Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I've jumped on the bandwagon

Yes, for the first time in my life, I can't wait for the release of a new book. I'm not to the point where I am going to go stand in line and wait for the stores to open and rush in to buy the book, but I have preordered mine, made a prediction about what is going to happen in the next one and even added a countdown, which I'm sure you've noticed. I have confirmation that mine will arrive Aug 6 from Amazon, I can't wait, I'm ready to devour it now.

I guess I'm officially a book groupy. And I'm okay with it.

Eclipse and my Breaking Dawn theory

I was going to wait to read this until after I had finished all the books on my summer reading list, but after I woke up Sunday morning unable to move because my back was having a bad day, I decided that I deserved a treat. Enter Eclipse.

I don't know what it is about the way these stories are written but I don't find myself rolling my eyes at the language that's very teenish "you're the only one for me." I truly believe that the characters are feeling what they are feeling, I find myself annoyed at Jacob for trying to woo Bella, amazed at Edward for his patience in letting her really discover if she is really in love with him and really wants to commit to an eternity of thirst.

I loved the attention that was paid to the other vampires stories of turning, making even the lesser characters more appealing. I loved the action that was in this one, showing just how dangerous werewolfs and vampires could be in battle, taking it from the "yea, yea, vampires are bad" and "werewolfs are vicious in a fight" to really seeing what happens when these creatures unleash their full violent potential. Needless to say, I loved it too.

In just two weeks, I will get my pre-ordered Breaking Dawn. I just saw the poster in Walmart today and I know that the cover has something to do with the story. Here's my theory.

On the cover are two chess pieces - one a red pawn and one a white queen. I think that Edward will finally help Bella become a vampire, thus the red pawn - a newborn. Then, as has been mentioned in New Moon and Ecplise there are certain vampires who have control over other's minds that can't affect Bella. I think she has some ability that is going to allow her to become a sort of leader over vampires - hence the white queen - that will eliminate the threat of the Volturis to the Cullens and they will be able to live a semi-civilized existence. So there you go - my guesses. Only two weeks until I will be able to find out if I'm right. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Road

I picked this up after hearing about it from a fellow English teacher and former Assistant Principal, and I expected it to be a hard read but it was quite the contrary. The first thing that makes it a quick read is the fact that there are no chapters, there aren't any breaks. The story is compelling and heartbreaking but without unnecessary emotion - it feels completely authentic.

The Road is the story of a boy and his father traveling a road to get where it's warmer. The entire earth is burned and covered with dust and grey ash. They have to ransack and purge anything they can just to find food, and strain water through a cloth just to try to keep some of the ash out of it.

This story did a couple of things to me while reading. First, I was completely captivated, could not put it down at all. Second, I kept trying to decide which of my children were closest in age to the boy (I think my 7 year old Will is closest) and feeling sadness and remorse at a child that age witnessing what the boy has to witness. Third, I have rediscovered a desire to get more of my life and family's life in order with ample preparation - bullets, clothes, extra shoes sizes bigger and more canned goods.

It took me just over three hours to read this, and while I haven't read anything else of McCarthy's (and I have heard this is one of his easiest to read) I have a desire to read more. His writing in this book seemed very Hemingway-esque to me. I may pass on No Country for Old Men though because from what I saw in the movie premiers, it just doesn't seem appealing. I may change my mind in the future however.

This book is beautiful, moving and a must read.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Historian

Not since I read The Fountainhead almost two years ago have I come across a book that was so long but didn't seem like it at all. The hardbound copy of The Historian is 704 pages long, paperback 909 and with the exception of one place, I did not feel like I was reading a long book.

There is definitely something great about a book that has letters starting with "My dear and unfortunate successor." This is about a girl who travels with her father, and she finds a book that leads to a series of discussions with her father about his past, his mentor and an adventure that is truly unparalleled. It's about the legend and possible continued existance of Dracula, the role he plays in the lives of the people who discover copies of a certain book, travels all around the globe, including Cold War Europe, twists, turns, suspense and mystery.

This book was so much fun to read. I loved the fact that Kostova could intertwine really three story lines all into one book, but I didn't feel like it was as abrupt as other books have been when the authors switch who they are telling the story through. It has a great historical element, moments of suspense throughout while these characters all try to figure out the answer to the same mystery.

Very well written. Loved it. Go grab your cloves of garlic, silver daggers and read.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Practice what you preach

As you may know, I am the teacher of the creative writing program at my favorite Cedar High School, and as I have been preparing for the new year, I have decided that I need to have my students write more on a daily basis, not necessarily on the project they are working on, but writing for the sake of writing so they get better at writing. Then I realized, a bit to my dismay, that if I'm not doing that, I'm a Hypocrite - yup, with the capital H. I don't plan on posting all my writings here, but when I have a good idea and a computer around, it seems like the prudent thing to do (image in my mind of SNL parody "Wouldn't be prudent" - and there is your random thought for the day)

Here it goes.

I was just outside watching Will ride his bike and (surprise, surprise) the wind is blowing. This time is different though. While I hate the wind 98% of the time, there are those times when the wind is blowing and I can smell the rain that's coming. It's times like these that I LOVE the wind. This wind brings the promise of change, and a change to something I adore. I don't know what it is, but rain has always had the ability to alleviate whatever stress it is I have in my life. The smells, the sounds and especially when accompanied by lightning, the sight is the most zen-like experience I think I've ever had. I've about decided that Buddhism started with a couple of friends walking through a forest somewhere, arguing over how tall the Wall of China was going to be when it started to rain, and after a moment or two, they all looked at each other, took a deep breath and had a simultaneous audible sigh.


The Joys of Sharing with Kids

I'm talking about my computer here. I've been doing prep at home because I don't have the haul my kids into Cedar and have them fight while I'm trying to get work done, and I spent about two hours yesterday creating prompts and writing assignments for my Creative Writing class, only to come back to my computer and discover the entire six page document GONE.

I thought I had saved it, but I know that the kids closed it down without the computer having an error because it didn't even pull up a recovered document. I'm trying really hard not to look at it as two hours wasted, trying to convince myself that the way I was going maybe wasn't the way I was supposed to go, etc. but the fact of the matter is that two hours of work is no longer in existence.

I love my children. I love my children. I love my children.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I just finished this book. It took me a little to get interested in after the first couple of chapters because I had just read New Moon and it is all plot. This book spends more time on the characters and their feelings and the reactions they have to a split second decision.

I was deeply moved by this book, looking at the things that were very different in 1960's from now, like the way that they will treat children born with Down's Syndrome and recognizing women who are suffering from postpartum depression and loss. Throughout the course of the book I found myself having sympathy for each of the characters and a "serves you right" feeling for most at some point. I guess that is one of the reasons that I liked it so much - it was a book with characters who seemed very real and true to life.
I felt happy with the way that is resolved to some extent, I still find myself feeling a great deal of remorse for the father because of the way that it resolved. He did what he thought was right, what he had been taught as a medical professional and one who had dealt with the turmoil of having a sibling with a disability. I think the other characters just didn't have a way to understand what he had gone through.

Anyway, I loved this book, found it to be well written and engaging.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fun time in the summer

We had lots of fun this last month doing all sorts of things. First, we took one day to go to Grandma Decker's to play with our slip and slide in her backyard and ride bikes all over. When the kids needed a break, Grandma was amazingly just about to make some cookies, which Ellie and Catie love to help her do. With as often as they do this, it was shocking to me to find out that this was the first picture I had of them baking together.

Ellie and Will finished their tball and machine pitch seasons. All the parents of Ellie's team thought it would be fun to take everyone for dinner at the Pizza Factory afterwards. Here is the cutest picture of half of Ellie's team with their coach waiting for drinks.One of the greatest festivals we have in Cedar is the Groovefest, and while we didn't end up getting to listen to as many bands as we wanted to, we had a fun time playing with the kids while listening to some tunes during the day. Ellie and Will loved the idea of the obstacle course inflatable. Catie on the other hand would have been lost and/or stuck so she got her turn in a bouncy house that just happened to be her favorite color - purple. Gotta Love Summers!!!