Poem of the Week: Oh Captain! My Captain!

Oh Captain! My Captain!
 Walt Whitman

 

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Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Saturday!

I was nominated for this back in July, and while I said I would get to it ASAP, it seems I did not…I’m the worst with these things :/  Siobhan @ Siobhan’s Novelties nominated me, and I have to say, I’m so honored and so so sorry it took me so long to finally do it! This award was created by Okoto Enigmas, and I would like to thank both Okoto and Siobhan for this award!

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Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate roughly 10-20 people for this award
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  8. Ask your nominees five questions.
  9. Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

Three Things About Me (these are all reading facts about me):

  1. I am in a book club called “The Well-Read Mom”– it is a book club that is spread throughout the United States, and in my group, I am the only person who is neither married nor a mom…I just really like the book selections 😉 If you want to check it out, you can go to WellReadMom.com.
  2. Inspired by Well-Read Mom, and out of request by one of my friends, I started my own book club/list for 2017, and I intend to make a reading list for next year as well. My list is a mix between classics and newer books, and if you want to check it out or join in the reading fun, you can check out my list here!
  3. I just joined the “Operation War & Peace” group on GoodReads…and it’s exactly what it sounds like. In September (and the first week of October) I, along with the rest of the group, am going to try to get through the entirety of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s quite an undertaking, but I’m feeling oddly optimistic! Feel free to join the group on GoodReads if you want to participate, the more the merrier!

Siobhan’s Questions:

  1. Who is your guilty pleasure author/series? Do you love to hate it or hate to love it?
    • I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure author or series, but more a genre. I hate to love political thrillers. The reason I hate to love them is because I don’t think they are the best written books, and they are usually pretty predictable, yet I really enjoy them!
  2. What is the latest book you’ve read that you’ve absolutely hated/loved?
    • I recently finished Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and I absolutely loved it! It took a little while for me to finish it, but I thought it was splendid!
  3. What bothers you in your favourite genre (e.g., love triangles in YA)
    • I love me some classics!…but I will say, some classics could use an editor who told them to cut, cut, cut….those classic authors tend to ramble and get sidetracked at times.
  4. What is the most underrated book/series/author?
    • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. This book is absolutely fantastic, and it is in my top five favorite books! While Twain is not underrated, this book is almost unknown. Twain claimed that it is his best book, and it is the one he spent the most time on, and if you ask me, it deserves recognition.
  5. If you could pick a book you wanted to change, which book is it, and how would you change it?
    • Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. It’s not so much that I would change anything, that I would have it not be printed as it was. I did enjoy this book, but it was allegedly printed in haste and without being completed by the author, I think it did an injustice to her words. Now, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe it was printed exactly how she intended it, but from what I read and how the book “felt” it seemed that she was not quite done with it.

Ok, it is late and I am falling asleep, so I’m not going to nominate anyone directly, but please please please, if you have good answers to my questions and you feel inclined to answer them, consider yourself nominated! I would really love to learn more about you! I’m really sorry for breaking this part of the rules, but sometimes that just happens!

My Questions:

  1. What book surprised you the most or what book did you expect to dislike but ended up loving?
  2. Which author have your read the most of? Is he/she your favorite author or is it coincidence?
  3. What is your favorite TV show?
  4. Have you taken the Myers Briggs Personality test? If so, what is your personality type? Mine is INFP 🙂
  5. What are you currently reading and what do you think about it so far?

 

My best and my favorite post’s I’ve written might be different, so I’ll share both. Before I do that, I will say I like my reviews better than my tags, because I’m more passionate about them, but my tag post have much more views/likes than my reviews, so I will share my most viewed tag post and my favorite tag post.

My most viewed post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Biggest Bookish Turn-offs post, but my favorite post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Dead Authors I’d Love to Have A Drink With post.

Thanks again to Siobhan for the tag and nomination! I hope to see some of you answer my questions (even if it’s only in the comment section)!!

 

Friday Five: Jane Austen

After reading Love & Friendship and Lady Susan by Jane Austen, I was inspired to dive into some of her quotes, and I’d love to share with you a few of them that speak right to my soul!

1. 

2.

“There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.”

3.

4.

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.”

5.

Love & Friendship and Lady Susan

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At last, I have found my favorite Jane Austen stories. Ok, I wasn’t really looking very hard, but I found them nonetheless!

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I also have only read Pride and Prejudice before reading these two beauties. P&P didn’t suite me, and so I kinda stayed away from Austen, assuming (probably incorrectly) that most of her novels are similar. I did resolve to read some of them, and they are high on my TBR, but somehow I keep looking over them to the next book…oops… But now, after reading Love and Friendship and Lady Susan, I am more inclined to pick up some Austen books because these two short works are so fun.

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is a collection of letters written by Jane Austen before the age of 16 (allegedly) for the entertainment of her family. The story unfolds in an exchange of letters and, as was Austen’s intent, seems to poke fun at the traditional romance novel.

This book is hilarious. The women highlighted are absolutely ridiculous, and they are constantly scheming, dramatizing everything, and fainting at every possible moment. Austen’s humor shines much stronger than in her longer novels, because she really goes to lengths to exaggerate every detail of these woman’s lives. If they had a bad day, she makes it the utmost worst day anyone had ever experienced. If someone insulted them, she made it an insult that had embarrassed them so greatly they were forced to faint on the spot…everything is the worst or best.  This, of course, helped show Austen’s point that romantic novels are nothing more than dramatic women making things more dramatic.

The quotes in this book are so so fantastic. For example, her is an excerpt from one of the letters.  Upon having a shock, “Sophia shrieked and fainted on the ground – I screamed and instantly ran mad. We remained thus mutually deprived of our senses, some minutes, and on regaining them were deprived of them again. For an Hour and a Quarter did we continue in this unfortunate situation – Sophia fainting every moment and I running mad as often.”  This, fainting and running mad, is quite a common trend in the book, and every time it happens it’s more comical then the rest.

There were other comments that were just hysterical, e.g.:

“She was a widow and had only one Daughter, who was then just seventeen–One of the best of ages; but alas! she was very plain and her name was Bridget. . . . . Nothing therefore could be expected from her–she could not be supposed to possess either exalted Ideas, Delicate Feelings or refined Sensibilities–.”

Um…what? I actually really like the name Bridget…ok, Austen. It’s comments like this that make the stories ridiculous and therefore hilarious.

Austen is pointing out the flaws of romantic novels, and perhaps writing things like this was her inspiration to fix romance novels in the future.

Without the knowledge that Austen wrote these letters in order to entertain her family and to make fun of romance knowledge, this story would seem annoying and extremely juvenile…it would almost be expected of a 14-year-old to write. However, knowing that Austen was only 14 while writing them, and she did so in order to mock the common way women, love, and friendships are seen in books, makes you realize the true genius of the writing, and how advanced Austen was.

If this story teaches you nothing, or if you thought it was complete rubbish, at least take this from it:

“Beware of fainting-fits. . . Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable yet believe me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution.”

 

Lady Susan

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I want to be Lady Susan. Ok, not really, because she is not a good person, but Austen makes her so deliciously bad, you just want to have her confidence and cunning nature…even though she really is bad.

“[Lady Susan] does not confine herself to that sort of honest flirtation which satisfies most people, but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making a whole family miserable.”

This book takes about 2 hours to read (maybe fewer), and it’s really worth the sit down. Plus after you can watch the movie adaptation on Netflix, which is confusingly called Love & Friendship. Why they decided to call the movie the same title as a different Austen book, I do not know, but I do know that the movie is very well made, and it follows the book decently well.

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Ok, so Lady Susan is another book that is told through a series of letters. These letters are much more sophisticated than those written in Love and Friendship, and they tell of a much more sophisticated plot. Lady Susan, our anti-heroine, is a widow who basically goes around flirting with any man she can find, and making the lives of everyone around her miserable. She is a terrible mother, a two-faced friend, and believes toying with the emotions of young men a suitable and enjoyable way to spend the day (ok, she may have a point with that last one..).

“My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.”

I don’t want to give the main plot away, because this one really should be read by all Austen fans…it’s so entertaining. The great thing is that with every letter denouncing Lady Susan’s actions, you have two letters from her praising her own actions, and even though you know she is crazy, you find yourself believing her and pitying her, even though she deserves no such pity.

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Both these stories are just fantastic and so much fun to read. I won’t go on, because I’ll could just ramble on and on about how funny they are, but seriously, if you are a Jane Austen fan or a fan of classic romantic novels, give these two a read; I promise you will be entertained!

Sunshine Blogger Award

It finally happened!  I’ve been given an award for being the ball of sunshine in everyone’s life 😉 all jokes aside, I am thankful to Rachel at the Pace, Amore, Libri blog for the nomination! Check out her Sunshine Blogger Award post because her answers are really interesting and fun! (Rachel, I took the graphic from your post, I hope that’s ok!)

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

 

Rachel’s Questions: 

1.What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

Ummm. I think it was probably Moana, which is a little embarrassing, but hey, I’m a nanny and also Moana is awesome, so I’m not that embarrassed ;).  I really did like it. Some of the plot details bothered me, and the Shiny song makes me uncomfortable, but all-in-all it’s a good movie. I mean, it’s no How to Train Your Dragon, but it’s very good.

2. Do you have any weird or random talents?

Does having an insanely good memory count? I retain really random facts, so I feel like I know a decent amount about a lot of random things, and it’s all accidental. For example, I have memorized all the State nicknames (i.g. Minnesota is the North Star State, Idaho is the gem state, etc.) and I really didn’t try to do it, I just remember useless information–which basically makes my talent trivia. Other than that, I don’t really think I have any random talents.

3. What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I have 3. “Whatever it Takes” by Imagine Dragons, “One More Light” by Linkin Park, and “All We Ever Knew” by The Head and the Heart.

I’m also really digging the “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” soundtrack.

4. What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I almost always blog at night.

5.What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium is my all-time favorite. A close second is the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands…I may or may not have cried when I went there.

6. When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

ha! well, I’m kind of a professional wedding-goer. I’ve been to 8 weddings this summer and I have 3 more this year…and I’ve been in half of them, so I’m a little done with weddings at the moment, but my last one was the last weekend of June.

7.Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Not that I know of, however many have told me I look like the Chesire Cat.

8. If you were a cat, what color cat would you be?  (Very important question.)

Going off of my last answer, I have to say purple.

9. Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I don’t know if they are my favorite, but I really like the little penguin on the Penguin classics books.

10. Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character?  (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Other than in plays or for halloween, I really don’t think I have, which is kind of sad.

11. What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I hail from the great state of Iowa. If you don’t know where Iowa is, it is right in the middle of the United States. I really love how kind everyone is here. People are just genuinely nice and it’s amazing. Every time I come back from traveling, I’m always pleasantly surprised with the people of Iowa–they are great. Also, barbecue.

 

For the Sunshine Blogger Award, I nominate:

My questions are:

  1. What is your all-time favorite book or books?
  2. What is your go-to binge show on Netflix?
  3. What is the best book you’ve read this year?
  4. Where is your dream vacation spot?
  5. What book would you recommend everyone to read, right now?
  6. Do you prefer a physical book, e-book, audiobook, or all three?
  7. What fandom are you least likely to join?
  8. Do you have a favorite piece of art or artist?
  9. Book clubs, yay or nay?
  10. Are you a morning, noon, or night reader?
  11. What does your dream trip look like?

 

Thanks for reading!!

Poem of the Week: On His Blindness

On His Blindness
by John Milton

 

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

7 Riddles to Nowhere & Angelhood

These two books are a little out of my regular reading zone, because they are children’s novels, but the I researched the author and her mission of bringing wholesome literature to children really hit a chord with me. She sent me her two novels, and I have to say, even though they are for children/teens, I found them very entertaining!

30148975.jpg7 Riddles to Nowhere by A.J. Cattapan

Rating: ★★★★ // a quick, fun adventure

First Line: “Kameron Boyd hadn’t spoken a word in school for seven years.” 

Review:

After finishing this book, I immediately told my little brothers they should read it; it was so fun!

The book follows Kameron Boyd, a seventh-grader at St. Jude’s Catholic School. Kameron, known as Kam, is a shy, quiet boy, who actually suffers from an inability to speak to adults. He has a small group of friends and lives with his mom and grandmother. One day Kam receives a letter in the mail which tells him he has been selected to compete in a game of riddles for a “treasure”. Kam accepts the challenge and, along with his friends, he travels around Chicago as a mysterious “riddle-master” sends him clues to the treasure.

Kam is a sweet kid. I don’t exactly get why he can’t speak to adults, it seems to be the result of a childhood trauma, but it still seems like a bit of a stretch that he cannot utter a word to an adult outside of his home. With that being said, his inability to speak adds an interesting challenge to the book, and it allows the character to grow in courage and step outside his comfort zone every once in a while.

Cattapan does a great job keeping the pace light and fast, all while giving us a in-depth adventure. The kids have to use their intellect and savvy to figure out the riddles, and they have to work together to keep ahead of the competition.

What I really loved about this book is that Cattapan was able to tell a fun, compelling story without adding in a stupid childhood romance. I really get tired of the corny childhood flirting that happens in children literature because it always looks forced and I just find it weird, so I am very thankful Cattapan was able to tell a story without forcing a relationship (or heaven forbid a love triangle) on these kids.

Really fun book for kids, makes them think and shows good values and virtues kids should strive to obtain.

 

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Rating: ★★★★ // Hard book, yet inspiring 

First Line: “Getting the gun is easy.” 

Review:

Any book that starts off with suicide is going to be difficult; not under any circumstances is it a fun topic to discuss, yet, there are times when it needs to be discussed and there are stories that need to be told.

Angelhood follows Nanette Dunston, who in the first chapter, takes her life. This was hard for me to read, so I immediately thought it wasn’t appropriate for kids to read, but then I remembered that 13 Reason’s Why was immensely popular in middle school and high school, and as I continued to read Angelhood, I realized how important books like this actually are.

After she ends her life, Nanette finds herself as an angel with the sole purpose of protecting a high school girl Vera. Nanette is unsure why she is tied to this girl, until she realizes Vera is contemplating suicide herself. Nanette now has the mission to convince this young girl to refrain from making the same mistake she did.

Like I said before, this book is thick. Right away my main theological issue was that people don’t become Angels…Angels are completely different beings, however, that was my only issue and it’s more or less explained in the end, therefore I was able to get over my little issue with the theological issue. OTHER THAN THAT, I really thought the book we well written and well told. Again, this is an issue that kids should address because its real and it’s important because YOU MATTER and YOU ARE LOVED. That is why these books matter.

I would not recommend this book to anyone younger than a high schooler and I think parents should read it with their children because this subject needs to be discussed, but it needs to be discussed with care. But I do recommend this book, it is well written and it speaks to the heart.

 

Thank you to A.J. Cattapan for giving me a these books for review. To learn more about A.J. Cattapan visit her site http://www.ajcattapan.com/

 

Poem of the Week: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

A Good Man is Hard to Find  

As part of my Classic Book Club Challenge, I’m reading The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. This book is quite large so I’m taking it slow and reading only a few stories at a time.

Flannery O’Connor is a American author, who was born in the 1925 and died at the young age of 39. During her short life she wrote multiple essays, 2 novels and 32 short stories. Her Complete Stories won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.

Here is my review of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” found in The Complete Stories. All my reviews are based off my initial reaction/thoughts, however I do think O’Connors work needs and deserves more reflection and study because they are loaded with further meaning.

AGoodManIsHardToFind.jpg“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

Rating: ★★★★ // wow. I tell you what, wow. 

Opening Line: “The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.”

Review:

I have a friend who describes O’Connor’s stories as “a normal day in a normal life and then somebody has a gun,” which, in fact, is the exact plot of “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” This story follows a grandmother, her son, and his family as they from Georgia to Florida. Along the way normal “road trip” activities ensue until they have an accident and are approached by an escaped convict.

This story, if nothing else, shows us the corruption of people, especially those who feel they have been mistreated or misunderstood their whole lives. The criminal claims he never knew what he did to be put in jail, and he doesn’t think his punishment fit his crime. This belief turned him evil, he no longer cares about choosing good because, in his mind, what’s the point?

The second point I gathered from this (and as I said before I should read some articles and reflections because there is probably so much more to gain from this story) is that in order to be good we must choose to be good. This is an obvious point, but one that is much more active than we usually think. Every decision we make is a good or evil decision. Yes, some may be a good or a not as good decision, but if we constantly make the not as good decision we will soon find our selves choosing the evil choice and not even realizing it.

At one point we see this in the convict. The grandmother tells him that if he prays, Jesus will help him, and he responds by saying he is sure Jesus would, but he doesn’t want his help, he doesn’t want to be good. The convict has gotten to the point where he is no longer capable of choosing the good because he has chosen to be evil.

I enjoyed this story mainly because of the moral discussion it brings up. The narration is strong and the story is concise without leaving out anything important. The characters are believable, and even in the short time ellapsed, the reader is able to feel connected with the characters.

Before reading it, I know O’Connor was a gothic writer, but I did not expect it to be as dark as it was. I also didn’t expect to be blown away by 25 page story, and yet, I was.

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To learn more about the Classics Club and to start your own list, check out their blog!

 

Poem of the Week: The Star Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,

’Tis the star-spangled banner—O long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a Country should leave us no more?

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.