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, November 16, 2011

The Stand- Stephen King

Purchase: Amazon | Chapters

Published: 1978 (the complete & uncut edition which I read was published in 1990)
Pages: 1141
ISBN: 9780451169532
Genre: Horror/Fantasy/Science Fiction

Start Date:  Oct. 6, 2011
Finished Date:  Oct. 19, 2011 (14 days)

Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: For the SK Challenge but also because it's one of SK's most beloved books and I'd never (*gasp*) read it!
Read For:   Stephen King Challenge (6/6)

Summary:  After an apocalyptic virus wipes out most of the world's population, a scattering of survivors, including a quiet Texan, a pregnant college student, a nerdy teenager, a one-hit singer, and a deaf-mute,  who all have dreams involving an evil Dark Man and a prophetic woman, form a progressive group to rebuild some form of society and order.


Finally...I read the book deemed to be Stephen King's magnum opus.  Like his similarly plotted but more contemporary Under the Dome, it's a massive, complex undertaking but the 1100+ pages fly by in waves, and I finished it in no time.
Stephen King fans will recognize a number of motifs: dreams, premonitions, hidden motives, shadows eclipsing seemingly decent people with the mask of an evil presence.  Oh and there's cultural references, too, with song lyrics cropping up in an epitaph for each of the book's three parts.  I dig King's taste in rock and roll music :)

The plot is impossible to explain without spoilers, so instead I'll make a short list of thoughts.  I will try to be discrete with spoilers but please note the *SPOILER ALERT*:

  • Nick was by far my favourite character.  I love unlikely heroes and how they deal with being thrust into a role they didn't foresee or even want.  His friendship with Tom brought out his best qualities as a sympathetic person.  I thought his death was a bit cheap and written off too quickly, but his ethereal presence later on in Tom's mind made up for it.
  • I wasn't that taken with Larry, though many readers like him.  He didn't have very much going for him in the way of a personality.  His relationship with Rita dragged on and it could have been better if it was Nadine he met from the start (which I read was how the movie showed it).
  • The twist near the end with the Trashcan Man was fantastic!  His role in the book puzzled me for some time, but never failed to fascinate and then it becomes clear.
  • Nadine and Julie were just creepy.  They almost made Randall Flagg sympathetic.
  • I liked the idea that not all survivors had good intentions (how boring would it have been otherwise?).
  • A lingering question remains with me...What is the condition of other countries post-virus?  There are speculations about Europe, China and India (if I recall correctly) and there is a suggestion that Canada is in better shape than the U.S. (I think someone wanted to head that way), but the rest of the world's status is unknown.
I haven't seen the 1994 TV miniseries with Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Ray Walston, Rob Lowe, and Laura San Giacomo.  Supposedly, there is also a movie remake in the works to be directed by Ben Affleck.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Challenges...Up to 5 Now

I'm signing up for three more challenges.  2012 is looking better & better :)  Click on the challenge name for the sign-up page.

The Mixing It Up Challenge is being hosted by Ellie @ Musings of a Bookshop Girl.

I love the variety of genres being offered up!  It's great to tiptoe out of your comfort zone every now & then.  I'm going to be quite audacious & aim to complete all 16 categories!  This will also contribute 12 (!) new authors to the New Authors challenge (see below).  My intended reads are:

Classics:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (cross-over with Back to the Classics challenge)
Biography: A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn
Cookery, Food & Wine: Shameless Explotations in Pursuit of the Common Good by Paul Newman & A.E. Hotchner--to clarify, this book is about Newman's Own salad dressing :)
History: Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
Modern Fiction: The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium series, #2) by Stieg Larsson
Graphic Novels/Manga: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Crime/Mystery: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (cross-over with Back to the Classics challenge)
Horror: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Romance: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (cross-over with Back to the Classics challenge)
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
Travel: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (cross-over with Back to the Classics challenge)
Poetry: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Journalism/Humour: Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Science/Natural History: On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin (cross-over with What's in a Name 5 challenge)
Children/YA: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (cross-over with What's in a Name 5 challenge)
Social Sciences/Philosophy: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Yay!  I'm glad to be participating in this unique challenge again this year.  There are 6 categories to complete.  Here are my intended book choices (the connection to the category is underlined):

Topographical Feature:  A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
Something in the Sky:  Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
Creepy Crawly:  On the Origin of the Species- Charles Darwin (cross-over with Mixing It Up challenge)
Type of House:  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium series, #3)- Stieg Larsson (cross-over with Mixing It Up)
Something Carried in a Pocket, Purse or Backpack:  Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson (cross-over with Mixing It Up challenge)
Something on the Calendar:  11/22/63- Stephen King

These can be authors new just to you, not new as in debuting their first novel this year.  With the books I'm planning to read for my other challenges, I will encounter 18 new authors (so far):

Willa Cather, Charlotte Bronte, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, D.H. Lawrence, Jonathan Swift, Bernhard Schlink, E. Annie Proulx, Goldie Hawn, Paul Newman (with A.E. Hotchner--OI counted this as one), John F. Kennedy, Neil Gaiman, Ellen DeGeneres, Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens (I know, I know...), and David Mitchell.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

I skipped last week's meme post as nothing had changed.  I had more progress over the weekend, finishing the book I've been on for about two weeks, and acquired some early bookish Xmas goodies :)

On Friday, the final Harry Potter movie was released on DVD/BluRay and all 8 movies were packaged in a box set. There were only 2 box sets (!) left on the shelf at Future Shop and one is now mine :) I've now seen all 8 movies and they were fantastic (didn't doubt it from the start). If I had to choose, I think Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix were the strongest movies. I loved how the film tweaked Lupin and Snape's role in PoA and Imelda Staunton was the perfect Dolores Umbridge. Oooh...she was nasty :D  Unfortunately, this set doesn't have many bonus features but no big deal.

I also (finally) found a copy of It by Stephen King, which I'm starting today.  All I know is it involves a freakish clown :D  And I picked up book #3 of the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (still need to read book #2), and The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler as I appear to have misplaced my original copy.

And lastly, I got two DVDs: 

Sense & Sensibility
Emma Thompson's adaptation of Jane Austen's novel was bright and refreshing, making the relationships between characters stronger than I felt the novel lead on. 

What's Up Doc?
A hilarious modernized (for the time) screwball comedy.

P.S.  I forgot to mention that I also snagged a 10th anniversary edition copy of Bag of Bones by Stephen King.  The cover is different than this one.

Read This Week:  (1)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- Carson McCullers
This was a heartbreaking but beautiful book.  It reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird with its depiction of coming of age in the South during the Depression.  Review coming soon.

Currently Reading:  (3)
It- Stephen King
I'm going to start this today.  I've been meaning to read this for a long time!

U2 by U2- U2 (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.)
My Life- Bill Clinton

Reviews This Week:  (1)
An Exaltation of Larks- James Lipton

Next to Read:
My options are wide open :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bookish Fun

I found these two Q&As while blog hopping today and had to participate.

Jillian @ Random Ramblings posted this Character Tag.  Here's my take on it:

1. Which character would you throw out the window?
Willoughby from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Arrgghh...he was annoying!

2. Which character would be your best friend?
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  She's always been my favourite character.

3. If you could make a character come to life, who would it be?
So many options!  I would probably choose prot from K-PAX by Gene Brewer.  He could potentially solve a lot of the world's problems.

4. What traits do you look for in a character?
In a hero, obviously bravery, tenacity, but also a feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty that adds to the story's conflict.  In a villain, assuredness, confidence, and a wicked sense of humour.

5. What would you change in your favorite character?
I think in order to truly love a character, you accept him/her as is, so I wouldn't change a thing :)

6. Favorite male/female character?
Tough one!  When push comes to shove, I would say Anne Shirley and Col. Brandon (from Sense & Sensibility).

7. What two characters from different books would you put together?
Hmmm....this one is stumping me.

8. Favorite book couple?
Anne & Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables; Henry & Claire from The Time Traveler's Wife

9. Cutest character?
I love the conversations between Scout, Jem & Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  It definitely brings out nostalgic feelings :)

Dizzy @ DizzyC's Little Book Blog posted about a 30-day book talk.  I'm taking a shortcut as I won't have time to participate in the long term but here's what I came up with for the topics:

The best book you read last year
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I was lucky enough to read several "A+" books last year.

A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
The Firm by John Grisham.  Probably about 5 times :)

Your favorite series
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

Favorite book of your favorite series
#7- The Deathly Hallows.  It makes everything come together so clearly.

A book that makes you happy
Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.  *Ahhh* :)

A book that makes you sad
The Green Mile by Stephen King.  Despite being sad, it's one of my all-time favourite books.

Most underrated book
K-PAX by Gene Brewer.  Not enough people have read it.  Amazing!

Most overrated book
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  Sorry, not for me.

A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
I was skeptical about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and put it off for way too long.  This was snorting milk out the nose funny :D

Favorite classic book
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Very few books are this perfect.

A book you hated
I've written about this enough times but Jonathan Franzen doesn't cut it for me.  Freedom and The Corrections.  Ugh...

A book you used to love but don’t anymore
I'm not sure about this one as I haven't re-read old favourites in a while.  If I had to guess, I think The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger would probably be lukewarm on a second read.

Your favorite writer
In terms of the number of books I've read and liked by him, probably Stephen King.

Favorite book of your favorite writer
The Green Mile with Different Seasons a very close second.

Favorite male character
Col. Brandon from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.  He's gentlemanly, thoughtful, generous, and unwavering in spite of other people's feelings about him.

Favorite female character
Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  She`s spunky, romantic, passionate, and literary.

Favorite quote(s) from your favorite book(s)
One of my favourites (I may be paraphrasing) is "'What is the purpose of books,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversations?'" from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

A book that disappointed you
I was really hoping to like Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut but I couldn't get into it.

Favorite book turned into a movie
It was actually a short story but my favourite movie, The Shawshank Redemption, was in Different Seasons by Stephen King.

Favorite romance book
I only like literary romances like by Jane Austen.  I'm not much for Danielle Steel or novels categorized as romances in bookstores.  With that being said, I would go with Sense & Sensibility.

Favorite book from your childhood
I gobbled up every single Babysitters Club book ever printed :D

Favorite book you own
I own a copy of all my favourites.

A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Too many!  I'm planning to (finally) read Jane Eyre for next year's Back to the Classics challenge.

A book that you wish more people would’ve read
I don't think enough people read books.  Period.  Read anything!

A character who you can relate to the most
I definitely related to Hermione Granger in Harry Potter with her booksmarts and being very studious :)

A book that changed your opinion about something
I can't say for sure that this has happened to me.  I think reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury made me realize just how important it is to protect and cherish the written word.

The most surprising plot twist or ending
Without spoiling anything, I loved how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finished up, especially with Snape :)

Favorite title(s)
I have a top 25 favourite books list.

A book everyone hated but you liked
I don't think everyone necessarily hated it, but I actually liked The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, while most people seemed to find it boring.

Your favorite book of all time
Has to be Anne of Green Gables :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

An Exaltation of Larks- James Lipton

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1991 (3rd edition)
Pages:  324
ISBN:  0140170960
Genre:  Literary Reference

Started:  Sept. 29, 2011
Finished:  Oct. 6, 2011 (8 days)

Where Found:  Book Depot
Why Read:  I knew that James Lipton had written this book but I thought it was a novel.  When I found the book and skimmed through it, it turned out to be a unique piece of literary reference!

Summary:  The history of venery, a linguistic term referring to collective nouns, is rendered in this handy reference book that traces the origins of centuries-old terms and reflects on more contemporary, unofficial examples.


First things first: James Lipton is great at writing introductions.  I've read two of his books and they both have intriguing prologues that open up a Pandora's box of fascination with academic integrity and a string of analogies that make clear the intent and heart of the project he undertakes.  An Exaltation of Larks appears on the surface to be a dictionary but it's a very satisfying experience to read chronologically. 

Lipton uses sophisticated vocabulary and his trademark dry wit in publishing nearly exhaustive research supplemented by resources hundreds of years old in a glorified reference book that traces the linguistic history of collective terms from the most common (e.g. a pride of lions) to the lesser known (e.g. a rascal of boys) to the creative puns thought up by academic contemporaries (e.g. under the category of academe: a dilation of pupils!).

The book is a handy reference for teachers and makes for a good icebreaker.  The gorgeous illustrations, designed by Lipton's wife Kedakai, are included on nearly every page and provide further insight into the origins of the terms.  This is one unique book.

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back to the Classics for 2012!

I'm officially signing up today.  You can too @ Sarah Reads Too Much and get all the details there.  Thanks to Sarah for hosting again :)

As for my reading selections, I'm very excited about my choices for the upcoming year.  This may change, but for now, this is what I intend to read:

19th Century Classic:
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

20th Century Classic:
My Antonia- Willa Cather

Classic Re-Read:
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen

Classic Play:
Pygmalion- George Bernard Shaw

Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction:
The Hound of the Baskervilles- Arthur Conan Doyle

Classic Romance:
Lady Chatterley's Lover- D.H. Lawrence

Classic in Translation: 
The Reader- Bernhard Schlink (Swiss)

Classic Award Winner:
The Shipping News- E. Annie Proulx (Pulitzer Prize)

Classic in a Country I'll Never See:
Gulliver's Travels- Jonathan Swift (Liliput)