Tag Archives: Lindsay

Mid-Year Book Tag

I don’t think we’ve ever completed a tag for which we weren’t nominated. We’ve been fortunate in that many beautiful souls have nominated us for various tags and awards throughout the years (btw, we just passed our 6 year blogiversary!), and we complete as many as we can – what with our busy schedules, aka inconsistent postings – but I don’t think we’ve ever completed one without first be notified of the tag through our nomination. Well, that trend ends today.

This is the Mid-Year “Freak Out” (why are people freaking out about it?) Book Tag that I stumbled across in my readings of peers’ blog posts. No need to give my nominator a shout out, but I’m happy to name Lauren at Gossamer Pages, since hers was the post that inspired mine. She’s doing great things over there, so go check her out.

So anyway, the goal is to answer the questions only using books I’ve read so far this year. I’m mid-slump so I’m way behind on my Goodreads goal, so we’ll see if I can do it!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018? Looking back at my conquests this year, it’s been a very bland reading year, with a few exceptions. That makes this one easy but it would be my answer, regardless. Hands down, Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. I was already in pretty deep with Scythe, but this sequel was exceptional, and I do not use that word lightly. Recommended for: anyone who enjoys YA thrillers, Dystopian futures, artificial intelligence, multiple POVs, strong female protagonists, series works.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018? I hate doing this, but the answer for this one has to be Thunderhead, also. I’ve only read two sequels so far this year and the other one is decidedly dedicated to another one of these questions.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to? Again, easy: Circe by Madeline Miller. I adore re-tellings of classics, especially from a feminist perspective and this one promises to please. Looking forward to reading it and, if possible (based on potential relevance) including it in our Odyssey unit this year (if I do, I’ll be sure to post about it).

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2018? Easy, easy, easy: Tiamat’s Wrath by James S. A. Corey. It’s the 8th in a nine-part series, Expanse, which I’ve been devouring since 2015. I was recommended to read the first installment, Leviathan Wakes, after I enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian so much. I guess more people are aware of it now, since it’s a TV show. For those who keep up with the show, how jazzed are we that Amazon picked up what Syfy so stupidly dropped?!?! Recommended for: anyone who enjoys SciFi/Space Operas, multiple POVs, series works, very looong books, and character-driven stories.

5. Biggest disappointment? No difficulty there either. While I was in absolute bliss over Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star by Pierce Brown, he extended the series and the forth installment was a huge let down, in my unprofessional opinion. I never wrote a review because I’m just too devastated and I’m hoping that time will dull my disillusionment. I suppose it has; now, instead of remembering what all I hated, I just remember that I hated it. Nonetheless, I will never stop recommending this series/author. NEVER! Recommended for: anyone who enjoys SciFi/Space Operas, series works, Dystopian futures, political strategizing, series works, multiple POVs.

6. Biggest surprise? Hmmm, well I guess I was surprised by Cantero’s Meddling Kids. I honestly expected to consider it somewhat sacrilegious to my beloved Scooby-Doo, but I tried really hard to go into it seeing it as an “interpretation” and was pleased. It was sometimes silly, sometimes genuine, sometimes spooky, sometimes ridiculous. I genuinely enjoyed it. Recommended for: anyone who enjoys mystery/thrillers, SciFi/Fantasy, re-imaginings, mental illness/addiction, LGBTQIA, stand alone novels.

7. Favorite new author? Ryan Graudin is new to me. I genuinely enjoyed Wolf by Wolf but never got around to writing a review. I expect that one day I’ll come across the sequel, and I imagine I’ll enjoy that one, too. Recommended for: anyone who enjoys WWII/Nazi history, strong female protagonists, historical re-imaginings, adventure/thriller, series works.

8. Newest fictional crush? I’m thirty years old. Pass.

9. Newest favorite character? Yael from Wolf by Wolf was a delightfully positive female protagonist, and I just love those.

10. Book that made you cry? It takes a great deal to make me cry and no book has succeeded in doing so so far this year.

11. Book that made you happy? I read Tom Hanks’ book of short stories, Uncommon Type and it was delightful. It also made me realize I read too many “cruel” books that contain plot twists and I always expect that a good thing will go bad at any moment. It was a wonderful change of pace for a good thing to just be good. Recommended for: anyone who enjoys short stories, multiple POVs, happy endings!

12. Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year? I have not been to the movies in at least a year, so any movies I’ve seen will be well out of date. I did watch Jurassic Park: The Lost World the other day and I have to say that I give 10 out of 10 to anything with Jeff Goldblum.

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year? I really enjoyed doing the pros/cons review for Shadowlands.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year? I’m obsessed with the copy of The Heroes of Tolkien by David Day that Hannah gave me for my birthday. It’s cerulean leather with gold embossing of the title, as well as a beautiful line drawing of Boromir embossed on the front. It’s one in a series of Tolkien-related texts, all of the same quality; I also have the “Dictionary” and intend to get the “Atlas” and “Book of Battles,” too. Recommended for: anyone who enjoys Tolkien works, fictional histories, mythology, character development.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? So many! Just to highlight a few:

Normally, I nominate others at this point. I actually get really peeved when people are nominated and then are like “oh, I don’t feel like it.” Rude! Someone thought enough of you to take the time to nominate you, so take a beat and nominate others. It’s the best way to show people that you appreciate what they’re doing. The only reason I’m not doing it this time is because it’s already halfway through July and the people I’d nominate have already done some sort of mid-year review. However, if you haven’t done it and you have books worth reviewing, please link your review in the comments so I can read. I’m recovering from a slump, you see, and I need all the help I can get.

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Review Via Pros and Cons: Brian’s “Shadowlands”

You know my policy: when in doubt, hash it out (via pros vs. cons). Today’s subject of uncertainty is Kate Brian’s Shadowlands, which is the first in a trilogy. As always, we start with the obligatory summary.

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?
 

I’m very unsure about how I feel about this one, so the only thing to do is to weigh the pros and cons. Here we go!

PRO: I read it in two sittings. That has to say something favorable about the book. Undoubtedly, there were issues with the story, but I found it compelling enough that I plowed through it. I saw several reviews that said they “couldn’t put it down” and, to be honest, I agreed.

CON: I’m afraid that the “must keep reading-ness” of it wasn’t due to it being good, but rather was due to confusion. I was constantly confused by this text. It contains dream sequences that reveal themselves after much ado, and I grew to distrust the heroine’s POV. Additionally, some of her experiences are so wildly unbelievable that I needed an explanation because I was becoming, in a word, peeved with the whole thing.

PRO: I’m still thinking about it. Again, this ins’t a specific complement, like “the characters were compelling” or something, but I looked online for the next installment immediately after finishing this because I feel strongly that I must continue the series.

CON: A LOT of questions were raised during this reading, which is in no way a problem. The problem is that the majority of those questions, which are essential to understanding the plot, are not answered in this novel. Goodreads gave a sneak preview of the next book in the series and I got answers to 90% of the questions raised in book one in the first chapters of book two. Where is the sense in that?!?! I would’ve gotten the next book regardless, so at least give me some resolution in this one.

PRO: I hope to bond with a student over this novel. I had one delightful student who found time to talk to me about how much she loved this book. In fact, I walked by her as she finished reading it on the last day of school and she closed it, let out a sigh of exasperation and relief (which I now understand), physically hugged the book for a moment, and handed it to me so I could read it and add it to my classroom library. If she comes to see me next year, I’ll be ready to geek out with her.

CON: It’s very stereotypically YA. The protagonist is a standard “nerdy” girl with a standard “popular” sister and a standard “disconnected” parent. Although I would think that being hunted by a serial killer would be all-consuming, apparently cute boys still manage to be a huge distraction. As per usual, I’m not thrilled with the depiction of teen relationships, but I rarely am.

CON: I might be too critical of an audience, but the depiction of law enforcement in reaction to a serial killer is insulting. Without including spoilers, I’ll just say that I find it hard to believe that the FBI would be as aloof about the threat to this family as they’re depicted in this novel. After a very invasive and intense threat, the family is sent off without escort, without access to phones, and without a way to contact the FBI should the threat continue. To say the least, law enforcement is not portrayed in a positive light.

CON: Who is this person on the cover?? You’d think it would be the protagonist, Rory, but it is very clearly stated, on multiple occasions, that she has blonde hair, so who is this brunette? Also, what’s with the crows?? And the clouds? None of this is relevant!

CON: On a similar note, what is the title referencing? This term is not used even once in the novel. I got that sneak peek and it is explained (poorly) in the first few chapters of book two in the series, but if it won’t even be mentioned in the first book, why name it that?!?!? WHY???

CON: The POV very occasionally swapped from 3rd person limited omniscient (Rory’s perspective, thoughts, and feelings) to those of the serial killer. Those chapters should have been more thought out or left out entirely. As a character, the killer wasn’t developed enough for us to care about or understand his POV. In fact, it was very specific at times (he wants to eat her hair) which implies a really juicy backstory, but it was painfully clear that his perspective was only present so that we would know his progress in hunting her. He wasn’t developed outside of his obsession over her. It was forced and inorganic.

I’m afraid it’s painfully clear how I felt about this novel, and yet, I’ll be darned if I’m not going out to find the next volume tomorrow. Whether you love a novel or hate it, as long as you want to talk about it, isn’t that the goal?

Did anyone else read it? What does everyone else think? Interested in other Pros Vs. Cons reviews? Check them out here and here.

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Me, Myself, and I: DIY

I’m getting ready to embark on a HUGE project. As I mentioned in a recent post about my distracted mindset, my hubby and I bought a house in October. She’s a beaut and I adore her in every way, but let me be quite clear that she’s a work in progress. Since we moved in over my school’s Thanksgiving Break with Winter Break quickly to follow, there was a lot of time at the onset for our amateur renovations. We managed to sand, paint, screw, and redecorate our way through renovations of the kitchen and hallway bathroom. We LOVE these renovations and, while our style choices may not appeal to everyone, we can’t be bothered to care, because they appeal greatly to us!

kitchenreno

Wood on wood on wood.

bathroomreno

Can you tell that gray + white is our jam?

Anyway, like I said, all our improvements happened right after move in and for the last few months, we’ve made additional plans for other aspirations. The one we’ve decided to try to tackle over Spring Break is updating the exterior of our home. Red Brick is the style for most people on our street, but I cannot claim to like red brick. I know the value of it and I appreciate the low-maintenance upkeep and durability, but I just don’t like red. I reached out to my aunt for help with the landscaping plans, so before I pay trillions and break my back planting beautiful, green things, we’re giving the red brick a makeover via German Smear.

front2

 

Now, first things first, I know this has nothing to do with books. So what? My blog.

I looked up a lot of websites about the process and most of them seemed helpful but I’m worried my experience will reveal some hidden truths. So, in the interest of authenticity, I decided that I will relate my thoughts on this endeavor by doing multiple installments of my thoughts and experiences: pre-, mid-, and post-project.

PRE-EFFORT AMBITIONS:

The original plan was to Limewash, not German Smear. However, despite how many true crime podcasts I listen to, I didn’t know that the purchase of lime is strictly monitored due to its common use in quick decomposition, so it turns out that lime is relatively inaccessible and expensive (compared to the $30 cost we expected based on the LIES Pinterest tells me). So, the plan has changed to German Smear, largely supported by some promising how-to blogs and the all-knowing Bob Vila.

I have no delusions about what a large endeavor this will be for the hubby and me to do ourselves. However, we are die-hard DIY-ers and we’re painfully cheap, so we’ve committed our last 3 days of Spring Break to completing this project. Let the fun begin!


MID-PROCESS LESSONS/IMPRESSIONS:

Future Lindsay, here. I’ve now spent several hours over the last few days working on our Smearing. My back is killing me and my right arm is full-on throbbing. Oh well.

Because I didn’t want to dive in and do my “learning” on the house exterior itself, I started in our sunken sun-room. This room was added onto the house and is home to a brick-encased gas fireplace. I used this as my trial space, as well as the brick wall that used to be the exterior wall but now is the adjoining wall. Since this was my first attempt at it, it was slow-going. I was hopeful that the process would quicken once I got outside and was able to be less cautious about floors/trims.

smear1

den

Formerly black brick now white

Upon finishing the fireplace and interior wall on Friday, I spent Saturday starting on the exterior of our home. We’re starting in the back so that we can work as slowly as our schedules allow without having a partially complete look visible to the road.

We have the most delightful covered porch, which was where I started. Once I was past that porch, I needed help from the brave, ladder-ready, high-reaching hubby. I left that last corner to him. This seemingly small section of brick took 3 hours of solo effort (while listening to back-to-back episodes of “My Favorite Murder,” so it was a pleasure). Sunday was spent similarly, working on the other side of the sun-room. Again, hours of work spent on precious little space.

smear5

smear6

All of the brick on the back of the house is done!

Lessons Learned and Henceforth Shared:

  1. There’s no way in the fiery depths of Hell we’ll be done this weekend. Or next. Maybe even the next. The hubs has been navigating his own stuff lately, what with his own school and a night job, so I did all the work this weekend by myself. I spent several hours each day and feel like I made NO PROGRESS, but that’s just because I’m dramatic. I made plenty of progress and will make more when one becomes two.
  2. Go into it knowing what look you want. I know most people associate German Smear with that one episode of “Fixer Upper,” but that is NOT the look we want. We want almost full coverage with lots of texture; we’re lucky we have a variety of brick colors already, since we LOVE GRAY and the gray bricks add variety. We have no plans to scrub off or expose any of the brick after smearing.
  3. Only make as much mortar wash as you can use in one “session.” Nobody on any of the how-to sites mentioned that this stuff is technically cement. I should have put this together, no doubt, but I did not. I almost lost my bucket and stirrer thing to hardened smear I hoped to be able to use the next day. Alas, it was wasted. Now we make less at a time or just work until we finish the bucket.
  4. Add the mortar to the water. I tried it the other way around and it was just like clumpy cake mix that never fully integrates.
  5. A natural bristle broom head is my weapon of choice. Others use a mortar brush or a mortar sponge, or even just their gloved hands. We have brick that is more porous and textured than usual, so I’ve found that my hands are taking quite the beating; I reserve my gloved hands for small spaces, edges, and corners. Otherwise, I use the broom head. Works like a charm. Also durable elbow-length gloves are my VIP. Honorable Mention goes out to the mixer/stirrer attachment for my drill. Without you, I’d be lost.
  6. A “honey” texture is too high maintenance. That’s what I used on the fireplace in the above pictures, and you can see how thick the coverage is. As I’m working, I’ve decided that “batter” is better. This all depends on the finish you want, of course, but the thicker the mixture, the less it spreads, so not only does it take twice as long to apply, but it also uses twice as much smear and is twice as thick in terms of coverage. We want light coverage, meaning we can still see the variance in brick colors but without any shades of red, so “batter” is better for us.
  7. It may be too early to say, but pressure-washing and wetting the brick before smearing isn’t, like, THE most important thing. The hubs pressure-washed the back wall and it hasn’t really done much to help. Similarly, I saw a lot of people say you *MUST* wet the brick before applying the mortar wash. I’ve forgotten over big swaths of wall and see literally no difference, as of yet.

So, I’m going to get back to work and Future Lindsay will update you soon with the end results!


POST-LABOR REFLECTIONS:

Way Future Lindsay, here and HOLY. GUAC. AMOLE.

That took forever, y’all. This is not hyperbole, but I literally spent HOURS on this *ish* and I’m so over it! In fact, there is still one small, unfinished side of the house that isn’t visible to anyone other than one neighbor and I’m in no rush to finish it because it looks finished from where I’m standing, ifyaknowwhatImean?!?!?

In all honesty, I’ve spent over 22 collective hours (plus 3 to 5 expected on that DARNED unfinished portion) German Smearing my home and don’t forget to add more hours for painting trim, shutters, doors, et al. I mentioned earlier that I started over Spring Break, which was in early March, and it is now the end of May, so take that as you will. All of the lessons I mentioned above are important, no doubt, but I think the most important lesson is LOOK AT YOUR BRICK! NOT ALL BRICK IS CREATED EQUALLY! Okay, I knew the brick on my home was fugly, but its true uniqueness didn’t really hit home until it was way too late to turn back. Our brick is not only ugly because of the wild variations in color, but also because of the wild texture. This is not smooth brick; this brick has many a nook and cranny, which made each smear a genuine arm workout.

mid3

My bis and tris are truly gettin’ at it these days. I also got a friction blister on the tip of my thumb and let this be a PSA that you need to appreciate the tip of your thumb before you lose it, okay?!

We wore down (to little stumps) three natural-bristle brushes (again, the texture of our brick is unparalleled) and went through at least 4 or 5 bags of mortar. This means that everything Pinterest says is a lie and you can’t trust anyone, including me! What do I know?!? Anyway, our property and belongings are spattered with drops of cement, meaning that our stepladder has barnacle-like permanent accumulations on the steps and handle and we’re thankful that we’re re-doing our landscaping because our shrubs are lazy with cement droplets.

Now, what we’ve all been waiting for, AFTER PICTURES!!

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None of the pictures I take give enough credit to how bright the front door is. Our visitors have commented on the awesome door color, and I have to give that credit to Brice.

after2

The shutters and trim are a nice Olive Green and all rust-colored trim is now dark gray. Thus, unintentionally, the gray/white obsession evident in our kitchen and bathroom continues! A few neighbors have stopped by while we’re outside working to tell us how good it looks and I must say that I agree. We still need to paint the rust-colored addition and porch in the back, but the front looks done enough for me to be happy and proud of us!

 

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Review: Cantero’s “Meddling Kids”

First things first, I recently posted about my love for tea and as much as I hate that the internet monitors my searches, it sure does benefit me from time to time. Pinterest recommended a monthly tea subscription service and I got my first delivery a few weeks ago. I was able to tell them about my aversion to cloves and got a very kind “Welcome!” email from the CEO and the Facebook group community. My first style was an Orange Blossom Black Tea and it is so fragrant and delish! They also have a shop with lots of other varieties (all hand blended without any unwanted, mass market additions) and tons of covet-worthy accessories. I’m in love and already spreading the recommendation far and wide, hither and yon. Very much looking forward to my next delivery in a week or so. I was going to put this at the end, but it’s important to talk about what you love.

 


I recently finished Edgar Cantero’s novel Meddling Kids and, overall, I very much enjoyed it. But it made me think: why must there always be a love interest? Why?!?

From the moment I found out that this novel existed, I was excited to read it. It ticked several of my boxes, being inspired by my childhood obsession (Scooby-Doo and the Gang) and containing elements of the supernatural and true crime. I want to say I first hear about it on a list of books that “will legit scare you;” it did not scare me even remotely, but it was a good mystery/thriller, nonetheless.

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.
 

For a while, I was worried that it might risk irritating me, since I was far from casual about my love for Scooby-Doo. Call it what it is: obsession. Sometimes, if things based on beloved originals take too many liberties, it risks offending the sensitive feelings of the fans, especially if formerly innocent teen characters are portrayed as drug-addicted, alcoholic, suicidal, mentally unstable twenty-somethings. However, I went into it knowing it was one person’s interpretation, so if it didn’t parallel my interpretation, or at least entertain me, I could always opt-out.

At times, the supernatural elements got a little eye-roll-inducing. However, it was at least consistent. It didn’t pepper it in there for occasional flavor; it established a supernatural element pretty early and maintained the “wtf is happening”-ness, but it at least had the decency to have the characters acknowledge the oddness of it all. Cantero meshed some characters, so that both of the girls had Daphne elements and both had Velma elements. Fred’s character (they have different names) was dead but still an active participant (hello, supernatural), and Shaggy’s was decidedly un-Shaggy-like throughout. He made the characters his own while still leaving “Easter eggs” of relevance for the die-hard Scooby fans. I’m also a big fan of a mystery that surprises me; I get a little bummed when I figure out the big reveal before-hand. I didn’t see this one coming and it was a nice surprise.

So that just leaves the ill-fitting love story. Why did that have to exist? In no way is it a spoiler for me to reveal that there was something of a lesbian interest constantly bubbling on a back-burner. That was made evident within the first few pages. However, this was one of those rare, end-of-the-world scenarios that was somehow overshadowed by inconsequential arguments and confusing emotions. These “kids” would find out that supernatural beings exist, and they’d put a pin in that in order to get to the more pressing matter of someone unexpectedly saying the l-word. And what’s with the unrealistic depiction of a girl who is loved by and lusted for by every single other character?!? Please. Enough.

I have little patience for jamming a puzzle piece where it doesn’t fit in order to appeal to more readers, and this just felt like pandering. It’s as though Cantero wrote a perfectly love-free novel and his publishers went back and said, “okay, but this won’t appeal to people who like love stories, so we need to force that in somehow.” No, you don’t. Some books appeal to some people but very few (a.k.a. none) appeal to all, so why taint those that truly appeal to one audience by diluting them with essence-of-other-people’s-interests? The love story was uncomfortable and inorganic, and after suffering through it for 300 pages, it wasn’t even resolved in a way that offered a satisfying ending. They have a VERY rocky road ahead of them.

I won’t even go into my thoughts on a thirty-something male writing the perspective of a teen lesbian. I’m going to let that sleeping dog lie.

Anyway, I gave it four stars, since the overall experience was a pleasant one. Worse comes to worst, I can always skim sections that are dripping with unnecessary sappiness. Am I alone in this?

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Why So Sour?

I recently read a book and hated it. I’ve been sour ever since. For weeks now, I’ve been miffed, not only because I didn’t like it, but more so because I expected not only to like it, but to LOVE it (based on my obsession with the other books in the series). Of course, as is my nature, I’m mad at the author, as though he let me down by writing the book against my wishes. That’s absurd, since I’m sure we can all agree that it’s 100% MY FAULT that I went into reading it with certain expectations.

Oh, did I mention that the book is Pierce Brown’s fourth installment in the Red Rising Saga, Iron Gold? Truth be told, I’m still not ready to do a review, mostly because I still don’t know how I feel about it. A play-by-play of my feelings are as follows:

Image result for iron gold


While reading: “Oh my gosh, this is so depressing. Maybe it will get better.” 

Still reading: “Please just let this be over. Must suffer through.”

Upon finishing: “(*throws book across the room*) FINALLY! Get outta muh life!!”

Following day: (*texts disappointments to a fellow-sufferer*)

Days later: (*still thinking about that darned book*)

Still days later: (*typing this*)


 

Usually, when I really hate a book, I put it down and walk away, never wasting another minute’s time thinking about it. However, I clearly can’t shake Iron Gold. I feel like I need to know why I didn’t like it. I can’t even pinpoint whether I owe it to myself, Pierce Brown, or the series as a whole to figure out exactly why I disliked this book.

Even now, I hesitate to say that I “hated” it. The feelings while reading were undoubtedly hatred, though. I genuinely didn’t enjoy a single page, but to say that I hated it feels too strong, too personal, especially considering my utter adoration of Brown’s three other novels. So here I sit, racking my brain in the sake of fairness, trying to isolate the reason why this novel missed the mark, so to speak.

What makes a person hate a book?

  1. Simple Preferences: This can encompass things like genre, POV, format, etc. This is the most frequent reason for me to abandon a text due to dislike. Although I do my best to try various genres (especially ones that might help me recommend books for students with varying interests and preferences), I have very clear preferences of my own. I tend to lean towards Mystery/Horror, Historical Fiction, True Crime, and Sci-Fi, especially “Space Operas.” I do not like romance and I often find realistic fiction and non-fiction to be boring, too much like real life and too little of an escape. If a book falls outside of my standard genre, it is that much more likely to be abandoned due to dislike. Similarly, a lot of people are turned off by a format other than prose. Remember how many people freaked the eff out about Cursed Child being in a screenplay format? If readers get too stuck in our ways, we can easily find anything “abnormal” to be unlikable.
  2. Writing Style: Somewhat less common of a cause for abandonment is a dislike for the author’s “voice,” or writing style. As with the others, this is entirely subjective. I recently read a memoir and simply hated the author’s voice, feeling that the whole memoir was a humble brag. While I found it off-putting, my students related to it and thought it was honest and exciting. Similarly, while students are often overwhelmed by Shakespearean language, I find it to be refreshing, challenging, and illuminating. What causes some great pleasure causes others to run and hide.
  3. Life: Now that I’ve had some time to think back and really force myself to separate my feelings from what I had expected from this novel, I’m realizing that I just was not in the right frame of mind for this novel. As I recently explained in a recent post, I’m navigating some new and uncomfortable life circumstances right now, and my quick solution is to avoid anything that increases my stress. Undoubtedly, this novel added to my stress. I’m far too invested in these characters and this series to not take these changes personally. It’s entirely possible that this novel would be more welcome during a less stressful time in my life. Therefore, I plan to re-read Iron Gold this summer, when I’ll be more removed from the everyday stress of teaching and I can afford to take on the struggles of fictional characters.

In addition to re-reading this summer, I also hope to meet up with my like-minded pal Bekah and record another 5-star episode of SPACE BOOKS! There will be plenty of time to mull over my feelings from this first reading (don’t worry, I’ve recorded them so I don’t forget my initial reactions) and potentially adjust them based on research, discussions, and re-reading.

What I can say, though, is that I also finished reading the Sons of Ares comics. I highly enjoyed them, although I must say that I hate being done with the experience in 5 minutes flat and feeling like the comics left me with more questions than answers. All the same, I’d highly recommend them.

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Filed under Lindsay, Not A Book Review

Ready As I’ll Ever Be: Classroom

A while back, I posted about my budding classroom and the many tools I would need in order to prepare for the beginning of school. Well, that beginning is less than a week away now, so I’ve been slowly but surely “setting up” my classroom so that my focus won’t be compromised during pre-planning, which started this week. Thanks to the kind responses both on here and on my social media pages, I got a ton of great suggestions on ways to streamline the processes in my classroom in order to make my life easier and my students’ educations more effective.

I’m also lucky to have a number of family members and friends who want to contribute to my classroom and, accordingly, to my peace of mind. A big fat THANK YOU goes out to my siblings and their spouses, my in-laws, my parents, and my friends, Savannah and Hannah. Due to their kind contributions, I’m way more prepared and not bankrupt!

 

In addition to my luck at having the most thoughtful and generous friends and family members in the world, I’m also really lucky in that I somehow was given the biggest room on the hall! I have 5 double windows facing east-ish, so I get immense amounts of sunlight and it looks like I won’t have to worry about the overhead fluorescent lights being an issue, since I won’t ever need to use them. Another interesting detail is that the room is a rectangular shape with the majority of the room to the right when you walk in the door; to the left of the door, however, is about 6 or 8 feet of space that isn’t exactly functional in terms of student desk space. I’ll use it for my storage closet and student station, but otherwise, I’m able to spread out! I brought in my bookcase and positioned it next to my desk, which gives me a nice private space that will be all my own.

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Special shout out to the hubs for modeling my desk

Don’t worry, I’m under no delusion that I’ll ever have much time to sit down at my desk, but I’m just a big fan of privacy and personal space. In conjunction with that, the desk provided by the school has a gap at the bottom which would show my ankles (again, just give me some privacy, please) and more importantly, let out valuable heat from my space heater for my little footies. In an effort to come up with a creative solution, I decided to make “book spines” that could serve double-duty while also looking fly and relevant.

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I know what you’re thinking; yes, they’re awesome and yes, that’s a HP pencil holder on my desk. It’s amazing what you can find on Etsy and, as a fellow person-who-tries-to-be-creative-sometimes, I want to support people in their creative endeavors as often as possible. And you should, too. Here is the link for the pencil holder and here is the link for these AMAZING author posters, with which I am certifiably obsessed.

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Tangential to my aforementioned attempts to be creative, here are some pics of the DIYs featured in my classroom!

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These obscenities are the original versions of my lamps. I don’t have a lovely “after” pic, so just scroll back up to the pic of my desk and you’ll see them. I replaced the shades with cute beige/brown specked ones and spray painted the bases with textured gold outdoor spray paint. They remain as “thic” as ever, but now they’re also fierce!

You may have noticed my golden snitch string lights on my bookcase. These took one slow afternoon plus some yellow paint and white construction paper I already had. A.k.a. free.

In summation, I love my family and friends and I’m extremely lucky and totally optimistic. Again, let me know what I’m missing and wish me luck!!

 

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Love This? Try This! – “Romeo and Juliet” Graphic Novel

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It’s been a hot minute since I did one of these! But then again, it’s also been a while since I read something that so strongly reflected its predecessors or inspirations. I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve read another graphic novel by Gareth Hinds while teaching Homer’s The Odyssey; similarly, I know I have to teach Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet this year (*eye roll*), so I got Hinds’ graphic novel version to see if I can find a way to incorporate it.

Gareth Hinds’s stylish graphic adaptation of the Bard’s romantic tragedy offers modern touches — including a diverse cast that underscores the story’s universality.

She’s a Capulet. He’s a Montague. But when Romeo and Juliet first meet, they don’t know they’re from rival families — and when they find out, they don’t care. Their love is honest and raw and all-consuming. But it’s also dangerous. How much will they have to sacrifice before they can be together? In a masterful adaptation faithful to Shakespeare’s original text, Gareth Hinds transports readers to the sun-washed streets and market squares of Shakespeare’s Verona, vividly bringing the classic play to life on the printed page.

First things first, if you love the classic tale of literature’s most famous star-crossed lovers, this adaptation does the original story justice. The language remains the same, so you’re not getting a “cheat sheet,” per se; however, in this format, you have the visual advantage of being able to see the characters and conversations, see who is speaking and to whom they are speaking. I really can’t say enough about having visuals, especially for stories that have elevated language that might confuse current-day readers. Having that visual assistance can only aid in understanding the plot.

Another advantage (in my opinion) of this format is that the content must be condensed so, thankfully, many of the pointless, rambling monologues are cut out entirely or reduced to only the parts that drive the story. To me, those moments where the Nurse would go off on a tangent never added to the story and instead only added to the level of student confusion. I’m thrilled that those are omitted and, honestly, wish I could teach with this graphic novel as the primary text. This adaptation includes everything that is pivotal to understanding the plot and social references. For those who are only reading this out of obligation and not by choice, this version would serve just as well as the original.

The most obvious difference between this graphic novel and the classic play is that the character families are portrayed as minority groups; the Capulets are Indian and the Montagues are Black. Hinds makes it clear that the choice to portray them as such is not pointed in regards to either culture and simply exists in order to show that the story is “universal” in its popularity and influence. Whether it was the goal or not, portraying the families in this way also makes it easier to determine which characters are Capulets vs. Montagues. Instead of just having a bunch of white people fighting and not knowing whose side each is on, for better or for worse, the difference in ethnicity helps readers understand sides. However, potentially also unknowingly, this gives the impression that the family feuds could relate to cultural differences, when such is not likely to be true in the original play.

My mission is to find a way to incorporate this graphic novel into our reading of the classic play as much as possible. If you remember my efforts with The Odyssey and Nimona, I have faced trouble with giving students access to the text. However, those attempts were at a school that did not have one-to-one capabilities, which I will have this year, so it is possible to give students access to an electronic copy. I’m going to go with that and see where it takes me.

In addition to the graphic novel, there are numerous film adaptations of the play. I was kindly gifted a copy of Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” featuring my boyfriend Leo. There are also other versions, like “Romeo Must Die,” “Gnomeo and Juliet,” and “West Side Story.” I also have several songs that would be great for lyric analysis in regards to this play. I’m excited to teach it, in spite of the fact that Juliet and Romeo are as irritating as the day is long.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Love This? Try This!, Teacher Stuff