Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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I’m taking a Shakespeare class this semester. Initially, I was really concerned about it but I’m actually really enjoying the class so far. In high school, I never read a single Shakespeare play. My teacher believed the plays were meant to be watched, so that’s what we did. Not the best move. But hey, the David Tennant version of Hamlet is amazing, in case anyone was wondering!

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A book more than 100 years old

Summary: After Hamlet, the Danish prince, discovers that his Uncle Claudius murdered his father and married his mother, he begins to plan his revenge. In order to get revenge and still achieve his place on the throne, Hamlet must reveal the king’s guilt in front of witnesses. But Hamlet’s life could be in danger, so in order to buy time, he must fake madness in order to avenge his father’s murder.

Likes: I really like the characters in this play. They’re all really crazy and over-dramatic, which makes for an interesting read. Certain interpretations of key characters, such as Gertrude and Polonius, make the play much more interesting as well.

Dislikes: Obviously, the play is written is early modern English, making it tough to understand at times. Plus, there are rhymes and puns that are completely lost in translation without the original Shakespearean accent, so truly understanding the play involves some extra research or reading.

TL;DR: Hamlet is a classic for a reason and everyone needs to read it. But don’t stick to the same Plain Jane interpretations that they teach you in high school!

Waiting on Wednesday: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature over at Breaking the Spine. Check out their blog; they have some really cool stuff.

Author: Becky Albertalli

Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Goodreads | Amazon US | Book Depository

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Goodreads Description:

“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

I really want to start reading more diverse fiction, so I’m really excited about this book featuring an LGBT+ character. Plus, the quirky title and the bright cover design have me really intrigued. This one is definitely on my wish-list.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Heroines from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature over at The Broke and the Bookish. They have some really great stuff. You should check them out.

Okay, so I am really excited about the topic this week. I love a well-written female character more than most things. Like seriously. So this post is probably going to be difficult for me to narrow down.

  1. Eowyn from Lord of the RingsI have always admired Eowyn. She fights in order to protect her family and defend her people. I could go on and on about how much I love Eowyn, but this article basically explains everything for me.
  2. Hermione Granger from Harry PotterEveryone always makes fun of her for being bookish and on top of her studies, especially in the first book. For that reason especially, I’ve always felt that I could relate to her.
  3. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger GamesI love Katniss because of how complex a character she is. She’s such an important role model for girls and women everywhere.
  4. Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of OlympusShe’s really tough and snarky doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. It’s so wonderful to watch her character develop through the two book series.
  5. Juliet Butler from Artemis FowlI always loved Juliet because of independent she was. Even though she was supposed to follow in her family’s footsteps and become a bodyguard, she became a professional wrestler instead. She was always true to herself.
  6. Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate EventsShe was an incredible character who broke down a lot of stereotypes by doing something traditionally “masculine” like inventing and was basically a huge inspiration to nine year old me.
  7. Tris Prior from Divergent

    I always liked how Tris was true to herself, despite all that was going on around her. She was so selfless in the end and stuck to her beliefs even when it jeopardized her relationships with those she loved.

  8. Nasuada from the Inheritance Cycle

    She was a woman of color tasked with leading an entire rebellion in the wake of her father’s death. Even though she made decisions her people weren’t happy about, she did it for their own good and everyone was better off for it. Quite frankly, I think she’s an extremely underrated fantasy heroine.

  9. Louisa Ellis from A New England Nun

    Okay, this one seems really random, but bear with me. Louisa loves having everything just so and doesn’t want a man coming into her life and wrecking her perfect routines, so she breaks up with her fiance of 15 years to preserve her way of life. And this story was written in 1891.

  10. Mary Lennox from A Secret Garden

    This book really meant a lot to me when I was a kid. Mary taught me a lot about the healing power of nature and was a huge comfort to me after my grandmother, an avid gardener, passed away.

 Who are some of your favorite heroines?

Five Fandom Friday: Things I’ve Bought but Haven’t Read/Watched/Played Yet

Five Fandom Friday is a weekly feature over at the Nerdy Girlie. Check out her blog! She has some really great stuff.

Okay, so anyone who knows me knows that my TBR pile is so ridiculously shameful that I had to move it to another part of the house to prevent it from falling over in the bedroom and potentially killing me or a small animal. However, the same does not hold true for TV shows, movies, or games. I only buy shows and movies if I’ve seen them and I marathon games right away if I buy them. So this post will be dedicated to a mere 5 of those things which I have not yet read.

  1. The Tolkien Reader by J.R.R. Tolkien

    It’s filled with short stories, poems, and commentaries by one of my favorite fantasy authors of all time. I can’t believe I’ve owned this book for over a year and it’s just been collecting dust.

  2. Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien

    Okay, so it’s not actually by Tolkien, but he translated it! I’m so excited to read his translation of the story because of how he tried to keep to the ancient epic style. Plus, it includes a short story he wrote that was supposedly inspired by the epic. Not that you can tell I’m excited, since it’s been on my shelf for 2 years.

  3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

    I got this book at the same time as Beowulf after I ran into my ex at a bookstore. Distraught, I bought 6 brand new books without even blinking because I had more important things than money to worry about. Anyway, I love the movie and I’m hoping I love the book too.

  4. Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut

    I picked up this book God knows how long ago at my local library’s book sale. It’s one of the only books I know of that has an asexual man as the protagonist, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how Vonnegut writes that aspect of the character.

  5. Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan

    This is an e-book short story crossover of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Kane Chronicles. So basically it’s two of my favorite things smushed into one. And it’s been sitting on my Kindle since the day it came out.

What are some things you’ve bought but haven’t read/watched/played yet?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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I was a little skeptical about reading this book at first, because I heard some mixed reviews about it. But then I found out one of my favorite book bloggers loves it, so I figured I’d give it a chance. And I’m so glad I did. Like seriously, I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequels.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book set in a different country

Summary: Anna’s dad is sending her to study abroad in Paris for a year, despite the fact that her best friend and her sort-of-not-really boyfriend are still in Atlanta. Despite her misgivings, Anna quickly finds herself a part of a group of friends. And one of them is Etienne St. Clair, a postively gorgeous boy that Anna can’t help but connect with immediately. Too bad he already has a girlfriend.

Likes: First off, I absolutely loved all the characters, particularly Anna and St. Clair. They’re all quirky and different and lovable in different ways. I could really relate to Mer’s obsession with the Beatles, for one thing. Plus, the slow build of Anna and St. Clair’s relationship is absolutely excruciating and wonderful at the same time. I also loved the incredible detail of Paris and French culture. It made me want to book a ticket to Paris.

Dislikes: The whole cheating trope bothers me a little bit, but that’s more a personal preference than a legitimate criticism.

TL;DR: If you like contemporary YA, romance, or France, you will probably enjoy this book.

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Tolkien is one of my favorite authors of all time. His books really made me love fantasy as a genre and have shaped and influenced more than half of my life. I read the short version of this story that’s in The Silmarillion, so I was excited to read the long version. Plus, the version I have is illustrated by Alan Lee, who did the concept art for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, so that made this nerd very happy.

Rating: [4/5]

Reading Challenge: A book with nonhuman characters

Summary: This book is an epic, which spans a whole family’s history, focusing mainly on Turin. Turin is the son of Hurin, who was captured and cursed by Melkor. After growing up with the elves and training to become a warrior, Turin goes on to have many adventures. All the while, he longs to rejoin the family he left behind.

Likes: This story is incredibly rich and detailed. The world-building, as with all of Tolkien’s works, is incredible. There are also a whole cast of deep and well-developed characters.

Dislikes: The story is a little slow to start and can be a little confusing, because Tolkien loves to change the names of people and places in traditional epic style.

TL;DR: This book is a must-read for any Tolkien fan!

Warrior Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals

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I’m minoring in History and this semester I’m taking a class called U.S. Post 1945. This was one of the books I had to read for this class. After reading this memoir, I feel I have a much better understanding of the Civil Rights Movement and what it was like to live through it. Honestly, everyone would benefit from reading this girl’s story.

Rating: [4/5]

Reading Challenge: A memoir

Summary: In 1957, Melba Patillo was one of the teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Her story, enriched by diary entries, newspaper clippings, and accounts from her family and friends, tells about the racism and prejudices she faced on a daily basis. Despite the atrocities done to her by students and parents alike, she never backed down, even when quitting would have been easier.

Likes: I love how this book gave me a new perspective. It’s one thing to learn about an event or movement in history. It’s another thing entirely to remember that real people lived through them, and accomplished these incredible things. I remember starting the book and realizing that my grandparents would have grown up with her. Also, her writing style is so personal and intimate. The whole book felt like she was right there, telling the story.

Dislikes: I really can’t think of anything about this book that I disliked.

TL;DR: This book is incredible and emotional and intimate. Everyone needs to read this girl’s story. It will give you a new understanding of and appreciation for the Civil Rights Movement.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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I watched the movie with my friend right before Thanksgiving break and ugly cried throughout most of it. So naturally I immediately bought the book. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry while I was reading it. Maybe that’s because I already knew what happened. I still teared up at certain parts though. It’s an incredibly heartbreaking story. But worth it.

Rating: [4/5]

Reading Challenge: A book based on a true story

Summary: Mia is cellist in a family of punks, and her boyfriend is rising to fame in his own band. Because of this, sometimes she doesn’t feel like she belongs. After she and her family are in a devastating car crash, Mia is in a coma and her parents are dead. She has a choice to make: either stay and be with her boyfriend and pursue her future in music, or go and be with the family that meant everything to her.

Likes: This book is so emotional and honest and real. I think it’s something everyone wonders about, since there’s still a lot we don’t know about comas. Also, all the references to music and musical metaphors really helped build the characters and make the story come to life.

Dislikes: The writing seemed a bit simple to me at times and certain things needed to be described in more detail than they were.

TL;DR: This a wonderful, emotional book and and it will make you sad, if not cry like a baby.

The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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This was another one of the books on the list my professor sent me for next semester. I personally have trouble reading dramas because of the script format. It’s a little confusing for me. Because of that, I don’t read a lot of plays. In all honesty, I probably didn’t get everything I needed out of it on the first read through.

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A play

Summary: Willy Loman is a traveling salesman living from paycheck to paycheck. He has two grown sons, and all he wants is for them to make something of themselves. Lately, Willy has been suffering from dementia-like symptoms: visions of the past and confusion about where and when he is. His wife, worried that he’s going to do harm to himself, encourages her sons to make him happy. If only Willy could work in the city, and if only the sons can go into business for themselves, then everything will be all right.

Likes: This play was vivid and emotional, and very relatable. It dealt with a lot of issues that families really have to deal with, like money problems, infidelity, and mental health. The characters felt like they could be real, and that’s really important to me in drama.

Dislikes: I got confused about who some of the side characters were and about the delineation between vision and reality. Of course, this is more of my own problem reading it than it is with the actual book.

TL;DR: This is a great play, and I definitely understand why it’s a piece of classic literature.

2015 Reading Challenge

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For this year, I’ve decided to participate in Popsugar’s Reading Challenge. It includes 52 books in all, which is way books than I’ve ever read in a single year. The challenge does not list specific books to read, but instead asks participants to find books that fit a particular genre or qualification. Some of the categories look pretty challenging, so I’ll have to get creative in finding new reading material!

I’ll be keeping track of how many books I’ve read and what category they fit under in a tab on my blog called “2015 Reading Challenge.” I know; it’s a very creative title. I’ll also be putting the challenge the book fulfills in each review.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish this challenge. But I hope I can, as I’ve been wanting to break my old record of 49 books. Of course, that was back in my freshman year of high school and I lot more time on my hands back then. And hey, even if I can’t complete it–there’s always next year.

What reading challenges or goals do you have for the new year?