Dear Summer,

Summer

Dear Summer,

You are going by way too quickly.  You are by far my favorite season of them all with your warm, bright, welcoming sunny afternoons… I’m afraid I do not get to spend enough time with you and would like to get to know you better.  There are so many things I would like to do, and can only do with you.  Imagine all of the outdoor activities we could do together: we could swim, go to the park, go exploring, play with dogs in the fields… Imagine all the books we could read, paintings we could paint, pictures we could take and memories we could make!  I beg you, let’s stop and smell  the roses a bit… don’t be in such a hurry to go!

All my love,

LJ

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Jane Eyre….a new favorite!

Jane Eyre

Yes, I finally read Jane Eyre!  I honestly cannot believe that it took me so long to read this one for the first time, but I can tell you that I am glad that I did.  I think that part of why I put off reading Jane Eyre and so many other classics, is partly due to intimidation.  Have you ever been intimidated by a book for any reason?  Because of the language, size, author, literary influence?  Well, I’m not afraid to admit that the next book on my classic TBR list that intimidates me just a liiiitle bit is War and Peace.  Just a little, but I digress.  Jane Eyre has definitely become a new favorite of mine!

In case there is anyone else out there who, like me, have yet to read this, here is Goodreads’ summary:
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

First of all, I’d like to talk about the language.  I love the way they chose their words during this time period.  Don’t get me started on how we have butchered the English language.  Welp bae, idk I am totes a noob.  I’m not even sure what I just said, but I’m still cringing just from typing that.  Let’s just focus on some things out of the book, shall we?

“I shall sully the purity of your floor.”  

“I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him they spontaneously revived, great and strong!  He made me love him without looking at me.”

“Even for me, life had its gleams of sunshine.”

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

…and, of course…

“Reader, I married him.” 

To be sure, I shall be wandering about saying ‘what the deuce’ to all of my acquaintances for a fortnight until I am outcast.  Well, “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”  Ok, I couldn’t help myself – I am just tickled pink with these sayings.  Ok, one more: “Why are you speaking to the air?” That last one was technically from the movie, and not from the book but it still makes me laugh!

This book has all of the little pieces that make it wonderful from Jane’s saucy personality, to the kindness in her friend Helen, the verbal banter between Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the mysterious ‘ghost’ in the attic.  More than that, I personally felt like I could identify with Jane. I have only two complaints, and they’re not really complaints but things that just made me tilt my head and lift my ears (like a puppy) thinking; really? 1. The family that she happens to find when she runs away are… her cousins?   What are the chances of that?  Eh, OK if you say so… 2. I don’t speak French which makes it a little difficult to understand Adele when she speaks in French.  But I love the rest of the book so much, those two things don’t really make a difference to me.

So, what about you?  Did you love it as much as I did?  What were your favorite parts?  Did anyone not enjoy it?

5 out of 5 stars.

The Liebster Award!

I’d like to thank Curiouser and Curiouser for nominating me for The Liebster Award!

liebster2

This award looks like a fun new way to find new blogs and get to know a little bit more about blogs you follow!  Here are the rules:

  • Each nominee must have under 200 followers
  • Thank and link to the nominated blog
  • Answer their 10 questions and propose 10 new ones for your nominees
  • Nominate 10 blogs and tell them they have been nominated
  • Write a post containing these questions
  • Include these rules in the post

 

Here are the questions Curiouser and Curiouser gave:

1. What is your all time favorite book? Why?

That is such a tough question…I can’t pick just one.  I’ll tell you a few that I could read and reread a hundred times and be perfectly happy, though: The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, The Bronze Horseman, The Best Yes, Harry Potter, Love, Rosie, The Hunger Games, The Notebook, Jane Eyre…. I don’t know this is getting a little crazy, huh? I could go on for days…

2. Do you like cooking/baking? If so, what is your favorite thing to cook/bake?

I prefer baking to cooking, though I’m really not very good at either.  I consider it a great feat to make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it, to be honest.  My favorite things to make are: cheese dip, cookies, pies, pumpkin rolls…do smoothies count?

3. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Blogging is a really fun way to talk about the things that interest you, get to know others with similar interests.  I don’t know why I didn’t start blogging sooner – I love books and talking about books and reading book reviews, and this is a great place to do that. I also love learning new things, meeting new people and learning from others… I get all of that with blogging!

4. If you could travel to one country in the world, where would it be and why? 

I have to pick one country?  Can I pick a continent?  All of them!  I have some serious wanderlust… if I could retire now and spend the rest of my life bringing nothing but my dogs and my books to see the world that would be awesome! I really can’t pick just one country, its like picking one book – it is impossible….

5. Do you like Young Adult novels? 

I do like Young Adult novels!  I read so many different genres, but YA is definitely one of the top on my list!

6. What is your favorite genre of music? Why?

Ok, at this point you might start getting tired of my answers, because they’re starting to sound the same.  I listen to a wide variety of music, too. It really depends on the mood I’m in… anywhere from Contemporary Christian to Pop, Rock, Country, or Reggae….

7. If you could only keep 5 possessions what would they be?

Hmmm…. my dog (she definitely counts – I won’t go anywhere without her!), my camera, laptop, sketchbook and a set of watercolor pencils, a suitcase full of books and clothes – and I’m ready for anything!

8. If you could meet any author who would it be? Why?

ANY author, right?  I think it would be really cool to have a conversation with Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte.

9. What languages do you speak?  Are there any you want to learn? 

I am a coda, which means my parents are deaf – so sign language is my native language which makes me bilingual speaking ASL and English.  I took German in middle and high school so I would love to finish learning that.  I find languages and cultures fascinating so I wouldn’t stop there… Italian, Russian, and French would probably be next on my list.

10. Which book character do you most identify with? 

I identify with a lot of book characters, and at least with a trait of almost everyone… but I’ll go with the very first one that clicked with me: Jo March from Little Women.


 

So now it’s your turn! My questions are:

1. Do you have a book that made you fall in love with reading?  What is it, and why did you love it so much?

2. What are your favorite genres to read?  What do you like about them so much?

3. If you could save only 5 books from a fire, which ones would they be?

4. Do you believe in magic?

5. What are your other passions/interests?

6. What are your most/least favorite book to movie adaptations?

7. What 5 books would you say everyone should read before they die? (5 books other than the ones chosen in #3)

8. If you could have a single superpower, what would you choose?

9. If you could live in another period of time, where/when would you choose?

10. Tell me something random about yourself.


 

Nominations:

Girl, Reading

Aira Reads

Siriusly Good Book Reviews

A Dance With Books

Madame Bibi Lophile Recommends

…and YOU@ yourblog!  Enjoy!

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I am embarrassed to say I have not been to a bookstore since I’ve moved to the area over a year ago.  The books that I’ve read either came from my TBR bookcase or Amazon.  So I finally went to a local bookstore this weekend and I’m so glad that I did. I’m super excited about these finds… and the prices I got them for!  Especially the old copies of Little Women and Little Men I found – they were my favorite growing up!

What are your favorite local bookstore finds?

Bookstore Finds!

Malala Yousafzai: her father, her book and an inspiring story

So, last night I watched this TED talk of Malala Yousafzai’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.  He talks about what it is like to be her father and how he raised her.  He says, “Do not ask what I did. Ask what I did not do.  I did not clip her wings, and that is all.”  I really enjoyed this video and thought it came up at an appropriate time with Father’s Day coming up this weekend.

I-Am-Malala

If you have not heard of Malala, she is truly an inspiring young woman.  Raised in Pakistan, where women as fortunate to have schools and education like we do in the US, Malala fought for her right to go to school.  In 2012, at fifteen years old, she was shot in the head by the Taliban because of her advocating for women’s rights in Pakistan.  She survived and last year became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize.  Her memoir, I am Malala, is her story of learning how to stand up and become an advocate.  She has overcome and stood up to great challenges that many others would have backed down from.  The book provides a lot of history and background to her country and culture, which I personally find fascinating and if you do, too – please check out her book.

“I do not want to be remembered as the girl who was shot.  I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.” – Malala Yousafzai

The Bluest Eye: A story to touch your heart… and break it.

The Bluest Eye is the first one of Toni Morrison’s books that I have read.  I say first instead of only because I will be reading more of her books.  If you’re not familiar with the book, read how Goodreads describes it:

the_bluest_eye_frontcover_The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways.
What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Tony Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

Completely unintentional, but interesting enough now that I am looking at that description, the first book of hers I read was also her first novel.  Set in the 40’s, you follow three little girls as they are growing up during a hard time for blacks in America.  You learn how the girls interact with each other and with the other girls in their school.  Pecola, one of the three’s only wish is to have blue eyes, so she can be beautiful.  The story is not always told from Pecola’s perspective.  I’ll tell you: it is very interesting how Toni Morrison writes from the different character’s perspectives.  She starts off telling about their personal history, explaining how they came to be who they are before she comes back to the story.   In this way, she makes you see that life is hard, and though people may be ugly and mean she makes you see that they are people first.  That, I feel is just one of the many strengths in her writing style in this novel.

In thinking about Pecola and how she wanted blue eyes to be beautiful, it made me really sad that she could not be beautiful as she was.  I had a conversation with a friend, who proposed a question: how many people do you think are black have ever at any point in their life wondered what would my life be like if I were white?  How many deaf people have ever wondered, what would my life be like if I could hear?  How many blind people wondered what their life would be like if they could see?  She brought this up to emphasize that very rarely do white, hearing people who can see wish to change that fact about themselves.  I say very rarely, in light of recent news.  I won’t go into that (and I don’t really want to make this an issue of race), but in reading this, I simply thought about this: how many people wish they were different for whatever reason?  Hasn’t every human being at some point in their lives wished they could change something about themselves, to be more beautiful, to fit in, to be smarter, to … whatever?

Spoiler alert! Though I won’t go into much detail, for those of you who have not read this yet… I will say that I wish that life had been better to Pecola Breedlove.  She may be a character in a book, but what she goes through and experiences are not unlike many, many little girls who to this day experience similar things and it breaks my heart.

What did you think of the story?

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The never-ending TBR list…

So, I’ve been thinking lately about actually starting to tackle that TBR list.  Not just the pile of books that I haven’t read yet, but the books that I’ve wanted to read for years and never got around to… or even some books that I probably read too young and would like to read.  For instance, I just finished The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (review to come) and am currently reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’ve never read Jane Eyre… or any of Jane Austen’s books, I’m ashamed to say.  This will be remedied shortly.  Thus, I’ve assembled a list of classic books that have been on my list  for a while now, to share with you.  Let me start off by clarifying; this is by no means an exhaustive list nor are the books listed in any particular order.

1. Pride and Prejudice

2. To Kill a Mockingbird* (This is a re-read to be honest – I read it in middle school)

3. War and Peace

4. Beloved

5. The Hiding Place

6. Anna Karenina

7. The Princess Bride

8. Little Women* (Another re-read)

9. The Bridges of Madison County

10. Emma (Well, the whole Jane Austen collection, really)

11. The Handmaid’s Tale

12. The Color Purple

13. A Wrinkle in Time

14. The Great Gatsby

15. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

So, what do you think about my list?  How many of these have you read?  Am I forgetting any?  What’s on your list?

Lost Lake, a sort of modern fairytale

As readers, we all have a list of authors that we will read every book that they publish.  Sarah Addison Allen is one of those authors for me.  She tends to put a little magical twist into her stories.  Not like Harry Potter’s world of wizardry type of magic, but hers is a bit more subtle.  Like having a book appear for you to read to deliver a message when you need it; or an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties.  In Lost Lake, its the crocodile.  But Sarah Addison Allen also has a knack for creating this perfect little world that you could live in forever. Or at least I could.  The small, quiet, cozy southern towns and the people who live there really make for a nice little summer getaway.  Which is what happens with Kate and her daughter, Devin.

lost lakeFrom Goodreads:

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?
Sometimes lost loves aren’t really lost. They’re right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again.

So, there you have it… the perfect little setting for a modern fairy tale, complete with ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after’.  Well, not really… but pretty close!  I love the characters that she creates – all so different and new, but they feel like people I’ve either known for years or want to sit down on the porch with and get to know better.  Definitely a good summer read!

On another note, Kate begins the book by stating that she ‘woke up.’  Usually, I would think: she just had a nap, or she just woke up from a good night sleep.  But in this case she had spent the last year ‘asleep.’  Her husband died in a tragic accident, and she disconnected with life.  Just going through the motions, she was not fully aware of what was going on, and not fully herself and allowing her mother-in-law to take over.  It is at that point she wakes up, and begins to take control of her live, discover herself, connect with her daughter, and discover old family mysteries.  The way she described being ‘asleep,’ though – I could totally relate!  I did not have a death to mourn that created the disconnect for me, it was actually kind of gradual.  However, I was ‘asleep’ and going through the motions for years and I love that she was able to capture that in the book.

Also, I just had to share:  I love the inside cover of the book. I actually love the cover of the book, too.  Not that you should judge a book by the cover – just take my word for it. So, I don’t usually splurge on hardback copies unless its cheap, or one of my favorite authors.  Lost Lake happened to fall into both of those categories this time.  Have a look, though:

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Take another look at the little postcards they’re showing you there – they’re relevant to the story!

Has anyone else read any of Sarah Addison Allen’s books?

4 out of 5 stars.

I Am. I am the problem; I am the solution.

Ok, I’m taking a little break from the usual book-related topics to talk about a documentary that I saw yesterday that really touched me. I found it very moving and inspiring and like with all things when people discover something they like, they share and want everyone else to love it too.  Let me begin by saying I’m not really a big documentary fan.  But this one was really really very interesting.

I am.  This was written and directed by Tom Shadyac.  If you’re not familiar with the name, he is the same guy who directed Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty.  He was a very successful director who got into a bicycle accident one day and what he realized after that changed his life and his perspective on life.  This documentary is a result of that.  He goes about talking to people about two major questions:

1.  What is wrong with the world?

2. What can we do about it?

It is a 78 minute film covering a range of topics that boil down to one simple concept: humans are the problem, and we are the solution.  Not to go hippie, new age on you, but everything is alive.  The earth is a living being, the plants, the air and the animals in it are alive and we (the human race in general) do not treat them with the respect they deserve.  We do not even treat each other with the respect that we deserve.  Have you noticed the powerful and amazing things that we can do when we work together, when we care for one another, when we stop being selfish for just a minute?  Its truly powerful and amazing.  And yes, ONE person CAN make a difference.  One person can make big changes, and one person can change the life of one other person and that makes all the difference.  What else are we here for?  There is no one else that is going to start making these changes, it is us.  We are the only ones that can do something.  How do you eat an elephant?   One bite at a time.

Even more than that, this film studies the science behind it all.  Yes, the science behind how emotions affect not only our brains and chemical makeup but of the thing around us.  I just love this kind of stuff. Its really fascinating and some of the experiments they do I wouldn’t mind doing myself!  Even Darwin’s studies prove that we are all connected.  This discovery changed Tom Shadyac’s life.  It has changed my life and the way I look and think about things.

Has anyone else seen this?  What do you think?  If not, check out the website or go watch it now on Netflix and come back and tell me! Seriously. Go. Now.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Last Book in the Universe…or Farenheit 451 from a younger perspective.

So, I swear I did not do this on purpose, but I read The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick right after I read Farenheit 451.  It’s like Farenheit 451‘s mini-me!

The_Last_Book_in_the_Universe_-_Book_CoverAccording to Goodreads:

This fast-paced action novel is set in a future where the world has been almost destroyed. Like the award-winning novel Freak the Mighty, this is Philbrick at his very best.
It’s the story of an epileptic teenager nicknamed Spaz, who begins the heroic fight to bring human intelligence back to the planet. In a world where most people are plugged into brain-drain entertainment systems, Spaz is the rare human being who can see life as it really is. When he meets an old man called Ryter, he begins to learn about Earth and its past. With Ryter as his companion, Spaz sets off an unlikely quest to save his dying sister — and in the process, perhaps the world.

Ok, so it isn’t clear in the description but if you read in between the lines of being plugged into the ‘brain-drain entertainment systems’ (Or 3 screen families in Farenheit, or just TV to you and me) you understand that no one reads and books don’t really exist in their world.  Written from the perspective of Spaz, he meets a older, wiser gentleman called Ryter who is *ahem* writing ‘the last book.’  Ok, so the names aren’t the greatest.  However, it is written from a younger perspective and also intended for a younger audience who might find the puns clever.  However, let me sidetrack for a moment here and advocate for YA books- some of my favorite books are YA.  I will admit that I was a little skeptical when I first got this book, though  I was unsure if it was going to be as good as my friends made it out be- yes *shocked face* I judged a book by the cover.  However, this, like many, many other books have proven that the cover is not everything.  There are some really insightful, deep and thoughtful topics that can be addressed to quench an intellectual thirst but done from a different perspective, sometimes.  It is refreshing, cleaner, and I do appreciate that as a reader you can address these things without using graphic, vulgar or profane words.  Just my two cents.  Hop on over to Bookbound and read Who should read YA? for a more clever advocate on the topic.

Moving along… so Spaz goes on a quest to save his dying sister and has to face numerous challenges and threats along the way.  However, he makes some friends and learns some lessons, too.  He learns how being different has allowed him to be the best person for the job and he learns to accept himself and his differences.  He opens up and learns how to stand up for himself, those he cares about, and for what is right.  He is young, and he does make mistakes and has flaws but as the reader, you come to love Spaz, too for his heart and his spirit.  You’ll be rooting for him, too.  The moral of the story is very much like Farenheit 451 in honoring how stories were originally told- through storytellers and storytelling.  As long as there is someone to tell the story, ‘books’ will never really die.

Has anyone else read this one?  Or do you have any other good Adult/YA pairings?

3.5 out of 5 stars