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.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Rating: 2 stars (maybe a 1.5 even)

I actually thought about not writing a review for this, just because this book is popular, hyped up, and well-loved. It also has been recommended to me countless of times, and the mysteriousness and countless positive reviews intrigued me to no end, so I got it and I read it.

I was excited, but the first few chapters didn't hook me right away. I wasn't sure where it was going, what it was going to be about, and I couldn't really relate to the main character. I also found many insta-love moments here - wherein the protagonist falls in love with the good looking boy the moment she sees him and that's that.
By the time I got to the middle of the book, I was still left underwhelmed, like something was missing. There was no appeal, no excitement, no anything. I thought the ending was nicely done, but it wasn't enough to make me love the book, just because the rest of the story wasn't solid enough.  

Overall, I felt it was a very underdeveloped story with characters I couldn't picture as 'real people' that I can relate to and empathize with. I wouldn't recommend this if you usually don't read contemporary young adult. As always, this is just my opinion. Let me know what you thought of it.