I try to form words about Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Friday, July 25, 2014

My blood still howls in my veins like the wind itself,and it shakes the empty nest and asks where all the birds have gone, where have they gone?

Burial Rites was a true testament to everything I said on my previous post about why I love reading so much. THIS... this is exactly why I love books. 

Truthfully I expected this book to be good before picking it up, because of so many positive things said about it, but oh my goodness, I honestly did not expect for me to feel this much for it.

First off, Hannah Kent's ability to write a factual-based story is so effortless. She gives you information in the most engaging way possible, and at the same time, lets you in the characters' world. Because of the wonderful narration, it's as if you can really hear the characters speak for themselves and you can really see everything that they go through and feel. The author not only builds this story with excellent pacing and suspense from beginning to end, but she also transports you into that very world she is painting for you. Her writing is incredibly atmospheric, that even in 80 degree weather in California, I imagined that winter chill in Iceland in the early nineteenth century. I could see the scenery, the characters, the events that took place. And the emotions I felt for these characters were indescribable.
I couldn't put this down especially towards the end.  I didn't want to blink, didn't want to read too fast for fear that I would lose these people in the story. "Not so fast, don't end yet," I kept thinking to myself. And when it did end, tears and goosebumps were inevitable. I just wanted to tell everyone how much this story touched and broke my heart.

There's honestly not much to be said aside from those above, but I will say that this is story telling at its finest. It is a beautiful story that I will remember for a long, long time. 5 stars and nothing less. My favorite read this year so far, hands down.

Why do you love reading so much?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When people ask me this question, I usually can't think of a quick, direct response. So many answers pop in my head, and various reasons cloud and mix together. After all, there are countless reasons why I love reading, why I love books, why I love literature. I love reading because I love words in general, I love creativity and imagination, I find it relaxing and therapeutic, I find it fun, inspiring, and amusing at times. I love reading because of the fact that it allows me to feel everything there is to feel.

Mostly though, I have always said that reading was a form of escapism for me. It was a gateway to different worlds, different people, different experiences that I do not get to live in real life. It is my familiar place, my refuge, my little break from the mundane and sometimes stressful things of everyday life. It is sometimes even my escape from the more difficult times in my life.

And yes, I still do see all that.

However, this year in particular, I feel like I've discovered a bigger answer to the question. To me, I feel like reading has evolved and has become a closer look at life. How? Through the events and situations that occur in books, through the subject matter and themes explored, and through the characters' stories.

Through the variety of these stories, I have a closer look at my own life and my own experiences. I get to see a closer look at my own dreams and aspirations. I get to reflect on my past, my present, my future. When I read, I see my life in one way or another in them. I get to inspect how I live my life, what I can change, improve, what I can continue to do. It's also how I learn ideas and concepts, different opinions and viewpoints.

Secondly, books not only let me see my life, but it also opens my eyes to different situations and issues about the universe we live in, and lets me learn about different types of people and the things they go through. Books have opened doors to endless opportunities for learning and discovery, understanding and empathy. 

I feel like when I put a book down to continue to live my own life in the real world, I become, even just a tiny little bit, a much more well-rounded, sensitive, and open-minded individual than when I started the book. Because of all those things that reading does for me in my life, books have become a necessity, no longer just a hobby or a past time. It is a part of who I've become today, and who I will be as a human being later. You know that saying that books feed one's soul? I believe that to be absolutely true. Tell me what books and reading mean to you, and your reasons as to why you love reading so much.

Books I've Read So Far This Year

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last year, I probably only read 10 books, and that to me, was a huge difference compared to my usual reading habits. I have to say I am very happy that I have now passed that number, and I have not had a slump this year... yet. It might happen, but for now, I am excited to be so into reading like this again. 

These are the books that I've read so far this year in no particular order. 
For a complete list, click here.
*The Little Prince and Game of Thrones are re-reads.

As you can see, I've mixed mostly general fiction with a bit of sci-fi, autobiography, classics, nonfiction, and young adult. What has been your favorite read so far this year? Let me know in the comments below. As always, happy reading! 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rating: 3.5 stars
I picked up this debut novel because of countless positive reviews about it, saying how wonderful it is and how charming the story is. So I bought it, and I am glad I read it.
After finishing it in 3 days, I thought that this book was very well told. It is such a well-written story about family and relationships, and how complex those can be no matter your age. This is a great coming-of-age story about an alienated teenager, and those surrounding her. The author did a great job creating realistic characters. Though admittedly, I did not find any of them necessarily likable, except for the character of Toby, they are believable and authentic. I also thought that the way the author explored the subject matters and topics in the story was flawless, as compelling and thought-provoking as can be.

As I have mentioned, I did not particularly like the main character, June. I had many issues with her, but I think that's what makes her a good protagonist. She is complex and multifaceted, not one dimensional. 

I do recommend this if you are looking for a genuine read, perfect for those looking for a fast-paced general fiction story.

Netflixing: 3 Recommendations

Thursday, July 10, 2014

If you are like me and you like to go on a Netflix binge every now and then, here are some of the movies that I think you should check out. Now keep in mind these recommendations are movies I've seen recently, and all three of them are fairly sad in nature. So... tread lightly. 

Short Term 12
Rating: 5 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'emotional.'
I would say it is definitely emotional, but also strangely uplifting. I highly recommend everyone seeing this film, as it touches on many sensitive subjects that often gets overlooked by society today. I love the cast as well as the pacing of the movie. Very underrated and deserves higher accolades in my opinion. 

The Virgin Suicides
Rating: 4 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'dark.' And dark it is. The Virgin Suicides is one of the most emotionally haunting films for me. There is something about the atmosphere behind this movie, and if you combine that with the music and storytelling, there's something special about it. I read the book a few years ago and liked it, but for some reason, I feel something extra for the movie. It has Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, and even Hayden Christensen in it. It is also important to note that it is a film by Sofia Copolla. 

Blue Valentine
Rating: 3.5 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'romantic.' Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this movie is about Cindy and Dean, who is going through a languishing marriage. The movie is told through present time and goes back every now and then to show their blossoming relationship full of hope and love. I enjoyed the movie, I thought that it portrays a very realistic relationship - how it is to fall in love, to fall out of love, etc. It is a bit of a sadder feel to it, so after watching this, I did want to watch something happier. 

Have you seen these movies? What did you think of them? Also, what should I watch on Netflix next? 

Books I Plan To Read This Summer

Monday, June 30, 2014

It is officially summer time, I hope you're all enjoying these longer days and summer nights. I have to admit that I tend to like cooler months more, as it gets too hot here, even in Northern California, but it does have it perks for sure. This summer, I plan to read a few books. 

I am still currently working on Hyperion by Dan Simmons, which is a high science fiction/fantasy. I am halfway done, and am loving it so far. 
I am also doing a re-read of Game of Thrones with other readers on goodreads. Some are new readers and some are re-readers like me. We are currently on Chapters 11-20. It's been fun so far.
If we get to finish that book, we will continue on to A Clash of Kings.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is one classic I have been wanting to read. It's a mixture of suspense romance, and I think it could be good.
Next up is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent about a woman who was charged with murder and is sent to Iceland to await her execution. 
Currently, I am about halfway done with Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rufka Brunt. I am loving it at the moment, and that cover is seriously beautiful. 
Lastly, but certainly not the least, I plan to read a bit of some autobiography in the mix. Of course, what better way to start doing that than to read The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath? Sylvia Plath has always been an interesting figure to me, and I love The Bell Jar, so I wanted to read this too.

I might add in more books into the pile as the days go on, but so far, these are the books I plan to read and finish! What's in your summer TBR pile? Let me know.

Books that Shaped You Into the Reader You Are Today

Thursday, June 19, 2014

For five years now, I have been working as an English teacher for children from first grade to seventh grade. I have always loved my job and all that comes with it, but I do have to say that one of my favorite things about my profession is when I get to discuss something I know best - books. 
When I start talking about a certain book they're reading or a book they've read, often times, I will see them overcome with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and an eagerness to learn. Their enthusiasm grows even more when they realize that I have actually read those books myself. 

One of my favorite things we do as a class is when we all get to line up outside the corridor and head to the school library. Though it is a small space tucked in the corner of our campus, it's full of shelves and shelves of books. They perk up, smile, and even squeal when we take them to the room, and it's truly a lovely sight to see. When I do see them this way, it always brings me into thinking a lot about the books I myself have read when I was younger and how they have, unknowingly, influenced me in many ways in my life. 

There were books like Ferdinand the Bull that taught me that just because somebody or something looks scary or intimidating, doesn't mean they actually are. There were those books like D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths that started my obsession with Greek mythology. 
Thinking about this is also bringing me back to the books that got me into reading for the sheer fun of it. There were those Nancy Drew editions with the yellow hardback covers that my sister used to read and that I tried so hard to get into. There were the countless The Baby Sitter's Club books I've asked my parents to get for me because I was extremely into each of those characters, and I just really wanted to babysit for a living! Of course, I can't forget to mention the Animorphs series that was the origin for the appreciation I have for red-tailed hawks today.

I do think that there is always that one book that influences readers the most - the one that basically molded you into becoming an avid reader in the first place. For me, those books would be the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I first picked this up when I was 11 years old. I was so immersed in that world and in all those characters. I not only related to them, but I felt invincible while getting to know them and their world. I thought that nothing in this physical world could ever stop me from becoming who I really want to be. If a boy stuck underneath the stairs with his horrible relatives could be a boy wizard, I knew I could accomplish anything if I wanted it. 

I also think there are moments that can shape people. I for one remember a significant moment after finishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when my grandparents took me and all my cousins to the bookstore. My grandmother told us to get whatever book we wanted. Now this was incredibly exciting for us because we weren't allowed to get books unless we 'deserved' them. Still, my grandparents let us roam freely, to peruse through those shelves, to pick anything we wanted, and to read whatever we wanted. In that moment as a little girl, I remember I imagined and pictured myself as a grown-up, hoping that someday, I would also write a book that would mean something to somebody - at least one person. Perhaps it's that time that started my dream of becoming an educator and a writer. 

All in all, I think it truly is interesting how reading can mean something different to everyone. To many avid readers and literature lovers, it may have started with a book you were read to as a child, or a book you picked up when you were twelve. The bottom line is, it all started somewhere. As an educator today for young children, I would like to think that perhaps one of these books that my students pick up during one of our trips to the library would be one of those books that could start it all for them. 

Tell me what books shaped you into the reader you are today.