Saturday, April 28, 2012

A new interest?

So, I have been trying so hard to finish reading Vanity Fair. I still have about 400 pages to go. I just don't have the time to focus on it lately. Due to a crazy amount of work hours and wedding preparations, my reading time has been cut drastically. But I am still working at it. And hoping that I will finish it before the wedding. I definitely want to finish reading it before the summer because I have found myself greatly intrigued by the history of England lately. Especially the history of the Royal Family. And then tonight, I spent almost 3 hours watching TLC and their spotlight/recaps of the wedding of William and Kate. One of the shows was about the history of the Royal Weddings dating back even before Queen Elizabeth's. It was so interesting. Seriously. They talked about the various traditions and changes. Especially in regards to the bride's dresses and the greatly expected kiss on the balcony. It was so cool to hear just a piece of how those stories and traditions have come about. So anyway, I am really intrigued by it all right now and want to spend some time researching and learning. It's about time I hit the biographies again anyway (I honestly don't remember the last time I read one outside of homework). And so I think I am going to start compiling a list of books I want to read in regards to the Royal Family. I want to be super careful in which ones I pick because I really don't want to read the ones that are just full of gossip or out to make the Royal Family or even the history of England to look bad or tarnish the history and reputation. I am definitely open to suggestions and look forward to sharing some of my learning with you as I attempt to understand just a piece of that part of the world and the history that surrounds it. And who knows... maybe one day I will convince my soon to be husband to take me on a trip to England so I can explore and experience the culture for myself instead of just through words!

p.s. Here are a couple of the books suggested by the shows I watched tonight. I am going to see if I can find them in the library and maybe do a little research into their credibility. I've read mixed reviews on both of them so far. We shall see what happens!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Today the folks at Broke and Bookish ask us to list your Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books.

So here are my Top Ten Characters: 










Friday, April 20, 2012

Book vs. Nook

When I was younger (okay, okay... even today as a 23 year old), my favorite birthday present was when my mom would drive me an hour to the nearest Barnes and Noble bookstore and allow me to spend the entire day and my birthday money in the store. One year I bought the Chronicles of Narnia complete collection (the one where it's all 7 books as one book) and another year I bought my much loved and used copy of Little Women. My mom always went with and just sat in a corner while I roamed to my heart's delight. My last birthday happened to fall on a great sale weekend at Barnes and Noble and I got The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Vanity Fair and Leaves of Grass (a collection of Walt Whitman's poetry) for one awesome low price. I was one happy birthday girl.

I have always been one of those readers who loves to go to a store and browse for hours the same shelves over and over again. I usually find myself in the classic, biography, travel or children's sections. Every time. Guaranteed. I seriously rarely ever venture into other sections. Sections like sci-fi or romance or teen fiction just don't attract me and so I stay far away from them. I am also one of those readers who loves to stick my nose into the pages and breathe in deeply. I just love the smell of old and new books. The fresh ink. The old and faded pages. I know it's strange. But it is seriously one of my favorite things to do and it's just another part of my reading experience and journey. 

But here's the thing... last year I caved and bought a Nook e-reader. At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. If it would still be the same experience reading-wise. I bought one just before heading to South America for my 6 month internship. I knew I wanted to have books to read on the plane, as well as on my days off. And I knew that I would have to pack a ton of books for 6 months. So, I looked into both the Kindle and the Nook. My parents had bought Nooks a few months before. And had nothing but good things to say about them. So, I went for it. I now have over 85 titles or collections on my Nook and a good percentage of those have been read. And I can honestly say that I LOVE IT. I seriously love my Nook. I love the fact that it is so light weight and fits in just about any purse or bag I carry. And while I was worried about how different it would be from holding and turning actual pages, I was surprised by how little I actually noticed or worried about it. I love the fact that I can lay in bed at night (I lay on my side) and read without having a bulky book to try and balance or adjust every time I turn the page or switch sides. I also love my Nook because I have so many books to choose from at my fingertips. I can order books online, borrow books from a library or swap books with other Nook owners. It's just like a real hard copy of a book. And just as simple to use or access.

Lately, I have been reading some of my hard copy books that have been sitting on my bookshelves for who knows how long. I have quite a stack of unread hard copies that I felt were extremely neglected. It has been nice to have the book smell and the feel of pages under my fingertips after 6+ months of reading solely from my Nook. But I am also getting excited to read off my Nook again starting in June while I'm on my honeymoon. My fiance and I share the Nook account and he reads off of his Ipad and plans to do so on our honeymoon as well. And it's nice to not have to worry about the weight limit while packing. I am excited because I have quite a few titles on my Nook that I am aching to read that I don't have hard copy.

So, while I love (and always will) the feel of pages and the smell of an old book, I love my Nook. And would recommend an e-reader (not one of the fancy tablets... they are too much like a laptop or Ipad... just a simple e-reader) to anyone. It's not hard to get used to and at times is a lot easier to read from and carry around. But for some it can never replace the feel of a hard copy book. And that's totally okay. It's part of the reading experience and each experience is specific to each reader. I just happen to love both!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Vanity, vanity. All is vanity"

I am not even a third of the way through Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and I have been working on it for almost 3 weeks. Frustrating and challenging to say the least. I know part of it is because I have been busy with work schedules, wedding plans, church visits and an unwanted visit by Strep Throat. But another part is that I am finding the book to be incredibly boring.  I made the mistake of watching the movie a few months back and so wasn't sure what to expect. The movie was alright. Definitely not worth watching a second time. And the book is the same. I am just not able to get into it (much like the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo which I read last month).

I am finding the writing style to be mediocre. The punctuation and basic grammar atrocious. The characters are incredibly shallow. The storyline has no clear rhyme or reason. I know all that may be due in part to the time, culture and audience to which it was originally written for. But that still doesn't help me get through it. I am not sure if I will be able to get through it and finish. I was hoping to finish it in a week or two. But now I am thinking that I will be lucky if I finish it before my wedding/honeymoon. I am hoping I can finish it before then because I am planning to take my Nook e-reader with me on our honeymoon and be able to pack light in regards to my books for that week. But we shall see.

The best chapter so far (I just read it today at work) has been when Sir Pitt Crawley, Becky Sharp's employer, proposes to her and the story unfolds that she has secretly married his son, Rawdon. The engraving below is one that William Makepeace Thackeray did himself and was included in the edition I am reading. It's quite humorous to look at the details of the pictures throughout the book, but the details of this one particularly are hilarious due to the pig-like face of Sir Crawley and the condescending look of Miss Sharp. The chapter is one full of drama, gossip and surprise as the proposal is denied and the secret marriage is revealed. Maybe now the book will finally start to get entertaining enough to capture and hold my attention to the end of it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Mine is the Night"

Let me just say that I have never written a review on a book before. I have written academic critiques. I have written basic book reports. But never just a review. And never for a book read for fun. So, I am a little unsure of just what to write and how to write it.

To start off, I just finished reading Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs. It is the 6th book I have read by her (I read 4 of them last year while on my internship and the last 2 in the last week and a half). And I loved all of them so very much! It is the sequel to Here Burns My Candle and is set in 18th century Scotland. All of the books I have read so far by Liz Curtis Higgs have been historical novels set in Scotland. And at the end of each them she wrote about how much study she put into making her novels as realistic, as well as historically and culturally accurate. Another thing about her books is that the two series are based on Biblical stories. The first four (which I read last year) are based on the story of Jacob and his wives - Rachel and Leah, as well as the story of his daughter Dinah. The last two are based on the story of Ruth and Naomi.


Mine is the Night is, like I said, the sequel to Here Burns My Candle. I know, I know... I just read it but didn't write about it... I just didn't know what to write or have the time. And the two stories are so closely interwoven that I wouldn't have written much. But anyway, it follows the story of Lady Marjory Kerr and her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Kerr, who lived in Edinburgh (pronounced EH-din-bur-uh) until the death of Lord Donald and Andrew Kerr. Donald was Elizabeth's husband and both men were Marjory's sons. They were killed in a Jacobite uprising (an attempt to reclaim the throne for the Stuart blood-line). This was unusual because Marjory had been raised in the Borderland and was very loyal to King George. As a result of her sons support of Prince Charles, her family was stripped of their status, their wealth and charged with treason. Marjory and Elizabeth then found themselves returning to Selkirkshire - Marjory's home in the Borderland where she had lived with her husband before basically forcing him to move the family to Edinburgh for the advantages of society and social standing. The two ladies find themselves without any home or money. So they move in with a distant cousin and Elizabeth begins to work for a wealthy, loyal to King George, retired Admiral's household as a seamstress. As the story unfolds everyone falls in love. Marjory, Elizabeth and their cousin Annie. They all fall in love and have their stories woven together. In the end, the Admiral gets the King to give his pardon to the Kerr Ladies, as well as rents the property that was taken from them - guaranteeing Marjory a place to live for 40 years or until she dies. The book then ends with the marriage of the Admiral and Elizabeth and the birth of their son. Through both of the books, there is a personal search (for both Elizabeth and Marjory) to find and know the LORD who seemed to have them in His hands no matter what happened. And that search, that faith, was one of the things that brought the Admiral and Elizabeth together.

The story ended far too quickly for my taste. But being based on the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, there wasn't too much more that could have been written. The story followed how Elizabeth (who was born and raised in the Highlands) found herself in the capital city and married to a wealthy lord. She was a lady though trained as a seamstress. And then everything changes. The same happened for Ruth and Naomi. There was a famine that moved Naomi and her family to the land of Moab where Ruth's sons took wives, Orpah and Ruth. After some time, all 3 men died. Orpah took her chance and went back home to her family. Ruth, however, would not leave Naomi. She went with her to Naomi's homeland and committed to serving and helping her in anyway. Soon she meets Boaz. He provides for her in various ways and then in the end they are married and give birth to a son. Their son would later be the grandfather of King David - the great king of Israel and the king from whom the KING of KINGS descends. Ruth and Naomi are bound together in the faith that they shared. And the same was true for Marjory and Elizabeth. 

As I said, the story ended much too quickly for me. But then again I feel that way about all of Liz Curtis Higgs' books. Her style of writing is just so captivating and her characters are so very real (mostly because they are based on real, historical and Biblical characters). The emotion that her characters feel are very easily felt by the reader. Making it incredibly easy to cry when they cry, be angry or afraid when they are, celebrate when they do. And not to mention, crying when the last page is turned. The Scotland setting is one that makes any reader desire to walk the streets of Edinburgh or climb the hills in the Highlands for themselves. Or try the interesting food and see the markets come to life. Or sit in the old kirks (churches) and imagine what it all looked like so long ago when they were first built and the most important place in town.

On a personal note: A friend of mine and her husband are currently living in Edinburgh while he works on his masters and doctorate at the University. They post pictures of their adventures and city explorations all the time. And the city appears to be incredibly beautiful and stuffed full of history and things to explore. I just hope that one day soon I can visit them and see it all for myself.

All that to say that Liz Curtis Higgs' books have quickly become some of my favorites. And I would highly recommend them to anyone, whether you believe in the one True God of the Bible or not. The stories are beautiful and the faith that they draw you into is incredible and personal. It would be more than worth the time. No doubt. I have her two contemporary novels and two of her Bible study books for women and look forward to getting the chance to read those sometime in the future. For now, I am beginning to read off my Classics Club List and am starting that off with Vanity Fair  by William Makepeace Thackeray. 

Here's to reading and the places visited, the characters met and the lessons learned.

Monday, April 2, 2012

March has come and gone...

The 5 books I read in the month of March:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo 
Revolution of Missions by K.P. Yohannan
Get Your Hands Dirty edited by Doug Priest
The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott (this was a re-read)
Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

The number of pages I read in the month of March: 

The number of pages read year-to-date (middle of December 2011 - end of March 2012): 

Average number of pages per month: 

Currently reading
Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (the sequel to Here Burns My Candle)

Next on the list: 
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (a Classics Club pick)

I am a fairly quick reader but unable to read more than one book at a time (unless it's for school -- which is no more since I graduated in December!). I just feel like I am cheating myself and the books I am reading if I try to read more than one at a time. And yes, I know the books don't have feelings due to not being alive. But still.  I have always been that way and probably always will be. But it's alright because I can still read a lot in a fairly short amount of time (as witnessed to the pages above). 

I am hoping to finish Mine is the Night by the this coming weekend so that I can start on Vanity Fair. Next week is going to be a crazy week for my fiance and me, but thankfully I only have to work two days and get to spend a lot of time in the car (which equals reading time while he drives!). So, I think I should be able to cruise through Vanity Fair fairly easily and quickly. I am excited to read it because it's been sitting on my shelf since January and I recently watched the movie with Reese Witherspoon. I rarely watch the movie before reading the book. And so now am really ready to read the book to get the whole story and see what makes it a literary classic.