Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

I've been reading more & reviewing less...yet again.  Plus I'm working on a family history project with a reunion coming up in a couple of weeks and school will be starting up again before I blink.  I'm hoping to catch up on reviews for American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, Night by Elie Wiesel, and my recent finish from this week, Born Standing Up by Steve Martin.  I might need to pair these reviews up--two Holocaust-themed books and two by comedians.  All very good reads, not a disappointment among them.

Here are my week's stats:

Read This Week: (2)
Isn't it funny how we sometimes dip into a book just for kicks and it grabs hold of you?  This happened to me twice this week...

Born Standing Up- Steve Martin--A jack-of-all-trades in Hollywood, Steve Martin is a sharp writer, his voice as clear (and deliciously sarcastic) in print as it is on the screen

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll--Charming, delightful story, impossible not to love

Currently Reading: (2)
The First Wives Club- Olivia Goldsmith-- I'm about halfway through.  It's not bad but feels padded.  Definitely needed some trimming.  I like the movie better.

My Life- Bill Clinton

Reviews This Week:
None :(   Time to play catch-up this week!

Next to Read:
I watched the movie Dreamcatcher (based on a Stephen King novel) this week (my reaction: so-so, pretty cheesy CGI), but it's getting me back in the mood for a King novel--maybe Pet Sematary.  I keep putting off The Stand until I can devote lots of time to it.
Have a great reading week :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

More reading, less reviewing this past week.  I have 3 reviews pending, two being Holocaust-set books read just this week, both amazing.  I was afraid that reading about the Holocaust would be incredibly depressing but I surprised myself with how eye-opening both books were.

Read This Week:  (2)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas- John Boyne--incredible!  Review coming soon
Night- Elie Wiesel--finished just last night; review also coming soon

Currently Reading:  (2)
The First Wives Club- Olivia Goldsmith--I started this to lighten the Holocaust-themed reads this week.  It's been quite funny but I feel that much of the plot is padded (500+ pages!).  I love the movie so I hope this turns out to be a good one.

My Life- Bill Clinton--don't ask...this is the longest I've taken to read a book.  I haven't picked it up in quite a while.  It is a good book (don't judge it but the time I've been taking to read it) but it's not meant to be read all at once.

Reviews This Week:
None :(

Next to Read:
I have no idea. feels great to have freedom of choice ahead!  Maybe one of the classics I picked up on my recent book haul.  Can anyone recommend one from that list?

Have a great reading week :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Depot Haul!

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking:  Teacher/Learner, didn't you just go there & get a big box of books in the spring?  Sure did.  See my March posting, Major Book Shopping Haul.  But you see, I had every intention of limiting (ha!) my purchases to children's books this time in preparation for potential job placement in just a couple of weeks.  I have a growing collection of kid lit and I wanted to get more kindergarten-primary level books. 

If I do say so myself, I was a very good bibliophile book shopper and the majority of my purchases were children's books (no really, they were!).  However...I couldn't just ignore the huge adult general section, now could I?  Especially when it was full of gems: a great number of classics and even some contemporary (i.e. last year!) fiction available at a great discount.

So, a few books for myself became....drumroll....30.  That's not too bad, right?  Right?  *cricket chirping*  Well, my bill might say otherwise.  There goes my tax credit refund.  But all for a good cause. 

Now that I've justified that to death, here's my haul:

The Bonfire of the Vanities- Tom Wolfe--My last stab at Wolfe's work.  I didn't particularly like My Name is Charlotte Simmons and I'm not too keen on trying The Kool-Aid Acid Test, so here goes nothing.

The Lacuna- Barbara Kingsolver--Great find!  I couldn't believe it was available.  I absolutely loved The Poisonwood Bible, so this will be my follow-up read.

Born Standing Up- Steve Martin--Came in a cute pocket paperback edition.  I love this "wild and crazy" guy :D  I also got An Object of Beauty and his children's book, Late For School, which came with a CD of his banjo-accompanied song.  Hilarious!

Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris--This was reviewed so much, I had to give it a try.  My first foray into Sedaris's humour.

The Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway--Hopefully not too overwhelming a classic.

The Odyssey- Homer--See comment for above title :)

All's Well That Ends Well- William Shakespeare--I haven't read Shakespeare since university and the comedies were always a favourite of mine.

Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson--I've only seen the Muppet movie version :D

The Last of the Mohicans- James Fenimore Cooper

Pygmalion and Three Other Plays- George Bernard Shaw

An Object of Beauty- Steve Martin

The Taking of Pelham 123- John Godey--So fortuitous that I should find this as its one of my favourite movies and I thought the novel was likely long out of print.  Yay!

The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath

The Other Boleyn Girl- Phillipa Gregory--This author was recommended for my blogoversary.  I saw many Phillipa Gregory books, but this one is most familiar to me, making it an obvious starting point.

Moby Dick- Herman Melville--Hilarious edition cover--see its entry in my Goodreads list :D

The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas--This has gone right to the front of my TBR shelf.  I really need to read this!

Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis- Ed Sikov--A doctored picture of Joan Crawford with her eyes bugged out & crossed made me laugh out loud :D

Send Yourself Roses- Kathleen Turner

The Hour I First Believed- Wally Lamb

The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera

Celebrity Detox- Rosie O'Donnell

True Compass- Edward Kennedy--Another surprising find.  I know very little about this Kennedy brother, yet he was so influential to American politics.  It should be an eye-opener.

An Exaltation of Larks- James Lipton--This is all about turns of phrase, especially in describing groups (e.g. a murder of crows, a pride of lions).  Learning about our language is fascinating to me.

Paul Simon: A Life- Marc Eliot--Wasn't looking for this but I love Simon's (and Garfunkel, too) music and it's a very recent publication.

In Her Shoes- Jennifer Weiner--I read a library copy a while ago and liked it.  Maybe I'll re-read it.

Columbine- Dave Cullen--I accidentally picked up the enlarged text edition.  Oh well...the pages will fly by faster :D

The Shipping News- Annie Proulx

Running With Scissors- Augusten Burroughs

I Know This Much is True- Wally Lamb

The Road Not Taken- Robert Frost--My dad introduced me to Frost's poetry from the time I could read and the title poem is my favourite.  I couldn't resist this book :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday--Favourite Books Read in School

A weekly meme hosted @ The Broke and the Bookish.

I haven't participated this in so long, I needed to update the mem button :D  But I couldn't resist this week's topic:

It's a freebie--use this week to write a top ten list about ANYTHING in literature.

Nice!  I've decided to recall my top 10 favourite books read in school, whether by my own choice or as assigned by the teacher, and how they have stuck with me all this time.  I'm going to split the 10 books between elementary, high school, and university.  Here goes...

1)  Curious George Goes to the Hospital- Margret and H.A. Rey (Kindergarten)
Whenever we visited the school library, I made a beeline for the small bookshelf with the row of yellow CG books and plunked myself there for the entire time.  My favourite CG book was the hospital visit.  The vocabulary words were a bit more challenging with the doctor's equipment and I loved the picture of George's X-ray with the tiny puzzle piece in his stomach :)

2)  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler- E.L. Konigsburg (5th grade)
My teacher did a unit on museums, touching on the Museum of Natural History and exhibits on Egypt and Italian Renaissance.  For science, we built security alarm systems (very creative endeavour!).  It was an imaginative book and the way my teacher connected all the subjects to the novel but not relying too much on it or going overboard was just right.

3)  This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall- Gordon Korman (6th grade)
My teacher read this aloud to us every day for the first week of school to get us settled back into school mode from summer vacation.  It was a great icebreaker and very funny with all the mishaps that occur at Bruno & Boots' school.

4)  The Pigman- Paul Zindel (7th grade)
In 7th grade, I finally got to read the novel that my dad had been teaching 7th and 8th graders for years.  It was a modern fable, kind of like a domesticated King Kong morality tale, with two teenagers befriending an old-fashioned neighbour, eventually taking advantage of his possessions to the point of breaking him.  It was the first really serious jolt I ever got from a book about how we need to value friendship and people that we care about.

5)  Twelfth Night- William Shakespeare (9th grade)
This was my first foray into Shakespeare and bless my teacher for making the transition smooth and easy for me.  I could actually understand the language, themes, and story as we worked on translating it to modern language.  Anyone scared to read Shakespeare ought to start with this play.

6)  Lord of the Flies- William Golding (10th grade)
Another jolting reading experience, this time touching on leadership, bullying, and survival.  It was dark, disturbing, and unforgettable.  Perfect timing for a teenager to read it.

7)  To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee (11th grade)
Just when you think you've learned enough about civil rights and racism (a huge topic in 8th grade curriculum), this book slaps you upside the head.  My god, is it ever brilliant.

8)  Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller (12th grade)
This brought back memories of The Pigman (see #4).  Another tale of a disgraced man who had every intention of being great and how things gradually fall apart.

9)  The Diviners- Margaret Laurence (3rd year English major)
A Canadian epic and coming-of-age story that I couldn't put down.  Incredible prose and quirky, loveable characters.

10)  Flaubert's Parrot- Julian Barnes (4th year English major)
One of the most unique writing styles I've ever come across.  It breaks barriers of what literature ought to be and doesn't fail to fascinate, even if you have no idea who Flaubert is ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Yay, I caught up on my backlog of reviews!

Read This Week:  (1)
American on Purpose- Craig Ferguson--review coming soon--very funny & enjoyable read

Currently Reading:  (2)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas- John Boyne
My Life- Bill Clinton

Reviews This Week:
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King

My top 10 of the Harry Potter series post
Celebrating my 1st blogoversary

Have a great reading week :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1982 (2003- revised & expanded edition)
Pages:  300
ISBN:  9780451210845
Genre:  Series, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Start Date:  July 10, 2011
Finished Date:  Aug. 4, 2011 (26 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  On my TBR list; I also devour anything by Stephen King

Read For:  Stephen King challenge (4/6), 1st in a Series challenge (6/6)

Summary:  In the dystopian world of Gilead, a wandering rebel, Roland, seeks the mysterious Man in Black in the vast desert terrain reflects on his prior and present encounters that alter their memories and fates.


I don't believe it.  I never thought I would meet a Stephen King book that didn't quite meet my expectations.  As exciting as it is for a favourite author to dip a toe into a different kind of genre, the western-dystopian subgenre was just too uneven a match for the master of horror fiction for this fan. 

While I commend King's attempt (the dystopian angle of the story was actually intriguing and the prose, as usual, was interesting and cutting edge), but the western is better suited for the helmsman he cites as inspiration in the introduction--Sergio Leone.  Or maybe Louis L'Amour (though I've never read his work, but he is the only novelist in the western genre I can think of at the moment).  The genre is difficult to write and keep reader interest alive.  There is much lingering tension, self-reflection, and travails both on the mind from one's past and on the horizon in one's future.  It won't leap off the page and keep them turning without a masterful hand.

As much as I've heard that King's later books in the Dark Tower series are better than the earlier installments, this one failed to keep my attention, and plodded along to the end, leaving me perfectly willing to forego continuing on with the series to find out Roland's fate.  I honestly did not find him all that interesting a character.  Oh win some, you lose some.  I'm still a huge Stephen King fan nonetheless and will continue to read anything else he writes.  Just not this.

Rank:  (C)- Just Okay

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Top 10 of the Harry Potter Series

I cannot possibly list my choices in order by favourite (that's way too hard!), so in random order, my top tens for each book are (and beware spoilers!):

#1- The Philosopher's Stone:
1)  The budding friendship between Harry, Ron & Hermione
2)  Owl Post addressed to "the Cupboard Under the Stairs" & everywhere else Harry specifically lived.
2)  The Sorting Hat
3)  Chocolate Frogs and Every Flavour Beans
4)  The lifesize wizard chess board
5)  The Invisibility Cloak
6)  Peeves :D
7)  McGonagal recruiting Harry as Gryffindor's Quidditch team Seeker
8)  Hagrid & his delightful Cockney accent
9)  Shopping in Diagon Alley
10) The Weasley family

#2- The Chamber of Secrets:
1)  Harry's escape in the flying car
2)  The Deathday Party :D
3)  Neville Longbottom & his grandmother's Howlers
4)  Dobby :D
5)  The Burrow
6)  Fawkes
7)  The rescue of Ginny Weasley
8)  Harry & Ron disguised as Crabbe & Goyle
9)  The anagram of I Am Lord Voldemort
10) Moaning Myrtle & Gilderoy Lockhart...just kidding, I couldn't stand either :D

#3- The Prisoner of Azkaban:
1)  Time-travelling
2)  A tie between Snape floating unconscious and Aunt Marge's flying trip :D
3)  Harry informing Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia that his godfather is a criminal :D
4)  The anonymous Firebolt gift
5)  Professor Lupin's Defense Against the Dark Art lessons
6)  Patronuses
7)  Breaking Sirius out of Azkaban
8)  Ron's first use of the telephone :D
9)  The Marauder's Map
10)  The Quidditch Cup match

#4- The Goblet of Fire:
1)  The Prefect bathtub
2)  Quidditch World Cup
3)  Hagrid's crush on Madame Maxime
4)  The Pensieve
5)  Fred & George's career goal of opening a joke shop
6)  Hogsmeade
7)  SPEW
8)  The Marauder's Map
9)  Mad-Eye Moody
10) The international schools of witches & wizards

#5- The Order of the Phoenix:
1)  Luna Lovegood and her crazy hats :D
2)  Neville saving Harry
3)  Dumbledore's Army
4)  Fred & George's escape
5)  Flying memos at the Ministry of Magic
6)  McGonagal implying that Umbridge is incompetent :D
7)  Sirius Black
8)  The Advance Guard, especially Tonks :D
9)  Grawp
10) Dumbledore & his fatherly wisdom

#6- The Half-Blood Prince:
1)  Professor Slughorn
2)  The Prime Minister's meeting with Cornelius Fudge
3)  Dumbledore's visit to Privet Drive
4)  Fleur's nickname, Phlegm :D
5)  The Half-Blood Prince's textbook
6)  Felix Felicis
7)  Harry saving Ron from the poisoned mead
8)  Roonil Wazlib, especially when Snape says it :D
9)  Dumbledore's funeral
10)  The phoenix's cry

#7- The Deathly Hallows:
1)  Professor Snape--I actually liked him despite his treatment of Harry in all the books, but no one can hate him in this book
2)  Draco Malfoy--a surprising turn of events for him!
3)  Gringotts
4)  The Silver Doe
5)  Ron saving Harry from the icy water--"Are you mental?" :D
6)  The Lovegood's house
7)  Aberforth & the Hog's Head secret passage
8)  Battle of Hogwarts--sad but honourable scene
9)  Harry and Dumbledore at King's Cross
10)  The epilogue--so lovely to see how Harry, Ron, Hermione & Ginny grow up :)

What are some of your favourite HP characters and moments?  Please share in the comments!

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (HP series, #7)- J.K. Rowling

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  2007
Pages:  607
ISBN:  9781408810293
Genre:  Series, YA/fantasy

Start Date:  July 29, 2011
Finished Date:  Aug. 2 2011 (5 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  On my TBR list

Summary:  In what would have been Harry's 7th and final year at Hogwarts, he and his friends hide from Voldemort and his Death Eaters while attemping to solve the mystery of the Horcruxes that will bring an end to the destructive mayhem of the Dark Lord.


How do you say goodbye to a series as beloved as this one?  I would think that the most effective way is to write the last book as an incentive to go back and re-read the entire series again.  If I didn't have a big TBR shelf and a huge TBR list waiting for me, I wouldn't hesitate to do just that.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are at their most mature state, their minds and talents honed to an adult level, and with an understanding that it is ultimately up to them to restore peace to Hogwarts.  The lead-up to this point is admittedly but purposefully slow as they hide out from Death Eaters and skeptical Hogwarts friends, but once they uncover the first Horcrux, it's a nonstop ride to the end. 

The battle at Hogwarts has a few sad moments but is well-written and a great testament to the students' and teachers' will to fight for their school and livelihood.  The scene between Harry and Snape is the most touching, memorable moment in the book and one of my favourites in the series.  Many revelations, changes, and, unfotunately, fatal sacrifices ensue until the very end.  The epilogue is a real treat as we find out the fates and futures of major characters, which cannot fail to bring a smile to your face.

I have to re-read this series sometime to see hints of later books I missed in the earlier ones as so many characters and events are re-examined in a different vein, owing to the brilliant imagination of J.K. Rowling.

So, how do I account for the series?  When it boils down to it, ordering the books from my most to least favourite, here is my list:

1) Philosopher's Stone (#1)--for me, nothing can top the very first step into this world
2) Deathly Hallows (#7)--a beautiful way to say goodbye
3) Prisoner of Azkaban (#3)--the most exciting, twisted plot
4) Order of the Phoenix (#5)--lots of important back story and a killer villain (Umbridge)
5) Goblet of Fire (#4)--entertaining new cast of characters and a milestone in the series plot
6) Half-Blood Prince (#6)--interesting backstory and tragic stepping stone to the conclusion
7) Chamber of Secrets (#2)--enjoyable romp

Also, as promised, I am posting my top 10 list for each Harry Potter book immediately after this review posts.  Enjoy!

Rank:  (A+)- A fitting conclusion to a magical adventure

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy 1-Year Blogoversary!

I'm posting this a day early...I'm too excited to hold back :D

Wow!  It was one year ago, August 11, 2010, that I was strolling through the Internet, minding my own business, when suddenly...wham!  I entered the world of book blogging and haven't looked back.  Well, maybe I peeked :D

Thank you to all my book blogging friends, followers, and new visitors for your kind comments and support in keeping this blog going for the last year.  You are all fabulous :)

In celebration of this prestigious event (please leave the ballgowns & tuxes at home :), I hope you will honour me by sharing one book or author in the comments below that you would like to recommend to me.  I'm always on the look-out for fascinating new material and if you know the kind of books that I like to read & review on this blog (I'm very eclectic), then I hope you'll let me in on the literary secret I've been missing out on :)

Thanks again & here's to another terrific year of book blogging!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP series, #6)- J.K. Rowling

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2005
Pages:  607
ISBN:  9780747598466
Genre:  Series, YA/fantasy

Start Date:  July 24, 2011
Finished Date:  July 29, 2011 (6 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  On my TBR list

Summary:  In his 6th year at Hogwarts, Harry makes a false impression on the new Potions teacher by using an edited textbook formerly belonging to the mysterious "Half Blood Prince" while Dumbledore confides in Harry secrets of Voldemort's past.


Like The Order of the Phoenix, much is revealed in The Half-Blood Prince that ties together many loose ends and brings forth new perspectives on prior characters.  What seems to be missing from HBP that OotP has going for it is subplot.  HBP does not renew Prof. Umbridge, who was the central villain and creator of conflicts in the previous book, leaving a lot to be desired in the 6th installment of the series.  The Potions textbook's former owner (and title character) was too predictable and only the revelations of Voldemort's past through the eye of Dumbledore's Pensieve made the book worthwhile.

Not to say that the book doesn't have its rightful place in the series.  Like The Chamber of Secrets, which for me and many other HP readers feel is the weakest link in the 7-book series chain, The Half-Blood Prince has several important pieces that further the development of the big picture story.  Also, the ending of HBP is one of the most powerful in the entire series.

It is difficult to weigh the individual importance of each book in this series, and undoubtedly all seven books are must-reads in order to appreciate the wealth of the entire story.  Let's just say that OotP wowed me more than HBP, and HBP is very close to The Goblet of Fire in my order of favourites, but just barely pales in comparison.

So, I am placing Half-Blood Prince in 5th place just before Chamber of Secrets in my list of favourite HP books. Even though a critical phase of the series takes place in this book and lots of sacrifice ensues, the lead-up to this scene & other subplots were not as effective for me as GoF were.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (HP series- #5)- J.K. Rowling

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  2003
Pages:  766
ISBN:  9780747591269
Genre:  Series, YA/fantasy

Start Date:  July 15, 2011
Finished Date:  July 24, 2011

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  On my TBR list

Summary:  In his 5th year at Hogwarts, everyone is on edge after the events of the Triwizard Tournament while Harry suspects that Voldemort is exerting even more control over him, Dumbledore appears to be ignoring him, and the new DADA teacher is wreaking havoc over the school inch by inch.


It seems that many readers find this book, the largest in the series, to have little to show for it by its end with the last two books revving up the story.  I was surprised then to find that by the end of OotP to find it much more eye-opening than I expected.

For starters, the tension left over from the tragedy at the Triwizard Tournament leaves many distrusting Harry and he feels very alone, despite continued support from Ron and Hermione.  This tension is incredibly influential on the book's mood, sending Hogwarts into a cataclysm after the new DADA teacher, Dolores Umbridge, begins exerting a poisonous influence on the school, starting with Harry.  The challenges and changes that Harry faces in this book are reaching a boiling point as he feels lost without Dumbledore's direct support and that his parents were perhaps not everything he expected them to be.

Mind you, Quidditch is once again absent from the book (also from Goblet of Fire, though the Quidditch World Cup more than made up for the loss), replaced with the OWLs, and battling is kept to a minimum, but evil lurks in the despicable Umbridge, whose syrupy demeanor was pitch perfect by Imelda Staunton in the movie version.  The history and influence of the Order sets the template for the next two books and we are introduced to the funky Advance Guard, including the sassy Tonks :)

All in all, I would place Order of the Phoenix as my 3rd favourite after Philosopher's Stone and Prisoner of Azkaban, very close to Goblet of Fire which takes 4th place in my favourites now due to the sheer amount of revelations in OotP.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published: 1891
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9780007351053
Genre: Classics

Start Date: July 6, 2011
Finished: July 10, 2011 (5 days)

Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: On my TBR list; I also loved Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

Read For:  Back to the Classics Challenge (6/8)

Summary: In a high society London town, a young, narcissistic man obsessed with youth and influenced by his peers becomes enamoured with materialism, beauty, and desire as his painted portrait ages and he remains young in appearance and demeanor.


First of all, how smokin' is that cover?!  Dorian Gray has a Johnny Depp look going on :D

Having read The Importance of Being Earnest for a 19th century lit course several years ago and absolutely loving it, I have been sadly ignoring Oscar Wilde since then.  The reason probably is based on the fact that Wilde only wrote one novel (this one) and the rest of his writing career is made up of short stories and plays.  *Sigh*  Not to knock those genres (there is always a time & place for them) but it's sad that a naturalized writer like Wilde only wrote a single novel and so many other writers had the fortune of churning out several classics in a single career.  Perhaps this is also part of the reason why The Picture of Dorian Gray is so well-regarded.
The story is a moralistic fairy tale for adults set in stuffy, social-butterfly laden England where Henry, a pleasant but often dryly cynical royal, and his compadre, Basil, a painter whose personality is not as charming as his art, encounter the latest man to sit for a portrait: Dorian Gray.  Everyone is immediately drawn to his youthful naivety, his wandering nature, his little-boy-lost lack of purpose, and most strikingly, his handsomeness.  Brewing inside Dorian is a deep resentment of a future in which his looks will fade and he will have very little left to show for himself.  Hence, the moral dilemma of the story begins as Dorian loses control of his emotional faculties while retaining his youthful looks and a dangerous psychopathic mentality.

Wilde's writing, like in Earnest, has a rich vocabulary, witty style, and a dry, satirical slant on British society, but remains remarkably accessible amongst 19th century classics, keeping a modern sensibility that appeals equally to 21st century readers.  While sometimes meandering, especially in a multi-page description of Dorian's acquired wealth of jewels and tapestries, The Picture of Dorian Gray is addictive, enjoyable, and by far one of the best classics I've read in recent years.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Saturday, August 6, 2011

July Monthly Wrap-Up, YTD & Monday Meme Catch-Up

Once again, my apologizes for being absent this week.  Here's how it is:  August, how I both loathe & adore you--one month closer to the end of summer vacation, yet one month closer to an exciting new school year, a clean slate of teaching...and the possibility of a full-time classroom job *crossing fingers*

My July course is over (whew!) and I've had flexible time to read some great books, including finishing up the Harry Potter series (that was an awesome ride!), so I'm now getting caught up on my reviews. I'm behind 5 books...eek!

I also saw the first 5 HP movies. I started with seeing the first 2 on ABC then I couldn't wait and rented the next 3 on demand. They were so fun--I especially liked how the second movie seemed better than the book.  And (*spoiler alert*) I loved the part in Prisoner of Azkaban where Snape protects Harry, Ron & Hermione, which made me sympathize with him even more. And how terrificly evil was Imelda Staunton as Prof. Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix? My on-demand channel didn't have Half-Blood Prince (grrr...) so I have to wait & see if it comes on soon, then the 2-part Deathly Hallows movies.

So, back to books, here's what I read in July:

Books Read This Month: (6)
The Giver- Lois Lowry (B)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling (A)
...and reviews coming soon for:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling (A)
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling (A)
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling (A+)
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King (C)

I'll post my top 10 HP list as promised once I get the last three reviews up!

Other Reviews This Month:  (1)
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

Books Read So Far in 2011: (35)--which means that I surpassed my Outdo Yourself challenge mark!

Seeing as I missed Monday's meme, here's an up-to-date post:

Read This Week: (2)
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling (A+)
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King (C)--ahhh, thank goodness I finished this! I was getting worried.  Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with this one :(

Currently Reading: (2)
As much as I should pick up a challenge book, a few appear to be downers, so I needed to cleanse my reading palate with something light & fun before dipping into them.

American on Purpose- Craig Ferguson- I love his show! His sense of humour is brilliant compared with other talk show hosts and is more genuine, not so phoney-baloney like other talk show hosts. Very funny memoir so far...not that I expect it to get worse! :P

My Life- Bill Clinton--how does that Aerosmith song go?  "Same old story, same old song & dance"

Other Reviews Written This Week:
None, I'm behind by 5 books :(

Next to Read:
I'm going to try The Boy With the Striped Pyjamas next, then probably Night.  I had forgotten that I chose two books about the Holocaust.  I'm prepared for a sobfest.

Upcoming Event!
It's also 5 days until my one-year blogoversary. I'm sorry I can't finagle a giveaway but I will ask you all to share a book title with a special purpose in the comments. Stay tuned for a post...