Tag Archives: Love This? Try This!

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

r&j

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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2016: What Would You Recommend…?

I’m seeing a lot of Year End Summary posts, and they’re really making my TBR explode with all the texts I now feel inclined to read! I thought about reviewing the best and worst reading experiences of 2016, but I feel that I need to exercise my recommendation muscles more urgently than I need to say what I liked and disliked.

I hear you asking me ,”Why?” As a future teacher, I understand that my likes and dislikes actually mean very little to teenage readers who, believe it or not, will not think I’m even moderately cool. It doesn’t matter whether I like or dislike a book; it just matters that students are exposed to as many texts as possible so that, among the masses, each kid can find something that appeals to his/her interests. One way to increase exposure to texts is through Book Talks; another way is to recommend a text based on that individual’s interests, not my own interests!

SO!! Today, we’re trying something new and I’m calling it a Challenge! My rules for myself are very simple: when recommending a book, you must do one of the following:

  • Recommend a book that you read in 2016.
  • If you know of a book that suits the reader but haven’t yet read it, hereby vow to read it in 2017.

The point is that, at least for me as a teacher, every year needs to be filled with diverse texts so that I am better equipped to make recommendations. If there is a category or type that I didn’t fulfill throughout all of 2016, that is a problem that I can easily fix in 2017! This makes me a more well-rounded member of society and a way better teacher of diverse little humans. Win-win! So, without further ado…

What Would You Recommend To:

Peter:
Age: 14.
Interests: Video games, technology, virtual reality, outer space, scifi, D&D
Books He LikedEnder’s Game, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
RecommendationReady Player One is the obvious option, although I feel like this kid would have found that one and devoured it already. I might also suggest Eragon. I, personally, didn’t care for it but it’s akin to Le Guinn’s work & gauging his reaction can help with future recommendations.

Matilda:
Age: 17.
Interests: Writing, reading, feminist culture, the arts, deep conversations about touchy issues.
Books She LikedWar and Peace, The Handmaid’s Tale, anything Jane Austen.
Recommendation: Definitely The Bell Jar. Definitely.

Alex:
Age: 21.
Interests: reading, creative writing, poetry, LGBTQ issues, social activism, gender anonymity, identity exploration, politics
Books She LikedThe Lord of the Rings Series, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Ask the Passengers
Recommendation: Alex is exploring her own identity indiviually, meaning that it is a private experience into which I do not wish to intrude. Some Assembly Required would NOT be a book that I openly recommend, but rather would introduce through book talks, making it available but not overt.

Mike:
Age: 12
Interests: Adult cartoons (not like “adult” but just cartoons for adults), comic books, graphic novels, superheroes, origin stories, action, Star Wars
Books He Liked: all Marvel & DC comics, Archie comics, Percy Jackson books
Recommendation: This kid gets a graphic novel, for sure. Unfortunately, the only one I read in 2016 was Nimona, which I loved, but feels a little too on the nose. I got a copy of Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel of The Odyssey from my beautiful butterfly of a professor and I hereby add it to my list, since I’m hoping this will be the perfect segue from his existing interests into heavier mythology (always the ultimate goal!).

Taylor:
Age: 28
Interests: Series works, Scifi/Fantasy, outer space, environmental science, outdoor activities, non-fiction medical/scientific literature
Books He LikedA Game of Thrones Series, The Martian, Expanse Series, The Mechanical
Recommendation: This one is based on my husband; we’ve introduced each other to some great fandoms over the years and I think this one is next. I read Sleeping Giants this year in the midst of my X-Files mania and I think it’s right up his alley.

Adam:
Age: 17
Interests: team sports, chicks, weight lifting, writing, sports books & magazines, his yellow lab, college scholarship (sports and academics), reading
Books He Liked: Grasshopper Jungle, The Shining, Fight Club, the Dexter Series
Recommendation: My 2016 reading list was largely a product of my interests, so 2017 needs to involve a lot more of what I’m calling “dude-books.” Male protagonists, male problems, male thoughts, and the like. So far, I’m recommending Winger to this stereotypical teen and also to myself.

Katie:
Age: 14
Interests: Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, love stories, scifi/fantasy, mythical/magical creatures, magazines, writing fan fiction, pop culture
Books She Liked: The Selection Series, the Twilight Series, Cinder, the Divergent Series
Recommendation: I can fully support a bit of brain floss, but I think the best recommendation for this impressionable young woman would be SWEET. Increase independence, self-confidence, and expectations for a healthy relationship, decrease celebrity obsessions.

Daniel:
Age: 18
Interests: social and political justice activism, urban art, spoken word poetry, basketball, soccer, live music concerts
Books He LikedBooked, Between the World and Me, I am Malala,
Recommendation: Add this to my 2017 promises! Recommending All American Boys for this imaginary kid and myself!

Silas:
Age: 18
Interests: Hunting (!!), the great outdoors, fishing, baseball, adventure.
Books He Liked: The Hunger Games Series, The Maze RunnerThe Lord of the Flies
Recommendation: OBVIOUSLY!!! No, but seriously, this is based on a real former student and I made him promise to read this book and then come talk about it with me.

Lynn:
Age: 45
Interests: Gardening, animals, family time, reading, bird-watching, outdoor activities, country life
Books He Liked: The Secret Garden, A Christmas Carol, Little House on the Prairie
Recommendation: So, this one is loosely based on my mom; she always asks for recommendations and I never know what to say! We have different likes and dislikes, so I don’t think my recommendations can be trusted! I’m making her read the Harry Potter Series (obvs!), but otherwise…?? She has a gentle soul and doesn’t like for her books to cause her stress. HELP, follow readers!!

Please keep in mind that I’m making up these profiles based on my imagination embellishing actual readers in my life. I am still striving to read outside of my preferred genre so I can recommend books to those with interests different from my own, but I welcome suggestions, feedback, and others picking up this post and doing their own version. If you do so, please link back to this post so I can see your selections! When it comes to exposure to diverse texts, I can never get enough!

Don’t forget to follow me on Goodreads to make sure I uphold my promises (LindsayC-T). Happy New Year, everyone, and best of luck in your 2017 reads!

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L: Bartoletti’s “Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow”

I’m having a hard time articulating my thoughts about this book into sentences that are half as meaningful as anything included in this 150 page, picture-filled book that is astoundingly categorized as Juvenile Non-faction. I am fascinated by WWII and Holocaust accounts, so my reading on the subject has been relatively widespread, but this was easily one of the most profound texts I have read about WWII Germany and the horrific inflictions upon the Jewish (and other non-Aryan) communities from 1926 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror.

hitler

Honestly, no review containing my own words and thoughts could serve as a better recommendation for this text than its own images and words. Unfortunately, I had to return the book before I remembered that I wanted to include direct quotes, but at the same time, that would have been a problem since I would’ve want to quote every single line; every sentence and every photo shed more light on the devastating details of Germany’s actions during WWII and the ways in which Hitler managed to recruit ultimately 7 million young Germans into the Hitler Youth, a group of the Neonazi Party that focused on young “Aryan” Germans, ages 13 to 18, and prepared them to assist in Germany’s martial efforts to take control of Europe. My eyes were opened to the countless rights I take for granted today, since those same rights were robbed from anyone and everyone who even seemed not to support Hitler. The harshest punishments were inflicted on those who did not support Hitler’s cause, and everyone, supporters or not, were at the mercy of the Fuhrer’s whims.

hitler3

2I say all of this because I’m afraid for my country. When I read about the power that a fanatical leader can hold over millions of willingly ignorant followers, I can’t help but be frightened by the echoes of a similar level of radical injustice that is unmistakably present in U.S. politics today. There are still people who absurdly believe that the Holocaust never happened, and even that is addressed in Bartoletti’s text, but blind obedience and willing ignorance can make millions of people do terrible things and, unless we educate ourselves on how it happened last time, history may truly be doomed to repeat itself.

1That means only one thing: we must educate ourselves. I thought about doing a “Love This, Try This” segment for this review, but it seemed too cheap, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to one recommendation. Thus, I will give all the recommendations I can think of that will help shed light on the atrocities that occurred, so as to prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. I know enlightenment on genocide isn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s To-Do List, but PLEASE look into at least one of these things.

***All of the images above were featured in Bartoletti’s text***

Books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Documentaries/Shows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Love This? Try This!” and Review – “Sleeping Giants”

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Poster: here; book: here

I wasn’t allowed to watch The X-Files when I was younger; you see, I was very impressionable. Still am. If you look back through the Shrews archives, you’ll see plenty of evidence of my ongoing problem with reverse-projection, or adopting the feelings of the characters in books/on TV. My parents assumed The X-Files would scare me, so I lived twenty-some odd years of my life sans-Mulder before my eyes were opened to the majesty of Fox and Dana, the Smoking Man, conspiracies aplenty, and the “I want to believe” poster. ***Sidebar: that new season?! Amazeness!!***

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is The X-Files in book form.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

The whole time I was reading this novel, I just could not get over how much it felt like The X-Files. It has science, government conspiracies, potential aliens, political intrigue, and a mysterious Puppet-Master; the only thing it’s missing is Mulder in 90’s jeans (YUM!).

But honestly, this was a very interesting read. Much akin to Illuminae, the format is a-typical, since the whole novel is told via interviews, journal entries, and military reports. This made it a very quick read but it also included a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo when interviewing certain characters, so I got bogged down a few times. Pierce Brown’s blurb likened it to Wier’s The Martian, which managed to subtly integrate science and math into an action packed sequence of events. Neuvel attempted to accomplish the same feat, but it wasn’t nearly as effortless and fluid. I ended up skimming over these parts instead of tolerating science long enough to subconsciously learn something.

Otherwise, I loved the format. I’d like to see more variance next time; about 90% of the story was told in interviews and I think more sources and more rotation would keep readers more interested. Illuminae did it best, but Secret Giants isn’t too far behind.

The main issue for me was that the characters were not particularly likable. This is partly due to the ways in which these characters were portrayed; some were cold and distant, some were psychopaths, some were pathetic, and the rest were entirely forgettable. Only one character was likable, but maybe that’s because I don’t often relate to the militaristic, emotionally damaged bossypants. The other possibility is that the unreliable narration did its job and I’m not sure whom I trust. This honestly may not be a problem for other readers, but it was a problem for me. I have a hard time committing, emotionally, to a book if I can’t forge a connection with any of the characters. Don’t believe me? Ask my review of The Girl on the Train.

Overall, 4 stars. It wasn’t a book that consumed my thoughts when I wasn’t able to read, but it was certainly an interesting and unique idea. It was moderately clean; minor sexual references; I don’t remember curse words… definitely a good choice for anyone interested in science, robotics, and/or aliens.

P.S. it’s the first in a series and the epilogue did a serious mic-drop DRAMA moment, so I’m jazzed to keep going!

I want to believe!!!

 

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Love This? Try This! – 1984 Edition

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Click here for Goodreads page; V for Vendetta image credit to dragaonegro.deviantart.com

Why do we keep reading “the classics”? What a dumb question! Among many other reasons, we keep reading them because everything that comes “after” is influenced by what came “before,” whether it acknowledges it or not. If you buy into the notion that “history repeats itself,” we have a valuable window into our futures that can be accessed by looking at our pasts, and this is rarely more obvious than in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. The consistent relevance of this novel remains unnervingly apt to this day.

Poster available at Amazon.com

Click here for Amazon.com poster

1984 is a work of fiction, written in 1949, that speaks of the (then) future as a dystopian society oppressed by the government and lured into a state of perpetual obedience by threat of death. I live in the United States, a country full of opinionated, suspicious, self-empowered people, none of whom can I picture being easily wrangled into submission by the government, as is the case in Orwell’s novel. However, improbability does not equal impossibility, and equipping individuals with knowledge about the power and influence of the government is pivotal to our longevity as a democracy.

Poster available at Amazon.co.uk

Click here for Amazon.co.uk poster

Many versions of this “cautionary tale” have raised societal awareness (and paranoia) since the 1950’s, and my favorite was the movie, “V for Vendetta.” Paired alongside 1984, many parallels can be found and used to show individuals and students the timelessness and eerily accurate predictions of the future in Orwell’s novel. The repetition of the government slogan, the monitoring of the police, the curfew, the altering of facts in the media, etc. are all evident in “V for Vendetta,” similar to the way we see them in 1984. Clearly, the fears of Orwell in 1949 are still scary all these years later.

It’s an amazing movie and, when paired together, only heighten the meaning and the timelessness of Orwell’s classic novel.

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Love This? Try This! – “Expanse” Series & Review of “Caliban’s War”

If/Then

Pics from amazon.com

My desire to find my next serious Series obsession continually leads me down a long, hard road with about a 90% failure rating. Most premier volumes I consume with desperate positivity that “THIS series is about to rock my world” and by the end of the book I’m convinced I’ll never feel joy again. Every series is held against the impossibly high standards set by The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Harry Potter books. I need to scratch that itch again; I desperately need more books that will fill me with the joy, suspense, anticipation, and “can’t stop, won’t stop” reading obsession that I get when reading the Godfathers of series work.

If you read my review of Andy Wier’s The Martian, you’ll remember that it brought home the bacon in terms of scratching the “must read good book” itch, but it was just one book. Boom, done. I read it and now it’s over, which is a huge shame because I found out that I may or may not totally dig the space theme! Then, one fine day, I saw the latest release in the Expanse Series alongside The Martian in a list of comparatively kickass novels and signed myself right up, and thank god I did. The series is apparently considered to be a “space opera,” which I hear means battles, drama, and political intrigue that take place in space. Just like in The Martian, we’re propelled into the future and are introduced to advanced technology, very appealing and relatable characters, and life-threatening crises that can only be solved by intelligent, resourceful people. The Expanse books contain less science and math than The Martian and more characters, locations, technology, relationships (romantic and non), and threats to the human species. Oh, and volumes! There are five so far and reportedly the SyFy channel is basing a TV series on the novels.

Goodreads.com

Click here to see on Goodreads.com

So, if you’re interested, see my review of Leviathan Wakes to get a general idea of the first volume. As for Caliban’s War, the second volume, I’m still addicted. James Holden and his crew are tasked with inspecting Ganymede, which has suffered an attack by a seemingly advanced version of the protomolecule discovered in the first book. They team up with a Martian Marine and a representative of Earth’s United Nations to help a Ganymede scientist search the solar system for his daughter, lost during the attack. Her abduction becomes more evidently linked to the protomolecule with each clue and, eventually, the possible end of the human race.

Overall, the pace doesn’t slow down. The first book prepared me for the outer space political turmoil and potential bio-hazardous threat, but this volume was jam packed with surprises and moments that made it necessary to remind myself, “It’s just a book. These are not real people/situations.” I applaud Corey for not losing any momentum, which is easy to do with a Vol. 2, but instead packing more punches and bringing a pre-established story into a new light. I love it. I’m obsessed and, if the others continue to thrill me, it’ll be promoted to sit alongside the series gods.

I’d love to know if anyone else has read this series or what other series has rocked your world! Do you like “space opera”? What are some of your favorite examples?

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Love This? Try This! – “The World of Ice & Fire”

pixshark.com; click here for Amazon.com

I’ve decided to review this book by creating a new “If you like this, you might also like this” segment. A lot of my reading choices are based on comparisons to other things I’ve liked (thank you, Goodreads; find me at lindsayjohnna!), so I’m hoping to find a few similarities along my reading road that might offer some helpful insight! Let me know what you think.

Photo from bgr.com

The first one is a little obvious, but this past Christmas, Brice got me The World of Ice & Fire by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia, Jr., and Linda Antonsson since he’s aware of my love for Martin’s magnificent series and also for tracing literary lineages. Martin worked closely with the other authors to ensure that the book read as a history, much like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion (another reason I simply adore it). He also worked with the artists to ensure that the book’s illustrations captured his mind’s image of his imaginary world, and thank God for that because these pictures are above and beyond the reach of TV.

Photo from inspirationhut.com

I’m the kind of reader who loves to know back story; throughout the series, we come to understand how the realm came to be a unified kingdom, but The World of Ice & Fire elaborates on the migration of the Targaryens to Westeros, the conquering of the kingdoms, the reigns of many Targaryen kings, Robert’s Rebellion, the many houses and realms in Westeros and Essos, etc. I loved reading this and I go back frequently to check my facts & review the mesmerizing illustrations on every page. Truly, I cannot praise the artwork enough. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves the series of novels and wants to know more than can be contained in the already very long books.

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