Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Books Read This Week:  (1)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling--loved it!  Will post review soon.

Reviews This Week:  (2)
Caught up on 2/3 reviews on books finished from the last couple of weeks:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling
The Giver- Lois Lowry

Currently Reading:  (3)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling--I just can't get enough :D
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King--I'm a bit stuck on this due to HP mania.  A different kind of King book.  I'm not entirely sure about it...
My Life- Bill Clinton--still!

Next to Read:
Probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and then I'll finally get around to another challenge book.

Have a great reading week :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Giver- Lois Lowry

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  1993
Pages: 179
ISBN:  9780440237686
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Start Date:  July 4, 2011
Finished Date:  July 6, 2011 (3 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: On my TBR list

Read For:  Back to the Classics Challenge (5/8)

Summary:  In a desensitized, painless world, a boy turning the milestone age of 12 is reluctantly chosen as his the next Receiver, a job that involves absorbing prior memories of the society from the historian known as the Giver.


I have to admit that my expectations for this book were very high as I had heard lots of amazing things about The Giver and it still ranks among the best of classic children's literature. I was not much of a sci-fi/fantasy reader as a child, though I ate up lots of Monica Hughes' sci-fi books.  I was more into The Babysitters Club, Gordon Korman, and Paula Danzinger.  That being said, I found the book to be well-written but just not as exciting as I had hoped.  Not to say it's overhyped; it just fell a tad short of my expectations.

The story's content is borderline disturbing for young readers, and I think its message is really deep, maybe too much for its readability level (it is set at a late Grade 5 reading level). I think intermediate students (Grade 7 and 8) would be a more appropriate audience, given its content. The style and dialogue of the novel is deliberately banal, which can get nerve-wracking after a while that you just want to scream. I did not relate as much to Jonas as I did to Lily. I loved her mild precocity and how it winks at the reader, almost to say, "See? There is hope for life in this Stepford Wives world." The prose is often beautiful, bringing to mind how a red rose stands out in a grey fog, and is what I liked most about the story: good enough for me to like it, just not enough for me to love it.

*Small spoiler*
The ending is quite inconclusive and that also irked me. It may suggest hopefulness for Jonas and Gabriel, but the open-endedness was too obvious a path for a sci-fi novel. It would have been more interesting to make a conclusion about their outcome, rather than leaving it up to the reader. Too many novels have that inconclusiveness that I start to wonder if endings are getting harder for writers to conjure up because so many have been recycled to the point of being cliched.

Rank:  (B)- Good, Recommend

Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter series, #4)- J.K. Rowling

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters
Published:  2000
Pages: 637
ISBN: 1551923378
Genre:  Series, YA/fantasy

Start Date:  June 25, 2011
Finished Date:  July 4, 2011 (10 days)

Where Found:  Part of a birthday gift from several years ago
Why Read:  I've been meaning to read this for ages & finally got around to it!

Summary:  In his 4th year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter is suspiciously nominated into the dangerous Triwizard Tournament while battling dreams of Voldemort's return to power.


The Goblet of Fire is the first whopper of the series, clocking in at 637 pages! It also seems that with the violent undertones of the previous book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, the three Hogwarts heroes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are no longer children but gradually transforming into the true spirit of their house, Gryffindor.  The whizz-bang chapters at the Quidditch World Cup get the story moving, and make up for the lack of Quidditch at Hogwarts due to the mysterious Triwizard Tournament. This event reminded me of the obstacles in the chamber of the first book, The Philosopher's Stone, only much more dangerous. The gasp-worthy ending to this book makes your hair stand on end and I immediately had to get my hands on the Order of the Phoenix to see how things transpired after the tragedy.

The introduction of wizard characters from other countries was a clever analogy of the United Nations and opens the story to countless possibilities for extended adventures if J.K. Rowling considers expanding on the series.  Some new characters (Mad-Eye Moody) were great additions to the cast; others (Rita Skeeter, Viktor Krum) I could have done without, and even more (Madame Maxime, Cornelius Fudge) seem to be just getting warmed up. 

So, here is how I would rank my favourite books of the series so far:

1) Philosopher's Stone (#1)--I still love how the series starts off with all its magic

2) Prisoner of Azkaban (#3)--Terrific plot and innovative new tricks & secrets

3) Goblet of Fire (#4)--Not as complex or well-executed as PoA, the Triwizard Tournament makes up for it

4) Chamber of Secrets (#2)--A weaker mystery & less intrigue, but still very enjoyable

Onward ho, to the Order of the Phoenix!

P.S.  When I finish the series, I'm going to post a top 10 list of my favourite things from each book.  Spoilers will ensue but at this point, I think I'm safe to do so :) 

Rank:  (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Ack, I'm behind on reviews this week!  Woe is me :(   I've been completely engrossed in Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, so that should get me thinking about the Goblet of Fire review, right?  Um, sure.  Yeah, that makes me feel better :D

I will get in gear this week.  My course is slowing down a bit early this week, then it will pick up again next week, so this might be an off & on rest of the month.  August will be more blog-active.

Read This Week:
None finished :(

Currently Reading:
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling--loving it!
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower series, #1)- Stephen King--stalling a bit on it, am about 3/4 through
My Life- Bill Clinton--I actually squeezed in a couple of chapters this week, and am about halfway through (maybe a bit more)

Reviews This Week:
Okay, okay...that heading is just rubbing it in now :D

Next to Read:
If Order of the Phoenix ends on a climax like Goblet of Fire did, I'll probably move along to Half-Blood Prince; otherwise, maybe I'll hold off & try to get to a challenge book.  Something short, so my Monday numbers are higher than 0 :D

Have a great reading week :)  And I will catch up on your posts, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm Catching Up With the Rest of the World, Harry Potter Style!


I went to Chapters today & purchased the last 3 Harry Potter books.  Hooray, I'm that much closer to not living under a rock :D

I also got the beautiful Penguin Classic edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence on sale.

All in all, a sweet day :)  ...And sorry for the lack of reviews.  I'm behind 3 books already & almost finished a 4th.  My teaching course this month has been hectic and I need to collect my thoughts on these books before I review them.  That is, if I can remember what they are about (LOL) :D

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Sorry if this posted twice!

I got through two shorter books this week, taking a breather after the adventure that was Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire.  I'm probably going to hit the bookstore & get the last 3 books this week, because I'm fed up with being behind the entire world on how it all ends :D

Read This Week:  (2)
The Giver- Lois Lowry
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde

Reviews This Week:
None :(   I'm really behind!  I have HP: GoF to write, plus the two read this week.

Currently Reading:
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1)- Stephen King--I'm hoping this is an awesome start to the series!
My Life- Bill Clinton

Have a great reading week :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Things I Love About the Harry Potter Series

To celebrate finishing Goblet of Fire just this morning, I thought I would share just 20 quick things I love about the Harry Potter series...

1) How it makes you feel like a kid again
2) How imaginative & unlike any other book they are
3) Remembering how to pronounce Hermione (her-my-oh-knee) :D
4) The entire red-headed family of Weasleys
5) The naughty prankster twins Fred & George Weasley
6) Feeling like not everything about Snape is all it seems to be
7) Hogsmeade
8) 'Ow 'Agrid talks like this, eh? :D
9) Transfiguration
10) Every Flavored Beans, including earwax :P
11) The beautiful phoenix, Fawkes
12) The knowing twinkle in Dumbledore's eye
13) Neville Longbottom's forgetfulness
14) Cutey-patooty Ginny Weasley :D
15) Addressing Harry's mail as "in the Cupboard"
16) Quidditch!
17) The Riddikulus spell
18) Time travel
19) The Fat Lady's silly passwords
20) Flying on Buckbeak

Keep the list going!  Add your favourite things about the HP series to the comments :)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

I waited to post my Monday meme later today so I could finish Goblet of Fire this morning...and I did it!  It was so good, I can't wait to write the review :)

Read This Week:  (1)
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling--review coming soon

Other Books Reviewed This Week:  (1)
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee--finished last week (click title for review)

Currently Reading
The Giver- Lois Lowry- for Back to the Classics challenge--I'm going to start this today.  I didn't get around to dipping into it as HP&GoF had my full, undivided attention :D

My Life- Bill Clinton--I'm hoping to get through a good chunk of this over the summer

Next to Read
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde--I haven't read Wilde since The Importance of Being Earnest a few years ago & I really loved it, so here's hoping PoDG has the same effect.

Have a great reading week :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1960
Pages:  376
ISBN:  0446310786
Genre:  Modern Classics

Start Date: June 18, 2011
Finished Date:  June 25, 2011 (7 days)

Where Found:  Campus bookstore--just to have a copy on hand
Why Read:  I initially read this in high school, then decided to re-read it for a challenge.

Read For:  Back to the Classics Challenge (4/8)

Summary:  A coming-of-age story set in the Depression-era American South revolves around two precocious children of a lawyer defending a black man against the charge of raping a white woman and a number of eccentric neighbours, including a hermetic scrounger nicknamed "Boo" Radley.


I have never read a book again so many years in between my first reading of it.  I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in my Grade 11 English class.  I remember struggling with the first half of the book, wondering when the story would come around to the trial, which was the key focus of the book's summary.  There was not much said about how the first half masterfully sets the stage for the second half.  Also, there was no patience in my 16-year-old self.  Fast-forward about a decade later and here I am reading the book again, wanting the first half to never end!  Maybe it was because childhood was still raw in my teenage memory and now it's reduced to nostalgia, which is the framework for the first half of TKAM but is far from sugar-coated. 

Scout, Jem, and Dill are complex, fascinating children that are more challenging to comprehend than the adult characters.  Harper Lee not only understands children's motives, feelings, and interpretations of adult situations, often hilariously rendered, but she makes a distinct period of history in which these children grow up a purposeful part of their development.  A multi-faceted turning point in American history represents their growth, as well as the nation's.

It was a delight to read this book again and feel much more appreciative of Lee's representation of children, now read through my adult & teacher lens rather than teenager & student one.  It was amazing how much of the first half came back in the second and played an important part but for a new purpose in light of the trial.  The shift in how characters are understood changes considerably from an assumed nature to a more complicated one.

It has been a long while since I saw the movie adaptation with Gregory Peck, which I first saw in that high school class.  It was a highly respectful interpretation of the book, very loyal to the original novel.  I thought Peck was a perfect Atticus Finch with his sharp foresight, deep patience, and calm, peaceful presence.

The bottom line is that every human being needs to experience this book. I think it is wise to introduce it when learning about civil rights history in school, but should be read as an adult as well to remind yourself of childhood wonders, frustrations, and understandings.

Here is the short TKAM review from my Harking Back series of posts about books read in school.  It's interesting to note that I also read Inherit the Wind, a terrific play about the Scopes trial that ties in to themes of TKAM, making it a great companion read.

Rank:   (A+)- One of the greatest books ever written