Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh.

Release Date: December 29, 2015

Book Summary: "Allie Brosh, the “gut-bustingly funny” (NPR), award-winning, and #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Hyperbole and a Half, shares an all-new collection of autobiographical and illustrated essays."

My Thoughts: I am thrilled about this sequel! The last time I checked the author's blog/webcomic, she's been pretty quiet. I figured she was taking a break and half hoped that maybe she was working on more material. The first book was very inspirational to me, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she's been up to since the first release. I only wish this was available before Christmas!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If I Taught 19th Century Lit 101

Pride and Prejudice- The original bad girl novel. Today, Elizabeth is a role model and inspiration for young women to speak their minds. In Austen's day, Elizabeth was scandalous. Not as scandalous as Lydia, but hey. All and all, it's a fun, and important portrait of 19th century life: what they found important, what they thought was crazy.

Jane Eyre- Whereas Elizabeth had it easy (even though they think they're poor), the first half of Jane Eyre shows how much it could suck to live in the 19th century. The plot twists have probably influenced every modern romance book, movie, and tv show (soap opera) in some small way.

Oliver Twist- This novel explores the underbelly of London, full of criminals, prostitutes, and murderers. Sounds like an HBO show, right? Wrong, it's about an innocent orphan struggling to survive. In a world of 'Please, sir, I-want-another-video-game,' it's important to remember how hard things could be from a child's point of view.

Treasure Island- I'm probably a little biased for this one. Mostly, I'd teach it for fun. It's the grand-daddy of many great adventure and pirate stories and it's cemented in pop culture. It's influence is everywhere and it's a nice example of a coming-of-age tale.

Middlemarch- Although Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre are fun, Middlemarch is a slightly more realistic take on 19th century life. Ladies back then didn't always hit the jackpot in the dating department. It has important lessons about knowing who you are, what you want out of life, and having a plan.

Walden- Thoreau was save-the-Earth before Captain Planet. He was a rebel and out-of-the-box thinker. It's an important read because he not only stood up for nature, but also asked the big life questions.

Uncle Tom's Cabin- It's an important novel to read because it caused a lot of stir when it was released. Abe Lincoln actually blamed the author for starting the Civil War. It shows the power of literature as a means to inform others of issues, as well as, how far we've come.

The Importance of Being Earnest - Nothing like a little comedy to make a class fun. And, no, this isn't about Ernest P. Worrell, (equally fun). All the modern characters with alter-egos probably have this play to thank. That and many situational comedies.

Dracula - Vampire, vampires, vampires! Today they are everywhere. Yet, it's surprising how many people have never read Dracula, the book that began the horror and sub-genre of romance craze. In many ways, it shows how far women have progressed in literature, from helpless innocents to strong vampire slayers.

Poems by Emily Dickinson - In most lit classes, you cover a play, poems, and sometimes several novels or short stories. I'm not much for poetry, but to me, Emily Dickinson is some of the best. There's a lot of nature and beauty in her work, as well as, some unintended humor for obtuse people like "I heard a Fly buzz."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a mixed experience. The thrill that it exists, the excitement of having new moments with classic characters, more of Lee’s writing style, and what-could-have-beens, as well as, the crash and burn when your favorite character, a hero for the ages, has morphed into a narrow-minded old man, fearful of change, on the wrong side of history.

It’s surreal. I feel like the Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird” should wake up from a nightmare “Wizard of Oz” style and point to Atticus and say, “And you were there,” to Uncle Jack, “And you were there,” to Jem, “And you were kinda there,” and way over to Boo in corner, “And you weren’t there.”

Basically, you’ve probably already heard that readers travel down the rabbit hole when Scout returns to her hometown from the city to visit her aging father. While there, she reminisces about how the town has physically changed, her childhood, and teen years. There are some hilarious scenes about her further adventures with Jem and Dill, which ultimately make the book worth reading. However, the town and the people in it are also changing emotionally. Her high school crush is trying to press her into marriage, her heroes fall from grace, and she sees opposition to the rights of black citizens growing all around her. Scout is now an outsider, set like a watchman, as the people to whom she loves change.

Overall, if the characters names where changed and Harper Lee’s name removed, it would be a good but flawed book, belonging on the shelf with “The Help.” I would say that the main character was annoyingly na├»ve about her dad. She looks at her father as a blameless, perfect man. Apparently, she has never been angry with him before or had reason to think he is not a saint. Then she uncovers a hateful secret about him, the blindfold is off, and she has a meltdown. Instead of acting on her anger right away, either by calling him out or running away, as I would imagine an educated, independent woman would do, she mopes and mopes. She had no problem arguing with her aunt or expressing herself to her would-be boyfriend, but her dad is off-limits. Of course, if you know her dad is Atticus Finch, the character we all consider blameless, it makes sense. Change the name and you have no idea why she worships her father so much.

It’s a brave book, about a setting that a lot of authors would never touch. Few people could really capture it. Although I hate Atticus’ morph, I agree with other reviews, that realistically, there were a lot of men just like him during this era. But I can see why the publisher wasn’t keen on the story at the time. Prior to the realty tv world we live in, people wanted characters who were idealized, heroes who were all good and villains who were all bad.

To me the flashbacks of Scout’s childhood really stand out and shine. I think the publisher made the right call asking for a novel about her childhood. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is still superior. I wanted a little more development and backstory of adult Scout and elder Atticus in “Go Set A Watchman.” If you haven’t read or seen “To Kill A Mockingbird,” I don’t know how well “Go Set A Watchman” would stand on its own. But it is a thought-provoking read and well worth your time.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Alright, this top ten confused me, because I, too, thought we'd covered this topic before. However, as a hopeless book nerd, books you own vs. books you've read are entirely different things. There's authors I've actually read:

1.) Julia Quinn - No shock there. I got hooked on her Bridgerton series, which is currently nine books long. Afterwards, I merrily made my way through the rest of her work. Love her mix of romance and comedy.

2.) Meg Cabot - Also, not a shock. I don't know how I would have survived my teenage years without a hilarious Meg Cabot story in hand. I actually, recently, bought one of her novels for adults. She's like the book world's Tina Fey, before there was Tina Fey.

3.) R. L. Stine - A childhood favorite. My mom wasn't a horror fan, so naturally I really wanted to read horror stories as a kid. At my elementary school, his work made reading cool before Harry Potter. I didn't own many of the books, but I borrowed a ton from the library.

4.) Laura Ingalls Wilder - Another childhood favorite. Not long ago I read one of her travel diaries and her autobiography for adults. Today, it's insane to think she had a hard time getting published.

5.) J.K Rowling - I feel like the Harry Potter series is a given. I've also read The Casual Vacancy, and although it wasn't my favorite, I'm still open to trying a Robert Galbraith novel.

6.) Anne Rice - My dark, moody teenage years were also accompanied by Anne Rice vampire novels. Her characters are pretty much the granddaddies of all 'good' vampire characters today. She did it first and she did it right.

7.) L. M. Montgomery - I really hope to read all of her work someday. Although some of her titles are over one hundred years old, they're still laugh-out-loud funny and inspiring.

8.) William Shakespeare - Total nerd, I know. I was required to read a lot of his work in school. However, I soon realized that I really enjoyed it. You can't get any more classic than Shakespeare.

9.) Louisa May Alcott - Although 'Little Women' shines as her most enduring work, she wrote tons of other stories. I read she wasn't fond of writing for children, but she did a good job at it regardless.

10.) Charles Dickens - I'm not sure how many times I've read 'A Christmas Carol', but I almost know it by heart. His work is always a great mix of joy, sorrow, and mystery. He was truly a genius.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ten Fairytale Retellings I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ten Fairytale Retellings I Want To Read

I've always been fascinated by fairy tales, so naturally I love a good retelling. This post is dedicated to my late Grandmother, who passed last month. She read me fairy tales that still inspire my reading and writing choices today. Go read to a child, they listen!

1.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I feel like I just added this to the most hyped books I've never read (cause I did). I've read nothing but good things and I love scifi, so it sounds like a good fit for me. Seen some movie rumors for this one, too.

2.) Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - I've heard that this is a great retelling of the Six Swans. I've had it on many lists on Goodreads and on the blog...really need to break down and read it!

3.) A Girl of Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter - While this isn't a straightforward, fantasy retelling, I'm told that it's very much a Cinderella-esque story. Highly considered a classic by many, it's been on my to-read list for years.

 4.) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - The movie is one of my guilty pleasures (as are most Anne Hathaway movies). If it's as sweet as the movie, I'm sure I'd enjoy it.

 5.) Beauty by Robin McKinley - Published back in 1993, this retro retelling also comes highly recommended. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, so I don't think I can go wrong with this one.

 6.) Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George - The Twelve Dancing Princesses isn't a fairy tale that's retold very often, so I hope to get around to reading this one day. Although I own several books by the author and I think her style fits my taste, I just haven't had the time. :(

7.) East by Edith Pattou - I've been meaning to read this one for years. Beauty and the Beast with a polar bear?? Very interesting. I've also read that it's a retelling of a Norwegian folktale.

8.) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - As a fairly new release, this one's been praised for it's strong heroine and surreal setting. There's some debate if it's YA or New Adult.

9.) The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn - Okay, Rumpelstiltskin is just creepy, even the name is creepy. But the 1880s New York seamstress setting is a really good fit for a retelling!

10.) Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - Wolf slaying twins, need I say more? This mix-up of Red Riding Hood sounds action packed.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Classics Corner: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For years I intended to read this novel. I heard over and over again how it's classic scifi, influencer of many books, movies, tv shows we love today. Published in 1917, it's the great-granddaddy of them all.

Then Disney happened. 'John Carter of Mars' is Disney's film version of 'A Princess of Mars'. Dunno why they didn't call the movie by the book's title, unless it goes along with the company trying to get away from anything 'Princess' (thus titles like 'Tangled,' 'Brave,' and 'Frozen'). At first, I was happy a movie was being made of the book. I thought, maybe, it'd give me a taste of the novel, so I'd know what to expect. But then, I'll be honest, I didn't go see the movie because the reviews were so bad. Everyone seemed to be so mad at Disney for created something so stupid. I kept wondering if Disney didn't do the book justice or the reviewers hated the book, too. No one ever said. No one mentioned that it was classic scifi novel in the public domain...and although Disney lost money, it wasn't like it was an original Disney work they poured their hearts out over.

Curious how bad the movie could be, the husband and I watched it. It's NOT that bad. I've endured much worse blockbusters. The pacing in the beginning is slow, but ultimately the film improves later on. Dunno if the pacing/bad editing in the beginning turned people away, or if they didn't like the mix of scifi and fantasy. In today's world, scifi can be very scientific. If the theories in the story aren't kinda maybe possible, people will pick them apart (Scientists on NPR covering Jurassic World for example). We want our scifi to be almost real.

John Carter is a Civil War veteran who finds a cave that takes him to Mars. It's not extremely scientific, it's more magical. He suddenly finds that he also has super human powers on Mars. He befriends a local tribe of green people, gets caught up in politics (that are about as interesting as the Star Wars prequels), and falls in love with a captive humanoid princess. Like any super hero, he saves the day and gets the girl. The book ends on a sad note, but sets the story up for its many sequels.

The story is told by John Carter and really shows its age. Indians are out to get you old-West-style. John Carter is a Confederate gentleman who never forgets his genteel manners no matter what's happening to him. Everyone is either super good or bad. The princess is objectified and needs saving. John Carter suddenly notices that she's humanoid and is instantly in love with her. He turns kinda "Me Tarzan, You Jane" on her. So, it doesn't stand the test of time. When reading (or watching the movie) you've really got to consider the time frame it was published. It's very imaginative for its time. The book rightly belongs on the shelf with other old timers like Tarzan (also by Burroughs) and The Prisoner of Zenda. Still not a bad read if you're a scifi nerd, into classics, or both.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In My Mailbox: June/beginning of July 2015

In My Mailbox: June/beginning of July 2015

It's been a good summer so far with a mix of hot and tolerable weather. Yeah, I wish my real mailbox was that cool!

Here's a picture of my latest incomings, a mix of bookstore, borrowing, swapping, and used finds. As I mentioned before, Emma was great. Far From the Madding Crowd is high on my to-read list. A Knight in Shining Armor was a lucky find; I challenged myself to read 'x' amount of medieval romance this year and so far I haven't finished any. Recently, I found two Louisa May Alcott bios. You can't go wrong with Meg Cabot and anything surrounding The Sound of Music.

A shot of Oshie's recent finds. As always, Warhammer, chess, and scifi :) (I know you like our snowflake pattern in July!)

And sweet Oshie surprised me with this Life magazine covering 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' which I just visited re-read a few days ago. I'm super hyped and curious about 'Go Set A Watchman.' Love the cover! Gregory Peck is perfect as Atticus. When I read the book I always imagine him playing out the chapters.

I was so lucky and happy to win a Far From the Madding Crowd prize pack from @Marcus_Theatres via Twitter!  Oshie and I really wanted to buy the score and I had eyeballed several tote bags on Ebay. But, I was putting it off to save money for other things. I couldn't believe I'd won! Now I can show the book and movie off to everyone in style!

A few weeks ago, I reviewed The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs. In the Resources section, I found a great link to the International Geek Girl Pen Pals. And from there, I learned about a Fictional Lost Post Swap on the forum. It sounded fun and a good fit for book blogging and creative writing. The other day I was so excited to see a note addressed to "Ms. Hermione Granger-Weasley" :D @amavongeek created the perfect swap for me! She wrote to Hermione as Rita Skeeter and completely cracked us up! I have always wanted a time-turner and Oshie is totally going take the otter away (he really likes otters!) Really want to re-watch all the movies now.


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