Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shakespeare Opens New Worlds

“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I recently memorized a speech by Shakespeare and that was an excerpt from it. However, I think I owe you all a little explanation.

I often mention in comments and such that I am very busy.  That is quite true.  My full time job as a high school student takes up the majority of my day, and I definitely don’t waste what is left over.  When I was in middle school, I participated in a Shakespeare Recitation competition.  I enjoyed that very very much. In this competition you are required to memorize a sonnet and a speech from any Shakespeare play no less than 30 lines. Those who are in the top 5 of the district go and compete with other districts, all the way up to Nationals.  I lived and breathed Shakespeare for those 6 months that we practiced for the competition! I never actually made it to the finals, but those 3 years gave me so much more than just a fancy certificate with my name on it.

Sadly, my high school has yet to have a Shakespeare club and therefore does not compete in competitions.  This is horrible.  So many people are missing out on a great cultural experience!

So how do I fulfill my craving for the works of Shakespeare? Why I volunteer at my old middle school’s Shakespeare Recitation club of course! Every day, Monday through Thursday, at 2:15 when my school lets out I go over to my old middle school (luckily they are only within a block of each other, and within two blocks of my house) and help out for about an hour! My role there is basically a combination of supervisor/helper/tutor/stand-in-counselor-for-their-issues/give Shakespeare performance advice/make-sure-the-kids-don’t-eat-each-other-alive woman. I love this. It is very fulfilling, almost more so than being in the competition myself because I get to root for them ALL! This Shakespeare competition happens to be tomorrow, and I am taking a day off of school (and let it be known that I NEVER skip, I got permission from my school and everything) to go with them! If any of them are reading this, or anyone else across the country who happens to be part of this is reading I wish you GOOD LUCK! 😀

The reason I have said that Shakespeare opens new worlds is because through this volunteering experience, I have been able to see firsthand the amazing affect that it can have on kids. I have seen a bad kid turn into someone who cares about integrity and literature and all of a sudden is willing to commit themselves to a half-year long project. (which in all honesty is tough for good kids!) I have seen a young girl who has trouble at home find comfort in the timeless words and life lessons within his books.  I have seen kids’ grades, attendance, and behavior improve. An amazing friendship forms when people bond over love of a similar thing, Shakespeare included. As C. S. Lewis says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What? You too! I thought I was the only one!” Good kids have had their eyes opened to the size of the world and how real it is, something that can only be described by something as magnificent as a book. For me, Shakespeare brought me a whole new respect for old English literature, and an appreciation ( which perhaps turned into something more like an obsession) for centuries old romance novels.

So, folks, have I convinced you yet?

Shakespeare opens eyes, it opens hearts, it opens minds, and it most definitely opens new worlds.

 

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

-William Shakespeare

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The First Page Rule!

The beginnings of the world’s best books! What do they show us?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .”

Gone With the Wind by Margret Mitchell

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were”

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife”

The Book Thief by Markus Zusask

“First the colors.

Then the humans.

That’s usually how I see things.

Or at least, how I try.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”

I think you get the idea! The first page and even first sentence are the most important part of a good novel!

The point of this is to explain something that my Aunt Alice told me about a few years ago- something that has helped me make the right book choices in the years that followed. I gave it a name- the first page rule.  It means when you pick up a book, you read the first page.  If you unknowingly turn the page and continue reading, then you should read the book! But if you are bored- if you would rather check out how you need a manicure or that other inviting book staring at you from over there- then put it down.

This has saved me from reading books I have no interest in ever since she told me that! I suggest you do the same, it is a very useful technique when choosing one book from a well stocked bookstore! Also, if you are a writer, you might want to think about this.  Would someone want to continue reading after the first page? Is there too much detail? Not enough? Now, what do I know, because I am not a writer, at least not yet.  But I know one thing I am, and that’s a reader.

If you try this, let me know what you think!

🙂 Olivia

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Top 5 books that bring out the crybaby in me!

This post is inspired by A Novel Place’s post “Top 5 Novels That Bring Out The Sap In Me” .  I decided to do the same thing, because I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but when it comes to books and movies, I cry VERY easily.  I cry during The Lion King when Mufasa dies….. so you get my point. 🙂 These 5 books that I chose might not be a tearjerker per se, but they make me cry every time.  They are in order from least to greatest.

5. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

– I know this one is slightly controversial, because there are probably as many people who hate these books as who love them, but I have to include this.  If Edward and Bella make you want to puke, I understand.  Skip to number 4.  Even though when I read this I knew that Edward would eventually come back to Bella, it still breaks my heart! I cry every time I read this, but my smile comes back at the end of the book and continues throughout the rest of the series!

4.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

– Ahhh, J.K. Rowling. I can’t wait for her new book to come out! I love love LOVE the Harry Potter books! This is my favorite of the whole series.  It does make me cry when Harry dies, it makes me so sad! I followed him throughout his school life, and then he died! Mostly what made me sad was how willing he was to die to save everyone! That is so noble! But I was very happy when good prevailed as always!

3.A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

-” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..” The reason this book makes me cry is similar to why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows does.  The beauty of self sacrifice.  I loved the knitting in this book, and it has an interesting plot.  But there is that desperate feeling that you get somehow knowing that people will die in the end.  And the overwhelming poverty.  All of this combined makes me want to bawl my eyes out, and the end just puts me over the top.

2. Gone With the Wind by Margret Mitchell

– If you have read this book, you will know exactly why the end of this makes me sad.  If you haven’t, everything about love you thought you knew in this book is changed and then denied to you.  Scarlett O’Hara is on her 3rd husband, and she will never be able to marry the one she really loves.  Then something happens( I don’t want to spoil it) that makes her realize that she has always loved someone ELSE, who then decides he doesn’t want her anymore. Not to mention she just lost a child AND had a miscarraige. I cry and cry every time. There is no happy ending to this.

1.Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

– The most tragic and very best love story of all time.  You will cry when you read this book unless you have a heart made of stone.

“And when I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars,and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

This is one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes ever. I love memorizing Shakespeare, I actually fall asleep by reading through the best speeches in my mind. Yeah. I’m a nerd sometimes. But Shakespeare ROCKS!

Thanks again for letting me borrow the idea, A Novel Place!

Feel free to pass this on! 🙂

Olivia

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Book Review- Out of Time

I finished reading Out of Time by Deborah Truscott a few days ago. Wow.  As soon as I am done with this post, I am going over to the My Favorites page and adding this to the very top! This is currently one of my favorite books.  Ever.  You might not have heard of it.  I hadn’t before my mom read it- she told me that it was really good- and she lent it to me by Kindle so I didn’t have to pay for it. Although after reading it I would willingly payed anything for this book!

This book is about a woman named Kathleen, also known as Kathy or Kitty, whose life is essentially in ruin.  Her husband is having multiple affairs but refuses to divorce her, her beloved cat just died, and so did her Uncle Bennett.  She is passed down Uncle Bennett’s estate through his will and she has to decide whether to sell the estate or move there with her two children, Sammy and Blythe.  When she goes to check the property out, she happens to enter the garden shed. While she is in it, the last thing she expects to happen, does.  A man steps out of the shadows.  That man is Colonel Robert Upton, an Englishman who was not exactly born in this century.  He was a Colonel in the British army during the Revolution- and he has no idea how he got into the 21st century.  Kathy befriends him- and somehow believes his story.  They go on a journey to get him back to his time, but something happens that neither of them expect. They fall in love.

Like I said before, I really liked this book.  I am sure I will read it many times, and even after I am done with it, I feel a pressing need to get a physical copy of it so I can keep it for a very, very long time.  The chemistry between the two characters is hard to fathom! I kind of knew from the beginning that they were going to fall in love- but I really didn’t expect this intensity! There were some twists in the plot that I hadn’t predicted, and some of them definitely made me gasp out loud and sometimes shout at my poor Kindle! 🙂 The ending is extremely sweet, and I love that  the point of view changes for the last chapter- that is definitely what the book needed.  There is also a TOTAL shocker at the end, or at least it was a shocker for me, but don’t worry, everything turns out fine!

There are just two things that I disliked about this book.  The first might only apply because I go the Kindle version, but we’ll see. There were many small grammatical errors, and let’s face it, that happens to us ALL, but these were some that could/should have been caught by an editor.  The second thing is that I got the impression that the author only had a vague idea of where she was going with the story when she started writing it. But man did it turn out awesome! Oh, and there is a kind of dragging chapter where they discuss the physics of time travel and all that jazz, but that is over quickly.

The bottom line is, I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  Especially if you like romances or hot English dudes from the 18th century.

Happy reading!

Olivia

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Used Bookstores- Friend or Foe?

Perhaps I’m a bit frugal.  But what can I say? As a teen without a steady job other than the occasional babysitting gig, I just can’t afford to pay 15 dollars and up for a book.  I am glad that I can get some free books on my kindle, and usually a library is OK but I really like to keep my books! So how do I get around this tortuous problem? I buy at used bookstores! Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Barnes and Noble. Whenever possible I shop there because brand new books are better than used ones, there is no way around it. But at the moment, I am enjoying the freedom of choosing 3, even 4 used books for around 15 dollars.

My relationship with used bookstores- especially my local one- is what I would call a love/hate relationship.  Being able to get many more books for the same price I would pay for one is so nice! But let me talk about my local store for a second.  As is understandable, they don’t have every book in stock, but it is very irritating sometimes, especially if there is only one book that you want. Plus, my store is organized very confusingly.  There are plenty of shelves and well marked signs, but that is the problem. There are so many “categories” you could call them- that you aren’t sure is a Phillipa Gregory book should be found in the Bestsellers section, or Historical Romance, or just plain Fiction.  (As a matter of fact, I found Phillipa Gregory books in Bestsellers AND Historical Romance) Also, there is no computer available to check if a book is in stock- you have to go to the checkout counter and ask manually- which stinks for them, because I usually have long list. 🙂

Other than these shortcomings, which mostly just apply to my local used bookstore, I am a HUGE fan of them and think they are great for people who love books but don’t want to pay full price.

Today I bought

The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory (I really wanted The White Queen but they didn’t have it) 6..00- it is a slightly worn hardcover

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks ( Once again, I really wanted The Best of Me, and they happened to have a bunch of Nicholas Sparks EXCEPT for the one I wanted.  I think maybe it is too new- it only came out in October)-4.00 and barely used

And a collection of American Short Stories- 2.40- brand new

I wanted to add a little bit to the end of this post about finding good deals on books.  I’d rather do this in the form of a list.

  • Check any local bookstores for good deals.  Most of the softcover books at my local one are around 2-3 dollars depending on the condition.  Also, some bookstores allow you to donate books to them and then receive credit to buy more books with. I do this frequently.
  • If possible, check a book out of a local library.  Even though you can’t keep the book, you have a much bigger selection and most of the time you can check out as many as you want!
  • Consider investing in a Kindle or other eReader. There are many, many books that are free, and deals of the day that allow you to get full price books for free. Also, books purchased on it will cost a few dollars less than a hard copy of the same book.
  • Look into online auctions such as Half.com which is created by eBay, but only for books and DVD’s etc.  Creating an account is very simple and purchasing even easier.  Most books are at least 1/2 of retail price and still brand new!
  • Do your research.  I always make lists of the books I might want to buy, and then explore what the world of WordPress bookies and Amazon reviewers had to say about it.
  • Compare prices of the same book at different stores before you splurge.  I often buy a book at Barnes and Noble, and then the very next day find it for half of what I paid at Target!
  • Have a book swap with a friend.  This doesn’t have to be one of those cheesy bookclub-ish things to make a big party of! The way I see it, you can keep their book for a longer period of time, and with much less enmity upon return because you know it will be in good hands.

Happy book deal hunting, everyone! 😀

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Book Review- The Secret Lives of Dresses

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

 

Sounds like an interesting book, right? Well, it definitely was! I really enjoyed this book!  I knew that this was a lesser known book- definitely still modern, just not a huge bestseller- so i skipped the used bookstore and went straight to Barnes and Noble.  It was buried deep within the wandering shelves of fiction, I never would of found it had I not known about it before! That makes me sad because this book has the makings of being a favorite! Total I paid somewhere around 13 dollars (paperback) and you can hardly find a brand new book for that these days.

OK, now for a basic summary of this book.  The main character is a girl named Dora, majoring in what her grandmother calls “Vagueness Studies” and that shows a lot about who Dora is. She works in the coffee shop at her college and spends her days pining over the grad student who runs the shop, Gary.  Dora has always scraped by, has never been anything special.  She grew up with her grandmother, Mimi, and when Mimi has a stroke she must return home to take over the running of Mimi’s vintage clothing shop, not surprisingly called Mimi’s :).  Not long after she starts running the shop, Dora realizes that Mimi has been writing stories to go along with the dresses- and they’re wildly popular!And then she meets a devilishly handsome contractor named Conrad- and pretty much guarantees that she won’t be going anywhere anytime soon! ;D

I bet you can tell- I really enjoyed this book.  I think it is a romance, but only for about the second half of the book. It is a very chick-lit type beach novel, not a challenging read thought wise and very short.  But it does have that sweet tingly satisfaction that comes from the typical happy ending.  Ahhhh, I love a good happy ending! But really, I would recommend this book to anyone! Especially those with an interest in fashion- this book really made me want to update my wardrobe! I wish that I had vintage clothing stores like this near me, I always liked that style but have never had the time to reproduce it! Prepare to be sad to put this book down, and that it only took you a day to finish!

Read this book when you are:

– at the beach

-in bed

-on the train/bus/plane/boat/any other mode of transportation

-at the dentist

-on a lunch break

-driving (NO please don’t) 🙂

The point is, the lovely plot of this book is easy to follow no matter what you are doing.  Check it out!

I hope you enjoyed this review! 😀

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Thank you! And an update…

Soooooo……. I have a lot to talk about but the first thing on the list is that I was nominated by Cara from This Little Light (she ROCKS!) for the Leibster Blog Award! I was so excited!

The Leibster Blog Award is basically where you nominate your favorite blogs to receive the award.  Once you pass it on, the person who receives it can choose to nominate others as well, thus the cycle continues! There are a few requirements!

1.) Say thank you to the blogger that nominated you!

I just want to thank Cara for being so sweet to me about this and everything else! I am new at this and a teenager too, but that makes no difference to her! Thank you so much for nominating me! 🙂

2.) Provide a link to the person that nominated you!

http://thislittlelight516.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/mille-o-tante-grazie/

3.)List the blogs that have had a positive impact on you!

1.)Cara from This Little Light, already linked! 😉

2.) Alleybeth from Dropped Stitches- I know I only just found her, like 3 hours ago no less, but  I already love her blog! A fellow book lover, crocheter and knitter! (I crochet and knit too)

http://alleybeth.wordpress.com/

3.) Chew Your Lipstick- This was the very first blog I followed! I love her combo of nail polish and books, both things I love! Keep rockin’, girl! 🙂

http://chewyourlipstick.wordpress.com/

4.) Free Page Numbers- Rock on, fellow book obsessed teen and grammar queen (haha that rhymes), rock on!

http://freepagenumbers.wordpress.com/

 

4.) Leave comments on their blogs to let them know you nominated them!

Will do!

5.)Post to your blog if you want to continue the cycle of awesomeness!

If I didn’t nominate you, I hope you get nominated by someone!

OK, so some of you may have noticed that The Story of Edgar Sawtelle has recently disappeared from my Goodreads currently reading bookshelf in the sidebar.  I was particularly excited about reading this because my English teacher recommended it to me, and she is the one who suggested I read I Capture the Castle- which turned out to be one of my favorite books ever! But I was disappointed with this book!  It was very slow starting off, and I figured I’d keep reading because usually books pick up the pace later on.  But this one never did.  I got about 3/4 of the way through it and realized it felt like a chore to read it, and with so many better books out there why should I waste my time on mediocre ones? 🙂 So I cheated and went on Goodreads to see if the rest of the book was better, maybe I would finish it after all! I really didn’t mean to read the spoilers, I really didn’t! But I did, and the ending is very sad, so I QUIT! I never do that! EVER! But I just wasn’t feeling this one…..

Now I am reading The Book Thief, which I have read before but is still a very good book. I never understood why people don’t read books twice.  After I am finished I will probably do a review as usual.

Thanks for reading this far, and sorry if it got boring! I also want to thank anyone who has followed me, recently or at all.  It means a lot.

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
– Oscar Wilde

(ironic, right 🙂 )

Olivia

 

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