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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1865
Pages:  129
ISBN:  9780007350827
Genre:  Adventure/Fantasy

Started:  Aug. 25, 2011
Finished:  Aug. 28, 2011 (4 days)

Where Found:  Book Depot
Why Read:  On my TBR list

Summary:  Intrigued by a white rabbit with a pocketwatch, a precocious young girl named Alice stumbles down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world of riddles, rhymes, and oddball creatures.


How have I never read this before?!  I loved the Disney movie as a child and the fairly recent Tim Burton version was entertaining (albeit taking liberties with the plot to make Alice an unlikely action heroine), and let's just pretend the 1933 movie with Cary Grant (!), Gary Cooper (!!) and its cheesy visual effects never happened.  Despite this, I had never delved into the Lewis Carroll story.  I think most of the language would go over child readers' heads, like the gags on Sesame Street (my current favourite: Grover's Old Spice spoof "Smell Like a Monster") that send adults a wink while their kids are watching with them, but is enjoyable for all audiences regardless.

Not since reading Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest has a story exploded with sharp satire, hilarious antics, and the dizzying feeling of not being entirely certain of its world but loving the adventure for its own sake.  The story has boundless energy with Alice encountering a new character in every small chapter, remaining clueless as to her place in Wonderland but being charmed and pleasantly befuddled by it.

This can (and should) be read in one sitting and preferrably aloud as its language is too smart and funny not to be shared.  As the famous line from the first page goes, "What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?"  And by the way...exactly how is a raven like a writing desk?

Rank:  (A+)- Timeless Classic, Highly Recommend

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Read This Week:  (1)
Me Talk Pretty Some Day- David Sedaris--LOL! LOL! LOL!

Currently Reading:  (3)
Sense & Sensibility- Jane Austen--very sweet :)
The First Wives Club- Olivia Goldsmith
My Life- Bill Clinton

Reviews This Week:
Behind again, sorry :(

Next to Read:
I don't want to plan too far ahead but The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill is peering out at me.

Have a great reading week :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Read This Week:  (1)
Paul Simon: A Life- Marc Eliot--an enjoyable biography of one of my favourite musicians; review coming soon

Currently Reading:  (3)
Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris--should finish it off today or tomorrow; brutally funny!
The First Wives Club- Olivia Goldsmith
My Life- Bill Clinton

None this week.

Next to Read:
I need to get back into The First Wives Club and hopefully finish it before moving on.  I'll just wait and see what jumps out at me from my shelf :)

Have a great reading week :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Read This Week:  (1)
Pet Sematary- Stephen King (A)--review coming soon

Currently Reading:  (3)
Paul Simon: A Life- Marc Eliot--I love his and S&G's music, so when I spotted this at the Book Depot, I was thrilled!  It's a smooth read so far, as breezy as the music.

The First Wives Club- Olivia Goldsmith--I've stalled on this one and hope to get back to it after I finish the PS biography above.

My Life- Bill Clinton

Reviews Written This Week:  (2)
American on Purpose- Craig Fergson (B)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas- John Boyne (A+)

Other Posts This Week:
August Wrap-Up & Year-to-Date
2-in-1 Challenge Wrap-Up (1st in a Series and What's in a Name 4 challenges)

Have a great reading week :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

2-in-1 Challenge Wrap-Up Post

Hosted by Katy @ A Few More Pages

I met my goal:  6/6 books (Series Lover)

Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series) (re-read) (A+)
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia series) (A)
Rabbit, Run by John Updike (Rabbit series) (C)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's series) (A)
The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Dark Tower series) (overlaps with Stephen King challenge) (C)
A is For Alibi by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone series) (re-read) (A)

Favourite book of this challenge:  Harry Potter!

Hosted by Beth @ What's in a Name 4
I met my goal:  6/6 books

Book With a Number:  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (A+)
Book With Jewelry or a Gem:  The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (B)
Book With a Size:  A Short Guide to Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (A)
Book With Travel or Movement:  This Time Together by Carol Burnett (B)
Book With Evil:  A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving (A)
Book With a Life Stage:  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (A+)

Favourite book from this challenge:  Very close; either Fahrenheit 451 or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas- John Boyne

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published: 2009 (note: this title is also sometimes published with the spelling "pajamas")
Pages: 216
ISBN: 9780061719547
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Started:  Aug. 12, 2011
Finished:  Aug. 15, 2011 (4 days)

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

Read For:  What's in a Name 4 challenge (6/6)

Summary:  A young boy whose father is a Nazi soldier supervising Auschwitz during WWII secretly befriends a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp's fence.


A quick disclaimer: I am not here to contest the novel's historical accuracy or to defend any interests in or against the novel. I am simply reviewing the novel as a piece of literature. Any feelings represented here are my own and not meant to offend any party.

First of all, I must commend John Boyne for venturing into a territory that represents the darkest, most regrettable time in the history of our planet.  Any writer who writes about the Holocaust is braving not only an emotionally draining experience but potentially sensitive reactions from readers, especially in Boyne's case, as he is writing in the genre of historical fiction, taking a true event and creating fiction within it.  There are controversies surrounding the circumstances Boyne presents in the novel, such as the ages of children kept in the concentration camps, the use of electric fences that would considerably hinder Bruno and Shmuel's relationship, Bruno's startling lack of knowledge and common sense (even for a 9-year-old), and the wrenching ending that shocks and surprises you even if you have a slight idea of what will occur.

As a teacher, I am perfectly willing to accept Bruno's naivete as part of his character--there are indeed children that age (and even that of his 12-year-old sister, Gretel) who are less than knowledgeable about current events.  Case in point:  A 9-year-old student of mine asked why we were at war in Vietnam...during the current Iraq war.  And he was very sure of himself.  Children can certainly mix up facts and mishear names or are so adamant of their correctness that they refuse to accept any alternative.  I feel that Bruno's continued use of Fury and Out-With in place of the actual names is not because of this, but to drive home the point that children have their own notions of reality and that they will recall their own ideas more prevalently than the real ones.  Or you can simply accept a willing suspension of disbelief.

There is a lot of insight gained from this slim novel that only accounts from Holocaust survivors, such as Elie Wiesel, can surpass with the harsh truth of their experience.  By taking the point of view of a child, especially one as naive as Bruno, Boyne creates the story's angle from that of an outsider, even one as close to the front lines as Bruno.  This may sound pretentious but I felt that Bruno was metaphorically representing those who did not experience the Holocaust firsthand--we are on the other side of the fence, looking in and are not entirely sure what it was like.  But of course, we are also adults and children's perspectives can be a harsh hue of black & white (though sometimes they can be surprisingly insightful).

From a literary standpoint, Boyne created an equally fascinating set of characters--ones that read well, are sympathetic, and insightful, and those that are terrifying, belligerent, and overbearing.  His style is deliberately sparse, keeping the story as simple as a morality tale, then blind-siding us with a powerful ending that puts the entire story into perspective.

I also want to point out that I read this book in partnership with Night by Elie Wiesel, which I will be reviewing soon.  Reading them one after the other seems harrowing but was incredible and could not be a better match in terms of impactful novels about the Holocaust.

Rank:  (A+)- Amazing, Must-Read

August Wrap-Up & Year-to-Date

Summer, summer...where did you go?!  As much as the summer is great for relaxing and catching up on things (like sleep!), the fall season brings about a feeling of refreshment for me--a new school year and an exhilarating push to read even more!

I'm happy to report that I've officially finished the What's in a Name 4 challenge and have surpassed my goal for the Outdo Yourself challenge.  I'm also just 1 book away from finishing the Back to the Classics (On the Road by Jack Kerouac) and Stephen King (The Stand--I'll probably need most of the winter holidays for this one!) challenges with just under 4 months left.  Hooray!  I've enjoyed participating in these challenges and it's motivated me to read books that I've passed up for too long.  Thanks again to all the hosts for your hard work :)

Now for my August stats...

Read This Month:  (5)
Not too shabby :)

American on Purpose- Craig Ferguson (B)--just reviewed today
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas- John Boyne (A+)--review coming soon
Night- Elie Wiesel (A+)--review coming soon
Born Standing Up- Steve Martin (A)--review coming soon
Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll (A+)--review coming soon

Reviews This Month:  (5)
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde (A)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (#5)- J.K. Rowling (A)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#6)- J.K. Rowling (A)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (#7)- J.K. Rowling (A+)
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King (C)

I caught up on my backlog of reviews from July.  Now I'm behind by 5 books, all of August.  It's the same old story: more reading, less reviewing or more reviewing, less reading.  I think most of us would agree that reading trumps all :)

Year-to-Date:  (40)
I'm setting a goal for myself:  50 by December 31st at 11:59 p.m.  I think I can handle that :D

American on Purpose- Craig Ferguson

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published: 2009
Pages: 268
ISBN: 9780061719547
Genre: Autobiography

Started: Aug. 4, 2011
Finished:  Aug. 12, 2011 (9 days)

Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: I happened to spot a copy at the Book Depot and being a big fan of his talk show, I thought it would be great to learn about him and I knew it would be hilarious :)

Summary:  The host of The Late Late Show and former costar on The Drew Carey Show recounts his upbringing in Scotland, drumming for various punk rock bands, battling heavy drug and alcohol addiction, and his writing, producing, and acting efforts in the U.K. and U.S.


There are so many generic talk shows on TV now that it can be frustrating to find the quintessential host who can at least come close to filling the shoes of classic late night icons Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, and Jack Paar.  While Leno and Letterman have certainly held on to a wide viewership for decades now, it seems that both have since "jumped the shark" and are losing that refreshing quality they (albeit in competition) brought to TV.  It's quite the opposite when I watch Craig Ferguson on The Late, Late Show.  It's as if the proverbial wheel hasn't been reinvented, but is kept rustproof with his down-to-earth, genuine approach that makes the talk show less awkward and more laidback.  Talk may be staged or rehearsed, topics known ahead of taping, but Ferguson's knack for adlibbing at just the right moment makes for good, old-school Carsonesque talk and not the flaky showmanship that comes with most daytime or late night talk shows churned out by the dozens.

Going into this book, I had very little background knowledge on him and was surprised at nearly every chapter by his experiences growing up in Scotland (my hands-down favourite story being a certain washroom-related incident on a bus), drumming for a number of punk rock bands, and the gradual incline of drug and alcohol dependence that crashes around the time his comedy career is just heating up.  A word of advice from Ferguson: you know you've gone too far when you hallucinate about being chased by killer ducks.

Every stage of his memoir comes with purpose, humour, surprise and shock, invariably leading to the reader wondering, "How does all this lead to him becoming a talk show host?"  This unlikely result blooms from a very dark, but often very funny place that Ferguson grew out of and often cannot believe himself.  There is very little written that does not have its place in the writer's future.  If anything, Ferguson could have indulged us a little more about his comedic beginnings, as writing is a bit sparse about The Drew Carey Show and the initial years of his talk show.  But I understand why: there is a humble quality about him that explains why his duties as a talk show host charm audiences and lead many to speculate that Craig Ferguson is this generation's Johnny Carson.  He takes in guests like at a dinner party.  It may be his house but the guests make the party a good one and the host graciously blends into the background.

Read this even if you don't know who Craig Ferguson is.  You may just like him.

Rank:  (B)- Great Read, Recommend