Thursday, April 30, 2009

Month of April

Month: April
Books Read: 13
*Pages Read: 3976
Titles of Books Read:
The Fountainhead - Library Challenge
Sixteen - Library Challenge
Julie of the Wolves - Library Challenge
The Road - My Year of Reading Dangerously, Library Challenge, 1% Well read
Eclipse - My Year of Reading Dangerously
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Library Challenge
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Library, My Year of Reading Dangerously
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? - Library Challenge
Uncensored (reread)
I Capture the Castle - Library Challenge
Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives Colume #1 - Library Challenge, My Year of Reading Dangerously
Fahrenheit 451 - Library Challenge, 1% Well-Read
My Little Red Book - Library Challenge

Favorite Books Read: The Road, I Capture the Castle, Eclipse
Least Favorite Books Read: Fahrenheit 451
Blog Posts: 36

This Year so far
Books read: 42
Pages read: 12,641
Blog Posts: 116

*This number is calculated by adding the total number of pages in books read, as well as how many pages of a book read but later abandoned

I had a really good reading month! I read lots of good books and picked away at more challenges. I read the most books this month than any other month since I started seriously reading!

Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

by Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians

Cassandra Mortmain lives with her brother, sister, father and stepmother in a Castle. Her family is the opposite of royalty. He father, a failing writer, does not provide for his family. In her journals, Cassandra writes about her ordinary and average life until one day, he life becomes much more exciting.

The wealthy extended family of the landlord unexpectedly comes by for a visit. Suddenly, the Cottons and the Mortmains are friends. Cassandra's sister Rose gets engaged to one of the brothers, and Cassandra's life drastically changes.

I haven't read Pride and Prejudice, but I think it would be like I Capture the Castle. This book was published in the 1940s, so the tone is different from Victorian writers, but I Capture the Castle uses some of the themes common in the works of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen.

If you stray away from Victorian era books like I do, I Capture the Castle is the perfect book to ease you into it. The writing isn't stuff and hard to understand. You will actually want to turn another page. Cassandra's narration is fresh and inoocent. She is excited and her excitement is passed on to the reader.
Grade: B+

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Components of a Truly Horrible Book

I did 6 Components of a Truly Great Book a few weeks ago (, so now it is time for an opposite post.

1. Reading is a chore. You make yourself read a certain amount of pages to get it done and/or hate every page you read.
2. It fails to catch your attention.
3. The thought of finishing the book makes you nauseous.
4. You tell everyone how horrible the book you are reading is.
5. The book ruins your mood.
6. The language is so hard to understand that you have a dictionary by your side and dread having to pick up the dictionary again.
7. You have to use sparknotes in order to understand the basic plot.
8. There are spelling or factual errors.
9. A nine year old could write a better book.

These things are stong indicators that I need to stop reading a book. I guess I need to take my own advice and stop reading a certain book!

What makes you stop reading a book?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


There was a problem with comments (so that's why I haven't had to approve any!) this week. Thanks to Trish for letting me know about it! The problem is fixed now. I was so lonely!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Library Loot

I got tired of my ginormous stack of books I got a few weeks ago and returned all the books I hadn't read yet. They just didn't seem exciting any more. Now these ones sure do. I'm tempted to apandon the two books I'm reading right now but I have to exhibit some self-control sometimes!

I finally got to the top of the waitlist for this one, which also means that if I can't read it or don't like it, I'll feel horribly guilty.

This was on my TBR list and it was on the new books shelf at the library. Yay!

I have to read this for an essay contest. It is a survival guide to high school. I should be writing his book, not reading it. This book won't help me. The last month of high school doesn't require a survival guide, just a lot of procrastination!

I heard about this book but never was really interested. This was an impulse grab.

What kind of English teacher assigns a Shakespeare play a few weeks before graduation?

My first graphic novel. I can't get enough of the Twilight series so I decided to give this a try. It is short so I may actually get to read a Graphic novel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BTT: Symbolism

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Symbolism is a hot topic in my English class. Most of the kids think symbolism does not exist and we shouldn't study it. I think the total opposite. Many of the books we read in English would totally stink if it weren't for the things you get out of them when you read between the lines.

I think symbolism is only important with highly skilled writers. John Steinbeck and Edith Wharton and Shakespeare mak symbolism amazing. But, you can read their books without having to worry about symbolism. Symbolism is like chocolate syrup on ice cream-it just makes a good thing better.

I think the reason why there isn't much symbolism nowdays is because the quality of literature is declining. As I said before, only the really good writers used symbolism effectively. I've seen several subpar attempts of symbolism in modern literature, but the symbolism in the classics is amazing.

English teachers didn't make up the concept of symbolism. Even one of the oldest books, the Bible, uses symbolism to an extent. Literature would be really flat and boring without symbols. Seeing the symbols in books and finding them yourself without the help of a teacher or sparknotes is one of the most satifying things about reading.

I remember when English classes first started teaching symbolism-in 10th grade for me. I thought it was totally crazy how the color blue said so much. I still do. Thinking that if a character is wearing a blue dress means she has certain character traits is too much. However, thinking blood is a reoccurring symbol for guilt in Macbeth is legit. Symbolism can be taken too far, which is why I think a lot of people have an aversion to it.

I'm stuggling with symbolism and reading between the lines being taken too far right now. I have to write a paper on how I Capture the Castle is influenced by the time period in which it was written and the author's life. The book has a few minor parallels but not enough to write a seven page paper out of. It is ridiculous to assume that every author wants their books to be overanaylized I'm sure I Capture the Castle was not meant to be a reading between the lines book. Others, like The Fountainhead, need to be analyzed to get everything you can out of it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I honestly tried to avoid it....

I’ve never been part of the “in” crowd. Now that I’m totally in the whole Twilight thing, I’m thinking I’m in!

I picked up the first book last year. I gave in to what everyone was talking about. I conformed. Then, I told myself I would use the book on my senior project (I did. For two paragraphs) for cut down on the guilt factor. I mean, Twilight isn’t real books! I’m better than that. I’ve read great books before. Twilight…eh…whatever.

I couldn’t put it down. I ordered the next book from the library and waited. And waited. And waited. I couldn’t put New Moon down either.

As much as the topic of the books creeped me out at first, I’m loving them.

Now comes Eclipse. Instead of waiting for it to come from the library, I borrowed it from my uncle’s girlfriend who would definitely get to me quicker.

And guess what? I finished that HUGE book in 2 ½ days!

Now, waiting a few weeks until she can bring me the next one isn’t enough. I found a friend that could possibly give me the last book tomorrow.

I broke my rule of not watching movies based on books. I watched the movie. It wasn’t amazing but it was okay. I’d watch it again. I’m actually thinking about watching it again very soon even though I just finished watching…

I’m sorry. I don’t want to be obsessed with Twilight. I honestly tried not to.

I’m punishing myself by actually reading the assigned reading for English that I planned not to read. Here I come Macbeth. That’ll teach me not to read more scary vampire books…..right?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Read-a-Thon: My last hour

This Hour:

Pages read-20

Minutes read-?

Books read from & pages from each-
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: 20

Cheerleading comments left-0

Mini-challenge participation-Bookcrossing mini-challenge

Books completed-Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Food eaten- 2 more deviled eggs, cheeseburger, french onion sunchips

Reading locations-kitchen table

I think this is my last hour of this. I've finished my 3 books and don't want to start a third. It's a bit earlier than I had planned. I don't feel like stopping reading, but it just seems good to end this on a good note rather than a bad one like I did this time. I had TONS of fun today. It went by way too fast!

I've read a total of 608 pages and read for 408 minutes (6.8 hours).

Read-a-Thon Hour 11

I've read 588 pages so far. Never mind that 200ish of those pages are in the picture book like thing I'm reading...

I also finished Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

This Hour:

Pages read-76

Minutes read-43

Books read from & pages from each-
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 46
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 30

Cheerleading comments left-0

Mini-challenge participation-see below

Books completed-Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

Food eaten- a deviled egg

Reading locations-the deck

This hour's new mini-challenge tells us to write a letter to the protagonist of the book you're reading. Considering I just finished an essay collection and I'm in the middle of a picture book documentary type thing, I have to rewind the clock a bit. I'll be writing to Cassie from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Dear Cassie,

You remind me a lot of another little girl I know. Well, I don't actually know her. I really became quite friendly with her when I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. You remind me of a little girl named Scout. I think that if the two of you grew up in different circumstances, you'd be best friends.

Scout is impulsive and passionate. She knows what she believes in, just like you. She loves her father. She has an older brother. She is confused about the society she lives in, just like you are.

She wonders why people of another race are treated unfairly. She wonders why people who are even the same race are regarded below people. Just like you.

One thing that would have kept the two of you from being friends would be something totally out of your control. Scout is white. Never mind that you come from two different books!

Read-A-Thon Hour 10

This Hour:

Pages read-82

Minutes read-41

Books read from & pages from each-
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 52
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 30

Cheerleading comments left-o

Mini-challenge participation-0

Books completed-0

Food eaten-more animal crackers

Reading locations-The deck and my bedroom

I'm almost done with two books! Maybe by Hour 12 post will say I've finished both :D

Read-a-Thon Hour 9

This Hour:

Pages read- 44

Minutes read- 28

Books read from & pages from each-
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 12
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 32

Cheerleading comments left-3

Mini-challenge participation-o

It is amazing...I should be tired of reading but I'm not. Even better is that I can read outside now!
Books completed-0

Food eaten-0

Reading locations-bedroom

You-Tube Video Chain Mini-Challenge Winner

The winner of the $10 Amazon gift card is ferrywoman from Congrats! Please email your address to wordlily at gmail


I stink at cheerleading. It was fun at the beginning but now...yeah. I'm taking a cheering break if you haven't noticed! I'm supposed to be having fun and nobody likes a grumpy cheerleader!

Read-a-Thon Hour 8

This Hour:

Pages read-84

Minutes read-52

Books read from & pages from each-
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 38
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 26
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 20

Cheerleading comments left-0

Mini-challenge participation- see below

Books completed-Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Food eaten-nothing

Reading locations-I finally decided to brave the horrible smoky smell and read outside. I was out there for about 40 minutes before it became unbearable. Then I went inside.

What is the name of your local library? What city is it located in? William E. Anderson Library of Penn Hills in Penn Hills PA, near Pittsburgh
How often do you go to the library? If you're a regular, do the staff know you? I go there maybe twice a week. I've been going to the library forever. A few weeks ago one lady told me how neat it is that she knew me from when I went to the childrens' section!
Do you browse while you're there or just pick up items you have placed on reserve? I usually just pick up books. I've been trying more recently to browse some too.
What is your favorite thing about your local library? I love how it is new. It smells new. The layout is great.

My little sister decded she wanted to join in a little bit of read-a-thon fun. She joined me reading a Lemony Snicket book outside. She read 48 pages. Here is what Alyssa has to say (exactly how she wrote it. She's nine.)

A part of it was too predictable. I am reading a series of unfortanet events by Lemony Snicket. I am on the 7th book of like 13. The on I am reading now is called the Vile Village. The Village is called UFD. It is about three children who's parents died in a fire and left a fortune. The first gardian they went to was Count Olaf. Who really wants the fortune! He has a tatoo of an eye on his ankle and a unibrow.

Read-a-Thon hour 7

This is my hourly reading log for the readathon. If you are looking for the YouTube video chain mini challenge, it is here:

This Hour:

Pages read- 71

Minutes read- 37

Books read from & pages from each-
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 48
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 23

Cheerleading comments left- 0

Mini-challenge participation- I took a little walk with my sister. I grabbed her hand and ran out in the street. She totally didn't expect it :P My camera suddenly decided to die so We just walked around near our house. As mentioned many times before, the weather is wonderful! I love how the trees have flowers on them! Even a few little kids were in their yard wearing swimsuits!

Books completed-0

Food eaten- animal Crackers

Reading locations-bed. the neighbor is still burning stuff.

Read-a-Thon Hour 6

This is my hourly reading log for the readathon. If you are looking for the YouTube video chain mini challenge, it is here:

This Hour:

Pages read-62

Minutes read-39

Books read from & pages from each-
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 28
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 14
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: 20

Cheerleading comments left-3

Mini-challenge participation-none

Books completed-0

Food eaten-tuna salad on a whole wheat pita, sour cream and onion pringles, lemonade

Reading locations-chair in my bedroom. Of course the neighbord decide to burn something really stinky so I can't enjoy the weather...-grumbles-

My page totals will increase a lot because I'm reading something like an adult picture book. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot is a photographers' chronicle of the war in Iraq. It seems like I am never going to finish a book though!

This day is going by really fast. I can't believe it is 2 o'clock already!

Read-a-Thon Hour 5

This is my hourly reading log for the readathon. If you are looking for the YouTube video chain mini challenge, it is here:

This Hour:

Pages read-0
Minutes read-0
Books read from & pages from each-0
Cheerleading comments left-15
Mini-challenge participation-been holding my own!
Books completed-0
Food eaten-nothing
Reading locations-computer chair

This hour went by EXTREMELY fast! I'm about to go get some lunch and alternate between reading and commenting for a few hours. My posting will be a bit scattered!

Read-a-Thon Hour 4

This is my hourly reading log for the readathon. If you are looking for the YouTube video chain mini challenge, it is here:

This Hour:

Pages read- 60

Minutes read- 60

Books read from & pages from each-
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 43
Does This Book Make me Look Fat?: 17

Cheerleading comments left-0

Mini-challenge participation-see below

Books completed-0

Food eaten-nothing

Reading locations- deck and chair in bedroom

This mini-challenge is to take a picture of the book in your readathon pile with the coolest cover and then depict the summary blurb in any way you want and take a picture of it. The book I chose is Black Beauty, which I guess is a collecters' edition of it. It has a velour cover and it gorgeous! Sorry it is sideways. I can't rotate pictures the way I am doing them for the readathon.

And here is my summary. Basically I did how the animals talk.

YouTube Video Chain Mini-Challenge

This mini challenge will run from noon to three pm Eastern (9am to noon Pacific).

After four hours of read-a-thoning. (Has read-a-thon ever been used as verb before?), you are probably ready for a little break. You may be a little grumpy, especially if you live in a time zone where the read-a-thon starts in the early morning.

The object of this little game is to create a chain of funny Youtube videos. At the end of this post, I will leave a link to one of my favorite funny Youtube videos. The first person who wants to participate will watch the video. Then they will comment with a link to their favorite funny video in a comment. The next person will watch the most recent Youtube video posted and so on.

If there is heavy traffic and someone posts a video while you are still watching, do not fret. Just go on. Post your youtube video. This isn’t supposed to be complicated.

(In simpler terms if you still do not understand, just watch the video posted in the most recent comment. Then, post a link to your favorite funny youtube video)

Hopefully in several hours we will have a bunch of the funniest videos posted here. In the remaining hours of the read-a-thon, you can refer back to this post if you want another distraction.

You may participate several times if you like. I will put your name in a hat for each time you do it and then whatever the prize is, I'll draw names.

Guidelines for choosing your video:
-Keep it PG
-Stay away from videos whose main theme is to criticize or promote certain political or religious groups. This is supposed to be fun, not offensive.
-Don’t post a video over ten minutes long. This is a read-a-thon, not a you-tube-a-thon
-Yes, they must be FUNNY. Don’t leave a link to a video of your kid taking his first steps unless he does something like barf all over you in the process.

I am allowing comments to be posted without me approving them for this mini-challenge. Therefore, you are on the honor system for this time. If you see something fishy posted, please use the contact form in my sidebar to tell me! (yes, I am paranoid!)

First Video:

UPDATE: The prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Read-a-Thon Hour 3

This Hour:

Pages read-24

Minutes read-23

Books read from & pages from each-
Roll of Tunder, hear My cry: 24

Cheerleading comments left- 10

Mini-challenge participation-n/a

Books completed-0

Food eaten- Honey wheat bagel and coffee

Reading locations-kitchen table and the chair in my room

I've decided that the next hour will be a full reading hour. I've been Cheerleading and blogging for the first part of the hour then reading, but I'm not getting much done of either by doing this. I will only read during Hour 4 but will only do blogging things during hour 5. This will be appropriate because Hour 5 is when my mini-challenge begins. During hour 4, I may do the current mini-challenge too...

I'm enjoying Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In seventh grade, I went through a Mildred Taylor phase. I read something of hers for school and everything I wrote for two months after resembled the style that she writes. I never read this book. I wanted to read more Newberry Books, so this one satisfies a lot of things I've been shooting for! I'm about halfway done.

The weather is GORGEOUS but it is still a bit chilly for me. I am always cold! Most of the windows in the house are open.

Read-a-Thon Hour 2

I got these slippers for Easter and am wearing them now. They're killer bunnies from Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

This Hour:

Pages read- 39

Minutes read- 36

Books read from & pages from each-
Roll of Tunder, Hear My Cry: 31
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 9

Cheerleading comments left- 8

Mini-challenge participation- n/a

Books completed-o

Food eaten-nothing

Reading locations- Deck (it was too cold), couch (then the video games and bickering started), bed.

Read-a-Thon Hour 1

I woke up an hour earlier than I usually do on Saturdays to start reading at 8am. I started reading right away. Actually, I just got out of bed. reading in bed is the best. I'm in a good mood because I've been so excited for this AND the weather is gorgeous. I'm seeing a lot ouf outdoor reading in my future!

Here's this hour's mini-challenge:

Where are you reading from today? My house in a suburb of Pittsbugh
3 facts about me: (Ugh...questions like this...)

1. I have a huge stack of books this time around. I'm not making the same mistakes I made last year!

2. I'm reading, cheerleading and hosting a mini-challenge this time around!

3. I have three options for caffeinated beverages today, even though I'm not staying up all night :P
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? eleven
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I want to finish three books and make my way through the whole list of people that signed up for the readathon once by leaving a cheerleading comment on each.
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Change your reading position! last time I read in the same chair for almost 8 hours. It was horrible. Once I switched to the couch, everything was ok again. A simple change of scenery can help you want to read again.

This Hour:

Pages read- 69

Minutes read- 49

Books read from & pages from each-

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: 54

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: 15

Cheerleading comments left- 0

Mini-challenge participation- the questionnaire above

Books completed- 0

Food eaten-homeade banana muffin and a glass of water

Reading locations- my bed

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Movie and Books

I broke my own rule of not watching movies based on books. I actually planned on this one, though.

I watched the first movie before I read the books, and I recently read the whole series. Today I watched the second movie. I really wish I hadn't.

I came up with TWENTY TWO major differences between the second movie and the fourth book, which is what the second movie is supposed to be based off of. I told myself that the second movie wouldn't be really horrible unless they tried to mesh all the books together or completely forgot about all the stuff that happened between the two movies. I found a comination of these two factors happened.

If you're picky about spoilers, don't read the next part.

Here's my list of the differences. There is probably more, too.

1. Carmen is not present at the pants meeting at the beginning of the book. She is at her acting thingy. But, in the book she is there.

2. Contrary to what the movie leads us to believe, Lena has had plenty of experience drawing nude figures.

3. Leo is not a model in the book as he is in the movie.

4. Lena and Leo never model for each other in the movie. This is a major thing in the book.

5. Tibby's dorm room is supposed to be really really tiny in the book.

6. Ian does not convince Carmen to audition for the play in the book. Some lady (I forget her name) does.

7. In the book, Bridget does not fall into the room thing at he archaeological dig.

8. Leo lives with his mother in the book.

9. Leo asks what Lena's parents think of her in art school. She says they want what is best for her. In the book, her parents hate it.

10. Bridget does not leave Turkey early to visit Greta in Alabama in the book!!! In fact, Turkey and Alabama are covered in two different books!

11. Bridget does not tell Great right away that she is her granddaughter in the book. She works for her for a while. Greta knows Bridget is her granddaughter but lets her go that way for a while.

12. In the movie, Greta asks Bridget is she has "a fella." Bridget says no, but in the book she is very involved with Eric.

13. Bridget has a twin brother who is never mentioned in either of the movies.

14. In the book, Bridget is very upset about how her brother and father don't really try to have a life. She tries to fix it in the book. This never happens in the movie.

15. Julia never tries to sabotage Carmen in the movie by "helping" her with her lines. Instead, she tries to go out with Ian to hurt Carmen in the movie.

16. Carmen goes with Ian to find her stepdad while her mother is in labor in the book. In the movie, she stays in dress rehearsal.

17. Tibby is supposed to be very emotionally involved in Carmen's mom's labor in the book. There is very little of this in the movie.

18. Bridget falls for a married man in Turkey in the book. Not in the movie...

19. Everyone goes to Greece together in the book. In the movie, Lena goes first and the rest of the girls go to surprise her.

20. The girls don't try to get Lena and Kostos together again in the book.

21. Lena is VERY serious (you know what I mean...) with Leo in the book, but not in the movie!

22. Bridget is also very serious with Eric in the book in the same way.

These are not all just excusable differences. I know for movies, some changes must be made, but these changes were horrendous. The movie rushed through everything, lacked emotion in general, and basically just was a waste of time.

This is really frustrating. You don't mess with plot like that. Do the movie people think their version is better than the original version? How do they let this movie have the same name as the books? It is VERY loosely based off the books.

So much happened off of camera as well. if you hadn't read the books, you would be very confused the whole time.

Save yourself the aggravation. Don't watch this movie unless you have very good anger management skills.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Read-A-Thon Checklist

I stole Debi's idea of a readathon checklist.

1. Clean bedroom to make my readathon experience seem like I'm reading in a bedroom, not a junkyard.

2. Assemble readathon stack that is too large.

3. Order more books from the library to add to the already huge stack but tell yourself more variety is a good thing.

4. Study for Psychology test on Monday so I won't have to read more after the's skip that one.

5. Make a template for posting.

6. Write mini-challenge post.

7. Make all the phone calls and do all the homework that will be nagging me me during the readathon if I don't do them...

8. Make it so I don’t have to approve comments (for the mini challenge)

9. Tell sister and brother not to gobble all the muffins so I can have one for breakfast

10. Set alarm for a few minutes before 8 AM

11. Begin reading a readathon book so I will finish a book early on and feel accomplished

12. Borrow movies from a friend to watch the next day because I won’t feel like reading

13. Check weather forecast to see if it will be nice enough to read outside (it will)

14. Pick up the two extra library books I ordered

15. Make tuna salad and gingerbread coffee

16. Cross fingers hoping that the neighbors won't burn stuff outside so I will be able to read outside in the nice weather without smelling smoke all day. (Sheesh...we live in the suburbs of Pittsbugh, not in the middle of West Virginia)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

6 Components of a Truly Great Book

1. I have to be able to know that if I reread the book again, it will speak to me as if I read it for the first time. The book has to have multiple ways of interpreting it. Two of my absolute favorites-East of Eden and The Poisonwood Bible-have this quality as what I like most about them!

2. You don't want to "get it over with." Too many books are ruined by rushing through them. I am particularly guilty of this. I need to reread 1984, Franny and Zooey, and Atonement. I think those three have potential of being among my favorites. I didn't give them a chance. I just wanted to read them to be able to say I read them. A book can't be your favorite if you try to rush through. You want to savor each page.

3. You to want to reread it.

4. I don't want to put the book down. I don't have to force myself to sit down and read it. One of the biggest ways I know if I don't like a book is if I have to make myself read it. This may seem the same as #2, but it is not.

5. A good book will take priority over other books you are reading at the same time. You'll only read that book, devouring it, staying up too late in order to finish one more chapter...

6. It leaves a lasting impression on you. You remember details about the book, not just the general ideas.

With these thoughts in mind, here's my list of "favorite" books as it was before I started reflecting on what makes a good book. In parenthesis are what components each book satisfies.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1, 3, 6)
Hamlet (1, 3, 6)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1, 3, 6)
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1, 3, 6)
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (2, 3, 4, 5)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2, 3, 4, 5)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1, 2, 3)

Which means of the eight favorites I have, East of Eden is really the only truly great book on the list.

Do I set impossibly high standards or what? Is this why I haven't been reading any fantastic books lately?

What do you consider a good book to be?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Drumroll please...

Was the title exciting enough? I hope so, because I have a few exciting things to say...

I had a whole bunch of tidbits I needed to post that weren't worthy of a post for each of them. So, here's a nice little list for you.

1. I changed my picture. I wanted something more appropriate for both of my blogs, not just my bookish one. This time you can see my whole face!

2. I'm toying with the idea of taking an internet break for a little while, maybe a week, after the readathon. Since I'll still have my phone I will update on twitter but that is all.

3. Speaking of my other blog, it is very lonely.

4. I have 12 books out from the library. I am done with a few of them, but I just ordered five more...

5. I spent about three hours with a couple breaks in between reading Eclipse. I never read that much in one day! I guess I'm subconsciously preparing for Saturday!

6. Maybe this one should have gone first, but my college decision is made! I'm going to Messiah College, which is about 10 minutes away from Harrisburg PA, the capitol. If you remember, Messiah is where the library is that I got lost in. There's 400,000 volumes or something like that. I assure you the library wasn't the deciding factor though!


Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

(from the dust jacket) A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes thet are wearing, a cart of scavenges food-and each other.

If it weren't for the helpful blurb above the summary on the dust jacket of this book, I wouldn't know what it is about "Thie searing, postapocalyptic novel destines to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpeice." This book is so unlike anything I've ever read, even other postapocalyptic novels.

The writing is so simple and raw. There are no quotation marks. There are no exclamation points. The characters are not named. There are no chapters. Paragraphs are short and have large spaces between them. It is as if every little thing the characters go through is a supreme effort. I love it when how the book is formatted fits the plot of the novel.

There are no hugely suspenseful scenes. There are no polic chases or wild animals on the loose. There are no races against the clock. Despite the absence of many components that are suspenseful, The Road is a book I couldn't put down.

A lot of the time, the best books are those that are difficult to read. We see the young boy lose a part of his childlike innocence each page. He witnesses horrors most adults never see. He sees death time and time again. "I'm scared" is a very common phrase in his vocabulary.

There are really only two happy scenes in the book. The happiness is dampened by the sheer horror of the surrounding events.

I have no idea why I like this book. It is horrible.

For it being wonderfully paradoxical, I give it an A.


I am VERY excited for the read-a-thon! If you haven't signed up or are debating it, sign up! It's a no pressure way to get some reading done and meet a whole bunch of people. I participated in the read-a-thon for the first time last time. It was my first Dewey event.

I made a lot of mistakes last time and I was just a reader. I didn't give myself enough variety and I only read shorter classics. It wasn't too much fun.

This year I have a giant stack of books. If I get tired of reading, I can always go do my cheerleading duties. I impulsively decided to sign up as a cheerleader too.

And if that wasn't enough, I'm hosting a mini challenge!

I've never stayed up all night before. I've tried. Just like last time, I'll go to bed at 9 or 10. That's probably the only thing I did right last time :)

Here's the books I have on hand. I might read a few of them this week, but this is basically all the choices I will have.

All of the Calvin and Hobbes comic books (I really needed them last time but my dad couldn't find his colelction. It is found now!)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I Capture the Castle
Suite Francaise
Words Without Borders
Does this Book Make Me Look Fat?
The View From Saturday
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Black Beauty
Anne of Green Gables

Plus any short stories I can read on the internet.

Even though this time I have lighter reading, my goal is still to finish three books. After all, I have do cheerlead and host a mini-challenge this time too.

Have I mentioned how really excited I am.


-stereotypical teenage girl squeal-

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Salon: The I Can't Think of a Witty Title Post

I'm enjoying having waaay too many books on hand that I need to read. I have twelve out of the library right now and another I borrowed from someone. I've finished two of those books and abandoned one.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I honestly don't know why I got this one. I want to save everything I have to for the review, but this book is the best I've read in a while. I've wanted to read a really good book and yes, this is it. I'll save the in depth gushing for later. But in the meantime, GET THIS BOOK. Even if it is something you don't normally read, get it. I don't like to read dark-ish things like this but am enjoying it immensely. I miss having the feeling of not wanting to put a book down!

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
There is such a long story behind why I'm reading this, but in a short form: I started reading this for pleasure but it turned into being for school too. I stopped a few weeks ago and then picked this up again to find out I didn't remember anything I read. I read it all over again and it was still as if I had read it the first time. This book is so fresh. I don't think it was because I had wiped it from my memory, because things came back to me. I still read the first section and it was just as great, if not better, than when I read it the first time.

I'm not looking forward to writing the paper on it because I have to apply it to a historical perspective and see if the book has any parallels with the author's life. It doesn't have much relevance to either of these topics...

Sixteen: Stories about that sweet and bitter birthday edited by Megan McCafferty

I wanted to get some more short stories read for the 100 Shots of Short challenge. This was a nice change from the classic short stories I've been reading. I have noticed in the past few months that YA books usually focus more around plot than internal struggles. This short story collection focused more around internal struggles. Overall, the short stories present a realistic representation of how sixteen year olds think. (I should know. I was sixteen last year) The stories were a nice blend of adult writing and concepts with teenage circumstances and attitudes. And now appropriate is that? Sixteen is when you are in between being an adult and a kid!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Remember Dig-Dug? I played it on the computer but some people may remember playing it on some old fashioned game system.

This isn't the kind of digging I'm speaking of.

I decided to start using Digg. You may have seen it on other websites. It allows you to "Digg This."

You will have the option to "Digg" any of my posts.

So get "diggin'"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Library Loot

I got a ton this week!

Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers-A Collection of short stories published for the first time in English

Sixteen: Stories About That sweet and Bitter Birthday

Does This Book Make Me look Fat?: Stories about loving-and loathing-your body-See a theme here? I've decided to get a move on with the 100 Shots of Short Challenge!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer-This one sounds cool. I hope it is not disappointing.

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George-I realized how few Newberry Award winners I've read, so I picked up several that I never got a chance to read.

The View From Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg-Another Newberry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor-Another Newberry. I'm extied for this because I discrovered Mildred Taylor in seventh grade but soon forgot about her. I even went through a phase where I wrote short stories in the style she writes.

Steinbeck Novels and Stories 1932-1937-My library does not have a plain old copy of Tortilla Flat, so I had to get this.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky-Learned about this while on my browsing only visit to Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy-For My Year of Reading Dangerously. It's an Oprah Book Club book. Enough said.

Booking Through Thursday: Multiple Books

Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to:
1. Are you currently reading more than one book?
2. If so, how many books are you currently reading?
3. Is this normal for you?
4. Where do you keep your current reads?

I always read more than one book. Three is normal for me. One book can't keep my attention long enough. Lots of people ask me how I keep the stories straight. I really don't know how I do that. I never read anything that is really similar, like I won't read two thrillers or romance novels at once.

Right now I am reading two books and debating whether to start a thirs. Often, I will start a book that is so good that I totally forget the other two. When I come back to the other books I forget what is going on.

Another problem I encounter is sometimes I finish two books very close to each other. I have to begin two books at the same time to keep up my pace. That's also a time where it confuses me. Often though, I will read one book more than the other and my reading cycle evens itself out again.

If I read one book at a time, I wouldn't read that much. I rarely read more than two chapters of the same book in one sitting. It would take me much longer to complete one book. The way I read is I have my stack of books next to me and read back and forth between them all for an hour or so.

I usually keep the books I'm currently reading in my bed. That's where I normally read. I found out I can't read while eating or sitting upright unless it is at a school desk. I must have my legs and shoulders at about the same height. That's kind of odd I think!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sweet or Bitter Sixteen?

I had already thought about writing a post like this because I'm reading a short story collection about sixteenth birthdays. I thought it would be fun to share my sixteenth birthday story before I review the book.

And then The mini-challenge for Dewey's Books is announced and it fits what I wanted to do perfectly!

So here we go, the saga of my sixteenth birthday, almost two years ago. I feel so old.

Every year for birthdays we have family over to have cake and all that. We rarely have parties with friends. I had a party when I turned 6 and another when I turned 14. My fourteenth was a disaster. Long story short, two people came.

I hoped my sixteenth would be better.

My parents agreed to let me have a party where we dock our boat. We would have a bonfire and my dad would drive my friends around on our Sea Doo (waverunner, jet ski...whatever you call it). I invited thirty people. I figured I'd get a good turn out despite all the other birthday parties and graduation parties that week.

My aunt and uncle decided to drive four hours to come to my party. That was a good sign. If they were coming, everyone would!

Five of my friends came. Six RSVPed. Four of them I had met only two months earlier. We obviously made too much nacho cheese.

It was a disappointment at the time. Here I was with four girls that were asking me which guy to prank call (I didn't know any of them) and I didn't have much in common with (yet), as well as a girl from school with blue hair.

The four girls were from my new youth group that I had come to six months before. I met them in a supermarket in Hersey Pennsylvania and the friendship was solidified when I started throwing circus peanuts (don't ask).

It made me realize who my real friends are. Those four girls are now the best friends I have right now. Even though I'm 3-4 years older than them! Even though I didn't get a car or an amazing present for my sweet sixteen, I got something better. I just didn't know it at the time. I got best friends for my birthday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Censorship isn't always a bad thing!

Censorship is generally considered a bad thing, but I learned something today that made me think otherwise.

Several girls in my sisters' fourth grade class are reading Twilight.

First of all, how did they get their hands on a TEEN book? Twilight is definitely PG-13. Bella wants to go farther with Edward than he is able to handle. Plus, the scary vampire-ness of the whole thing is too much for the average nine year old girl.

My library has the suggested grade level on all of their childrens' books. This is interpreted as a matter of reading ability, not maturity. For instance, Jacob Have I Loved is marked as an appropriate book for a third grader. Although the instance is a short one, the book speaks of when the narrator got her first period.

Third grade.

I remember my grandmother bringing a bag of old books for me one day when I was my sister's age. Among them was Are You there God? It's Me, Margaret. Grandma commented on how that would be a very good book for me to read.

My mom took it away. I'm glad she did. I read it later when I was thirteen.

If any parents are reading this, I'm urging you to become the uncool parent on this one. No matter what "reading level" the book is considered, you need to consider the maturity level of the book. It is great that kids are reading, but books could potentially be just as harmful to the brains of kids as TV has!

(As for me, I'm hoping that the size of the Twilight books will intimidate the fourth graders!)

Booking Through Thursday: Library Week

I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

I go to the library at least 5 times a month. I usually go to pick up books that I ordered and to return them, but I have recently attempted to get to know my library a little better. Instead of just ordering books to be sent to my library, I try to browse once a month.

In the summer when I was little we used to spend hours in the library. My brother got free chess lessons. They had super fast internet. They had I spend less time in the library. Just like picking up groceries, I pick up books. I've recently rediscovered my library. We have a new huge, modern library and I'm neglecting it! I spent 3 hours there one afternoon. It was great! I prefer a mix in libraries. Our old library was tiny and messy, but cozy. It was old and noisy since everyone was confined in a small space. The layout of our new library lets you chose whether you want noise or coziness.

The lady checking out my books for me yesterday commented on how she remembers when I was in the childrens' library. She's seen me change from reading only The Baby Sitters' Club to what I'm reading now. I don't live in a small town, but our library gives you the sense that you are. I have a history at the library and people know me there. I can't go anywhere else in my town and have that.

Isn't that what a library should be? Forget the layout or the selection of books. The mission statement of my library is to be a community center. My large suburb has a small town within itself, the library.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Double Post: Dewey's Books "Try Something New" mini challenge with Wordlily

I’ve always been a reader, but when perusing through the list of books that have won the Newberry Honor Medal, I was surprised at how few of them I’ve read.

For this month’s Dewey’s Books Mini Challenge, everyone was paired up with a partner to read something new. Although kid’s books aren’t new to me (after all, I’m still technically a child…only a few more months until the label of adult is slapped on me), many of the titles on the list I’ve never heard of.

Wordlily ( and I decided to read a book of the Newberry list because Dewey was attempting to read all of them. Then, we each exchanged lists of our favorites. I was to chose a book off of the list she sent me and vice versa. She chose Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs, and King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry. I chose Jacob Have I loved because it sounded like the most interesting plot. For her, I chose Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

My Review:

What shocked me in Jacob Have I Loved was how it was more of literature than a child’s story. Kids want to read about kittens and puppies and horses and firemen. Kids want to read about other kids like them, like Amber Brown or Junie B. Jones. It is not surprising that all of the books I read off of the Newberry list I read for school because of this fact. I think Jacob Have I Loved was particularly guilty of not being very relatable to children.

If I were a fifth grader, I would have hated the book. There wasn’t much action. The protagonist lives on an island village where they depend on crabs and oysters to make a living. The high school has two teachers. You have to ride the ferry to go grocery shopping. One thing is relatable, though, the struggle between Louise and her twin sister Caroline. Many times, their relationship is compared to Jacob and Esau’s relationship in the Bible. Caroline is the precious, sickly, talented child that wins the affections of everyone around her, and Louise is left to herself. Caroline gets to go to boarding school and Louise stays on the island.

What many would write off as childish jealousy goes deeper than that. Louise is greatly affected by her parents’ treatment of Caroline. While Caroline is off making a life for herself, Louise chooses to stay on the island and help her father. Louise makes herself think they are making her stay so she can make herself feel miserable.

The writing has a simplicity that makes it known that the book was written for children. Often, writers like Ernest Hemingway and Ayn Rand are said to have a simple but beautiful writing style. I fail to see it in the great American authors, but you can definitely notice the beauty of the simplistic language. It seems that the writing is a bit cold and grey, as you would imagine the setting of the island to be.

Usually I am disappointed of the endings of books. I find many of them subpar. They usually don’t offer enough closure and sometimes they offer too much. The ending of Jacob Have I Loved is touching, offers plenty of closure, and makes you wonder what happens next. But then your eyes fall on the back cover.

WordLily's Review:

Bud, Not Buddy won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.

In 1936, during the Great Depression, 10-year-old Bud Caldwell lives in the orphanage in Flint, Michigan that has been his home since the death of his mother, when he was 6. He doesn't exactly enjoy life at the orphanage, but it beats the abusive foster home alternatives he's given. Presented with the opportunity, Bud decides to go in search of his father. His only clue? A couple of fliers he found in his mom's dresser. So he sets off for Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I really enjoyed this book. It fits with my recent infatuation with Depression literature, as well (

There are lots of reasons to love this book. Bud's speech is endearing. What he's been through is heart-rending. His interspersed Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life and Make a Better Liar of Yourself are funny and usually too true to life. It's a very quick read. Oh, and the kid likes hanging out in libraries! :D Curtis modeled characters in Bud, Not Buddy on his grandfathers.

I can't think of a good reason why anyone would not read this book.

I'm quite interested to read Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. His Elijah of Buxtonwas named a Newbery Honor book in 2008.