Thursday, June 22, 2017

Recently Read: West With the Night

Author: Beryl Markham
Genre: Nonfiction- Memoir
Page Count: 294
Publication Date: 1942
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads

You may also like:
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain 


Beryl Markham was the first person (man or woman) to fly nonstop from Europe to America. She was born in Britain in 1902 and moved to Kenya with her family shortly thereafter. She was a renowned race horse trainer and adventurer. West with the Night is her memoir of her life in Africa.

Last year, I read Circling the Sun by Paula McLain because she is an auto-read author for me. I had no idea who Beryl Markham was, but by the end of McLain's fictionalized story about her, I knew I needed to learn more about her. 


Markham was tall, blonde, and fearless. She inhabited many male dominated spheres without second thoughts or doubts. This memoir covers a few events from her life, but Markham leaves quite a bit out. She leaves out all three of her marriages, and her various love affairs, as well as the birth of her son and her turbulent relationship with her mother. But she talks of her childhood in Africa, training horses, and learning to fly. I was taken back by Markham's writing skills and ability to create an image. 

There is a blurb on the cover from Ernest Hemingway who writes:
"Written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer... Markham can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers... It is really a bloody wonderful book."
Now if you know anything about Hemingway, and his reluctance to compliment any woman he wasn't trying to sleep with, that's high praise. The book's introduction speaks of claim's made by Markham's ex-husband after their divorce that he actually wrote the book instead of Markham, but I, along with most of those who read this book, have a hard time believing that claim.

I love the pictures that Markham creates of Africa in the early to mid 1900s and the way she speaks about the country she loved. It really has sparked an interest in me to learn more about British colonized Africa. While Markham doesn't write a linear biography of her life, she writes about events that were particularly special to her, which makes this novel, in turn, special.

I highly recommend checking this out the next time you are in the mood for adventure and a far-away setting. I'll leave you with a taste of Markham's writing. This is from one passage about the solitude of flying an airplane that stuck out to me.
"You can live a lifetime, and at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.... The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would have never bothered to make an alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds, nor to have crossed continents - each man to see what the other looked like."  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I STILL Need to Start

This year has been the year of the standalone for me so far. There are so many series that I need to get caught up on (a post for another day) and that I need to start! So, before I get too overwhelmed with thinking about all the books I want to read, here's ten series that I would like to start! I own at least the first book in the series for all of the series listed below, so I really have no excuses here.
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish


 

1.  The Fairyland Series by Catherine M. Valente 

2. Papergirls by Brian K. Vaughn 

3. The Bronze Horsemen Trilogy by Paulina Simmons 

 

4. The Magnus Chase Series by Rick Riordan 

5. The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde 

6. Finishing School Series by Gale Carriger

 

7. The Glamourist Histories Series by Mary Robinette Kowal  

8. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency by Jordon Stratford 

9. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante 


10.  The Lois Lane Series by Gwenda Bond

Monday, June 19, 2017

Used Book Haul!

I went a little crazy in the used section of my local bookstore. I had some credit I had been hanging onto for a while as I was so indecisive as to what I wanted to spend it on. When I was browsing recently, I found a couple books that I have been keeping an eye out for, and a couple more that just caught my eye, so I went for it! Be prepared, I also made a Book Outlet order recently, so that post will be coming too... oops!

Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire by Roy Moxham
Two things I love are tea and history. I am a history minor, but since I have finished my degree, I have missed learning and studying history on a regular basis. I think this book will be a perfect fix for that learning void. I love approaching history through an object or artifact, and tea has such a long history and world-wide significance. I'm really eager to get into this one and love the images included in the book.  

On the Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt
I have quite the pile of these Penguin Great Ideas sitting on my shelf that I need to get to, but when I saw this one on my bookstore's shelves, I couldn't pass it up. These are near impossible to find in America, unless you buy online, and I love the compact design they come in. This is an author I know absolutely nothing about, but the concept sounds really interesting to me, and it has been on my wishlist for a while. 

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
I just finished and loved (and reviewed here) my first Water's novel Fingersmith, and loved it! So naturally, I had my eyes out for more of her works. I wasn't planning on picking up this one next, but since I found it used, I might have to. The concept of this one, oyster-girl turned music hall star, sounds really interesting. 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love historical fiction so this one has been on my wishlist forever. I decided to finally go for it when I found a used hardcover copy. I have really high hopes for this one, and plan to get to it very soon. 

Those are the books I've picked up lately! I'm really keen to get to all of them very soon. Let me know your thoughts about these ones! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recently Read: Fingersmith

Author: Sarah Waters
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2002
Page Count: 582
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads 



Sue is an orphan who lives with a family of thieves in London in the year 1862. She has learned the tricks of the trade from her family around her, and when she is offered a chance to make her own fortune by a man who does regular business with her adoptive father, she knows better than to refuse. But Sue has no idea what she is getting herself into, or where she comes from. 

Ever since I have been blogging, I have heard great things about Sarah Waters. I picked this book up at my local bookstore a year or so ago, and it has sat on my shelf because of its size and my busy school schedule. I finally picked it up on a whim earlier this month and flew through it despite its size. Waters is known for her lesbian historical fiction with twists and mysteries, and this one delivered.

Waters did a great job creating the atmosphere for this novel. The atmosphere was historic, Gothic, and quite dreadful: perfect for London in 1862. The characters were done so well. Every character had multiple sides to them, as many were crooks or thieves, but were real people with messy motivations. I really enjoyed the romance element of this novel, as it was not front and center, but was natural to the story and the plot. It's great to see a well done lesbian romance set in a historical setting, as that is not something I come across too often in my reading of historical fiction. I know most of Waters books have a lesbian romance and a historical setting, so if that interests you, please check her out. 

I don't want to talk about the mystery/twist in this novel too much because I want you to be as taken back by it as I was, but I will say, I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this novel. I couldn't read fast enough when I got to the middle of the novel; I had to know what was happening and how it could have happened. I was thoroughly engaged and entertained by this novel from the first to last page.  

I will be picking up another Waters novel as soon as I can. I have a feeling I will be speeding through her back catalog of novels in the near future. Let me know which novel of hers I should read next! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Theme Spotlight: Faith in Young Adult

It's been a while since I have done a theme spotlight, and I was thinking about this topic the other day before deciding it would be perfect for a theme spotlight post. I have not come across that many YA books that tackle the theme of religious faith. These three books featured in this post tackled the theme in a really interesting way. Two of the novels deal with a blind but intense faith; the third with the questioning of a faith that has been handed down to you.

Previous Theme Spotlight Posts:
Unique Form
Self Discovery
Family Relationships
Faith and Spirituality in Classics
Gender in Young Adult
Fictional Novels Featuring Real People



Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley 
I really want to reread this novel this summer. The faith in this novel is so interesting. I don't want to say too much because it's tied to spoilers, but there are different kinds of faith in the novel. One character deals with faith in a kinda-sorta religious kinda-sorta just plain faith way and another deals with a really intense and obsessive faith. This is one of my favorite YA contemporaries, but it doesn't seem to get talked about very much.  

The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
This novel also deals with intense faith and the idea of 'small-town America.' The main character's father is the leader of the religious organization that he and much of the town are a part of. This novel questions blind faith as well as the role faith plays in the lives of many people. It is neither condemning or encouraging regarding religious faith, it just deals with the theme in an honest way. 

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjaimin Alire Saenz 
I've become a huge fan of Saenz this year, and I really loved this novel. This novel deals with many themes, but among them is the handing down of faith from parents to children. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel and the questions that Sal asked himself. Again, the idea of religious faith felt natural in the novel and the lives of the characters.  

Leave me your recommendations for books with similar themes!  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mystery Double Review: They Do it With Mirrors and The Body in the Library

Author: Agatha Christie
Genre:Classic/Mystery
Publication Date: 1952
Page Count: 202
Rating: 3/5

Add on Goodreads

Also by Agatha Christie:
And Then There Were None


In this Miss Marple mystery, our detective heads to the home (and juvenile delinquent rehab center) of her old schoolmate. Miss Marple is sent on the suspicion that something is not right, and of course, that suspicion is correct as murder ensues.

This was my third Christie novel and first Miss Marple. I picked this book up to take to work with me one day and ended up reading it in two days. I loved that this novel was so quick to read and easy to follow, which made for great work reading. I really enjoy reading (and watching) mysteries, so of course, I enjoy Christie. While I don't think this is the best mystery she has ever crafted, I was thoroughly entertained and suspicious of every character. The setting really made this novel, and I'm eager to pick up more by Christie. I have been scouring for her novels at every used bookstore and sale I've been to lately! 

If you've never read anything by Christie, I highly recommend picking her up. She's a great author to start with if you are new to mystery, and a must read for those who love mysteries.


Title: The Body in the Library 
Author: Agatha Christie 
Genre: Classic/Mystery 
Publication Date: 1942
Page Count: 207
Rating: 3/5



In this novel, Christie tackles the 'body found in the library' trope of the mystery novel, and of course, she does it in a clever and entertaining way. Miss Marple is called when friends of hers awake to find the dead body of a young girl they have never seen before in their library. 

I have come to find that I really enjoy Miss Marple. I find her to be funny and smart in her observations and village parallels. She never seems to be the focus of her novels, which leaves room for Christie's eccentric and humorous characters to lead the show. This novel, like They Do it With Mirrors, was hard to put down and very entertaining.  I find myself turning to Christie when I need a quick and entertaining read to help me pass the time during trips or slow work days. 

Christie's works also make great beach reads as they are clever and entertaining, but not overly complicated. The plot and characters are easy to keep track off, and her clever detectives can always be counted on to add wit and humor to the very series topic of murder. 

What's your favorite Christie novel?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Young Adult New Releases I'm Looking Forward To


I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in quite a while, but I'm back today with some new releases I'm looking forward to! This year has had a lot of great new releases already that I need to catch up on, but here's a look at what's coming up that I'm excited about.

Book Titles Link to Goodreads


Release Date: May 30
This YA contemporary sounds fun and poignant. It puts me in mind of Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere, which makes me very interested. 


Release Date: May 30
I know a lot of people are anticipating this YA contemporary with two Indian-American main characters just as much as I am. 


Release Date: June 1
I enjoyed Fowley-Doyle's debut The Accident Season, and this one seems to have a similar magical-realism atmosphere to it.  


Release Date: June 27
This looks like a really entertaining historical fiction read! The early reviews have been pretty good. 


Release Date: July 25
I'm always interested in books that center around art! 


Release Date: August 8
I haven't read very many contemporaries with female LGBTQ characters, so this one is high on my list. 

Release Date: August 15
The first book in a duelology about a family where the women can manipulate beauty. 


Release Date: September 12
This fantasy series sounds quite interesting. The main character seems to have OCD and anxiety, and there is dragons. Sounds great to me. 


Release Date: September 12
I love Cat Winters and need to get caught up on her books before this one comes out. Her books always have a supernatural element that mixes perfectly with a historical fiction setting.


Release Date: October 10 
And of course I am looking forward to Stiefvater's newest release. Another author I need to catch up on the back-log of! 

Link me to your post so I can add even more books to my TBR! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Recently Read: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2017
Page Count: 452
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

Also By Benjamin Alire Saenz:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 


Sal is about to start his senior year of high school. He loves his life with his best friend Sam, who is really more of a sister, and his adoptive father. But thoughts about his unknown past and a tragedy leave Sal, and those in his life, dealing with grief and uncertainty. Sal doesn't like the way he's dealing with these changes, by throwing his fists at anyone in his way, but is it an inevitable part of his DNA?

I loved Aristotle and Dante when I read it earlier this year and was surprised to see that Saenz had a new release that I hadn't heard anything about! I loved this one, not quite as much and Ari and Dante, but I did love it. 

Of course, this book has great diverse representation. Sal is white, but was adopted by a gay Mexican-American father and both of the other teenage characters in the book are Mexican-American as well. I really enjoyed Sal's father, both as a character and a diverse representation, as parents are usually M.I.A. or unlikable in YA novels. Sal's father is so loving and so kind, and very much likable. 

I love the way that Saenz writes teenage male characters and father-and-son relationships. He doesn't write stereotypical male characters, who hide their feelings and rely of a tough image; his male characters are realistic, but honest about their feelings and gentle. Sal was such a sweetheart, and so was his dad. I loved their relationship and think it's great to see healthy parent-child relationships in YA. 

Another element of this book that I loved was the lack of romance! Sam and Sal have been best friends since they were small children, and even though it would have been easy for Saenz to put them together romantically, he chose to explore their friendship/sibling relationship instead. I loved that, and I really think it added to the beauty of the story. 

This book deals with a lot of interesting and usual YA contemporary topics such as friendship, grief, self-discovery, etc. But it also deals with a few unique topics such as faith and religion, having a gay parent, being adopted into a culture you weren't born into, and platonic male/female relationships. I thought all of the themes and topics were well-done, and are all things I would love to see in more books. 

I thought this book was the perfect combination of sad and sweet. I couldn't stop reading once I got to know the characters; the story flows beautifully and the short chapters make it hard to put down. I definitely consider myself a fan of Benjamin Alire Saenz, and will be keeping an eye on all of his new releases. I highly recommend you pick this up! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Recently Read: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2017
Page Count: 453
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads 


I'm sure you don't need to hear a synopsis of this book since it's been everywhere lately, so I will keep it short. Starr feels like she maintains two versions of herself. The version of herself that goes to a suburban prep school and the version of herself that she is at home in the poor black neighborhood where she lives. One day. Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her best friend by a white police officer, and she must decide if, and how, to use her voice to speak up for her friend and her neighborhood. 

I loved this book, and I'm so glad that everyone else is loving it too. This is one of the only books that I actually thought that the use of slang and pop culture added to the book instead of just being an aspect that will leave the book feeling quickly outdated. Starr talks and thinks like a REAL teenager and I loved that. Of course, I also loved the political themes in the novel and the accurate representation of the current political culture and movements such as Black Lives Matter. I thought the political events and story line were realistic and very well done. I love that teenagers are getting involved in the political culture of today and using their voices through social media, and this story reflected that. 

This book covers many important topics very well including youth activism, police brutality, gang violence, love between different cultures, and the importance of using your voice. Of course this book deals with very serious and harrowing topics, but it also contained large amounts of humor and love. This book never felt too heavy or hopeless, and all of the characters felt real, despite how small of a part they may have played in the story, I couldn't read the second half of this novel fast enough and flew through it. 

This is a book that I would love to use in my classroom in the future, as well as a book I will be buying a copy of to have on my classroom library shelves. I think this book is so important, but also entertaining and heartfelt. It delivers its important message, but it also delivers a message of hope and persistence, which is equally important for the younger generation to receive through art. 

Have you read this? Did it live up to the hype for you? I'm very glad this book exists and is getting the recognition it deserves!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Library Haul (and what I will be reading next)

I've got a few things out from the library right now, both in physical form and ebook form, so I thought I would share them with you as they will be what I am reading and reviewing next. I've really been loving getting my YA new releases from the library lately, especially contemporaries, as those tend to be really hit-or-miss for me.



The Hate You Give 
by Angie Thomas
This book has been everywhere lately, and rightfully so! I've already read this one and loved it! I'll be reviewing it soon, as well as buying a copy for my classroom! 

This book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and follows Starr who witnessed the shooting of her best friend by a police officer. 

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life
by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I'm currently reading this one, so again watch out for a review soon. I didn't even though this book existed until a couple weeks ago, is it just me or is no one talking about it? I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe earlier this year and loved it, so I was eager to pick this one up. It's not grabbing me as fast as Ari and Dante did, but I'm only about fifty pages in. 

This novel focuses on a Mexican-American teenager starting his senior year of high school. Sal is the adopted son of a gay dad, and that's really all I know at the moment! This one has a lot of potential and I have high hopes. 

Piper Perish
by Kayla Cagan
I really don't know much about this one expect the main character is an artist. Art is a book buzzword for me, so I decided to place a hold on it. I've been eager for more YA books with art elements ever since Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun.

Piper is in her senior year and dreaming of art school in NYC. But as things start to shift in all parts of her life, will her art be enough to get her through?

Let me know if you've read any of these! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Recently Read: Belle Epoque

Author: Elizabeth Ross
Genre: Young Adult- Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 336
Rating: 3/5

Add on Goodreads



Maude has run away from her home and father to avoid an arranged marriage to a man more than double her age, and she has landed in Paris. There she finds the city to be a difficult place to survive on her own, until she comes across an ad in the newspaper offering work to young women. Maude soon finds out that this work is acting as an average-looking foil to the society women who want to appear more beautiful. Maude must decide if this work, and a new-found friendship with her first client, is worth the sacrifice of her pride, or if the job even requires any sacrifice of her pride at all.

I ordered this book from Book Outlet quite a while ago and didn't know much about it, besides the basic idea of a foil and it taking place in historical Paris. I'm glad I ended up picking this one up, as it was an enjoyable read. 

The pacing of the book was spot on, and Maude was a likable character. I was intrigued by the idea of beauty foils and was not surprised to find out that this practice is rooted in fact. It is interesting to examine the lengths that women of the past and present go to in order to obtain 'beauty' and how that idea of beauty changes with time.  If you're a fan of historical fiction, this one is worth checking out. It was quick and enjoyable and the historic Paris setting is always amazing to visit.

One of my favorite elements of this novel was that it was set against the backdrop of the construction of the Eiffel Tower, which the majority of people detested at the time. This worked perfectly as a metaphor for the changing ideals of beauty, as the Eiffel Tower is now the most well-known symbol of Paris and one of the most recognized structures in the world. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recently Read: The Sun is Also a Star (And Thoughts on Fate)

Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 348
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads 



Natasha is about to be deported. She is spending her last day in America trying to find a way to stay instead of returning to Jamaica, a place she doesn't feel like she will ever fit in. Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale, where he will go to be a doctor, just as his Korean parents expect him too. Fate, the universe, or random chance brings them together on Natasha's last day in a America and the meeting impacts them for the rest of their lives. 

I have a weakness for books that deal with fate. I'm fascinated by the idea of fate and the invisible governing force in the universe, whatever that may be. Because of this, I was really interested in reading this novel, and I really loved it. I flew through this book and lost myself in it. I liked both Natasha and Daniel, they felt real; I love when a young adult novel reminds me of what it's like to be a teenager and feel intense emotions and this novel definitely did that. Natasha and Daniel's interactions made me laugh, they frustrated me, and I found myself quite emotional at the end of the novel, which is always a sign that a book is a five-star book for me. 

I've seen quite a few reviews that complain about 'insta-love' in this novel, and I can see their point, but I think they are missing something. I think the point of Natasha and Daniel's immediate and intense connection is that it's governed by fate, or that higher power that orders the universe. I didn't find they're relationship unrealistic; there was growth and doubt in their relationship. I believe that you can feel connected to someone very quickly, and outside circumstances can heighten that connection and cause a sense of urgency. So in short, I didn't see this novel as a case of insta-love, and I really enjoyed Natasha and Daniel's connection and relationship.

This book made me do a lot of thinking about fate. What makes fate so interesting to me is that it can function as an alternative to religion for some people. I myself, am not religious, but I can't deny there seems to be some higher power that orders the universe. Many people, myself included, are uncomfortable with the idea of the universe and our lives being completely random and in our own control, so fate or destiny can act as that higher power we can blame in bad times or hope to in uncertain times.

The idea of, and desire for, a higher power is something shared between all humans, and in my opinion is one of the greatest appeals that religions make to human nature. This makes fate such an interesting and common theme to explore in art, and I think this novel is a thoughtful and well-done addition to that list of art. 

In short, I really liked this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me think: everything I could want from a novel.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Poetry Spotlight: Wilfred Owen (Happy National Poetry Month)


In my second year of college I took an Introduction to Poetry class and I fell in love with reading poetry. Before then, poetry was always a little intimidating and a medium that I didn't have much experience with. But after that class, I became addicted to reading poetry, and during the class I actually found myself thinking in and expressing myself in poetry- which I never would have guessed would happen in a million years. So, with this series I'm here to share some of my favorite poems in a way that I'm sure will turn out rambley and unorganized.

SEE THE REST OF MY POETRY SPOTLIGHT SERIES HERE


There's a lot of stuff going on this month. It's the 100th anniversary of the U.S.'s entry into the first World War, and it's national poetry month. So as a lover of history and poetry, naturally, I have combined them into today's post about one of my all time favorite poets Wilfred Owen. The poems I will be talking about today come out of Penguin's Little Black Classic collection of his works, which I highly recommend. This edition has all of the essential Owen's poems, in a small and affordable package.

Author Bio
What makes Owen such a remarkable poet and recorder of history is the fact that he served and died in WWI. Up until WWI, many of the poetic recordings regarding wars in America, the Civil War is a great example of this, were recorded by poets who were not fighting the wars and were only outside observers. During WWI, we see a shift in the attitudes regarding war in art. In the Civil War, for example, poetry highlights the honor, righteousness, and even beauty associated with war and defending one's country, but in WWI, the poetry highlights the horrors of war and even suggests it's lack of purpose. This has everything to do with the advanced technology of war that debuted in WWI including machine guns, trench warfare, mustard gas, and fighter planes. The death toll for this war was unlike anything the world had ever seen, and it left a whole generation of men missing, or "lost" as Gertrude Stein phrased it (hence the literary movement named The Lost Generation). Young men lined up to join the war, eager to earn the honor and respect that the older generations associated with war, but many felt that nothing had been gained from the conflict and all of the bloodshed was for naught after the war's conclusion. There was no clear winner or loser. This is also the first time we as a society come to recognize and try to treat PTSD or shell-shock as it was referred to.

Owen was from England, and wrote all of his poems in the just-over-a-year that he served in the British army before being killed in action at the age of twenty-five, one week before the Armistice. Owen met Siegfried Sassoon, another well-known and excellent WWI poet, in an army hospital while being treated for shell-shock, and the two became friends. Sassoon was responsible for publishing much of Owen's works after his death. 

You can read more about Owen at the Poetry Foundation
  
Spotlighted Poems 
Like I mentioned above, WWI poetry was revolutionary for the way it talked about war. In many poems, the divide between generations regarding the purpose of war and the honor associated with participating in it is visible. Poetry of this era is honest and brutal and even bitter and sarcastic. Owen is one of the best poets to come out of WWI, and his poems are breathtaking and so poignant. Many of these poems left me speechless after reading them for the first time. 

Poem titles link to poems 

Dulce et Decorum Est- If you read one poem from this post today, make it this one. This poem left me absolutely speechless after I translated the last line of the poem from Latin (It is sweet and proper to die for one's country.) If you have taken a literature course, you have probably read this poem, and rightfully so. This poem forces the reader to face the horrors of the trenches as a solider would, while also applying traditional poetic techniques such as rhyme and alliteration, causing quite the contrast. This poem has that bitter and sarcastic punch ending that many war poems have and also highlights the shifting attitudes towards war. 
Bonus: Hear it read by Christopher Eccleston here.

Anthem for Doomed Youth- This is another poem that illustrates the shifting attitude towards war by the young generation that is currently facing it. The "Doomed Youth" of this poem is of course the generation of soldiers fighting in the war. Again, Owen paints a clear and horrifying picture of life at war with traditional poetic devices. 
Bonus: Here it read by Sean Bean here.

The Parable Of the Old Man and the Young- This poem alludes to the biblical story of Abraham and his son Isaac, who God asks Abraham to sacrifice in order to prove his devotion. Owen uses this story to create a parallel between Isaac and the soldiers. Once again, we see the shift in thinking from the older generation to the younger. 

The Chances- This poem is interesting because it deals with all of the chances a man takes when he signs up to be a solider. Owen lists all of the bad things that can happen, including going "mad." This is an early poem to deal with the psychological and physical affects of war, and Owen does it in a very powerful way. 

As usual, leave me your favorite poems or poets below! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Recently Read: V for Vendetta

Author: Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic
Publication Date: Originally serialized in 1982-1985
Page Count: 296
Rating: 3/5

Add on Goodreads



This graphic novel takes place in a bleak London future. The government is fascist and all-controlling, but even worse, the people have lost their lust for revolution and justice. A mysterious, masked figure named V aims to restore that lust for revolution through any means possible.

I hadn't read anything by Alan Moore, but his graphic novels have become a staple to the genre, so I wanted to check them out, and I thought this would be a good place to start. I was also unfamiliar with the movie version of the novel, so I knew nothing about this story, and I think that added to my enjoyment of the novel. 

The art is traditional comic book art. It's dark and realistic; it's nothing mind-blowing, but it suits the story perfectly. I was really entertained by the first half of this novel. I lost myself in the first half and kept turning the page to find out exactly what was happening and what the motivations of each character were, and I even forgot I was at work while reading it. The second half, however, was a little slow for me. It was still entertaining, but I feel like it dragged out a little too long. 

Don't get me wrong, this story is quite over-the-top and self-indulgent, but it was entertaining. I found the masked figure of V to be compelling and was a big fan of the symbolism weaved into his character. I found some of the characters, particularly the government leaders, to be difficult to keep track off, but I was still able to follow the story just fine. 

This story was written in the 80s in serial form, so it was interesting to see the past's fears for the future. If you are a fan of dystopians or conspiracies, this novel is worth checking out. It's an interesting look at the function of government and revolution in the lives of humans. I'm really interested to watch the film adaptation, as I have a feeling it will be very different from the book, but I think it will be a good film as this is a story that will translate well to film. 

I'm glad to have my first Alan Moore under my belt, and I'm looking forward to moving on to his other works. Watchmen comes highly recommended to me by my brother, so that might be the next graphic novel I tackle. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Literary Look: Modernism

I'm finally bringing back one of my favorite series I've started on the blog: Literary Look. If you are new to these posts, I use them to take a look at the authors and works (and sometimes art pieces in other forms such as traditional art and music) that make up an artistic/literary movement.

Today, I was interested in the Modernist moment, so I decided to record my findings in a post.

You can see the past Literary Look posts here

General Information
The Modernist movement is set in the early 1900s with beginnings in the late 1800s. The movement really picks up momentum after the end of WWI in the 1910s. This movement was of course a response and rejection of earlier movements, such as Realism, as well as a physical representation of the distress caused the utter destruction and violence of WWI. The slogan of this movement was coined by Ezra Pound: "Make it new" and the movement desired to do just that. Authors explored the complexities of the human mind in new narrative styles. Literary terms such as stream of consciousness, the unreliable narrator (one of my personal favorites), and multiple points of view narration were introduced and used by many of the prominent authors in this movement. Many in this movement were inspired by the works of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, as well as the idea of questioning the rationality of the human mind. Works of psychology and philosophy were of particular importance and influence to this movement because of how heavily the works dealt with the human mind and the stream of consciousness narrative style. 

Many historians have chosen 1910 as the start date for this movement, but earlier works can be fit into the movement as well. 

Major Authors and Works 
James Joyce

Joyce's most well-known works include Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Yong Man, The Dubliners, and Finnegan's Wake. Joyce is one of the most well-known contributors to the Modernist Movement, and his novels were highly experimental for the time. Many of his works use the stream of consciousness narrative style, which adds to the difficulty of their reading. Ulysses covers the events in the life of the main character over a twenty-four hour period, in the style of Homer's The Odyssey, in a stream of consciousness narrative style. Finnegan's Wake is a stream of consciousness narrative written in puns and word-plays, much in the style of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. Joyce's short stories are much easier to read and less intimidating than these two huge works, and they are all I have read of Joyce myself.   

Virginia Woolf 
Woolf is an author that interests me greatly, as I have not read many of her works. Her fiction pieces such as To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway are two of the most popular Modernist novels. Both use a stream of consciousness narrative style and focus on the inner thoughts of her characters. Her works were popular while she was alive and tend to focus on lyrical inner-narratives rather than plot. Woolf was also a pioneer in the literary world of writing about gender, her essay A Room of One's Own illustrates the difficulties that women writers face because of their gender, and her novel Orlando deals with gender and society's black-and-white view of it. Woolf suffered from depression and mental illness, and killed herself in 1941 by drowning.

Franz Kafka

Kafka's works, originally written in German, have come to define the Modernism Movement and Surrealist Literature. His works deal with themes of isolation, anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include, The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle. I read The Metamorphosis quite a while ago, you can read my old review here, but I would like to read it again to see how I feel about it now that I have been studying literature for such a long time. I am also eager to try The Trial. Kafka also has a very interesting collection of drawings that accompany the Modernist Movement quite well.    

Poetry and Poets 
T.S. Elliot


Carlos Williams Carlos 

Carlos William Carlos' poems are very interesting, and much like the poems of Pound below. His poems are short and without a lot of poetic language and devices. His most famous poem is The Red Wheel Barrow, which you have probably read, but also check out This is Just to Say and Complete Destruction.

Ezra Pound 

Pound was a silent leader of the Modernism movement, offering advice and council to many authors including Elliot, but never published anything too well-known himself. He has published quite a few poems and of course they fit in with the Modernism movement. His poems are quite accessible compared to Elliot's. His poems include In a Station of the Metro, "A Girl", and A Pact

Other Art Pieces

Picasso and Cubism
Les Demoiselles D'avignon

Georgia O'Keeffe 
Ram's Head with Hollyhock 

The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte 

 More Information