Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For My Few Loyal Fans

You want more updates? I'll give you more updates. I can't promise they will be Spain-related, or even life-related, but I will write more. 

So, if you want me to write more then I'm going to write what I want to write about. And I've got books on the brain. 

But, to appease you, I will give you a quick life update. Randolph ran away. Again. And told the teacher it's funny when she's mad. So not true. 

Also, my fourth graders are studying hard and fast for the Trinity exams and they are in the process of preparing their topics. I had to help them with the present perfect category today. It felt like every kid - even the know-it-all that I have exceedingly high expectations of - wants their topic to be pets. Or football. Or family. Or holidays. And then Helen Burns sat down next to me and I asked what her topic was. Her response? "My topic is about how disabled people can participate in sports." (Okay, perhaps her English was a bit more broken than that). Wow, what an impressive topic. What a compassionate person. But then JM Barrie (that's a rant for a different day) had to ruin it by practically pointing out that he thought she had the BEST topic in class. I'm sure some kids thought really hard about their topics. And I'm sure they are equally as passionate about "My favorite band, One Direction" as Helen is about disabled athletes. I generally feel like JM Barrie is the best teacher at the school and has a gift of making all students feel respected and that their voice is heard, but I didn't like that he said that in front of the whole class.

Back to books.

I am taking on the challenge of reading a book set in each of the fifty states this year. I will occasionally be updating my readers with what I am reading and such, but for now I am going to go on a book rant about the books/states I have read so far.

1) Vermont - Dead Poet's Society (novelization by N.H. Kleinbaum (small tree, small tree!)). I must preface this with OMGILOVETHISMOVIESOMUCHANDCANWATCHITAMILLIONTIMES and not just because I think Robert Sean Leonard is a DREAM. And I knew it was a novelization of the film going in so I was already expecting it to be kind of crappy. But it was overly crappy. Overly. And the characterization was SOOOOO BAD! Especially the characterization of Todd Anderson. 

But then I watched the movie, so I will give you this meme:

which led me to this:

I whole-heartedly agree with Oh Captain, My Captain's quote as well as with the quote below. I think they can tie-in together. Or maybe I'm just easily wooed by words.

Also, in reading books set in each state, I am doing research about the states as well. So, an interesting Vermont fact: Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont. 

2) Indiana - The Fault in Our Stars - John Green - "My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations." Minus the fact that I think that is one of the most brilliant sentences ever written (although, I have a notebook full of the most brilliant sentences ever written and a Donna Tartt tattoo to show my love of brilliant sentences), this book didn't do much for me. Maybe I went into it with too high expectations. This is one of those "everyone is talking about it" books and, really, it just didn't do much. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a heartless person and it did tug at my heartstrings a bit, but it was just predictable and a bit too idealistic for a book about cancer. Ya, I know the ending was sad and yada yada, but I found it oddly idealistic and optimistic. And no 17-year-old boy, even one who has been humbled by cancer, is that romantic. 

I do think John Green is an absolutely brilliant writer, perhaps the best YA writer next to David Levithan and Markus Zusak and Tim Tharp, but I don't think this book deserves the credit it does. Book after book, John Green displays excellent characterization and unique ways of expressing thigs, and this book was no exception, but I just don't feel like it was up to par with, let's say, Looking for Alaska.

Also, I am curious to see the movie adaptation of the book. I think Shailene Woodley is a fantastic, underrated star who has an interesting year ahead of her. And the preview looked surprisingly good.

And they make such a cute couple!! Although I have to say, I pictured Augustus to be a lot more outwarldy handsome. Ansel Elgert is soo adorable in an adorable way, not an Augustus Waters way.

Interesting Indiana Fact: There are none.

Just kidding, Scott and all my Indianian fans.

The Saturday Evening Post is published in Indiana.

Interesting Shailene Woodley fact: She attended the same high school as my ex-boyfriend. Also, we're soul sisters or something - both of us had to experience part of teenage life in a backbrace.

3) Louisiana - Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris - Exactly what you would expect from the novel that inspired True Blood, but with less sex. And written very modestly. Definitely entertaining, but the entire True Blood, Sookie Stackhouse, Southern Vampire Mysteries Franchise seems to be epically entertaining. I plan on reading more of these books after I finish all of my other states. Not necessarily intelligent reading, but fun reading.

Also, I'm pretty sure that Stephanie Meyer stole a lot of ideas from Charlaine Harris and used them for powers of evil. I'm so sorry, Charlaine.

While we are on Sookie Stackhouse, I think Anna Paquin is pretty kickass. While I'm saying this, I want to go on an X-Men tangent. But, don't worry, I won't. I will say that Paquin was an awesome Rogue, especially given the fact that she had to work with an utterly botched story line in The Last Stand.

Also, it's pretty adorable that her and Steven Moyer play each other's love interest on the show and they ended up together in real life, don't ya think?

Interesting Louisiana Fact: Pirates used to hide out in Jean Lafitte. Pirates. 

4) Oklahoma - The Spectacular Now - Tim Tharp - This is the second time I've read this book and I cannot say enough about how much I am in love with this book. Scratch that - how obsessed I am with this book.

Brilliant writing.
Brilliant characters.
Brilliant story.

I'm in love.

First of all, Sutter's philosophy on life is "embrace the weird," which I've contemplated getting tattooed (don't worry Mom, I don't have new tattoos. I do, however, have one less piercing, which I bet makes you happy!) because it's something you just have to do in life.

Plus Ricky spews this fantastic quote (it's in my Facebook favorites for the curious of you) about our need to experience the magic of new things. That quote made me feel incredibly sad about the fact that I grew up.

The first time I read this book, I found myself totally relating to Sutter Keely. This time around, I felt myself relating to Aimee Finnecky. Weird, I know. I guess people do feel differently at different circumstances in their life.

Also, if we take away the very end of the film, they actually did a pretty good job with the adaptation. I said it before, I think Shailene Woodley is fantastic. And even more fantastic, MILES TELLER. After this movie, Rabbit Hole, and Footloose, I think I love him. Okay, yes, I have a Hollywood crush on Miles Teller and I would say a good majority of the world either don't know him or know him as the guy in that crappy Zac Efrom movie (that I sadly want to see because of Miles Teller).

She looks different here than in the other picture, but they make an equally adorable couple. 

And given that they are both in Divergent, I kind of hope something actually happens between these two stars. Although, they cast Miles as Peter, which makes me hesitant to see it. It might ruin my romance with Mr. Teller.

Interesting Oklahoma fact: They disagree with the rest of the world. Their state motto is Labor Omnia Vincit - Labor Conquers All.

5) Nebraska - Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell - Hmm. I can't decide. Did I love it? Did I hate it? Did I like the very last sentence of the book? Is the end different than what I think it is? Did I think Eleanor was a complete bitch throughout the book? Or was I just overly protective about my innocent Park?

I have a lot of mixed-and-undecided feelings about this book. I think I just find it to be unrealistic. Maybe I was too jaded as a teenager, but love isn't like that. Holding hands with someone isn't like that. Kissing someone isn't like that. Hmm, maybe I was just too angsty to really get the feelings like others did, but I found the characters here completely unrelatable (for my ideas on first loves, experiences and such, please read the aforementioned The Spectacular Now and remind yourself that I am usually the non-alcoholic version of Sutter in relationships). Maybe that's it. They were unrelatable. 

I really wanted things in the book to be expanded on too, but oddly, at the end of the book, the biggest question in my mind wasn't what happened to the main characters or anything about them left untied, but rather, I wanted to know more about Steven and Tina, who didn't make up too much of the book. More importantly, I wanted to know about Tina's stepfather and (spoiler alert) how that made her relate to Eleanor and why Steven became accepting of Eleanor after he found out about her stepdad. (end spoiler alert).

Also, I usually have so many highlights in my books of quotes I want to remember or ideas I want to remember or things I need to look up later and here I only had a few, my favorite being "He didn't have bookmark like feelings for her." Although, I love bookmarks. Especially the handmade ones my students make me. And I can't say I have ever received a bookmark from one of my love interests, but I don't think it would upset me.

It is one of the most beautiful, yet simple covers I have ever seen. But my obsession with ampersands might make me a bit biased.

I do have to say, all of the music references, comic references and other references were such a joy and so fantastic. I love nerding out over nerdy things. Also, I liked this quote about the great Stan Lee's X-Men "They're a metaphor for acceptance; they've sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them." Thanks, fictional Park for that one. I can go on and on about how I wanted to be an X-Men as a teenage because of I thought I was different and all that jazz. I was one of those. 

And I have to admit, I nerded out a bit when I found out that having blue eyes is actually a genetic mutation. I'm pretty sure I ran up and down halls screaming "I'm a mutant!"

Interesting Nebraska fact: the author, Rainbow Rowell, is from Nebraska.

Alright, 'til next time!

Thanks for most of my interesting facts.

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