so different from anything you have ever seen before! But it does seem to divide people between love and hate.

The first Kiss 

The Ball 

This aquarium scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time 

If these pictures don't convince to watch this version, I don't know what will. 

Rome and Juliet (2013) 
Directed by: Carlo Caelei (has also directed Dowton Abbey)
Romeo: Douglas Booth
Juliet: Hailee Stienfield
Tybalt: Ed Westwick
Run time: 118 minutes

Watch the trailer here

This is the latest adaptation of R&J I have watched, and I must say I am not all that impressed. I will say that this Juliet is the closest in age to the real Juliet I have ever seen cast in a movie (Juliet in the play is thirteen, the actress is fourteen) so that was really cool to see. The scenery is also quite beautiful, but other than that, the film seems a little lackluster. The movie keeps the plot of the original play, but not the dialogue, which is a big check in the negative column for me because I am very attached to the original play, and as I was watching, I was cringing every time a line was changed or left out. I also felt that the political themes were a little washed out and lost in this version, while the romance took the front seat.

The bed scene was my favorite scene of the movie, but the changes were just too much  and too unnecessary for me. So, if you do watch this version, be warned of these changes. I still enjoyed this movie, but not nearly as much as the first two on this list!


The death scene 


First Time Watchers: Romeo and Juliet (1996) or (1968) 
Those Who Enjoy Looking at Beautiful Men: Romeo and Juliet (1996)
R&J and Shakespeare Lovers: Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Casual Shakespeare Consumers: Rome and Juliet (2013)

I would love to hear which of these you have seen, which is your favorite, or if you have any other versions for me to add to my list. I would love to see this play preformed live someday, so I could add it to my list of adaptations I have seen!
"For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo." 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Literary Look: The Gothic Novel

Finally back with another Literary Look post, and one that I'm very excited for: (although I'm always excited for these posts) The Gothic literary movement! Make sure you check out my other Literary Look posts (linked below) for more literary fun! (Yay!)

Read my Previous Literary Look Posts Here

It may be helpful to read my two posts, European Romanticism and American Romanticism before this one, as Gothic Literature is a branch off of Romanticism, but you won't have to in order to follow this post.

General Information:
Gothic literature falls under the larger umbrella of Romantic literature, and was mainly popular in England from 1790-1830. Gothic literature is characterized by a combination of Romantic elements with horror, and inspiration was drawn from horror stories from the Medieval Ages. Gothic novels often explore the idea of "the fallen world" through the story, setting, themes, and characters. The 'horrors' in these novels often turn out to elements of humanity more than the supernatural creature that is used to display these elements. The setting is usually dark, gloomy, and reminds the reader of this fallen world idea through ruins and decrepit castles and abbeys.

The Gothic Hero has become an archetype present in novels from this movement. The protagonist is usually isolated either by choice or force. Then there is the Villain who is the embodiment of evil because of a fall from grace (usually) and the two must meet in the end, usually after the protagonist has fallen from grace as well. The Wanderer is another common charter type in Gothic novels; this character wanders the earth in permanent exile as a form of (divine or otherwise) punishment.

American magazines that would reprint Gothic horror tales would become known as Pulp Magazines. The covers of these magazines have become very recognizable and are often parodied today.  This element of dramatic horror was often parodied by other writers as well while the genre was still popular.


Weird Tales was a popular Pulp mag, that republished the stories of Poe, Conan Doyle, and published new tales by Lovecraft.

Authors and Novels:

Early Gothic Lit.

Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto: This is widely regarded as the first gothic novel. and was published in 1764. Warpole wished to combine elements of the Medieval Romance with elements of the modern day novel. This book contained the first appearance of Gothic's most well-known elements: mystery, ancestral curses, hidden passageways, and the oft- fainting heroine. Warpole disguised the first edition of this novel as a newly discovered and translated Medieval romance, and because of good reviews and acclaim, Warpole claimed authorship on the second edition. But of course, this new claim to authorship brought about a large string of rejections. This incident started out the Gothic novel with a bad rep.

Ann Radcliffe: Ann Radcliffe is known for developing what is called the "explained supernatural." The seemingly supernatural elements of her novels would turn out to be completely explainable at the end of the novel. Radcliffe also introduced the archetype for the Gothic Villain which would develop into the Byronic Hero. Many of Radcliffe's novels were best-sellers, and her two literary devices would be borrowed and imitated by many authors, but her novels were generally dismissed by critics and academics because of the Gothic element. Her most popular novels include: A Sicilian Romance, and The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Matthew Gregory Lewis' The Monk: The idea of Gothic literature spread from England to the European continent, and Lewis' The Monk was a major Gothic published during the time of expansion. Lewis wrote this novel in just ten weeks, and before his twentieth birthday, but the scandalous plot made it one of Lewis' and Gothic's most popular novels. Published in 1796, the book contains morality themes and violence, common to the Gothic novel.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the one of the novels most often associated with the Gothic Novel. Mary Shelley (wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley) 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 "Waking dream" of a student looking over the "Thing" he had created. All of the elements mentioned above as common to Gothic novels can be found in this novel.  

1880's Revival 
Bram Stoker's Dracula: Stoker's novel was published in 1897 as part of the resurgence of Gothic Literature. This novel is about traditional values clashing with new age values, as well as questions of morality, supernatural creatures, and fainting women. The settings of this novel are perfect examples of Gothic Literature settings.

Other novels from this period with Gothic influences include Oliver Twist, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights and The Phantom of the Opera. 

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey: The ever brilliant Austen wrote Northanger Abbey as a parody of Gothic novels. The main character Catherine spends the majority of her time reading Gothic Novels, and her imagination runs away with her. She begins to see the people in her life as Gothic heroes and villains. Interestingly, the publication of this novel and the list of Gothic Novels it contained brought about a new interest in the Gothic, when it was discovered that the book titles mentioned by Catherine were not made up by Austen, but actual books. Catherine was a huge fan of Anne Radcliffe's novels, and fancied that she was a heroine from one of her Gothic romances.

Thomas Love Peacock's Nightmare Abbey: Peacock's novel satires the Romantic movement and particularly the Gothic movement's obsession with violence and morbidity. Peacock based many of the characters on historical figures that he wished to poke fun at. Many classical authors and novels are alluded to during the course of the novel.

The Gothic Novel
Norton's Website

What's your favorite Gothic Novel?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Adult Fiction 101

I thought about which subject or genre I would choose for this week's list for a very long time. While I was looking at my shelves, I noticed I had a lot of adult fiction novels that I really wanted to read, but I haven't read them yet because YA has taken over my life this year! So I thought I would make a list of some of my favorite adult fiction books I have read in order to remind myself to pick up some of the unread ones on my shelves. 

1. The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger 
This is one of the first adult fiction novels that I read and truly loved. I was maybe a freshman or sophomore in high school when I read it, and to this day, it is the book that has made me cry the hardest. It's so unbelievably sad,  but so, so good. The movie was awful, so please don't judge the book by the movie and pass this one by. 
2. The Paris Wife, Paula McLain
I read this one way back before I started blogging, and loved it! It's about Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, and the time the two of them spent in Paris. It's no secret I think Hemingway is a big ol' jerkface, but I loved that this story was about Hadley and didn't idolize Hemingway.  

3. The Oscar Wilde Murder Mystery Series, Gyles Brandeth
I LOVE this series, There are six books out so far, and I'm dying for more. I love Oscar Wilde, and Brandeth captures his persona perfectly. Plus authors such as Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle make guest appearances in many of the novels. Wilde, Stoker, and Doyle solving murders, what more could you ask for? 

I have read this book twice now, and laughed out loud both times! If you are a single woman living on your own (or if you ever were one), you will love Bridget and see yourself in her. 

The concept and execution of this novel are both very unique, and the book comments on so many interesting and deep themes. I often find myself thinking about this book even though I read it years ago, and I'm itching for a reread. The movie adaptation is great too. 

This book will change your life. Atwood is genius. Every human should read this book, especially those who think women's rights shouldn't be on the forefront of political discussions. 

Of course I had to include this, as it is one of my all-time favorite novels, and I reread it every year. It's set in 1930's New York City, and is a great self-discovery novel. 

I read this book a few months ago and loved it. It's a great piece of historical fiction for book lovers. The plot is so rich, and the mystery is impossible to put down. Everything weaves together wonderfully in this novel, and the 1945 Barcelona setting is so atmospheric. 

I was introduced to this author and novel through one of my lit classes last semester, and I'm really happy about it. Erdrich is not an author I would have found, or tired, on my own, but her writing is great. All her books feature Native American characters and magical realism. The writing in this novel is phenomenal and the characters were so vivid. I highly recommend checking out this author's works, I know I'm eager to read more from her. 

This book was a lot of fun, I love books that use classic authors, literary characters, or classic novels as part of their plots, and this one was very well done. If you like Sherlock Holmes, check this one out. Fun fact, Moore just won an Academy Award for Best Screen-Play for The Imitation Game, which was a fantastic movie- so his writing is great. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Recently Read: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Young Adult/ Historical Fiction
Status: Has a companion novel titled Rose Under Fire
Page Count: 332
Publication Date: 2013
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." 
I loved this book. I have been hearing about it forever, and every time I mentioned it on a list of books I need to read, every one and their uncle encouraged me to stop whatever I was doing and read it. They were right. Stop whatever you are doing and read this book. 

This is the story of two girls, code-named Verity and Kittyhawk. Kittyhawk is a female pilot, and Verity and spy in WWII. The girls meet because of their contributions to the war and their meeting results in a beautiful and heart breaking story of friendship, loyalty, and bravery. 

I was expecting huge things from this novel, and it really delivered. Wein is a pilot herself, so the book was chalk full of aviation details, that were a little confusing in the beginning, but really added to the story and the atmosphere of the novel once I got a little understanding of all things airplanes. The characters were easy to connect with. Both girls are so smart and brave; it's impossible not to root for them. This book is a very emotional read, right from page one, but it is such a beautiful story. It has been a long time since a book has keep me up for hours and made me cry, and this book definitely did that.  

Wein did an amazing job of building the war atmosphere in this novel, and really had me thinking about how a person's heritage can become a threat to them during times of war.

This is such an amazing novel of female friendship (and just friendship in general). The structure of the novel was perfect; it was divided into two parts, the first narrated by Verity, the second by Kittyhawk. I don't want to say too much about why I loved the structure because I don't want to give anything way, but I really appreciated what the structure added the character's stories.  

After reading this novel, I am left with the urge to hug my best friend, read all the books on WWII female pilots, and read everything Elizabeth Wein ever writes. I plan on reading the companion novel, Rose Under Fire very soon, but I think that one is going to break my heart even more than this novel did. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: The Best Book Deal Ever!

What's New:
The new school semester is getting closer and closer, and I am no where near ready! Of course I haven't been able to get as ahead on posts as I wanted to be and I haven't read as much as I wanted to, but that's usually how it goes. I'm going to keep trying to get ahead with my posts, and denying that school starts in less than two weeks.

What I Read:
I reread Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick in two sittings, and I loved it just as much (if not more) as the first read. I also started The Blood of Olympus but I haven't gotten very far, as I haven't been reading as much this past week. Hopefully I will finish it this week.

What I Bought:
Guys, I am so excited about the deal I got this week. I got The Luminaries by Elanor Canton at my local thrift store for... 25 cents! And it's hard cover! I also picked up a cute little copy of The Secret Garden which I have never read.

I also picked up some really great finds at my local bookstore in the used section that I was really happy to find. Both of these have been on my TBR for quite awhile. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is very expensive to buy new, so I was very excited to find it used and in perfect shape. Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane DiPrima is difficult to find and is often expensive too. If you remember my Literary Look post on the Beatnik Movement, you'll know this literary movement really interests me, and I'm really eager to read about the movement from a female perspective. 


What I Posted:
Monday-  I reviewed The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson.
Tuesday- I posted my Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors
Wednesday- I posted part three of my Favorite Epigraphs
Thursday- I posted Tale as Old as Time (3): English and Literature Textbooks

Last Week's Wrap-Up 

What's Next: 
Monday- I'm Reviewing Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein 
Tuesday- TTT
Wednesday- Literary Look: The Gothic Novel
Thursday- Adaptations: Romeo and Juliet (maybe)

Stacking the Shelves hosted by: Tyngas Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by:  Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tale as Old as Time (3): English and Literature Textbooks

Like many book lovers, I love collecting books. Over the past three years or so, I have been picking up quite a few old books from second hand shops, garage sales, and used book stores. I love looking at these old and beautiful books so I thought I would start a series where I showcase some of them. I have quite a few books I want to show off, so look for these posts every-so-often! I would love to hear about your favorite old books you own (or see them on your blog) so tell me about them below or link me to a post where you discuss them! 

Tale as Old as Time (1): Small Paperbacks
Tale as Old as Time (2): Children's Classics

I find old textbooks very fascinating! I am an Education Major, so of course school and academia is a huge part of my life, and these old text books are all so beautiful, as well as interesting. Here are some of my favorite English and Literature textbooks I have picked up on my used books search!

Introduction to American Literature 
This one is from 1897! It's so beautiful and I love the green leather and gold foil letters. It starts with John Smith and ends with Oliver Wendell Holmes, and it contains illustrated portraits of some of the authors. In true 1800's style, there is not a SINGLE female author in this text book! I paid $1.50 for this one, and I love how it looks on my shelves.

Jefferson and Longfellow 

The Macmillian Handbook of English 
This one is from 1948, and is very similar to handbooks I have had to purchase for myself in the past few years. It has lots of information on grammar usage, the writing process, punctuation usage, a whole section on the etiquette of letter writing, as well as a section on how to properly use a dictionary.

The Perin Writer's Guide and Index to English 
This one was published in 1942 and originally cost $1.70 at the University bookstore (the price sticker is still on the inside of the cover!) The content of this one is similar to the Macmillian handbook; it covers grammar and punctuation usage, but it has more information on  how to structure certain types of papers.

The Spines