Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Madame Bovary Final Update


Linked up at ebookclassics.

Yay, I finished! Let's talk about it. It will probably be filled with spoilers, so if you haven't read Madame Bovary, I advise you ignore this post.


Did Emma learn her lesson? I'm not sure. (I have a big thing for people learning their lessons, as you can see from the second book featured in THIS post.) She had some moments of revelation where she realized that maybe she wasn't headed in the right direction, but her desires and selfishness soon pushed those moments into the back of her mind.

Emma and Leon's relationship solidified what I said in my last update. Emma will NEVER be satisfied. She thinks once she gets Leon, she'll be happy, but even then, there are thousands of troubles that just won't go away. Emma always needs novelty, and her relationship with Leon grows old. Leon is getting tired of her continuous needs, even to the point of noticing that the other men at his office are talking about how Emma is a bad influence on him. She always wants to be in a relationship that is in that phase of passionate first love, and doesn't understand the concept of a calmer, constant love that does not always need to be manifested by grandiose romantic gestures.


Poor, poor Charles. All he wanted was to be the beloved father and husband in a happy family - is that too much to ask? He seems to have bad luck in picking out wives. His first one is too old and he doesn't really love her, and his second one is unfaithful and flighty. Emma is Charles's downfall. She spends all his money and makes him go bankrupt. She thinks she knows how to deal with financial matters, but, in the long term, she doesn't. Selfishness! UGH. My heart broke for Charles when he found out that Emma had been cheating on him. His last hope had vanished.

The end of the book seemed to drag on a bit. We get it - Emma's dead. The book could have ended there, maybe with a short Epilogue to show how everything turned out. We did NOT need all that detail afterwards. Do we care that the pharmacist got the Legion of Honor?

So, overall, a good read, though I can't exactly pinpoint how I feel about it. It was more of a character study than a story, and could have been shorter than it was (cut off a few chapters at the end, maybe?).

What did you think of it? 


Here are my previous updates:
Update #1
Update #2

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Hypothesis," A Sonnet by Me!

Because we just talked about sonnets last Thursday, I thought I'd share with you a Shakespearean sonnet I wrote last year for an English class. And it's a perfect time to share it for a different reason as well. It's the perfect representation of how I'm feeling right now - it's almost finals season!

How pleasant it would be if time stood still,
Just so I could complete my to-do list.
If only I could stop time at my will,
The deadlines would not be so often miss'd.
I would have all the time that I desir'd
To study for my college Physics test -
And with that extra time, I'd be inspir'd
To write my English essay with more zest.
To parties I'd be able more to go,
(Since with my schoolwork quickly I'd be through)
And listen longer to the radio,
And read the thousand books that I want to.
      In truth, hypothesis is all this is,
      So now I must go study for my quiz.

Yep - off I go to study some AP Psychology!


Post Script: Because of this school craziness, sadly I won't be posting Top Ten Tuesdays for the next two weeks. :-(

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Bible Project: Week 16 (1 Kings)

(It's actually Week 17, but I'm a bit behind. I'll catch up soon!)

So.... 1 Kings was a bit confusing, especially Chapters 12-16. Those were basically about all the Kings after Solomon, and how each was more corrupt than the last, until we get to Ahab, who "did more to anger the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the kings of Israel before him." (1 Kings 16:33)

The moral of the story here that I'm getting with 1 Kings is that God punishes evildoers and those who leave him for other gods, and rewards those who follow Him faithfully.

But the names! They are so confusing. There's Rehoboam, and Jeroboam. And theres Abijah (son of Jeroboam), Ahijah (a prophet who lives in Shiloh), and Abijam (who I believe is Jeroboam's brother...). It was so hard to keep track!

Let's go back to the beginning of 1 Kings for a second, back before David dies and Solomon takes the throne. In the first few chapters of 1 Kings, Joab, our friend from 2 Samuel, is back, and is more confusing than ever. I said in 2 Samuel that he is loyal to his King, no matter what. Well, turns out I was wrong, because he ends up deserting and siding with Adonijah, who is trying to take over. Now, Adonijah is another one of David's sons. So let's track Joab's loyalties:

First, when David and his son Absalom aren't on speaking terms, Joab helps out and gets Absalom back into David's favor. So here, it looks like he's on Absalom's side.

Next, when Absalom revolts against David, Joab is SO MUCH on David's side, that he stabs Absalom when he has him cornered, even though David expressly said not to kill Absalom. So here, he is utterly against ANYONE who is against David.

But now, he shrugs at his past loyalty and joins up with Adonijah. WHY? After being such a loyal servant to David all this time? I don't get it.

I think I'll stop there, even though there's way more to 1 Kings. Like Solomon. And Ahab. And Jezebel. And Elijah, whom I really love for some reason. But I'll talk about Elijah when we get to 2 Kings.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Poetry Month: Sonnets!

April is National Poetry Month!
And right now, we're focusing on Sonnets - woot!

Sonnets are super easy to write. You have a structure, you have a meter, you just need to find words that fit it all. :-)
(Well, maybe not so easy. But for me it's easier than writing free verse, and my sister - who is more of a poet than I - agrees. If you want to write poems, but don't know where to start - start with limericks, and then move on to sonnets. The structure definitely helps.)

I'm going to talk about three types of sonnets - Shakespearean, Italian, and Spenserian. There are others, but these are the main ones. But first, we need to start with a description of meter - specifically iambic pentameter. (If you know what this is, feel free to skip.)

Meter refers to the rhythm our words make when we speak. When the rhythm is da-DA da-DA da-DA, it's in iambs (each da-DA is called an iamb). For example, "ToDAY I ATE some BREAD with JAM." We usually talk in iambs. Take a random sentence, and see if it's in iambs. Most likely, it is.

"Hey! Did you buy some fruit?"
"I did not have a chance to."
"There was a sale today!"

That's all in iambs. Of course, we don't say "Hey! DID you BUY some fruit?" :-)

There are other kinds of feet (iambs are a type of feet). For example, there are trochees (DA-da DA-da DA-da). We sometimes speak in these, too. Then there's dactyls (DA-da-da DA-da-da DA-da-da). And anapests (da-da-DA da-da-DA). And a lot of others. But sonnets are usually (always?) written in iambs.

But I said they were written in iambic pentameter! What does that mean? It just means that for every line in a sonnet, there are five (pent-) iambs. (It can be tetrameter [three], quatrameter [four], even monometer [one iamb per line]. You can go as high as you like - heptameter [seven], octameter [eight], etc.) So a basic sonnet goes something like this:

da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA
da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA
...and so on and so forth...

Now that we understand iambic pentameter, let's move on to actual sonnets!

Sonnets usually deal with some conflict, and are divided into a part setting forth the conflict, and a part resolving the conflict in some way. Also, sonnets tend to be consistently 14 lines long. See what I meant about the strict structure?
Now, let's discuss...

Shakespearean (or English) Sonnets!

Obviously, the guy who wrote these a lot was none other than:
William Shakespeare himself!
He wrote 154 sonnets. Yup.
So, the Shakespearean sonnet is of the form ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, where each letter signifies a new line, and the lines with the same letter rhyme. Remember, every line is in iambic pentameter. Also, in a Shakespearean sonnet, the conflict generally makes up the first 12 lines (or three quatrains), and is quickly resolved in the last two (the final couplet, which is generally indented, to show its difference from the rest of the poem).

Here's an example of one of Will's sonnets. Do you "feel" the iambic pentameter?
Sonnet 73 
That time of year thou may'st in me behold  
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day, 
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire 
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.    
      This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, 
     To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
You can probably see the conflict is about death and the fleetingness of life, and then the resolution is that it is this fleetingness that makes him love her so much more.

 Next up...

Italian Sonnets!

These are also sometimes called Petrarchian - after this guy:
Petrarch, an Italian scholar and poet

These are of the structure ABBA ABBA CDECDE. Well, the last sextet (or six lines) can sometimes have a different rhyme scheme, such as CDCDCD, or even CDECED. This one gives you some flexibility.
Here, generally the first two quatrains (the first eight lines) present the conflict, and the final sextet presents the resolution, though with this also there is flexibility.
Here's an example by Wordsworth:
"Scorn Not the Sonnet"
Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camoens soothed an exile's grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress wtih which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains--alas, too few!

And finally:

Spenserian Sonnets!

These were named after Edmund Spenser, who you may know as the author of the epic poem The Faerie Queen: 
The Spenserian sonnet is basically a modification of the Shakespearean sonnet, where you use the last line of the previous quatrain to determine the rhyme scheme of the next one. Here's the structure:
ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. See how the rhyming sort of overlaps?

Here's an example:

"One day I wrote her name upon the strand" 
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize!
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name;
      Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
      Our love shall live, and later life renew.
Here, I believe that the conflict is resolved in the 9th line. So it seems that there is flexibility with conflict/resolution structure here as well. 

And those are the basic forms of sonnets.
I strongly suggest you try one - especially the Shakespearean kind. They aren't too hard. But a rhyming dictionary like this one might be useful; English isn't a very rhyme-friendly language.

Later on, I might post some of my sister's excellent sonnets. And maybe one of mine as well :-)

I talked more about writing sonnets than actually reading them, but understanding meter and the whole conflict/resolution business can make reading sonnets a bit easier.

Since it is National Poetry Month, I thought I'd start a collective poetry effort. Make your contribution HERE! All you need is a pinch of creativity to write a line or two. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Today is the 450th birthday of none other than the great Bard: William Shakespeare!

Some of our most commonly used words and phrases were invented by this ingenious fellow ("upstairs" and "downstairs," anyone?). His works are probably some of the most quoted (second to the King James Bible, of course).

I actually had the chance to see Merchant of Venice at the Globe Theater when I was in London a few years ago - it was SO SPECTACULAR.

Why don't you read some of his works today in his honor? If you have some time, read one of the plays - or if you're a bit busy (as I am), try a sonnet! Actually, I'll post more on reading (and writing) sonnets tomorrow.
If you'd like some recommendations, my personal favorite plays are Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet, and Sonnet 130 is very unique.

And here's a post back from January with tips on reading Shakespeare.

Finally, the ultimate question:


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whom I Would Love to Have as Friends

Hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.
For today's topic, we get to fill in the blank: Characters Who ____.
So I picked those ten whom I would LOVE to have as my friends.

1. Winnie the Pooh. He was literally the first to come to mind. Always ready to write a hum for you, help you out, or even share a nice chat over a little something at that time of day. I'd say that's perfect. And the fact that he provides sweet wisdom unknowingly is even better.

2. Thursday Next. (From The Eyre Affair, etc. by Jasper Fforde.) Maybe she'd take me on a visit to Bookworld with her. Now THAT would be the experience of a lifetime.

3. Merry Brandybuck and 
4. Pippin Took. These fellas are awesome. 'Nuff said.

5. Anne Shirley. (From Anne of Green Gables). Romantic, yet sensible. Whimsical, yet grounded. A dreamer, yet practical. A devoted student at school - and an enthusiastic student of life.

6. Charles Bingley. (From Pride and Prejudice.) He's a bit too easily influenced to make my list of literary crushes, but he's a cheery guy to have around. And we'd have SO MANY PARTIES. :-)

7. Lucy Pevensie. (From The Chronicles of Narnia.) She's so sweet and kind, and has such an innocent heart, even grown up. Lucy's just a decent person.

8. Hermione Granger. Who wouldn't want to have her as a friend? Yay for nerds! :-)

9. The Abbe (Monsieur Bienvenu) (From Les Miserables) Such a decent fellow. He's the personification of kindness, and he can be funny, too.

10. Sherlock Holmes. Such awesome adventures! Well, on second thought - uhh, I could get killed hanging out with that guy. Watson is both lucky and unlucky.


What about you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Madame Bovary Update #2

(This post is linked up at ebookclassics)

Whooo.... Part 2 had a lot to it, for sure. This post will only give you a slight glance at all my thoughts....
Madame Bovary is developing into a fantastic character exploration, not only with Mme. Bovary herself, but also with Charles, Rodolphe, and others.

Note: May Contain Spoilers!


Emma is just getting more and more frivolous and unsympathetic as the book goes on. I said I pitied her in Part 1, and that I understood where she was coming from. Well, now she's just going a bit far. She's ignoring her position as wife and mother and acting totally selfishly. Her whole person exudes selfishness. She wants adventure, she wants romance, she wants intrigue, but she doesn't give a moment's thought to how her desires will affect those closest to her - her husband and daughter. For heaven's sake, Emma, take a minute and think of somebody other than yourself!

Because of this selfishness, Emma is always unsatisfied. She always wants the next level up. Even if she ever became a prestigious, rich lady, she would want to be queen. Emma tells herself, "If I can only reach ____ point, or if I can only get ____, I will be happy and satisfied." But of course, this never happens, because once she gets that thing, there's always the next object of desire. Emma can't make the best of what she has, or take joy in the simple things. There's this continuous search for intrigue (Rodolphe) and adventure/fame (the operation).


Poor guy. Bad luck seems to intentionally search him out and latch on to him with a vigor. Not only does he have an unloving, unfaithful wife who is going through constant mood swings, he also is going through money troubles. And to top it all off, he botches a new operation - one that apparently wasn't ever really legit in the first place, and only a Parisian fad. Poor guy.

The thing is, he really loves Emma, and daughter. He may be rather oblivious and gullible (he doesn't notice that Emma is having an affair with Rodolphe, or even that their relationship is anything other than platonic; and he also agreed to jump into doing an operation that has not yet become common practice, and the risks of which are not yet known). But despite this, he is a truly good-hearted fellow who is striving to do his best for his family and for his community.


There are two ways to look at Rodolphe.
Firstly, we can see him as trying to convince himself that he doesn't really have any ounce of feeling for Emma, that she is only one of his affairs, just for fun. But there really is a part of him that does have feelings for her, and that is why he took so long to leave, when he could have just disappeared one day.

The second way to look at Rodolphe is that he really doesn't have any feelings for Emma, and the reason why he stuck around for so long was because he likes knowing that there are women out there who still wholeheartedly love him, and by leaving such a dramatic letter and all, he ensures that Emma might never see through his deception, and will continue to love him. It's a pride thing, it's a selfish thing, knowing that his "conquests" still believe in him, even though he has abandoned them and will never see them again.

The final update for Madame Bovary will go up on the 30th!

(And HERE is the first update, if you'd care to read it.)


Whether or not you're doing the readalong - what do you think of the development of Emma's character? What about Rodolphe and his relationship with her?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Bible Project: Week 15 (2 Samuel)

First of all - Happy Easter! It's a perfect Easter Sunday here in Chicago - the weather warmed up just in time (though I hear it's supposed to get colder again... foo).
Second of all - yes, I am a week behind in the Bible Project. It's actually Week 16 now. Sorry. But I do have catch-up plans. I think I'll clump 1 Chronicles all into one week.

On to 2 Samuel. I think the biggest story here is that of Absalom, David's son. (I am assuming that there is some connection with this story to the book Absalom, Absalom, but as I haven't read the latter, and know nothing about it, I have no idea. Any enlightenment would be appreciated!)


Absalom is quite a Character.
Is he to be applauded? Definitely not. He's quite greedy, and is trying to take away his father's kingdom.
Is he to be condemned? Again, definitely not. He wasn't his father's favored son - that was Amnon, Absalom's half brother, whom Absalom killed. But he killed Amnon because Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar. David, the father, did not punish Amnon, so Absalom felt like he had to do the punishing. [Sorry for all the "A" names... hey, blame David for naming his kids so similarly.] So in this Absalom is at least partially justified. He had to go through maneuverings to get his father's pardon for killing Amnon. This is super skewed favoritism. Extreme favoritism. So I definitely feel bad for him. Poor fellow.

Joab (and David)

Joab is David's army captain. He's rather black-and-white, very loyal to his king, and against anyone who poses a threat to David.
When he sees that David is being illogically stubborn against forgiving Absalom, Joab persuades David to allow Absalom to return to court. In this, he is kind, caring, and understanding.
But then when Absalom revolts against David, and the father and son enter into a war against each other, Joab is wholeheartedly for David and against Absalom. In fact, he hates Absalom so much that he kills him when he has him cornered, even though David asked for Absalom to be only captured, not killed. He finds it illogical that David is mourning Absalom's death, after David's great victory. But Joab forgets that Absalom was not only David's enemy and usurper of his throne, but also his son. The emotional bond created by having a child can never be broken, no matter how weakened it gets.

I know I skipped over the whole David/Bathsheba/Uriah love triangle, but that is dealt with more often than the Absalom story, so I thought I'd explore the "road less traveled."


P.S. My second update on the Madame Bovary readalong will come tomorrow, 'cause I don't like posting more than once a day. 'Til then!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chretien's Arthurian Romances: The Conflict of Chivalry and Courtly Love

Here is an essay that I wrote for my Arthurian Literature class on the concepts of chivalry and courtly love, and how they don't exactly always align. The two stories that I read so far have been Yvain (The Knight with the Lion) and Lancelot (The Knight of the Cart), and these are the stories I refer to in the essay. Also, the page numbers are from the Everyman edition. (I apologize for any references to events that make no sense to those who haven't read the book... I hope that my basic opinions are still clear.)
Arthurian Lit Challenge

                In both Yvain and Lancelot, the forces of chivalry and courtly love make numerous appearances, and Chretien de Troyes uses duality to contrast these two forces of good with the evils of greed and villainy. However, it does occasionally seem that Chretien is mocking those who take chivalry and courtly love to extremes, and provides examples of moments when the two forces oppose each other. Through an in-depth reading of Yvain and Lancelot, with the concepts of chivalry and courtly love in mind, we can see that, when pitted against each other, courtly love will most likely take precedence.

                Before we discuss the contradictions between chivalry and courtly love, we must first look at how these two forces work together against evil. Throughout both Yvain and Lancelot Chretien provides numerous examples of the duality between evil and good. Possibly the most obvious in Yvain is the contrast present between the two sisters – one, greedily desiring all of her sister’s land, and the other, only wanting what was her rightful due. Yvain, as a champion of justice, supports the “sensible and courtly” maiden (p. 361). But this is not the only example showing Yvain as the extreme good in contrast to evil. His contrast to Kay, the churlish seneschal, is obvious from the beginning of the story. Kay is described as “extremely abusive, wickedly sarcastic and sneering” (p. 282), and always insists that Yvain will never achieve all that he says he will. But Kay is proved wrong, after Yvain defeats Esclados the Red. Yvain’s chivalric nature in treating Lunete with respect and kindness is also contrasted with the actions of Harpin the Giant, who threatens to “hand over [the lord’s daughter] as a whore to his rabble of knaves” (p. 336).

                Lancelot is also shown as a hero. In Lancelot, Kay once more takes on the position of a rude churl, to contrast with Lancelot’s gentler, kinder ways. Lancelot and King Bademagu are portrayed as glowing examples of kindness and chivalry, opposing the villainous Meleagant, who has unscrupulously abducted the queen and made the kingdom an unescapable trap for unwary travelers. “He favored disloyalty and never tired or wearied of baseness, treachery and wickedness” (p. 227).

                But occasionally, in both Yvain and Lancelot, these values of chivalry and courtly love come in conflict with one another. Yvain meets such a situation after saving the manor with the 300 seamstresses from the goblins. He, as dictated by chivalry, is a protector of women, and should take the lord’s daughter after saving her. But courtly love demands that he remain true to Laudine, and not marry anyone else. Ultimately, he takes the path of courtly love, and says, “I cannot, at any price, marry a wife or remain here” (p. 358). Lancelot is faced with a similar situation when he is struggling with how to deal with the temptress, who requests that, in order to stay at her house, he must sleep with her. Chivalry, asking that he never deny his protection to a maiden and fulfill her requests, is in conflict with his love of Guinevere. He finds a middle ground, defending the maiden against her “rapist,” but turning his back to her when they are in bed. He remains chaste and his loyalty to Guinevere is not broken.

                Lancelot also faces the dilemma of whether to choose generosity or pity, when he has defeated the arrogant knight, but Bademagu’s daughter is requesting that Lancelot kill him. Generosity – following the maiden’s request – requires him to kill the man, but pity – an aspect of chivalry – demands that he give mercy when mercy is asked of him.  Again, Lancelot takes a middle ground, giving the knight a second chance at a fight – but this time, Lancelot decapitates him, satisfying the maiden.

                As you can see, when a dilemma arises between courtly love and chivalry, generally the path taken leans more toward courtly love. Yvain and Lancelot remain true to their loves, even when chivalry dictates that they should do otherwise. Chretien shows that neither system was flawless, and that it was difficult to satisfy both the demands of chivalry and courtly love.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things I'd Like to Own

Hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.
Today's topic is Bookish Things (other than books) that I'd Like to Own.

1. A Library. But of course! And this one might actually (sorta) come true. My mom and I will be cleaining out my parent's study, half of which is never used, for me to turn into my own study/writing space, and there are a few bookshelves. So I can have MY PERSONAL BOOK SPACE, which is something I currently don't have.

2. A secret door in a bookshelf. So this might be sorta the same as the last one, because they will totally be combined in my dream house. There will be a single bookshelf, and then if you push the hidden latch in the right way, it will open up to reveal a spectacular oak-paneled library, with a comfy leather couch and mile high bookshelves.

3. These stairs:

Though I don't know how much my parents would appreciate it if I just started slopping paint on our stairs, so...

4. One of these Spineless posters
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

These posters contain the FULL TEXT of a book on a single page. The one above is the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone one, but there are tons to choose from. Hamlet? Anne of Green Gables? Animal Farm? A Bear Called Paddington?

5. This baby onesie:

So y'all know I have no kids. Heck, I don't even have a boyfriend. But someday... someday, I will deck out my little one in this adorable onesie: "So my story begins..."

6. A Map of Narnia for my bedroom wall.  I have wanted one of these for ages, and haven't gotten around to actually getting one...

In the same vein...
7. A Map of Middle Earth, also for my bedroom wall of course!

So I KNOW that there are more things that I want. I know that I've seen T-shirts that are just spectacularly awesome, as well as more wall prints and things. But I can't think of them. So seven is it.

What sort of bookish things would you like to own?


April is National Poetry Month! Head on over to my community poem and contribute a sentence or two!
Your generosity is greatly appreciated. :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Madame Bovary Update #1


Here we go with Part 1 of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary!
This will cover two random aspects of this book, and is linked up at Cedar Station.
I've got fifteen minutes to write this, so here goes -

Emma Bovary's character

Emma is an interesting character. The reader can clearly understand her motivations, though we might possibly be a bit judgemental - she does seem a bit shallow, after all, yearning for the life of splendor and riches and material things. But my biggest feeling for her is pity. Her heart longs for the romance and whimsy that every young girl longs for at some point in her life - Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet, reading her love poems, and singing serenades. Her life, living in a farmhouse with her father, is nothing at all like the novels she read in school, and she has never had the chance to really experience true love. She thinks she loves Charles, because the love she has read about is merely butterflies and pleasant conversation, but after her disillusionment, she is stuck at the point of no return.

So, she turns to the material things in life that she hopes will make up for lack of emotional romance. So really - I pity her. I really feel bad for her because she never got the Prince Charming of her dreams. And she had no idea what true love was.

Weird Beginnings

So the story starts out with a first person narration by a classmate of Charles Bovary. It doesn't continue in first person, and sort of shifts in a sneaky way into third person without you noticing it. What the heck is with that?
I really have no idea why this is so. I must admit, however, that first person narrators do generally capture my attention more so than third person, and when I opened up the book at the library and read the first couple sentences (to determine which translation I would pick), I automatically felt my brain engage. First person does that. It throws you into the narrator's experience.
But after a while, that first person fades out. Because really, the story is about Emma Bovary (no, duh?). And Charles' classmate really did not have an intimate knowledge of the Bovary family's daily affairs - or the feelings of both the wife and the husband.
So that's really all I have about this weird point of view switch. Will Charles' experiences at the school come back at some point with greater significance? Or was that just to show his personality and give him a background and history? We shall see.

On to Part 2!

If you've read Madame Bovary (or are reading it for the readalong) - what do you think of Emma Bovary? What about the strange point of view in the opening of the novel?
(No spoilers please, if you've already read the entire book!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Unique Books

Hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.
Today's topic is Top Ten Most Unique Books.
Actually thinking of unique books is a difficult challenge, because - well, unique books are rare. So I've only got four today. :-(

1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

The perspective of this book is fantastic - a superior devil writing letters to his nephew on how to best corrupt the nephew's human "target" - and the way that Lewis flips around good into evil is spectacular!

2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and the rest of the Thursday Next series)

You're reading about a girl who loves to read and then gets to enter into Bookworld and engage with the characters from the books she's read. And one of the books in the series is narrated by a written version of Thursday Next (as in, she became famous and had a book written about her, and THAT character is narrating the book you're reading). Talk about meta! It's awesome.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Bet you didn't think you'd see this one on here, did you? It's been over-read, over-analyzed, and over-adapted-into-movies. BUT I still insist that Fitzgerald's writing is some of the most unique stuff out there. He invents new phrases where some might have used an old cliche. I challenge you to show me one place where Fitzgerald uses a cliche. His writing is so tight and fresh, it clears your head.

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Again, this is not for plot, which is good, but not spectacular. The Night Circus is unique in its whimsical, descriptive writing, and in its interesting structure. Going from past tense, third person, to present tense, second person (a very rarely seen point-of-view!) - this book almost forces you to get lost within its beautiful tangles.

Okay, that's all I have today. I'm sure I'll think of more over the next few days, but oh well.


What are some of the most unique books that you have read?

April is National Poetry Month! In honor of this grand occasion, I've started a cumulative poem, which you can contribute to HERE. Submit a sentence, a line - have fun, and be creative!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's National Poetry Month!

Hey everyone! Did you know that April was National Poetry Month?
Here's a summary of what it is (thanks to
Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, books displays, workshops, and other events.
 So what am I going to to do for National Poetry Month? Well, I'm not as big a reader of poetry as I am a reader of fiction, so I'm going to use this month to explore poetry in more depth than I usually do. Here's a smattering of what you can look forward to in the next couple weeks.
  • Sonnets! Shakespearean, Italian, and Spenserian
  • Nonsense poetry - because it's awesome. 
  • And much more that I will think up over the course of the month!
ALSO, I am starting a cumulative poem HERE. Go ahead and contribute a line - I'll post the complete poem on May 1st!

Some questions for you:
Who's your favorite poet?
What's your favorite type/era/style of poetry?

Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Bible Project: Week 14 (1Sam 13-31)

(Chapters 13-31)

"He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance." (1Sam 16:12)

Yay David! I love David. :-)
I'm not quite sure why, but I think he's rather cool. Maybe it's his friendship with Jonathan (I love Jonathan too...). They have such a close relationship - so close that Jonathan is willing to disobey his father and support his best friend instead.

Saul, on the other hand, is having some big troubles in his life. He keeps regretting that he went against David, because he knows that God is on David's side, but his jealousy keeps getting the better of him and he just can't stand that the people say that David killed ten thousands, and that he, Saul, only killed thousands. He's the KING. No one kills more Philistines than the KING.
Poor guy. Power definitely corrupted him.

I know this is backtracking a bit, but Goliath is... not a giant! He's just (just) six and a half feet tall - that's only two inches taller than my father. Those children's Bibles portray him as some sort of monster, but he's just a really tall human.

That's all for now... 2 Samuel next week!

And I AM planning to do something for National Poetry Month, which is this month. I actually have a good many posts in mind. Will I get around to writing them all.... well, that IS the question, isn't it? :-)


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books

Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!
Today's topic is Top Ten Gateway Books - books that I credit with my bookishness - things that started me on the path to becoming a bibliophile! (I'm also going to include some books that helped me on my writing path as well...)

1. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. This list would be incomplete if it didn't include the book that my father was reading to me when he realized that I could read. I was 3 years old, he was tired, and I corrected him when he misread a word. The rest, as they say, is history. :-)

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. This has been my favorite work of literature for years now, and I still remember sitting on the back lawn, my mother reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to my sister and me. It also shaped many of my early stories.

3. The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon etc.) by Christopher Paolini. This wasn't THE first contemporary book (or books) I read, but it was while reading this series that I realized I wasn't entirely a classics reader anymore. Waiting for Inheritance (book 4) to come out was the first time - ever in my life - that I had waited for ANY book to come out. Before, when I finished one book in a series, I'd just go straight on to the next one.

4. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. This should actually have gone before Eragon. Oh well. Anyway, these books are THE books that I read when I realized - hey, the author isn't dead. I can freakin' WRITE to him. Or maybe even MEET him. Of course, right after I had that revelation, Lloyd Alexander died. :-(

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This one is a writing gateway. I ADORE Fitzgerald's writing style, and strive for something of that quality. Utter lack of cliches, unique descriptions, saying so much in so few words.

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This made me realize how much I like sort of whimsical writing that borders on magical realism. I really really need to read some magical realism - any recommendations?

Sorry, that's all I have for now - I've got a haircut appointment coming up, and didn't realize how long this post would take. :-)

Oh, but I'll add a sorta 7. My friend's notebook. Another writing gateway. Reading my friend's notebook when I was 8 years old made me realize - whoa, I can be an author! I can actually WRITE those books that I love so much to read.


What about you? What books have been gateways in your reading journey?