Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (a day late)

I know it's not Tuesday, but the book I am reading has some great lines that I thought might intrigue other readers! I am currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I'm loving it!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teasers:

"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face." (pg. 6-7) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Read-a-Thon Wrap-up

How nice it was to set aside a weekend just for reading! I was able to read about 200 pages of Stoker's Dracula, 20 chapters (they are very short) of Anna Karenina, and begin Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I had full intentions of finishing Dracula, but I failed. I cannot bring myself to finish this novel. . .so frustrating! I have about 50 of the 416 pages left. It was such a slow read for me. I believe I had a shoddy edition of this novel because the grammatical errors were distracting me from the story! That has never happened to me before. In trying to assess my disappointment with the novel, I guess the modern vampire legends may have influenced my expectations more than I realized.

Has this every happened to my fellow readers? It just sounds absurd to toss the book aside with so little left. I wonder if the ending would sway my opinion any?

On a better note, I am completely enthralled by what I am reading in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I will be reading this book until the end of the year, but so far I am really liking it.

For a change of pace, I picked up Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I have been wanting to read this for a long time and hope that I can set aside the time to get it read over the next couple of weeks. I haven't read enough to form an opinion of the work so far. Have any of you read and particularly like this novel?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anna Karenina: Week Two

I picked up this book several years ago while browsing in a bookstore. I was attracted to the beautiful cover as well as the challenge of tackling such a chunkster! I began reading the book but did not even make it to the middle. I guess you could say life got in the way. Two summers ago, I picked up this book again. While reading at my in-laws cabin, a visitor publicly scolded me for reading such a book. I was so embarrassed! I have never had anyone tell me I should not read a book, especially someone who is only an acquaintance. This reader was disappointed in the actions of the title character  which led her to despise the book. To say the least, that incident, once again, caused me to put the book back on my bookshelf. Luckily, this read-a-long awakened my desire to actually read this book from beginning to end. Third time is a charm, right?! Having the support of fellow bloggers is really encouraging and a perfect "excuse" to give this novel another try!

I am really enjoying the story this time around. Tolstoy has revealed some universal "truths" about society thus far; although, there is a side in many of us who would probably like to deny these truths. For instance, in Part II, Chapter VI the narrator tells us, "The conversation had begin nicely, but precisely because it was much too nice, it stopped again. They had to resort to that sure, never failing remedy -- malicious gossip" (134). And of course they guests begin discussing the relationship that appears to be budding between Anna and Vronsky. Doesn't gossip seem to get the best of us sometimes?

At this point, I can't decide if I like Anna. At times I think she is arrogant, but then I wonder if she is just being honest. She states that Kitty is jealous of her. . .could Anna have done anything to discourage this attention from Vronsky? Or, is Anna a victim? I am looking forward to reading more about her family situation.

And now, Levin. How could one not like him? I feel sorry for him and don't at the same time. I feel sorry for him because of the pain of rejection he endured from Kitty. However, I think he is in a better situation than many characters we've met so far. If I was to be any character, I would want to be Levin.

Looking forward to reading other bloggers' posts!

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon

I am signed up for the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon! It begins TODAY, October 21st and ends this Sunday, October 23rd! This is a Halloween themed read-a-thon; however, one is not restricted to only Halloweenish books.

I am halfway through Dracula, and my post for it is due tomorrow. So, that is number 1 on my list of books. I am still deciding what I will read next. . .I may try Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray as well as Wuthering Heights. I also need to get at least one Shakespearean play and a little bit of Anna Karenina under my belt as well.

I will keep y'all updated! Happy reading everyone!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anna Karenina Read-a-Long: Week One

This week we read chapters 1-20. Below are my responses to the some of the chosen discussion questions:
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Do you agree with its assertion?
I can't say  that I agree with this assertion. If all happy families are alike, then unhappy families can be alike as well. . .won't it be the same emotions that qualify some as happy and others as unhappy?
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
How can I not be mad at Stiva for what he has done? But should something positive be said about him since he is both concerned with his wife and the governess with whom he had the affair? However, there is also a part of me that feels that his sole concern should be for fixing his own family. After all the governess was aware that this man had a family. . .Maybe  I lack sympathy?
I have a heavy heart for Dolly; however, I do wish she would forgive her husband and also help in amending the torn family relations. Once again, I am unable to empathize with this sort of turmoil. 
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva’s character—he is described as “liked by all who knew him.” Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
Because I am the all-knowing reader, I don't think I like him as many of his contemporaries do. I can see how everyone would like him though because he appears to be a people pleaser. Stiva goes along with the crowd. 
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts “rightly” towards Levin? What does the author say that’s interesting about each of the men and Kitty’s feelings about them?

I fear that Kitty is not making a good decision for herself because at one point in this reading Vronsky is described as "luring a young lady without the intention of marriage" (57). I also thinks she has true feelings for Levin but does not understand those feelings at this point. Her mother also seems a bit overbearing and may be responsible for planting the idea that Vronsky is a better match for Kitty. 
8. Do you feel Anna’s relationship with her brother and his wife Dolly is a good one? Discuss this dynamic and how you think it may play out as the book progresses.
When Anna first arrived it seemed like she was prepared to tell Dolly anything in order to get Dolly to forgive Stiva and return back to the way they were before. However, I also get the impression that Anna is slowly starting to understand how Dolly must be feeling. I think it is also very likely that Anna is realizing that she herself may be experiencing some of the same feelings as Dolly. Obviously I also think this visit was "bad" because Anna now has met Vronsky whom she appears to already have her eye on based on the conversation Anna has with Kitty. 
I look forward to reading the next week's reading!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wild Nights! by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is one of those authors I have been meaning to read for a while now. About two years ago, I read her short story "Where are you going, Where have you been?". It was disturbing, but it is also one of those stories that just stuck with me. The disturbing effect it had on me as a reader was a really new experience for me. I had never read anything like it. So, this past summer I checked out one of her novels from my local library. I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't finish it. Maybe it was too raw, too real? I don't know how to explain the effects her writing seems to have on me.

Fortunately, the next work I read by Oates, I thoroughly enjoyed! Wild Nights: Stories about the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway is a collection of five short stories that combine fact and fiction to recount the final days of these famous writers. These stories are disturbing but oh so captivating as well! Some are even absurd! Oates also cleverly employs the writing styles of the authors which she features in the stories. And, if you like analyzing what you've read, there are some amazing connections one can draw between the various stories. . .an English major's dream!

If you enjoy short stories or have an interest in any of these five authors, I think you would enjoy reading this collection as well.

If you have read these stories, what effect did they have on you?

Anna Karenina Read-a-Long

Yep, I am signing up for another read-a-long, and I vow to one day actually be on schedule with a challenge! Being that the first post is scheduled for tomorrow and I haven't even started yet, I am in for a long night of reading. . . but there are worse things!  I have actually read the beginning a couple of times, so hopefully, I will be able to jump back in relatively quickly. I have been trying to finish this book for several years now. A read-a-long sounds like just the motivation I need in order to actually finish it this time!

Here are the details:

The Anna Karenina read-a-long is hosted by Unputdownables. Visit the website and print the character bookmark to help you as you read along!


Beginning Friday, October 7th and ending Friday, December 30th.
Week #/ dates :: Place in which to STOP
Week One/ Oct.7-13 :: Part 1 Chapter XX
Week Two/ Oct. 14-20 :: Part 2 Chapter VIII
Week Three/ Oct. 21-27 :: Part 2 Chapter XXIX
Week Four/ Oct. 28-Nov. 3 :: Part 3 Chapter XII
Week Five/Nov. 4-10 :: Part 3 Chapter XXXI
Week Six/ Nov. 11-17 :: Part 4 ch XVIII
Week Seven/ Nov. 18-24 :: Part 5 Chapter XV (please note: this is Thanksgiving! Might want to get ahead the previous week.)
Week Eight/ Nov. 25- Dec. 1 :: Part 6 Chapter I
Week Nine/ Dec.2-8 :: Part 6 Chapter XX
Week Ten/Dec.9-15 :: Part 7 Chapter VII
Week Eleven/Dec.16-22 :: Part 7 Chapter XXIX
Week Twelve/ Dec.23-30 :: Finish book! You made it!!  (please note this is Christmas week! Might want to get ahead the previous week.)
Post #/ date post should be up on blog:
Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ October 14th
Week Two/ October 21st
Week Three/ October 28th
Week Four/ November 4th
Week Five/ November 11th
Week Six/ November 18th
Week Seven/ November 25th
Week Eight/ December 2nd
Week Nine/ December 9th
Week Ten/December 16th
Week Eleven/ 23rd
Week Twelve/ 30th (Final Review)
** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of my weekly  Anna Karenina  review (see below for more information).**

How it Works:

  1. Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments.Regardless, you MUST check in each week, even if to say you are behind in the reading (two weeks without  a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). *please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others*
  2. Feel free to post reviews of the each week’s reading on your own blog (if you are a blogger), and to visit each other’s links. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog if you also leave a link to your post about this book. However, please make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, as this is where the main conversation will be happening.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I recently read this novel for the Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon. Although I have read several short stories by Bradbury, I had never read this novel. It was a quick read and very enjoyable! Before reading the novel, I knew the basic story line, but never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did!

Fahrenheit 451 is a futuristic dystopian novel in which people are no longer allowed to read books. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a firefighter, which means that he burns books. Rather than reading, people live a scripted lifestyle that is closely monitored and fulfilled through interacting with their tv families.

However, people are not  satisfied living this sort of life. Suicide became so prevalent that doctors did not even have to see the patients; instead, teams traveled from home to home pumping stomachs of those who had overdosed.

With a little prompting from Clarisse, Montag's rebellious neighbor, he too begins the realize the crime he is committing by burning books and the importance of slowing down to observe nature. I will let you read the novel for yourself because, if you haven't read the novel yet, you are probably aching to know what happens to Clarisse and Montag, aren't you?!

Also, if you enjoy short stories, I highly recommend Bradbury's "The Pedestrian." I actually read this story about a year ago, but as I was reading Fahrenheit 451 I immediately saw the connection between the two and had to reread it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon

Bibliophilic Book Blog is hosting a Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon.

As indicated by my lack of posts, I have not been able to read much (for pleasure) lately. With school starting, it has been textbooks - blah! But seeing that this read-a-thon is  Thursday through Sunday, it's perfect for me (my weekend begins on Thursdays -- oh the joys of being a full-time student again!)

Read your OWN books! (what a great way to trim down the TBR list!)
Starts - 9pm, Thursday, September 15th; Ends 9pm, Sunday, September 18th

Goals: In order to "catch-up" in some of my other challenges, I hope to read at least one gothic novel, one Shakespearean play, and possibly something with a "color" in the title (if I have one. . .)

Dracula Group Read

I am so excited to see that A Literary Odyssey is hosting an October Group Read of this novel. It has been on my list for years! This is also a grand excuse for unpacking more of my books. . . my husband will be thrilled! : )

1. Read the Book
2.  Post anywhere from October 16-22 & Link back to host page

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Radleys by Matt Haig

Wow, it has been toooo long since I've posted. However, I have been reading -- Surprise!! Many readers are so over the vampire novels, but I'm still checkin' 'em out from the library. There are many that I could not finish; however, I recently came across one that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

I was first attracted to this novel because of the title. I felt sure this would be a spin off of To Kill a Mockingbird and enlighten readers on the mysterious Boo and his family. Although it had nothing to do with Harper's novel per say, it was indeed about a mysterious family with a big, juicy secret. 

Meet the Radleys 

Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret 

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites - from goodreads

More posts coming sooooonnnnn!!!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I came across this novel on the list for the Gothic Reading Challenge and have been itching to read it since. Here is a summary from Goodreads (I promise to get back to writing my own summaries soon. . .I feel like I am cheating y'all with these stolen summaries :) )

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers. 

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.*

There are so many elements in this novel that reminded me of Jane Eyre, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I have to say Mrs. Danvers is the most despicable woman I have ever encountered in my reading. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading gothic romance novels; I rate it a 4/5.

I am currently reading The Radley's by Matt Haig and look forward to providing y'all with more fulfilling posts in the near future!

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Oh, friends, I am so thankful that I have finally gotten somewhat motivated to update on my recent readings. Between being extremely homesick and experiencing morning sickness, I have not gotten very much done these last few weeks. . .No, not even reading :(. I think all that is about to change though!

On July 10th I participated in a summer readathon and felt lucky to have finished one short book. I read The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier; she also wrote  Girl with the Pearl Earring. Here is a summary from Goodreads:

A tour de force of history and imagination, The Lady and the Unicorn is Tracy Chevalier’s answer to the mystery behind one of the art world’s great masterpieces—a set of bewitching medieval tapestries that hangs today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now.

Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas des Innocents to design them. Nicolas creates havoc among the women in the house—mother and daughter, servant, and lady-in-waiting—before taking his designs north to the Brussels workshop where the tapestries are to be woven. There, master weaver Georges de la Chapelle risks everything he has to finish the tapestries—his finest, most intricate work—on time for his exacting French client. The results change all their lives—lives that have been captured in the tapestries, for those who know where to look.

In The Lady and the Unicorn, Tracy Chevalier weaves fact and fiction into a beautiful, timeless, and intriguing literary tapestry—an extraordinary story exquisitely told.*

I was attracted to this novel because I usually like to read fiction based on a mysterious piece of history, such as the tapestries in this novel. There was also plenty of scandal to keep me interested. 

I am currently trying to create a rating system for my blog. . .But for now, I would rate this novel a 3/5. I probably would not read it again although it held my interest during the readathon. 

Here is an image of one of the mentioned tapestries ( there are 7 in all): 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Mini-Readathon hosted by Sarah Says

1. Tell everyone three random things about yourself:
-I wish I was still teaching!
-I am pregnant and cannot think of a baby name!
-Today is my one year anniversary!

2. Is this your first readathon?
I attempted a readathon once before, but it was a fail! So, I am giving this 12 hour one a try!

3. Do you have any specific goals for today? (# of books or pages to read?)
I just hope to read at least one book. . .trying to not set myself up for failure again! ha

4. Do you have any specific snacks, drinks, or books planned?
crackers and gatorade 

5. What hours do you plan on reading during? (For example, I'm aiming for 10 AM to 10 PM Eastern time).
1:15 PM -1:15 AM

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

As you may have noticed, I have been in a bit of a reading-rut, but I have finally forced myself to wade through a novel and to get over it! Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has been on my TBR list for a while. I am eager to get started with The Summer Mini-Readathon hosted by Sarah Says, so here are some of my thoughts on Atwood's novel.

Synopsis from the back of the book:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now. . .


As I read this novel, I kept thinking: "Oh no, don't end like Orwell's 1984." And it did just that. . .well, sort of. Throughout the novel, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Commanders, the men, can get away with breaking the rules, but this is not so for the women - especially the Handmaids. After breaking many of Gilead's rules, the black van finally comes for Offred. It was no surprise that she would eventually get caught; in fact, it was what I was dreading the entire time I was reading the book.

I keep rereading the last chapter of this novel because I can't decide if this is a "happy" ending or a sad one. Was Offred killed, or was Offred rescued? I have hope that Offred was rescued because Nick tells her, "It's all right. It's Mayday. Go with them. . .Trust me" (293-94). However, I have also read other reviews that stated Offred was probably killed, since that was the only escape for women throughout the novel.

For those of you who have read this novel, what did you think of the ending? Do you have a different opinion on what could have happened to Offred?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm Back!

Hey, Hey! I am finally settled in our new apartment in Missouri; moving is hard work but worth it. I have yet to unpack my numerous boxes of books; that is next on my list.

Luckily, I had time to squeeze in two fast reads between packing and moving. I first listened to Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. Walpole's novel is considered to be the first gothic novel, so I felt I needed to read it for the challenge. However, I really don't have much to say about it. There was nothing that wowed me, and the ending was a let down. Perhaps I would have appreciated the novel more if I had read it rather than listened to it.

Do you react to books differently when you listed to them instead of actually reading them?

Secondly, I was finally able to read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I LOVED this book! As I read I kept thinking that it was like Twilight for grown-ups! I cannot wait for the second book in the trilogy to go on sale in 2012.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sadly, A Reading Hiatus

Wow, these past three days have been absolutely crazy!

My husband and I will be pursuing our doctoral degrees beginning this fall. . .that is old news. We were planning to move August 15th, BUT we received a call two days ago informing us that our apartment will be ready June 15th! So, we are moving in only two very short weeks!

We are extremely busy organizing a moving sale, packing, and visiting all our family and friends! I am excited (obviously), but it also means I have less time to read during the next couple of weeks! I am eager to get settled into our apartment eight hours away and to have a relaxing read by the pool!

I am gone for now but not forever. Happy reading my friends!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

The Crimson Petal and the White is a novel filled with many colorful characters living in Victorian England. However, Faber's novel does not employ the traditional Victorian conventions; instead, he utilizes graphic details that breathe life into his plethora of characters from among all rungs on the social ladder.

Although this is a tale about many, many characters, the majority of the book is dedicated to the lives of Miss Sugar, a prostitute, and Mr. William Rackham, a perfumer. Readers witness the horrid conditions endured by the lowly prostitutes as well as the stiff traditions of the upper-class Londoners as they participate in the Season's events.


At first readers may celebrate when William buys Miss Sugar for himself; at least, she does not have to perform for any number of men every night. But as the novel progresses and compassion for Sugar increases,  one realizes that this is not a fairy tale after all. Sugar is visited less and less often although her fondness for William has grown. Her change in conditions also leads to her losing interest in the novel she so diligently worked on when she first met William. 

There are numerous other troubles in paradise. Despite his accumulation of power and riches from his perfume business, William's family life is far from improving. His wife, Agnes, is locked in her room taken for a madwoman - much like the wife of Rochester in Jane Eyre. Perhaps the most traumatic event is that Sugar, now Sophie's (William and Agnes' daughter) governess, becomes pregnant with William's child - quite possibly the male heir he so desires. However, William terminates Sugar's employment upon receiving this news. Still mourning the death (suicide?) of his wife, William is not to be further disgraced. William transforms from an aspiring artist hoping to one day become a successful writer to a greedy businessman who loses all those closest to him. 

Faber's novel has an open-ending; it closes with the "escape" of Sugar and Sophie. Readers never know where they are going or if they even make it there. Given Sugar's character, I think many readers will infer that they will be okay, but we will never know. 

Faber also shows that despite the strict rules of society, tragedy cares not for one's social status. Contrary to what William's profession may suggest, one cannot make his/her life devoid of the stench of society and fate. 

I tried to read this novel several years ago, but I ended up not finishing it. I am really glad I gave this novel a second chance. I rate it a 4/5. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 I am currently reading The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. It has great depictions of Victorian England.

"It's also poorly sealed and draughty, and at nights the smell of boiling pig fat is wont to come in through the windows, but this has never troubled Henry. The great mass of mankind must make do with much worse." P. 205, Chapter 9

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Very First READ-A-THON!

Just this morning I wandered upon a fantastic event: A read-a-thon hosted by Cover to Cover Challenge. I think this is a great opportunity to get caught up on some much needed reading. I am currently behind in my read along, so that is my top priority for the first twenty-four hours. I am still scrambling to gather the novels for each of the mini-challenges! With school ending in only two short days, this is the perfect time for me to participate in this event! 

Here are the details from Good Reads:

The 24 hour readathon is on May 21st. You can start anytime on May 21st after the event starts and end it 24 hours later.


1. Not-quite-a-chunkster: Read at least one 400+ page book. (I am reading The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. Pages: 894)

2. Let's talk books: Ping one member from this thread or the sign-up thread and ask them to suggest a read for you. You can choose to accept it (look at your physical shelf or the library, see if you can get your hands on it) or move on to another member. Let us know how many members you had to contact before you got your perfect read and don't forget to credit that person.

3. Yay! A field trip: Make an impromptu visit to your library or bookstore. Walk around the shelves and stacks, breathe in that amazing smell of books, take some pictures if you like (post them if you do), and pick a random book to read. Bonus point if you pick a book from the recommendations or staff-picks section.

4. Moderators Pick: (This is where we will suggest a category - genre/country/author/awards list and you can pick any book from that category.) Read a Newbery Medal winner. For list of Newbery Medal winners, go to this link:

5. Wanna dare me: Read a book that you want to read but will still not read, instead you want to be dared to pick it up and read it.

6. Armchair traveler: So after globe-trotting during last readathon, here's a spin. Read a work of translation.

7. Random Fortune: Since we all have huge Mt. TBRs that we are immensely proud of, randomly select a read from your bookshelf. Go to , enter Min=1 and Max=<the number of books in your TBR>. Click on Generate, and read the book in your TBR corresponding to that number. (If you don't have access to that book, feel free to do this again and again until you come to a book that you have at home or can pick from the library.)

Another great things about today. . .I am taking a much needed trip to a local bookstore - Square Books
Do any of you have suggestions for the mini-challenges?
What a great Saturday! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WWW Wednesday

What are you currenlty reading? I am currently reading The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. I was hoping to read along with a GoodReads group I joined (TuesBookTalk Read Along - hosted by The True Book Addict), but I am sooo far behind. I am going to try to finish it on my own though.

What did you recently finish reading? I just finished reading Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. It was a fast and haunting read, but I don't think I am going to continue reading the series.

What do you think you'll read next? I am having trouble deciding which novel from my TBR bookshelf to read next! I will probably read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is also high on my list!

As you can see from many of my reading selections, I am really having fun participating in the Gothic Reading Challenge!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews

Horrific and Scandalous.

I just finished reading Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews. This is my first V. C. Andrews. Yes, it is a gothic novel, but it is so much different than any of the 19th century tales I am accustomed to reading.

Here is a very, very brief summary: After the tragic death of their father, the Dollanger family is haunted by family secrets and greed, to say the least. Despite terrifying circumstances, the Dollanger children remain hopeful that their mother will come through with her spoken promises to restore their comfortable lifestyle. But if she doesn't, they will have to do whatever it takes to survive and save themselves.

This summary does not do this novel much justice; however, like my previous posts, you have probably noticed that I prefer to focus on my reactions to the text rather than the plot.

Upon finishing the last page, I could not find the words to express my feelings for this book. At times I was disgusted; I wondered if I felt such feelings because I didn't like the novel itself. At times I felt guilty as if I was spying on the actions, emotions, and changes experienced by these helpless children.

Flowers in the Attic is the first novel in the Dollanger series; however, I think it is ends well enough to be a stand alone. I am still contemplating whether or not I want to read the rest of the series. I honestly don't know if my heart can endure learning about any further struggles for these siblings.

I think this may be the most twisted novel I have ever read. One thing I know for sure: Corrine Dollanger is the most heartless villain I have encountered to date.
Are any of you V. C. Andrews fans?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Woman in White, Parts 2 & 3

I finally finished this lengthy, but intriguing, novel. Like other reviewers, I think I would have been satisfied if the novel would have ended at the culmination of Part 1; however, Collins' meticulous details which were reported in the last two parts, answered any questions many readers may have had. The last two parts were like the wrapping paper and bow on a present; it tied everything together for readers. I would have been happy with just the "present;" the "wrapping" was just extra! And of course I don't want to spoil it for any of you who have this on your TBR list, but the ending definitely satisfied the romantic in me!

This novel also satisfied requirements for two reading challenges: gothic & color-coded!

What did you think of this novel?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Woman in White, Part 1

While shopping at the local "Friends of the Library" book sale, I came across the The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I had never heard of this novel, but I bought it anyway since I was able to fill up my bag for only $1! Needless to say I bought just about every classic they had left and then some; in hindsight that was not the best idea I ever had since I will have to get rid of a lot of the books before I move this summer.

The Woman in White made for slow reading at first. However, after about the first 250 pages, I found myself really enjoying the novel. The problem now was that I did not have as much time to read as I would like! This novel is written in the form of diary entries and testimonies recorded by various characters; therefore, it is considered an epistolary novel. Collin's novel is also considered detective fiction; all of the information is recorded in such a manner as to be presented to a judge in a trial.

In the beginning of the novel, Mr. Hartright obtains employment as painting instructor to half-sisters Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe. On his way from London to Cumberland, Hartright encounters a mysterious woman:

"There, in the middle of the broad, bright high-road -- there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven -- stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments" (14).

Hartright later finds out that this is a lady named Anne Catherick, and she has escaped from an asylum. Another interesting fact about Anne is that she looks very much like the Laura Fairlie with whom Hartright falls in love. This affection ultimately requires him to leave his employment at Cumberland since Laura is already betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde.

Sir Percival is quite possibly one of the most heartless villians I have encountered! He only married Laura for her money and is an abusive spouse. Anne has been hanging around Percival's estate, Blackwater Park, in hopes of warning Laura about Percival's secret. It is implied that Sir Percival paid for Anne's stay at the asylum in hopes of keeping his secret safe. I can't wait to figure out this big secret!

(I am often intrigued by the names writers give to their characters. I am still pondering if there is any significance of Collins' character who is named after one of King Arthur's knights.)

While much abuse and betrayal has been occurring at Blackwater Park, Hartright has been abroad in hopes of getting Laura off his mind. As he returns, he finds that his love has died. At the conclusion of Part 1, Laura's ghost, or maybe Anne Catherick?, appears to Hartright as he mourns at Laura's gravesite.

Collin's cleverly employs unexpected plot twists; right when I think I have the story figured out, he throws in a surprise. This is what has kept me interested in the novel. 

I have left A LOT out, but I don't want to spoil it for those of you have been thinking about reading this novel. DO IT! It has really gotten interesting, and I highly recommend it. I hope that Part 2 does not disappoint.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My sweet husband bought me three new novels this week; I felt like a child at Christmas time when my package finally arrived! Recently, one of my friends recommended that I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. She described this novel as a cross between elements found in both the Harry Potter series and the Twilight saga. I have never read any of the Harry Potter novels, but I enjoyed Twilight.

The book I am most excited about reading is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. While chatting with my fellow English teachers, they highly recommended that I read this novel for my gothic reading challenge!

Finally, there is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I have read a little background information on this book, and it looked like one I would enjoy for the reading challenge as well.

I also downloaded two freebies to my kindle: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole and The Monk by Matthew Lewis.

I am currently wading through The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I have enjoyed what I have read so far; however, I wish the story would move along a little more quickly.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Historian

I just finished reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (my third gothic novel. . .17 more to go!). While reading part one, I was not certain that I would have the patience to finish this novel. I am an Anne Rice, and even aTwilight, fan, so I was excited to read a "vampire" novel; however, in reading part one I was thinking I would never get to the "action" so to say. Luckily, part two and three were much more intriguing. It only took me one day to read those two parts! 

Kostova's novel intertwined several narratives. I am still contemplating the necessity of the multiple narratives being that several of the characters had almost exact experiences while searching for Dracula's tomb. The Historian was a daunting read at close to 700 pages. I would recommend this to any readers who have an interest in vampire novels, legends, etc. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate this novel a 3.5. Several parts of the end did not work for me, (SPOILER ALERT!) especially the absence of Helen for several years after her marriage to Rossi and the birth of their daughter, Helen. What was the point of her disappearance if Dracula was not really killed, which readers could infer since Helen (Rossi's daughter) received her own blank book with the symbol of the dragon? Instances such as these left me unsatisfied in reading this novel. Perhaps The Historian ending in such a way because there will be a sequel?? If so, I don't think it would be too high on my To Be Read list. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shakespeare Reading Challenge

This is the last one for real! I could not resist joining my third (and final) challenge. Someday I hope to be able to work for a Shakespeare festival or institute; therefore, this challenge was a no-brainer. I absolutely had to give it a try and brush up on my Shakespeare. I wish I could time travel back to my sophomore year of college so that I could take my Shakespeare course more seriously. One could study Shakespeare for a lifetime and still have more to learn.

Here are the rules from

Welcome to the 2011 Shakespeare Reading Challenge! 

First off, the Levels:

1. Puck: Read 4 plays over the year, 1 of which may be replaced by a performance
2. Desdemona: Read 6 plays, 2 of which may be replaced by a performance
3. Henry V: Read 12 plays, 3 of which may be replaced by a performance

Now, the Rules:

1. All plays must be read between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Anything begun before that cannot be included.
2. Audio versions are also acceptable but all plays must be unabridged.
3. You don't need to list your plays ahead of time but you may, if you'd like. 
4. Review pages for each month will be created but are optional.

My Goal: Desdemona

My Tentative Reading List:

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream
2. As You Like It
3. The Tempest
4. Love's Labour's Lost
5. Much Ado About Nothing
6. Measure for Measure

Last year I read: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, & Othello. Enough tragedy for now!