Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is not my favorite "classic" novel I've ever read.

I've often heard this novel grouped with the novels by the Brontes and the Austens, however I think it falls very short of either of those.

I didn't find any of the characters very relateable until the very end. Maxim is aloof and distant. The Narrator is really nothing short of pathetic. And Rebecca sounds like the very worst sort of person imaginable. Even the side characters are turn-offs. The only character I felt was a decent person was Ben.

Now, I know you all are screaming, Hayley, your favorite book is Wuthering Heights!! How is that any different?? Well, I feel that the characters in Wuthering Heights have redeeming qualities (primarily their love for other people). In Rebecca, the love errs on the wrong side of infatuation, and it's very disturbing as it appears to be very one-sided.

There were several quotes I liked:
"We can never go back, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us."
"You have blotted out the past for me, you know, far more effectively than all the bright lights of Monte Carlo."
"I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continue to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth."

Overall, I found the plot to be less than exciting and the characters to be less than enthralling.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hello Lovelies!!

Another TTT coming at you, courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish . This week's topic is our own choice of a previous topic aka TOP TEN REWIND. So I decided to go with Books I'd Give a Theme Song To (because I'm feeling a little music-y today and I apparently wanted to do one that would take me forever to complete!) So here we are...

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell : Really, is anyone surprised when this book ends up on one of my lists?? I can't help how much I adore this book. The theme song I'd give it would probably be something appropriately 80s like I Melt With You by Modern English. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte : Lucky for me, this has already been done and done spectacularly! The movie adaptation was horrendous, but this Mumford & Sons song (called The Enemy) is a fantastic theme song for the novel. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness : Uhm, yeah with my new obsession with this series, this book definitely deserves it's own theme song (and I'm sure the movie will have an awesome soundtrack!). I'm not sure I'm doing it justice, but I'd say that Devil's Backbone by the Civil Wars is a good starting point. 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern : With the way two kids are played against each other, I'd say a good theme song would be We Must Be Killers by Mikky Ekko 

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins : Okay it's been a while since I've read this one, and I know for a fact that there are tons of delightful French bands with great songs, but the song I kept thinking of is You and I by Ingrid Michaelson. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan : Oh come on, if you weren't begging for a musical with this book, there's something wrong with you. I'd probably want it to be more of a new musical like Rent or Across the Universe than an old-fashioned one like Les Mis or Sound of Music or something. So as a sample of what I'd want for a theme song, I'd have to go with Take Me or Leave Me . Which really melds well lyric-wise anyway.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch : I guess just as a song for Astrid in general, I'd like to give her Strong as an Oak by Watsky . 

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard : Definitely This Little Girl by Cady Groves. I mean A might be anyone but Alison was definitely capable of murder. 

Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing : Specifically #3 Night Shade because that was always the best. Here's My Moon, My Man by Feist 

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher: This isn't perfect but Unfinished Business by Mumford and Sons has some merit. 

What do you guys think? Do you have better suggestions for these books? Or do these songs make you think of different books?? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hello Lovelies!!

I don't know what happened yesterday, but a whole heck of a lot of you visited my blog, so thanks for that! That was a nice surprise to come back to, especially because I've been a HORRIBLE blogger this last week and a half.

But alas, what can you do? Just jump back on the bandwagon, eh? So I'm back with my week in review!

Let me tell you guys. I do not get any happier when I see that my week in review graphic is still "seasonal". It's the worst. It's been snowing again for the last couple days and we're supposed to get like a foot by tomorrow and SCHOOL'S ARE ACTUALLY CLOSING. You don't understand. I live in Montana. Literally the only time I didn't have school growing up was when our water heater exploded and the school was partly flooded and had no water. Snow storms were not a valid excuse. It's like the end of the world.

Which speaking of, I didn't see any ginormous wolves or snakes yesterday; did any of you see the effects of Ragnarok?

So I know I skipped a week, but I'm going to have to just summarize a bit here.

The last two weeks, I...
  • Did laundry? Yup. Yup. Did laundry. It was thrilling as always. 
  • Finished my Grad School application and sent it off! Hope I get good news soon!
  • Watched several movies. I think my favorites were Cinama Paradiso and Battle Royale. Two very different extremes, but both awesome.
  • Wanted to die from Teen Wolf because I don't understand what's going on and I'm so upset about everything, but I'm hoping it'll get better. I trust in the Teen Wolf Powers That Be.
  • Got accepted to Beta at Literally, today! (well okay a couple days ago, but I just managed to get on today.) It seems pretty sweet, but I'm still feeling a little bit lost and confused. I'll keep you up-to-date!
The last two weeks, I read..
  • Quite a bit of stuff online again. But there was a really good, really long story I was reading, and it isn't finished and now it's on hiatus, urgh.
  • Rebecca. I haven't really gotten into it honestly. But I need to finish it this week so I can wrap it up as my classic for February. 
And I didn't buy any books for myself! A book for my sister and two books for my roommate, but I'm not going to count any of them. 

I think that's the first time I've said that since I started this blog.

March starts in a week, so I'll be starting up my list of Middle Grade reads!! I'll also be reading Reboot by Amy Tintera because a friend gave it to me for Christmas and I already feel guilty that it's taken me this long. But I'm excited to give it a read!

I can't believe we're already almost 1/6th of the way done with 2014! 

What have you been up to lovelies?? Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Questions asked by Grad School

Hello Lovelies!

So, as I have mentioned a time or two, I'm working on applying to a graduate school program in Boston. As part of the application, I'm asked to write a "Statement of Purpose."  The prompt for this statement is given as "Describe your intellectual goals in seeking this degree. highlight your academic or professional engagement with children's/young adult literature and discuss the questions about children's/young adult literature that have interested you and will influence your study."


I just....what?? I mean, do I have intellectual goals?

My life is all about learning and sharing that learning with others. That's really all I want to do. I'm not sure how to relay that into an "intellectual goal" for (basically) an essay.

And that's only the first part of the question!

The even harder part is to describe what questions about children's/young adult literature interest me and would influence my study.
There's so much!!

I love retellings. I love when gender roles are subverted. I love dystopian novels. I love how dystopian novels show the real concerns about humanity. I love strong female characters. I love books about love. I love books about friendships. I love booooooooooooooooooks.

So this is what I'm dealing with. How do I compress a lifetime's worth of devotion to a certain kind of book into one statement of purpose that's sensible and written well enough to get me into graduate school?

Well, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ohmygod guys. Ohmygod.

Okay. Everybody. Stop what you're doing. And traipse on over to your favorite local book store (or Amazon. if that's your thing. And by thing I mean, it's either too late or you're too lazy to leave your house, no judgments here). And buy this whole series. Because that was a pretty damn stellar completion.

Okay, spoiler thicket ahead. Caveat Emptor (Caveat Reador??).

Well, the second book in the Chaos Walking series didn't thrill me, I could see how it was basically all a set-up for this spectacular finale. I cried. A lot. My roommate judged me more than a little bit. (I also was crying in the middle of the University Center on campus -- welcome to a reader's life, amirite?)

I don't want to ruin anything for you, so I'm going to try to keep my spoilers in check, but wow. Wow. I have a lot of feelings right now, okay??

First of all, I loved the inclusion of 1017's perspective. It really gave a complete view of the Spackle (or Land, as they prefer to be called. And wow, perfect allusion to Native People's struggles because that is very similar to most tribes and how they call themselves one thing and conquerors call them something else.)

I found it interesting that Ness added a new perspective every book. Because that seems really indicative of life. When you're young, you can really only focus on how you perceive things then as you get a little older, you can often examine another person's experience. We hear "Take a walk in someone else's shoes. Think of how they're feeling, etc. etc.". Then I think if it matters to you, if being empathetic is important to you, you can begin seeing through a lot of people's eyes. You get to understand things better.

And I love that Ness has the younger people be capable of this. The adults are the ones wanting war, saying "it's not that easy. you have to be the higher power before you can negotiate, blah blah blah" when all the younger generation really wants is peace. How fantastic. Because when you're young and adults are telling you that you don't understand something, you always want to say, no, you don't understand. Ness made it so that really the adults were who didn't understand.

Holy cow, there was so much emotion in this book. I'm so glad that Ness maintained the integrity of Todd and Viola's relationship. He didn't sacrifice their relationship to the unnecessary love triangle gods. He let them have the love they deserved. I loved how 1017 wanted revenge so badly because that seemed really true to life. How could you not want revenge when all your people are killed? When the person you love most in the world is taken from you? And I loved how even when Bradley hated the decisions Viola was making, Bradley still loved her.

Argh, I could seriously talk about this series all day long. How have I not seen more devotees to this series??

Favorite Quotes: "Because he knew he was doing wrong.He felt the pain of his actions--but he did not amend them."
"If this is what Todd and I would do for each other, does that make us right? Or does it make us dangerous?"
"Choices may be unbelievably hard but they're never impossible.[...] To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that's not how a person with integrity acts."
"Do we hate paradise so much we have to be sure it becomes a trash heap?"
"Why can't we learn to live with how we are? And whatever anybody chooses is okay by the rest of us?"

Also, I guess I get +2 for the third book in a series and +10 for a series completion, so that brings me up to...18 points total.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hello Lovelies! As usual TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish . This week's theme is books that'll make me swoon. AKA books that I'll be rereading this Friday when I'm at home alone :D

 My YA Picks:
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson : A voyage abroad at 17 where she meets a cute guy and has a delightful time? Dream come true for me.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins : I've seen lots of Anna and the French Kiss on these lists, but why neglect Stephanie's equally delightful 2nd novel?? I CANNOT WAIT for Isla and the Happily Ever After
Okay, I know my picture is of That Summer, but I'm too lazy to change it to The Truth About Forever which is probably my favorite of Dessen's books, but they're all phenomenal. Just pick one--it'll be swoon-worthy.
My adult picks
The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter : Okay, okay, it's the third book in the series. But this is by far my favorite so far (in terms of swooning, hoooooooo boy).
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop : This was one of my first adult romance novels outside of the contemporary genre, and sweet baby Jesus it's delicious. This series, for real though. It's intense and the love just grips your heart.
Three Fates by Nora Roberts : I was on a super big NR kick for a few years and I've read most of her stuff (although her more recent books have been far less enjoyable and I gave up on her a little bit). This is by far my favorite. And it has one of my favorite couples of contemporary romance.
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb : Okay, technically another Nora Roberts book, but I feel like this series is substantially different than her contemporary romance novels. And the relationship in this series is delightful.
Wizard of the Grove by Tanya Huff : I also adore Tanya Huff's Keeper series, but this one has the most heart-wrenching love that just ughhhhhhhh. I don't want to spoil anything but dear god.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte : Like I could ever write a list of books about swooning without including my favorite book of all time. And while the romance in this book might not be great for real life, it's very very swoon-worthy.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte : Such a great romance. Swooooooooon.

So what about you? What books make you swoon??

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hello Lovelies!!

I know, I know. It's Monday and I'm a day late with my week in review and I didn't post at allll this week beside TTT. It's been a crazy week!! 

Well, sort of. It's not like I really did anything.

But it was freeeeeeeezing at the beginning of the week and then I lost my gloves Tuesday morning and then it started snowing on Wednesday and hasn't really stopped since. So all I've wanted to do is curl up on the couch and watch movies and read things and do nothing else. 

But alas, I had to work. And I worked an extra day last week for a co-worker (who was going out of town for a Grad program interview so I could not blame him in the least and I haven't got to talk to him about it yet, but I hope it went really really well!!), so I had today off. 

But what did I do this week?? Well... this week I,
  • celebrated my friend's birthday by going out for sushi - yum!!
  • watched the last episode of Season 3 of Sherlock - ack!
  • watched Teen Wolf - dear god that show, I can't wait for tonight's ep!
  • went to Trivia where my team got 2nd place for the 3rd week in a row -- we will get 1st!!
  • went out after Trivia where I stayed out too late but didn't get in too much trouble  - XD
  • worked, worked, and worked.
  • went to see Catching Fire (for the 3rd time!) with my friend who hadn't seen it yet
  • watched 5 movies off of the 500 greatest films list! (woohoo!!)
I also read...
  • Finished reading The Ask and the Answer
  • Finished reading Persepolis
  • Started reading Monsters of Men
  • My Self magazine I got like a month ago
  • a lot of short stories online -- shhhhhhh.
I added to my library collection by 4.

Wow that is not a good picture.

Anyway, I got...

  • Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter : I've read her Lords of the Underworld series for a couple years now, and I quite like them. Her YA venture was AWFUL, but I have two books in this series that are later in, so I thought I'd pick up the first one to give it a try.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman : One of my friends recommended this book to me, so I picked up a copy.
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken : Two of my friends have been raving about this book forever, and one of them just moved in with her boyfriend. Since they then had two copies, he gave me his! It was super sweet and I'm so excited to read it.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayle : This is pretty far outside of what I normally read, but it's my book club's book pick for the month, so I picked up a copy to read. I'm interested to see if I like it or not!
And that about sums up my week. What about you? What happened last week for you??

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an intricate graphic novel that tells the story of one woman's childhood in Iran.

Having been trained as a teacher, I have a problem where occasionally I'll be reading something and all I can think about it how much I want to teach that novel. And that's what I kept thinking when I was reading Persepolis. For years and years and years now, America has has the tendency to think of the Middle East as a homogeneous culture that is comprised of one belief set (and that is the belief set that has driven a very small minority to very big displays of patriotism (or terrorism if you prefer)). Satrapi writes about her experience growing up in a country that was experiencing some pretty intense revolutionary changes. She writes of the hypocritical nature of people--how people are so willing to move with the regime changes of a government. She writes of the confusion of being a young girl in a culture that keeps changing history and "facts". Yet somehow, Satrapi manages to keep humor in her story. She makes experiences relateable by using a significant amount of catharsis--lightening dark material with humorous comments.

I cannot recommend this graphic novel enough. I can't wait to pick up a copy of the second set (The Story of a Return).

Favorite Quotations: "One can forgive but one should never forget."
"To each his own way of calming down."
"No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger."
"In life you'll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it's because they're stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance...always keep your dignity and be true to yourself."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness killed me.


So. I finished The Ask and the Answer last night, and I've been thinking about what I would write all day. 

I guess, I should be honest and say that it wasn't quite as phenomenal as TKONLG. But at the same time, it was really good. And I wonder if part of the reason I didn't like it very much is because it's a second in a trilogy. Because I typically have issues with 2/3 books. Sequels in trilogies are the worst for me because problems keep piling up and up, and there is no resolution. And I know that going in, so I tend to be a little bit more harsh on them than I maybe should be. 

I love the dynamic between Todd and Viola. That's part of what drove me so fiercely through the first book. It's a relationship I can believe in. I felt connected to them and their actions. The second book keeps that relationship, but it's no longer prevalent and beautiful. Instead it's used as a weapon against them, and that was very frustrating for me. I cannnot imagine using love as a means of forcing people to do what you want (even though as a trope I guess it's used rather frequently now that I think about it). It was just so overdone in this book. There was no relief from that type of betrayal the whole way through.

I wasn't a fan of the introduction of Lee. It started to lean in to unnecessary love triangle space, but Ness manages to steer clear of that, so I let it pass. I'm hoping he'll keep it out of the plot in the next book too.

I also didn't like that Davy becomes both a sympathetic character and dies within like 100 pages. 

Like I get what Ness is trying to do though. Which is frustrating in its own way. Because its so obvious that the Spackle are a symbol of colonized peoples in our own world. And the whole plot also mimics WWII in a pretty distinctive way, and I can appreciate showing the actions of people through another setting and world. But it's all so horrible that I have a hard time liking anything.

I will say that I'm eager to read the third book which I'll be starting as soon as I read through Persepolis (as soon as I finish this post).

Favorite Quotes: "We are the choices we make."
"Cuz how do you know yer alive if you don't hurt?"

And since, it's the sequel to TKONLG, I'll add +2 to the Series Challenge making for 6 pts total.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

As usual, TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top 10 Book that Will Make You Cry. Now if a book makes me cry, it's probably going to end up on my favorite's list, so this is what I came up with.

1. Harry Potter : The whole series. All of it. Now it's like tears of reminiscence, but holy god I was just talking about how I pretty much cried my way through the whole last book.

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go: Obviously, I read this fairly recently, but I was sobbing. Like my cat had to come investigate the noise.

3. The Fault in Our Stars: Yepppppppp.

4. The Book Thief : Ahhh my heart.

5. White Oleander : How do people survive this in real life?

6. Wuthering Heights : Oh unrequited romance!

7. Eleanor & Park : Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I love this book so mu-u-uch

8. The Golden Compass : The ending kiiiiiiiiillllllssssss me. It's part of why I despised the movie.

9.Thirteen Reason Why : Ouch. Rough topic.

10. Mockingjay : Ultimate Betrayal

What about you? What books make you cry??

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hello Lovelies!

You might remember this goal post about what I wanted to do with my blog in 2014. My friend did a similar recap of her goals on one of her sites, so I sort of stole this idea from her.

1. Get Commenting : So far, not bad. I haven't commented on every blog post I've read, because often I don't have much to say, but I have left a few comments which I thought were meaningful.

2. Get better at design: Obviously not much has happened there. I tried to figure out how to add a few buttons to my side bar, but I don't have enough time right at the moment.

3. Blog at least 3x a week: Success! It hasn't always been on the schedule I was trying to keep, but it's happened.

4. Finish 3 series: Not yet, but I am steadily making my way through the Chaos Walking series, and I only have a book and a half left of the Uglies series.

5. Read 100 books: 9 so far! Goodreads says I'm one ahead of schedule, woot!

6. Read 1 book I own for every new book or ARC: It hasn't been 100% accurate, but I've read 5 books I owned before 2014 and 4 that were new to me this year.

7. Participate in a Readathon : I put aside Anna and the French Kiss at work, so I could participate in a readathon for that! But haven't completed yet.

8. Gain 5 followers: No luck yet. Alas. Or I don't know how to see these things.

9. Reread 5 book : Not yet! But I'm definitely thinking it's going to be HP.

10. Pare down book owning: I've taken in two boxes of books to work, so that's good!

11. Read a classic a month: Sure! Technically I finished it today which is the first of February, but I'm going to make the executive decision that it counts :)

How are your New Year's Resolutions going??

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a very thought-provoking children's classic.

To be honest with you guys, I resisted reading this book for ages. When I was in I think fourth grade, I was reading Harry Potter (as one does, y'know) and all these adults I would talk about it with were like "Oh, you should read The Phantom Tollbooth!" And I looked at a copy of it at the library and was like hell no that sounds stupid and nothing like Harry Potter. So I didn't.

And to be totally honest, I only sort of regret that choice.

I regret it because I think this book would have meant a lot more to me if I'd read it when I was younger. I regret it because I think my enjoyment of this book was less than if I had read it when I was younger. But I don't regret it because I didn't like it that much.

Like it was okay. There were some entertaining characters and interesting situations, but nothing that really made me go, oh yes this is the book I've been waiting for.

I would still encourage people to read it, especially if there are young children in your life (I'm thinking probably 2nd or 3rd grade) because then you can share it with them, but in a lot of ways, I was past the point of connection.

Favorite Quotes: "You must never feel badly about making mistakes [...] as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons."