Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Harry Potter Series (Review)

It took me a VERY long time until I finally sat down and read these books! I'm ashamed to say I just finished the books last August. I've kept up with the movies and now I have a comparison to finally make. I know the book is always better than the movie, but I was shocked at how much content was left out of the films. The movies are still incredible, but nothing compares to the books. J.K. Rowling has a lovely imagination that captivates the reader of these books. She created Quiddich! I was hooked into Harry's world while reading these books, and even had a few Harry Potter dreams. I couldn't have been more heartbroken to finish these books, and the fact that I won't be visiting Hogwarts any time soon. I remember reading these books late into the night, and texting my friend Amanda about how much the movies left out. I'm sure she loved the 1,2, and 3 am texts about Harry Potter! If ever I were able to visit an imaginary place, Hogwarts would be at the top of my list. The fourth book was my favorite because of the Tri-Wizard's Tournament. Every book never failed to have an out of this world adventure in store for Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I was so afraid that a major character would die in the last book, but I finished the series pretty satisfied with the results. Do I think the stories could and should continue? DEFINITELY!

The Awakening (Review)

I read The Awakening in my American Lit class. Out of all the books assigned to read as an English major, this book was my favorite. Edna Pontellier, while not having the finest of names, became a revolutionary in her time. The Awakening is set in New Orleans, LA at the turn of the 19th century. What set Edna apart from most women was her desire to do more than gossip and sip tea. She wanted to be free from her societal standards as a woman and mother. All of this was revealed to her over her summer vacation at Grand Isle. She met Roberto Lebrun, and soon found there was more than friendship involved in their relationship. However, after the summer he moved to Mexico to escape the situation. Her "awakening" is encountered when she first learns to swim. Her personal brush with the dangers of the sea pushed her hopes and desires into action. Soon after her swim lesson, her husband, Leonce, took a business trip to New York and sent their two children to his mother's house, leaving Edna home alone with her thoughts. She pursued her independence by moving out of her house and beginning her career in the arts. At this point in the novel, she has become a self sustaining woman, which was her goal. Roberto declares his love to Edna after his return from Mexico. Through a series of unfortunate events, Edna is never able to give her response and Roberto left with a note expressing he wouldn't return. Edna decides to go back to the place that started it all- the ocean. Slipping into the one place that she felt she had conquered, she is overcome and drowns. This novel is a precursor to the feminist movement that would soon emerge in America and throughout the world.

The Private John Lennon (Review)

This book was a product of a serendipitous find in the Music library in Gorgas. I have always loved the Beatles, especially John Lennon. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in John Lennon's life or involvement with the Beatles. What I loved most about this book is that it's written by Julia Baird, John's stepsister. The Private John Lennon portrays John as a brother, being a part of his Liverpool band, the Silver Beatles, and transforming into one of the most renowned bands in the history of music. I've been wanting to read about the history of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon, for some time, but haven't had the time. Most Beatles books I've seen in Barnes and Nobles resemble the length of War and Peace, and doesn't exactly fit into light reading. This book was only 300 pages, making it a breeze to finish in a week or two.

Now to the content- Julia Baird poured herself into this book. She uncovered many family secrets while working on this novel, and finally received some answers that were never given to her as a child. She re-opens the wound of dealing with the sudden death of her mother in her childhood years. Their mother introduced John to music, buying him his first guitar, which connected him to his lifeline. John was never able to live with his mother and two sisters, making their secret visits precious time. In the eyes of the government, Julia was deemed an unfit mother because she was living with a man she had not married, even though they had two daughters. John lived with the eldest sister, Mary "Mimi" Smith. Julia Baird reflects on childhood memories with her brother John, then shifts into the music scene and describes the first time she saw thousands of girls screaming out her brother's name at a Beatles concert. Once the three sibling grew into adults and pursued separate dreams, the sisters grew apart from John. Julia describes her attempts to reconnect with her brother. Once John moved to New York, he was unable to see his family in England, because he wouldn't be allowed back into the U.S. They communicated through telephone and sometimes letters until John's death. She also writes about her attempts to find her mother's second child, that was given up for adoption.

John's Journal

I have to give all the credit of this post to John McWilliams and his brilliant idea of bringing a journal with us to document our encounters on our road trip to California. He also corrected me at least twenty times that this is a Journal, NOT a Diary!
Here are a few entries from his Journal:
First, score predictions for the National Championship game~
Kirk 24-13- Bama
Me 24-21- Bama
John 24-18- Bama
Final Score: 37-21- Bama!

Monday, January 4, 2010
From Mississippi: 2:27 pm ~It's snowing! 63 miles from Jackson
From Texas: 11:06 pm- Kirk was pulled over by state trooper for license plate light being out. Received only a warning. Nice guy. Had no idea that Texas was playing in the Championship game.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
5:07 am- We entered Mountain Time. There are windmills with lights in a distance. Kirk declares them, a "ridiculous amount". Two bobcat sightings. According to John, the mountains resemble mashed potatoes and gravy...
6:48 am- Driving beside the Mexican border in Juarez,Mexico. Thousands of lights. Mesmerizing.
1:30 pm- Stopped at ASU and ate at Student Union. Walked to the bookstore after John fed the birds. Proceeded to Sun Devil Stadium, which is impossible to find. Found ASU's Library, which was underground.
Arrived in Huntington Beach, CA 8:24 pm!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Visited UCLA's campus. Apparently it was the first week of school, because they had booths and organizations to sign up for. A stereotypical "surfer guy" kept yelling "Blood Drive!" to everyone that walked past him. We received around 15 handouts for things we'd never attend. Went to a Lakers VS. Clippers game that night. Best text message on the score board: "Tide's ready to saw off some horns!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010
GAME DAY. We spent the entire day at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Picked up our tickets at 10 am. Row 15! They were great seats! We were on the left side of the field goal in Alabama's end zone. Kirk and I had quite an experience getting concessions. There was a huge crowd waiting to get into the tunnel and find their seats. I had a tray full of ketchupped fries when the crowd turned into a stampede! I remember Kirk yelling, "Box 'em out!" from somewhere behind me. No fries or ketchup were spilled during the stampede.

Friday, January 8, 2010
Headed home. We left LA at 12:30 pm. We ate at our last In N Out Burger. It was the best burger I've ever tasted! I saw two simultaneous shooting stars that night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010
8:34 am- John made the side of the Texas highway his restroom.
11: 14 am- stopped for lunch in Oklahoma. Kirk saw two guys with red sweatshirts on and yelled "Roll Tide!" at them. Too bad the sweatshirts were Arizona and Oklahoma.

Sunday, January 10, 2010
12:45 am- Home!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Dark Tower Series (Review)

I began the Dark Tower novels when I was in high school and finished them in college. I have always been a Stephen King fan, so obviously I discovered the series. This series is definitely Stephen King's best work. Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger, is left with the burden of saving the world by reaching the Dark Tower before the Man in Black. In the second novel, The Drawing of the Three, he finds his three apprentices, Susannah, Eddie, and Jake. Now that his ka-tet is complete, they begin their journey to save the world. One of the major elements of the novels is time travel, to this world and other worlds. Roland and his ka-tet travel to other wheres and whens throughout the novels. King even creates his own language, High Speech, which is used by the characters they encounter in Roland's world. One of my favorite aspects of the series is that Stephen King incorporates some of his other novels and even events from his own life into the series. Here's a list of his other short stories and books that are connected to the Dark Tower series: 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Talisman, Black House, It, Insomnia, Regulators, Desperation, Rose Madder, Bag of Bones, From A Buick 8, Skeleton Crew, Hearts in Atlantis, Everything's Eventual, and Little Sisters of Eluria.

This is the list of the novels in the Dark Tower series:
The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Wastelands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, The Dark Tower

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Sookie Stackhouse Novels (Review)

I never realized how much I would enjoy fantasy fiction until I read the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Based in rural Louisiana, Sookie the telepathic barmaid encounters her first vampire in Bon Tempts. Bill Compton enters her life and changes everything she used to know about the world. She is introduced into the vampire world and becomes very valuable in the vampire community. As a human lie detector, she uncovers many mysteries through the series and finds that vampires soon become the least of her worries. Sookie encounters shape shifters, werewolves, witches, and even fairies that rock her small town life. There is never a dull moment when reading these novels and it's a wonderful escape from the everyday.

Here's a list of the books that have been published so far:
Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone

The Lovely Bones (Review)

Hearing the hype from the movie, I decided to read The Lovely Bones before watching the movie. WARNING: If you are planning on reading this book, I recommend you not reading this unless you enjoy spoiled endings! It was a wonderfully written book. The vocabulary didn't exactly match a 14 year old girl, but I'm not complaining. I am relieved that the description of Susie's rape and murder was displayed through delicate words, enabling a not so vivid mental picture. The novel revealed the frustration and the vain hope of an unsolved murder. Buckley, the youngest son, was told for months that his oldest sister was sleeping over at a friend's house. Day after day their family waited for her to come home, until the thought of murder sank in. I am sympathetic towards Lindsey, always hiding from her reflection. Everyone, including her father, only saw Susie when they looked through Lindsey's eyes. Lindsey remained the strongest character in the Salmon family. She alone broke into George Harvy's house and found Susie's crime scene- the man made hole in the cornfield. Her father had suggested, thought, and even interrogated George Harvy but Lindsey followed through. Jack does deserve credit for being as strong as possible for Lindsey and Buckley, remaining their anchor when his wife, Abigail, leaves. I had assumed that justice would prevail early in the book, but I was mistaken. Harvey's actions catch up to him later, resulting in his lonely death by a falling icicle.