Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

2013 is been a relatively good year. I started this blog, went to Costa Rica, and got accepted to half the colleges on my list (the other half are still pending).

As for books I read:

Also, my series on Weird Literary Terms:

And, finally, if you were wondering how I was going to die (for some odd reason) - now you know.
(I wrote it while waiting for the train.)

Overall, it's been a fantastic year... ((happy sigh))

I'm so excited for 2014 - but that's for tomorrow's post. 


What are your favorite memories from 2013? 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Bible Project

So I've decided to tackle something immense next year.
I was making a list of things I'm looking forward to for 2014, as well as some goals and resolutions - and decided to put "Read Entire Bible" on the list. The Bible is, in fact, on my Classics Club list, so... the Bible Project was born:

The Bible Project is a year-long challenge to read the Bible - from a literary perspective. Since this is a literary blog (and not a theological one) I am focusing on the Bible as a piece of religious literary work, and analyzing it as such.
The Bible is on my Classics Club list, and I'm sure it's on a few others, so join me as we tackle the most-read book in the history of the world.

You can participate for the entire thing, or jump in for your favorite parts. Read just one testament, just one book, or even just one chapter - it's your call. I'll have a post with my comments/ramblings/attempt at analysis every Sunday (it just seemed right to do it then). I'm using the New American Standard Version, but I'm sure there can't be too much discrepancy.

If you choose to participate at any point, I just ask that you grab the button above... and if you write your own post(s) - share a link in the comments! (...or through the linky, if I can get that to work...)
Here's my schedule. I tried to split it up sort of evenly, but some weeks will definitely have more reading than others.

I'm a little nervous, as this is quite an ambitious undertaking.
Will you join me? :-)


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catching Fire!

WARNING if you haven't read the book (or seen the movie) there are some spoilers! 

Last night I went with my writing club (which I will post about later) to see Catching Fire. It's been a while since I've read the book, but to the best of my memory, they did the story justice. And - that cliffhanger ending, just like in the book. Gah.

The movie made me cry where the book couldn't. When Katniss and Peeta are on their tour, and they talk to the families Rue and Thresh - I couldn't help it. It was so sad.

So because I knew the story, having read the books, I was able to notice a bunch of little things that weren't obvious that pointed to everyone (except Katniss of course) knowing the save-Katniss-District-13-etc. plan. It was pretty cool to look for. 

One thing that amazed me was how Beetee's glasses stayed intact THROUGH EVERYTHING. He must have some sort of special glasses. I never saw him wipe them, or anything. I WANT THOSE GLASSES.

In short: it was a good movie, it was close to the book, the actors were fantastic. There were a couple of Finnick-fan-girls in front of us, and when he first came on the screen, one of them shouted, "Woo! Finnick!" When he said, "Want a sugar cube," I heard her go, "Aahhh..." :-P
Looking forward to Mockingjay!

Have you seen Catching Fire? What did you think?


Friday, December 27, 2013

How was your Christmas?

Hello everyone!

How was your Christmas? Did you get any good presents?

This year, our Christmas was smaller than usual, but it was still great. I have more than enough stuff, so our family decided we would have limited present exchange within our immediate household. However, my coolest gift was given to me by my sister:

So this isn't very bookish, I know. But I have two halves to my life - one literary, and one scientific. So this is satisfying the scientific part. :-)
The actual picture on the mug is from a fantastic webcomic (not for the faint of mind) called xkcd. Not very bookish - rather math and science related - but very cool nonetheless. 

Anyway, back to books. Here two books that I gave this Christmas to some family/friend children.

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

This book is a sequel to Happy Times in Noisy Village, which we gave as a gift last year to my neighbor (who is 5 years old) and my cousin's daughter (who is 4, I think). This year we gave them both a copy of Children so they can read even more of the kids' adorable adventures.

The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky)

Any E. Nesbit is beautiful, but Five Children and It is really my favorite. And each of the Zelinsky illustrations is truly a work of art.

This book came in the mail today - so someone's getting a late Christmas present. Whoops.

Also, we ordered two copies of it, so that we could have one. And then when I have kids, I'll have it for them. I can't wait to have kids so I can read all these great books to them! :)

By the way, if you're interested in seeing more books I recommend for kids, here's a Top Ten Tuesday post I wrote last month. Five Children and It is on the list!


What books did you get for Christmas? Did you give any, too?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Please, Santa?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.
Today's topic is Top Ten Tuesday topic is: Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me.

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

2. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien so I can have it for my very, very own. Maybe a pretty box set?

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo I haven't read this yet - but really want to.

4. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

6. One of the Penguin Threads Collection
(remember these?)

Gah, I'm running out of ideas here. I really do love my local library, and thus rarely ask Santa for books...

I think we'll leave it at 6 this time. Oh well.


What are your Christmas wishes this year (book-related or not)?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tale of Two Cities Update #3

(This is a part of the Tale of Two Cities  readalong that is hosted by An Armchair by the Sea!)

I actually finished The Tale of Two Cities on Monday, and haven't gotten around to writing about it until now.

Overall, I really did like the book. It was a fantastic story, full of suspense and twists, and ultimately every question was answered by the last page.
I don't know how Dickens did it, but every single one of the many story lines and mysteries ended up connected somehow to the main plot, and neatly tied up eventually.
Goodness, it was fantastic!

My favorite part - by far - was Madame Defarge's face off with Miss Pross. This scene is so serious, so threatening, and results in death - and yet, somehow, it has a certain tiny hint of comedy. Neither woman understands the other, each one insults the other in her own tongue:

"You might, from your appearance, be the wife of Lucifer," said Miss Pross, in her breathing. "Nevertheless, you shall not get the better of me. I am an Englishwoman...."
"Woman imbecile and pig-like!" said Madame Defarge, frowning. "I take no answer from you..."

Carton! He finally found a purpose, and committed the ultimate sacrifice. My heart went out to him.

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
He, to me, is more of a hero than Darnay. Yes, Darnay is great and all, but Carton is the one who goes through the spectacular change through the course of the book. (Note: Lucie never does. She's rather flat, it seems to me.) And Carton goes through his plan with such a calm demeanor, never flinching or hesitating (at least not outwardly). He is quite the unexpected hero, in my opinion.

Oh well, this post is rather short, but that sums it up. Tale of Two Cities was a great read, and I'm glad to add another Dickens book to my completed-books list alongside Great Expectations!


Oh and if you're interested, here are my first three posts from the readalong:
The Difficulty of Dickens (intro post)
Update #1
Update #2

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Hobbit Movie (#2)

Monday night, I went with a bunch of friends to see the second Hobbit film (Desolation of Smaug).

Despite the fact that it was a 10:35pm showing, and that we got home at 2 in the morning, and that I got sick the next day (I'm much better now - thanks for asking!) - it was definitely worth it all.
I've seen a lot of reviews that are saying that this film was better than the first one - and I entirely concur. (Note - I'm not going to try to write a review myself - this is going to be more of a ramble, interspersed with possible fangirling. We'll see...)

Desolation of Smaug somehow had a faster pace than An Unexpected Journey, the first Hobbit movie. It was more compact, more tightly woven. Bilbo was finally getting on his feet as an adventurer - not as nervous about everything, you know? He's not just getting in everyone's way anymore. He's got a sword with a name (the ultimate thing in Fantasy) and he saves his dwarf friends rather impressively. He becomes a true Main Character - he is what the entire story hinges upon. Just like Frodo had better get that Ring to Mordor, it is up to Bilbo to do his burgling and get that Arkenstone. (This isn't the best comparison, by the way. Frodo is obviously on a more important mission, and the motives of The Fellowship can't really be questioned. The motives of Thorin and Co., on the other hand, occasionally can.)

Another huge plus was that almost every single battle had elves in it, which just made it that much more awesome. (I am a big fan of elves - particularly because I am related to one. We are almost certain that my sister has elf-blood in her.) I haven't seen a LOTR movie since last summer, and I always forget just how AWESOME Legolas is until I see him fight again. I must say he makes the battles SO great to watch with all his awesome elf moves. He is clearly up there with my favorite characters. Note that he's not just an excellent archer, but also a spectacular swordsman:

Speaking of elves, they added a new character, not invented by Tolkien. I very rarely say this, so take note of this momentous occasion: I entirely approve. There - I've approved of a change to the original book. What has become of me!?
But c'mon, Legolas deserves a girlfriend, doncha think?

Seriously though, Tauriel is a spectacular character. I really like her. She's a strong elf warrior, but she also is compassionate and has quite a head on her shoulders. She can assess a situation and see where she is most needed.

There's somewhat of a love triangle going on (don't want to give too many spoilers, though), but I really think that it's nothing of consequence. It's just Tauriel being sensible. She sees Legolas can fend for himself, and knows where she is most needed.

Okay, enough about elves.
Time for the dragon.

Spooky looking dragon + Benedict Cumberbatch's voice. Oh, it was perfect. So perfect.
When Smaug said "I am fire. I AM DEATH!" it gave me goosebumps, it was so creepy. And because it was 3D, sometimes his nose would just be all up in your face and you could see his teeth and...
Well, if I were Bilbo, I would probably have plain out fainted. Seriously.

Talking about the 3D, once someone cut off an orc head, and it came flying at the screen. It made me jump rather high in my seat. There was a part where a bee buzzed up almost to my nose (well, not really, it just looked like it), and I thought, "If I were scared of bees I would be crying right now." Thankfully, I'm not scared of bees. That much.

Okay, back to Smaug. One thing that I didn't get was - why did Bilbo take off the ring so soon? In the book (if I remember rightly), Bilbo remains invisible for quite a bit of his conversation with Smaug. I sort of liked it better when Smaug couldn't exactly see who Bilbo was. (I also haven't read the book since the first movie came out, so my memory's a little rusty.)

So I know that a lot of the movie isn't from the book. There's a lot of added stuff. But I heard somewhere that a bunch of it - all the scenes with Gandalf and the Necromancer and Dol Guldur - are actually from Silmarillion, and this makes me not mind the changes so much. I've never read the Silmarillion, so I can't really judge for myself, but I like consoling myself with the fact that some of the non-Hobbit stuff is at least not completely non-Tolkien.
If any of you have read the Silmarillion - and seen the Hobbit movie(s) - what did you think? Were there a lot of added scenes that weren't pure Tolkien?
I suppose I just have to go and read the Silmarillion myself!

Oh gosh, I just realized I forgot to talk about Bard:

He's a cool fellow, in that he's not on the dwarves' side, but he's not evil either. He just a single dad who wants to support his family, and doesn't want anyone to do anything stupid that would wake up the dragon. He also has a black arrow hidden in his rafters (ahem not in the book ahem). He also has super adorable kids who call him Da. :-)

One whole year to wait until the ending... can I do it? I'm counting on Return of the King at Ravinia Fest this summer to hold me over until There and Back Again.


Have you seen the Hobbit movie(s)? What did you think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.
Today's topic is actually new-to-me authors that I read in 2013, but somehow the only one's that come to mind are:

1. George R. R. Martin
2. Veronica Roth
3. Alexander McCall Smith

So in addition to those, I'll grab a topic from the archives: Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling (all of them)

2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

5. The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber

6. Persuasion by Jane Austen (this one's already in line for when I finish Tale of Two Cities and Emma!)

7.  Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

8. The Scarlet Pimpernel by the Baroness Orczy

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

And now, two questions for you:
What new-to-you authors have you read in 2013? (They don't necessarily have to be new in general.)
What books are you looking forward to rereading?


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Penguin Threads

So when I was looking for a cover of Emma to put on my "Currently Reading," I came across this gorgeous thing:

Here it is in it's entirety:

Click it to enlarge it and look at its delicate beauty! 
So I googled Penguin Threads and discovered that there are SIX of these treasures
Here are the other five:


SecretGarden_French FlapsEDIT.jpg

And here's Oz in progress:

Here's Wind in the Willows from the inside:

Gah I love them! So, so, much... <3


Tale of Two Cities Update #2

(This is a part of the Tale of Two Cities  readalong that is hosted by An Armchair by the Sea!)

So I finished Book II on Thursday and decided not to read ahead this time... (I actually started on Emma, but I'm trying to not let the two books get confused in my head. So far, it's working!)

Book II was definitely more full of action than Book I, and the way this is going, it seems that Book III will be the most exciting.

What surprised me the most (and it really shouldn't have, considering the way things were going) is that no true Hero manifested himself. Darnay - whom I expected to take this position - is definitely Heroic, but there are so many deep, well-formed Characters that somehow a Main Character is really difficult to name.
As I said, I really should have realized this. Dickens creates such utterly stupendous characters that each have their own story, and Tale of Two Cities is less of one long story as is is five or six smaller ones. Really, it's more like a history than a fictional novel. (But a really interesting history.) No one Main Character is a little awkward for me, but it's not too bad. I just think of every character as a Main Character - because, really, they are all well enough developed to be.

The stuff going on in London generally seems to make more sense to me than the stuff in Paris.
My biggest questions:
1. All the Jacques confuse me. Why the heck is everyone named Jacques? Is it just a symbol for The Revolutionary? (I suppose this sort of clears up the mysterious Jacques who murdered the Marquis. It was one of the revolutionaries, I guess...)

2. Also, who is Monseigneur? Is it a real person? Or is it just a personification of the spirit of the anti-revolution monarchy?

I really feel like looking these up on Sparknotes or something - but I'm going to save that for when I finish the book. If I still don't have an answer.

I'm also interested in the echoes of footsteps that Lucie hears. It seems to be a reference to her past life - France - and the footsteps are the footsteps of mobs of revolutionaries.

My final thought at the end of Book II was: "Oh Darnay, please, don't do anything stupid. Above all, don't get yourself killed!"

Oh, and regarding my question last time ("What's up with Jerry Cruncher?"). Well, now we know! He's a "resurrection man" - digging up dead bodies (and doing something - very profitable, clearly - with them).

Until next week - and the final update!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Arthurian Literature Challenge!

From about the ages of six or seven to maybe somewhere around fourteen, I was obsessed with the Middle Ages. OBSESSED. I knew everything you could know about castles and knights and the Medieval European caste system. I read all the Howard Pyle I could get my hands on and dressed up as a Queen, a Princess, and a Peasant Girl for Halloween (when I was eight, nine, and ten consecutively - somehow I was going further and further down in power...). When I was twelve-ish, my aunt and uncle fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine and took me to Medieval Times. (If you don't know what this is - Medieval Times is a reenactment of a joust. You are assigned to a particular knight who is from your "home province" to cheer on, you eat chicken with your hands off of metal plates... it's really cool.) I adored it (and my younger sister and I were seriously considering punching the couple next to us in the faces, for shouting things like, "Yay! That was cool!" instead of things like, "Huzzah! Well fought, Sir Knight!").
Though I am not OBSESSED anymore, I still enjoy reading literature that deals with the Middle Ages, and signed up for a course next semester covering some Arthurian literature.
Well, Howling Frog Books is hosting an Arthurian Literature Reading Challenge in 2014, and I thought that since I was going to be reading Arthurian Lit anyway - I might as well join! I'll add some more contemporary reading to my list, just for fun, because the class covers only relatively old works.

Here are the books from my class, that conveniently fall into the Old category:
1. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl poet

2. The Mabinogion

3. Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

4. Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes

And here's a Modern book I'm interested in:
5. The Once and Future King by T. H. White

And the Merlin series by Mary Stewart falls into the Recent category:
6. The Crystal Cave

7. The Hollow Hills

8. The Last Enchantment

And here are the levels of the challenge:
Page:  read 2 works, one of which may be Recent. 
Squire: read 3 - 4 works.  One may be Recent and one must be Old. 
Knight: read 5 - 6 works.  Two may be Recent and one must be Old.
Paladin: read more than 6 works.  Two may be Recent and two must be Old, unless you include a non-fiction work (see Bonus).
Bonus achievement: read a non-fiction work analyzing Arthurian literature.

And guess what? All my reading brings me to the Paladin level - how cool is that? :-)

If you're interested in Arthurian lit or anything Medieval - join me! We'll have lots of fun!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.
Today's topic is: Top Ten Books on My Winter To-Be-Read List

1. Emma by Jane Austen
(isn't this an awesome cover?)

2. Persuasion by Jane Austen

because I have got to finish what I started! After I'm done with Tale of Two Cities I'm going to jump back into the world of Austen and finish up the last two books.

3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This one's been in the back of my head for a while. I recently found Ms. Morgenstern's blog, and reading that made me want to read her book even more!

5. The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde

Somehow, when I was on my Fforde kick this past summer, I never read this book.

6. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchet

I'm going to see my all-time-favorite Lifeline Theater perform an adaptation of this in the spring, and I've just got to read it beforehand. (I'm also going to see their Tale of Two Cities in January!!)

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This is another one that's been floating around the back of my head for a while.

8. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. 

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

It's been on my TBR since before the movie and I just haven't gotten around to it.

10. The Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling

Though I haven't ever read the last book, I'm planning to start from the beginning of the series as a refresher.

What are your winter reading plans?