Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Something Borrowed

found here

After all of my "serious" reading (The Secret Life of Bees, The Help, The Other Hand), I decided that I wanted to read some good old fashioned chick-lit. When I went to see Water For Elephants (awesome movie by the way, and fairly close to the book as I remember it), I saw the trailer for this movie and decided to read the book first. The movie looked pretty cute, so the book should be too, right?!

Brief summary:
Rachel met this amazing guy, Dex, in law school and was practically in love with him, until he met her best friend Darcy. Dex and Darcy started dating and now, years later, they are engaged. On the night of Rachel's 30th birthday, Darcy goes home early because she is pretty wasted, and Dex and Rachel end up spending the night together. The result is a fairly complicated situation in which Dex is still engaged to Darcy but seeing Rachel on the side. Who will Dex end up choosing in the end?!

My opinion:
I was looking for chick lit, and that is exactly what I got. Don't hold expectations that are too high for this book and then you won't be disappointed. No, it isn't a life changing novel or anything, but it is a pretty good read. Its a modern day romance novel with complicated love situations that you are just dying to know how they end. I did read it fairly quickly (let's face it, the writing is very straightforward and the plot is not complicated), but I enjoyed the book a lot. I am considering reading Something Blue later this summer, which is the follow up novel, told from the perspective of Darcy, a totally unsympathetic character. Should be interesting.

Book Review: The Other Hand aka Little Bee

found here

I bought this book back in the Summer of 2009 when I was in England. The bookstore was having a buy one get one half off sale and I really wanted to read "My Sister's Keeper," so I sprang for both. The back of the book intrigued me. I got "The Other Hand," which apparently is the UK title for the book. I picked it up, but never ended up finishing it. Then I hear all this buzz about a book called "Little Bee" and I think to myself, "That sounds familiar." Lo and behold, it's the same book! So I pick it up again, start reading it, and put it down without finishing it. Finally, last week after finishing "The Help," I decided that I just needed to finish the darn thing already. I started the book again from the beginning and I finally did it, I finished it.

Brief plot summary:
A Nigerian girl meets a wealthy British couple who are on a "holiday" in Nigeria one day. A traumatic event occurs and the British couple flee back home. Five years pass, and they hear from the Nigerian girl again. More traumatic events happen. The girl and the wife spend some time together. The novel ends with another traumatic event.

My opinion:
The back of the book told me that this story was unique, compelling, and one of a kind. I am assuming they put this on the back of the cover to get people to read it. Well played marketing department, well played. I enjoyed the first part of the book and felt that it was compelling. There is one part of the book that I found particularly insightful, when Little Bee is talking about scars and how they are beautiful because they meant that the person bearing them survived. It was pretty deep stuff. However, I felt supremely let down by the ending of the book. I felt like the book just sort of fizzled out and then I was left thinking "Was that it? The end of the book?!" Maybe I had too high of an expectation of the book because the back of the book was so intriguing: "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is truly a special story and we don't want to spoil it[...] Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds." Who wouldn't be intrigued by that?! My overall rating of the book is a 3/5 because the book did hold me until the last few chapters!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Help: Book review

found here
I just finished this book last night and all I have to say is: wow! This book is over 500 pages long and I flew through it in less than 3 days. I started in when I was babysitting on Wednesday night and read almost half of it in less than 3 hours. I didnt have a whole lot of reading time on Thursday, but yesterday I babysat for most of the day and I devoured the rest of the book. I have heard of other people having similar experiences too!

Basic plot:
This book is told from the perspective of three different people: two African American maids (or "help") and one Caucasian woman. The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, during the Civil Rights era. The premise of the book is that the white woman, Miss Skeeter, aspires to be a writer. At the onset of the novel she is part of the socialite group of white women who have help in their homes. Miss Skeeter begins to see the injustices of the "help" system. She decides she wants to write a book from the perspective of the help to share the stories of what it is really like to work in a white family's home. There is only one problem: she has no idea what is it like to work as the hired help. The book details her struggles to get the African American community to open up to her and share their stories, the good and the bad, of being the hired help.

My opinion:
I absolutely LOVED this book! Like I said, I just devoured it in a matter of days and now I wish I had taken more time with it! I thought the writing was phenomenal and the story was very unique. When the story is told from these different perspectives, Stockett takes on different dialects and you can distinctly hear each character's own voice. You laugh and cry along with the characters as you re-live the humorous and not so humorous tales of being the hired help. There was only one episode in the book that left me confused as to why it was even in there. It sort of felt like this episode was thrown in at random. You will recognize the scene when you see it! I feel like I know these three women after reading the book. Phenomenal read, go read it and tell me what you think!

Secret Life of Bees

Found here
I started to read this book back at the very beginning of the semester (I am a teacher, so yes, my life still is divided into semesters!), but I never was able to finish it! I must say that the first chapter or so of this book is less than compelling, but don't let that stop you from reading it! I started to read it at the beginning of the semester to see if it was something that I wanted my 9th graders to read. I stopped reading it because things got crazy and I wasn't drawn in by the first few pages. I picked it up again because I was stuck for ideas on my next novel. I devoured it after that!

A VERY basic plot summary:
Lily, a young white teenage girl, lives in South Carolina in the 60s. She ends up running away from home and taking her maid with her to escape their old life. Lily is in search of answers regarding her mother who died when Lily was very young. Her search brings her to a small town in South Carolina where she finds much more than the answers she was searching for.

Ok, so I dont want to give anything away, but its a great novel.

My opinion:
After the first chapter, I was drawn into the book. The characters are very realistic and lovable, the plot is compelling enough to make you want to read on to find out what happens next. My ninth graders are all absorbed in the book and love it. The only thing that I would say about this book is it is very much a feminine book. I offered my students two choices: Lord of the Flies (a very "boy" book) and Secret Life of Bees, and the class was divided into boys and girls with a few exceptions. I love how this book speaks to the power of female bonds. In that regard, I think it is a novel that every girl should read. I have yet to see the movie so I dont know how it compares, but I usually find the books far better than the movies!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My first "big girl" job application

Today I have been working on many different things, but most important of which is my first big girl job application. I submitted my application to 17 different school districts today and I have about 20 more that I would like to submit my application to. Hopefully one of these applications will bear some fruit!

In an ideal situation, I would find a job locally and I would be able to stay with family for the first year or so in order to start knocking down some of those pesky student loans; however, at this point I am willing to take a job anywhere just to have one!

More updates to come!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hello again blogging world!

I'm baaaack!

I have been super busy lately but things are about to calm down for awhile! For the last month I have been doing full-time student teaching and working on my final portfolio for grad school. Full time teaching ended on Monday and the portfolio was submitted tonight (due on Monday). For once in my life I can say that I didnt COMPLETELY procrastinate on something huge and submitted it before the last possible moment. Go me!

Full time teaching went well, but I am glad its over. I know that full-time teaching is what I will be doing for the rest of my life, but I wont be dealing with grad school at the same time. I did have some struggles with the classes that I picked up from my clinical teacher, but I anticipated that because she has had these students all year and not just this semester. These two classes didnt really see me as their teacher because they have been under her instruction all year long.

I'm not entirely too sure if my portfolio is what the college of education is exactly looking for, but it will have to do. Part of the reason that my portfolio was so annoying was because it was a pilot semester for a new portfolio and lucky me! I was chosen to participate in the pilot program. The expectations werent clearly defined from the beginning and it doesnt seem like anyone really knows whats going on, so I guess we will just have to see when it all is said and done!

Now it is onto job searches! (Yes, that is plural...) I need to find both a part time job for the summer, something like waitressing, and a career-job for the fall. Let the search begin!

Meredith is doing well and is as cute as ever!

I'm super ready for spring break!

I'm very ready to be done with grad school!

And... that's about it. I'm glad to be back blogging world- you'll see much more of me now. I will catch up on my project 52, I have about half of my pictures taken they just arent uploaded yet....