Monday, December 11, 2017

What I have Read (and Taught) Recently

I have finished student teaching! I'm currently finishing up the paperwork and certifications needed to become a hireable and certified teacher! I thought I would recap what I read and taught over the semester, with some thoughts on how I enjoyed reading and teaching each piece. I'll have a second post coming soon with what I read for fun while I've been gone.

Short Stories

My freshman started the year with a short story and literary terms unit. This was the first story in the unit and the first story of the year that I taught. This was also my first short story by Dahl that I have read. I knew that he wrote some adult literature and that it was pretty dark, and this story definitely fits that description. This story is super short; I read it aloud in about twenty minutes, but there is so much there to discuss, unpack, and think about, which made it perfect for English class. I'm really interested in reading more of Dahl's short stories. 

 This is a super popular short story that is in numerous anthologies and textbooks. I did not care for this story all that much. It's long and consists of too much rising action. I don't have a whole lot to say about this one beyond that. There's a lot going on in terms of literary elements which makes it useful for teaching vocab and concepts, but for personal enjoyment, it's not for me.
This is another very short story, but it's very well done. I really enjoyed this story, and to me, it felt like an O' Henry story. It has a great ending, and great build up to the ending, and my students really enjoyed it. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read this one, as that's all it will take you. 

Novellas and Novels 

My freshman read the original novella version of Flowers for Algernon, which has become a modern science fiction classic. When I finished reading this, I had some mixed feelings. The novella is short and written in diary form which works really well for the plot. This novella deals with some really serious themes, and the ending was super impactful for me. I was left feeling a little uneasy about the truths of the world that the novella had revealed. It was interesting to teach this piece to freshman, as their thinking tends to be more black-and-white at that age, and they didn't have as strong of a reaction to it as I did. After reading, they were required to write an argumentative paper on whether or not Charlie should have had the surgery, and students didn't have any difficulty making their choice, but I could not decide for myself and kept going back and forth in my own mind.  

This was the only novel I read with my sophomores this year was To Kill a Mockingbird. I hadn't read this novel since I was a sophomore in high school, and I loved it even more the second time around. I didn't recognize a lot of the brilliant word usage, wise world views, and humor in the novel when I read it as a teen. I loved teaching this novel. This is a novel I would love to teach again. If I were to teach it, I would want to supplement it with material by authors of color from the time period as that is important, but this book has stood the test of time and will continue to. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

What I've Been Reading When I Have No Time to Read

You guys know I have started my stint as a full-time teacher and am currently completing my internship as a student teacher. Because of this, I have not had a lot of time to read my own thing. I read a lot of student writing and materials for class, and after that, I'm ready for bed. No joke, it's a win if I'm still awake at 8:00 p.m.

But, with that being said, I have manged to read a few things here and there since September. Here's a look at the types of reading material I have been reading while I've had no time to read.

  • Short Stories
Short story collections are great when you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to reading. I found myself with the energy to read for about twenty minutes some nights, which was the perfect amount of time to read one or two stories from Almost Famous Women. I find it so annoying when I am reading a regular fiction novel to read in sporadic and short bursts; as I feel like I can never remember what is going on. With short story collections, you are able to finish an entire story arc in a shorter amount of time, which makes for satisfying reading. 
  • Nonfiction
Nonfiction is another genre that is usually suitable for short reading bursts. I find that the pressure is lifted to remember every detail of a nonfiction piece because I know that it's not possible, and quite frankly, just not the point of nonfiction. I'm more forgiving of myself when I can't remember details from the previous chapter of a nonfiction novel than a fiction novel. 
  • Audiobooks
Audiobooks couple very nicely with the above genre. I have found myself eager to listen to nonfiction audiobooks on my communicate to and from school. I really enjoyed Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and am about ready to start a new selection for my commute. I'm thinking Trevor Noah's Born a Crime will be next. 
  • Throwbacks 
The final category of books I have been leaning towards are throwbacks. I recently picked up a copy of The Babysitter by R.L. Stine for a quarter at my library's book sale and sat down and read it while I was home alone for the weekend. It was the perfect combination of nostalgia and classic creepy, and it's got me in the mood for some more throwback horror and creepy quick reads. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Diversity Bingo Update #3

I haven't updated my Diversity Bingo board in a while, so I thought it was about time for an update post. Admittedly, I haven't marked off many squares since my last update in July, but that's because teaching has slowed down my reading quite a bit. Nevertheless, I have some squares to mark off for book I've read over the past three months or so, and I do plan to cross more of before the end of the year.

If you have any recommendations for books that would fulfill any of my empty squares, please let me know! 

Update #1
Update #2

Newly Competed Squares and Reviews:
MC With an Underrepresented Body Type: The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertailli (Plus size MC) 
Arabic MC (Own Voices): The Rose and the Dagger, Renee Ahdieh 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Recently Read: Almost Famous Women

Author: Megan Mayhew Bergman
Genre: Short Stories- Adult Fiction
Page Count: 230
Publication Date: 2015
Rating: 3.5/5

Add on Goodreads

The stories of women on the brink of fame, including Oscar Wilde's niece, Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, an aging artist, and Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister, are imagined in this short story collection. These women are connected by their bravery, their proximity to fame, and the sadness that is coupled with being an almost famous woman.

I have had this collection on my TBR for quite some time. The premise and the beautiful cover sucked me in and I knew this book would be right up my alley. I picked it up as I have been so busy with teaching this month,that I thought a short story collection would be easier to get through than a novel. The stories in this collection range in length, some are only three pages, others are twenty-or-so, and I loved reading one or two stories a night before bed. 

Each story features an image of the woman it is about as well as suggested reading material about that woman in the author's note. I loved this touch, and found myself itching to research the real lives of these ladies. Bergman uses a close companion or third party as the narrator for most of these stories, which really helps to build a common thread through the collection and commentary on what it was like to be a woman breaking the mold. These women were never given the opportunity to tell their own stories, and gossip runs wild about a woman challenging society's standards, so being once removed from each title lady was the perfect way to convey these ideas. 

I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection; I felt like each story was equally as good as the last, but I didn't feel like any of the stories particularly stood out as amazing. I really loved the idea behind this collection and thought it was very well executed. I will definitely be spending some time researching more about these ladies!   

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Feminist Nonfiction Haul (I mean, you can't say your surprised)

In this post, I talked about how out of control my feminist nonfiction TBR list was, so naturally, I bought some of the books off of it. I thought it was about time I got around to reading some of these books, and the first step to that is having them on hand. I've now got quite a pile on my unread shelves, but I have been really loving reading nonfiction lately. I think nonfiction is easier to read than fiction when I'm super busy because I can go a week without picking up my book and not feel totally lost. Here's a look at the three new nonfiction additions to my immediate TBR.

I've had my eye on this doorstop of a novel about this mother-daughter literary duo for a while now. 650 pages seems about right for these two literary ladies who had such exciting literary and love lives. I am really interested in both authors personally, as well as their works, so I think I will really enjoy this one. I can see this one being the perfect winter read. 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
I actually had this one out from my library as an ebook and read fifty pages before I knew I had to own a copy of this because I was itching to mark and tab every chapter. I loved how insightful Steinem is in this novel, and I am really looking forward to reading more about her and her work. I'm also looking to pick up her essays sometime in the near future. 

Savage Beauty  by Nancy Milford
Yet another doorstop of a biography I have had my eye on for ages. Millay is one of my all-time favorite poets and typing up my Literary Look post on her had me itching to read more about her. I know she was pretty unique for her time and I'm really interested to read more about the tidbits I already know and learn completely new things. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happy Banned Books Week!

Artwork courtesy of the ALA

As per tradition, I'm here to share a quick post in support of Banned Books Weeks sponsored by the American Library Association. I have always been a reader of banned and challenged books, but as of this year, I am also a teacher of banned and challenged books. In our current political climate, which seems to be made up of extremes, discussing censorship and information withholding is more important than ever. 

Looking at the list of the most frequently challenged books of the past year from the ALA website, makes it clear that book challenging is not about protecting children as it is so often sited as, but about restricting reader's abilities to see themselves and others that differ from themselves in literature. Of the top ten, half were challenged because of their honest portrayal of gender and sexual orientation diversity. While this is not surprising, it is disheartening. 

As always, I encourage you to check out the American Library Association's website (linked above under the picture) and I will leave the link to report the removal or ban of a book or piece of work in your area.

Have a happy week (and life) of reading banned books! 

Banned Books Week Posts:
2016 Here and Here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Recently Read: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Author: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Genre: Nonfiction
Page Count: 222
Publication Date: 2017
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads

I put in a hold for this audiobook from my library when the book first came out, and it finally came in a week or so ago at the perfect time. I have a half-hour commute to and from my school and I just couldn't take the radio anymore. I listened to this in about a week and I loved it. It is narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who of course has a lovely narrator voice, and contained just enough information about a range of topics to be interesting without being boring.

I am both terrified and fascinated by space. I took an astronomy class in college to fulfill my science credit, and I lost some sleep that semester over the scary happenings of space, but I was also so fascinated by space and the idea of humans working so hard to find the answers to the biggest questions concerning us. This book covers a range of space topics in a shallow way that makes for easy reading (or in my case listening) I did not understand everything in this book (and probably never will) but not because of the way it was presented, just because that is the nature of  the science of space. Neil DeGrasse Tyson uses beautiful metaphors and humor to make the complexities of space more manageable. This book is the perfect mix of science, theory, and antidotes. Tyson makes science sound like an art form, which I really loved. 

My thoughts and thinking about science has really changed over recent years. Past me would have turned my nose up at science as something that I just couldn't understand, relate to, or even care about. But in the past two years or so, I have begun to see the beauty and poetic nature of science; it's not at odds with art or other forms of human creation. My language and literature centered brain can in fact appreciate and understand elements of the scientific world. 

If you are interested in astronomy at any level, I recommend this book. This is a book I can see myself rereading in the future in order to experience Tyson's beautiful metaphors again as well as to receive the information again to help it stick. Listening to this book while driving to work in the dark of the early morning was a great way to start my day and has cemented my desire to pick up more audiobooks for my commute. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

I'm not sure how much reading I will be getting done this fall as I have just started teaching. I am writing up this post quite far in advance, so I have no idea how much reading current me is doing! Here's some books that I would like to curl up with this fall. You'll notice I crave historical fiction and mysteries in the fall and winter seasons!
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling 
I have been working my way through this series, and this is the next in line. I really want to dive into this one and continue with this reread, but the size mixed with my limited reading time is making me hesitant. I might find myself diving into this comfort read in the midst of things anyways.

2. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Stephanie Barron
Fall is the perfect time to read mysteries! I have been wanting to dig into this series where Jane Austen solves mysteries for a while because it sounds so cute! I think fall will be the perfect time to start this series.

3. More than This, Patrick Ness
This book has been calling my name from my shelf for a long time.


4. A Tyranny of Petticoats, Jessica Spotswood
I really think I will love this collection, but for whatever reason, I haven't dug into it yet. With a second volume coming out next year, I really want to get into this one!

5. Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel  
This book is number one on my buy list right now! I've heard that this is a decent start to the series but that the second one is better and I really want to dig in! I've really been craving some quality science fiction lately.

6. The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee
I've been hearing lots of great things about this one, and I love the sound of the premise. I really want to pick this one up and dig in!

7. Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neal Hurston
I've been loading up my TBR with feminist nonfiction, and this is one I want to get to very soon!

8. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters 
I loved Water's Fingersmith so I'm eager to read more from her. Her books always have a mysterious element to them, and a great historical atmosphere, which screams fall to me.

9. Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote 
I've been meaning to read more of Capote's fiction since I have only read his short stories. I think this novel will be perfect for fall as it sounds a bit creepy and strange.

10.  All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doer
Another book that has been on my TBR forever and would be perfect for the fall weather! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Feminist Non-Fiction TBR List is Out of Control, Ya'll!

The other day, I was going through my Goodreads TBR shelf, and realized I had a lot of nonfiction on my TBR that I really wanted to get to, upon further inspection, I noticed that most of that nonfiction had feminist themes. Now, this isn't really surprising since I love to read about and study gender and gender issues, but it did remind me of a number of really interesting sounding books I want to get to very soon. So, here's a look at a few of the feminist nonfiction novels on my TBR. Check out my Goodreads to see both my feminist and nonfiction shelves.

Steinem is a feminist icon that I admittedly don't know much about. I will be picking this one up first, as I have an ebook copy from my library, and I'm hoping it will serve as a good introduction to Steinmen. I have spent a lot more time reading about the first wave of feminism, as compared to the second, so I'm interested to read more about the second wave and hear it from someone who was there!  

If you read my most recent Poetry Spotlight on Millay, you'll know she is one of my favorite poets, and she lived a very interesting and unconventional life. She was openly bisexual, had many public affairs during her long-time marriage, and was an activist in the political sphere, all while remaining one of the best and most recognized poets of her time as well as the the twentieth century. I'm really eager to learn more about Millay, and this 600-plus page biography seems perfect for that. 

This one sounds really interesting as it covers the way women in the public eye are viewed and discussed by the general public. It covers a range of women including Britney Spears, Billie Holiday, Hillary Clinton, and more. With the more recent tendencies to examine the sexist language and thought patterns in the media towards women, I think this book will be both interesting and important. 

And of course, leave me some recommendations of feminist nonfiction in the comments! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recently Reread: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (and thoughts on comfort)

Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: 2000
Page Count: 734
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

If you read this post, you will know that I am starting a new endeavor as a student teacher and completing my internship to receive my teaching degree. Because this is a big, scary, and unpredictable experience, I have been feeling nervous lately. So, I decided to pick up one of my favorite comfort reads, Harry Potter. 

I've been rereading this series for the past year or so, picking one up every once and a while, and this was the next in line for my reread. I took this one to the beach with me when I went for a long weekend, and I loved getting back into this world. Goblet of Fire is the novel where the books start to take a dark turn, and the plot really kicks into high gear. I remember reading that one line in the novel (the one where the first death takes place) over and over when I first read this book, because I thought that I had to have read it wrong. I was shocked to read that line, and completely enthralled with this book. That was the first time I really understood the evil that was in this novel, and I think that the ending of this book is one of the best endings in the series.    

One of the reasons I think Harry Potter is such a comfort read for me, is that each time I reread one of the books, I remember reading them for the first time as a young kid. It invokes the joy of being a kid, staying up way past your bedtime, curled in bed, and reading a book that you can't put down. Each time I reread these books, they get funnier, and the genius of Rowling's character development and symbols become more apparent. I love that I loved these novels for the story as a kid, and now as an adult, I love them for the story and the literary elements that they display so well. I find new things in this story every time I read it, and they truly are timeless. 

Of course, after finishing this I was itching to pick up Order of the Phoenix but I decided to wait on it a bit since that is the largest novel in the series. But I see myself picking it up very soon! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Few of my Favorite Unreliable Narrators

One of my favorite elements to find in a book is an unreliable narrator. Although it is difficult to get just right, unreliable narrators and unlikeable characters are fascinating to read about, and you know an author is good when they master these elements. A well-done unreliable narrator will keep the reader on their toes and prevent them from getting comfortable and solid footing at times, which I love. Here's a compilation of some of my favorite unreliable narrators, and please leave me your recommendations for similar books below!

Book Titles Link to Reviews!

I was totally captured by this novel. It was violent and dramatic, but I couldn't stop reading! Luke is a great narrator, as like any good unreliable narrator, he is crazy yet believes himself totally justified! I really enjoyed writing the review for this one as I had a LOT of thoughts after finishing this one!

It's been quite a while since I have read this one and I would love to reread it soon, but I remember being enthralled with the beautiful writing in this novel. Nabokov just wrote this novel to prove the power of beautiful words, and trust me, he is successful. You end up feeling for Humbert Humbert during the course of the novel even though you know you shouldn't. Nabokov was truly a master of the written word.

I am becoming a huge fan of Jackson's writing, and this short novel was so thought provoking and eerie. Merrikat is the perfect unreliable narrator; the narration and mysterious atmosphere keeps you guessing at the truth for the whole novel.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is one of my all-time favorite novels, and a novel I will die to defend! A lot of people dislike this book or think it's overrated and I couldn't disagree more! This book is full of unlikable characters, that serve a purpose to the story and themes, and Nick (while not crazy like a lot of unreliable narrators) is not always truthful. His biased and unchecked narration is essential to the reader's 'larger-than-life' perception of Gatsby and the unflattering perceptions of the novel's other characters. Man, I could write a book about this novel, which is how you know it's worth the hype! 

What unreliable narrators do you love?  Introduce me to my new favorite unreliable narrator!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Recently Read: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Modern Classic
Page Count: 146
Publication Date: 1962
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads

Also by Shirley Jackson:
The Lottery and Other Stories

The Blackwood family has lived in their mansion house for generations. New women move in each generation, bringing their own dishware with them, adding layers to the house, but the newest layer added to the Blackwood mansion is murder. Mary Kathrine's sister Constance has been accused of murdering her family, and although she was found innocent, the town refuses to forget it. 

As soon as I finished Jackson's short story collection, I treated myself to the beautiful Penguin Deluxe Edition of this novel as I knew I would love it, and I did. I am now eager to read everything Jackson put out. I read this one in two sittings because I couldn't put it down. 

This novel is eerie in the same vein as Jackson's short stories; Jackson doesn't rely on the supernatural or the paranormal to make the reader uneasy, instead she uses the everyday, and ordinary people, to create the eerieness of her stories. Jackson is a master at showcasing that the real monster is man (think Twilight Zone) and I love every minute of it. This story was extremely character driven, and I lover Merrikat as a narrator. Merrikat's narration of the story added a prefect veil of mystery over the story that mixed beautifully with the Gothic atmosphere of the mansion. 

This novel deals with themes of isolation and suspicion as well as loyalty and guilt. The novel leaves many questions unanswered, but gives you enough clues to come to a conclusion of your own. Many critics site this as Jackson's most personal novel as she was dealing with agoraphobia (fear of leaving her house) while she wrote this novel, which happens to have been her last completed project. Jackson's works are always an intimate and unsettling look into the human mind and human tendencies, and leave me feeling creeped out but so entertained. This is a book that would be great to discuss with other people, and something I would love to see on film. I know there is one film adaptation, but I don't know anything about it. Let me know it you have seen it! 

What's your favorite Jackson novel? I'll be on the look-out for her novels every time I visit a bookstore now! 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

School and Life Update (I'm a student teacher)

If you guys have been around for a little while, you will know that I have been in college studying to become a high school English teacher for the entirety of my time on the blog. This has meant that my posting and reading schedule has never been steady, but I have loved my time (for the most part) as a student of education and literature. This week, I start my student teaching assignment, which is sixteen weeks of (unpaid) full-time teaching under a mentor teacher. I'll be working with two teachers and teaching two sections of freshman literature and composition, a section of sophomore literature and composition, and two section of advanced placement English. I'm super excited for this experience, (and a little nervous of course) but I'm not sure what it will mean for the blog and my reading. Of course I would love to continue reading in my time outside of the classroom, but I'm not sure if I will have the time and energy for it; the same goes for blogging. Along with full time teaching, I have other assignments and classes I must attend through my university, so I know my days will be full.

I have a few posts completed already, and will be working before this one goes up to hopefully complete a few more, but just know if I disappear, that's why. After completing my student teaching, I will be able to apply for my teaching license and get hired as a full-time teacher! I'm almost there, and I'm very excited about it!

Hopefully I will be popping in semi-frequently to update you on what I'm reading and loving! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: The Classics You Really Should Have Read in School (Hidden Gems)

We all know how much I love talking about under-rated classics, so of course I was going to spin this week's hidden gems topic in that fashion. High school and college English classes are always assigning the same reading material, and while most of it is really good, it would be nice to switch it up every once and a while. So here are ten hidden gem classics that I think deserve a spot on syllabus lists everywhere. Unsurprisingly, you will note that 8/10 of these works are written by women. It's 2017 people, let's get some women on our syllabuses!  
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

1. Passing by Nella Larson
I've talked about this one in regard to hidden gems a couple of times on the blog. This is an amazing novel about race, women, and Harlem in the 1920s. I really need to reread this one soon.

2. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
This short novel packs quite a powerful punch as it covers a lot of really big themes. It comments on religious faith, romantic love, and keeping a sense of self while in a romantic relationship. This is the only Greene I have read so far, even though I own quite a few, so I really need to get to more of his works.

3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I just recently finished this one, so I haven't even reviewed it yet, but it's safe to say that this novel has officially cemented my love of Shirley Jackson. This short novel is eerie, thought provoking, and loveable.


4. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This novella has been one of my favorites for quite a while, and I talk about it any chance I get. I love the straightforward story line that Wharton amps up by creating complex characters and intricate symbols. Wharton is another author that I need to dive into along with Greene. Suggestions on where to start with her novels are much appreciated!

5. The Kiss by Kate Chopin 
Chopin is a genius, and although at least one of her short stories can usually be found on a reading list, either "Desiree's Baby" or "The Story of an Hour," her shortest story, "The Kiss" is my favorite. Chopin writes powerful feminist literature that gets better and better every time you read it.

6. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
While it's not unusual to find Hemingway on a reading list, you almost never find In Our Time on this list, which I think, is one of his best. It was written very early on in his career and contains short stories all loosely connected by vignettes. While I dislike Hemingway as a person very much, I can't deny his incredible writing talent.


7. The Lamplighter by Maria Susana Cummins 
This is a very long, and semi-forgotten, novel of nineteenth century America. It's a Dickens-esque drama written by a female author about a female character. Although it's long, it is quite enjoyable and was a huge success during its time. This is a key domestic novel in the era of the independent women writer. See this post for more on these independent women writers.

8. Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima
This novel has such an interesting back story, I suggest you read my review (linked above) before reading this novel. This is not a truthful memoir, but what was requested of di Prima from her publisher and it perfectly embodies di Prima's struggle as a woman poet in the male lead Beatnik era.

9. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks 
Another short novel that packs a punch, although a quieter punch than some of the others. This novel is such an interesting look at the complicated feelings between children regarding adults.

10. Trifles by Susan Glaspell 
This one act play is about as clever as it gets. I loved this play when I read it for the first time and thought I had never read anything quite as true and clever in my life. It's heavy feminist themes were perfect for its 1916 debut and current times. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Recently Read: The Rose and the Dagger

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Ya Retelling/Fantasy
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 416
Rating: 3/5

Add on Goodreads 

I never got around to reviewing The Wrath and the Dawn when I read it last year because I listened to it on audiobook during a busy school semester, but I have pretty similar feelings about both novels. 

I think listening to these books on audio was a great choice, as the narrator has a beautiful voice and is a great reader. I'm not sure if I would have finished these otherwise- as they are a little slow at times and the writing is extremely detailed. This dualology is a loose retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, and Ahdieh does an amazing job of making these novels feel like legends through her writing style and the atmosphere she crafts. I think the beautiful and detailed writing really adds to this atmosphere, but it does make it a bit of a slower read at times. 

I know a lot of people love these books, but I felt pretty neutral about them. I thought the romance was a bit odd in book one, but the novel was entertaining enough so I stuck around and checked out book two. I didn't feel like there was a lot of substance to The Rose and the Dagger. I found myself about fifty percent of the way through the book before the plot really started. The last quarter of the book or so really picked up, and I was interested to see how it ended, but until that point, not a lot happened. There wasn't a lot of romance, and while I appreciated the lack of a love triangle, I found the romance scenes in book one to be the most entertaining, even if the romance was a bit odd. 

Overall, I enjoyed this dualology. but it's not my favorite YA out there. I loved Ahdieh's writing, as she has a beautiful and mythical voice, but everything else was just 'okay' for me. I still recommend checking this one out if it interests you, as a lot of people love it, and book one is a really interesting twist on A Thousand and One Nights. I really enjoy retellings, but it seems like the same classics keep getting covered over and over, so I love to read retellings that are based on new classics.

And of course, I can't mention A Thousand and One Nights and not mention the Scooby Doo movie that introduced me to the story. I was (and still am) a huge fan of Scooby, so this movie was all I could think about while reading these books. Does anyone else have any idea of what I'm talking about?? 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Poetry Spotlight: Edna St. Vincent Millay

In my second year of college I took an Introduction to Poetry class and I fell in love with reading poetry. Before then, poetry was always a little intimidating and a medium that I didn't have much experience with. But after that class, I became addicted to reading poetry, and during the class I actually found myself thinking in and expressing myself in poetry- which I never would have guessed would happen in a million years. So, with this series I'm here to share some of my favorite poems in a way that I'm sure will turn out rambley and unorganized.


Today I'm here to bring you a long-promised post on one of my favorite poets of all time: Edna St. Vincent Millay. Her and Plath top my list of all-time favorite poets, and they share a lot of qualities, so if you like one, there's a good chance you will like the other. I discovered Millay in my sophomore year of college and have written many papers on her work since. Millay is a sassy and brilliant feminist poet who uses bite and humor in her works. 

Millay was very popular during her lifetime; she was the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature, (winning in 1923) and was known not only as a poet but as an activist as well.

Millay was born in 1892 and was only nineteen years old when she published one of her most well-known poems, "Renascence." Millay also wrote prose under the name Nancy Boyd, but was most known for her mastery of poetry, including her sonnets. Millay is a super interesting person, and someone I plan to do a lot of reading on in the future, but I'll just cover a few of her highlights here. Millay was openly bisexual. She was married to a man for twenty-six years, but both of them had multiple affairs during the marriage that the other was aware of. Her husband supported her writing career and took on a number of the domestic duties in their life. Millay lived a bohemian life in New York after college until her poem "Renascence" was entered into a contest in which it won fourth place. This caused quite the controversy, as Millay's poem was considered the best by all of the contestants that entered, and the second place winner even offered Millay his prize money. Millay became an activist in WWI and wrote poetry in support of the Allies. She was the second woman to receive the Frost Medal for her contributions to American poetry. She died at the age of fifty-eight as a result of a heart attack. For more about Millay, see the links I have included at the bottom of the post.

A Few of My Favorite Poems
click the poem title to read the poem
This is perhaps my favorite Millay poem, and one that I have written on in school. Millay is unapologetic when it comes to writing about romance and sex, which is very refreshing for a woman of her time. This poem is both witty and sassy and a perfect example of a sonnet. If you have ever attempted to write a sonnet, you know how difficult they are, and Millay does them perfectly, and often turns the love sonnet on its head, as she does with this one. 

This poem is often read in literature classes and captures a bohemian spirit. My outlook on this poem really changed when I heard Millay read it out loud (listen here.) That's when the poem really grew on me and the rhythm was hard to get out of my head. 

This was the first poem of Millay's that I fell in love with. This short poem is so whimsical; I highly recommend you read this one for yourself. 

This is the poem mentioned above that put Millay on the map. This longer poem deals with complicated themes in the same vain as Whitman. The speaker has an enlightened moment and becomes one with everything. 

Her Sonnets 
Millay wrote a number of sonnets, and she is well-known for her mastery of the difficult form. Many of her sonnets are written from the female perspective and disrupt the typical romantic themes of a sonnet. Here are a few to check out: 

Hope you enjoy your exploration of Millay's work as much as I have!
Links for Further Information