Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Pin It and Do It Challenge.

I've been giving Trish's Pin It and Do It Challenge since she started it a few months back. And now that I am settled into my own Pinterest account (you can find me by searching danielsonallie), I figured it was time I jump in on the fun. I've managed to make a couple of things from the site, but there are a few I WANT to get done in the near future-so this is perfect for me!

The goal of the challenge is make/complete/cook some of your pins. Since I'm a rookie, I think I am going to go for the "Timid Pinner" level of 1-3 pins. I want one of those to be a recipe, and I'm thinking the other 2 are going to be crafts of some sort. :)

If you want to join in, head over to Trish's sign-up post and join the fun! I look forward to seeing some of the end results!

Weekly Wrap-up for September 30, 2012: The End of September.

Hi everyone!

I am writing to you on this lovely Sunday morning from the comfort of my couch. A cup of English breakfast tea is still brewing on the coffee table in front of me, and there is a darling black cat snuggled up against my side. He was a little annoyed when I moved him off my lap, but I think he's okay with his new position now. :)

It is kind of hard to believe that the end of September is here.  The first month of school flew by. I have been so absorbed in everything going on with school, that I've been in a bit of a bubble. I wake up, teach, come home, plan, and attempt to fit sleep and food in there somewhere. I do feel like I am slowing down a bit-getting back into the teaching grind and finding a balance with all my responsibilities. I'm hoping this means October will a more lively month on the blog, and that I'll be able to write about the first 5 Harry Potter titles at some point. I still haven't picked up book 6 (besides putting it on my nightstand).

There are lots of lovely books I do want to read this month. I think I might even dive back into some classics (I have been on a YA kick recently and have all but thrown my lists of classics out the window). How about I list the titles on my pile, and you all tell me what to start first? I like that idea! :)

  1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: I started this a couple weeks ago, but I set it aside.
  2. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe: I am planning to read this for a readalong (with O!).
  3. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: I really loved The Woman in White, so this might be a fun choice.
  4. The Monk by Matthew Lewis: I just got a new Penguin English Library Edition of this one, so it's calling my name as well. 
I hope you all had a great month. I am off to drink my tea, cuddle with this cat, and then grade some assignments until Matt wakes up. :)

Have a lovely week!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I have had some reviews lingering in draft form for so long that I think it is time I scrap the big review and focus on cranking out some thoughts on those titles. These are all books I read at the end of July and in the month of August, so the particulars and details are a bit fuzzy to say the least! Anyway, I've never done mini-reviews before! Let's see how this works, shall we?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I LOVED this book as a little girl, even though I wasn't as obsessed with horses as so many of my friends were. There was something about the story and voice of Beauty that grabbed me as a kid.

I was a bit nervous to revisit this title as an adult. Sometimes when I reread books that I loved as a kid I roll my eyes a bit, you know? But that wasn't the case here! I think I might have loved this even more this time around. I got more from it in terms of the Victorian lifestyle, the commentary on politics and fair treatment.

This is definitely a book I want to read out loud to my kiddos in the future. I think it stands the test of time and remains a book that is meaningful and important.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Someone tell me WHY I didn't read this a girl? I loved The Secret Garden, so this would have been a perfect companion to that!

I wasn't familiar with the story before I began reading. Essentially, the story is about little Sara Crewe-who is wealthy, loving, and imaginative at the start of the novel. Many of the other girls at boarding school think she's odd, as she is always imagining things....but, she eventually loses everything.

I really loved Sara's determination when things didn't go so well for her. She continued to persevere in her beliefs and actions until things were righted. At times, the book was a little cheesy, but it had that magical, mystical quality that I would have adored as a little girl. The story was heartfelt and touching...and I just fell in love with each and every character.

Brotherband Chronicles: The Invaders by John Flanagan

I loved Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, so I have been anxious for his newest series to come out. I read the first book in this series last fall, so I was happy to grab this one off the shelf back in July to revisit a world I love so much.

This series is set in a parallel time to the events in Ranger's Apprentice, which is something that really works. The action is non-stop and I love that the main characters are flawed in some ways. I particularly love that the main character in both series is a boy, and that he is not the "typical" macho boy. Both are intelligent, thin little guys who prove that they are more than what they appear.

Flanagan has definitely improved since his first book, and I was in love with the newest installment. The story picked right up where it left off, and I was anxiously turning the pages. I highly recommend both series if you are a fan of MG fantasy. You will not be disappointed!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I read this for Adam's Austen in August event....and never posted about it (Sorry Adam).

This has always been my least favorite Austen, but it had been so long since I'd read it, I forgot why it had that status. For this read, I just concentrated on taking it in slowly....and I found that I enjoyed it far more than I remembered. I think this one is incredibly different from Austen's other novels. The heroine is different from what the reader expects, which is why so many don't like this one as much. But I found that the more I paid attention to Fanny, the more I realized she was MORE than what she is made out to be. She has some keen insights and is actually more like me than some other Austen ladies.

The end result? I really enjoyed it! While it won't be my favorite Austen (my heart belongs to Persuasion), it definitely has a new place in my heart...and I appreciate it more than I ever have.

Well, I still have a quite a few books from the magical world of Harry Potter to discuss, but that will probably happen in longer posts. ;)

What have you guys been reading lately?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Checking In.

So...I am perfectly aware that I have been more absent than present. In case you didn't know, school started and I have been teaching like there is no tomorrow. ;) I'm really enjoying it and have finally reached a point where I feel like I can breathe a bit. It was a little chaotic starting the year off, but I feel like I have things under control. In fact, in a little bit, I am planning on crawling into bed with a book...something I haven't done since before school started!

In any case, I wanted to at least pop in and tell you that I am doing well. I am feeling a bit introverted at the moment, but I am hopeful that I will eventually get the spark again. I was actually struck by an idea earlier today in the middle of one of my classes, so hopefully that equates to more writing...and discussion of books.

I hope you are all doing well-tell me what you've been up to!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BBAW: Books You SHOULD Read.

It is day 4 of BBAW and today's topic is "Pimp that book," an opportunity for us to highlight some books that you should be reading.

Because I can't narrow it down to just one title, I'm going in a couple different directions. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone!

Young Adult: Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Ben Alire Saenz

I first read this title back in college for my Young Adult Literature class. It was one of the few "newer" titles on the book list, and was hand's down, my favorite title we read in that class. Sammy, the main character, is growing up in a dilapidated barrio. With his friends at his side, he tackles the hard things in life: poverty, loss, death, and freedom. It is gritty, raw, and aggressive. My classmates and I loved the book so much that we chose it the following year as the basis for a collaborative unit in our senior methods class.

I haven't come across anyone in the blogging world who has read the novel, let alone heard of it (please tell me if you've read it!), so I want to push it out there. It is a fabulous, fabulous novel.

A Re-released Classic: The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

I was lucky enough to have received this novel as a review copy from the publisher, and until then, I had never even heard of it. This Scottish novel, now re-released, has been one of the best books I've read this year. The language is exquisite. Jenkins chooses each word carefully to build the suspense in this story to the climax.

While it has been compared to Of Mice and Men, I actually preferred this one over Steinbeck (is that blasphemous? Probably). I just loved every page of this...the slow development of the two brothers, the heartache of all the characters, the anger and hatred....everything. You all need to read this.

From a Favorite Author: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

While I am usually raving about The House of Mirth or Ethan Frome, there is another Wharton title that also claims my heart. This title was one of the first I read by Wharton after my second attempt at Ethan Frome (where I fell completely in love). This one takes a little snarkier tone than some of the others, and I absolutely loved it. Undine Spragg, our "heroine," is consumed with rising to the top-finding a man with money and having the best of everything. Her attempts to claw up the society ladder is insightful and entertaining.

While I wouldn't consider this title as refined as some of Wharton's other novels, it is still an excellent representation of her work.

History:  1776 by David McCullough

I don't think I mention often enough how much I love history. After all, I do have a B.A. in it! I'm also teaching U.S. History right now, which is what has really spurred me to add this book here. I know that this book was everywhere when it was first released, but really, this is a great look at one of the most important years in our nation's history. And what I love about McCullough is his ability to make history read like a story. I never once felt like I was reading a history book, which, admittedly, can be a bit dry. Instead, I was right in the action with Washington, and I found myself rooting for those America rebels.

I high suggest this one if you are wary of history books. You won't regret it.

There you have it-4 books I want to "pimp out" today. :) Let me know if you've read any of these, or if you have books you think I should read! I always need more titles!

Monday, September 10, 2012

BBAW: Day One. Where I Appreciate You All. :)

I'm really excited that BBAW is here again this year. I think it is a great event that brings bloggers together and allows us to reflect on an incredibly important aspect of book blogging: the community.

Today, we are asked to reflect a little on the people that matter to us-those readers who have inspired and pushed us, and those blogs that we return to over and over again.

Before I share some of my most favorite bloggers, I want to say something to all of you-Without your comments, insight, feedback, joy, and positivity, I am not sure I would be here, happy and whole. The last...four years of my life have been difficult as I have battled unemployment, a lack of passion, and so much more...but since blogging here at A Literary Odyssey, my passions have reignited. I owe my success and happiness to all of you. And I know my students are benefiting from all of those conversations we have had. So THANK YOU.

I decided to try and approach this list by numbers. I am sure that I left someone off, and for that, I apologize. But I truly appreciate ALL of you. 

One Kindred Spirit: A person who I respect and admire, and who seems to have so much in common with myself.
Jillian from A Room of One's Own
I met Jillian a couple of years ago when we were both diving into book lists and reading to improve our knowledge of classic literature. Over the last couple of years, we've both altered our opinions and stances, our book lists, and the way we approach what we do on our blogs. She challenges me to continue pushing myself to greater things. When I see her passion shine through in a post, it encourages me to keep going. There have been many times where a kind note from her has helped me get over a slump, and her insight and joy for literature is infectious. I love looking back to where we started and where we are today.

Two People I Want to Emulate: The two people I want to be like when I grow up.
Adam from Roof Beam Reader
Since I first stumbled across Adam's blog, I have been a bit in awe. He is so very much like the person I want to be! With a Master's in American lit, and currently pursuing a Phd, Adam is the intellectual I want to be. His posts are always thoughtful, deep, and intelligent. Every time I read one of his posts, I learn something new. He is also one of the kindest people I know. When I was looking for short stories by American writers last spring, he pointed me in the direction of many! I hope, that one day, I can be as inspiring and as intelligent as he is!

O from Delaisse
I believe O and I began reading each other last summer/fall. From the beginning, I felt like O was on to things that I wasn't. Through her dedicated personal projects (reading all of Virginia Woolf's work, to completing the Bible, to pushing through Shakespeare's complete works), she is always pursuing something. Going to her blog makes me want to try harder, read more, dive in deeper, and become a better writer. Her posts are always deep and meandering and leave me wanting to say something profound (I never do). I can honestly say that I push myself to higher heights because of what she does.

Three Supportive Partners: Three people who have been wonderfully supportive recently (and who I get to "work" with!)
Melissa from Avid Reader's Musings
Melissa's blog is one that I have been following almost since I began blogging. We have a lot of things in common, including our love of books. In the last year or so, I have found a great friend in Melissa, with her supportive tweets and comments. I know that if I ever need a little pick-me-up, Melissa is there and all over it. :) She makes me smile and continues to make me add books to my TBR. There are many, MANY classics that have jumped higher in my pile because of her rave reviews. And now that I get to work with her as a co-moderator for The Classics Club? Makes it even better!

Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much
Sarah is actually a newer-to-me blogger. I stumbled across her awesome "Back to the Classics" Challenge last fall and signed up immediately. In the time since, I have found Sarah's posts to be some of my favorites. They are always interesting and diverse. As a bonus, working with Sarah for The Classics Club has been amazing. Twice I have had to ask for help to get posts written, and she was right there to step in and volunteer. She is a wonderful person, and I look forward to getting to know her better!

Heather from Between the Covers
Heather is a blogger I have been reading for some time, as I have always found her posts to be well-written. I also love conversing with Heather over twitter, and she is always there to cheer me on, or respond with something funny. :) Like Sarah and Melissa, I am fortunate enough to get to work with Heather for The Classics Club. In our conversations, she is always willing to jump in and help us propel the Club forward. Her insight and help is invaluable, and I cannot wait to get to know her more!

Four Diverse Ladies: Four awesome women who inspire and motivate me to be a better me!
Amanda from Pound by Pound
Amanda has long been a true blogger friend. She has stood by me and been a support in some pretty rough instances, and our e-mail conversations have always left me feeling like I am not alone. While Amanda doesn't review many books any more, I still find her blog to be inspiring and hopeful. Her weight-loss journey helps me get my own butt in gear, and I know that if I need to rant, she'll be there to listen.

Christina from Reading Thru the Night
Christina is another blogger that I "discovered" early on in my blogging career. From the beginning, I felt we had something in common. Her posts about her own students, and teaching in general, have helped keep me motivated. And, I have to give her props for being so passionate about what she does and who she does it for. In many ways, she is one of my teaching heroes, and not just because of her awesome classroom set-up. 

Andi from Estella's Revenge
Andi is someone that always shocks me, in a good way. :) She is always upbeat and pushing forward. She wrote that fabulous post about reading "what she wants, when she wants" that has become an inspiration for me in the last few months. She also has a super-awesome job, runs an e-zine, and has the cutest kiddo. I love how much she does, and how she pursues her goals with such drive and intensity.

Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
If there really was a superwoman, I think it would be Trish. She is always coming up with these awesome projects to push different aspects of her life-from Operation Crockpot, to the Pin It and Do it Challenge, to Eating it Real, to touching on tough topics to do with parenting, I am always in complete AWE with how much she tackles!

Five New Friends: Great bloggers that I am just discovering...and who you need to read!
Jenna from Lost Generation Reader
Jenna's blog has quickly become one of my favorites in recent months. Her posts range from contemporary to those dusty old classics I love, so of course, there is lots for me to love there. And her awesome Harry Potter Readalong? Yeah, I've been busting through those bad boys like it's my job in the last week or two! I can't wait to get to know Jenna more!

Claudia and Alexis from Lit Hitchhiker
These girls are just plain AWESOME. Both of them dove right into The Classics Club with an insanely awesome, detailed post about the books members have chosen. Since then, I have been continually impressed with the beauty and depth of their posts. I can't wait to get to know both of them through their continued involvement in The Classics Club.

Chinoiseries from Always Cooking Up Something
This is a blog that I only discovered due to typing in all those member names on The Classics Club Member List. I was immediately intrigued and have become HOOKED. It also helps that we are both reading Harry Potter for Jenna's readalong. I foresee lots of great conversations and posts in our future!

Fanda from Fanda ClassicLit
I was super lucky about a month ago because I got to interview Fanda to be The Classics Club first ever Classics Clubber of the Month. Her blog is truly inspirational. She writes in two languages to inspire others to try the classics and is always pushing herself.

Cassandra from Literary Stars
Technically I have been reading Cassandra's blog for a few months, but it is quickly becoming a favorite. She is so driven to know more about everything....I just love that kind of enthusiasm towards classic literature! Her posts are always thoughtful and positive. I always leave with a smile on my face.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up for September 9, 2012: First Week Down.

I'm glad to be on this side of the first week of school. Now that it is done and over with, I am also hopefully done with the nerves, poor sleeping, and the sickness that decided to attack me the day before school started.

Matt came down with strep LAST Friday and stayed home from work. I told him to stay away from me, but since I was trying to prep for the week and I hadn't seen him that much recently, I stayed home with him. I was doing fine until I woke up on Monday with a sore throat. And of course, wouldn't you know, it got worse over the course of a day. I was a coughing, sneezing mess by bedtime. So, coupled with nerves, I got minimal sleep. Tuesday was worse...coughing, painful throat, and I couldn't breathe. But I toughed it out since it was the first day of school, and I managed not to lose my voice.

Then, I just started feeling worse and worse. I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I ended up waking up at 2:30 in the morning on Wednesday and couldn't go to sleep because I couldn't breathe. I was struggling with what to do, but I went to school and managed to get through my first three hours before calling it quits and having a sub in for the rest of the day so I could go to the doctor. The verdict? Strep, an ear infection, AND a respiratory infection. He gave me some glorious meds and told me to stay home on Thursday.

It made for a weird first week of school, and when I went back in on Friday, it was a little odd. The kids were so sweet and seemed worried. I don't think many teachers are out sick during the first week!

But besides the sickness, the first week went well. I'm teaching hours 1-5 and have my prep during hour 6, so it's a little weird for me. I'm not sure how I feel about having prep at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning or middle, but I'm sure I will figure it out once I get into the swing of things (and I'm not feeling like walking death). My classes are all great and we've already launched into some great content. My American lit class started reading some Native American pieces on Friday to launch our first unit, my myths class is still learning some basics (theories, etc) before we dive into creation myths later this coming week, and my U.S. History classes are reviewing the things they should have learned as eighth graders (our district has them learn colonization through the Civil War as eighth graders, then they pick up with Reconstruction as tenth graders) before we launch into new material. I have awesome kids, and while a few classes are pretty big (35 kids), I think I am going to have an amazing semester. Since I've subbed in the school twice before, I have some familiar faces in my junior/senior myths class.

What I'm taking away from this week is just how lucky I am to be where I am and in the position I have. I am a very lucky girl.

Besides school, I've been in a bit of a reading craze. I'm glad to be out of the slump I was in for the last half of the summer. Granted...I'm not making much progress on my 250 list at the moment, but I'm feeling really good about reading/blogging/writing again. I imagine that when I finish this Harry Potter readalong, I'll be even more pumped to read more classics.

So, speaking of all my reading, this is what I've finished since last week:
  • Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
I also started The Turn of the Screw by Henry James last night for RIP, and I started Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. So...a lot of reading. Goblet and Order were some lengthy reads! I think I planned on spacing out my HP reading throughout the fall...but darn, those books are addicting! :) You'll see posts for all of them up eventually. I'm behind in discussing books. I still have Black Beauty, Mansfield Park, A Little Princess, and one or two others waiting for posts as well. Perhaps if I finish some planning today I can get cracking on those posts, right? :)

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week! I need to get a few things in order for class this week, and figure out what I'm wearing. I've found that pulling out clothes at night saves me an awful lot of time in the morning. ;) I'm also heading out to our local Arts Festival with my mom for an hour or two to walk around and chat. Some fresh air will do me good!

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 7, 2012

R.I.P. VII Sign-up.

While I might not be doing the greatest with the challenges I am already signed up for, why not sign up for something else? :)

I actually signed up for this one last year, and if I do recall, I failed miserably at getting through the titles on my list.

This year, I am not going to be as hard on myself. With everything else I have going on, there is no reason to add more stress, right?

In any case, I stared at my bookshelves and my Classics Club list to come up with some titles that I can read for the challenge. I'm pretty excited about the titles I have set aside.

I am officially signing up for Peril the First, a level where I need to read four books. Here are the titles I am considering:

The Monk by Matthew Lewis
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

I think I am in for some great reading! If you are interested in joining in on the fun, make sure to visit the sign-up page!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"I Have Been"

I found this cute little meme over on Jillian's blog (she found it at Elinor, Elizabeth and Emma). Since I am procrastinating just a little bit on reading things over for my classes tomorrow, I decided to participate. :)

I have been:

Lesson plans and grammar notes. Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? We're really trying to focus in on some of the subtleties of grammar to help the kids improve their writing (parallelism, anyone?). I'm also having my kids maintain grammar/writing notebooks throughout the semester to get them writing more often and integrating their grammar lessons right away. I'll let you know how that goes. :)

I've been a bit of a reading machine the last week or so-mainly flying through Harry Potter. Whenever I am super busy, I seem to find more time to read. I don't know how that works, but it does. Right now I am in the middle of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I am only about 150 pages from the end. I'm kind of amazed that I'm chugging through them this fast...I only started the series on Saturday!
I'm also reading When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo and working my way through Mythology by Edith Hamilton.
Both Matt and myself are sick (he had it first, then I came down with it on Monday...the day before school started), so I've been listening to the sounds of us coughing all week. :)
Right now I'm watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. But I've also been watching seasons of That 70s Show on DVD at night before bed. 
Right now? At the sleeping cat on the couch next to me. He has been my snuggle buddy while I've been sick.
About everything. I'm trying to branch out as much as possible in the areas I'm teaching to make my lessons more interesting. I really want to bring MORE into the classroom than a traditional textbook and lectures, so I am trying to find inventive ways to get the kids interested and learning. I feel more comfortable doing this in my English classes, since all my teaching methods classes were in that subject. I'm looking for things online to help me with my history classes. I found some great resources online, and I am reading all kinds of things to make lessons more interesting. :)
Better than I was yesterday. I woke up yesterday morning at 2:30 coughing and couldn't fall back asleep. I got to school at 6 and tried to stick it out...and ended up coming home at lunch time with chills on top of everything else. I ended up going to the doctor, where he gave me some glorious medicine. I feel better, not 100%, but better. Like a functioning human being. 
Going back to school in the morning. And starting on the first units of the year (the last couple of days have been focused on setting up, etc).
For a magical fairy to appear and clean the apartment. It needs a good cleaning...especially with both of us coughing and blowing our noses everywhere.
Having a real teaching job. It is amazing to have my own classroom. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR.

I figured a late post today would be better than none, and since a top ten requires minimal brainwork, I figured I could squeeze it in (I say that because I am sick).

Anyway, I love these top tens for the season, so I always make it a point to participate in these lists! I find it to be a great motivator as I move through the seasons to have something to refer to. :)

Without further ado, the books I am hoping to read this fall.

  1. The remaining Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling: I am participating in Jenna's readalong that goes through December 15. I've already read the two school titles, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and the first two titles. I am also about 100 pages from the end in Prisoner of this little challenge is going well. :) I actually think I'll finish the series by the end of September!
  2. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson: I started this back in April during a failed readalong with Adam and Jillian, and I set it aside for a few months. I've been craving getting back into it, so I think I might make it a goal to finish it by the end of the year.
  3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: This is one that I should be reading for a readalong, but I haven't even started it yet! With the movie coming out, I really want to make time for it. 
  4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Yet another title I want to read before the movie comes out! I haven't read this in ages, and it is one of the titles I've been "saving" for a while. 
  5. The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf: I really want to get back into some Woolf titles, and since I have a few left on my 250 list, I should probably get on that. I started this one last spring and I keep meaning to return to it!
  6. Mythology by Edith Hamilton: Technically, I have to finish this since I am using it as a book for my mythology class, but since we are using only some portions of it, I've skipped around quite a bit. I really want to finish it, so I'll be setting aside some time to do that.
  7. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: I've been sinking into a lot of comfort reads recently, and while I wouldn't really classify this book as "comforting," I really want to reread it. I just love it and it has been so long since I've read it...well, I want to read it. :)
  8. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan: I think this would be a great read during the fall months, and since I am reading a lot of Puritan selections with my sophomores this fall, this would be an interesting read for me on the side. 
  9. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: I purposely saved this one for the fall months since the mystery aspect would be great for the RIP Challenge (which I haven't officially signed up for yet). I loved The Woman in White, so I have high hopes. 
  10. Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon: This is another Victorian I wanted to save for the fall. Jillian and I have been talking about reading it together and have plans for a little buddy review at the end of October. :) It should be a good time!
What are you planning on reading this fall?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up for September 2, 2012: August Wrap-up and Fall Goals.

I figured an evening edition of my weekly musings would be better than none. I had every intention of posting this morning, but instead I decided to finish my fifth book of the weekend (more on that below), then I took a nap (Matt is sick, so the more rest I get, the better), and then I made dinner. Priorities won, I suppose.

Anyway, today's post is probably going to be a lot of musings on what August WASN'T. You see, I had grand plans for the last month of summer. I think I assumed I could find a balance between prepping for school and everything blog related...yeah, no. Didn't happen. Obviously my planning and prepping for school took over, and I'm okay with that. It needed to be my focus. Now I can start on Tuesday with some pretty awesome lesson plans in hand.

I've managed to relax this week as much as possible by turning to some comfort reads. None of them come off my 250 list, none of them are challenge books, and while that normally would bother me, it doesn't. I've been a reading fiend, something that has been lacking this summer!

Prior to this week, I read the following in August:
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (no review up yet).
 In the last week/week and a half, I've read the following:
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
  • Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Granted, that second list is all "children's literature," but still....I'm impressed with myself. Especially since the last five titles have all been read since Friday evening.

This tells me I've been needing some comfort. And I am really enjoying my time with all of these titles.

I've mentioned a few times in the last few weeks that the blog is going through a bit of transition as I also transition into my new job. I wasn't even sure what that meant until earlier today. I'm positive that my reading tastes aren't changing...just more positive that I am stepping back a little. I will still be reading and posting, just less often. With the demands of 150 students, I don't think that can be all that surprising. I'll post when I can, and that's just going to have to be okay. :)

Even with that being said, I'm going to make a few goals for the fall:
  • Complete my Harry Potter readalong (I'm finishing the series)
  • Finish Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (I've been craving it, so I am returning to it)
  • Attempt to complete my TBR Challenge 
That's it. I'm leaving everything else open this fall so that I can probably get into the swing of being a proper first-year teacher (you know, evaluations, taking extra professional development, grading, prepping, etc, etc).

The rest of tonight is going to be spent making cupcakes at my mom's house (for a birthday celebration tomorrow) and perhaps snuggling in bed with Prisoner of Azkaban. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, I will definitely see you next weekend! :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Three Years.

Three years ago, I decided to start a blog because I didn't have a job. On some level, I thought that reading the classics, then writing about them, would fill a hole in my life.

When I think back on that decision, I want to reach back in my memories and give myself a hug. It was one of the best ideas I've ever had. It has brought me here, to this point, and I will be forever grateful for that decision.

I think that creating a reading list and devoting myself to a project made for self-improvement has led me to this point. In some very low points over the last three years, knowing that I had an audience waiting kept me sane. It allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my goals. I knew that I had support.

All of the comments, insights, questions, e-mails, tweets, and posts by all of you have helped me become more confident. I think that knowing I was worth more than I told myself made me a better person, and a better teacher.

Now I am staring down a brand new school year (starting on Tuesday), with my first real teaching job. And because of everything that has happened-the interviews, the depression, the experiences, and my blog-I have a lot more to offer those kids. I cannot wait to meet them, share my love of literature, and hopefully, inspire them to great things.

All I want to do is say thank you-for all of the encouragement and support. I know the blog is going through some changes as I transition to teaching full-time. But I won't stop reading, especially the classics. Because as cheesy as it sounds, they saved me in many ways.

Thank you.